Are you a MAMIL that uses The Force? The lycra force, that is…

The terrestrial equivalent of surfers, greying middle aged men are donning tighter Lycra…

Standing in the sunshine, chatting with my friends in the park on a lovely Saturday morning, I could not have been more content.

Then I caught a glimpse of garish pink and DayGlo yellow. In an instant, my mood was shattered as a voice gasped: ‘Dear God, Jennie. Is that your husband?’

And there he was, walking towards us in an outfit even Daniel Craig would struggle to pull off. In fact waddling would be a more apt description, as his cycling shoes made walking all but impossible.


‘What is a MAMIL?’ I hear you cry. Well, as of last week you need look no further than the Oxford Dictionary to find out. It stands for a Middle Aged Man In Lycra.

The definition is ‘a middle-aged man who is a very keen road cyclist, typically one who rides an expensive bike and wears the type of clothing associated with professional cyclists’.

There you go you Lycra Force fielders – you’ve made it into the Oxford Dictionary as Mamils.  Aren’t you proud?

I checked, and it also says “see Road Lice”

Richard’s transformation into a MAMIL began five years ago when, to get fit, he bought a road bike. At first, he wore a sensible pair of shorts and a loose-fitting jersey.

But then the buying began in earnest. New wheels (the old ones were slowing him down, apparently), a pair of cycling shoes, then another pair, then a ‘quicker’ helmet, then a personal trainer to help him shed the pounds and improve his ‘power to weight ratio’.

The clothes grew tighter, the cost escalated as he bought a cycling computer (a glorified satnav), which at £500 cost almost as much as his bike, and £250 sunglasses (they have gaps in the lenses to stop them steaming up — but if you sweat as much as Richard, they steam up anyway).

I know some of you reading this are MAMILs.   Go on.  Out yourself in the comments and be proud to be counted as 1) a road louse, and 2) someone who reads Whaleoil and doesn’t agree with everything I write!

– Jennie Price, Daily Mail


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  • All_on_Red

    This is probably appropriate

  • James

    The thing that I don’t understand is that, if you are doing it to get fit, then surely you want to have an old, heavy bike and baggy clothing as then you have to pedal harder and faster?

    Sure, get the full kit and caboodle if you are going to be cycling down to the Coromandel every weekend and can’t drive due to having lost your licence for driving at 1kmph faster than the speed limit once too often, but otherwise what is the point?

  • Quinton Hogg

    Nope, not me.
    Not interested at all.
    Prefer a “good walk ruined”

    • Cadwallader

      “A good walk ruined” also applies to golf.

  • Mac50

    Can someone please explain the importance of being faster or lighter if the goal is fitness? A bike that is heavier and slower means you will get the same amount of exercise but at a lower speed, so less damage will be caused when you inevitably fall/get knocked off. Also a lot cheaper!
    Similarly, why ride in pack, when more effort is required to ride separately, causing less traffic angst as well?
    By the way, I still get out on my bike from time to time – a decidedly uncool Healing 10 speed or a mountain bike that does at least have better brakes.

    • EvoDriver

      The goal starts out being fitness, but then after a while when you realise you enjoy it, then you like to see your pace go up, or your distance increase, or your rankings increase in races (speaking as a runner).

      • True that, I brought increasingly lighter shoes for running, don’t need to drag a couple of extra kilos around if you don’t have to and you want to faster because of your own sense of competitive, also the same why need a GPS monitor to exactly know your distance, pace, intervals, and a heart-rate monitor… it never ends…..

      • James

        If I tried to race my car around suburban streets then I would be arrested. Why does this not seem to apply to Mamils?

        • EvoDriver

          Some silly lawmakers out there decided that racing your car around the streets is illegal, but tight lycra is not… I don’t get it personally??? ;-)

        • Toasty

          Probably because most cyclists don’t have the power to break the speed limit and if they lose control a cyclist is unlikely to crash through a house killing all inside….

          • James

            Even racing your car around in a dangerous fashion is illegal – regardless of speed limits. I’ve had to stop the boy from walking the dog on a Wednesday and Thursday morning around us as it is too dangerous for a kid to be crossing roads (even at zebra crossings) due to the number of road lice that infect the local area on those days.

    • burns_well_eh

      I can’t explain it, but I guess it’s the same reason you don’t see joggers dragging a tyre at the end of a heavy chain when they go running.

