I have to say that at one time I would have never have thought that I would be seen dead out in public, or indeed in private in any sort of tight lycra clothing – never mind a pair of lycra cycling shorts? Why on earth would I want to inflict the sight of my scrawny body squeezed into a tube of stretchy fabric on anyone, surely there should be a public decency law or something to prevent it!
However, times change!
I now spend five hours or more a week actually out in public wearing various items of lycra clothing and don’t really think anything of it. What was the strange phenomena that caused this sea change of opinion?
What changed a modestly dressed unassuming middle aged man with little interest in fashion or clothing into someone who actually desired wearing lycra cycling clothing?
How did this happen?
Will his three teenage daughters ever get over the shock and stop sniggering behind his back?
Most importantly what is it actually like shoe horning yourself into a tube of lycra and going out in public?
Read on, if you are brave enough, to find out!
So, the first funny thing is that once I had decided to take up road cyling it really wasn’t very long before the desire to get some lycra gear kicked in as well. It’s like a bit of a contageous fetish in that no sooner are you considering buying a bike for the price of a decent second hand car than the whole “I need gear” desire takes over your senses as well.
I swore I would resist. What sensible middle aged nominal Yorkshireman would consider such a ridiculous get up?
You start riding, you realise how uncomfortable the saddle is and all of a sudden a pair of padded shorts seems like the most desirable item of clothing in the world!
Ahh, relief for my over pounded bottom!
Really please! You’re now telling me that you want some super tight shorts that include a sewn in nappy pad as well and, most unbelievably, you have some dark and deep seated distant notion that you’re going to look sporty and cool wearing them!!
Ha, get hold of your senses and dream on!
It’s weird though because this is exactly the though process that inevitably does filter through your slightly deluded brain!
So, the day arrives when the lycra parcel arrives from Amazon and, in my case at least, I waited until the family were out to furtively undo the parcel and try the new lycra bib shorts on.
Now, bear in mind that, at this stage I hadn’t worn proper sports gear for probably twenty years or so. I’m certainly no prude and am well over worrying what my body looks like but dear God! Putting this stuff on and looking at myself standing there in the mirror with the bibs over my shoulders and the shorts skin tight on the bottom! I howled with laughter!
It does look and feel very strange for a start. Lycra is tight, there’s no getting around the fact and it feels rather alien to be pulling material tightly over your skin!
You do also feel rather naked when you go out for the first time as it actually feels like everything is on show. You waddle around a bit with what feels like a full nappy between your legs and it’s also cold and feels revealing. I was worried that everyone was looking at me and thinking what a wally I looked!
But, as soon as you get on the bike it all starts to make perfect sense. Of course the pad is brilliant and works perfectly. I can’t describe how much more freely you can move when pedalling and how natural it feels. You don’t realise how much energy you expend in dealing with creases and flapping fabric, how uncomfortable and restricting cycling in jeans is and just how much more comfortable the slippery tight lycra shorts are in comparison.
It really is (or was for me at least) a never look back experience. I would never consider wearing any other type of cycling gear. Lycra is just far too comfortable and far too practical to consider anything else.
I did of course soon get over the feeling that everyone was looking at me. My self consciousness was short lived as was my rather strange self delusion that wearing lycra made me look fit and sporty! No one was really looking at me and I’m just yet another middle aged man wearing funny clothes on a bike. Or indeed a “mamil” as my family take great delight in telling me.
I never planned to become a mamil. I didn’t even know that mamils existed before I became one. It just sort of happened!
Even the family have pretty much accepted it now. They see Dad in the funny shorts so often that it’s really not funny anymore. Well that’s what I tell them anyway!
I do still however chuckle to myself as I catch myself pulling on lycra leg warmers and stretching bibs over my shoulders. They really are funny bits of kit, there must be some sort of dark corner of the internet where lycra fetishists hang out and compare fittings and tightness. Grown men wearing tights, nappy pads and zippers.
It’s a funny business.