Today we explore the soulful Balearic Isle of Mallorca, Spain—its rich, multi-layered culture and its draw as home to cycling's inner sanctum. In many ways, this show is also an ode to MAMILs (middle-aged men in Lyrca). Sometimes misunderstood by their non-road riding partners (ok, maybe that was just me)—their experience (and mine) tackling some of their most epic rides around the world reveals, with epiphanic clarity, why they keep climbing onto that hard narrow little saddle. Push off and clip in, this is a good one.
Pelotons of cyclists emerge this time of year, small streams at first, and then as the weather warms, in far greater numbers. A sure sign of spring. They stream along exurban back roads across Canada. It’s no longer just a European thing. Each weekend, my husband Tim is among them and has been for years, long before it was de rigueur. Yes, I am married to a MAMIL—a middle-aged man in lycra.
Some call road riding the new golf for networking and dealmaking among the business elite and those who want to be. Easier on joints but the type of sport where mental toughness is critical. It’s also perfect for ageing athletes who enjoy kicking butts of those decades younger. Others ride to raise money for worthy causes. To be sure, the vast majority of hardcore road riders are male—not the toodler from vineyard to vineyard like me—I’m talking the “where’s that 19% grade so I can feel the burn” type of rider. This is by far and away a guy thing.
Tim tries to explain it to me. “It gets me outside. My body moving. I feel connected. It’s even kind of a spiritual thing," he says.
Ok, this notion of connecting with one’s higher self on two wheels made me curious. If you could road ride anywhere in the world, where would you go? And what life lessons, what epiphanies, might emerge? With lycra and pedals packed, I agreed to set off on a road rider’s odyssey to learn more about these MAMIL creatures and their bucket list of epic rides.