    • Simon Brown

      By that logic, if you swim in a pool for fitness, you should swim fully clothed.

      • andrew carrot

        and chuck in some jelly crystals to increase resistance

  • the nostalgia days of the Raleigh 20, trouser in sock and playing-card spoke enhancer for those special noise effects, plus the aftermarket dynamo lighting system

    • Toasty

      When you wanted to get extra fit you just engaged the dynamo light and tried to overcome the friction….or it would just wear through the tire if it wasn’t set up right.

    • who’stoblame

      Was that you that stole my Raleigh 20?? Best thing that could of happened as I moved up to the Raleigh Arena in metallic blue with a rear reflector and 14 gears so there. ps..never did put a bright pink flag and pole on the 20 though as I thought it may appear a little pooftish.

  • Cambo

    Just my opinion, but husbands gear seems way more appropriate to wear than the getup the wife is wearing on a Saturday afternoon at the park….

  • Toasty

    I really like cars but man, I love cycling. Although I do all my commuting on a mountain bike and I don’t think I will ever make the jump to lycra. Its such a good feeling to leave for or from work and be out in the air.

    I love not having to get on a bus with a bunch of smelly cellphone hypnotised drones or into a metal box on wheels so I can crawl home with other angry ugly commuters.

    I love blitzing through the traffic and being a self righteous prick. I hate the days when I am forced by appointments to take a bus or a car.

    • Davo42

      Good point on the public transport, I’m no cyclist but I would prefer to take a bike over the bus or train any day.

    • SlightlyStrange

      Husband does a mix of the bus and the bike depending on the weather. Although thankfully, we live in a nice suburb, near the city, so its a short bus ride with a bus full of professional workers – at the moment, its still cheaper to take the bus than a car to town for the day (and we only have one car and I’m home with a toddler).
      He loves the days he can ride to work. And its blindingly clear that it keeps him healthy – he gained a chunk of weight before he started riding to and from work, we had to get his suit for our wedding re-tailored because he’d lost so much weight.

  • Davo42

    The lycra pants are essential for any self respecting mamil, without them he wouldn’t be able to proudly display his padded up package at the cafe on a sunday morning.

    • conwaycaptain

      Padded up package!!! Modern day equivalent of the Cod Piece

  • spanishbride

    My very own MAMIL back in the day….

    • Cambo

      Watch out SB, the Fun Police are going to take one look at that picture and ask for charges to be laid against Cam for not wearing a helmet! :)

    • kehua

      Ya should have held him down and shorn the arms and legs SB, he was probably beaten by his own whiskers haha.

    • Tiberius

      What happened? Did he loose interest when Trevor beat him? I was hoping for a rematch!

    • All_on_Red

      Just a Mammal now…

  • sheppy

    My electric bike is way more fun especially when passing sweaty MAMIL’s slowly climbing hills whilst I’m wearing jeans and a T Shirt

  • Greg M

    I still take the trusty old 10 speed for a fang around the waterfront occasionally. My clothing of choice is footy shorts and a polo shirt which seems to get up the trendies noses in a big way.

  • burns_well_eh

    OK I’ll go first, I love the smell of click-bait in the morning, especially on a Friday. I’m a proud MAMIL that reads and contributes and most certainly doesn’t agree with everything Cameron writes, as the evidence will show.

    I first bought a bike for fitness several years ago, rode it a few times and didn’t really get into it, so the bike went in the garage. In October 2 years ago, my wife decided she wanted to do the Central Otago Rail Trail for her 50th birthday, quite why she wanted to do this is a mystery as she’s a postie and rides 6 days a week anyway, but off I went. First day – loved it, second and third days my backside felt like raw hamburger, the last day I started to enjoy it again, so when we got home I dusted off the bike and got into it and this time it stuck. I got some bike shorts for Christmas and some day-glo yellow tops but loose fitting ones.

    After a couple of months I got frustrated that I couldn’t get the bike to go faster, so I sold it on TradeMe and got a lighter one designed for commuting. Had that for almost a year and was really enjoying it but the upright position and flat handlebars limited how fast I could go (that and my fitness/weight, though those were steadily improving). After doing the 40km cycle leg of a triathlon and being passed by nearly everyone (I distinctly remember thinking “Eat my dust, loser!” to the one guy I passed, but to be fair he was repairing a flat tyre at the time. So I went into the bike shop the next morning and got my first road bike – an aluminium alloy one with carbon forks and seat-post – very entry level. I loved that bike so much I wanted to take it to bed with me – that’s what endorphins can do to you.

