Compression Doping. It’s a Thing.
We have a running joke here at MFFHQ that compression is a gateway drug.
When I put on my first pair of Endurance Bibs, I chose the size I usually wore. They were tight. There was some pressure from the straps on my shoulders and I was sure they were too small. I peeked my head out of the bathroom and asked Jenn, our founder, for a Medium. “No,” she said, “Let me see.” At this early stage, we were fitting for a shoot, so my comfort wasn’t the main concern. Jenn went on, “Those look good. Any bigger and the fabric will wrinkle and it won’t look good on camera.”
So off I went, onto one of the harder days on my bike ever, and I thought, She’s crazy. If I get another pair I'll get a medium.
After that first day I relented a bit. OK, so they’re hard to get on, there’s a bit of pulling down on the shoulders, but once they’re on they feel good. This is where that gateway drug effect starts to take hold. At this point, all of my other bibs start to feel insanely loose. Like, how did I ever wear these before?
Here’s the thing about loose bibs: if they are easy to slip on in the morning, chances are your chamois is going to be moving around all willy nillly by 9 am. And a shifting chamois? That means chafing. Which means sores, which means discomfort… even with all the chamois cream in the world.
So now I’m a compression convert, and I start to become a little obsessed. I tell all my friends about how tight their shorts should be. I start looking closely at stranger's bib fit, and have to bite my tongue to not blurt out, "YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD REALLY WHERE A TIGHTER BIB I CAN SEE YOUR CHAMOIS WRINKLING FROM OVER HERE!!!" I start washing my MFF bibs nightly to get the most uses possible. Even for a short trip to the grocery store, non-compressive bibs are just not an option.
One morning Jenn was snapping a pic of Jillian and I in our matching twinsie Unrestricted jerseys on a Saturday group ride. She puts the camera down and looks at me funny. "Are those bibs too big on you?"
Too big? I think again, she’s crazy.
"No, look. You’re standing straight but there’s extra fabric around your hips." She was right, around the hips and thighs on either side there were creases of extra fabric. I could pull it away from my body by pinching the flaps.
Well, so what. These were the same bibs I thought were too small... they can't possibly be too big.
A few months goes by, and we get some new product in. Product testing is 100% the coolest part of my job. This is the first prototype for our New “Tall” Bibs, which feature a longer inseam. I’m super stoked and can’t wait to try mine, but I wait for the go ahead from Jenn.
Finally, it seems, she starts digging through the box of prototypes. “OK, Medium for me, and send these Smalls to Tracy.” I wonder if she sees my face fall. I go back to my laptop trying not to care that she just gave away my size.
Jenn must have noticed because she laughs and tosses me a pair, “And these for you!”
Yay! I do have the longest legs ever I mean the least Jenn could do is let me test the Tall bibs right!? Wrong. I look down at the bag trying not to be bummed. "But... these are an Extra Small! No way they'll fit."
“Just try them on.”
Fun fact: at MFFHQ we have some downstairs office space and a lofted area as well. This means we can have lots of impromptu fashion shows in the office without having to exit to the bathroom down the hall. Jenn goes upstairs and I hesitantly try on the bibs.
I start to pull them and they come to a screeching halt at my hips, as I expected they would. “Jenn these aren’t going above my hips. I’m definitely a small. They’re going to rip!”
“They’re not going to rip.”
“I don’t want to rip these if someone else can wear them.”
“JUST PULL THEM UP! They’re not going to rip!”
I pull. I pull while jumping up in the air. I kick one leg up and out, then the other. I pull while doing the Warrior Pose. I do squats. I jump some more.
Phew! They made it over my hips! Now the straps I think, warily. But it was a pointless, because the straps go up without issue. The bibs are on. Jenn is sitting upstairs looking like, told ya.
I look in the mirror. They look fantastic. No excess fabric, no bunching, no nothing.
Here’s the other thing… Compression feels good! It feels like a full body hug. And since these were the Tall Bibs, that feeling of support extended down more of my leg than before, so my legs feel like one strong powerful unit instead of a little bit flabby and out of control so they sometimes rub against the saddle. Now it’s like I’m stronger. What’s that word that’s used to describe jaguars? Sinuous? I’m like a sleek supple creature ready to chase down some prey.
All this from a pair of shorts? Yes. It’s the compression. It’s like putting on your superhero outfit. You suddenly feel different.
Before Machines, I had no idea what compression even was. I was vaguely aware that compression socks existed, but I never knew their purpose. I think runners wear them. I also was vaguely aware that those puffy recovery pant things have something to do with compression. But like, whatever, right?
It’s whatever until you try it.
I’m not guaranteeing that a new pair of bibs will shave minutes from your PRs, but it’s definitely enough to make you feel like you doubled in speed. Like you can chase down anyone whose making a show of passing you, just to flip your braid and peace out in a blur. And it’s how you feel that counts, after all. I'd rather feel like a jaguar than a housecat any day.