The Rise Of The Uber-Mamil

Uber Mamil Men in Lycra

Over 40? Over weight? Over budget on your last bike purchase? You’re not just a mamil (middle aged man in lycra), you’re a special type of mamil, an uber-mamil, and with the recent growth in cycling, it’s your time to shine. Unfortunately, you can’t look to the current pro-peleton for uber-inspiration. Gone are the days when riders would end their seasons in an orgy of over indulgence only to spend the first few months of the next season riding themselves back into fitness. No, the current pros are over trained, over analysed, and over medicated. So in the absence of current role models, please accept BNA’s advice on cycling for the “real” rider.


Riding should be enjoyed, not endured

The uber-mamil has some very specific cycling needs in order to make their life on the bike more enjoyable.

Middle Aged Men in Lycra

Contact points – there should be three of them: the hands on the handlebars, the feet on the pedals, and your butt on the saddle. Your gut touching the top tube doesn’t count as a contact point and it means you’ve got a bad bike fit. If that’s you, get a new bike.

  • The saddle – Saddle starts with ‘s’. You know what else starts with ‘s’? Suppository. Your sit bones (or, in scientific terms, your ischial tuberosities, which sounds so much cooler) need to contact something in order to support your body. This should be the saddle. Make sure your saddle is wide enough to support your tuberosities. If it’s not, get a new one (saddle, that is, you can’t change your bones). The ‘face of pain’ you see in cycling comes from exertion, not insertion.


  • The handlebars – If you find yourself with numb hands at the end of a ride, it may be the first signs that your type 2 diabetes has progressed, or it might be that you have too much weight pushing down on your hands while you’re riding. Having a slammed stem and an ‘aero’ position won’t help you at all if it means you’re too numb to accept the trophy and the stuffed lion from the podium girls after the race. Raise the handlebars a little. It will also make it easier to rise for the victory salute as you cross the line.


  • The pedals – and I’ll also add shoes here, because I think road shoes are someone’s idea of a practical joke. I suspect there’s a bunch of guys somewhere laughing their chamois off because they managed to convince every one that shaving your legs, wearing tights, and walking like you’re wearing high-heels is a manly thing to do. Fortunately, there are shoes that look fast and sleek and contain carbon, and yet they use mountain bike style pedals and you can walk in them. It’s definitely an option if you want to stay upright while you’re walking from your bike to the coffee shop.


Stedl is Real Carbon Bicycle

The bike – Steel is real, and carbon is …something that rhymes with carbon. I’m giving up rhyming alumiunium. Material science has progressed to the point that the uber-mamil can ride on just about any type of bike without having to worry about it snapping. My first full carbon bike, the Cell Akuna 1.1, supports my uber-mamilian structure without any complaint so far. Some bikes specifiy weight limits for their riders. These bikes are obviously made by people who are bad at engineering and, while their families shouldn’t be punished for their inabilities, you shouldn’t give them your money. Carbon and steel are great at absorbing road vibration, aluminium much less so, but it really doesn’t matter what you ride, only that you do.

Buckled Bicycle Wheel

Wheels – There is so much ‘bro-science’ when it comes to wheels that, with just a little bit of study and a loud enough voice, you should be able to convince anyone that your 36 spoke wheels with the 32 mm tyres are just as fast as their 16 spoke carbon ones with 20 mm tubulars. Remember, it’s all about contact area and rolling resistance. Basically, your wheels and tyres have to support you. If your rims are contacting the ground when you’re on the bike, or your spokes explode when they see you in your riding kit, then you might need some more ‘serious’ wheels.