    I tried some longer events, with mixed success, but I only ever train by myself or with one other, and I’m always courteous on the roads and find that reflected back at me, which is great. A couple of months ago I traded up to a full carbon fibre bike from the Bike Barn, our local one is great and the service is fantastic, and it was a great deal. I ride to and from work as often as I can depending on other commitments, and absolutely love it. If it wasn’t for cycling I’d be fatter, more out of shape and a lot less healthy.

    On Sunday I did the cycle leg of the Tinman Triathlon at the Mount, and did it 26 minutes quicker than last year (although the course was 4km shorter – I still improved my average speed from 27kph to just over 32kph). I’m a sucker for a faster bike but not into the Tour de France type kit and I don’t care what I look like. I do have a racing jersey which is bright yellow and has the pockets at the back for two halves of a banana – I’m not into the gels or energy drinks.

    Cycling has helped me in many ways, and it isn’t just about getting fit. It’s a great start to the day if I ride to work, and I find after a good hard ride home in the evening that any cares I had have been blasted away. On the weekends if I get up for a ride I’m on the street by 6am and it’s a fantastic time of the day. I can have a good ride, cool down, have a shower and still have the whole day in front of me.

    There’s a saying on the Specialized website – it never gets easier, you just go faster – and that’s so true.

  • Hoju

    Cam – just shave your legs and get out there – after the first 1000k you’ll be converted for good. Big guys look good in bright yellow.

  • ozbob68

    Well, we all decry the MAMIL, but when the rebellion alternatives for the middle-aged man are infidelity, sports cars or plastic surgery, suddenly a fitness-based activity doesn’t seem so bad.

  • Sunshine

    Not a MAMIL, but a MAWIL and a considerate road louse (hate riding in a bunch) and my racing bike and race wheels are worth more than my car and live in my bedroom. I own more sports gear than real clothes and shoes.

  • Chris EM

    I ride a mointain bike. Not on the road, on the dirt, in the bush.
    I’m all about the base… ’bout the base… ’bout the base… no lycra…

    • Wahbonnah


  • BG

    I’m a MAMIL but detest being called road lice.
    I never ride in bunches, I actually take a pair of shorts with me if i do stop at a cafe and I stay as left as humanly possible – which is difficult with our poorly engineered road.
    I’ve never been fitter and leaner. I think of golf as one step away from lawn bowls.

  • Bazza63

    Another mountain biker & no lycra. Bike is an old Iron Horse Weekend Warrior Pro.

  • johcar

    I am a lapsed MAMIL – lapsed due to injuries sustained, inflicted by both motorists and over-training. I got into cycling after 18 months of the gym (hated it!!!) following a heart attack/triple bypass when in my mid-forties.

    I rode regularly for about 7 years (gave it away a couple of years ago) in which time I rode the Round Taupo 5 times (consecutive years), rode Around the Bay In A Day, Melbourne (210km route), a number of Rotorua -Taupo Flyer events (100km) and numerous other shorter events.

    I founded/belonged to a group of like-minded individuals and we ensured, in our group rides, that no-one got left behind. We also enforced road manners in our group rides, making sure that we rode single file wherever the road was either to narrow or too busy to ride two abreast.

    I have both a mountain bike (a Merida – a cheapie) and a road bike (Specialized Roubaix Elite – 2008) – the latter being full carbon, with fancy pedals and wheels. I was going through a decision-making process to sell the road bike recently, however I have been talked into riding the second half of Taupo next year (Kuratau to Taupo), so the lycra will be coming out of the box in the New Year.

    However I must say, my preferred sport/recreation at the moment is golf (far less chance of getting hit by a 2 tonne lump of metal, driven by an idiot travelling far faster than his/her ability)…

    And like burns_well_eh, I read and contribute and most certainly don’t agree with everything Cameron writes…

    • Goldfish

      That road bike is a bit of an old dunger, time to upgrade. You should ride the whole loop next year, Kuratau to Taupo is so short it may as well be a sprint!

      • johcar

        I’ve done the whole thing 5 times in the past. Not as much fun now – far fewer people riding it, so the help from bunch-riding is less.

