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Gear Prudence: There’s this guy in my office who bikes to work. He seems decent enough and he recently asked me out. The thing is that I’ve seen him in his bike shorts and, not to be too crass or shallow about it, I was pretty underwhelmed with the whole situation going on down there. Yeah, I looked. Not to put the cart before the horse, but I can’t help but wonder if I’d be more inclined to date him if I wasn’t so aware of his, um, shortcomings. Isn’t this something that men should think about when deciding how to dress for biking? —Peeked And Can’t Knowingly Accept Guy’s Endowment

Dear PACKAGE: They say that romance is dead. And they’re absolutely right because this is maybe the most honest and to-the-point question that GP has ever seen about a potential romantic liaison with someone of the cyclist persuasion. Surely Mr. Decent Enough truly regrets his sartorial decision now that it has rendered him ineligible for your affection. He was probably just thinking about donning attire that was comfortable and appropriate for his chosen activity and failed to realize that in so doing he’d be revealing a little more than the fact that he gets to work in a healthy, sustainable way. This is why GP always suggests that in addition to helmets, the safest cyclists wear codpieces. 

Whether men take their relative exposure into account when choosing their bicycling outfit probably depends upon the man and his own comfort with his body. But bicycling, like other activities, has its own kind of uniform, and that uniform sometimes includes really tight shorts. That’s just part of the deal… And frankly, it would be real disservice to let vanity or concerns about “the whole situation going on down there” keep someone from the many benefits of bicycling. 

There are certainly alternatives to tight lycra for bike commuting. There are padded “baggy” bike shorts, and a lot of guys choose to wear cargo or mesh shorts in lieu of spending money on bike-specific gear. These options would have preserved some of the mystery you feel you’ve been disabused of and perhaps have given him a better chance at getting to thoroughly disappoint you later in your relationship, rather than preempting it entirely. 

GP isn’t going to tell you how to manage your love life. But maybe you’ve been short-sighted in more ways than one. Cycling is an aerobic activity that builds stamina and endurance. Additionally, it helps develop strong muscles throughout the core and legs. It’s unclear if you noticed these features in your quick perusal of your would-be suitor, but they might be worth considering. —GP 

Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets @sharrowsDC.  Got a question about cycling? Email gearprudence@washcp.com.