Don’t Be An Ass: Just Say No To Bad Lycra

Don’t Be An Ass: Just Say No To Bad Lycra

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I didn’t think this article would ever need to become reality. I thought we could safely file this one in the “Obviously Not Allowed, Fucktards” bin alongside the Rules for reflectors, kickstands, and recumbents.

But I stand corrected.

I’ve been playing around with clever, subtle ways of phrasing this, looking for the right touch to send the message across. Then, after longer than I care to admit, I came to the realization that we’re talking about not showing your crack to the riders behind you in the pace line. There’s not a lot of room for subtlety in this message.

So here your have it: Don’t wear see-through Lycra. No whites down below, especially on Rule #9 days. A general rule is the darker, the better, and it may not be worn out in any way. Especially not in the butt area. Which is where it wears out first, by the way. Also note that it should be freshly laundered (by hand, if you have any sense at all), because no one wants to spend their time drafting you doing their best not to breathe. That more or less defeats the purpose, you see. And it should all match and look nice. And don’t mix colors distastefully.

There is a story I feel compelled to relate, as a matter of example, for any of you cheap tightwads who don’t want to invest in a new pair of bibs. (They are way better now than they were when you bought those old ones, incidentally, so take the plunge, you won’t regret it. The chamois aren’t even chamois anymore.)

During my tenure racing with the St. Paul Bicycle Racing Club (SPBRC), despite being a habitual solo-trainer, I was pretty good about joining the twice-weekly group rides, which were also always open to the public. On one particular day, a rider clad in primarily neon and fluorescent colors and Oakley Blades toed up to the group and we chatted a bit. Ex-racer, he had been really active in the early 90’s before Life took over and he fell out of the sport. But he was back, getting in shape, and looked to be pretty fit.

Already a Velominatus, I immediately took note of his TVT-built LeMond frame. In fact, it could have been a replica of LeMond’s 1990 Tour-winning machine, were it not for the classic-bend bars (instead of Scott Drop-Ins) and lower-end Campy kit, complete with the Campy-only gleam of the polished aluminum bits.

As we rolled out, it became immediately obvious he had modeled himself completely after LeMan; his back was stretched flat across a long top tube and stem, his black Regal saddle was crammed way back on its rails, and he only shifted if his cadence dropped below 60 rpm.

But he was obviously very skilled – and having a blast feeling the energy in the ride. I imagine it felt great being back in the bunch. Everything about him oozed “experienced racer”; he was always attentive, always getting out of the saddle as he glass-pedaled on his way back from the front of the pace line, looking for the gap in the line where he would fall back in.

There were some issues, however. He was a little too eager to jump in, taking gaps that were really just training-ride-lazy bike lengths for race-day opportunities to fill the line. I was on a lazy day, letting gaps open that I shouldn’t have, but which weren’t invitations to jump in.

Nonetheless, he read the group like he did, and he kept jumping in right in front of me. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if his bib shorts hadn’t been worn out completely right across the area that doctors call the “crackal region”. It was tolerable as long as we were riding on flats or climbing where I could look at his rear wheel or past his shoulder. The worst was when he would get into his tuck on the descents, where I had the choice between risking my life by not staring at his redeye or…staring at his redeye.

If it were possible to poke out my mind’s eye, I would. But I can’t. So, I implore you, please, please, wear only freshly laundered kit when riding in a group, and never, ever, wear see-through Lycra.

// Etiquette // The Rules

  1. @Xponti
    A-Merckx, Brother.

    And because I went and bought it anyway, I am reconciled to wearing worn-out, see-through bibs for the next five years.

  2. Black and new is not necessarily proof against The Horror.

    One of the perils of riding in Abu Dhabi is that it is very hot.

    It is therefore tempting to succumb to the enticements of manufacturers who promise extra-light bibs that are supposedly 30% cooler.

    They appear to have done this by removing 30% of the material. Combine that with bright sunlight and I could save several people a trip to the proctologist by providing a detailed written description.

    The question though is how to do something about it. I am guessing that not many people have an ingenious mirror system at home which allows them to check their anal visibility. And you have to be in a riding position to see it, when the material is most stretched so looking over your shoulder doesn’t help.

    It’s like seeing someone with a piece of spinach on their front teeth. You know they would no doubt be mortified to discover it, but by waiting to allow them self-discovery you let them think that maybe nobody noticed. Trouble is that someone putting their date on display is never going to know unless we tell them.

    Perhaps a campaign to have the UN declare an international day of lycra modesty ?

    @Gphant: This is the red shorts photo. Beware.

  3. @ChrisO
    Fuck! I was just basking in the glow of the earlier posts, thinking what a swell bunch of guys you all were to listen to so much stuff I listen to, marveling at how cool lugged carbon frames and straight forks are, chuckling at the fact that someone on a cycling blog talked me some Latin from Old Man Cato the patron saint of curmudgeons, enjoying a quiet wine with some Bach in the background … then BOOM, ChrisO posts That Fucking Picture and now I have to go to hospital because the coat hanger I used to try to scrape my brain out through my nose has got stuck.

  4. I own a fair amount of vinyl myself. I find watching a turntable and listening to music an incredibly soothing pastime. My father gave me his old turntable a few years back and I was in the game.

