“It’s the new golf.”
“What’s the new golf?”
“Cycling, you eejit!”
We stood nursing our bruised middle-aged legs after yet another game of five-a-side soccer which, at our vintage, is becoming quite dangerous. The knees and ankles are dodgy and the ‘hammers’ seize up at the slightest change of what could only be described, charitably, as pace.
This week, I am in real danger of becoming a MAMIL: a ‘middle-aged man in lycra’. My football team is threatening to atrophy as we hit our mid-40s. As an alternative to football, one of the lads suggested we should start following in the pedalstrokes of those men in fluorescent colours who can be seen on the peloton that is the N11 on a weekend morning. The last bike most of the lads were ever on was a chopper.
The two-wheel weekly pilgrimage from all over south Dublin to Enniskerry hasn’t gone unnoticed, even by us confirmed soccer heads. Have you spotted this new sect, in its distinctive colours of luminous orange, green and, of course, yellow? And it’s not just in that part of the world. All over the country, cycling is proliferating. Howth Hill, the Naul, Blessington Lakes and beyond, the great outdoors is swarming by 10am on a Sunday.
The hard shoulder has become a rich savannah for brightly-coloured MAMILs, who tend to travel in large packs, annoying impatient weekend motorists.
Sometimes the pack is stretched as some riders – usually a pair – head out, injecting speed and extending the peloton. But each MAMIL looks out for the next in a display of tribal loyalty normally reserved for east Belfast.
Cycling is the new golf. Years ago, when Ireland almost merged into one large golf course, cyclists were few and far between. These days, as golf clubs shut up shop or desperately drop their membership fees, cycling is booming.
The person driving this cycling revolution is a middle-aged man in lycra who has a family and decent enough income. He is no longer buying the flash car to signal his mid-life crisis, instead he’s getting fit on his bike. Today he might be a little squeezed into his spandex man-kini, but give him a few weeks on the road and the pounds will fall off.
And it’s not just any old class of ride; once you join the Mamil tribe, the gear – not just the bike – is crucial because the innocent starter MAMIL will get hooked and find himself getting out the credit card in the local bike shop.
But it’s not just men’s fitness at stake: the MAMIL is the latest holy grail of marketers and advertisers all over the world.
Strange as it may seem, in a world that appears to be dominated by Sky Sports, transfer windows and soccer, cycling is the biggest sporting goods market in the world in terms of revenue, according to a survey by multinational market research company NPD Group.
Global sales totalled nearly €33 billion last year (enough to pay for Anglo, with a few quid to spare), an increase of 4 per cent each year since 2009. Some 137 million bicycles (including electric bikes) were sold, with the average price estimated at €179, though your average Irish Mamil will pay a multiple of this for his steed. Cycling accounted for 15 per cent of all sporting goods revenue.
As more people start cycling than any other sport, the market for bike sales in Ireland and Britain is predicted to grow by more than 20 per cent to €1 billion by 2016. The cycling market, including accessories, footwear and clothing, is valued at €2.2 billion in Ireland and Britain.
That means that the cycling market is worth twice as much as the €1 billion soccer market.
But what is really important to marketers and advertisers is that the MAMIL is a largely middle-class creature. To marketing men, the bright, taut 45-year-old in a yellow replica leader’s jersey is the upmarket (and much more lucrative) version of the bloke in an XXL Man Utd jersey glued to his wide-screen.
Research carried out by Mintel reveals that cyclists in Britain who use their bike at least once a week are more likely to shop at posh supermarkets and have a household income in excess of €65,000 a year.
Halfords Group, the biggest Irish and British bike retailer, posted sales growth at its cycling division of 15 per cent in the second quarter of 2012, faster than any other unit, though the lucrative road bike market is the smallest part of its overall bike sales. Halfords has 24 shops in Ireland from Cork to Letterkenny. However, it is the Aldi of bike sellers. The real place to spot a MAMIL is in the many specialist bike shops that have opened to meet demand.
