A few weeks ago I bought into the internet hype that all male cyclists, big and small, young and old, should shave their legs lest they be labeled a perpetual cycling noob for their egregious behavior in the eyes of their local club brethren. About two days after succumbing to said hype I emailed our local cycle shop owner with the intention of finding out if this label was real or just hype. God forbid, I’d hate to be labeled in perpetuity for a lack of respect for my newly beloved hobby. Ah, if I’d only sent that email before I’d bothered to shave my “guns”, for he absolved all cycling noobs by proclaiming that the only people, at least locally, who shave their legs are the racers who compete at a regional or state level. This certainly does not describe me, as I simply ride for enjoyment and fitness purposes – even if I do take this hobby of riding seriously. I wrote about it here.
A comment on that post provided me with inspiration and the impetus to take said “manscaping”, even though I defined it minimally in that post, to a whole new level in an attempt to pass on to my fellow cyclists, nigh fellow men the world over, the inspiration and knowledge to keep oneself “high and tight”, without pulling out the razor lest one of us noobs accidentally shave off a nipple in the attempt to escape being labeled a social pariah in the cycling community. The comment, provided by Kimberly of the fabulously interesting Powerofrun blog, is as follows: “A lot of men could learn something here!” Well Kimberly, in the interest of aiding in the betterment of my brothers everywhere, I will step up and provide a clear and concise step-by-step instructional guide of that which will allow us men to look fantastically handsome and well-groomed without having to pull out a razor on a daily basis to avoid having to deal with the itching that comes with it.
Now, it must be stated, I’ve given up on shaving my legs and am on day four of allowing my mane to grow back on those on which I ambulate. The backs of my thighs itched so bad that it almost drove me to insanity on a daily basis and I’d had enough. Now that I know I can avoid being shunned for the decision, not taking the extra five minutes in the shower will indubitably spare the State of Michigan from worries of a future water shortage, though I will be renewing my normal weekly trimming of said leg hair as it grows to a length that requires it.
In any event, if you want to avoid the Yeti look, and more of us should, here is a Rated PG instruction guide.
Shaving of the face daily is important. The “five o’clock shadow” went out with Miami Vice, and looking like this is simply wrong:
That’s all. Just shave the mug – especially if your beard looks like this when it comes in. Bald facial patches are nasty and make one look lazy, and considering how much time we spend on a bike to stay fit and look good (obviously not lazy), why would anyone want to look that crappy? And here’s a quiz question – Why, in the name of all that is holy, would anyone take the time to shave one’s chest, but not the mug?
The Neck Beard: Every man grows a neck beard. It’s the scruff that grows on the back of your neck below the hair-line. That gets shaved once a week. Period. No if’s, and’s or buts about it. Enlist the help of the significant other for this. It takes 43 seconds.
Trimming of the nose hairs: Folks, I hope I don’t have to point out that the photo to the left is just stupid. You can’t – ever – substitute nose hair for a fu-manchu mustache. There are several products on the market to aid in trimming said nose hair to an acceptable length (though this guy may actually need a gas-powered weed whacker at this point. The appropriate length being anything that stays inside the nose. Now there are some important facts to take into account here, about nose hair… Number one is that it performs an actual function. Some will use a nose hair trimmer than cuts said hair down to a nub. I don’t use them (and really don’t care to look up yet one more site that shrieks about the horror of performing a simple grooming task while trying to transform society into a more nose hair friendly place for the sake of the human race – good God). I use round tipped scissors. This method isn’t perfect and requires a little bit of care so that one doesn’t slice one’s nasal cavity, but it does leave much of the stalk in place to do its job.
How to: This requires all of three or four snips – front, back and both sides for each nostril. It takes all of 32 seconds – total.
Ear Hair: Here’s a blanket statement. Ear hair, of any length, is simply not tolerable. Period. As you age, you will begin to grow hair in places that it doesn’t belong and lose hair in places where it does belong. Just because this is a fact of life, it is simply not acceptable to let your ears turn into a forest in which you can lose small creatures – like a chihuahua. Use the clippers or a nose hair trimmer. I do not recommend a razor – there’s just too much that can go wrong there.
How to: Clippers or trimmers – your ears are important, it may be wise to enlist your significant other to help. If you’re the sorry fella on the left, you may just think about whacking them off and sewing some plastic ones on there. Sheesh.
