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. I hate the Bibs that have the little hole in the back just where the crack starts (This is the design of the bibs and I don’t have a photo of them). Have seen a few of those around. Why oh why for Merckx sake would you purposely put a hole in the back of the bibs with a little bit of fly screen so that people could see the start of your Plumbers’).

  2. @Marcus
    Whatever, that was just a simple FYI on how to keep your leggs silky smoove. Has nothing to do with these last two threads we’ve had going here!

    Besides, I think you bought some, didn’t you? You must be enjoying it twice daily – which I assume is how often you shave, like me.

  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTT9-YfgeTU

    I blame Drew for this. He started it.

  4. frank:
    @Brett, @Marko
    Just as a sidenote, in case either of you are confused on the subject, if you want to write an article that raises the bar, the editor still works the same way it did back in the 70″²s when you last wrote one, you lazy sods!

    Guffaw! A hit! A palpable hit!

  5. One ringy-dingy.

  6. @all

    been loitering around for a while and thought I would add my humble 2c worth. First post here but I thnk it is a timely article written by frank., i.e. it needed to be raised at some stage. If you are serious at all about cycling, or just give a shit about your appearance – try to keep a certain dress standard whilst on the bike.

    I had a similar experience myself just a couple of weeks ago whilst out on the road. Bloke beside me had a nice new carbone Scott, complete with Super Record (compact mind you!?) and all the bells and whistles you would want to go with it.
    At first it was the unshaved legs that caught my eye, but hey, he was willing to take his turn on the front so we’ll excuse that (just!) for the moment. The trouble was that turn on the front became a bit of an eyesore for the rest of the bunch sitting directly behind him. Lacey would be the word to describe the area around aforementioned crack area. Tradesmen’s crack is bad enough but at least I can turn away. The choice isn’t always there when your sitting in a bunch ride.

    As frank pointed out, if you’re gonna spend the $$ on all that carbone, what’s another couple of quid to get a decent kit?

    BTW, I think a few of the boys may have got a bit carried away with their analogies but no harm was meant. Perhaps a litle light hearted relief was the intention.

  7. @frank
    ok back to cycling – the Look 595 had its first race last night. Snagged a second place – $40 prize money. Less the $10 entry fee that is $30 pure profit baby. I only have to do that another 199 times to recoup the $6k I paid for the bike.

  8. il ciclista medio:Bloke beside me had a nice new Carbone Scott, complete with Super Record (compact mind you!?) and all the bells and whistles you would want to go with it.

    Super Record + compact = getting flowers for your mama, and tracking dogshit all across the floor.

  9. @Marcus
    Woohoo. Congratulations

  10. I suppose passing him was not an option? Wheel sucker or staring, neither are good accusations ;-)

  11. Steampunk :

    Super Record + compact = getting flowers for your mama, and tracking dogshit all across the floor.

    Great analogy

  12. @il ciclista medio
    I’ve been hooked on the new Drive-by Truckers record this week (can we still call them records?). Good music to ride to (on the trainer or what have you)…

  13. Steampunk:
    @il ciclista medio
    I’ve been hooked on the new Drive-by Truckers record

    Took me a few seconds, but I lol’ed

  14. @Steampunk
    May have to have a listen then.

    I believe the kids nowadays still refer to them as records. I think that it’s even cooler to be buying vinyl for the youngsters then downloading everything. A lot of indie bands are releasing limited edition 7″ records, pressing 300 or so copies. Not cycling related but a bit of trivia.

  15. @Marcus
    Well done! Congratulations! The 595 finishes on the podium. Was there ever a doubt?

  16. @Steampunk
    Go Go boots?

  17. @il ciclista medio

    BTW, I think a few of the boys may have got a bit carried away with their analogies but no harm was meant

    Respectfully, I disagree. There was plenty of harm meant. Disturbed–the lot of them. Drew, Cyclops, Mightyninja, Marko, and Frank (with his amazing Baxter) gave me a hernia from laughing. Fuckers. Now I have to go to the hospital.

  18. @Steampunk, @il ciclista medio
    Yeah, not cycling-related, but vinyl is the Velominatus-equivalent of the music world. Old-school, authentic, high-quality, takes a bit of attention to make it happen and reap the benefits. Spot on.

    I am not ashamed to say I stream all our music off our computer via an Apple Airport Express for convenience and casual music-listening. But we also have a record player hooked up and we buy everything good on vinyl as well. Kind of Blue, Blood on the Tracks, Back in Black, Led Zeppelin I, II, Live at Folson Prison (original pressing), Live at San Qunetin (original pressing), In Utero…the list goes on, but if it’s good music (and originally recorded in analog), we always get the record. There is something about cleaning the record, turning it every 30 minutes…the futzing, the work…it makes you appreciate the music even more. Not to mention the richness of the sound.

