Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Sweatin' all da bitches in da biker shorts" - Why lycra?


This is a touchy subject for a lot of mountain bikers. Some swear on it, some will refuse to wear it. It's lycra - the tool kit for every hoity-toity roadie in existence. In the mountain bike world, there seems to be some hesitation to use it among enthusiasts. Some say it's uncomfortable, but I think it's more uncomfortable looking than what is reality. Some say lycra is outright "gay".


I have been wearing bib shorts for cycling for the last couple of years for MTB'ing and road riding, alike. Before that, I wore the common padded baggy shorts, even for the road. But, I have a dilemma... I have a big ol' bubble butt and big legs.

Speaking proportionally, my butt and my legs don't quite match my waist, so I've always had to buy 42-44 (XXL) shorts to fit my legs/ass and cinch down on the waist. This proved to be entirely uncomfortable, and the baggies would ride down to my butt crack. Not a good look on the large organized social rides.

So then, I tried traditional cycling shorts. Again, the same problem was arising and my mid-30's muffin top would hang over. Brutal.

I wanted to find something that would hold everything in, be comfortable, not ride down and provide free movement, so I purchased my first set of bib shorts and never went back.

For a body type like me, bib shorts work extremely well. They don't creep down and than are completely free moving. Combined with knee warmers on the colder days, they seem to hold up fine in the colder California days. Best of all, no muffin top.



A few Christmas holidays ago, my brother bought me a base layer. Before, I'd just wear my jersey without a base layer, and although it would be fine for moving the sweat off my body, it didn't work as well as just having one more light layer underneath. The base layer wicks the sweat off the body on to the outer layer, keeping you dry. Not only do I have sleeveless base layers (for warm/hot days), but long sleeve thermal layers for cold days. Combined with wool knee warmers and cold weather gloves, and you can have a nice cycling kit appropriate for cool days.

When I ride, I always have my jersey, base layer, bibs, wool socks and some sort of sweat band (I even have a few with ear warmers). Everything fits snug (I hate clothing flapping in the wind), light weight and warm or cool depending on how I add/remove layers. My cycling gear is completely functional for the cross-country type of riding I do.

For those who are general all-mountain or cross-country riders, I would recommend trying the skimpies. They are not the most flattering for some, but they are extremely functional. Baggies are fine, but once you get over the look, slip into a bib short and go for a ride, you may be surprised on how well they work.

Just stay away from tight jeans. T'aint right.

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