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The Spandex Ballet

The Spandex Ballet

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What does the layman observe when he sees a cyclist in the wild? While we do our utmost to Look Fantastic, in our own eyes and minds at least, outside observers may as well be witnessing little green aliens who’ve just stepped off their spacecraft and are heading to their very first fancy dress/drag party on this weird and wonderful planet called Earth. We go to great lengths to carefully match our kit, keep our shoes clean, make sure we are smooth and hairless, tanned, toned and terrific. We check the mirror as we’re leaving the house and see Merckx or De Vlaeminck looking back at us, hair slicked back and perfect sideburns. We see the brown skin and lean, lithe body of Contador or Nibali. Others may be greeted with a reflected visage of a Thor, Tommeke or Spartacus if more on the ‘Classics’ scale of the cyclist’s BMI. We see greatness, a fine example of athleticism and presentation, bound to turn heads and elicit breathless epithets as we glide easily by.

What the man in the street sees is a twat. And he probably has a point.

You’re out for lunch or coffee and witness a bunch of podgy, balding, pale middle-aged men ride up, awkwardly dismount then stand in the coffee queue while dripping sweat, smelling like a deceased polecat and talking loudly about how they “got spat out the ass” or “took a huge pull until I blew”. Your first reaction would probably be to grab your children, or anyone’s children, by the arm and quickly vacate the premises, protecting their eyes and ears from the freaks in tights and ballet shoes standing in their own puddle, oblivious to the small piece of snot perched on their crusted, bristly upper lip. The poor student behind the counter notices it though, and does his best to stifle a dry retch as he takes the Amex card from the increasingly crimson-faced road warrior. The clip-clop of his ridiculous yellow, red and silver shoes resonates on the tile floor, now glistening with salty accountant discharge, filling the remaining patrons with hope that there may be a fall coming… not bad enough that said patrons may have to actually help the stricken fellow who appears to work for SkyTV, but just enough so that there’s some major bruising to the ego of the whiffy real estate agent who apparently has recently returned from a trip to Kazhakstan.

This may all seem far-fetched, but it’s how myself and other Cyclists are perceived every day, from whichever side of the fence one may be positioned. No matter how good a Cyclist looks, or thinks they look, we still come off as tossers by the very nature of our sport’s equipment and apparel requirements. But try telling your 45 year old colleagues that it’s all for performance and you’ll be rightly met with a comment of the ilk of “what, are ya racing the farkin Tooer dee Fraaance or sumfin, are ya?” Once again, they may have a point.

Why can’t a serious cyclist wear less revealing and body-hugging attire, even if not racing? Why not a pair of shoes in which we can walk like a normal person, rather than a duck with a gammy leg, if we know we’ll be making a coffee stop before and probably after the ride? Do we really need to be pushing our spuds to the side of the plate and adjusting ourselves in full view of the Sunday brunch crowd who only want a sausage in their mixed grill, not in their faces? Why can’t we just be more normal?

Because it doesn’t make us feel Pro or remotely Fantastic, that’s why. It doesn’t make us feel like we are Cyclists. The same reasons weekend rugby players don’t wear their jeans and hoodies onto the pitch, even if that’s their uniform off it. But face the truth… we are average men, with average talents and average ambitions (if any), despite the possibility that your talents and ambitions are at a level above most of your other average cronies. We can, and should, do our best to look good when we ride our bicycles. But remember, no matter how good we think we look, we don’t. Especially in cafes and pubs.

Here’s my tips for a successful coffee/beer ride with minimum twat factor:

1. Go for a ride.

2. Don’t dismount anywhere, ever.

3. Go home.

4. Showered? Changed? Now you can go to the pub.

// Rantings from the V-Bunker

  1. @wiscot

    Great piece and sadly, so much truth in there. My mid ride stops are always as gas stations. I try to look as fantastic as possible which means I’m usually the best dressed person in there and often, one of the better smelling.

