Lycra, hat, bike. Let's road test this ritual
Road ready ... novice cyclist Jenna Clarke is all kitted out and co-ordinated in cycle gear (even the bike is colour co-ordinated), now where's the nearest coffee shop? Photo: Karleen Minney
If you are a man and want to be able to sip lattes while wearing Lycra with Canberra's cycling set, then you must be prepared to pick up a razor and learn how to colour co-ordinate.
If you are a woman and would like to find a husband, then you should invest in some Lycra, preferably with a splash of neon to be on trend for summer, and sensible underwear which doesn't give you a VPL [visible panty line], according to co-owner of The Cyclery, Jayson Clarke.
A lot of people who enjoy a spin, whether casually or competitively, are becoming the well-padded butt of many jokes, taunts and even abuse if you ride anywhere near Shane Warne or fired up readers of The Canberra Times.
''To all the nouveau riche with a superiority complex dropping $10K on a super light bike and revealing Lycra, sitting sweating in cafes ordering double-shot, three-quarter extra hot decaf lattes with Equal; please refrain from leaving sweat patches and flashing your junk everywhere. It is revolting,'' JDR commented in the Canberra Times.
Shouldn't these MAMILs (middle-aged men in Lycra) be congratulated for committing to regular cardio workouts?
I was sent out to investigate why our city's two-wheel bandits are starting to murmur ''why are people so unkind?'' into their free trade coffees and whether regular people actually ''drop'' $10,000 on bikes.
''Cycling is becoming the new golf, it's a way of life for a lot of people. The 24-hour competitions around Canberra are becoming huge,'' Clarke said. ''There are a lot more women competing now, some of the best women road bikers in the world come from Canberra.''
Recent road bike convert and manager of the The Cyclery, Matthew Hateley said he was quick to adopt the skin-tight look after swapping his mountain bike for a roadster. ''As well as it being practical, if you don't wear the Lycra you look completely out of place,'' he said. ''I haven't started shaving my legs, though.''
''We'll get you on the razor, you just wait,'' Clarke chimed in as Hateley kitted me out for my initiation into the business class bikie club. According to Clarke, hairless legs are key for cyclists and remove unnecessary pain should you fall off or need regular massages. Plus ''they feel bloody good on a summer's night too''.
When I hear the word ''helmet'' I think of Helmut Newton and his photographs, not of protective head gear. So when I am handed a hat that costs more than my weekly rent I ranted about the cost.
''Did you know you can't pay to fix your head?'' Clarke said as he handed over the protective sunglasses and padded gloves - both of which are necessary for cycling novices and avid riders alike.
When it comes to what to wear, I'm frowned upon for taking an interest in a checkered red number for my top half.
''That's for mountain biking'' and I am instructed to dress with some form of co-ordination. The same colour jersey and shorts must be worn, or at least look like they should be worn together. ''You don't drive a Mercedes while wearing a BMW shirt, so when it comes to your outfit, wearing a different brand or kind of jersey to your shorts is a no-no,'' Clarke added.
As I pulled on the kit in the change room and wondered aloud if my bra should be left on and if I was destined for a look the fashion police call ''muffin top,'' a voice from outside tells me to ''zip it up to your chin and be wary of your underwear, the VPL can be bad but just remember it's supposed to be snug.''
I'm just like any woman who dreams of one day having a shoe collection to rival that of Imelda Marcos, so slipping my feet into shoes that aren't all that comfortable and practical is not a foreign concept for me, however slipping over like Julia Gillard in India is. I'll take Christian Louboutin over cleats any day.
''More women should really consider taking up road bike riding, men everywhere from all walks of life are taking it up,'' Hateley said.
''Single men?'' I asked.
''All types of men,'' he replied.
Men who find this type of garb attractive, plus they know the best places for coffee - forget MAMILs, these guys are the new SNAGs.