Ever have anybody tell you how to go about shaving your legs?
Everybody says it's a good thing - prevents having to scrub nasty leg hair out of big road rash patches, gives a minimal (14 second) aerodynamic advantage over a 40km TT, is in keeping with the Roadracing Ethos, the wife/girlfriend usually opposes it until they experience then they inevitably love it...
Great stuff, but nobody talks about technique. Here's some stuff I've figured out based on doing some shaving when I was a swimmer, eons ago, and based on what I've re-discovered over the last year or so. A preliminary concern - use a pair of clippers, hair or beard/moustache type, to take it down to stubble. It will take forever if you try to hack off a jungle of leg hair using a razor. Once you are down to stubble:
1) Get your legs wet. Even better if they are sweaty-greasy, like after a ride. I recommend water for this. Gatorade would be sticky.
2) Start with a fresh razor - at least two bladed. If you like a real challenge, and don't faint at the sight of your own blood, a deadly sharp straight razor or a dull single blade razor might be an interesting variation on this technique.
3) Use Edge gel, stick the lower leg on the toilet seat, and lather up. You do the bottom first, otherwise you cover yourself in shaving cream trying to bend over after your thigh is lathered up. I don't recommend using Smuckers Strawberry Jam for this portion of the operation.
4) Work from the back side of the calf and knee, to the ankle then shin then front of knee. Back to front, for the same reason, to avoid covering yourself in shaving cream, which gets expensive after a while if you waste enough of it.
5) Lather up the back side of the leg, then the outside then the inside. Shaving your male member and his two little friends is strictly optional.
6) Shave as far up as you like. The guys who don't race and who are just stylin' seem to stop somewhere just over the bottom of the shorts' leg line. If you are like me, actually race and seem to crash once in a while, you'll probably prefer to get the hip and butt - they usually take the brunt of any crash along with the outside of the calf, and if you have some Eye-Tie blood in you, as I do, your hairy butt will suffer horribly from getting hair stuck into the road rash.
7) Note the direction your leg hair grows. Shave against the grain. Don't press down hard, just maintain firm, light pressure and drag the razor upwards. In my case, the hair is parted up the middle of my thigh, probably the legacy of sitting 10 hours a day in law school then for 7 years as an attorney, wearing khakis or dress pants. So I have to start on the back of the hamstring, and work around my leg in semi-circles. If you in a wearing-shorts-job, better for you, your hair probably grows downward and simple upward strokes will work.
8) I start from the outside of the hamstring/thigh, and shave up and in. This way, I'm not bending over and getting shaving cream on my chest trying to reach up and under on the inside of my leg. I don't recommend trying to shave patterns into your leg hair here. Also, rinse the razor frequently, if you get a lot of stubble into it (and you'll get ten times as much stubble as you do when face-shaving) then the razor can skip and bounce a little on the skin, and this leads to cuts. Well, unless you're into self-mutilation, in which case, go to town, mate!
9) Careful on the back of the knee. If you stand facing away from the toilet and extend your leg, sort of toes-down on the toilet seat, you can get your knee straight enough so that the skin on the back of the knee isn't puckered, and you can gently shave it along with the top of the calf, all without taking off a huge strip of skin and revealing your tendons for closer inspection. This is a good thing... and quite frankly nothing burns worse than a back of the knee cut with sweat dripping into it. I had no idea about how much I sweated just sitting at work until I cut the back of my knee.
10) Careful on the front of the knee. There are lots of little dips and if you have a contact sports background, they'll be scarred up. You can take a whole chunk out if you don't watch out. Press more gently on this part of the leg and the back of the knee, and make multiple low-pressure passes if necessary. Screw this up, you'll have another impressive scar, though the story to go with it will be pretty girly.
11) Shave the calf and shin in any order. There are three trouble areas to look out for. The dimple on the inside and outside of your ankle is troublesome. Shave gingerly in the dip, and when you bring the razor up the tendon on the outside of the leg, press lightly. You can take off a 6" strip of skin here if you don't watch out because the razor hits the high point. Second, take care when going up the middle of the shin, for the same reason. Third area, the achilles and the wrinkly skin on it. I just leave that sucker alone, it's like shaving a golf ball, too many little dimples.
12) Shower up after you shave. If your skin can take it, use a good anti-bacterial soap, like Dial. Leave it on for 2+ minutes, that's how long it takes to de-germ your gams. Yeah, the chlorinated water hurts, so does the soap. Big frickin' deal. You don't like hurting? You should probably find another sport then.
13) After you shower, if you have some open pores (little blood spots or razor burns) douse your legs with rubbing alcohol, 93% type, with lanolin. Just in case you wondered, yeah, it burns, but not as bad as impetigo or some other skin infection would burn, and not nearly half as bad as scrubbing gravel out of a hairy scab after a race crash. If you feel like screaming... don't. It doesn't hurt as bad as going ass over teakettle at 35 MPH then having two guys crash into you, I can assure you.
14) After that dries, a bit of Neutrogena will take care of the leg skin. BTW, cats seem to like the taste of Neutrogena, and they may lick your legs at night if you use it post-shave and go straight to bed. This is really weird. Don't say you haven't been warned.
15) Don't go swimming right after you shave your legs. Lots of icky stuff in the water, besides your nappy butt.
You might be wondering why I'm putting out so much detail here. It's because in a past life as a swimmer, I used to shave and got some wicked skin infections I'd rather not go into the details of - reducing the cuts and disinfecting may help with that. I'm also hoping that once John Brewer gets all married up, he gets over the Fear of the Blade and can, Kenny Rogers' Son-style, "not do the things I done."
Can't have a guy sprinting up the Cat Ladder riding around like a hairy-legged Fred, now can we?