The thing about being a girl who likes to ride bikes is that it puts me in the unfathomably small minority of women who don’t judge their sense of self worth by how small their thighs are.
Last week, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting up with one of my favorite people, Lisa, in our hometown in Connecticut. Lisa has known me since elementary school. As if high school was yesterday, we found ourselves at one of our old haunts in town, recognizing that, despite the both of us having traveled far and wide and gleaning global experiences left and right, there we were, back in West Hartford, seemingly relatively unchanged from our 16-year-old selves.
Everything was the same, except for one thing: my cycling legs.
One of the first things Lisa did when we sat down next to each other was put her hand on my leg. “Flex it! Come on Scheppy!”
Apparently my decision to wear spandex was a bad one; suddenly my quads were the elephant in the room.
I did a lot of cycling this summer–it was the first time since my cross-country trip that I was regularly clocking rides over 40 miles. As such, my cyclist self came out in full force this summer and fall. And along with her came my cyclist body. And “cyclist body” pretty much just means all thigh.
When I first started cycling, I threw any semblance of what I had of “skinny jeans” out the window. You see, cycling requires sacrifices of many kinds, and fitting into tight pants and skirts is one of the first things to go. Spend enough time in the saddle and you’re pretty much writing yourself a prescription for L.L. Bean’s “Relaxed Fit” for as long as you keep it up. I have wondered aloud whether or not my most opaque and loose-fitting pair of spandex could pass as a pair of those über-fashionable black jeggings; my coworkers assure me this is a terrible idea. And so I have made peace with the fact that fashion these days just doesn’t understand me.
After a long day of cycling, it is not my belly, but my quads, that dictate what, when, and how much to eat. Yes, it is my cycling thighs that are fully responsible for cajoling me into eating a half a jar of peanut butter in one sitting.
“Just one more banana smoothie!”they plead, and I dutifully comply.
My cycling legs have a mind of their own, and when I’m in cyclist mode, I readily cede to their demands.
But cycling is worth it: skinny jeans, or any fashion for that matter, could never replace the fun and freedom of coasting along down a mountain pass, surrounded by spectacular views, or the thrill of riding momentum to power up and crest a seemingly insurmountable hill, or the joy of being out in nature–or even cozy and comfortable inside my apartment, perched on the bike trainer while simultaneously watching Battlestar Galactica.
So, F#*! you, skinny jeans–because my bike riding life is so much cooler than you.