        The Roubaix is getting a bit long in the tooth, but it’s still got some pretty good gear on it – I can’t justify to SWMBO an upgrade with the amount of riding I’m doing these days…

        The mate I’m riding with on the Kuratau-Taupo leg next year is not an experienced cyclist, so a good opportunity to offer some moral support (and maybe a hand on the small of his back to help him up Hatepe). For me, next year is a social outing…

  • John1234

    A hilarious comment on the article feedback – after ‘MAMIL’ comes ‘OFFIL’ – Old Fat Fart in Lycra!

    Almost all the other comments were from humourless losers though.

  • Bayman

    If 45 is counted as middle aged then yes I’m a MAMIL and proud of it. I read WO and certainly don’t agree with everything Cam writes – especially about cycling!!

    In September last year I was 91 kgs. I took up cycling, then triathlon and now I’m 74 kgs, am fitter, look better and enjoy life so much more than when I was fat and unfit.

    Sunday just gone I took part in Tinman down here at the Mount, and have another 4 triathlons planned until the end of March which is when I take part in the Auckland City event at Downtown.

    It’s fun, keeps us fit and being fitter keeps us out of the Drs.

    Here’s me on my TT bike on Sunday :-)

    • Damon Mudgway

      If 45 is middle aged then 90 is the new end of the innings. My family history had me being middle aged at 30!

      • Wahbonnah

        tell your family to pull their heads in Damo!!!

    • Madman

      Well done Bayman!

      I also disagree quite frequently with what is written WOBH regarding cyclist. While some (a very small minority) do cause issues, you can find that in any sport or walk of life.

      I would rather be a healthy, active, contributor to the economy (spending a bit on lycra, bike parts, events..) MAMIL than the other side of the coin that most people on this site continue to complain about.

      So I am still very confused as to why it is such a bad thing when 99% of it is positive. Keep up the effort!!

    • burns_well_eh

      Hey, I think I recognise that pedestrian crossing/speed bump! What was your bike time?

      • Bayman

        I did the sprint distance as working my way up to Half Iron next season. My bike split was 31.20 – would have liked to have gone quicker but isnt that everyone?

        • burns_well_eh

          I did the first lap in 31, the second in 33 – but unlike you I hadn’t just swum 750m and didn’t have a 5k run to cope with afterwards – top effort.

    • burns_well_eh

      Oops forgot to upload – this is me, managed 1:04 and change.

      • Bayman

        Good work – Tinman is a great event. I’m also found Kinloch sprint on 31/01 and Auckland City at the end of March. Hats going to be Olympic distance for me.

    • Wahbonnah

      anything over 40 is middle aged ;-p

  • Old McDonald

    I occasionally don a pair of cycle pants if I am going to spend more than an hour on a bike seat of my 10 year old mountain bike, as I find that the discomfort on my derriere is significantly reduced by a little padding.

    A bigger concern to me is the wearing of budgie smugglers at the beach by plump pensioners.

  • JohnnySees

    The garage has bikes hanging like art, and are used frequently by wife and I. Somewhat surprisingly today I realise I have a label – mamil. The south island roads we enjoy are nerarly devoid of traffic and considerate riding to the small number of vehicles is at our forefront.

    • Captain Darling

      I’ve done a number of cycle tours around the Sth Island and absolutely loved every one.

    • Caprice

      I confess. South Island roads in Lycra, AND a wetsuit for sailing every week during the season. This has reminded me – must get back on the bike, it has been neglected lately.

  • Alexander K

    Sold my bike when I left high school sixty years ago and never wanted another one. After years of laughing at ‘gym bunnys’, in an attempt to rid myself of T2 Diabetes I have quit smoking and become a gym addict. I get really tetchy if I can’t get to my thrice-weekly scheduled session but after a few years of this I am fitter, leaner, have normal blood sugar levels and look and feel years younger.

    Whatever motivates anyone anyone to become fit must be good.

  • BlitzkriegNZ

    Mountain biker – screw Lycra! And screw riding where everything that shares the road can kill you. Not quite middle age though.

  • Damon Mudgway

    I recently worked part time for a bike store selling Specialized and Giant. Interestingly enough I sold probably 15 mountain bikes to 1 road bike. My own observations on the road cyclists was that they were pretty much all nice folks who took their chosen hobby altogether far too seriously.

    Me, I prefer eating sensibly, kicking balls around with my kids, and to relax, sup on a nice brandy while blissfully puffing on a fine Cuban. Unfortunately with young kids the relax part does not come often enough.

