To shave or not to shave – your legs? That is the question that confronts every male cyclist. Women cyclists already have this one covered. Guys have a decision to make.
If you are a recreational cyclist, the odds are 50/50 that you shave your legs. If you are a bike racer at criterions, then most likely you shave. If you are a triathlete then you likely shave, though there are notable hirsute exceptions whose hairy legs can scare little children.
Triathletes also swim and swimmers are known to shave obsessively every morsel of hair to reduce drag in the water. Ever wonder why so many OPRF swimmers don the “cue ball” haircut?
But why? Why depilate your legs? Cyclists will give you all kinds of answers. When you crash, the hairless leg makes it easier to dig out dirt and pebbles in the emergency room. Show up with road rash and hairy legs and the nurse takes out a scrub brush. Others say it makes the post-race massage go more smoothly.
The real reason? Cyclists spend a lot of time spinning with their legs. And those calves and thighs become highly muscular. Shaving makes your legs look good and stand out. Ah vanity.
As for me? I usually don’t shave. My wife thinks that my shaved legs feel creepy. But with her out of town and the triathlon season starting this past weekend, I headed to the shower and took out the razor. Now, my legs are as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Speaking of the triathlon season, this past Sunday some triathletes from Oak Park participated in Leon’s World’s Fastest Triathlon in Hammond, Indiana. Leon’s, an Olympic distance race, is back after a 15-year hiatus. This Oly has a .9 mile swim, a 25-mile bike and a six-mile run.
Leon’s was a popular early triathlon in the 1980s. A local casino did it in by complaining about closing a highway on Sunday morning. As a matter of public policy, should Sunday morning gamblers have priority over triathletes? For a time they did in Hammond.
Cooler heads have now prevailed and Leon’s is back. It is an old-school triathlon. Not huge. Around 250 triathletes. We swam in Wolf Lake just off US 90 with hulking steel mills in the distance.
Leon’s closes down a six lane highway for the bike section. You could put your head down and crank with plenty of room to pass. And, except for a few minor rises, the course is pancake flat. It really is fast. Scenery includes an oil refinery and storage tanks.
The run was an out and back affair. Flat. And there was Leon shaking hands with each triathlete crossing the finish line. He wasn’t congratulating them. He was thanking them for participating.
My buddy Mike Stec came in seventh overall and first in his 40-44 age group. Eligio Pimentel was third in that age group. Local triathlete Chris Ferrigno placed 25th. John Ryan and I duked it out mid-pack. Leon’s will be back next year. Registration is now open for 2011 at leonstriathlon.com.