I have a very dear friend who has developed a strange, lycra-clad obsession.
This friend of mine is a married mum of two gorgeous girls. Her hobbies are generally much like mine. House-work avoidance, coffee and having a laugh. It’s why we’re friends, really. However, there has been an elephant in the room for some months now. And it’s riding a bicycle.
I first noticed this obsession when twitter alerted me to her profile. “Ooooh! Coll is on twitter!” I thought, clicking ‘follow’ immediately and waiting for witty one-liners to appear in my feed. Nothing was forthcoming, so I culled my follow list back, hoping to see more tweets from my friend. Nothing. I actively sought out her profile and discovered she hadn’t actually tweeted anything. I thought she was probably just finding her feet and she’d follow me back and start tweeting soon. When I saw her a few days later, I casually
demanded to know immediately asked why she hadn’t followed me back. This is when I first became aware of the near-obsession consuming my friend. She confessed she’d only gotten twitter to follow her favourite cyclist, Richie Porte.
From there, she’d followed all the cycling teams and cycling twitter feeds (who knew that was even a thing?). Instagram was the same. She was waking up at ridiculous o’clock to watch other people ride bicycles. Or to read about them riding bicycles on twitter. All this bicycle talk was bestowed on someone (me) who pictures this every time she hears the word:
Once she’d started talking about it, it was like the floodgates opened. Her obsession was no longer hidden and the relief of being out of the secret cycling fan closet soon became evident. Her close friends suddenly began receiving regular updates on men’s cycling team gossip, scandals, results and more.
It’s a hard thing, as a person completely disinterested in the sports (yes, all of them), to listen to detailed accounts of sporting events. I do try. Colleen has, on more than one occasion, forgiven me for my glazed expression or the fact that I will latch on to what is apparently an irrelevant detail. Like how, on long rides, a helper of some sort will toss the rider a bag of food. Did you know that? They have some kind of squeezy thing, like baby food, full of fruity stuff. And rice crackers, because carbs. I had no idea. I just thought they’d eat later. I wondered if they’d fall behind because they were busy snacking, but apparently they all have some kind of agreement where no one overtakes anyone else during lunch time.
The food discussion lead to the obvious question of “But what if they have to pee?” Apparently, they go before the race or sometimes, they just pee. They don’t stop, they just let go. There’s no “no overtaking” rule about peeing apparently, unless it’s the team boss or leader or something. They don’t use incontinence pads because of aerodynamics and possibly because it’d be super-obvious in those shorts (my supposition- no idea if it’s accurate). Colleen was trying to tell us something far more important at the time, but this aspect was more fascinating. Can you imagine it? If they were cycling along and then suddenly pee flying every which way off those furiously spinning wheels and- gosh, it’s be an occupational health and safety nightmare, surely? And what if your mate peed on you? Would it affect the friendship? What if they were just more of a colleague? Awwwwkward! (See, this is an example of me, caught up in the supposedly irrelevant details!) However, I am assured that these incidents are rare. So is needing to poop during a race, I’m told. There was mention of an incident involving dodgy hotel food and that being the reason our teams now have their own chefs. However, she did show me some info that said when a cyclist needs to poop during a race- they just poop. Apparently, good shorts are the key and you only do it when it’s absolutely worth it. I don’t know how you decide when that is personally because nothing could make me want to poop while riding a bike. That’s just me, however.
I have also learned that saddle sores are an issue, particularly in something called stage racing. I have no idea what that is, but if you get saddle sores, you have to wear different shorts. I’m not sure why. I know for sure that in cycling, shorts are super important. Not only for the reasons already mentioned but also because I’m told professional cyclists don’t wear undies.
But, I digress. Pro-cyclists are brave. Nothing between the world and their unmentionables but lycra. Special, strong and absorbent lycra.
The other main topic of cycling discussion I’ve had with Colleen has been about the aforementioned favourite, Richie Porte. Primarily that he is somehow cuter with helmet and sunnies on than without.
As opposed to:
Considering how many cycling-related discussions we have had, I think I’ve learned somewhat less on the subject than Colleen would like. I know about the food. I know about the shorts- the fact that they are all that’s between the nether-regions and the world, their absorbency qualities and the need for different shorts at times. I know the name of one cyclist and that he has a certain something extra when he’s wearing his helmet and sunnies. All in all, I’m absolutely woeful as a cycling enthusiast. It’s one bug I haven’t caught- but it’s not due to lack of exposure!
#IBOT @ Essentially Jess