Welcome back to our series on shaving for work. Last week we spoke to Dutch swimmer Stan Pijpenburg about how shaving gives him an edge. This week we’re looking at cyclists –who shave their legs to compete.
You might think: “How could a few hairs be worth removing?” But there’s been studies that show you can save 79-seconds over a 40-kilometre time trial by shaving your legs. And when you consider that the tightest winning margin in the Tour de France was 8-seconds, over 3,500 kilometres, taking a razor to your pins seems like a pretty good idea.
We spoke to F.A.S.T. Amsterdam cyclist Luc Ducrot about why shaving is important even when you’re not competing at the top level.
How did you get into cycling?
I came to cycling later in life. My Dad was a professional cyclist, but I wasn’t interested in it when I was younger. I thought it was kinda lame. Wearing skin tight clothes didn’t appeal to me.
I got into it about 10 years ago. I bought an old race bike and went on a backpacking trip with a friend. Though that I fell in love with cycling and started doing day trips. Spending a Saturday or Sunday cycling around and stopping for coffee here and there.
When did you decide to take it more seriously?
From the day tripping I kept getting fitter and fitter, which I liked. And at some point I thought I should try racing. I started out racing on the road racing, and then wanted to try the velodrome. Which was where I met the guys from F.A.S.T Amsterdam. It turned out I was alright, and they invited me to join the team and I started racing in fixed gear crits.
What’s a fixed gear crit?
Crits are track bikes racing on the road. 50 guys, on a closed road, going full gas from the start. The bikes don’t have gears. It’s just two two cogs, and no brakes. There’s no teams tactics like road racing. It’s more unpredictable, more individual, and more high octane.
That sounds intense! What’s your best moment from a crit?
It from the time we went to Red Hook in Milan. The race was on the city streets at night. The roads were closed and they put up lights everywhere. The crowd were really excited and the noise and the lights and the course were really intense.
What about shaving, why do cyclists shave?
There’s a couple of reasons. If you crash and get road rash the wound is easier to care for and less likely to get infected. And at the pro level you get a lot of massages which can really pull on your hair. And at the top level it can make a difference to your time.
It’s a style thing as well. A way to show you’re a cyclist and you’re taking it seriously. It’s part of the lifestyle.
At what point did you start to shave your legs?
It was after the first couple of races. I looked around and everyone had shaved legs and mine were hairy. I felt like a bit of a noob. Shaving was a conscious choice that I was going to start taking cycling more seriously.
Do you shave your legs regularly or is it something you only do to compete?
I don’t shave my legs in the winter because we wear leg warmers so there’s no point. But once the leg warmers come off that’s when I shave. I shave once a week to keep the hair short.
When do you shave?
I shave the day before a competition. I don’t have a particular time when I shave, but I like to shave the day before to give my skin time to rest. And the morning of the race I open a pair of fresh white socks, it’s a bit of a tradition. I feel faster after I’ve shave, and the fresh socks and shaved legs gives me a mental boost.
What’s your top shaving tip?
Don’t use the same blade for your legs and anywhere else. I have a dedicated blade for shaving my legs. Shave down if you’ve a lot of hair, but I shave upwards as I shave every week.
I do it in the shower and it only takes me between 2-3 minutes. When get out of the shower I used body lotion on my legs and arms. The parts of me that are out in the sun when I’m on the bike.
You’ve got to take care of your skin.
There you have it folks. Sometimes shaving improves your performance, and other times it’ll make your feel part of the community. Thanks to Luc for the interview and best of luck to F.A.S.T. Amsterdam when they get back to racing again.
Check our previous article about shaving as a swimmer
Or some of our other articles about bodygrooming and skincare.