‘Astonishingly, for a study commissioned to promote a bike show, cycling came out on top. In all, 36% of the women asked found men who cycle attractive, against 17% for football and 14% for rugby. If we believe the findings, the words women tended to associate with cyclists were the likes of “kind” and “intelligent”, as against “aggressive” and “selfish” for football lovers.’ Sexy cyclists: Hands up who fancies men with shaved legs?
So, for the previous two weekends, I have managed to combine my loves of rugby and cycling. I rarely go anywhere without my bike, so going for a ride and catching a game afterwards is great, if I have enough layers to keep warm.
As a rugby supporter, I can watch a game and appreciate the skill and effort, but as a woman I can also appreciate how hot some of the players are. There’s nothing like a lovely, fit, muscular body covered in tight-fitting kit, sweat and mud. (Unless they’re over ten years younger than me, in which case that would be a bit…squick.)
Not just the obvious too, there’s more to it than thighs, arse and chest. There’s the forearms, for example. I was talking to someone the other day and his forearms were just…lovely. Strong, nice wrists, light dusting of hair, a couple of scars, very hot…
Where was I? Oh yes, that brings me on to cycling.
Tight kit? Check.
Fit bodies? Check.
So, why don’t I find male cyclists as sexy as I find rugby players?
Simply, cycling isn’t that sexy. As mentioned in A Wheelie Good Time, ‘cycling fifty-odd miles in the blazing summer sun meant nobody was particularly fragrant or fresh-looking by cake and coffee time’. Or pub time, if you’re with a good crowd.
So, rugby players get sweaty too but that’s hot? What is it then? What’s the difference?
I think, for me personally, it’s the lack of upper body bulk. Simple as that. I’ve always felt well-built, my hormones want a man who is physically bigger than me. I have never fancied the slimmer or slight man. Cyclists in the main have absolutely no upper body bulk, and if they’re serious about putting the miles in, turn sideways and you’ll miss ’em. ‘Skeletal’ would be an understatement.
It’s not the kit thing. Really not. (Even though bib shorts are one of the most ridiculous-looking garments ever and paired with a cycling tan – brown arms with sharp tan line halfway down skinny bicep, rest of torso blindingly white.)
Bib shorts – here’s an example.
Oh, and there’s the shaved legs too. Call me picky but I find it rather disconcerting when a man has smoother legs than I do, despite how muscular those legs may be. I do wonder how far they’ve taken the shaving though. Mid thigh? Top of thigh? All the way? Is that really the type of thing you want to discover in bed?
(Btw, we know how ridiculous the full-kit outfit may look to others. Deal with it. We do.)
Some of the language is ridiculously sex-orientated: bonking, lube, greasing your axles, pumping your tyres up. Strangely, we get inured to all this, it mostly takes strangers to cycling to point it out. We laugh politely, and move on.
I know of people who would go into almost-orgasmic rapture over a nice line of carbon, or even, steel. I can appreciated how beautiful a lot of steel bikes are, and the workmanship can be fantastic. But is it really sexy?
Women can look ridiculously attractive in cycling gear. But I’m not a lesbian. I also dislike it when sex is used to sell women’s cycling gear (Assos are arseholes about this and although some of their kit is really nice, I won’t buy it for this reason).
Strangely, the men pictured doing manly things in cycling gear seldom have cycling physiques, and never have proper cycling tans. Several times, I’ve heard male cycling friends criticising the choice of model as they can’t tell whether the kit would fit a cycling physique.
(Side story: Last year, I went to pick up a new jersey on a club open kit night. The upstairs of this house was taken up with men queuing for kit and trying it on. It was possibly one of the most surreal moments of my life to see and hear these men fussing over which size to buy, and asking their friends how it looked, complete with bending over and posing. I nipped in, grabbed a jersey, tried it on and left in the same amount of time one guy was trying to decide on which size to buy.)
Sitting in the pub yesterday, surrounded by fit and healthy (ish, we were in the pub) friends, we were trying to put our collective fingers on what it was, and couldn’t.
So my conclusion is, sadly, that cycling and cyclists just aren’t sexy. Sorry.
Unless they’re cyclists who used to be rugby players. That’s a whole different ball game…