A human sub-species….
We’ve all seen them. Their visibility increases by the day. For many, it all starts on January 1st………
Let’s reveal gender early in the story. A man somewhere near you (maybe a neighbour) wakes up with a hangover on January 1st and decides that something has to change. He’s in his middle years, had his 2.1 children, changed the world in some small way in his business/professional capacity….and then realizes he is beginning to lose the edge. He needs a new target in life, something new to live for.
He takes a look at his profile in the mirror. The waist line is expanding, the hair receding, bags are appearing under the eyes. He thinks about his lifestyle: poor diet, too much drinking, not enough exercise, burning the candle at both ends. Something has to change.
For some, there is a Damascene experience that can have one of several outcomes. Some buy themselves a powerful bullet bike (motor), with the accompanying leathers and attitude. You see them at weekends, ‘hunting’ in packs around the country lanes, breaking the speed limit at every opportune moment. Some take up jogging, but they do nothing to disguise the pain and the suffering……but all for a higher cause. Still others equip themselves with all the expensive gear needed for an arduous day’s fishing (and that includes the folding chair and six pack).
But then there is that unfit, paunchy middle aged male who begins to take an unusual interest in how his wife shaves her legs. He can be caught secretly surfing webpages of spandex clothing, reflective shades, fingerless gloves, shoes with metal plates protruding from the soles. But more worrying still, he begins to head off on secret shopping trips. He doesn’t come back with anything…..he says he’s just been window-shopping. He obviously wants to do something different, to change something in his life, but he doesn’t want to make any bad choices in the process. When he starts this new activity, he has to do everything right, so that he will (at least) look uber-cool.
You’ve probably guessed by now, that these are the early pangs of a middle aged man getting into (or back into) cycling and, having experienced success as a professional and family man, he expects to go from ‘zero to hero’ overnight. If he’s not going to burn rubber at the speed of a Mark Cavendish, or dominate the peloton like Sir Brad, at least he can look the part.
Not for him an old steel bike that has been found at the local tip, and lovingly restored over weeks. Not for him anything less cool than a full carbon bike, weighing in just above the UCI legal 6.8 kilos; not for him the clothing that doesn’t stretch with every movement of his soon-to-be sleek body, and have enough elastication to help hold in that protruding gut; not for him a pair of sunglasses that he might wear for driving, or an old pair of skiing gloves. Everything has got to be right…………..right from the start.
The Cav, Wiggo and Froome effect has got this sub-species of the human race buying hyper-tech bikes with all the latest ‘tricknology’. Their beer bellies may yet be resting on the top tube as they ride, and they may be carrying an excess 30-40 kilos but, boy, they have the lightest, super-cool machine on the market; their clothing is head-turning; the electronic shifters are the best thing since sliced bread; and that Garmin 800 on his bar stem monitors his every heartbeat and pedal turn, every change in elevation, every detail of speed……it will even tell him when he’s missed a turning on the clubrun route.
This MAMIL (middle aged man in lycra) is now ready to impress the world. Watch out for him at the weekends cruising along with his buddies. Like (motor) bikers, they ‘hunt in packs’…………..except the posh word in this case is ‘peloton’. If you overtake them, give them a friendly ‘beep’……