Have you seen MAMILs in your area? It’d be hard not to
The MJA article caption reads: Three seldom-spotted mountain biking middle-aged men in Lycra (MAMILs), and a rare middle-aged woman in Lycra (MAWIL). (Supplied: Pixabay)
As a species, they’re often seen in packs, travelling at speed down motorways early in the morning.
And while they may be pilloried, their numbers are on the rise.
For its silly season edition, the Medical Journal of Australia has published research in to MAMILs — or middle-aged men in Lycra.
It finds these wannabe Cadel Evanses are likely to be affluent and while they may be weekend warriors, their cycling passion doesn’t tend to extend to commuting by bike.
Adrian Bauman is a professor of public health at Sydney University.
He’s found that the number of middle-aged men donning the Lycra at least once a week increased from 6 per cent to 13 per cent from 2002 to 2016.
And he’s been observing their characteristics.
The equivalent of a mid-life Ferrari
Professor Bauman says Mamils are exhibiting tribal behaviour, and it’s doing their mental health some good.
“This has been described as the new golf,” he told the ABC’s AM program.
“It’s groups of men getting together, perhaps doing things as a group when they’ve got other family responsibilities and mid-life crises and all of those things.
“And their bicycle is perhaps their new Maserati, their new Ferrari.”
The growth in cycling is not evenly distributed across socioeconomic groups.
Wealthier men are the most likely to take it up.
“The demographics of MAMILian cycling is they’re cycling on expensive brands with Italian names.
“They’re cycling on bikes that probably cost several thousand to many thousands of dollars.”
‘The things that go around come around’
While we may think of MAMILs as a modern curiosity, in fact there have been past cycling crazes.
Professor Bauman notes one in the late 1890s that Banjo Patterson documented in the poem, Mulga Bill’s Bicycle.
The first verse of it goes as follows:
Now, it’s expensive Italian brands. Then, it was the velocipede. (Supplied: Harpers Weekly, Dec 18, 1868)
‘Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, “Excuse me, can you ride?”
“All gear, no idea, 120 years ago,” Professor Bauman said.
“The things that go around come around, recycle so to speak, to coin a bad pun.”