    I used to have my filling stations plagued by this one goddamn woman who always seemed to manage to be in there when I was in there. I wanted to be in/out and this woman would buy lottery tickets, browse, buy some more and hold up the line for ages. I still can’t believe how many times she’d be at the head of the line. Thankfully, I discovered a local beer shop and no longer go in that place. Haven’t seen her in awhile, but the dislike remains strong.

  2. @ChrisO

    When my then maybe 9 year old daughter was visiting in Abu Dhabi and saw various bib-shorts and jerseys hung up to dry, she asked were they mine, and of course I said Yes… why?

    I will never quite erase from my mind the look and tone mainly of incredulity but possible a little horror as she said “But they’re so small”.

    It was in my mind even before this article actually, having been issued with my very first team TT skinsuit this week. I thought I knew a racing cut before but…

    Will post photos after the race tomorrow if they are decent. Unfortunately we have a guy in our team who is skinny to the pro level. He just came 7th in the UK National Hill Climb. So it doesn’t matter how lean I am I will appear obese next to him.

    Fark off you skinny karnt. As one of the most pro of all Velominati, you know that isn’t true!

    Lets hope the TT Suit has more coverage than Froomedogs, lest you need SPF 5 million for your local riding!

  3. Never seen The Peloton. Those guys are pretty darn funny. Greek guy (I’m guessing) is a funny dude.

    Just spotted one of These Guys in the wild. Took a quick work break to visit the grocery. On way back, dude pulls onto bike trail ahead of me on a purple bike. Sweet, I love purple bikes. Tried to catch up to inspect the bike, guy thinks I’m trying to race him. Instead of shifting has to stand to climb a teeny hill, nearly goes into the bushes. Jeez. Saggy kit, what looked to be a frame pump tucked into his jersey pocket, asking to fall out.

    Got close enough to see it was a Klein. Who owns a nice Klein and doesn’t know when to shift? Bonkers.

  4. @wiscot

    Oh, and while I’m at it, we might collectively look daft, but compared to what? Some fat fuck and his tattooed manatee-wife sitting on their Harley with illegal pipes, wearing leather bandanas, wrap around shades and a fringed vest over a wife beater? Riding around with their radio turned up so high I can hear them a half mile away? Riding around with a look of smug superiority? Admittedly, some give me a wee wave as a fellow two-wheeled road user, but most ride around as if their shit doesn’t stink.

    As I type this and live in SE WI (home of Harley) I’ll now enter a witness protection program.

    The Harley bar in town closed down. YES! Major upgrade to my eardrums.

    And, speaking of noise…what about the new toilets and hand driers in public restrooms?! Those hand driers have to be against public health laws they’re so fucking loud. I’ve been scared half to death when using a stall to change from cycling gear into work clothes and one automatically flushes. And sounds like a jet engine. Insane.

  5. I dunno fellas.. we women have a little easier time looking good even IN our slightly dewey kits. Some people LIKE women in spandex… I still vote for an apres ride espresso in full gear if the occasion calls for it. A little french perfume carried in the jersey helps.. done it!

  6. No one will bat an eye at any spandex in this place…

  7. Of coarse this doesn’t apply to VMHs in the same way who as usual with life can get by with a lot more fashion options than men. It helps that both men and women will admire the VMH form, but men’s not so much.

    a VMH in Lycra is much more pleasing.

    our local Saturday group ride stop would have little business before the hipster crowd wakes up if it weren’t for us. Plus most buy food as well and are accommodated in the adjoining alley.

    one of my very lovely VMH friends had such a food low one day that she rode into the shop to ensure her husband bought her toast and muffins. They are triathletes too so there you go.

  8. @Rom

    It helps that both men and women will admire the VMH form, but men’s not so much.

  9. @Ron

    @wiscot

    Oh, and while I’m at it, we might collectively look daft, but compared to what? Some fat fuck and his tattooed manatee-wife sitting on their Harley with illegal pipes, wearing leather bandanas, wrap around shades and a fringed vest over a wife beater? Riding around with their radio turned up so high I can hear them a half mile away? Riding around with a look of smug superiority? Admittedly, some give me a wee wave as a fellow two-wheeled road user, but most ride around as if their shit doesn’t stink.