  19. @Touriste-Routier, @il ciclista medio
    Welcome to both of you, by the way!

    @Jeff in PetroMetro, @Marcus
    Dudes, I swung by the local campy guru at Branford Bikes today to discuss some campy convsion for an upgrade I’m considering, and his shop was full of Looks. Those baby’s are fantastic looking bikes. Seriously, you are causing some damage here. I really want a lugged carbon frame. But not a Time. Which means…Look. Seriously.

  20. @frank
    Would have to agree with you about the vinyl. Showing my age but I still have well over 600 pieces of vinyl in the storeroom. Can’t & won’t get rid of it. Went through a stage of leaving it sit without playing when the CD first came around but realised that it was missing one thing, soul. As clean and crisp as a CD sounds, it still lacks the soul of the muscians playing on it.
    Even the hiss and crackle you get on an old record gives it a depth you can’t get anywhere else. It amazes me that the modern world has gone to MP3’s & the like, myself included, but it makes for a poor reduction in sound quality. If my somewhat limited geek knowledge serves me well enough, the nature of an MP3 means that it removes certain sounds from the recording to allow it to be compressed. Ergo, less sounds, mean less quality overall.

    I’ve slowly but surely been transferring the vinyl on to the home server for the convenience like yourself frank, but willingly go back to vinyl when the mood takes.

    Velominati & Vinyl = quality and style, no coincidence that they both begin with V.

    there endeth the lesson

  21. @il ciclista medio
    The MP3 makes me sad. I refuse iPods. I think they degrade music by making it omnipresent. I had some vinyl, but no record player. I have a decent (~700) collection of albums on CD/SACD/DVD-Audio. I refuse to by “compilations” which degrade the artistic vision of an album, as musicians go through stylistic periods. For example, tt would be jarring to listen to a song on Sketches of Spain and then jump to Spanish Key from Bitches Brew. I barely listen to the radio for the same reason.

    For every part of life there exists a right way, a common way, and a wrong way.

  22. his is completely OFF TOPIC but I just watched the Starcraft II trailer (The Game by Blizzard…look for it on You-Tube, just type Starcraft II) and just at the end of the clip I noticed that he had a great big gun that he sticks in the ground. You know what was on the Barrel of the Gun…….The V

  23. @Collin
    I wish I had your strength of character. But, alas, I am pathetic. I gave in to the iPod craze two years ago.

    I’ve got vinyl. And I’ve got my turntable. And I’ve got a bazillion cassettes that I made of my vinyl and other people’s vinyl. But once I got a Nano, and then my wife got a Nano, and then my daughter got an iTouch, I was sucked in.

    No, Apple doesn’t have certain artists’ full catalogues (you can’t buy the Kinks’ first couple of albums). And yes, you can buy one song at a time for $0.99 or $1.29. And no, my vinyl versions are often not the same as the Apple versions (Sex Pistols, XTC, Led Zeppelin, The Who to name but a few). However, my time for sitting quietly and listening to my vinyl or my cassettes is gone. It’s iPod in the car (terrestrial radio in Houston is astonishingly awful), iPod on the trainer, iPod in the house, and iTunes on the computer. I am so weak.

  24. @frank
    I know! Until my Merckxian Intervention, Look was out there in the mist. I was zoned in on an S3 or an R5. Of course, they were pipedreams at more than twice the price of what the 595 cost me. Honestly, this bike is The Shit. The bonus is looking down and seeing Luggs.

    You should torture yourself and go to your LBS for a test ride. I think you’ll be pleasantly miserable. Shortly thereafter, you’ll be really happy and somewhat poorer.

  25. Jeff in PetroMetro:
    @frank
    pleasantly miserable

    = the feeling of seeing a bike or piece of kit that turns you into a drooling idiot, knowing that you cannot afford it.

  26. @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.

  27. 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.

  28. @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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. @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.

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

  33. @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.

    @frank
    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.

    @G’phant
    Sweet Jesus! +1

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

    Just say no!

  35. 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.

  36. @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.

    @G’phant

    … 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.

    ++1

    Is anyone keeping score, by the way?

  37. @Marcus

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

  38. 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?

  39. @Marcus
    Respect!

    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?

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

  41. 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.

  42. 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!

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

  44. @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.

  45. 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.

  46. @BikeMech#3
    Pig eye.

  47. 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.

  48. 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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  50. Is this bad lycra or good lycra?

    http://road.cc/content/news/108718-raphas-team-sky-mesh-skinsuit-new-pics-origin-story

    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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