The ‘cycle-to-work’ scheme rekindled cycling interest in the chopper generation, but the commuting cyclist has morphed into the serious, weekend sports enthusiast, and he has provided a bigger opportunity for retailers.
While commuters might spend up to €1,000 on a bike, helmet and high-visibility jacket and consider themselves suitably clothed to avoid rush-hour injury, a weekend road-biking Mamil will often lay out significantly more.
The new Mamil quickly discovers the rigours of bike etiquette. Rule number one: any bike displayed on top of a car should be worth more than the car itself.
Kit confusion is not entertained when youhave decided to worship at the chapel of MAMILdom. Shorts must be black. Nothing baggy or voluminous may darken the saddle: it might affect the aerodynamic look of the rest of the pack. Shorts and socks have to meet the Goldilocks rule: neither too short, like 1980s tennis players, nor too long, like those beloved of footballers. That all saddles, bars and tyres must match is a given.
As with all clubs and sects, things that make no difference at all to the outsider are of enormous significance to the insider.
For the MAMIL, there isn’t much change from €1,500 on the bike (though, for many who commute, the bike-to-work scheme cuts the cost). You can expect to fork out €300-odd on clothing, more than €100 on shoes and another €100 on the helmet, as well as an endless array of accessories.
The hardened, fully kitted-out Mamil can come across as vaguely homoerotic, trussed up in a tight rubber cap under his helmet, goggles, clasps, rubber tubes rammed into pockets, skins and arm warmers. Sure wasn’t your man in 50 shades of you-know-what a MAMIL? Real men ride; and real men spend.
In the years ahead, watch admen focus their attention on the huge consumer market that is middle-aged men. From Top Gear to Fifty Shades of Grey, this may be the age of the Mamil.
Maybe I’ll stick to football for a while yet.
David McWilliams’ new book The Good Room is out now.
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We’ve had a British Winner of the Tour de France, riding for ‘SKY’ so perhaps its no wonder that Cycling has started to really flourish. However it seems that as always we’re behind the times, or went the wrong direction with transport. Be great when we start to put racks on the backs of city buses. Can you just imagine Dublin City bus doing something like that ala Germany ? No neither can I. Now lucky if you can get 4 bikes on a train, now the guards van is gone. There are alternatives – the folding bike is almost… Read more »
By the way David you left out another huge group of Bikers.. Mountain Bikers.. perhaps a different demographic, but often not.
Interesting figures quoted here,
Hi David – big fan of your incisiveness, but I do wonder the generalisations your assertion here. I would qualify as a MAMIL – I just hit 40. I’m riding the cobbles of Belgium these days rather than the backroads of Wicklow. Truth is, some of us having were young men in lycra before – I started cycle racing 25 years ago. When you’re young, you scrape together what money you have to create a functioning bike that can take the hardships of the peleton. Ironically, like with other things (cars, houses) it’s not until people are older, and have… Read more »
I agree the MAMIL’s look a little silly but I think you are missing one important point. There is a growing emphasis on fitness. It is not just cycling that has taken off. Those same MAMILs are having to weave around runners who have intruded onto the cycle lanes. Those runners seem to be largely female while the cyclists are male. That might be due to the love of gadgets on the male side. The likes of Aldi and Lidi offering cheap cycling clothes and accessories plus the bike to “work” scheme offering cheap bikes PLUS the fact that there… Read more »
Steady on there David and other commentators. This is not your field of expertise, slow week obviously and one weekend on a bike doesn’t qualify you to suddenly pigeon hole the lot of us (tongue in cheek). It’s fine, but hands off us Mountain Bikers… you’re broadly correct about our road biking cousins and some who I prefer to call the one weekend wonders. Anyway we don’t qualify according to your criteria; firstly we wear baggy shorts and anyone seen with a lunch box will be shot on sight, secondly our socks are long, waterproof in some cases, and our… Read more »
Taiwanese bike maker Giant recently opened their first brand store in Dublin, the kind of place that can loosen the purse strings of a budding exercise geek the way an Apple store can with a tech/design geek. My transformation into a MAMIL happened in a Giant store 3 years ago following a challenge from a friend – “Do you fancy cycling across the Japan Alps for charity?” Having laughed and then agreed, the sheer scale of the challenge made me question my own sanity and wonder whether being in my mid-40s had anything to do with the decision. So it… Read more »
David get your pals out coaching now that your playing days are over. keep fit and help the kids great fun.