    As I type this and live in SE WI (home of Harley) I’ll now enter a witness protection program.

    The Harley bar in town closed down. YES! Major upgrade to my eardrums.

    And, speaking of noise…what about the new toilets and hand driers in public restrooms?! Those hand driers have to be against public health laws they’re so fucking loud. I’ve been scared half to death when using a stall to change from cycling gear into work clothes and one automatically flushes. And sounds like a jet engine. Insane.

    Tell me about it – the Xelerators? We have them at work. When you go to the crapper everyone knows it because they can hear the friggin jet engine hand-dryer!

  10. @Rom

    Of coarse this doesn’t apply to VMHs in the same way who as usual with life can get by with a lot more fashion options than men. It helps that both men and women will admire the VMH form, but men’s not so much.

    a VMH in Lycra is much more pleasing.

    our local Saturday group ride stop would have little business before the hipster crowd wakes up if it weren’t for us. Plus most buy food as well and are accommodated in the adjoining alley.

    one of my very lovely VMH friends had such a food low one day that she rode into the shop to ensure her husband bought her toast and muffins. They are triathletes too so there you go.

    What do you mean “are accommodated in the adjoining alley”? That’s were the hookers are? That’s where you relieve yourselves? Please explain!

  11. ” not bad enough that said patrons may have to actually help the stricken fellow who appears to work for SkyTV, but just enough so that there’s some major bruising to the ego of the whiffy real estate agent who apparently has recently returned from a trip to Kazhakstan.”

    Gold, gold I tell ya !!!!

  12. It’s funny, because it’s true! Thanks for putting into words something I have always felt and the reason I don’t do post ride coffee.

  13. @wiscot

    @Rom

    Of coarse this doesn’t apply to VMHs in the same way who as usual with life can get by with a lot more fashion options than men. It helps that both men and women will admire the VMH form, but men’s not so much.

    a VMH in Lycra is much more pleasing.

    our local Saturday group ride stop would have little business before the hipster crowd wakes up if it weren’t for us. Plus most buy food as well and are accommodated in the adjoining alley.

    one of my very lovely VMH friends had such a food low one day that she rode into the shop to ensure her husband bought her toast and muffins. They are triathletes too so there you go.

    What do you mean “are accommodated in the adjoining alley”? That’s were the hookers are? That’s where you relieve yourselves? Please explain!

    Like this

  14. @KogaLover

    You should be right now…

    @lynn pauly

    I dunno fellas.. we women have a little easier time looking good even IN our slightly dewey kits. Some people LIKE women in spandex… I still vote for an apres ride espresso in full gear if the occasion calls for it. A little french perfume carried in the jersey helps.. done it!

    The perfume doesn’t work for me, it just makes things more awkward…

  15. @Juliana

    Never heard anyone complaining when I walked in with my ‘revealing and body-hugging attire’, looking ‘smooth and hairless, tanned, toned and terrific’… (ehum)

    Being a woman has it advantages… ;)

    This is advantageous for men too.

  16. This is what I see, in my super elastic time shorts.

  17. This year I got some Rapha touring shorts and one of their merino T’s and I often wear it when I am commuting and know I will be stopping somewhere enroute, or if I am out riding with my 2 Velominis where a mid-ride slurpee or ice-cream stop are typically part of the routine…

  18. @markb

    @RobSandy

    @RobSandy

    My only fear about doing more road cyclist is turning into this.

    I of course meant ‘doing more road cycling’.

    What I have actually typed sounds wrong, wrong wrong…

    Too late – your ‘Freudian slip‘ is forever etched into the annuls of the Velominati!

    Is that like when you say one thing and mean amother?

  19. @brett

    The Welliminati has been known to sup a pre-ride caffeinated or post ride hopped beverage, and my tactic is simple: send @bianchi denti in to do the transacting. He has a) no shame, b) no gut and c) never forgets his credit card.

    You had me at “salty accountant discharge”.

