Derided by tabloid columnists, disgraced TV show presenters and Audi drivers across the land, the Middle Aged Man in Lycra is a well-worn target. Who does he think he is, dressed in skintight sports clothing and clogging up the roads on his expensive push bike? Well, we thought we’d look at why your friendly MAMIL has, in fact, been right all along.
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Right now there are thousands of men whose New Year resolutions include getting fit, losing weight, stopping smoking or a combination of all three. Maybe that includes you. And the good news is that taking up cycling is the perfect sport for achieving these aims, especially when combined with a goal-setting platform like Stikk.com or Strava. Here’s why.
1. MAMILs are slimmer than the average UK male
Don’t know if you’d noticed chaps, but this country is in the middle of an obesity epidemic. Two-thirds of adult men are overweight — worse than anywhere else in western Europe — and it’s those of us aged 35-54 who are most at risk.
For all those hilarious jokes about men past the first flush of youth squeezing themselves into Lycra, MAMILs are generally slimmer than their non-sporty friends. Yes of course, other sports are available, but seriously would golf help you burn up to 1,000 calories per hour? No. Nor do you look any less ridiculous in plus fours, pal.
Losing weight brings a whole host of benefits: more energy, better-fitting clothes, better love life, a longer life expectancy, and higher aerobic capacity (because your muscles have less competition from fat for oxygen and fuel). It’s all good.
2. MAMILs have mightily impressive appetites
This may seem like a contradiction to the above, but it makes perfect sense; MAMILs will happily eat everything in sight at a feed station, despite their svelte physique — especially cake, they love cake. So don’t worry about looking greedy if you have the last biscuit, or boring them with talk about what you’re having for tea tonight, you won’t.
3. MAMILs live longer
Your average gyrating gent can expect to live longer, with fewer health complications in later life. Of course, nothing is certain, but you considerably improve your chances of bonus happy years with the ones you love if you move more.
In fact, two Scandinavian studies suggest that you can live between two and five years longer simply by taking up an endurance sport like cycling. One Swedish study from 2009 found that men in their 50s who do just three hours of sport a week can live 2.3 years longer than sedentary men. Another Finnish study from 1993 found that elite endurance athletes live up to 5.7 years longer than the average Finnish male.
4. MAMILs bring a strong sock game
If there’s one thing that the sock doping trend has taught us, it’s that road cycling males in particular are very conscious about the pattern and colour of the fabric they put their feet into. Maybe it’s the theory of embodied cognition in action, signalling strength to fellow riders, or a desire to inject some fun into our wardrobes, or a less-than-subtle effort to draw attention to carefully honed calves.
Whatever the reason, you only have to look at the runaway success of brands like Sako7 or Panache to know that roadies in general — and MAMILs in particular — love this sort of thing. And why not?
5. MAMILs spend time with their buddies
Once middle age arrives and family/work obligations start increasing, it’s tough to find time to hang out with your mates. What you could do is follow the example of our US editor-in-chief Ben Delaney and combine riding time with social time. Smack talk guaranteed.
6. MAMILs can empathise with your battle on body hair
Tired of razor burn but hate the sting of waxing? Yup, a MAMIL can relate. Convinced that every time you shave the fuzzy stuff off it grows back thicker? A MAMIL hears you. For their battle against leg hair is long and hard. You may not understand why they do it, but you’ve got to respect their commitment to the cause. For the more hirsute riders in particular this is an arduous battle that must be fought to the end.
7. MAMILs have better DIY skills (probably)
OK this may be a contentious one, but it can be argued that regular cyclists are better at handyman jobs. Once you’ve been riding for a while you’ll suffer a few punctures, maybe snap a chain or wear out a cassette. Only the laziest (and richest) of cyclists will bring their bike to a shop for every single mechanical issue that crops up.
For the rest of us, it’s a chance to buy some tools. Check out our explainer on how to replace a worn-out chain or adjust the gears and get tinkering in the shed. Your Dad will be proud, you’ll save yourself money, and you’ll learn something new.
8. MAMILs see amazing new places
One of the most exciting things about cycling is just how much exploring you get to do. The old adage ‘outside is free‘ really hits home when you’ve been riding for a few hours and realise just how much ground you’ve travelled and how many new things you’ve seen along the way. Your life would be so much poorer stuck on the sofa.
MAMILs get to explore the back lanes and byways that crisscross the area where they live, getting to know them like the back of their hand. You may think this is useless knowledge, but you won’t be saying that when they dodge down a side street to beat the traffic or nab a parking space. Ninja skills.
Have we missed any reasons to be a MAMIL? Let us know in the comments below.