Thursday, January 6, 2011

Spandexplanation: My Spandex (lycra, skinsuit, & kit) Theory

A story about overcoming society's challenges with the support and openness of the cycling community.

I’m a big guy trying to live in a world that is not really meant for big people. I have learned quickly that big guys are not accepted and should generally not be doing or wearing certain things.  Being big I was shunned by many people because of my size. I was looked down upon, called names, and often found myself as the butt of jokes. Big guys are literally forced to cover themselves up, wear shirts at the beach, no shorts… just big jeans to cover up and be ashamed. 

When I decided to get into cycling back in April of 2010, weighing 570 pounds, I got some big baggy cycling shorts, naturally. Heaven forbid I wear spandex; what if anyone saw me!  So I got them and started riding. I HATED them.  Boils, and an infection. It got so bad that I even needed medication to stop the infection. So, after doing some talking, and a willingness to “take on societal norms” I got a pair of spandex bib shorts, from a company called Aerotech design. They make bib shorts up to 5XL.  The first ride with them I fell in love.

I rode only on a stationary bike trainer until September, 2010.  I wanted to take my bike outside, but was scared to wear spandex in public. So again, I did some talking, talked to my doctor who suggested I find a cyclist or two to wear the spandex with me, accept me for who I am… and ride. I did that and have never looked back!

Wearing spandex when I ride gives me the freedom to be me. I am not ashamed, not scared and I am not going to run and hide After gaining the confidence to wear what is comfortable while doing something that I love, that is helping me lose weight, I STOPPED HIDING. 

While wearing spandex on my bike, I started to love myself and fix my self.  It also helps me deal with my depression because spandex is honest.  It makes me honest with myself and with others. This is why I think the cycling world is so open; when people can accept themselves for who they are they can also accept others and help them to be their self. You can’t help others if you can’t accept and help your self. You make the spandex what it is, not the other way around.

This, in one big guy’s opinion, is why spandex gets picked on. People can’t accept the honesty that spandex brings. They can’t respect how hard other people work in spandex to be healthy. It’s not about looking good; wearing spandex is about feeling good – physically and mentally. Rather than do something about it, people criticize.

I call this: The Spandex Theory

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Little update 7/1/2011, This Theory has been seen by many people all over the world now.. Whats interesting is the different names lycra is called, same for bib shorts and skinsuits... In the USA  we call it lycra, spandex sometimes or just lycra.. Well in Germany  radhose means bib shorts, and "zeitfahranzüge" or " einteiler" is for skinsuit.  Ill add more terms to this list as I learn, so others from around the world can understand what the spandex theory is all about.


2nd little update 7/27/2011.. my good friend from Mark from Denmark told me.. By the way, in Denmark, which is where i am from, it is called "cykelbukser" which means "bikepants". Skinsuit is called "fantomdragt", "fantomsuit".

3rd little update 7/28/2011 A good friend of mine Thomas from France told me that a Skinsuit is called "combinaisons" and that bib shorts are called "cuissard"...

43 comments:

  1. You're an inspiration, Ernie. Great article!

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  2. Ernest! Good post man. Love it. Keep up the good work broski and we will get together soon

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  3. Spandex is for cyclists. You are a cyclist.
    Nuff said.

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  4. I'm really impressed with that observation. I don't think I've ever heard anyone defend lycra so eloquently.

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  5. Very well said, Ernie. We're rooting for you in Ripon.

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    1. Ric! I don't know if you remember me. I almost went to Ripon in 2009 as a student and would have been on your cycling team. I still bike _everywhere_ and don't have a license. I'm living in Alaska.

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  6. You might find some comfort and inspiration in my book, free online at
    http://bike-n-chain.blogspot.com/

    Like you, I gradually resumed an active lifestyle, lost 85 pounds, and recorded many similar observations. What's so interesting about bicycling is the increase in sensory input. You really learn a lot about how neighbors maintain or neglect this state; with 2/3 of bridges unusable, byways that resemble dark side of the moon, 41 toxic sites still unremediated, river and streams with broken dams and filled catch basins causing annual flooding, you might be disgusted enough to call for resignations of DEM, RIDOT and other officials.

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  7. Ride Big Man! Come ride with us anytime.

    www.nbwclub.org


    Cheers,
    il Bruce

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  8. Hi Ernest. This is a fascinating post. When I first began to lose weight in 2006, the first thing I realized is that I was hiding. Super obesity is hiding - hiding from life, hiding from yourself, hiding from other people. I'm glad to read I wasn't alone in thinking so.

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  9. Mate - Keep up the good work. There are so many people down here in Australia that could take a leaf out of your book!

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  10. Keep on pedaling! Cycling is for all!

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  11. Come ride the Big Dam Bridge and the River Trail in Arkansas sometime. Just avoid August. Just being honest. :)

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  12. Good for you. You wants the right tools for the job, and you're done letting other people control you just by pointing at you. You have to be stronger than a wagging finger or an upturned nose.

    I will admit to a certain joy in beating a guy in matching kit to the top of the hill when I'm in a Dickies work shirt, jeans, and flip-flops on a heavy single speed and full luggage. But that's more about either me on my way to work while he's on his way to play, or else somebody who has at least 5 sets of kit like girls used to have panties with the days of the week on them. When I'm on a ride that's long for me, I wear spandex. Over the last few years definition of "long for me" has changed from a few miles to literally a few days. If you keep riding, you can be whatever kind of rider you want.

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  13. Enhorabuena Ernest!!!
    Como ya te dije, eres todo un ejemplo para todo el mundo.
    Todos somos humanos, todos somos iguales.

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  14. I can fully relate to the saddle sores. If I ride more than about 1/2 mile in anything with a inner thigh seam, I chafe. If other parts aren't properly cradled I chafe there as well and may not be able to ride for the better part of a week. Bike shorts (even better are good fitting bibs) are a Godsend!