Uni-brow/Eye brows: Now this goes for the ladies too, and if you do that stupid thing where you shave them off and then draw them back on with a pencil… Holy crap, you can’t make that look good. My favorite, of course, is the “surprised” look, where the penciled on brow arches towards the heavens to give the coloring artist a look of perpetual surprise. That notwithstanding, keeping this to “man”scaping… Uni-brows are bad. Long bushy eyebrows are bad. They are bad even if you’re Martin Scorsese. Have your hair stylist trim and even them up every time you get your hair cut, in the mean time…
How to: Take those round tipped scissors and with your pointer finger, push your eyebrows up so that any long stragglers stick out past the finger – whack them off. Repeat for the other eyebrow. Take a close look and make sure that you didn’t miss any. If so, carefully isolate it and trim it down. For the uni-brow I use a Gillette Fusion razor to shave with, it has a single small razor blade on the back that works fantastically for this task – just be careful. One false move and you’re uneven.
Arm/Chest Hair: Folks, long arm hair is socially acceptable (to an extent) and chest hair is normally not exactly visible unless one actually exercises in which case you’re parading around in a tank top or no shirt on a regular basis, worse still is the tight-fitting cycling jersey… What you end up with is a nice tight shirt around the arms followed by, POOF, an explosion of hair – you can have skinny arms and by the time you’ve ridden five miles you’ll look like Popeye. I’m not big on wasting a lot of time on the manscaping – I simply don’t have the patience, but I have been cursed with arm hair that will grow to a length of two inches if I let it. I started trimming it about five years ago because I like driving with my arm on the window sill in the summer, and with long arm hair, I’d exit the car with one arm poofed and one arm laying flat. It was hilarious and most decidedly not awesome:
How to: I tame said jungle with a pair of clippers with a guard… This way, I can trim the hair to any length I want, evenly and quickly. Just be careful to A) Trim over the sink and clean the sink to avoid a significantly pissed off wife. If you can’t keep the trimmings confined to the sink area, allowing for a 20 second clean up, stand on a towel. It will come in handy in a minute anyway. Total time (chest and arms both): 7-10 minutes
Leg Hair: I’ve got leg hair under the “weekly” header, but really this can be done every other week – especially in the winter, if you trim short enough. In fact, often it’s actually desirable twice weekly because the extra week will allow said leg hair to grow long enough to be picked up by the trimmers. Now, while we cyclists may be safe from scorn if we choose not to shave the “guns”, we can be certain that we should not take unfair advantage of the niceness of our fellow carbon jockeys. Fortunately, so there is no doubt as to my meaning on this, I have photographic evidence to be submitted that will clear this up. As you can see in the photo below… Oh hell, I don’t even know where to start.
Let’s just say this: If you can braid your freaking leg hair, you seriously need to buck up and fix that – now. C’mon man! I almost have to believe that this was photo-shopped. How is that even possible? Well, we’ll just go with it. This is absolutely unacceptable. Not only must we respect ourselves, we must respect our feminine better half as well. If that doesn’t work, face facts, if you show up in cycling shorts looking like that, you deserve to be shunned. Sorry, but that’s gnarly.
How to: In this case, you could actually use to pay a hair stylist to fix that. In less egregious situations, clippers with a guard will work just fine. Start low and work up and make sure you at least go high enough to conceal anything you leave under the cycling shorts. And for goodness sake, be careful and don’t miss a patch: 10-15 minutes for both legs
Armpit hair. I picked this one up from my sister, a hair stylist, who posited that allowing one’s armpit hair to grow to a length that sticks out of the crook between a lowered arm and the pectoral muscle, as if someone stuffed a squirrel under each arm allowing the tail to hang to the front. This is terribly wrong:
Again, if you are a male and can braid any hair on your body, it’s too long. Trim it. You look goofy as hell. The only acceptable braid length hair would be that attached directly to the cranium…and I say that’s even suspect, but it is what it is.
UPDATE: I almost forgot something that I must attend to on a regular basis! My wife loves my long sideburns, thus the reason for my having them in the first place. Sideburns require bi-weekly attention at a minimum. If they get to bushy or straggly, they can make an otherwise well groomed man look silly. For the side burns I use my handy clippers with a number 3 guard – total grooming time: 43 seconds.
UPDATE: See also: