the joys of lycra

I used to be one of those women who said, “Nope, huh-uh.  You’re never gonna catch me wearing lycra bike shorts.  No way.”  The usual neuroses that have followed me all my life were at play:  My thighs are fat.  I don’t want anybody looking at my butt.  You’ll see all my cellulite.  I’ll be so exposed.

Then I tried padded bike shorts.  Hoo boy, what a joy they are!  For one thing, they’re constructed so they fit best when you’re actually sitting on a bike saddle, so the waistband doesn’t pull down in back when you’re riding.  For another, having your tender bits cushioned is a comfort every cycling woman should enjoy.  It’s divine to be comfortable and to feel cushioned.  Nothing’s more uncomfortable than cycling in regular jeans with a big fat seam chafing right there.  Ugh.

But what if you’re still not comfortable with the idea of skin-tight lycra bike shorts?  What if you feel too exposed?

The good news is you have more options today than ever.  I started with a cycling liner, much like padded underwear.  A liner can convert any pants or shorts into cycling shorts.  I even wear mine under skirts.

There are cycling skorts, which have the liner built in.  These are stylish and functional and you arrive looking good; not feeling like a jock.

Or maybe you want shorts to look like regular shorts, perhaps some with pockets? They’re available as well.

For me, what I wore on top has never made too much of a difference as long as I had a sports bra underneath to control discomfort when riding over bumpy terrain.  I tend to buy brightly-colored tops made out of technical fabrics for running and yoga rather than cycling because I’m cheap.  However, there’s a lot to be said about having a pocket in the back of a cycling jersey for your ID or a kleenex.  Just make sure you can be seen, so avoid all-black or dark clothing.

Whatever you wear, you need to feel comfortable so you’re not thinking about your clothing rather than having fun and watching the road or path in front of you.  But as someone who swore up and down I’d never be caught dead in “ugly” cycling clothing, I’m glad I explored lycra bike clothes.  I vastly prefer wearing them now.

What about you?  What do you prefer to wear when riding?

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2 Comments on “the joys of lycra”

  1. I’ve gone the opposite way. After years of cycling everywhere in lycra and neon, while a student, and then years of cycling only recreationally, also in lycra and neon, I’ve taken up commuting to work on a bike again. Since it’s a short ride (ten minutes), and all on paved roads, it’s not really worth dressing up for, so I just wear my reasonably smart work clothes. Even skirts and tights. I never wear heels anyway, so my regular shoes are fine.

    My one concession is that I have bought a bright yellow reflective cycling cape. This year, I am determined to ride through the winter, so it will be needed.I might even buy waterproof leg coverings as well, we’ll see..

    • mendocino04 says:

      Ah, when I had a 3-mile bike commute to work I wore my office-type dress casual clothes and sometimes cycled in heels. They tend to slip on the pedals though….

      But yes, no matter what you wear, as long as you’re comfortable and visible you’re good. For recreational cycling I vastly prefer lycra bike shorts.


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