    I've explained this to a few folks who asked, but I've stopped paying attention to the folks who stare.

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  15. Ernest, I read a line I liked this past week regarding exercise, and I'm going to adopt it as my own as an aging baby boomer who loves to cycle but hates that I feel put down by the 18 mph crowd that I don't enjoy failing around: Don't let anyone else define your goals. With that philosophy in mind, I'm going to continue to enjoy riding 14.5-15.5 mph on medium hills, and you continue to enjoy your spandex. We own our bodies; we take responsibility for them on our own terms. You are brave and inspiring and I cheer you on as you take responsibility for what you rightfully own. Go spandex! Go Ernest.

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  16. Good for you. As a perennially overweight female, I recognize the honesty part. I am only just getting to understand this, and I'm in my 50s. Congratulations!

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  17. This is so true! Never really thought of it that way until now but it makes complete sense and I agree with you! Have fun riding, man!

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  18. Congratulations Ernest!!!
    I so admire your spirit and determination. keep up the good work!
    Sport specific apparel has its place, and you proved that. Keep wearing Lycra with pride and don't let any notion creep into your conscience to do otherwise.
    I've discovered over the last fifty years, that people feel the same about Social Nudism. But it is exactly as you stated, a freedom from shame that society puts upon all those that don't conform. God created nudity, Man created Shame! Keep up the great work! You are an inspiration to all.

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  19. Ernest! Ernie!

    Seeing what you wrote, after the whole post, makes me grin. I am so impressed by you.

    Rock that spandex!

    You are such an encouragement and a wonderful man. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I'm rooting with lots of fist pumps!

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  20. Ernest you are braver than me. To shy to wear spandex :-( But I am cycling to work as often as possible, at least until the snow shows up.

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  21. Rock the Spandex! When we worry about what others think, we have given them control over us, and that's not good.

    I coach kids and I always tell the moms in meeting number one to buy the best shorts they can afford. One saddle sore can convince a young person to quit.

    Lovin' your journey and determination. My first 'cross race of the season is tonight. I won't take first, but I win just because I entered :)

    Blessings to you!

    Kevin
    ChristianCyling.com

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  22. Haha! Hi Ernie. My husbands co-workers call them his "biking panties" when he rides to work. Well he has the last laugh because he is more physically fit than all of them. Keep up the good work. I hope you put biking panties on your list.

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  23. Dude you are the MAN! You are an insparation and a testament to what we as humans are capable of physicaly, mentally and emotionally. Ride hard and never give up my friend. I will be folling your success and sharing your story

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  24. Great article about wearing spandex even when "it should be illegal for people like me to wear spandex"! That has always been my mantra...if I stayed home instead of wearing lycra and bicycling, or wearing a swimming suit and going swimming I just wouldn't be me. I say the above line about it being illegal...and then I laugh and go ahead and do what I want. I love bicycling...and I'm good at it...but I am not skinny! I've ridden thousands of miles and it always makes me feel proud of being me! Confident, competent, and empowered! Gotta love lycra!

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  25. Great read Ernest! You are a true inspiration to every cyclist, from recreational to racer.

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  26. In Italy we call it "salopette"!!! Go Ernest!

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  27. Good Job Ernest!

    I am also a big man working on getting smaller. But my difference is that 20 years ago, I actually raced. A bit nervous about Spandex again.... but working toward it.

    Just continue on that great path, my brother!

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  28. Earnest,
    I admire you. As someone who has been morbidly obese my entire life, I never let go of the monumental insecurities keeping me from experiencing the freedom you're so eloquently expressing in this post. Even after weight loss, even with the functionality/benefit of wearing the spandex, I can't honestly say I could muster the bravery needed to overcome my powerful insecurities. If I ever do, I have a feeling it would open a flood gate of emotion and be one of the most liberating things I've ever experienced. Thank you for doing what you do. I admire you.

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  29. Ernest, you are an inspiration to all of us out here. I am a big guy too and have taken to cycling to help me physically and emotionally. I also wear spandex regardless of what anyone else thinks. Keep up the awesome work and don't ever let anyone stop you.

    Cheers!
    Kevin in Northern Ontario :)

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  30. I had a hard time with the idea of spandex but your right its liberating

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  31. When I first started reading about you, I found your story fascinating, but more importantly, I began examining my own thoughts and prejudices about obese people exercising. All the times I had an inner monologue that tended toward snide or derogatory thoughts was me being part of the problem. You have made an impact on me and made me see how embarking on a journey like yours should be celebrated. I now smile and think "Awesome!" to myself whenever I see someone obese, out of shape, or unfit out exercising. I applaud your courage and I hope that my change of heart will help make the level of courage necessary to get started on something like this a little lower. I applaud you and thank you.

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  32. I did the exact same thing. Almost shot myself. Now I know everyone, wear my kit to the bars, the chicks, the fun, and fourth in the world on Nationalbikechallenge.org.

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  33. kick ass man im a 400 lb fat guy and I'm riding the Tour Divide this year and we should ride it together. My mane is Elijah if you dare join me. Im 37 and have everything ready to go as far as bikepacking stuff goes

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  34. Wow! Your spandexepanation simply blew me away. I feel fortunate for having the opportunity to read it. Thank you for sharing it.

    I am a 38 year old man who is new to the world of cycling. I too had reservations about wearing traditional cycling shorts. That is until I read your blog. I will be purchasing some lycra asap! Thank you for inspiring others.

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  35. very cool and insightful! keep the blogging going!

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  36. Thanks Ernest! I needed to read those words!

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  37. "Spandex is honest." Thanks. That's the line I needed to read.

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  38. Is wearing spandex shorts in public socially acceptable?
    travel accessory

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