Somehow, I’ve come to love Lycra.
Back in 2008, I pitched a book idea to a literary agent. The pitch was for a fun, friendly and accessible guide to cycling for women, debunking some myths and stereotypes and encouraging them to get on (or back on) their bikes.
Central to the entire proposition was the idea that you don’t need to look or dress like ‘a cyclist’ to cycle. You don’t need Lycra, weird shoes that make you hobble, padding or any other techy accoutrements.
You can cycle in anything! Even high heels, if you really wanted.
I was really conscious that lots of women cited that the gear most cyclists wore (which was at the time frankly dreadful) was a barrier to getting on bikes. I wanted to show that you can cycle in anything! Even high heels, if you really wanted. After all, for 28 years of my life, I did. Yes, even in high heels, once, on the way back from the pub, an experience I don’t recommend if I’m honest.
When The Girl’s Guide to Life on Two Wheels, my third and in my opinion finest book, was finally published I was ready to embrace my status as The Anti-Cycling Gear Cyclist. Out there to prove that you didn’t have to look like a human condom to ride bikes.
I really do stand by my conviction that you don’t have to embrace Lycra to embrace cycling. Only, there’s a small problem with the overall plan. I’ve started wearing Lycra.
I am converted. I’m a Lycra lover. I look like a human condom and I’m not even ashamed.
Top to toe. And cleats, even though they make me hobble. And padding. I even wrote an article for the Telegraph on the joys of going knickerless under a chamois, a piece that got me some frankly questionable ‘fan mail’.
It gets worse. After holding out and holding out for as long as I possibly could, I started wearing bibs. At first I tried to tell myself I was wearing them ironically but now, I can’t ride without them.
My friends. I am converted. I’m a Lycra lover. I look like a human condom and I’m not even ashamed.
Everything is smooth and easy and where it’s supposed to be.
It’s not even that I think I look particularly great in Lycra – although I concede I don’t look half bad either. It’s just so damn comfortable. Nothing pinches, or chafes, or rubs. Nothing pulls or digs or slips or rides up or down. Everything is smooth and easy and where it’s supposed to be.
And yes, it clings to every lump and bump. Only I find I’m not really that bothered. I tend to think that regardless of whether my fellow female riders are packing serious junk, or lean and fit, they look great. Even in Lycra. They look strong and powerful, they look happy and confident. And they also look like they just don’t give a sh*t what you or anybody else thinks about their awesome bodies.
And neither do I. Bring on the Lycra. I’m all over it.
Unit 28, Wheatley Business Park, Old London Road, Wheatley, Oxford OX33 1XW // email@example.com // +44 (0) 1302 249 323