Isn’t it time the government scrapped the cycle-to-work.
Obvious revenue raising mechanism…
Don’t forget the cut-out section in the middle of the saddle to protect the prostate and prevent risk of erectile dysfunction! (I’m not kidding)
David, Instead of dressing up in a techicolour gimp outfit to ride around the countryside on a ridicilous contraption made of wire and coat hangers. Might I suggest a sport that encourages thinking,endurance,safty in all aspects is more thrilling than any ball sports played here,can be played in a team or done by yourself if you want,is ideal for young,middle aged and old men.Costs a lot less than a racing bike over three years with its bondage like paraphenila,and actually can put wholesome and tasty food on your dinner table for more or less free. Is easy on the old… Read more »
I have a bicycle, and I go on bicycling holidays, but all this is a million miles away from that.
This is affirmation of yet another one of Huxley’s forecasts, from his novel ‘Brave New World’. In this case, people would be encouraged to play sports, but only ones which required a lot of expensive equipment.
For myself, having given up smoking, and since the world is now essentially insane, I’m much looking forward to Soma.
The vision that would be me trussed up in Lycra is not a pleasant thought.
Wibbly Wobbly Wonder.
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What a joke. A bunch of old men actually believing that riding about on a bike will extend their life! What a load of old tripe. Even more incredible, that you believe that this is enhanced by buying overpriced funny clothes. Priests and other strange people have been wearing funny clothes since the beginning of time, haven’t noticed them lasting any longer, not even the ones with a preference for little boys. Don’t you know that 75% of your life expectancy comes from choosing the right parents? The rest from lifestyle choices like booze, ciggies and other no no’s? To… Read more »
The basic truth about the weekend Wicklow peleton phenomenon passing my house every Saturday and Sunday morning on Merrion Road is…..it’s a healthy trend. It’s healthier than the pub, than pub-football, pub-rugby, etc. It’s well-adjusted to an age of austerity, because it’s about getting in shape for tough times. When the going gets tough, the tough get going and all of that. So although I’m not a passionate cyclist myself, I’m all for it. And I’m not as snobby as our host, who should see that this phenomenon is well-adjusted, healthy and positive for our times, details of spend on… Read more »
Mid life crisis as a consumer behaviour. If only they could exercise their minds and study the corruption and the flaws within the state structure that towers over everybody’s lives…..
