The Gippsland MAMIL

The MAMIL, Middle-Aged Man (or Men) In Lycra, a sub-species of Treadlyagluteus Irresponsibilus* (yes, I made that up), is the bane of road users throughout Australia. Many are a law unto their own, especially when it comes to groups, as they take over streets and roads like the Mongol Hordes of old, ravaging everything in their path. Victoria’s Hell Ride being the most notorious gathering of MAMIL tribal warriors in Australia. Hell Riders have no mercy, razing everything in their path and woe betide anyone that gets in their way. Of course it’s always the fault of others and, as with any primitive tribe, the tribe comes together to support the tribal member. And in Gippsland, MAMILs, can appear at any time, anywhere, taking over the narrow and sometimes hazardous roads, spurning all others.

Hell Ride, Beach Road, Melbourne - (source: Herald Sun)

Hell Ride, Beach Road, Melbourne – (source: Herald Sun)

This is another one of my Gippsland road series of stories, highlighting some of the hazards and outright dumb behaviour of road users in our area. It’s not bad enough that we have some of the worst roads in terms of quality, but they are also often quite narrow, very windy and hilly, and can provide all manner of hazards. So it often becomes a frustrating affair when you not only have to contend with the poor quality of the roads themselves, but then the often equally poor habits of road users. This time it’s an incident that happened recently with a group of MAMILs, though it’s no isolated case by any means. I have a strong suspicion that whenever a MAMIL dons their tight Lycra battledress and starts pumping their legs, the brain is depleted of blood and all sensibility and sense of proportion and self-preservation evaporates. I simply can’t fathom any other reason why MAMILs become such a hazard to themselves, as well as others on the roads. It’s bad enough having to contend with local hazards, but imported ones just add to the drama.

 

 

 

So on one of my regular morning trips to take the hounds for a run, I came across a slow moving tribe of MAMILs on another raid and on the most awkward section of road. A car towing a wide boat, itself struggling, comes across this tribe and, even though there was plenty of room for the outermost of the four MAMILs to move into a wide section off the road on the left, they maintained their warrior position. Just because it’s legal to ride two abreast on any road, doesn’t mean that you should. These roads are used by large milk tankers, logging and quarry trucks, and all manner of other large and small vehicles and not just on weekdays, but early on a weekend morning like in this incident. It may be fine to be in the right when it comes to how you’re allowed to ride a treadly on these roads, but it doesn’t make much difference if you’re hit. And for those not aware, this particular road goes for a long way before there’s any opportunity to pass (especially if there’s oncoming traffic) and can raise incredible frustration for a convoy of vehicles. Yet laws are being introduced to enforce mandatory clearances for MAMILs that are virtually impossible to follow safely on most country roads.

MAMILs - Tribal Rules

MAMILs – Tribal Rules

 

Under controlled conditions like with managed races and off public-road pelotons that I’ve covered over the years, there’s no problem. Events like the Great Victorian Bike Ride have all manner of precautions and controls in place to manage the public and the riders, as well as the safety of the public and the riders. And the pelotons that I’ve covered, have been conducted in locations where they don’t interact with the public at all. But when groups, either large or small, do their thing on these uncompromising roads and you come across them suddenly and in the worst of places, it really isn’t a good thing. Yes, there can be all manner of other hazards on the roads, but coming unexpectedly across a bunch of MAMILs, especially when they aren’t being overly careful when they should, is a recipe for tragedy. Of course the motorist is always to blame, so little wonder that so many now have dash cams installed, to at least provide some backup, as no MAMIL will ever admit to fault.

Responsible Riding

Responsible Riding

Responsible Riding

Responsible Riding

Responsible Riding

Responsible Riding

After 20+ years of encountering MAMILs in all manner of places (before it perhaps really took hold), I readily admit that I have developed a certain degree of disdain for what they represent. If I’d had a dash cam 20+ years ago, I could show some truly abhorrent behaviour by riding clubs conducting events on the flat, country, roads in the west of Melbourne where I often went on photography journeys. I’ve come to associate MAMILs with the likes of trail bike riders, 95% of them give the other 5% a bad name; they mostly have no respect for other road users. That may well be a generalisation, but perception is reality. The MAMILs never, ever, seem to look at things from the non-MAMIL side, though we haven’t quite reached the point experienced by some English villages, but only time will tell.