Weights build muscle, and you’re a sprinter

In the 30s, Charles Atlas made a fortune turning 97 pound weaklings into muscle men by getting them to lift weights. Imagine how strong you can get if you lifted weights all of the time, not just in the gym, but every time you go for a walk or get out of bed. You’ve actually been training your whole life, and you didn’t even know it. “Training for what?”, I hear you ask. Training to be a sprinter!

heavy Weight Cyclist

That’s right, you’re a sprinter. You might want to be a climber, but gravity has other ideas. Gravity, however, doesn’t act horizontally, so you can give it the metaphorical finger as you pump out the Watts. You don’t believe me? You don’t have to, I have science on my side. The fastest men and women on two wheels, track cyclists, were studied at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and the fastest of them were found to have the highest BMIs! (Body Mass Index) Yes, it’s true. These guys were technically overweight, heading towards technical obesity, and they’re top level athletes. Read the paper; there are graphs and everything. It’s science, you’re sprinter, well done.

“But, I can’t sprint”, I can hear you saying. Shhhhhh. Science. Sprinter. Accept it.


It’s important to have goals

So now that you know your destiny and you’ve sorted out your equipment, let’s talk about goal setting. If you want to be the best sprinter you can possibly be, your first cycling goal should be to get your average speed above your BMI. There are two ways to do this: (1) increase your average speed, and (2) decrease your weight (isn’t maths wonderful?). Of course, if you are working to increase your average speed, your weight is likely to decrease as a side effect, so you’re approaching this goal from two sides. This is a good thing, you’ll be there in no time.

If you want to break it down to some possibly smaller goals, try first losing the weight of your bike. If you want to upgrade your wheels, don’t do it until you’ve lost the weight equivalent to your proposed purchase. This makes conversations with the uber-mamil quite interesting: “Yeah, I’ve lost 2 Cannondales and a set of Zipp 404s since January, but I’m aiming for another touring bike’s worth before the end of the year”, and so on. Maybe one day you can say that you dropped Nairo Quintana!

Fat Cyclist

Cycling is great transport, great recreation, and a great sport. Like a fettucini alfredo with sauteed vegetables and parmessan garlic bread followed by tiramisu, served with a nice chardonnay with overnotes of apple and citrus and…what was I saying? Oh yeah, riding is fun, lycra stretches, and everyone who is not riding is jealous of your freedom. See you outside.
Photo Credits:
(1) Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious, (2) Rex Boggs, (3) Mark Drechsler, (4) Adrian Tritschler, (5) Brian Yap (葉), (6) Let Ideas Compete

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About The Author

rides whenever and wherever he can; in good weather and bad, in sickness and in health...and mostly off the back of the peloton.

23 responses to “The Rise Of The Uber-Mamil”

  1. Greg says:

    I’d go with Darwin would ride Carbon. I’d also point out carbon is just as real as steel

  2. scott spackman says:

    Thats the funniest thing i’ve read in a long time.
    “..exertion, not insertion.”

    Nice work Dave…

  3. Rod says:

    Ha Ha!, Love this article Dave. Its me to a tee… Super Uber Mamil! And BTW, spent way too much on the last 4 bike purchases… 🙂

  4. X says:

    Shh. Sprinter.

    Love it 😉

  5. Brett says:

    A great read thanks. I must say it’s great that people aim really high($) for their first bike, I have bought all my rides over the years at a fraction of what retail would be thanks to some mamuls and the like.

  6. Andrew says:

    Yes I did the BMI vs average speed over a morning commute to work graph from the time I started riding in 2006 until I left that job 2 or 3 years later. On the first day I had a BMI of 29.5 and and average speed of 20km/h for a 28.5km trip from Blackburn North to the bottom of St Kilda Rd. They crossed at about 26.5 in less than a year, and whilst my weight didn’t go down much more, the average speed peaked at 29 point something (just under an hour, another goal I set for myself) where I saw I was getting to be a danger to others on the paths and myself on the road sections. All on a collection of old steel bikes – a heavy hybrid, a 27″ 12 speed I had bought in 1984, and various other cheapies. I still had 3 trips unused on my last 10 trip public transport pass after 2 years.