There was a mini revolution in Limerick last week that in property market terms was a new proclamation. http://www.limerickleader.ie/news/politics/limerick-to-reinvent-itself-like-ny-and-detroit-1-4743572 The students suggested options for the city like creches,social housing, dedicated artistic quarters and even bicycle promenades along the river. It may not seem like much but it’s a change from ” the market is stabilizing ” rhetoric the government repeats every 3 months. They slipped in pictures of empty derelict buildings to underline their point that the opera centre is the tip of the iceberg. Their ideas, some as simple as painting murals on buildings, were dismissed as ” not… Read more »
Good promotional article for the cycling world. Fifty Shades of Grey me ar$e! More like Sunday afternoon fifty greys in shades to paraphrase Ross O’Carroll-Kelly of the IT, all with their fat bottoms in the air. We are witnessing another fad. It’s a male fad as well. It’s toys for boys with all the nonsense of nuts, screws, washers and bolts – plus the odd Tom Sharpe nod nod wink wink to go with it. In line with booms and busts, looking forward to picking up a cheap set of good quality wheels next year. Mind you if the winds… Read more »
Alert! The EU is pumping money to monitor blogs and social media! –– The European Parliament is to spend almost Â£2 million on press monitoring and trawling Eurosceptic debates on the internet for “trolls” with whom to debate in the run-up and during euro-elections next year amid fears that hostility to the EU is growing. From the Daily Telegraph, EU to set up euro-election ‘troll patrol’ to tackle Eurosceptic surge — Well if they trawl this blog for trolls, all they will find are Mamils! Lemmings on bikes! What will the trawlers think, Mamils must be a new Eurosceptic group… Read more »
Did the link with the cost of the weekend escape drive and pedal power not cross your mind? Whatever about the cost of fees and membership on the golf course I know one converted golfer who cannot afford the golf. How about the success of Dublin bikes scheme ? The road planning that has public private partner in Limerick pocketing 180k per week for a tunnel drivers cannot afford. I despair to see the upgrades on Cork link road. Want to bet how busy the fly overs will be in 5 yrs? No planning for the energy descent where we… Read more »
David, familiarise yourself with the real ” rules” of the road..http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/
Pay close attention to rules No. 5, 9 & 12..
The rules of the road are changing, some electrifying news for the financial services denizens : OSBORNE SAYS GOVT. LEGISLATION WILL ELECTRIFY THE `RING FENCE’ Feb. 4 (EIRNS)–Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne called for “electrifying” the ring fence between retail and investment banking. According to the BBC Osborne was speaking at an event at JP Morgan’s office in Bournemouth, where he said, “When the RBS failed, my predecessor Alistair Darling felt he had no option but to bail the entire thing out. Not just the RBS on Britain’s High Street, but the trading positions in Asia, the mortgage… Read more »
We need a citizens’ petition on debt deal http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2013/0205/1224329656976.html It’s not about the bicycle as Flann O’Brien and his policeman might have believed, it’s about the tax deal… ye ha lads I just saved 200 hundred YoYos on a bicycle I don’t need and will only use once a year, millions of YoYos to the 7 million bicycle makers in Beijing. If only we had a work to work scheme then the MAMIL tigers might buy into it as they may think they are getting a deal. PS don’t buy MAMIL tiger gear with a banks logo on it or… Read more »
Goes live tomorrow don’t forget to support it
I love cycling, although we are not in the best country in the world for it, because from November to the end of February, the weather can be very rough for it. And “Fair City”, is full of bicycle thefts and vandals, who enjoy stealing and damaging the wheels of it. Or why are there so many bicycles tied to a post, with the front wheel all twisted? . Did anyone hear the story of a guy, who recovered his late brother’s bike that he was using, after was stolen from outside his girlfriend’s house ? And the man that… Read more »
Having spent 6 weeks last autumn visiting Ireland by train and bicycle I have a few observations. Starting in Victoria I had bought a standard road”touring” bike with ….27 gears. sounds excessive but I used them all. Price for a KONA Jake was a little over 1000 dollars. Adding… Two racks , one rear and one forward; 4 good quality “dry bag” paniers; tent,blow up mattress and pillow; a lower ratio rear gear set; front and rear lights; bell and electronic speedoand trip recorder; mini toolkit, enables me to strip down or rebuild the bike;high pressure pump; repair kit and… Read more »
Great dribbling. Ole! The Jimmy Johnstone of Economics is on a solo run mesmerising critics left frozen still in time as the red haired maverick twists their blood to ice as he leaves them lingering still frozen in his is wake. On the massive slopes 140,000 stand silent and gasp, the only sound is from the players and the couple of hundred fans in a small section of the away enclosure. Wow what a fucking goal they all say! Aucacious and individually brilliant. Better than Pele even. He is a Tic fan you know! Little c**t. Apologies for the word… Read more »
I never read the second half of the article David. You inspired me before the half way line and then I oiled my type writer. I don’t need to see the second half because I got what I needed from the first half I know the second half will be full of economic pish and the format is predictable That is your talent – using ordinary language in terms that anyone can understand and your insistence on being human is one of your finest qualities I quickly scrolled the posts. They are littered with the usual heavy crowd and robots.… Read more »
Burn the bond holders or the Irish people will be burned.
