I am a MAMIL and proud of it. I always have been, always will be. My friend, John, and I went to see this little documentary last night and were delighted at how relevant it was to us. John and I are each over 50, have been MAMIL for quite a while. Frankly, it’s one of the reasons why we are friends, as well as why we have so many MAMIL friends.
If you ride a bike, are male, and are over 40 years old, go see MAMIL. You will howl at much of what is in the movie. Don’t take your wife, a family member, or significant other as the documentary covers such topics controversial to riding bikes, such as the Plus 1 rule, injuries, time constraints, obsessions with cycling gear and trinkets, racing.. and how riding can strain relationships closest to the rider. It also talks about physical and mental health benefits to the over 40 male. The movie starts out light hearted, poking fun at how lycra is not kind to anyone who wears it, especially middle aged men.
We don’t care, do we?
After all, we ride a MFing bike (the video is in MAMIL).
MAMIL is for a very specific viewing audience. I doubt that it will be all that popular, but it is indeed relevant. While most of the guys interviewed in the movie were a bit extreme, I know a lot of guys who make them look mild in their obsession. One thing in the movie that I found sad was the seemingly intentional segue from a segment on gay cyclists in NYC to Christian cyclists in Minneapolis. Thankfully, the Christian cyclists were not portrayed in a negative way.
I found myself thinking back to when I started cycling as an adult. I was 30, newlywed, recovering from a second surgery on my right knee. Stationary bike riding was part of the prescribed therapy, something that I really enjoyed. Because of marital bliss weight gain as well as a lack of cardio exercise due to a knee that swelled every time I ran, I leapt at the chance to train for a century ride with several people at work. A friend loaned me his extra hybrid bike to train for the ride. Quickly, I was putting in 400 miles or more a week on the bike, the fat literally melting off of my body. In a very short period of time (July through November), I went from nearly 240 pounds to under 200 pounds. My knee quit swelling when I ran, my performance in other sports soared, and I felt incredible. A year later, I had my first road bike and was riding events several times a month, including my first of seven RAGBRAI tours.
Also within a year of that first bike ride, I began riding my bicycle to work. When my daughter was born, her mother decided that she needed to be a stay at home mom. Our funds were limited to the meager salary that I made, which had to pay a mortgage and family expenses. Bike commuting became a way to not only get extra time on the bike each day, but it also became a way to save on transportation costs. My coworkers began to identify me by my biking obsession, laughed as the sight of me in lycra became a daily thing. People started coming to me with biking questions, suggestions on what bike to buy, requests to help them fix bikes, etc…. I can remember being proud of stretching $10 worth of gasoline over a 4 week period of time. That was in my old Ford Aerostar van, not exactly a gas stingy machine!
Juggling riding time with family time was a bit of a challenge, but even my ex wife would admit that I did a pretty good job of it. Every weekend involved a BCD (Butt Crack of Dawn) group ride on Saturday, with a warm down early on Sunday. I tried not to let my bike habit become a drag on my family time and mostly succeeded. Only the occasional tour would take me away from my family. Not once did I miss a birthday or holiday celebration or family event. Nor did I let the cost of cycling dip into family funds. I rode used bikes, throwaways from more financially fortunate friends, fixed my bikes and upgraded only when I had planned and saved. I know that some guys can’t say any of that, as well as their wives not being able to say their husband’s cycling habit was the best for their relationship, but I know that cycling was not one of my ex’s complaints. She was proud that her husband biked.
Today, cycling is still the activity that I know will carry me past middle age. Mountain biking is a fairly new thing for me, but something that refreshed my joy of turning the pedals when the road started getting to be less enjoyable. I will always cycle as long as I am able.
I will always be a proud MAMIL.