Life in the Bike Lane


By: Tom Frady
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The term “MAMIL” can actually be found in new dictionaries. It is defined as “a middle-aged man who is a road cyclist, typically one who rides an expensive bike and wears clothing associated with professional cyclists.”

MAMIL stands for Middle-Aged Men In Lycra.

Middle-Aged?  Neat.  I’m going to live to be 140.

Like many MAMILs, I didn’t really get into cycling until later in life (I was about 55) and I couldn’t bring myself to buy those silly padded, tight Lycra shorts. 

I bought a pair of padded baggy mountain bike shorts, instead.  When I finally bought a real pair of tight bike shorts, I wore a pair of regular shorts over them for the first few rides. 

Face it.  Cyclists look a little (OK, a lot) funny when fully engulfed in a cycling kit. 

Especially when they aren’t actually on a bike. 

Add to that, MAMILs, especially MatureMAMILs (MMAMILs), don’t benefit, sight-wise, from the tight, aerodynamic clothing “necessary” for riding a bike, if you catch my drift.

We don’t care.

But it’s not about the outfit or even about expensive bikes, albeit I think most MMAMILs (ages 60 to 80) may have spent more, on average, than pre-MMAMILs.  

The MMAMILs I know are more about the camaraderie and fitness.  The conversation at the donut shop (our training table) tends toward which GPS unit is best, where to find a certain bike tire and bowel movements.  Sometimes (OK, often; OK, all the time) this type of chat spills over to dinner parties where some non-MMAMILs (spouses) tend to congregate.  Inexplicitly, non-MMAMILs seem to have very little interest in reliving mile by mile some ride taken two months ago. 

In truth, the original MAMILs (the term was originally coined by a marketing firm) were described as being weekend warriors in their 30s to 40s. They would cram as many miles as possible in two short days, with some fantasy vision of Tour-like performance if they just trained a bit harder and upgraded their bike, mostly upgrading their bike. 

MMAMILs have no such delusions. We know we’re old but we also know we amaze the young lady at the deli counter in Nevada City when we tell her we rode from Lincoln. 

The 40-year-old MAMIL’s mid-life crisis substitutes an expensive bike for a 20 times more expensive car. The 60-year-old MMAMIL substitutes an expensive bike for a 100 times more expensive heart attack.

I’m a cyclist, a bike rider, an old guy on a bike.  I’m a MMAMIL and proud of it. 

If you are interested in seeing a movie about MAMILs, go to  It is playing in the area next month.

Tom Frady is a Lincoln resident and avid cyclist and driver.