Welcome to the Gun Show

Frank Strack answers your thorny questions of cycling etiquette

Whatever your choices, what you want to avoid is the condition we call the Wookie Shorts

Dear Frank

Re: ‘Shaving of the Guns’. I am, to put it mildly, a hairy man. I recently shaved my legs to perfect smoothness, with the result that the rest of my body stands out as noticeably hirsute by comparison (my girlfriend winces every time she sees me naked). What do The Rules say regarding the shaving of other body parts?

Dear Hirsute Male

Rule 33 states that ‘Legs are to be carefully shaved at all times’. However, The Rules, in their wisdom, have left the matter of other body parts to the shaver and whoever has the unfortunate business of seeing them naked.

As cyclists, we don’t further our case by striving to strip our upper bodies of any musculature for fear of slowing our ascent up the local leg-shredder. As our legs grow, our torsos wither, resembling something akin to a cactus riding an elephant. In other words, unless your hairiness translates into being able to grow a considerable moustache, you can take comfort in the knowledge that the choices you make as far as what you shave will not stand between you and a dual career in cycling and pornography.

I could go into the justifications for the cleanly-shaved guns – crashes, air resistance, massage – but the reality is that we do it because it allows us to self-identify as a Cyclist. We do it because Cyclists do it, and the more we become a disciple of Cycling, the more natural it looks to us.

We eventually learn that there is no sight more beautiful than tanned, muscled legs glistening in the sunlight the way only clean-shaving can achieve. Our shaved legs serve a purpose, but we’re not clear on precisely what that purpose is. What we are clear on is that we like how it looks. Shaving transforms legs into guns. Having set the premise that shaving is ultimately an aesthetic choice, deciding how far to go is a question of several dimensions.

How far removed are you from the apes? The gorillas among us will have a tougher time of this than those more evolved. I’m guessing from your question that you fall into the former category. Don’t be alarmed by my assertion that people less hairy (like myself) are more evolved. It’s true, we are. But being more evolved isn’t necessarily helpful during a race. While I’m getting my kit arranged perfectly and fussing with the buckles on my shoes, you’ll have dropped the hammer and will be off winning the race. We’ll call it a level playing field.

Also, where do your patches thin out, and can they be used to lessen the shock as you move from shaved gun to furry abdomen? How compulsive are you? Can you deal with ‘shave horizons’, the boundary between smooth gun and hairy limb? Once you start with your legs, can you stop short of giving yourself a full Brazilian, waxing your chest (men only, obviously), and shaving your eyebrows and head? Personally, I blend my leg shaving into my bodyscaping. I don’t have the moustache for pornography, so I’m satisfied to shave my legs until I run out of hair, then use some artistic license to blend it in to the rest of my hair landscape. (Speaking of bodyscaping, if you’re sporting a 70s-era shag carpet around your bits, grab a trimmer and reduce that to a modern jute rug. Long hair can lead to saddle sores and discomfort – you’ll thank me later, and your partner will thank me right away.)

Whatever your choices, what you want to avoid is the condition we call the Wookie Shorts: shaving to just above the tan lines, leaving fur patches that look like Chewbacca got stuck thigh-deep in a pool of Nair. As for your arms, you’re on your own, but if you are as hairy as you say, I suspect your back hair, ass hair, chest hair etc all blend together into a furry mess. I recommend full-body electrolysis.


Frank Strack is the founder of velominati.com, home of The Rules.