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Editorial: The Value of Spand-me-downs

My teammate Emily was recently lamenting that none of the stuff left over from our recent kit order fit her. I immediately tried to comfort her by suggesting that she post something to the list asking to buy peoples’ old spandex in her size. This with met with a look of utter horror from Emily and gasps of disgust from everyone in earshot.

“I would never wear used spandex,” she said, appalled. Everyone else nodded and added such comparisons as, “it’s like wearing someone else’s underwear,” (uh, I’m guilty of that one too…but only if I know the person) and, “that’s how my friend got a staff infection,” (hey, I know that person and that is NOT how they got that infection!).

I was surprised to hear how many people were opposed to the sharing, trading, buying, and selling of used cycling apparel. Being that this is a website about bicycling and economics (and reviews of bad movies and television shows) I decided it was an apt platform to discuss the cost and health risks involved in new and used lycra.

I think I could possibly be the broke-est amateur competitive cyclist in Portland. This is common knowledge, and after joining a team I soon became their charity case, a role that I embraced wholeheartedly. Suddenly I was plied with torn skinsuits and decomposing shoe covers, my teammates’ spand-me-downs. So what if my crotch was now touching a chamois that my friend’s crotch used to touch? It has been through the laundry and IT WAS FREE! Here’s a chart that better illustrates my point:

Company  Item     Price  Total Savings

Rapha Team Issue Bib Shorts $200.00 0%
Pearl Izumi Slice Ultrasensor Bib Shorts $119.00 40%
Nashbar Stealth Bib Shorts $79.00 60%
Voler Veloshop Team Bib Shorts that I bought off my teammate (he washed them) $20.00 90%
Verge Veloshop Team Bib Shorts that Erin gave me $0 +$2 for cleaning 99%!

(Source: the internet)

Between this money saving tactic and all the free oatmeal I’ve been getting, bike racing is practically paying for itself!

“But what about the germs?!” naysayers still ask.

When I mentioned writing about this topic to my friend Israel, he frowned and said, “Used spandex? That’s like playing Russian Roulette with your genitals!…Hey you know that could apply to a lot of other scenarios…like when you shoot a gun loaded with only one bullet at your crotch.”

Ummm…sort of…but not really.

So, Israel and assembled anti-spand-me-down-ers (with emphasis on  downer), valid point, but the microbial lifespan of most germs (be it bacteria or virus) is very brief (except for anthrax and smallpox…so just don’t buy shorts from your friends who’ve had those). Many forms of harmful bacteria can be killed with just soap and water.

So just wash your new/old shorts and chill out! And when you’re sick of them, patch them with pieces of your other old lyrca and pass them on to your broke friends.