Random Rambles and Esoteric Observations # 3 – MAMILS Go Mainstream

I was somewhat bemused on my regular commute to be confronted by a poster advertising the new Vauxhall Mokka as being “M.A.M.I.L. Ready.”

M.A.M.I.L. Ready?
M.A.M.I.L. Ready?

Since when did cycling become so popular that we’re now a legitimate, and by implication lucrative, sub-market in our own right? Then again, surely I’m not the only, ahem, MAMIL who finds the ad just a tad patronising?

Having had my interest piqued I tracked down some blarney about the ad from the creative agency and Vauxhall, which seemed to suggest that wearing cycling kit has grown to such an extent that it’s as common as kids peeing by the roadside, or husbands surreptitiously slipping away to avoid familial strife (two of the random scenarios in an ad that the developers grandiosely assert is: “a saunter through everyday eccentric British family life.”)

I was particularly intrigued by a section which promised to illuminate “in a light-hearted and humerous way, the perils of the M.A.M.I.L.”

Surprisingly this did not feature cyclists bodily hurling themselves into hedges and ditches to avoid homicidally driven, over-sized, petrol-guzzling, and speeding 4 x 4 behemoths, such as the Mokka itself. That’s certainly one of my most common experiences with this type of car, which a higher than average percentage of the RIM’s (Random Indignant Motorists) I have run-ins with seem to favour.

The perils of the M.A.M.I.L. actually features two middle-aged cyclists trailing doggedly on foot up the very first, gentle slopes of the approach to Honister Pass, already reduced to pushing their bikes by the “pig of a hill”. Thankfully, they are saved from further embarrassment when the incredibly perky daughter of one of them drives up (in her shiny new Mokka obviously) and offers them a lift home.

This hill’s a pig – or The Perils of a M.A.M.I.L.

There you have it then in one gloriously overblown cinematic sweep, MAMILS are completely delusional, un-fit, under-prepared quitters and figures of fun to boot. Nice.

Random Ephemera Part#1 – in celebration of the wit & wisdom of the online cycling fraternity

When Keats proposed his epitaph should be, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water” he was perhaps prescient in seeing an age where electronic media would prove to be even more transient than the printed page.

While trawling this interweb-thing I’ll often stumble across some pithy put-down, well-crafted description, or just plain-evil, barbed comment that will have me spluttering coffee across my keyboard in delight.

This is my poor attempt to extend the life of this ephemera just a gnat’s breath longer. Here are some of my favourites.

[By the way, if anyone can help I’m still searching for a review I once saw of a reassuringly expensive Rapha wallet, illustrated with a suitable grainy photo of said item spilling open to reveal credit cards, keys, an iPhone and a pristine £10 note. In the comments section some wag had pondered whether the tenner was there for emergencies in case the Raphalite had to soil his fingers replacing a slipped chain and needed something to wipe them clean on.]

A marvellously low-brow interview with Victoria Pendleton in FHM (what else would you expect from FHM?) included the line: “Some of the girls I race against are quite masculine and have very low voices and facial hair…”

To which one message board wit quipped, “That’s odd. Some of the guys I race against are quite feminine, have squeaky voices and no hair anywhere. That’s the topsy-turvy world of cycling for you.”

Then there’s this classic from the Master himself, Doc Hutch in a piece from Cycling Weekly. “In the same era, the British time triallist would lighten his bike with a Black and Decker, drilling holes in bars, stems, frames, brakes, chainsets, and all the rest. He could thus remove two per cent of the weight and 99 per cent of the structural integrity. At full race pace his machine would whistle like a recorder concerto and flex like a wet dishcloth.”

The Rapha Pro Team Cross jersey. Decide for yourself.
The Rapha Pro Team Cross jersey. Decide for yourself.

Finally, GavinT posted a simple question under a review of the Rapha Pro Team Cross Jersey: “Do they do one in men’s colours?”

Random Rambles and Esoteric Observations, Part#1

I have to admit to being a bit of a cycling dandy – as my teenage daughter might say, “he loves him some cycling jersey” – although if she saw I’d just written that she would instantly, and quite rightly, disown me (inheritance be damned!)

Anyway, an unfortunate and unexpected change of bike last year has opened up a radically new colour palette and gear rethink as, like any rational cyclist, I attempt to perfectly blend and co-ordinate man with machine like some Borg-infested Gok Wan. Resistance is futile, girlfriend?

I now have the perfect excuse to add to my bulging drawers (sorry, that not only carried all the wrong connotations, but a rather unpleasant mental image), ahem, to add to my ever growing collection of cycling jerseys. With this in mind I recently sent off to the sweatshops of the Far East for a jersey reportedly inspired by the Bundisliga. Yes, we’re talking football, and German football at that. I still don’t quite understand the connection or thinking here, but the colours perfectly match my new bike, so it works for me.

Not only was the jersey well-made, a good fit and excellent value for money, but according to the tag it had quite startling features beyond my wildest imaginings, promising “high elasticity Lycra” to “cultivate one’s morality version of joint human body.” Even Rapha or Assos don’t give you that.

By the way, I’m by no means the worst offender when it comes to bike styling – I once caught a club mate changing his usual drink from blackcurrant to orange so the faint blush of colour through the plastic of his bidon* would complement his new bar tape.

* faux posh for water bottle