Cycling and appearance has been making the news at the moment.
Chris Hoy declared in his new GQ style article that:
‘professional cycling gear generally looks awful on pretty much anyone heavier than eight stone and with more than five per cent body aerodynamic fat’
He has since apologised and said that the article was ‘tongue in cheek’.
For me though, the damage is kind of done. I don’t think I’ll be buying a Hoy bike any time soon.
After all, I might break it – I’m well over 8 stone.
What he said may not seem like that big a deal. I don’t think that Sir Chris really thinks that what he said is that big a deal. The thing is, it is that big a deal when it is said by someone like Chris Hoy. A man who is looked up to and admired by thousands of cyclists.
When I ride the cargo bike to get to places and ferry my kids about, I wear ‘normal’ clothes. Generally jeans because I frankly lack imagination when it comes to my wardrobe. I choose to dress like this because I am going about my normal daily business and the bike is just how I get there.
When I ride my road bike for pure enjoyment, I wear lycra. I choose to dress like this because it is so much more comfortable than jeans. I don’t actually care that much what it looks like. I care about whether I am warm enough. I care about not having my clothing flapping about in the breeze since this would slow me down. I may not be all that fast on the bike, but I would like to be as fast as I can be. Fast is fun. Quite frankly, I care about whether or not my arse is sore after a couple of hours on a bike saddle.
I have been cycling for years. I know why I do it (because I love it and it makes me feel like me). I don’t really care what other people think of my hobby or my clothing.
But that’s not the case for everyone.
Right now, more and more people are getting on bikes and this is fantastic. It is fantastic for individual people’s health. It is fantastic for easing congestion and pollution on our roads. It is fantastic for setting an example to our children.
Right now, more and more women are getting on bikes. Even more fantastic because women are under-represented in cycling at the moment.
Lots of these women will be concerned about what they look like. And lots of these women will have heard about Chris Hoy’s comments. And the vast majority of them will be over eight stone in weight. Where does this leave them? Are people sniggering at them when they walk into cafes like Sir Chris suggests?
Right now, there is a major problem with girls leaving all forms of sport and activity as they become teenagers. They leave sport and activity because they are worried about what they look like. They then fail to develop the habit of physical activity. A habit which would keep them healthy for life.
These girls are massively concerned about what they look like. And lots of these girls will have heard about Chris Hoy’s comments too.
Eight stone is not a healthy weight for many people. I’m sure that Chris Hoy didn’t intend to suggest that eight stone is a healthy weight to aim for. But the thing is, he is Chris Hoy. He is an icon that people look up to. I can make flippant comments all I want because very few people care about my opinion. If you are Chris Hoy and many many people care about your opinion, you need to be a bit more careful what you say.
In his defense, I think the article is so poorly written and confused that it’s hard to know what Sir Chris’s meaning really was.
Not that much of a defense though.
So cyclists, wear what you like. Be comfortable. Be whatever weight and shape makes you healthy and comfortable.
And be careful who you look up to.
And wear an aerodynamic helmet if you want to. Even if you’re not at the Olympics.