    I wasn’t in the ipod game at all until recently. Was walking the dog, saw something purple in the leaves and snow and it turned out to be an ipod nano. Haven’t used it much. Tried being out in public just walking around, riding the tram but I realized I like hearing what is going on around me. Then again, I’m in Prague at the moment and tuning out languages I don’t understand is easier than tuning out teens on cell phones.

    My biggest complaint with kids and the download craze is that very, very few of them listen to albums. They have one or two songs from 1000 groups, but don’t take the time or interest in the full range of what a group does. That’s depressing to me since some of my best memories of being a kid are getting a new album and playing it over and over; many of those first albums I got are still my favorites.

    As for Looks – I have loved them for a long, long time. My LBS growing up was owned/run by a former pro mechanic. He has lots of old frames on the walls and one of them was a very early (the first?) carbon Look frameset. The only Look stuff I owned for a long time was a jersey and some pedals. Then the 566 came out and it fit into my bank account limits much better than the 595. Had my 566 for 1.5 years now. Liking it a lot. Full carbon after years on old Cannondale Al was a wild switch. Love the 595s, always keeping my eye on used ones. I should post a pic of mine in The Bikes, as I’m not sure any 566s are in there. Then again…it pales in comparison to Jeff’s 595. Not as PRO, not as white, not as sexy.

  5. And yeah, completely agree that old bibs & shorts are great for riding inside, with no one else around. I too wear older shorts sometimes when commuting.

    I would dream of subjecting anyone to threadbare bibs on a group ride. That’s awful.

    How much awesomer is a ride when there are females along? It doesn’t happen much, but when it does, wow!, following a female in Lycra is so much nicer than following that pale, hairy, smelly dude. Pretty darn content with my VMH, but hey, a nice view softens the blows of a V-fest ride for sure.

  6. @Ron

    How much awesomer is a ride when there are females along?

    It’s the most awesome-est. And I think they know it. Or at least they figure it out when no one wants to pull through.

  7. Among the non-rules that are “ONA,F” would be this.
    The meta-rule 5 has it covered.

  8. @il ciclista medio
    Yeah. Not their best, and probably not the best first DBT album to listen to (Dirty South or Decoration Day would be a better entry, although I’m somewhat partial to Brighter than Creation’s Dark; from there, The Southern Rock Opera is deservedly a classic). But this isn’t really about cycling.

    I think the connection to cycling, though, is that the kind of person who happens to be an audiophile is also going to care about the finer details of his Merckxian tool.

    Sweet Jesus! +1

  9. Man, of all the pharmacology available in the cycling world, you have to go choose crack.

    Just say no!

  10. You know I was sincerely trying to do a little serious scientific surveying of fit men ages 25-55 and I am gazumped by this? Yes diaphanous bibs are unsettling but CrisO should be banned from ever going near the internet. That is not appropriate for a PG 13 site like this – that is porn, I am going to have to reevaluate my own sexsuality now after seeing that.

    I use old worn shorts and bibs as under layers for winter training where they can do no harm.

  11. @Xponti
    I don’t play video games. (I ride bikes.) Imagine my shock at how far graphics have gotten. Wowsers.

    Let this be further proof that The V is everywhere, my son. We just have to be ready to see it.


    … then BOOM, ChrisO posts That Fucking Picture and now I have to go to hospital because the coat hanger I used to try to scrape my brain out through my nose has got stuck.


    Is anyone keeping score, by the way?

  12. @Marcus

    Well done. I’m still looking for my first podium as a licensed race.

  13. So, do folks generally rely on others to tell them it’s time to retire their bibs, or is there a way to evaluate them while not wearing them?

  14. @Marcus

    Great job, Marcus! Maybe in addition to “The Bikes” & “The Works”, we need a “The Palmares” tab to record podium finishes amongst our august group?

  15. Nice work, Marcus! Only 199 to go…

  16. ugh, our team learned the hard way this past season, white crackal region and it just got too wierd in the rain… basic black with white side panels for 2011. You can see before and after. Below. I am on the right. That husky fellow is my buddy. I am husky enough.

  17. Tottaly agree on getting good quality Bibs &Niks for everyday use. Talk to the experts at your local bike shop. Much better to spend some cash on quality than cheap crap!

  18. I’m pushing for the strict hand washing of cycling apparel to be added to “The Rules”

  19. @MrBigCog
    I’m all for it. My V-kit was put in the machine once, at the end of the year, and even then I thought twice. Typically what I end up doing is jumping in the lake after a long ride with it on, scrubbing the salt/sweat off, removing it, wringing it out, and hanging it on the line to air dry.

  20. It is not appropriate to say you stared into his “red eye.” The appropriate terms are: Brown Eye, Stink Eye, or The Rusty Sheriffs Badge.

  21. @BikeMech#3
    Pig eye.

  22. Avoid the Crack. The bib must be black. Totally agree that the redeye must be kept behind the curtain. And if there are Hydrogen Sulfide emissions from said redeye, related rider should be banned from the peloton pending crackage detox.

  23. This past weekend an older gentleman was racing in a set of worn out lycra, for some reason it looked like he shit his pants (on the inside, not the normal no mudguard shit stain we get), maybe it was a racing tactic to keep people off his wheel.


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  25. Is this bad lycra or good lycra?

    Rapha has no plans to sell the Road Mesh Skinsuit in 2014.

    Imagine seeing the above kit hanging in sport stores with MAMIL’s buying up and hitting the roads in it most likley with underpants.

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