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  1. #1
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    Leg shaving for safety?

    Hey all,

    I recently fell while touring down a gravel/unsealed/metal road here in NZ. I managed to give my leg a good gash from a rock or something similar. Afterwards (8 stitches later) someone told me that some cyclists keep their leg hair short so that it can't catch rocks when they fall. I have pretty hairy legs and am considering trimming my hair to reduce the chance of this kind of thing from now on. Have you guys heard of this before? Is it an old wives tale, or is there some merit to it?

    Cheers and ride safe!

  2. #2
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    Racing dudes have it for the massage afterwards, no hair, easy better massage.

    But its good to have no hairs if you do get a graze, stops a lot of infection etc.

    Thinks..... must shave face.

    george
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  3. #3
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    All pro and aspiring pro bike racers shave their legs. In bike racing theres pretty much going to be a crash every race, and there is inevitably road rash. Having no hair in the way makes it easier to clean the wound, and makes it heal more quickly and less painfully. It may have negligible aerodynamic benefits as well.

    If you're not racing I wouldn't bother. Unshaved legs reduce chance of sunburn, could possibly reduce injury from falling, and you don't look like some stranded swimmer. Dealing with the possibility of ingrown hair and the stubble from it growing back in is not something I would want to deal with on tour.

  4. #4
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    I shave but ... I'm a girl.

    Pretty much all racers do it. There are a couple of mythical reasons around it, but ultimately, it's a style thing, kind of like white handlebar tape. Leg hair can't "catch rocks" to make you get cut, if that's what you mean. Some people think it makes it easier to clean the wound if you are shaved.

    http://www.ecscoach.com/sites/ecs/ec...D?OpenDocument

    Sorry about your accident. Gravel is hard to ride on. I dumped my bike a couple of times in deep gravel in NZ.
    ...

  5. #5
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    Also, I've heard from guys that once you start shaving your significant other won't let you stop!

  6. #6
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    A leg shaving tourist? That's so gay I can't even imagine....

  7. #7
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    Hehehehe... I've shaved my legs twice... and I never fell off to find out if the stories are true. But then, I don't really fall off the bike that often with hairy legs, either. Shaved legs make application of subscreen easier, but hairy legs reduce the need for it.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  8. #8
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    I doubt there is much advantage to the healing on a gash. Road rash I could see, though doesn't everything get peeled off in that case? Anyway, you can't help crashing in races due to the competitive effect, but you can do a lot more important things to help yourself in a non-racing environment than shave your legs. Carrying some polysporan would be good, wear pants, drive less like a maniac (if applicable)...

  9. #9
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    "A leg shaving tourist? That's so gay I can't even imagine...."

    So in other words some people are trolling?

  10. #10
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    I wonder if the ultralight tourists compare the weight of their body hair vs. the weight of a razor. They of course dry shave with a straight razor (creams and such are bulky and heavy). You must of course bear in mind that the weight of the hair is supported by your body so it will tire you out more than the razor which goes in a pannier bag and is supported by the bike. Inquiring minds need to know!

    Question to the shavers: How do you decide where to stop?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1

    So in other words some people are trolling?
    seems like a lot lately--must be the season for it

  12. #12
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    Another perspective:

    I'm not sure shaving does necessarily help for wounds. Are there any medical articles that state this? Everyone seems to accept it as a given, I'm not so sure. Granted before an operation is done usually you get shaved, but is that for infection or simply so it's easier access and vision? Is leg shaving ultimately something more for show that practicality?

    Logic would dictate shaving should be better, but it just seems one of those things that everyone seems to say but there's apparently not a lot round to support it (at least I can see). What about animals that live in hot climates -have they all evolved to have no fur? Wouldn't the ability to recover from abrasions/wounds be an advantage and hence you'd expect to see more hairless/furless animals in these areas? It's interesting that one of the marks of being a mammal is body hair -are there any hairless mammals that could support the argument that no hair gives some advantage?

    Still unshaved and furry...... but could be persuaded.

  13. #13
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    I think the operation example is different because a surface scrape (not sure about extreme road rash) is not a life threatening thing. When I had a screw removed from my ankle, the incision was relatively trivial, but they pulled 2 inches of screw out form under the skin and through several bones and related tisues. Obviously if infection penetrated there, I could end up with an amputation. And while this "operation" took about a minute, I got a slug of antibiotics to take to ensure nothing got started.

