Robot’s Useless Reviews – Lycra

Before I say anything else, I want you to know that I love you just as you are. I am not sure how, as a society, we go about establishing impossible standards by which we all, inevitably, judge our bodies, but I love you know matter how misshappen, or shapen, you might be. Our bodies are just whirls of dust and pools of energy that our minds ride shotgun in until oblivion comes calling, and it’s time to fertilize the grass and trees.

Having said all that, it’s weird to me that we chose to pack ourselves into sausage casings and then ride around town and call it a sport.

Like, if I wrapped myself in plastic wrap and went to the grocery store, I’d get arrested (Sir, clearly, we can see you’re nuts. <rim shot> You’re welcome.) But somehow, if we roll up in the equivalent “cycling kit” which is opaque instead of transparent, well that’s ok. Nothing to see here.

If only.

We all feel this way sometimes, Image by F Ceragioli

It’s fair to say we are a prudish species. We cover ourselves in ways that other animals don’t. We have shame. Who thought that up? And I know the story, where some chick bites an apple and a snake is like, “Heads up! You’re nude!” Even as an ex post facto justification for shame and subsequent haberdashery, I find that tall tale strains credulity. You’re telling me that every beach would be a nude beach if a reptile hadn’t somehow convinced a woman to eat a piece of fruit?

It’s an allegory, they say. OK. I’m still packing my man parts into squeezy pants with a diaper sewn in.

Here’s the thing everyone. Roughly 0.2% of you will gain any meaningful aerodynamic advantage from your Lycra cycle-tard. You’re just not that fast. Neither am I. So then it’s about moisture wicking and what? Comfort? Moisture wicking is really just a marketing term for “odor accrual.” Lycra takes the moisture away from your body, filters out the stench produced by your sense of body shame, and leaves you dry and smelling like a cadaver.

Lycra is actually a brand name. The generic term, at least in North America is spandex, which is an anagram of ‘expands.’ That’s true. You can look it up. I would tell you to stop wearing Lycra, but everyone knows “cotton will kill ya.” If you’ve ridden for more than an hour, in summer, in even the finest Egyptian cotton, you know this is also true.

I have three full drawers dedicated to garments made from these unnatural fibers. A gentle musk wafts forth whenever I open one of them.

Look, the bottom line is this. The more of these reviews I write, the more I see how odd and confusing this “sport” is, how we’ve all agreed to some really weird shit that we just do without talking about it very much. You can wear Lycra to ride your bike. You can look as good or as bad (whatever those terms mean in this context) as you want while doing it. You can also ride in a pair of jorts or a cassock if you want, although I don’t really recommend the latter. Either way, I love and accept you as you are, which is misshapen and smelly.

Join the conversation
  1. Dan Murphy says

    Hey Robot, this is the only way I could think of to send you this – Riding in Wales

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      Dan, It’s amazing right? This is all about 20 miles from my family’s village in mid-Wales. And those are the roads. Can you even imagine the trails? Thanks for sharing this.

    2. Dan Murphy says

      Drop. Dead. Gorgeous. I just wanted to be riding there.
      Glad you liked it.

      Sorry for the OT, folks.

  2. bloodpuddle says

    You can also go swimming in jeans or run track in a suit of armor, but neither is going to be all that comfy…

  3. alanm9 says

    I remember when I thought spandex was stupid and I wore cotton shorts on my commute. I should have done the math first, but here it is; pedaling at about 80 rpm for an hour equals 480 times those shorts rub back and forth over your legs. Which is great if you don’t want hair there but you do want constant painful rash. Also, nipples. So, spandex.

  4. TominAlbany says

    I still remember being horribly embarrassed (and not feeling anywhere as cool as Axl Rose surely thought he was) the first time I pulled on a pair of ‘proper’ bike shorts! I wore a t-shirt so it would cover my misshapenness. Now I don’t even think about how I look in the MAMIL category. I just head out and ride – smelly…

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