Ignoring the Spandex Rules

My son is distracted by some roadkill during the 2007 Trek Across Maine

Nobody over the age of 30 should wear spandex clothing in public.

As fashion rules go, this one would seem to have universal appeal across all age groups and cultures. It only makes sense that as our bodies age and the less skin-tight clothing we wear — the better for all concerned.

The most blatant violations of the spandex rule occurs wherever bicyclists gather to do a long road trip. And the premiere road trip here in Maine is the American Lung Association’s 180-Mile Trek Across Maine. I joined 2000 other bicyclists this past weekend on the three day journey from the Sunday River Ski area in Newry to the Belfast Town Common.

It was apparent from the very start that the spandex rules were completely out the window.

The starting line at Sunday River was a virtual sea of spandex-clad cyclists of all shapes, ages and sizes. There were plenty of serious road-racer-types with expensive bikes and color-coordinated jerseys. But there were also families with young kids, elderly couples and groups of co-workers who looked like they might have dusted the winter cobwebs off their bikes the previous weekend.

The three-day ride is always a great experience. Newcomers sometimes expect a daily, grueling race to the finish line over what is unanimously considered to be a very hilly course. The actual experience is more like a relaxed social event on wheels. Rest stations, located every 15 miles or so, are well-stocked with food and water – but their primary purpose is clearly to serve as social occasions.

Bikers wait for slower members of their group to catch up, trekkers from previous years get re-acquainted and volunteers urge riders to partake of the huge mounds of food and drink. Meanwhile, everybody pretends to ignore the obvious ongoing violations of the spandex fashion regulations.

Underneath the frivolity of the event there is a more serious undertone for some of the cyclists. Many have lost loved ones to cancer or other smoking-related illnesses. I started doing the Trek after my own mother died suddenly of lung cancer 8 years ago at age 62. My Dad was even less fortunate. He suffered a massive stroke in 2000 but lived with the debilitating effects until February of this year.

This kind of motivation makes the spandex rules seem a lot less important.


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About jimandrews

Jim Andrews is an attorney, Registered Maine Guide, writer, husband, dad and sixth-generation Mainer who grew up in the hills of Oxford County and now lives in Farmington. He is a monthly columnist for the The Maine Sportsman magazine where he focuses on muscle-powered travel in the outdoors and specific applications to fishing and hunting in Maine. Late in the fall of 2010 Jim suffered a mid-life crisis and decided that the cure would be a self-propelled trip from Kittery to Fort Kent in the summer of 2012. The preparation, planning and execution of that trip will be covered here -- as well as his own ongoing attempts to reintroduce physical effort back into the increasingly-motorized world of fishing and hunting in Maine. Find Self-propelled on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Self-propelled-Guide-Service-1098692573535403/