As we travel along the highways and byways of life’s great journey, there are terrible and unmentionable things that once accidentally spotted in the rear-view mirror cannot be unseen. And the grunt and groan of a red-faced cyclist tightly squeezed into an unflattering and unforgiving lycra outfit ranks high on the list of “hellish visions which will stalk your nightmares” list.
Lycra, Spandex, or elastane — call this synthetic material renowned for its exceptional elasticity what you will. I call it a curse and an affront to the dignity of the human race
Lycra clothes the human body like a sausage skin wrapped around offal. It’s durable, stretchable, and an unavoidable eyesore in the modern world.
The fierce fetish for lycra and the willingness of relatively sane people to squeeze into a pair of garishly colored shorts — or worse still, a full bodysuit — can be blamed solely on the rise in popularity of cycling.
Now, while lycra may have its place in the strange world of the professional cyclist, where hairless bodies, skeletal frames, despicable diets, and the adoration of the aerodynamic and fractions of seconds reign supreme, in the normal world, where bikes are generally regarded as a mode of transport as opposed to tools of torture, the wearing of lycra should be largely redundant.
Except it isn’t!
Inspired by a generation of professional cyclists, have-a-go Charlies across the land appear to think that they can ditch the traditional and infinitely more stylish loose T-shirt and short cycling ensemble of yesteryear in favor of that most savage and Satanic of all sartorial sins — lycra.
By wearing lycra, which is a relatively new material and not forged in the fire of Mount Olympus as the uniform for Olympians everywhere, many cyclists automatically believe they can automatically look like they belong to the same gang which includes Froome, Wiggins, Hoy, and, until his fall from grace, Armstrong.
Here’s the thing: Being clothed head to toe in lycra doesn’t make you look like a professional cyclist. It makes you look like the worst kind of fashion victim whose own narcissism has blinded them to the old adage that jelly wrapped in cling film is never a good look.
People mistakenly believe that lycra can cover up all manner of lumps and bumps and make them look athletic. It doesn’t. But this hasn’t deterred the rise of what wildlife experts have categorized as the Mamils (Middle-aged-men-in-Lycra).
Olympic hero Sir Chris Hoy recently pointed out the following earlier this week in his style column for GQ magazine.
“Lycra isn’t the most elegant material you can wear and professional cycling gear generally looks awful on pretty much anyone heavier than eight stone and with more than five per cent body aerodynamic fat.
“It makes most cyclists look as ridiculous as an overweight football fan wearing the shirt of his favorite club for a pub five-a-side game.
“Personally, I feel sorry for Mamils. When they walk into a café dressed head-to-toe in Lycra, you’ll always spot people sniggering at them.”
Yet, as Sir Hoy quickly found out, anyone who dares have an opinion that might upset someone in this day and age will be forced to quickly apologize for transgressing some politically correct line. In this instance it was the cardinal sin of “body-shaming.”
Sir Hoy tweeted, “As a 14 plus stone Mamil myself, this was a tongue-in-cheek article that wasn’t meant to offend.”
But offend it did. And now there’s an army of lycra-clad hot-headed cyclists out there with a point to prove and a grim determination to fight even harder for their fetish.
The great lycra war has well and truly begun.
[Featured Image By Bryn Lennon/Getty Images]