  • Missionary

    I’m a surfer. I wear rubber! Road Lice are not terrestrial versions of surfers thank you. I’m offended!!!

  • Saggy

    I confess to being a retired MAMIL. I should start again as have packed on 20kg since I stopped a few years ago. But I certainly won’t be donning the lycra any time soon so rest easy folks.

    • island time

      And that stuff shrinks if left in the wardrobe for too long!!

      • Saggy

        My word yes. But not just the Lycra, my wife’s shrunk the lot.

  • Isherman

    Lycra?..Not then, not now, and not ever. A 5m wetsuit (shorty) if im chasing fish with a spear gun is the closest thing I would have that comes to it, and any attempt at comparisison between Lycra and a Wet-suit would be equally wrong.

    • Captain Darling

      Come on, they’re both basically the same thing. Tight fitting and showing all your lumpy bits.

      • Isherman

        lol, nice try, but when Im wearing the wetsuit theres basically nobody aprt from the boat crew, which never numbers more than 4 people including myself that ever see me in it, and its usually in Blue water some miles off the coast.

        • Captain Darling

          You’re telling me you don’t wear your wetsuit to your local cafe for a post dive coffee?

          • phronesis

            I think you have hit the nail on the head there darling.

          • Wahbonnah

            I’m sure there’s more than one or two of us that read Whaleoil, that don’t mind ladies wearing lycra to the shops after they’ve just had a workout.
            Lets not forget equal opportunities for all :-)

  • Captain Darling

    I am a very active mamil and proud of it. I ride Aucklands streets at least 5 days a week sometimes 6. I wear lycra as it’s best suited for the job, but I am lean at 76kgs.
    I also shave my legs which makes me go faster. I have 5 bikes but would like more. Cycling is a fantastic sport, not only for fitness but for the great people you meet along the way. I highly recommend it for all you couch spuds out there.

    • Bayman

      I have 3 bikes but don’t shave my legs….yet :)

      In The group I train with a lot of the guys shave their legs, but not for speed – it’s actually about if they crash there is less likelihood of infection if there aren’t a load of hairs getting in the scabs and breaking them open etc.

      • Captain Darling

        Re: shaved legs, I know, it was my feeble attempt at humour.
        But I recommend you do shave, nothing like a pair of tanned, shapely smooth legs, (most of) the girls love that.

    • Andy

      Thank you darling. Actually I do cycle but not as much as I should

    • Billythekid

      I have no bikes and very hairy legs, drive a car, motorcycle , bobcat and truck and just melted the ecg machine at hearty towers.

  • gambler

    I do wear a wetsuit almost all year round for kitesurfing but only with boardies on the outside. Otherwise i feel almost naked. I know one guy who doesn’t wear boardies and he is perfectly comfortable with just a wetsuit. What does that tell us? not alot but we are all different and in the words of Paul McCartney.. “live and let live”

    • Andy

      I don’t wear boardies for kiting. I guess I am weird

      • gambler

        as long as you wear your wetsuit your be fine

    • burns_well_eh

      Ummm, Paul McCartney’s words were actually “Live and let die” – written for the James Bond film of the same name.

    • Wahbonnah

      How can cyclists wear lycra shorts into shops with all their “junk” hanging out, but I get strange looks when I wear my budgie smugglers into the dairy across the road from the beach??
      Double standards!!!!!

  • Kevin

    Everyone morning near where I live I see a group of MAMILs (including middle-aged women) cycling in a big bunch; all dressed near identically and pissing off cars behind…

    The dolphins of the road (note: dolphins aren’t nice).

  • caochladh

    Is it acceptable to wear underpants over the Lycra just like Superman?

    • johcar

      Only if you wear the cape as well…

    • Wahbonnah

      only if you’ve changed in the phone booth….

  • Wahbonnah

    What is wrong with wearing rugby shorts and a singlet when going for a ride?
    And for that extra ventilation, boxers shorts underneath, that’ll give the ladies something to look at/complain about!!!!
    PS if my wife looked like the blondie in red, I’d do whatever she said :-)

    • burns_well_eh

      Nothing wrong with those, if that’s what you want to wear. I trust you don’t object to me wearing what I want to wear, either?

      And I agree, if that was my missus I’d do whatever she suggested, sharpish.