Listen Up, Fellas: A Brief Shaving Primer for the Age-Group Triathlete

Credit: Graham Chadwick/Allsport

Visit any vibrant tri-related message board and, like wheelsize, seat angle, and drafting, this issue will come up about once every six months.

You can set your calendar by it. Every tri-guy wants to know what's up with leg-shaving.

There'll always be a few on these boards who lamely try to justify leg shaving: "It makes it easier to give and receive a massage," and "it's easier to clean and disinfect after a bike crash." Fine.

Then there's the real reason: Peer pressure. Nothing wrong with that. Peer pressure is a perfectly legitimate motivator, as is vanity (another good reason to shave).

I'm less interested in the reasons for it as in the mechanics of it. Here I can help.

I tried Nair. My leg hair was just too tough for any chemical cream. After awhile my legs looked like they were on chemotherapy. I abandoned that method and just shaved the rest of the hair off. I can't recommend this for pig-bristled men.

I tried waxing once. Don't ever do this. First, you can't possibly handle the pain if you do it yourself. Some girl waxed me. Still, I couldn't bear it. I'd have talked. I'd have spilled every national secret. Fortunately, I didn't know anything (still don't). She waxed about two-thirds of one leg when I called it quits. I shaved the other leg-and-a-third for three weeks, until the waxed leg caught up.

This brings up a point, which is that yanking your hair out by its roots is extremely efficient and long-lasting. But it's the most painful thing I've ever experienced in sport, and that includes bike crashes and deep bonking.

I'm a lazy person by nature, and have therefore tried a variety of short-cut options. Electrolysis is about the only thing I haven't tried. Simply put, nothing beats the razor. I've now got a Gillette Mach 5, and it's the best razor I've ever had. Its got three blades, and they're close enough together so that the little hair fragments don't get caught in-between the blades, gumming up the works.

But I don't shave my legs anymore, for two reasons. First, the quizzical looks I used to get would occasionally resolve into looks of understanding as people unraveled the riddle of why me, a man, had the legs of Ann Miller yet with the body of the Missing Link from the waist up. Some of these people did realize I'd shaved my legs, they just didn't know why (I'm sure they formed opinions).

The second reason I no longer shave is that at 45 years old, I no longer need legs like Ann Miller (a 1950s MGM tap dancer whose legs were insured). But that isn't to say you have to live with legs like a fox terriers either. Little-known fact: You can mow them.

Me, I've got hair in all the places I don't want it. It won't much grow on my head anymore, but, lo!, its started to show up in my ears. My ears I'd have waxed, except I'm trying to keep wax out of there.

Anyway, I'm not into faking anybody out about my hair. No comb-overs, no transplants, no Rogaine. I just mow it short and tight with electric clippers, like a 1960s defense contractor (and Andre Agassi, whose head hair lasted fewer years than mine did). What I've found is that my clippers also work just fine on the legs.

You just can't mow too short, because the hair'll get all bristly and there's another reason, if you can follow my rationale: While I don't want to fake anybody out by putting extra hair on top of my head, I do want to fake people out about shaving. I want to quasi-shave, and make people think I've got God-given short and sparse leg hairs.

Now others, not me of course, might go wild with those clippers and just start in all over the body, above the waist as well (omitting obvious enclaves where hair is expected). The point to this strategy is, regardless of how much of your body you mow, so long as it's only ankle-deep it'll look like you don't shave anywhere at all. See? (Besides, you don't want your whole body to look like Ann Miller's, but like Howard Keel's).

So there you go: shaving for the hairy, old, and lazy age-groupers who actually remember seeing certain of MGM's musicals as first-run theater productions.

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