Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
I know obscenity – er – absurdity – OK, obscenity and absurdity when I see them. They are grown men in tight bike shorts.
I wrote a column in the Snowmass Sun about how silly skin-tight spandex cycling shorts are, especially for cycling. Not surprisingly, a few people took offense, and one of them approached me. “She” – I will not use her real gender in order to protect “her” identity – told me that I was just making racket without reasoning to back up my insinuation that all “men’s” spandex and Lycra cycling shorts should be recycled into half-liter containers for sparkling bottled water. Well, here are 10 good reasons why, “Sally”:
1. For starters, form-fitting shorts look weird on “men.” All you need is a mirror to prove this. If you doubt what you see, ask your wife or girlfriend. Undoubtedly, a few of these loved ones will tell you that you look awesome with those bumps and bulges protruding in the crotch area with a big wad of padding in the rear. The rest will tell you the truth.
2. Two or three seconds don’t matter on your ride to the Bells. Sure, Lance wears tight shorts, but only to work. His seconds count, and millions of dollars are at stake. Would I wear tight Lycra shorts for $1 million? You bet. Would I wear them for $10,000? Probably, but not in the Fourth of July parade or to the bank to deposit the check. For a hundred bucks? No, because I would only wear them on a closed trail where nobody would see me, and the fine for riding on closed trails is $100, so I would net zero – and have to endure the snickering of the ranger as he wrote my citation.
3. Tight cycling shorts may be more comfortable. Maybe. But not enough more to justify looking like a buffoon. Think about cowboys. They are in a hard saddle getting bucked around all day long; yet, do you see any of them out patrolling the North 40 in moisture-wicking, padded, bibbed tights? No – they wear jeans!
4. And what about kids? They ride bikes all the time and wear whatever they happen to have on at the time. Oh, I forgot – kids just ride bikes for fun.
5. It’s not about the shorts, anyway. Remember how you justified spending a few hundred bucks on your spiffy new racing saddle with anatomical laser cutouts and space shuttle super-gel technology because it was supposed to be so comfortable? And it was, until you reached the end of the driveway. The point is that your butt is going to hurt no matter what you do aside from riding 4,000 miles until your nether region callouses up and actually becomes harder than the saddle itself, so don’t pretend the shorts are going to make a bit of difference.
6. Competitive swimmers wear Speedos, but no other men around water do. Swimmers wear them because they have to (see where seconds count in No. 2). To swimmers’ credit, they are underwater and wear goggles as disguises when they compete and rush to get the sweats on immediately after they get out of the pool. So why do men sit around coffee shops in their bike shorts leisurely enjoying quiche and croissants?
7. Ski racers wear skin-tight speed suits when they race (see where seconds count, again, in No. 2), but nobody else who skis does, no matter how seriously they take the sport. Modern snow-sport events have even outlawed speed suits. And you thought X Games was more popular because of loud music and the caffeinated beef jerky they give away.
8. If you were blindfolded and reached into a suitcase and grabbed out a pair of cycling shorts and were asked to describe what you are holding, chances are you would say it was some kind of women’s undergarment.
9. Women get to wear tight-fitting clothing for lots of their activities, from yoga to grocery shopping. Only conformity prevents men from putting together a wardrobe of form-fitting clothes for their everyday activities. This is true. It’s all about social norms. That is why men who wear Bermuda Speedos to ride their bikes look abnormal.
10. Do you ever wake up in a cold sweat after having that awful nightmare where you suddenly realize that you are riding your bike around town in women’s underpants? No? That’s because you are already used to riding your bike through town five times a week in clothing that is tighter and more revealing than women’s underpants.
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