Suffer no more Irish people ,its time the bond holders suffered if you can call it suffering.
Real men ride; and real men spend. Lol.
Real men pay to ride because no one will ride them for free?
Said Lizzie to Phillip as they sat down to dine, I’ve just had a note from an old friend of mine, His name is ‘Big Geordie’ he’s loyal and true, And his dirty big nose is a light shade of blue. He says that the Rangers are right on their game, And he’s asked for a trophy to add to their fame, I’ll send up a cup that the Rangers can win, Said Phillip to Liz watch the Celts don’t step in. Said Lizzie to Phillip they don’t stand a chance, I’ll send up my Gunners to lead them a… Read more »
Another hearty ballad for the Irish Brothers and holders of the family crest in Ramelton. I recently discovered that my surname is unique to Movile, Donegal and Cambrigeshire and has a proud history. Three of the hoops crack goal scorers share the name and we are all related to Patsy Gallagher via different routes. How better could life possibly get? Fuck me. How many bars of gold is that worth? Priceless. It is not possible to put a price on that. And I was thinking. My grannie saw him play and I remember her talking about Patsy Gallagher. Forty years… Read more »
Is someone running adds for sports goods?
Despite everything that could be imagined, said, written, and done, it is a fact that there is still no currency that can compare – either by a direct or an indirect relationship, real or imagined – with gold.
-Charles De Gaulle, 1971
Marching along the one road and maybe the wrong road after lunch to double maths the chat often turned from punk rock to Celtic and the Boomtown Rats. I was fanatical about both and talking about them made the mile and a half seem like a short dander. A mile and half is nowt to a healthy bhoy. Hamie had been on holiday to Dublin and brought some songs back in his sack. His rucksack that is, It was the Galway Shawl I liked. I said to Hamish that one day I will go to Ireland and live the life… Read more »
Do your self a favour ladies
Headphones and loud volume required
And ffs lighten up. It’s only way to happiness
Imagine havin a hun mane like ‘Colin’
Sign here… http://www.ourcountry.ie/ for no to promissory notes… â‚¬3.1B Prommissory Note As citizens of Ireland, we believe that the payment of â‚¬3.1 billion a year, every year until 2023, for Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide is reckless, immoral and unjust. These “promissory notes” have imposed the debts of now-defunct private institutions on Irish citizens as a whole. These are debts which we cannot, should not and will not pay. We therefore instruct our Government: (a) to declare by March 17th 2013 that it will not make the payment of â‚¬3.1 billion on March 31st and to inform the European… Read more »
US Government sues Standard and Poors Rating agency for daring to downgrade US dollar 18 months ago.
Eh…just an aside btw…but this evening Emergency Legislation is being passed through the Dail…as the ECB informal dinner prior to conference takes place; with P Honohan attending… http://namawinelake.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/nama-to-merge-with-ibrc-as-scramble-for-promissory-note-solution-intensifies
Currency wars –James Richards
Cabinet have not seen Bill yet but it is to be passed tonight
posted on lemetropolecafe an hour ago Ireland to pitch new promissory note deal to ECB: Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with the matter, reported that Irish Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan is expected to pitch a new plan to his fellow ECB members today to reduce the burden of Dublin’s rescue of Anglo Irish Bank. The article noted that the plan will continue to revolve around the replacement of the promissory note the government issued in 2010 with a long-term bond. However, Honohan will drop the demand that the Irish central bank hold on to the bond for at least 15… Read more »
It shows we have no democracy when elected representatives get four hours to decide on such a serious matter.
Enda says this is a serious matter (go away)
“Enda says this is a serious matter(go away)” it is! he is right but why do the people have to be told this?