  20. Brett, your meagre, neglected masculinity just withered up a liitle more and fucked off back down the hole it came from. There are tons of spots to get post ride coffee in Wellington, where the layout and staff are amenable to cyclists. You just need to nut up and get it done.

    If you’re too primrose – scented adn delicate to get a coffee after a ride, you’re doing the following things wrong:

    1) Getting out of bed in the morning.

    2) Doing anything after that.

    And ps, don’t go to the fucking pub in lycra. That’s just plain wrong.

  21. @Bianchi Denti

    @brett

    The Welliminati has been known to sup a pre-ride caffeinated or post ride hopped beverage, and my tactic is simple: send @bianchi denti in to do the transacting. He has a) no shame, b) no gut and c) never forgets his credit card.

    You had me at “salty accountant discharge”.

    And that’s why I like you.

    @minion

    Who is this?

  22. @lynn pauly

    I dunno fellas.. we women have a little easier time looking good even IN our slightly dewey kits. Some people LIKE women in spandex… I still vote for an apres ride espresso in full gear if the occasion calls for it. A little french perfume carried in the jersey helps.. done it!

    Speaking for gents everywhere, yes. Very yes.

  23. @GogglesPizano

    This year I got some Rapha touring shorts and one of their merino T’s and I often wear it when I am commuting and know I will be stopping somewhere enroute, or if I am out riding with my 2 Velominis where a mid-ride slurpee or ice-cream stop are typically part of the routine…

    There’s a set of Rules parallel to ours that govern Urban Cycling. The are by contrast ephemeral and vapid, but one tenant is that one does not wear “technical” cycling attire around town. Cycling-specific trousers? Fine. Certain varieties of jeans? Fine. Lycra bike shorts? Social death.

  24. While I have seen worse things than average built to fat riders in lycra (me being one of the fat folk), you are pretty spot on! I have been riding for nearly 25 years and never once thought of stopping for a coffee or beer while wearing my kit and sweating like a pig in heat. Actually, I’ve never thought about stopping for coffee during a ride at all… of course that’s mostly out of my fear of coffee induced spastic colon, but also out of my fear of looking like the aforementioned “twat.”

  25. @brett

    @Bianchi Denti

    @brett

    The Welliminati has been known to sup a pre-ride caffeinated or post ride hopped beverage, and my tactic is simple: send @bianchi denti in to do the transacting. He has a) no shame, b) no gut and c) never forgets his credit card.

    You had me at “salty accountant discharge”.

    And that’s why I like you.

    @minion

    Who is this?

    It’s your masculinity, leaving.

  26. @minion

    @brett

    @minion

    Who is this?

    It’s your masculinity, leaving.

    I miss you.

  27. Yeh I’ve found that other people don’t really give too much of a shit what you do, so I stopped being too bothered about what other people “might” think of me/you/it/whatever gender Marcus goes by these days. Most people really don’t care if a few guys roll up for coffee and a chat at an outdoor cafe

    I don’t do things that annoy me when other people do them, like not shaving the guns and wearing lycra, snotting in the middle of a bunch, etc, but that’s just courtesy.

    When did this place get so fucking polite?

  28. @RedRanger Nice. Beware, there are bike-thieves in every town!

  29. One of the core members of my regular riding crew (both road and mountain) is a an ex elite level downhill racer who also happens to be a quite attractive very athletic woman… a brickhouse some might say. Her post road ride brunch/lunch attire usually consists of the following:

    • The cycling kit she just rode in.
    • A pair of high heel shoes.

    For some reason she does not seem to receive the same negative reaction that myself and the rest of the mamil’s she usually rides with are subject to.

    Go figure.

  30. @LA Dave

    Oh, FFS.

  31. I’m pretty intrigued with the Giro New Road line… would definitely solve a few of the problems outlined above. If you’re not racing, then why not?

  32. @brett If I could afford it, I would. The New Road line is priced in the region of high-end bibs…

  33. This entire article does not compute, starting with:

    What does the layman observe when he sees a cyclist in the wild?

    And your bulleted list only has four bullets, not the customary five!

