The onset was roughly around the time of the arrival of the children we were adopting. We’d hit our early 40s and with the additional chaos the children brought in to our lives there was a need to seek solace, on two wheels. This is how my husband became a MAMIL.
A MAMIL, is the term given to middle-aged men, who indulge themselves with the purchase of an expensive bike and acquire lots of lycra cycling gear. The cycling bit is possibly optional.
It’s said to be the new healthy response to the ‘mid-life’ crisis – at least it’s not a flashy car or a leather jacket.
The full conversion happened in preparation or a charity bike ride for a school friend who sadly died from Motor Neurone Disease. As part of team Bike for Mike the challenge, was to cycle, 130 miles from Aberdeen to Edinburgh. This raised in excess of £23,000 – a tremendous effort, and the biking bug, had been well and truly caught.
Post challenge, we were now running a full on fever, and the only course of action was to, along with the new bike, get more new clothes, accessories, shoes, and those really, really special sunglasses.
Sunday mornings were spent hurtling down Box Hill in the North Surrey Downs and racing through Richmond Park, trying not to collide with deer. On occasions joining fellow MAMILs to participate in Sportives. Not a race, but cycling 50, 60, 70 or more miles, competing against oneself. It’s all about the time.
The week days necessitated negotiating the wild roads of London, weaving through traffic, dodging buses, lorries and taxis and surviving the Elephant and Castle roundabout.
Since moving to Paris, this particular MAMIL has adopted the Velib habit, the original free city cycle scheme. Popping all over Paris on this handy, free bike.
Other signs of the MAMIL affliction have been:
- Finding our house littered with cycling weekly magazines
- More than a slight addiction to ‘Wiggle‘ (website for biking gear)
- Wiggle packets arriving at regular intervals at our home
- There’s always the need to just pop into Decathlon on the way home from work (and there’s one in Paris too!)
- The number of lycra garments has increased – and they aren’t mine!
- Strange protein bars, energy shakes and gels have appeared in the kitchen cupboard
- The washing basket is filled with strange stretchy getups – cycling bib shorts, with padding!
- For some reason a part of our home has turned into a bike workshop
And you can’t just have one bike
Why just stop at one? The bike count has since risen to two and there’s the urge for a third. We need the right bike for the right terrain and we’re in desperate need of a single speed bike to potter around the city.
Well, I’d love the Mulberry Freya, in black, essential city equipment and perfect for the school run. Some how I think that won’t be coming my way!
Well, it’s not all bad news
According to British Cycling, cycling is a no brainer when it comes to health benefits, not only does it reduce stress, it can burn up to 500 calories in an hour, it’s better for the joints as it’s a low impact exercise. And a person who cycles regularly will have the general health of someone ten years younger.
Oh and then there’s the Tour
The Tour de France is sporting highlight in any MAMIL’s calendar, hours spent glued to the TV watching elite men in lycra cycle through France and occasionally straying into other countries.
The 2014 Tour’s Grand Depart was in Leeds. And our summer holiday that year was to the Dordogne, coincidently, to watch part of the tour in Bergerac.
The Tour de France is the oldest and most prestigious of all the cycling races. The final leg of the Tour de France reaches Paris on Sunday 24th July, you’ll find us, somewhere along the Champs Elysee cheering on our fellow Brit, Chris Froome from Team Sky.
Photo credit, Josh Hallett, courtesy of Flickr
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