Tuesday, 15 September 2015

My cycling shorts story

Eartha Kitt in my kind of cycling shorts
Ok, so I know I have always said I’d never wear cycling shorts. The Lycra, the padding, the way they look, it’s just not my thing. Is it?

I get that for races or triathlons they are uniform, but I know people who cycle really short distances and wouldn’t even dream of putting their bum near a saddle without a layer of Lycra and padding in-between. It’s just not for me. I cycled from London to Paris wearing jeans and my bum was just fine. I think a huge part of my aversion stems from the fear that if I tried it I might like it then never be able to cycle in my normal clothes again. My ass might soften and I’d have to invest in a whole other wardrobe of Lycra. Also I spend a lot of my time waiting in traffic behind dudes in very sheer faded Lycra and I don’t find it hot, especially the dude I see on Holland Park Road who wears those white ones. NO. Just no.

When I said I was cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End I was told that I would need to Lycra and cleat up. “It’s such a long distance your bum will hurt, there will be chafing, think of the hills, blah blah blah.”  I caved. I bought the shoes and pedals, I didn’t test them on the road until I got to Wick but that’s a whole other story. And the shorts? Yeah, I got them too.

I didn’t want to spend mega bucks on something I hated and may not even wear so I scrimped. I went to the labyrinthine mecca of massive mugs that is Sports Direct at Lillywhites. The last time I went in there was to buy running trainers with a boyfriend who was to become my ex-boyfriend about a week later. They were his birthday present to me, to keep at his house so I didn’t have to lug trainers around all the time. We broke up a week later and when he arrived on my doorstep with two Ortleib panniers containing everything I’d left at his, including a set of six drinking glasses, but the unworn trainers were not there.  I’d like to have seen what he put down as the reason for return.

That was a story that I had not only completely forgotten about, but also one that my friend Katy found hilarious as she held up a pair of bib shorts and said; “What the hell are these?”
“I know right? How do you pee?” I said as I tried a £12.99 pair of Muddy Fox shorts on over my jeans. The padding felt too padded as I completed a series of squats between the rails and the elastic bit around my thighs was so tight it was strangling my quads. I get claustrophobic when things are too tight. I have ripped the necks on t-shirts trying to stretch them during runs and at a festival,  someone had to video me biting off my wristband off in a breathless, high-pitched fit of panic to show to security guards as proof so they’d let me through with a sheepish look on my face and a chewed wristband in my hand.

“It feels like I’m wearing nine sanitary towels”
“And that’s pretty much how it looks” said Katy. I bought the cheapest pair and as soon as I got home, cut off the thigh elastic and planned to hide them under real shorts.

About 300 miles into my ride I got a message from Katy saying; “Have you worn your fugly shorts yet (poo emoji, thumbs down emoji, monkey with hands over eyes emoji)?”
“Nope. I might bin them (the cyclist with the hills in the background emoji, the peach that looks like a bum emoji and a thumbs up emoji).”
“Maybe keep them in case you suddenly need 9 sanitary towels (Japan flag emoji).”

The final resting place of those unworn shorts with the elastic cut off that failed to fulfill their life’s purpose, was at a service station somewhere near Warrington. Their space in my pannier was filled with a giant bag of Bombay Mix that was way more appreciated.
Laraine Day rocking the almost bib shorts

The moral of this story is; wear whatever the fresh hell you like on your bike. If you feel comfortable cycling in jeans, knock yourself out. If you want to show everyone your balls in Lycra, do it. My favourite thing about cycling is the freedom it gives and this should stretch to every aspect of it. And no, I didn’t get any chaffing. I guess I either have an ass of steel or enough cushion for the pushin’.

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