Sometimes, you have to stand up for your rights.
Dear Reader, a throwaway line in fellow Crankpunker Cam Whiting’s excellent piece this week has got me all het up and ready to overreact.
A slur that cannot be ignored:
“Even if you’re still fitter than the average hairy-legged newbie pack fodder…”
Pack fodder? Newbie? Me?
This backhander cannot, must not, be allowed to stand.
If deliberately cherry-picking a throwaway line and ranting hysterically about it is wrong, then I’m about to be very wrong.
Being a hairy-legged cyclist is no shameful thing, Dear Reader. Allow me to explain why.
1. The element of surprise
The prejudices of the shaven are their greatest weakness. So dazzled are they by their silky calves and well-defined musculatures, their aerodynamic skin and clean silhouettes, that they dismiss the hairy bloke on sight.
The smooth-legged, secure in the misguided belief that shaving down confers extra watts, often interpret hair as a guarantee of inexperience and a lack of fitness.
I regularly spot a smooth-legged gent on five-figures worth of carbon bling, giving me the dismissive glance through his shades at the lights.
“Oh, that bloke doesn’t even shave, what a newbie”, whispers the straw man in my head.
Little does my nemesis suspect.
Just as a sniper wears a ghillie suit [it’s camouflage clothing, apparently – cp.] to disguise his true threat, the hirsute cyclist gives such a fuzzy impression to the smug razor enthusiast.
This just heightens the pleasure of a swift headshot to his pride on the next Strava segment.
2. Breaking the Rules.
We’ve all read The Rules.
Rule 33: Shave Your Guns.
It seems clean cut.
“Legs are to be carefully shaved at all times. If, for some reason, your legs are to be left hairy, make sure you can dish out plenty of hurt to shaved riders, or be considered a hippie douche..”
Plus I saw Richie Porte break Rule 56 last week, so I reckon we all get at least one free pass.
3. Being a Fakenger
Everyone knows bike messengers are cool. They’re the trendsetting punk rebels of the bike world. Hard-drinking vegans with serious attitude, lots of crash stories, and a permanent layer of road grime.
You know those guys who dress like bike messengers, drink cheap beer like bike messengers, have tattoos like bike messengers, ride fixies like bike messengers, and generally ride like complete arseholes – like bike messengers – but work in IT?
You can’t be one of those guys unless you have hairy legs.
4. Shaving sucks
I used to shave my legs. There’s nothing worse than getting a massage with a full winter coat, so if you’re getting a regular rub, then fair play to you.
But by golly gosh is shaving a pain.
An hour in the bath with the clippers and a desperate hope that nobody sees you like this.
A 4-pack of downpayment on the Gillette CEO’s new summer house.
Those chemicals that melt the hair and smell like a tyre fire in a soap factory.
When you’re a bloke with shanks like a moose, there’s just no good way of getting smooth legs.
5. You’ll never be a Rapha model
Those moody desaturated videos of impossibly stylish cyclists spinning up craggy climbs while a voiceover dribbles on about the experience over a backdrop of minimal downtempo electronica?
You will never be in one of those if you have hairy legs, because they just don’t look good enough in the photos.
Nobody can see your ripped calves and bulging quads. Your tan lines are blurred. Your knees look funny. You’re probably not wearing $350 worth of lycra.
You’re not a sponsored rider, you’re not a pro, and you’re not here to look good.
You’re here to ride yourself into the ground, to taste metal, and to thrash your mates. It ain’t a fashion show…
Pack fodder indeed!