They're ruining our way of life - (source: The Telegraph)

They’re ruining our way of life – (source: The Telegraph)

So what’s the answer? As rules are increasingly applied to motorists when it comes to interacting with cyclists, the former who predominantly wear the blame for everything, there also needs to be appropriate rules applied to cyclists for different road conditions. When on roads like the Strzelecki Highway (which is far from being a highway) and any single lane road that is posted at more than 60kmh, cyclists should not be legally allowed to ride two abreast. This is especially important as cyclists and cycling organisations are demanding separation rules for overtaking vehicles where it’s patently difficult, if not impossible, to do legallly. Rather than making reasonable rules applicable to both sides, I can soon see the rules once more targeting the motorists, perhaps with similar rules as for stationary emergency vehicles, where you’ll have to slow to 40 kmh when passing a hoard of MAMILs.

*Treadlyagluteus Irresponsibilus also includes:

  • Urban MAMILs that create havoc for pedestrians, joggers and traffic
  • CBD couriers that create havoc for pedestrians and traffic
  • Mountain Bike riders that fly unexpectedly out of forest openings
  • Teenagers who think they are bulletproof
Treadlyagluteus Irresponsibilus - (source: deskgram.org)

Treadlyagluteus Irresponsibilus – (source: deskgram.org)

Update 1. I came across this and simply had to post it; perhaps coming soon to our waterways, so that boaters and fishers can enjoy the biking experience of newly conceived water-MAMILs. I can just imagine water Pelotons etc, imagine a ‘Tour de Hawkesbury’.

 

2 thoughts on “The Gippsland MAMIL

  1. Robert Kenyon

    Hi Ray,
    I’ve followed your blog for some time now and enjoyed your writings and your photos. I’m a bit disappointed by this entry though. You make some very reasonable points about some cyclists’ behaviours, but when you drop then all into the same bucket and call them MAMILS I feel you do some of us responsible riders a great injustice, and also further raise the ire of motorists. As both a motorist and avid cyclist myself (for nearly 40 years), I could easily a write a long piece like that criticising motorists’ terrible behaviour (having experienced stupid, illegal, dangerous behaviour – sometimes deliberately so – in the past) . But the truth is that most motorists are very reasonable. It’s the few exceptions that stand out, and it’s the exactly the same with cyclists.
    Personally, I don’t ride in packs these days (partly for the reasons you raise). I ride with one or two friends, sometimes two abreast, but never if it causes inconvenience or potential danger to motorists. At times, I pull over and stop to let a large vehicle pass on a blind bend or crest, or if there are vehicles approaching at the same time on a narrow road. I always make sure I’m easily visible to motorists. And yes, I do wear lycra – because it’s the most practical and comfortable clothing for cycling. So does that make me a MAMIL that you describe?
    Ranting from either side really doesn’t help, and it can worsen peoples’ attitudes to those (cyclists in this case), even those who are careful and considerate.

    Reply
    1. Ray Post author

      Thanks for the comment. Both motorists and cyclists have their badly behaving members, motorists because of their sheer numbers and our poor driver training. However, from so much experience here and elsewhere, it’s the group riders that seem to adopt a herd or gang mentality and often become a law unto their own (much like any group). Our area is a favourite place for bicycle riders to congregate because of the landscape. But because of the landscape, it becomes a very risky area for all if not careful and aware of the risks.

      Our area also attract numerous other visitors, being on-route to Wilson’s Promontory etc, and anyone from outside and never having been here before can be a hazard on their own. I’ve pointed out many examples of the poor driving out here and my article was intended to get people to take note of these hazards, especially bicycle riders that are the least likely to survive an incident. And yes, I did call them MAMILs, as that’s what they are known world over and immediately recognisable by their attire (a swath of advertising logos to make them look as if they are riding the Tour de France) and their riding style (as if they were in a controlled race).

      Unfortunately, it’s the 5% of bicycle riders that appear to be aware of the hazards and do go into single file to allow vehicles to pass safely. That may be a generalisation, but ostensibly it’s true. I’m glad that you recognise the issues and ride accordingly, I just wish that others would also. The other day I read an article showing where bicycle riders were most likely to be involved in an accident and it made me ponder that if cars and bicycles find it so difficult to manage being on the road at the same time, perhaps one or the other may need to be taken off the road. Accidents between bicycle riders and motorists are always labelled the motorist’s fault, but when there are two cars involved in an accident, the law generally considers both at fault to some degree. Something to ponder.

      Reply

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