Who Wears Short Shorts?
So I had a friend ask me about shaving body hair before races. I thought it would make for funny article, or at the very least a mildly interesting one.
From what I understand about shaving, that is, cyclists, triathletes, swimmers, and other endurance athletes, shave the hair on their legs, arms, and other nether regions. Articles have been written about the pre-race rituals that swimmers do with the shaving. At the gym, you can tell the hard-core triathletes because they are completely hairless, but I have to wonder how it increases aerodynamic efficiency when you shave your nether regions.
From the research that I’ve done through Internet searches and talking with other cyclists and triathletes, basically the only actual physical benefit to shaving body hair is that the skin heals easier IF one crashes. That’s it. So other than that, why do we shave? I’ll speak for myself; I shave for two reasons: psychological and aesthetics.
Psychological - Basically, shaving has become part of my pre-race ritual. It builds a race tradition and becomes part of my routine. Another reason is for my psyche, it gives the feeling of aerodynamic efficiency.
Aesthetics - Ok, so this is it. It’s all about personal vanity, it looks cool for the muscle definition. You work/worked really hard in the gym, so who wants their muscles to be covered by body hair. There, I said it!
The vanity aspect of being hairless began prior to racing. In order to appreciate my efforts in the gym, I decided to remove the hair from my chest, back, stomach, and shoulders about every 6-8 weeks with a wax. And those services, my friends, are not cheap, not to mention, they are not exactly pleasant either. Talk about a painful first time experience, a la 40-Year-Old Virgin style. But as my mother-in-law says: “You have to suffer to be beautiful.”
Anyways, after I got into cycling and racing triathlon, I incorporated shaving my legs. Those of you that have tried it know all about the cuts that you get all over your legs when you frist attempt it, especially where those new found muscles are so huge that it is difficult for the blade to cut the hair smoothly. But again, it was mainly for aesthetics, there was just something psychologically satisfying the day or two before a race to be hairless. It makes you feel fast!
And so that brings me to the present day. For my latest triathlon, I decided to try a couple of new options for hair removal. I bought this hair remover gadget at the local fair. What they demonstrated was convincing, but when I tried to use it to remove the hair on my back, not so effective. Apparently if the hairs get too long the gadget does not remove the hair very well, leaving short stubs.
So I decided to try Nair based on my wife’s recommendation. Nair is a chemical lotion hair remover. Basically, you rub it on your skin, leave it on for about five minutes or so, and voila, the hair is dissolved. You just wipe off the residue and rinse. The Nair, despite the annoying texture and nasty smell, removes hair very well. You are left with what is better than a wax job on your skin. Unfortunately, because I had decided to try the gadget first on my back, the Nair burned some of the skin where the gadget exfoliated, so I have a chemical burn. Needless to say this is NOT pleasant! Anyways, I hope it doesn’t sting too much during the ocean swim of tomorrow’s race.
Regardless, it seems as though Nair is the way to go. It’s cheaper, and as long as you can put up with the smell and remember not to exfoliate before using it, it definitely does a better job than waxing or shaving. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
Written by Gerry de Ocampo