Why do road cyclists really shave their legs?

There’s a funny passage in Matt Seaton’s The Escape Artist: Life from the Saddle
where Seaton ponders about the question whether he should start shaving his legs. He’s seen other professional or semi-professional cyclists doing it and couldn’t quite figure out what the reason was … is it an aesthetic thing? Even aerodynamic? How many seconds can you save on one day by cycling with shiny naked legs? Certainly it seemed to separate the serious cyclist from the leisure cyclist. So that’s why he finally gives it a go, describing his first shave in meticulous detail.

I found the answer to his question the other day when watching “Hell on Wheels”, a documentary about the 2003 Tour de France. Erik Zabel, member of the German Team Telekom, explains that not shaving the legs results in lot of pain at the end of every day, when every rider gets a massage. Not only does it hurt to get a massage with hairy legs, but it also results in inflammations and red spots at the roots of the hairs, which would draw even more attention than just shaved legs. (Which is especially true in times of colour TV!)

So, even if you’re an aspiring road cyclist and carry the hope to cycle the Tour de France one day, there is perhaps no real reasons to give your legs a shave. Well, just yet, at least…

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