Last year a friend sent me a text with a photo of her husband in his newly acquired Rapha head-to-toe cycling kit, standing proudly in front of a brand new Trek road-bike. She commented to my amusement that ‘lycra is a privilege not a right’.
Cycling is a forgiving activity, in that any shape and size can usually ride a bike. Regrettably the same cannot be said of lycra, it is a most unforgiving fabric, showing every lump and bump. In recent years there has been a huge increase in the popularity of cycling, often credited to the the Tour successes of the Sky Team and the London Olympics.
If you should find yourself on a Sunday morning, on the former Olympic road-race route in the Surrey Hills, you will be sure to see many Mamils, that is middle-aged men in lycra. A term for ladies in lycra, has also entered the cycling lexicon, they’re known as Lils.
I’m a Lil, a lady in lycra, I can’t escape it, I’ve tried to hide it or disguise it at times. I’ve cycled in clothing that I believed to look more ‘normal’, such as knee length baggy shorts and a t-shirt, however teamed with cycling shoes, I just looked like one of the Crankies. I’ve also purchased Uniqlo jeans in a size too large, so that I could wear them over padded shorts, but then appeared to have an unfeasibly large behind.
The truth is, cycling any significant distance is more comfortable in cycling specific clothing, but doesn’t always make for comfortable viewing. Padded pants are never going to be high on anybody’s list when trying to look good?