How I Learned to Love Spandex

Today I’m featuring a guest post by Severna Park Peloton cyclist and fellow D.C. Randonneur, Dan Oldale, who writes about the evolution of his affinity for spandex. I thought it made a perfect Friday post, as it sends us all happily into the weekend ready to ride our bikes. Thanks, Dan, for being part of the blog and sharing your spandex story!

There was a time when I would not have even considered wearing spandex in public. Oh sure, maybe in those crazy days in college, away from home for the first time, in a new city where no one knew me, trying to impress a girl who was in to the English Beat, new wave music, or the punk rock scene. But that was the Eighties, after all.

I now wear spandex two to three hours almost every day.

Dan on the 2010 Cacapon 200K (c) Bill Beck

Heck, I spent all day Sunday in a brightly colored jersey and tight little spandex shorts riding around rural western Maryland by myself, hanging out in convenience stores, chatting with the ladies behind the counter, and somehow making the guy at the Mountaindale General Store and Tackle Shop nervous.

Sometimes I ride in groups. We all wear spandex, and go out to nice restaurants and have lunch or breakfast and chat with the ladies at the coffee shop who always seem happy to see us.

We have our bikes, helmets, and goggles. We hobble around in our cycling cleats. All this makes it easier to explain our revealing attire. Hey, we look healthy, a bunch of boys out conquering the Alps bringing glory to our team and our country.

The other day my pickup truck was acting up so I had to drop it off at my mechanic’s shop in Annapolis. I could have arranged a ride, but wanted to drop it off in the morning on the way to work and pick it up when it was done. I didn’t want to bother anyone for a ride so I threw my bike in the truck, put a change of clothes in a backpack, and headed for town.

I dropped off the car, left the key in the drop box, and rode to work. I did a Clark Kent and changed in to clothes more appropriate for cutting and sewing boat canvas and meeting any customers.

At a little after ten o’clock, Dave called to say the truck was ready. I did another quick change, strapped on my helmet, and rode off to get the truck.

The lady in the office gave me a funny look when I walked in to pay my bill and get my key, but at the time, I was oblivious. I wandered back in to the garage to find Dave. It wasn’t until we were in the middle of the conversation about our ’94 Buick Le Sabre needing a new computer and that the parts and labor would be more than the value of the car that I began to feel like I wasn’t dressed appropriately for hanging around in a garage with the mechanics talking about cars.

His second mechanic came in the bay to say something to Dave, thought better of it and walked back out. I informed Dave that I had ridden there on my bike. He said “I was guessing that.”

Dan with the SPP on the Frederick 300K (c) Bill Beck

I think I’ll keep my helmet and goggles with me when I’m off the bike in public, maybe buy some cycling gloves to reinforce my identity as a cyclist. I’ll talk loudly about gear ratios, STI shifters and cable replacement, fixed gear bikes, even road tubeless wheels, what ever it takes.

Everything will be right with the world. I’ll be all cyclist, all spandex, all the time. See y’all on the roads.

Dangerous Dan

Thanks again, Dan! Have a great weekend, everybody. And for those doing the Cacapon 200K this Saturday, have a great ride!


  1. We at the Rootchopper Institute for Public Exposure are under court order to not wear spandex in public. This came about when a multiple car accident was caused when I rode to work in black and red striped spandex bike shorts grossing out a motorist who veered away from me into the car beside him. There were no serious injuries but the Rootchopper Institute takes its public service mandate seriously so we did not contest the court’s mandate.

    The streets are safe. Go out and ride.


  2. I don’t catch any grief with my rather subdued jerseys, but my fiancee insists that I wear baggy mountain biking type shorts with a liner when we are out on rides together. It’s probably for the better.

    I am on the fence about buying my first pair of bib shorts for the seagull century next month. She won’t be riding with me (I can get her to come on anything less than 45 miles typically), so I am free to wear as I please.


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