    What is the matter with you, my friend? You are off the path, Pedalwan.

  34. @Rom

    @wiscot

    @Rom

    Of coarse this doesn’t apply to VMHs in the same way who as usual with life can get by with a lot more fashion options than men. It helps that both men and women will admire the VMH form, but men’s not so much.

    a VMH in Lycra is much more pleasing.

    our local Saturday group ride stop would have little business before the hipster crowd wakes up if it weren’t for us. Plus most buy food as well and are accommodated in the adjoining alley.

    one of my very lovely VMH friends had such a food low one day that she rode into the shop to ensure her husband bought her toast and muffins. They are triathletes too so there you go.

    What do you mean “are accommodated in the adjoining alley”? That’s were the hookers are? That’s where you relieve yourselves? Please explain!

    Like this

    That’s the poshest alley I’ve ever seen! I was thinking dark, dank, brick-lined full of winos and smelling of pish.

  35. @brett cos I hate flapping kit on a bike.

  36. @Mikael Liddy

    @brett cos I hate flapping kit on a bike.

    this^

  37. That Giro stuff looks awesome for commuting or riding to and from the pub.

    For an actual “ride,” I want to look my best, even if I’m riding alone, even if I’m a fat little middle-aged fucktard–“best” being quite relative.

  38. @Mikael Liddy

    @brett cos I hate flapping kit on a bike.

    maybe this

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3ETSvI1RKI

    Paul Smith and endorsed by style guru David Millar, why they would have hoods tho’….

    I spend all my time now trying to be as aero as possible, ‘cos i’m really f*ckn lazy, I’ll even wear long sleeves over my hairy arms in summer, #nowattwasted

  39. @piwakawaka have you seen how much that stuff costs??? I thought Rapha was fucking expensive but this is next level!

  40. @Mikael Liddy too much, when there are still more bikes to buy, Interesting how this whole thing is blowing up, mind you they are just trying to sell us more shit!

  41. @Mikael Liddy

    @brett cos I hate flapping kit on a bike.

    No shit. We are fucking Cyclists, am I not mistaken? And you’re talking about riding in kit designed to look good at the cafe? I believe that’s backwards. Who gives two flying fucks about what other people think of how you look at the cafe? One of the greatest pleasures in life is rolling up to a pub post-soul-crushing ride in full kit, plopping down in a chair on the sunny patio, and crushing a couple pints as the feeling goes back into your legs.

    For fuck’s sake, what is going on here?

    @PeakInTwoYears

    That Giro stuff looks awesome for commuting or riding to and from the pub.

    For an actual “ride,” I want to look my best, even if I’m riding alone, even if I’m a fat little middle-aged fucktard-“best” being quite relative.

    This.

  42. @wiscot

    @Rom

    @wiscot

    @Rom

    Of coarse this doesn’t apply to VMHs in the same way who as usual with life can get by with a lot more fashion options than men. It helps that both men and women will admire the VMH form, but men’s not so much.

    a VMH in Lycra is much more pleasing.

    our local Saturday group ride stop would have little business before the hipster crowd wakes up if it weren’t for us. Plus most buy food as well and are accommodated in the adjoining alley.

    one of my very lovely VMH friends had such a food low one day that she rode into the shop to ensure her husband bought her toast and muffins. They are triathletes too so there you go.

    What do you mean “are accommodated in the adjoining alley”? That’s were the hookers are? That’s where you relieve yourselves? Please explain!

    Like this

    That’s the poshest alley I’ve ever seen! I was thinking dark, dank, brick-lined full of winos and smelling of pish.

    Smells like dank “wet dog smell” cyclists in the winter but they put out heaters for us. Smells like dank hipster beards later in the day.

  43. @Rom

    @wiscot

    @Rom

    @wiscot

    @Rom

    Of coarse this doesn’t apply to VMHs in the same way who as usual with life can get by with a lot more fashion options than men. It helps that both men and women will admire the VMH form, but men’s not so much.

    a VMH in Lycra is much more pleasing.

    our local Saturday group ride stop would have little business before the hipster crowd wakes up if it weren’t for us. Plus most buy food as well and are accommodated in the adjoining alley.

    one of my very lovely VMH friends had such a food low one day that she rode into the shop to ensure her husband bought her toast and muffins. They are triathletes too so there you go.