    • Kevin Sharp says:

      Great stuff to hear you achieving your goals. I rode competitively on the road when younger and aftr a 20 year break started again 3 years ago. Im now 48, nearly 49. I was 83kg when I started. At 1.73m tall and a 44cm shoulder width (ie small stature), Thats about 10% overweight for my stature (max is heightxshoulder width ie (1.73×0.44×100). It wasn’t until I started doing over 200km a week my weight really came down. I got down to 69kg a while ago, but then my muscle mass increased and Im back to about 72kg. But don’t overdo it, I built up to that mileage and only do what I can in the time and energy available. Diet, rest and recovery are the goals to improved fitness as much as the riding. Keep up the cycling.
      Regards, Kevin Sharp, Wodonga, VIC.

  7. Philip says:


    If anyone thinks I’m slow, I tell them I’ve got tall gears for resistance training for seniors.
    Keep a straight face and they’ll believe anything.

  8. D Guise says:

    What about the OAPILs? I’m 73 so a bit past the MAMIL stage. At my time of life I tell the young that I am training for something more important than the Olympics – the next 20 years of my life!

    • Kevin Sharp says:

      OAPIL’S are an inspiration to us all, including those of us MAMILS. I regularly ride with guys and gals 12-15 years older than me in their early 60’s and some of these guys and gals can really ride, ie average speeds above 30km/hr over distances of 70km, and not flat terrain either. If Im going half as well as they are at the same age, Ill be doing great. The main thing is to do what you are capable of, and not worry about the others. Keep up the cycling!

  9. Kasey says:

    I’m 37 and as far as I’m concerned Middle age doesn’t start until that first digit in my age is a 4. Thankfully this disqualifies me from MAMIL Status:) Never-mind say the guys in the office. They joke “that just makes me a ‘platypus'”:(

    ie a MAMIL in denial;)

  10. Brett says:

    Brilliant!!! Love it… Speaks directly to me… 🙂

  11. PJ says:

    Good article. Funny and inspirational.

  12. K T M rider says:

    He he he. Great article. I wholly subscribe to the enjoy, not endure theory. Thus ride a carbon mountain bike. Well beyond old enough to know better, but I’m the one you see jumping banks beside the cycle tracks, doing monos & generally having a ball. Oh, & I’ve lost well over a mid range alloy mb in weight 🙂

  13. jon.k says:

    loved the read. I am 48, 6’2″ and 105kg, I fit the group. have started velodrome with my kids, eldest 15, can just hold him. enjoying it lots, now need to shift the weight befor he gets the better of me.

  14. mmt says:

    This is a great read…it will be on the staff ‘to read’ list this week, well written and much appreciated!

  15. Bruce says:

    Great article, and got to the bottom and did not find my photo included – now that’s a real bonus.

  16. Damian says:

    Brilliant Dave. I take it you also gave up on trying to spell “alumiunium”

    • David Halfpenny says:

      Well done, I didn’t think anyone would pick that one up, the spell checker certainly didn’t. I’ll leave it there just for you.

  17. Mat says:

    As I happily point out to my smoking, overweight colleagues, on any given day, I’d rather be a MAMIL (Middle aged man in Lycra) than a MAMWHDAD (Middle aged man with heart disease and diabetes) any day…

  18. les says:

    Very amusing article and just so true. I’ve been riding for 4.5 years, covered 70,000 ks, my weight started at 100 down to 88 back up to 100 down to 92 back up to 99 now i’m 86. I’m trying to treat my body like a temple but i’m failing miserably. One word “Consumption” I had an aluminium frame for 3.5 years, carbon for 1, it’s a big frame so no real weight loss gained when changing from alloy to carbon. I’m a 43 year old MAMIL and damn proud of it.I mainly commute, some is for work purposes i have no interest in racing but i love going fast.

  19. Terry C says:

    Middle age is anyone ten years older than yourself.

  20. Geoff McC says:

    OAPIL? Does the P stand for “person”, “pensioner”, of P..F..t?