Middle-aged men in Lycra: just why do they do it?

Daily Echo: Proud Mamil Andy Bissell in the New Forest Proud Mamil Andy Bissell in the New Forest

CYCLING lures the sane and sensible like a seductive temptress.

What starts with a brief encounter behind the bike shed quickly descends into an intoxicating, illicit liaison.

It’s a passionate, all-consuming love affair that necessitates new habits, new routines – and a new look.

I speak from experience.

Six years ago, I was a 40-something nobody. Now I am labelled along with my co-afflicted.

We are even a demographic: we are Mamils – Middle-aged Men In Lycra.

As mid-life crises go, pretending to be a Tour de France champion is a relatively harmless if pathetic delusion. Yet it would be irresponsible not to offer some words of caution.

Once smitten, separation from the bike is inconceivable; there will be tiffs but never divorce.

Sufferers of compulsive cycling disorder soon exhibit disturbing symptoms, too.

On Saturday, there’s a strong urge to gather cycling gear – kit, nutrition bars, gels, and related paraphernalia – and lay it out on the sofa in readiness.

Industrial quantities of pasta are consumed that evening before the excited Mamil heads for an early night to ensure peak performance on Sunday morning.

The bleary-eyed Mamil duly awakes at 6am, force-feeds himself once more and collects his sofa items before heading to the garage for an emotional re-union with his trusty steed.

Outside, the brooding hills beckon and fellow Mamils emerge from the drizzle to join him en route.

A Mamil peloton is a sight to behold. It’s a blur of clashing colour schemes, wobbling flesh and receding hairlines, the sound of whirring cranks punctuated with wicked banter, expletives and the last croaks of those suffering severe oxygen deficiency.

In other words, it’s a lot of fun.

Particularly the obligatory stop at a coffee shop, a traditional place of Sunday worship for Mamils where homage is paid to cake and anecdotes shared.

A personal favourite is the one about a Mamil who kept his beloved machine in the bedroom until his despairing wife screamed: “Either that bloody bike goes or I do!” The Mamil casually peered over the top of his Cycling Weekly and replied: “You know where the door is.”

When the all-conquering Mamil eventually returns home, he typically dumps his smouldering kit near the washing machine in the hope it will be attended to by his long-suffering partner.

The Mamil tells himself her stony face is nothing to do with him before entering the post-ride phase of the Mamil routine: a three-hour recovery slumber, which regrettably (but conveniently) postpones any hope of DIY/gardening/domestic chores.

The above is repeated the following weekend – and mid-week if the cunning Mamil can get away with it.

So how do you enter this madness?

Firstly Lycra – and particularly a padded short – is essential. Wind will simply inflate looser clothing and further confirm the neighbour’s suspicion that Pillsbury Doughboy lives next door. Further, decorum prevents me from detailing what a road saddle can do to a gentleman’s unprotected undercarriage.

However, there’s no pressing need to adopt team colours and squeeze into the replica Sky skin suit which adorns Mamil Godfather, Sir Wiggo.

Think of it this way: should a portly Sunday footballer unable to hit a barn door from five yards really be wearing Messi’s Barcelona top?

The shirt should be earned. Indeed, to minimise the risk of embarrassment I only wear my King of the Mountains top when the terrain is flat – or it’s dark.

The uninitiated may also be tempted to re-mortgage the house and purchase the latest, lightest carbon machine.

Yet bitter experience taught me the real weight issue was spilling uncontrollably over my waistband. Hence a sub £1,000 entry model – or a second-hand equivalent – is perfectly suitable for the novice Mamil.

Metamorphosis into a fully-fledged Mamil occurs the day you realise a thinner and happier version of your old, miserable self has magically materialised.

You have been reborn. You are one of us.

Comments (10)

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4:54pm Sat 9 Feb 13

vag says...

I do it because it keeps me fit, and saves a shed load of money.
I do it because it keeps me fit, and saves a shed load of money. vag

6:55pm Sat 9 Feb 13

J.P.M says...

Why do people no longer use Soton central library?
It was deserted today...
Why do people no longer use Soton central library? It was deserted today... J.P.M

8:01pm Sat 9 Feb 13

Ginger_cyclist says...

I'm not middle aged (only 20) and I don't wear lycra, so what does that make me?
I'm not middle aged (only 20) and I don't wear lycra, so what does that make me? Ginger_cyclist

8:11pm Sat 9 Feb 13

forest hump says...

