What's Cool In Road Cycling

Pez Bookshelf: Revenge of the MAMILs!

MAMILs: Middle-Aged Men in Lycra is a term coined by a British newspaper describing the phenomenon of, well, middle-aged men buying expensive racing bicycles, dressing up in team gear with lots of Spandex, and riding around in relentless packs to the extreme annoyance of motorists and fashionistas everywhere. It is obvious from this charming book that Jonathon Simmons is a MAMIL and “Here for the Ride” is his account of escaping the worst characteristics of MAMILdom.

“Here for the Ride: A Tale of Obsession on Two Wheels” by Jonathon Simmons
Lured from the Dark Side of running to the even Darker Side of cycling by already-addicted “friends,” the author accumulates those memories so familiar to the dedicated roadie: the first ride using unsuitable clothing and learning the real pain of seams; the first bonk; learning to ride in a group; the first Category 5 race; charity rides and the mis-paced century; meeting jerks on two wheels; becoming a jerk on two wheels; and, of course, experiencing the never-satisfied lust for a newer, shinier, lighter, faster, fancier bicycle.


A Boston-area psychologist by profession, he gradually comes to realize that training, commuting and all that other time devoted to cycling, as well as all that money, is taking over his life. What he is describing is perhaps a life skewed towards cycling but hardly an obsession–nowhere does he throw in French or Italian phrases. I think here I speak for most Pezcyclingnews readers. Sure, he was briefly considering buying a carbon wheelset but didn’t actually do it. An obsessive would, and would also have subscriptions to six cycling magazines in three different languages; plan every holiday around cycling—including spectating at the Tour de France and riding cols those same days before the pros came through; have two dozen training DVDs in the media cabinet; weigh everything eaten and keep a diary; consider inflating tires with helium; be able to accurately quote passages of “the Rider;” consider Eros Poli to be a role model; and, for those most seriously obsessed, being able to intelligently discuss the life and holy works of Mario Confente. THAT is obsession.

The author does not have a Big Cycling Dream, like the true obsessive who trains for and participates in the Race Across America, or becomes a national amateur champion or, most terrifying, is a former heroin addict who cleans up, becomes addicted to triathlons and lets the whole world know about it. But rather than belittle the sympathetic Mr. Simmons for his hypochondria it is much more positive to enjoy his entertaining stories, set out in brief chapters in this slim book. Many of these stories really are about interactions with family and friends where a bicycle is just a thematic element, such as his parents’ rediscovery of cycling or generational competition with his growing son on a hill climb or riding alongside his wife and not acting like the aforementioned “jerk on two wheels.” The disappointment that the Pinarello found in the town dump is not really a Pinarello; riding with the Worst Team Ever: commuting to his work and the cases he sees there: these are really his observations about people and, foremost, himself as a MAMIL.

He is also most of us: the guys who need to fit training (of which there is never enough) somewhere into the hours between work, family life and sleep; who lust after new bikes they can’t afford; who don’t need to bother measuring out a trophy case. With only three bikes, Jonathon Simmons Is not the obsessive the subtitle claims but his little book is a charming and reflective measurement of what it means to be a hobby cyclist in the early 21st Century.


“Here for the Ride: A Tale of Obsession on Two Wheels” by Jonathon Simmons
135 pp., paperback
Climbing Ivy Press, 2013
Price at a famous online retailer: a modest US$ 11.95
ISBN 0983451826

Leslie Reissner may be found being unusually obsessive at www.tindonkey.com

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.