JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

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?

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.

Cycling costs

Cycling costs

''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.

21 comments

  • Yes, there is much to lampoon at the high end of recreational cycling. The reality is that there are very few non-professionals that buy $10,000 bikes. They might by $3000 tops. But seriously, you can get into cycling with a second hand 12 speed steely from the Recyclery, an entry level helmet for $40 from Big W (remember no matter how much they cost, they all have to meet mandatory safety standards) and a cheap pair of knicks. Wear you Bonds t-shirt, your old sneakers and your daggy sunglasses. I reckon you can get into cycling for less than $400 if it is just about the freedom of riding and feeling the wind through your helmet. Learn how to fix your bike. Take things apart and put them back together. Expect to take it into the shop and sheepishly admit that you have no idea and laugh at yourself and the lovely people will tell you what to do. That is real bike love. If it is about 'the scene', well, yes the sky is the limit, but no amount of money buys respect in a bunch if you cant ride your carbon fibre nasty.

    But while we are on the rules: Don't put your expensive bike on the aforementioned BMW or Mercedes to drive to your meeting spot unless it is a very respectable distance from your home (ie out of town). You will look like an idiot. Real cyclists own crappy cars and save their money for the bike(s)!

    Commenter
    Android
    Date and time
    November 22, 2012, 6:10AM
    • Hahahahahahahahaah pause breath.... hahahahahahahahahahah

      I'm all for commuter cyclists.... but the swarm of over ripe, over paid (obvious from the bikes) posers that infest certain Canberra coffee shops are a blight on our city. I you want to ride ride out of town to Collector, Yass,,,,, or the Bay ETC. Scratch up their floors with your stupid (unnecessary) bike shoes, fill up their pathways with your wanker bikes. Leave your disgusting sweaty bum marks on their chairs and seehow long you will be welcome?

      Do you really know how farcical your little swarm of lycra is?

      Commenter
      Hammer
      Location
      ACT
      Date and time
      November 22, 2012, 9:28AM
    • @Hammer about as farcical as anyone enjoying a sport or hobby to any level they like. Cry me a river and get with the times!

      Commenter
      Honk at me one more time....
      Location
      Canbarianian
      Date and time
      November 22, 2012, 12:48PM
    • Make that $19 for a helmet from Big-W. I spent some time trying on a variety of helmets up to $150 and the most comfortable one I found was the Rosebank Escape. As you say they all have to pass the same standards, often the only differences are in weight and bragging rights.

      Commenter
      mddawson
      Date and time
      November 22, 2012, 10:35PM
  • I prefer to be a VOMIT (very old man in tights). The BS about coordination and price is just that. I ride an elderly (but very efficient) road bike made by Gitane ($300 on ebay), and an eight year old full floater Mountain bike ($3,5000 new); I use the same helmet, tights, shoes and shirts as on my mountain bike, and couldn't give a stuff about how I look. The trendies and pseuds just make me laff :) The point is to ride, not to pose. Get out there and just go for it!

    Commenter
    CobbCres
    Location
    Ainslie
    Date and time
    November 22, 2012, 8:13AM
    • Fashion is a HUGE part of cycling and I am surprised that you say it isn't important.

      I'd NEVER jump on the bike without my uniform - oztag shorts from an underperforming 2008 team, thick woolen holeproof hero socks which come half way up to my knees, and my yellow "2005 cycle to work" T-shirt.

      Image is everything - gotta make the scene if you're going to be seen.

      Commenter
      Roaster
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      November 22, 2012, 10:04AM
  • In my experience the vast majority of Canberra motorists are very polite and considerate - even welcoming - of cyclists. After all, more bikes = less traffic congestion.
    There are just a few who listen too long to angry closet-case shock jocks, who are inexplicably outraged every time they see a cyclists in lycra shorts.

    Commenter
    JCarroway
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    November 22, 2012, 8:45AM
    • Yeah, because without bikes, Canberra would be such a nightmare of heavy traffic congestion.....

      Commenter
      That Guy
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      November 22, 2012, 12:56PM
  • Great photo!

    Commenter
    Sharron
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    November 22, 2012, 8:47AM
    • I prefer my $80 shorts, $60 jersey, $10 socks, $200 shoes and $20 gloves all direct from the UK in 3-4days. Buy local.....pay 5x as much.

      Commenter
      Rohan
      Date and time
      November 22, 2012, 8:48AM

      More comments

      Comments are now closed

      Related Coverage

      Featured advertisers

      Special offers

      Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo