Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Men in Tights

In 1994 I bought my first decent mountain bike. I fell in love with it. While other kids my age were buying cars, I was upgrading to SPD pedals and new suspension. But there was one thing that I could not get behind. That was lycra/spandex/tights. While I had no problems with people like Ned Overend and Tinker Juarez wearing lycra/spandex/tights, I couldn’t. I think that was my aversion to road biking. While I could get away with baggies and a t-shirt mountain biking, I couldn’t with road biking. In fact, there is only one thing worse then lycra/spandex/tights, and that is people riding road bikes in baggies.

Several years later I got a job at a coffee shop, it was the best job I have ever had. While working the evening shift, a gentleman would come in for post road ride coffee. I looked forward to him coming in each evening during the summer; he rode fine Italian steel with Campagnolo and gorgeous lug work. To me, this made up for the fact that he wore lycra/spandex/tights.
We would talk at great length about bicycles, he was somewhat fascinated with mountain bikes and I was intrigued with his road bikes. I was always amazed that he would regularly ride up McDonald Pass, with an impressive 2000+ feet of elevation gain. Then, one day he showed up in his old Toyota pickup (my kind of guy, his bike was worth more than his car) and a cast on his arm. He had crashed on the pass and tore several tendons in his hand. It was at that point that I came to the realization, that road biking and lycra/spandex/tights had a serious element of risk and may not have been that bad.

Several years later, he and my mother-in-law began seeing each other and were married. What a great story. I digress, back to the discussion of lycra/spandex/tights. When I bought my cyclocross bike, I planned on using it on the road for longer distances. At that point I realized that it would be necessary for me to don lycra/spandex/tights because I did not want to be that guy riding long distances in baggies. I have overcome my issues with wearing tight clothing, at least on the road.

A year ago, I took a bunch of Boy Scouts out to work on their Bicycling Merit Badge. A friend knew that I was a bike enthusiast and thought it would be fun. It was hell. Plain and simple hell, nothing like riding 20 miles with a bunch of people with rusty bikes from Wal-mart....50 lb bikes. Not that I am prejudice, I just learned that the condition of a person's bike is a direct correlation to their abilities to ride long distances. didn't We planned a ride that would take place in Northern Virginia and West Virginia. I put on my tights and I was ready for the 20 mile ride. Of course the 15 boy scouts started snickering. I stated that if any of them beat me, they could make fun. During that ride as I cranking away in rural West Virginia, a pitbull ran out from a house and cut me off. There I was all alone, using my bike as barrier between me and the dog, wearing tights. I may have screamed which got the attention of the redneck who lived in the house. I think I heard a banjo in the distance. I briefly thought, "why did I wear tights." I was so far ahead that none of the boys witnessed this event. No one said a word at the end of the day about the tights, but I am sure the boys and a redneck were all snickering.

Here is the dilemma, I am in the Army. The Army is not the most open minded organization, especially when it comes to men wearing tights. I have been to combat; I have fought insurgents, hit by roadside bombs, shot at, mortared…..you would think that no one would judge me for wearing tights. You would think!

As stated before, I have come to terms with my lycra/spandex/tights; I just wish the people I work with could. It would be nice if I could go for a morning ride and come in to shower without a ton of catcalls.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is very interesting, Brent! Mostly I read "Mormon Mommy Blogs", so you're opening up a whole new world to me with all this bicycling information. Russ commutes to work on his bike every day too, but he just lives in Great Falls, so not as many worries for him about getting mugged along the way! :o)
    Reading all this bicycle stuff actually reminded me of an argument (or maybe we can just say "difference of opinion") you and I had once about bikes driving on the road and how safe it was. Silly.
    Also, since I did read all of your posts, I have to say that I loved the "true love" post. You should definitely contact Disney with your story!
    Glad you're doing well. You guys need to move back to Montana soon!