I haven’t been on a bike since I was 18, fast forward 20 years to our decision to do a Triathlon and this had to change.
I got a shiny new bike for Christmas (it was actually second hand but still shiny), my husband bought it for me (basically I think so he had an excuse to buy the ugly big black speakers he wanted without feeling guilty) but also because he is a brilliant husband who is very supportive of my Triathlon journey etc etc (love you darling, thanks for my bike).
I patted my lovely new bike on Christmas day and then put it in the garage and promptly forgot about it. I was nagged into getting it out a few weeks later and I cycled up and down our road being chased by a 4 year old on a scooter, flapping my hands a bit trying to understand the gears and terrified because the wheels are SO THIN, how do they hold you up? Also the saddle is SO SMALL and NOT PADDED. After just 20 minutes I was a bit bruised and cold and put my bike back in the garage, patted it again and went indoors with good resolutions to do something about all of these things.
By the end of February I realised this was ridiculous, invested in some gel shorts (as recommended by my cycling Sis in Law http://www.wiggle.co.uk/altura-progel-liner-under-shorts/) and some gloves and got out there.
It was ace! You go so fast, who knew it was so fun (other than all the cyclists already obsessively doing it obviously). It even rained and I didn’t really care. I’ve been out a few times now and these are things I am learning or want to work out more about:
1 – There is a reason there are so many gel infused trousers/shorts for ladies – definitely invest in some, it might not hurt at the time but unless you are very lucky and have a rubber downstairs it will hurt eventually or afterwards, sometimes even days later (I made the mistake of doing a spin class recently in normal gym leggings and have been in mild discomfort for about a week now).
2 – Wear gloves and thick socks – especially if you are prone to feeling the cold (hello, all women in the world). There are all sorts of special gloves and over shoe covers out there if you are so inclined. My running gloves seem to be doing the trick so far. Possibly won’t hold up for long distance.
3 – Strava or Garmin or other fancy satellite tracking/speed recording type gadget yourself up – work out a route before you go and check it occasionally while you are out to keep tabs on yourself. If you want to get fitter or faster you have to make yourself work harder and measuring progress is a scientifically proven thing that motivates most people (definitely me) plus then you can post smug route summaries on FB or Instagram about how fast and clever you are.
4 – You don’t have to “serious cycle kit” if you don’t want to but you do need sweat wicking, wind resistant minimally flappy stuff. I think if you want to go really fast, you do need some proper kit though. There is a serious dearth of kit out there catering for normal sized women, i.e. ones with shoulders or boobs but I am hunting some down, will keep you posted.
5 – Pick a hilly route – so fun! Up is hard, down is awesome but basically you are doing interval training and actually going somewhere at the same time
6 – Cleaty shoe/peddle things. My bike has them, I own the shoes. That’s all I can say right now, not yet tested. By all accounts, it will “revolutionise my cycling experience” and make riding easier etc etc. I’m just not there yet, I still can’t believe the tiny tyres are going to hold me up let alone to trust being locked into my peddles as well. It’s on my list of things to work on.
There is so much more to learn and research, but in summary Cycling is not rubbish and I think I quite like it.