After a hard day at work, some men like to play poker, some like to go for a few beers in their local pub, but some like to wear lycra and ride bikes. Welcome to Middle-Aged Men in Lycra, aka MAMIL.
This documentary directed by Nickolas Bird and Eleanor Sharpe shows the ins and outs of what it’s like to be a man who lives to cycle. Whether it’s to lose weight, to raise money for charity or to mend their mental health, men from all over the world give their heart and soul into putting on a pair of lycra shorts, and hopping on a bicycle.
Narrator Phil Liggett introduces us to a plethora of different stories from around the world, with inspiring interviews and inside knowledge from members of diverse cycling groups. From New York, LA to the UK and Australia, all these varied cycling teams have one thing in common – their passion and love for the sport. They don’t care what they look like in tight lycra, they even pick their uniforms to make it look colourful and attractive. However, it’s comical – you don’t quite know whether to laugh at them or with them.
We meet several spouses, who share varying levels of tolerance with their partner’s obsession. Some of these cycling widows (and one same-sex widower) are fatalistic while others – those left with the kids, or the hospital bills – would sooner cycling just went away. These scenes, and there are a lot of them, range from amusing to uncomfortable viewing.
There is a highly amusing, rats-in-the-ranks style peek into club politics in which a beleaguered president battles his members over kit design while also trying to crush the same competitors on the bike. Before a race day grudge match, one troublemaker and frenemy declares, ‘The thing about him is, he’s physically strong, but he’s mentally weak.’ Carnage ensues.
The movie is hugely entertaining. It’s self-deprecating style is both hilarious and deeply moving when it shares cyclists overcoming hardships and finding the will to continue. Every laugh generated was balanced with a scene of compassion. MAMIL’s scope is broad enough for all of us to find ourselves, reflect on why we ride, and laugh at ourselves.