Words: Evan Wishloff
Photos: Stirl and Rae Media Haus
Definition: an acronym coined by British Marketing Research Firm, Mintel, in 2010, standing for Middle Aged Male in Lycra, meaning men of middle age who ride expensive bicycles for recreation while wearing skin tight spandex clothing.
MAMILs pictured in their natural habitat
Although I only fit two thirds of the bill (I’m still clinging to my youth, a futile effort in hoping to never lose it) I found myself invited to Swagman’s MAMILcamp this past Spring to be hosted at Tutti Gravel Inn, in Clinton, BC.
The purpose? To ride. For a MAMIL, an escape for a cycling trip was an excuse to ride as much as possible. As I would later learn, it was also an excuse to drink copious amounts of beer post-ride. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll get to that in a moment.
Kelly, owner, operator, and guide at Tutti Gravel Inn, had planned some massive days of riding the gorgeously scenic gravel around Clinton, where gravel is indeed the new gold, and everyone was excited for what it would hold.
Suffice to say everybody in Swagman’s MAMILcamp got their money’s worth. The routes were no less than excellent, with stunning scenery, lung-busting climbs, and distances that would have been impressive enough on a road bike.
The author, pictured, getting dropped by a bunch of MAMILs
When all was said and done, MAMILcamp tallied: 3 days. 372 km. 4,708 m vert. *150 beers.
*I was in bed while the MAMILs kept the beer flowing.The number of beers drank is my best estimate, but it might be low.
After experiencing MAMILcamp, I started to wonder. How will I know when I become a MAMIL? Does it just happen one day? Do you just wake up and BANG, you’re a MAMIL? What about riding trips I had planned with some of my more youthful friends? How would I know when we crossed that threshold and became true MAMIL’s?
To help, I put together this handy scorecard to help you figure out if you’re in the company of MAMILs. Read through the list and tally up your points to find out if you have found yourself in a MAMILcamp.
The MAMIL Scorecard
+5 pts if somebody will hurt their back
By far the most common ailment of a MAMIL, odds are a hurt back will happen at some point during a riding trip with MAMILs. It’s also an excuse to end a ride early, get back to the accommodations, and get a head start on beer-drinking, which MAMILs also love to do.
+5 pts if their injury prevents them from riding.
+5 pts if somebody breaks their bike
They will just be riding along, of course, and it will be no fault of their own. The blame falls at the feet of their mechanic/the stupid brand that built the bike/the stupid brand that built the drivetrain. MAMILs hate taking responsibility for breaking their own bike.
(disclaimer: I may have personally broken my chain during this trip, and I swear I really was just riding along. That doesn’t make ME a MAMIL, does it?)
+5 pts if somebody brings up some sort of diet they are doing
There are two types of MAMILs: those who eat whatever they want and still seem to crush it on the bike, and those who are on a strict, regimented diet to maximize their performance. If somebody brings up their keto/vegan/gluten-free/plant-based/paleo diet, odds are definitely increasing that you’re in the company of MAMILs.
+15 pts if they also come up with an excuse or justification for why they can still drink beer on their current diet.
+1 pts if cases and cases of beer will be drank
It’s not fair to call beer-drinking a sign of being with MAMILs. Most cyclists love some post-ride beers, but there are a few distinctions that make it far more likely you’re with MAMILs:
+10 pts if the total number of beers drank in the group total to more than the kilometres of the longest ride of the trip.
+5 pts If the types of beer being drank by the majority of the group include any of the following words, like IPA, Hazy, Saison, or Kettle Sour.
+5 pts if anybody is using a beer koozie.
+10 pts if, even after drinking copious amounts of beer, everybody will be up early and ready to knock off another huge ride the next day
This might be the single most impressive part of MAMILs. I cannot ride a bike with a hangover. I don’t even know if MAMILs know what a hangover is.
+10 pts if nobody even mentions the word hangover.
+5 pts if somebody says “Whoa, this is the latest I’ve been up in ages”
And the time will be 10:28 pm. It appears that MAMILs live very structured lives at home, whether it be due to family or work commitments. Staying up past 9:30 pm is a luxury that most MAMILs are not afforded.
+10 pts to your tally if somebody says the above phrase before 10 pm.
+40 pts if somebody uses the word “Lit”
As in, “this beer is just a hazy, why am I so lit?”
(if you’ve been paying attention, this statement alone is worth 45 pts, a sure sign you’re in the company of MAMILs)
If your tally is 45 pts or more, guess what? You’re in a MAMILcamp.
But there’s nothing wrong with MAMILcamp - it’s actually kind of fun. In fact, I’m looking forward to the day I can ride with a hangover and still drop people 20 years younger than me. Being on the receiving end of that isn’t good for the ego, but I imagine being the giver feels pretty damn good… Maybe one day.
Anyways, thanks to Swagman MAMILcamp for having me as a guest. I’ll be practicing my ability to ride hard after a night of beers in order to embarrass myself a bit less next time.