It’s Not Lance Armstrong’s Fault

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Has it come to this? Are we seriously blaming Lance Armstrong for our poor sartorial choices?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Lance’s fall from grace – or at least his fall from being the poster boy for cycling in America – is changing the way we dress for a ride.

 WTF? (Excuse our tour de French.)

The article states, “As commuters increasingly displace Lance-a-likes as the primary face of cycling, fewer and fewer people are confusing rides to the grocery with the Tour de France.” We don’t have solid numbers, but we’re confident “rides to the grocery store” have always outnumbered serious training rides by competitive cyclists. What’s more, mocking people for riding in full regalia to the grocery store far predates Lance Armstrong. Hasn’t anyone ever seen “Breaking Away?”

“Cyclists rebelling against the tight-and-bright look are calling its adherents ‘peacocks.’ Or worse yet “mamils”—for middle-aged men in Lycra,” the WSJ article continues. Okay, okay. Mamils is kind of funny, but get over yourselves! Obviously, we’re Ibex and we wouldn’t be caught dead in synthetics. Even so, why are we shaming people for what they wear instead of celebrating the fact they’re on a bike?

Long before Lance Armstrong was even born, competitive cyclists were wearing wool for its breathability, odor-resistance and superior temperature regulation. When synthetic fibers took the world by storm in the late ‘70s, Lycra began its rise to dominance.

Why? We’re imagining because we are human and we like shiny new things. Also, professional cycling is a sport of sponsors. The man-made nature of spandex allowed for unnatural colors that pop – on a TV screen and as the peloton goes screaming by. Sponsors wanted their teams to stand out in a sea of a hundred, wiry riders.

Most of us mere cycling mortals never wanted to be spinning around in obnoxious, matchy-matchy kits. And blaming Lance Armstrong for encouraging inappropriate clothing choices by ride is faulty at best, or a transparent grab for SEO at worst.

Let’s be clear: none of this has changed. Sponsors still want a showy color. The rest of us still want something more refined and more subtle that fits our way of riding: competitive, fitness, commuting or to the store to pick up milk.

The stylistic change in cycling apparel is not driven by Lance Armstrong. Despite his faults, even the Wall Street Journal opens their piece by giving him credit for inspiring “… tens of thousands of Americans to take up cycling.” The stylistic change in cycling is driven by awareness.

In no particular order:

  • It is the heightened awareness of environmental degradation, which is driving many people back to natural, high performance fibers, like wool.
  • It is the awareness of companies like Ibex, who have long offered top tier cycling gear in subtle stylistic alternatives to the loudly-colored, odiferous synthetic options.
  • It is the awareness of local communities who are making their communities more bike safe and encouraging bike commuting.
  • It is the awareness of the general public to the fact that biking is a way of life – neither just as a way to commute before you’re of driving age, nor as a high pressure, elite sport.

We’re not defending Armstrong or the hundreds of other cheaters in cycling. But isn’t it time to move on and take responsibility for ourselves – specifically: how we dress ourselves?

If neon yellow and white Lycra is your bent, good for you. For the rest of us, check out the new Ibex cycling site and gear. Don’t let the Wall Street Journal tell you what’s cool; just get out and ride.