Ginger_cyclist wrote:
I'm not middle aged (only 20) and I don't wear lycra, so what does that make me?
Ginger, you are setting yourself up....think about it!
[quote][p][bold]Ginger_cyclist[/bold] wrote: I'm not middle aged (only 20) and I don't wear lycra, so what does that make me?[/p][/quote]Ginger, you are setting yourself up....think about it! forest hump

8:31pm Sat 9 Feb 13

Ginger_cyclist says...

forest hump wrote:
Ginger_cyclist wrote:
I'm not middle aged (only 20) and I don't wear lycra, so what does that make me?
Ginger, you are setting yourself up....think about it!
Ah, let the bigots and idiots have their fun, they'll soon tire of it, plus they only do it because they don't what cycling is really like. :)
[quote][p][bold]forest hump[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ginger_cyclist[/bold] wrote: I'm not middle aged (only 20) and I don't wear lycra, so what does that make me?[/p][/quote]Ginger, you are setting yourself up....think about it![/p][/quote]Ah, let the bigots and idiots have their fun, they'll soon tire of it, plus they only do it because they don't what cycling is really like. :) Ginger_cyclist

9:09pm Sat 9 Feb 13

forest hump says...

Do you mean tyre of it? Those thin little gripless pieces that barely keep you upright? (: (: have a good evening and stay safe!!
Do you mean tyre of it? Those thin little gripless pieces that barely keep you upright? (: (: have a good evening and stay safe!! forest hump

9:36pm Sat 9 Feb 13

Ginger_cyclist says...

forest hump wrote:
Do you mean tyre of it? Those thin little gripless pieces that barely keep you upright? (: (: have a good evening and stay safe!!
Lol Yeah though I don't use slick tyres that are only as little as 19mm or 20mm wide, I always looked at them and thought, "No way is that a comfortable ride." because then you might as well be riding on a band of metal coated in rubber.
[quote][p][bold]forest hump[/bold] wrote: Do you mean tyre of it? Those thin little gripless pieces that barely keep you upright? (: (: have a good evening and stay safe!![/p][/quote]Lol Yeah though I don't use slick tyres that are only as little as 19mm or 20mm wide, I always looked at them and thought, "No way is that a comfortable ride." because then you might as well be riding on a band of metal coated in rubber. Ginger_cyclist

10:38pm Sat 9 Feb 13

forest hump says...

Ginger_cyclist wrote:
forest hump wrote:
Do you mean tyre of it? Those thin little gripless pieces that barely keep you upright? (: (: have a good evening and stay safe!!
Lol Yeah though I don't use slick tyres that are only as little as 19mm or 20mm wide, I always looked at them and thought, "No way is that a comfortable ride." because then you might as well be riding on a band of metal coated in rubber.
In the words of Frankie goes to Holywood... welcome to the velodrome. or is it pleasuredome??
[quote][p][bold]Ginger_cyclist[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]forest hump[/bold] wrote: Do you mean tyre of it? Those thin little gripless pieces that barely keep you upright? (: (: have a good evening and stay safe!![/p][/quote]Lol Yeah though I don't use slick tyres that are only as little as 19mm or 20mm wide, I always looked at them and thought, "No way is that a comfortable ride." because then you might as well be riding on a band of metal coated in rubber.[/p][/quote]In the words of Frankie goes to Holywood... welcome to the velodrome. or is it pleasuredome?? forest hump

10:31am Sun 10 Feb 13

Ginger_cyclist says...

forest hump wrote:
Ginger_cyclist wrote:
forest hump wrote:
Do you mean tyre of it? Those thin little gripless pieces that barely keep you upright? (: (: have a good evening and stay safe!!
Lol Yeah though I don't use slick tyres that are only as little as 19mm or 20mm wide, I always looked at them and thought, "No way is that a comfortable ride." because then you might as well be riding on a band of metal coated in rubber.
In the words of Frankie goes to Holywood... welcome to the velodrome. or is it pleasuredome??
lol Definitely velodrome. ;)
[quote][p][bold]forest hump[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ginger_cyclist[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]forest hump[/bold] wrote: Do you mean tyre of it? Those thin little gripless pieces that barely keep you upright? (: (: have a good evening and stay safe!![/p][/quote]Lol Yeah though I don't use slick tyres that are only as little as 19mm or 20mm wide, I always looked at them and thought, "No way is that a comfortable ride." because then you might as well be riding on a band of metal coated in rubber.[/p][/quote]In the words of Frankie goes to Holywood... welcome to the velodrome. or is it pleasuredome??[/p][/quote]lol Definitely velodrome. ;) Ginger_cyclist

1:06pm Mon 11 Feb 13

ssnaked23 says...

Im classed as a middle aged man, have been cycling for years but I dont wear lycra. Why is that they think that we all have to wear lycra to be able to cycle. I usually wear board shorts or track suit bottoms and still manage to cycle at a reasonable pace. I suppose next they'll be saying what hair cream they use on their legs to reduce the effect of road rash when they come off!
Im classed as a middle aged man, have been cycling for years but I dont wear lycra. Why is that they think that we all have to wear lycra to be able to cycle. I usually wear board shorts or track suit bottoms and still manage to cycle at a reasonable pace. I suppose next they'll be saying what hair cream they use on their legs to reduce the effect of road rash when they come off! ssnaked23

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