    What do you mean “are accommodated in the adjoining alley”? That’s were the hookers are? That’s where you relieve yourselves? Please explain!

    Like this

    That’s the poshest alley I’ve ever seen! I was thinking dark, dank, brick-lined full of winos and smelling of pish.

    Smells like dank “wet dog smell” cyclists in the winter but they put out heaters for us. Smells like dank hipster beards later in the day.

    Back in the day (wool gear, etc, etc) during the winter, we used to stop at a wee cafe in Bridge of Weir. 10-15 cyclists. All sweaty and click-clacking around in cleats. The staff never minded as we all spent a lot of dosh on food and tea and coffee. We didn’t sit there nursing a fucking latte for hours, we invaded, ate, laughed, and got on our way after a break on a winter’s ride.

    I’d also just like to say RIP to Alan Hewitt who died on Sunday. From the late 70s through recently, we was a mainstay of the sport in Scotland as a competitor, shop owner, mechanic and product rep. His marvelous sense of humor and love of the sport knew no bounds and he will be very sorely missed, not just by members of the (now defunct) Regent CC, but by all who knew him. I don’t know if he ever knew of the Velominati, but I suspect he would have loved this site. Merckx knows he’d have razzed me mercilessly for my contributions!

  44. @frank

    @Mikael Liddy

    @brett cos I hate flapping kit on a bike.

    No shit. We are fucking Cyclists, am I not mistaken? And you’re talking about riding in kit designed to look good at the cafe? I believe that’s backwards. Who gives two flying fucks about what other people think of how you look at the cafe? One of the greatest pleasures in life is rolling up to a pub post-soul-crushing ride in full kit, plopping down in a chair on the sunny patio, and crushing a couple pints as the feeling goes back into your legs.

    For fuck’s sake, what is going on here?

    @PeakInTwoYears

    That Giro stuff looks awesome for commuting or riding to and from the pub.

    For an actual “ride,” I want to look my best, even if I’m riding alone, even if I’m a fat little middle-aged fucktard-“best” being quite relative.

    This.

    Abso-fukin-lutely.

  45. @piwakawaka

    @Mikael Liddy too much, when there are still more bikes to buy, Interesting how this whole thing is blowing up, mind you they are just trying to sell us more shit!

    If by ‘us’ you mean investment bankers, lawyers and ceo’s out on their sunday jaunt! Dunno about you guys, but at those prices, budgetatus does not compute, that’s a whole year of bike maintenance in a jersey. All power to anyone who buys it though, horses for courses and all that…

  46. @frank

    @Mikael Liddy

    @brett cos I hate flapping kit on a bike.

    No shit. We are fucking Cyclists, am I not mistaken? And you’re talking about riding in kit designed to look good at the cafe? I believe that’s backwards. Who gives two flying fucks about what other people think of how you look at the cafe? One of the greatest pleasures in life is rolling up to a pub post-soul-crushing ride in full kit, plopping down in a chair on the sunny patio, and crushing a couple pints as the feeling goes back into your legs.

    For fuck’s sake, what is going on here?

    Yes we are Cyclists. Therefore stay out of the fucking pub in Cycling gear. Gear made for riding that can still look good apres ride and perform on the bike is better than showing your shrivelled cock to to the unsuspecting public.

  47. I always thought it was enough to reach down the front of my bibs as I was coming in through the door to tuck my dick down behind my chamois.

  48. Road Holland makes some nice understated gear too…

    Even for angry Dutchmen…

    Plain colours and simple design are a nod to tradition and the old school, perfect for the discerning Velominatus I’d say…

  49. @PeakInTwoYears

    I always thought it was enough to reach down the front of my bibs as I was coming in through the door to tuck my dick down behind my chamois.

    It goes without saying…

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