10 tips for Women on Wheels
Posted on October 23, 2012 @ 12:33 PM in
A measly one in ten women cycle more than once a month, according to Sustrans. However, with cycling more popular than ever, it’s great to see more girls getting into gear and ladies layering up on the roads, cycle paths, mountains and wherever else! Our ten helpful tips will show you how to get the most out of your trusty two-wheeled friend, what to wear and where to go.
Over the last few months, we’ve seen Sarah Storey win three Paralympic gold medals, Laura Trott win two Olympic golds and Victoria Pendleton bow out gracefully from her professional cycling career (and not so gracefully onto the dance floor of Strictly but that’s another story). Laura Trott took up cycling alongside her mother, who went on to lose 5 stone, which is inspiration in itself! It just goes to show that women are every bit as competitive and successful as men when it comes to cycling, and not just at road and track events – Shanaze Reade and Annie Last are flying the flag for BMX and mountain biking respectively.
Let’s face it, who doesn’t like a bit of shopping here and there? The ability to research, negotiate and grab a bargain can all come into play when you’re shopping for bikes and cycling equipment. If you’re a bit cautious about visiting a bike shop, going armed with a bit of background knowledge and lots of questions is a good approach. Also, there’s a wealth of accessories and clothing to choose from out there – heaven.
The list of cycling benefits is endless. You’ll get fresh air, exposure to sunlight and lots of exercise, resulting in a better mood, improved sleep and a more toned physique. As a guide, even a gentle cycle for an hour will burn around 500 calories and is much cheaper and easier than a visit to the gym!
Tired of sitting in traffic for a good portion of your morning? Why not cycle to work instead? It’s a great way to multitask and you’ll save money on petrol and parking too. Of course, it’s fine to hop in the car if the skies are looking a bit treacherous, but even a jaunt to work on your bike once a week will make a difference. No showers at work? The festival favourite of baby wipes is an easy solution to freshening up, as is a change of clothes kept in a locker/drawer. However, if you allow a little more time for a slower amble in for the morning, you won’t get too sweaty and you can then go faster on the way home.
If you’re new to cycling, a good way to keep up your motivation is to train for a local race, or if you’ve got a bit more experience, why not see how your hard work will pay off putting your skills to the test? Check out the CycleNi events page for future rides, or why not organise your own to raise money for charity?
If you’re buying a new bike, any good bike shop will help you ensure that the bike is a good fit for you. Even a small tweak here and there like altering your seatpost or handlebars might make a world of difference. Some other things to try are a different saddle (gel ones are good) for a comfortable ride, or try a pair of padded cycling shorts to be kind to your behind.
Not in a flowery, pastel fashion – bikes and accessories for women have come a long way since the ‘pink it and shrink it’ mentality of the last few decades. Bike companies are now producing stylish bikes with all the performance features of men’s bikes but with women-specific geometry. Likewise, cycle clothing designers are shying away from more feminine colour schemes and are producing some really nice looking items, especially Altura and Endura.
Not in terms of a trip to the hairdressers for some extra volume, the key to a good cycling expedition is a good layering system. It’s much easier to finely tune a variety of layers than a couple which make you too hot or cold. A baselayer goes first, followed by a midlayer and then an outer shell (jacket). Gloves are always handy (no pun intended) for extra warmth.
If you have children, it’s great to involve them in cycling too. For tinier offspring, childseats and trailers are fantastic options, or tag-alongs for slightly older children. Then there’s a wide range of children’s bikes which are guaranteed to keep them occupied for hours on end. Also, there’s nothing better than passing on the skill of cycling to someone, especially when it’s a member of your family.
The world is your oyster when it comes to cycling (motorways and ‘no cycling’ signs permitted!) and cycle apps are great for discovering cycle route options. There are plenty of traffic free paths in Northern Ireland to start cycling on to build up your confidence before you venture either out onto the road or onto more technical off road trails. A few recommendations are the Lagan and Lough Towpath and the Newry Canal Towpath, as well as the various purpose built family cycling trails at Castle Archdale, Gosford Forest Park, Castlewellan Forest Park, Castle Ward Demesne, Craigavon Lakes and Blessingbourne Estate.
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