    "seems like a lot lately--must be the season for it"

    Thanks for imputing good motive. I actually meant real trolling, like moving through an area where the prey is present, while waving some attractive meat. Not being homophobic. others troll also.

  14. #14
    Just ride it. MrPolak's Avatar
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    I shave my legs in the summer for one reason only - it keeps me cooler in the stifling Alabama humidity!

  15. #15
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    I only shave my legs when touring Provincetown MA. while dressed like Carmen Miranda.

    Last edited by velonomad; 01-10-07 at 10:37 PM.

  16. #16
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    Heh, I actually had to shave portions of myleg while cleaning it on the side of the road. The surgical tape I was using wouldn't stick down otherwise.

    Thanks for the advice guys. I do carry a good first aid kit. (That needs to be replenished now.)

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    Also. I wasn't going to shave my legs... I get... a lot of ingrown hairs in my beard. I was thinking taking a number one trimmer to my legs.

  18. #18
    jwa
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl
    ultimately, it's a style thing, kind of like white handlebar tape. Leg hair can't "catch rocks" to make you get cut, if that's what you mean. Some people think it makes it easier to clean the wound if you are shaved....

    Agree.

    Easier to clean? Perhaps, if one really scrubs after the injury.

    Easier to change taped-on dressings? Yup.

    Less chance of infection? Nope. Especially for novice shavers trying to do so in a campground restroom.

    Easier massage? Yup.

    Improved "safety" ? Nope.

    Increased gayness? Dunno.

  19. #19
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    Yeah, my cut wouldn't have been any easier to clean had my legs been shaved. However, worrying about getting soap from my razor into the cut was a worry.

    I was really wondering about catching rocks. Eh, I think I was just unlucky. I've fallen the same way a few times. All the other times I usually get road rash. This time was different, a single rock took a gouge out of me. I was just wondering if the hair helped keep it between my skin and the road.

    Incidentally, NZ has excellent accident coverage, even for tourists! I've only had to pay $60 for stitches and 5 free follow ups. (Getting the stitches out tomorrow.)

  20. #20
    Senior Member cosmo starr's Avatar
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    shaving makes my calves look hot

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrPolak
    I shave my legs in the summer for one reason only - it keeps me cooler in the stifling Alabama humidity!
    It could be argued that leaving the hairs on actually improves cooling because it increases the surface area for evaporation of your sweat.

    Any excuse, MrP, any excuse...
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  22. #22
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    I picked out the stitches from my last bike accident while belaying my boyfriend on the second pitch of Haystack Crack at Lover's Leap. The little pointy ends were really bugging me.

    I don't know why I felt compelled to share that... oh well.
    ...

  23. #23
    It's true, man.
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    Dunno about improving wound healing and all that, but it sure does make it less painful to peel bandage material off. I'm hirsute like Robin Williams - I don't shave anything until I actually have an injury, then I just shave the area that the tape will be sticking to.

  24. #24
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    I rarely crash, so shaving is moot point to me in this regard. However, shaving does make it easier to apply sunblock to skin. Sun tan lotion tends to mat up in body hair, and takes a minute of "rubbing in" to get it to the actual skin. Shaving also cuts sunblock use by one-half or two-thirds since you're not coating a bunch of hair. Its a time saver if you ride daily.

    I cut my own hair - military style buzz cut - using $15 conair barber kit from walmart. Paid for itself many times over. So, after buzzing the head I touch up the forearms, takes 1 minute a month. Not clean shaven like my face, but removes enough hair to make the sunblock job easy. Also makes "baby wipe" / "sponge bath" clean up jobs easier.

    It may look a little sissy to some, but it makes sense if you ride a lot. Then again, you're a grown-up riding a bicycle, so what do you have to lose here image-wise?

    For the last few years I've taken to wearing long sleeves even in the summer for sun protection. My back and arms have accumulated significant sun damage over the years, so I'm trying to avoid more. Long sleeves seem to work about as good sunblock, without the cost and mess.

    If you think shaved looks odd, imagine the stares you get cycling in long sleeve polypro underwear in August when its 100F / 65%RH. Surprisingly its not really any hotter. Plus you can periodically soak the top / bottom for some serious evaporative heat exchange.

  25. #25
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    Seeker333, make sure you continue to wear sunblock, even under long sleeves. The UV rays can go right through clothing, and still cause serious damage.
    You could try using a spray-on sunblock, becuase then you could apply less under long clothing, but still have some protection.

    Your skin is not worth the risk - please be careful!

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