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 cycle. 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.
One of the stories that blew my mind was hearing about Justin. He’s from the cycling team Fat Boys in Australia and he has a specific purpose for when it comes to cycling. He uses it to stimulate his mental health and after breaking down one day and being on the verge of collapse, he remembered he had an important race and that’s what spurred him on. It drove him to become a better person and for him, being a MAMIL, is something to live for. Not only does he enjoy his life more now, he appreciates the friends he rides with as they support him through his tough times. “This is your moving meditation…cycling helped me get my life back into whack”.
Within this documentary there are a vast number of examples of inspiring men who have their reasons to cycle. From best friends Franko and Craig in Australia who rides for charity due to Franko having throat cancer, to the men in LA’s Eastside Bike Club who rides to lose weight and be healthy again. “We welcome everybody… we call the streets of Los Angeles our gym”.
However, when you have a sport as fun as cycling, it also comes with its dangers. Many of these men have been in numerous accidents and have been left with broken backs, brain bleeds, broken collarbones, fractured ribs, collapsed lungs and spinal injuries –but they carry on regardless. They’re determined no matter what; it’s their life. You can see just how grueling and intense the training can be both physically and mentally. Nonetheless, seeing the reward afterwards feels like it’s worth every second of it, especially to those men who participate and have been participating for a very long time.
The MAMILs aren’t ashamed or embarrassed (although perhaps their wives might be), and it’s clear to see through this documentary how much they love doing what they do. The effort and the tiny details of what goes through being a MAMIL – how much they spend on bikes, the types of lycra they wear, the early morning bike rides. It’s safe to say that these men don’t intend on stopping – even if they don’t quite fit the bracket of ‘middle-aged’. But is it a passion that will eventually consumes them? Do they go too far cross the boundary that it no longer becomes a hobby but a deathly obsession?
After watching for a while, you forget about the fact that these men (and the whole reason behind this documentary), are in tight colourful lycra. MAMIL takes an in-depth look into the lives of these men and the extraordinary reasons as to why they do it. It shows just how serious they are. “I am a happy MAMIL… this is a way of being a man”.
MAMIL is in cinemas nationwide for one night only on 9th April
Tickets are available from uk.demand.film/mamil