The rise and rise of the MAMIL

Over the last decade or so, broadly in line with Olympic track cycling success and then swiftly followed by road cycling success in the Grand Tours, there has been an increasing rise in the number of (somewhat) overweight, (somewhat) balding and (somewhat) “in the midst of a mid-life crisis”, men will squeeze their flabby pale bodies in to the stretchiest of figure hugging lycra, mount their multi-thousand pound carbon bike that weighs less than their left toenail, and set themselves loose on the roads without a care in the world.

The MAMIL (Middle Aged Man in Lycra) is alive and well and roaming the streets of your neighbourhood daily.

Freed from the shackles of family life. Freed from the shackles of their smartphone (unless of course they are using the Strava app to track them). Imagining themselves as one of the peloton, or perhaps as a sprinter conserving their energy for that final flourish, or the climber who can take on the greats that conquer the cols, or even the general classification leader in pink or yellow.

Hammering round Richmond Park like it’s the Champs-Élysées on the last day of the tour, with fire in their belly and cold thousand yard stares, without a care for anyone or anything that might heinously get in their way.

This is release of the most extreme kind. Mental and physical escapism where it and they take no prisoners.

It’s easy to mock or laugh at these over-grown boys as they play in their playground but there is something inherently positive about many aspects of the movement that should be embraced and welcomed. When you think of all the benefits it brings then it’s easy to allow for the eye-bleeding lycra and the rather pathetic attempts at taking this all too seriously.

  1. Imagine the alternative

Men are simple human beings. I can attest to it. If they were not on their bikes then you’d probably find them sitting in front of a TV, more than likely with a beer in their hand, shouting obscenities at the team, the ref, the other team or even the TV, for just being. Wallowing in self-pity and in a spiral of despair, their lives would affect all those around them; the wife, the kids, the dog, heck even the postman would feel the pain.

Alternatively imagine that it could be a rather sad looking Porsche (probably a convertible) that he’s trying to wedge himself into every Saturday and racing down the local A road, over the speed limit, convincing himself that he’s made it in life. And then note that every week it gets just that little bit harder for him to wedge him self into the driving seat until one day…

2. Injuries are not made for cycling

Running (as runners know) can ruin calfs, shins, knees, anal muscles, feet, ankles, etc etc etc. Contact exercise like running, done to any enthusiastic level is a time bomb to injury. No warm up or warm down is going to get around it. It’s inevitable.

Cycling has no such issue. The only excuse MAMIL’s can find for not going out on the bike revolves around every other aspect of life except injuries. Injuries only really happen with crashes. Crashes whilst unfortunate are not inevitable (unless the MAMIL is trying clipless pedals for the first or second time) so with a fair wind and some luck cyclists can be injury free the whole year round.

Mastering the art of unclipping can result in a rash or 2.

3. Weight a minute

Cycling burns up calories as effectively as running, and you can generally cycle longer than you can run (for most normal humans anyway), so when you see the overweight and flabby MAMIL trying to conquer the 2% 100 meter “climb” like it’s Ventoux, just think that in all likelihood he’ll be a shadow of his former self within 6 months and be decked out in brand new lycra because the old stuff no longer fits, and flying up Ventoux like a seasoned pro.

There’s plenty of images like this. Just google…

4. Green Peace

Let’s face it, there’s nothing more environmentally beneficial than taking cars off the roads and replacing them with bicycles. When a MAMIL starts his journey, it will become all consuming and they will start to look to every opportunity to don the Lycra which will include trips to the local shop to pick up the bread, through to the daily 100 mile round trip commute. That’s a lot less carbon being emitted into the air and being applied to a bike instead. The MAMIL wins. The Earth wins. What’s not to like?

5. You get to trade up without having to trade in.

Partners of MAMILs also get a benefit in the more intimate of ways. A nicely toned fit MAMIL who weighs 2 or 3 stone less feels like a younger model to their partner. No further explanation of this benefit is needed.

So there we have it. The next time you see a MAMIL and you are tempted to hurl abuse, mock, or scorn, just think of all the benefits that are being gained from the wonderfully ridiculous sight; just hold it back and be thankful for the amazing power of the bike to fix so many of humanities problems.

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