[Author: Richard Thyer]
Full disclosure; I'm only a handful of years from MAMILdom. I fully intend to be one, and as the years pass by, I will proudly wrap my ever-expanding paunch in ever tighter, and more exotic, technical fabrics.
And hey, what's wrong with that? What's wrong with wearing the correct clothing to partake in the activity you love? Nothing. The tabloid press and certain motoring advocacy organisations love to denigrate the MAMIL as a pathetic creature, one who is but a pinch flat away from having the screens drawn around them whilst a man in a flat cap loads a shotgun. The picture painted of them is of a man who should know better than to ride a pushbike, a child's toy, and one who shouldn't be clogging up the roads with their silly little hobby. And that is wrong.
The simple joy of riding a bike is something many of us have held onto since childhood, in some cases for half a century. Sometimes even more. Some of us like to push our limits, train hard, and some of us take it further and compete, but what joins us all is the obsession with finding that moment of pure pedalling where the sensation of speed and effort is in perfect balance. At this moment you're in harmony with the machine beneath you, with the wind in your face, the sun on your back (if you don't live in the UK that is) and your cares and worries ebb from the front of your mind to that dark corner at the back reserved for giving a shit about Strictly and getting a toy meerkat with your insurance.
But this is where I begin to have a problem. And that problem is where I ride. The Surrey Hills are designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and they really are beautiful. That is, if you're not being forced into a ditch by a Volvo XC90. Or Audi Q7. Or a Disco. Or...well, you get the idea. No matter how early I get out there is always a veritable concours d'élégance parading through the most remote and out of the way country lanes Surrey has to offer with each vehicle piloted by a frustrated motorist livid at the nanoseconds lost to a bloody cyclist. Strangely this seems to hit its peak at about 9am on a Sunday when normal people should be having a lie-in. Why must they all have such massive cars for such tiny roads? I see fewer 4x4's when visiting the other half's folks in rural Somerset.
But what of the MAMIL? In a nutshell this:
Surrey is chock full of cyclists. You literally cannot wave at every one or you would never have both hands on the bars. The message in the pic above is very twee, but I fully advocate acknowledging your fellow cyclists. My preferred method is a bit of a smile and/or a slight nod. No need to go overboard - I'm not mental.
But why does it even matter? Well, because cycling is a team sport and even if you're out on your own, you're still part of the team. Just because your impressive stock portfolio has afforded you a Di2 bedecked Venge doesn't mean your watts are better than anyone else's. Unfortunately for the MAMILs of the middle class heartlands this is not the prevailing opinion. And that is a shame. Seemingly, a bulging bank balance has rendered these gentlemen - and it always the blokes - incapable of reciprocating acknowledgment whilst cycling. Men south of the MAMIL border will say hi whilst training in their team kit, dishevelled chaps on pre-war Raleighs and jerseys so washed they've gone see-through can do it, so why not the middle class MAMIL?
Is it a big deal? In reality, no. But when you've run the gauntlet to finally find some peace and quiet, having a moody bloke stare dismissively at you as you say 'morning' is a bit of a kick in the nuts.
Let's not kick each other in the nuts.