With lots of you lovely ladies getting into cycling for the first time, I thought now would be the perfect time to share a few things that I wish I’d known from the start…
- Wear suitable kit
There’s so much to learn about kit and layering in cycling. It’s amazing how much you need for a start! At first, I tried to make do with my running kit but quickly learnt there’s no substitute for properly fitting, non-flappy kit in cycling! My essentials are good padded shorts, a base layer, arm warmers, a gilet and obviously a helmet. Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learnt over these past few years is the importance of investing in good quality pair of shorts which have women’s-specific chamois (padding). Liv have put together a guide on choosing the right shorts for you here. My personal favourite are Liv’s professional, high-quality range called Race Day which are reasonably priced. Of course, don’t forget to go into a shop if possible and try on helmets and make sure you have one that fits correctly!
- Choose the right saddle
When I started riding I really struggled with the discomfort of being in a saddle even for just an hour! I assumed the larger and more padded the saddle, the more comfortable it would be. WRONG! I think I probably tried about 5 or 6 different ones until I found the right one for me. Since using the Liv Contact SLR Forward https://www.liv-cycling.com/gb/contact-slr-forward-saddle-liv-2019 I’ve never looked back! It is possible to be comfortable on a bike, it’s just about taking the time to find the right saddle for you.
- Get a bike that fits and get a bike fit
It took me 3 time trial (racing) bikes to realise how different the geometry on a man’s bike is to that of a women’s. I have quite a short body so the top tube was always too long and I couldn’t get as low as I wanted to. It was only after getting my Liv Avow that I finally felt like I was in control of a bike rather than the bike controlling me. Thanks to a ladies’ specific bike and a good bike fit, I’m far more aerodynamic and able to produce more power than ever before. But if you are new to cycling, it’s not just about making performance gains. A bike that fits you with a good set up will make you more comfortable and less susceptible to strain or injury so that you can ride for longer. Many of Liv’s stores offer a bike fitting service, so get in touch with your local retailer for more information.
- Stay hydrated and fuelled
DO NOT. I repeat. DO NOT wait until you are hungry or thirsty before you refuel/rehydrate on the bike! Even a steady ride can burn hundreds of calories so you must keep hydrated and take on some carbs (this can be a drink) every 30-45mins. My go-to drink is Go Electrolyte (Blackcurrant flavour) by Science in Sport. Unlike running where you can walk if you run out of fuel, cycling can take you miles from home and walking in cleats is not a whole bunch of fun… Who cares if your pockets are full and you bring stuff back! It’s better to take more than you need! Always stick some money in your back pocket too because you never know when you might need an emergency fuel stop!
- The meaning of N+1
Cycling is addictive and it will quickly have you hooked. In the cycling world, the N+1 rule refers to the number of bikes that a person should own. The definition according to velominati.com: “While the minimum number of bikes one should own is 3, the correct number is N+1, where N is the number of bikes currently owned.” You always need 1 more.
How many of you own just one handbag or one pair of shoes? Exactly! You have different ones for different purposes. It’s the same with bikes... A road bike, an off-road bike, a summer bike, a winter bike, a racing bike. They are all suited to different rides and different adventures so it’s hard to stick to just one. Now I love all of my bikes and like picking a favourite family member, it’s impossible to pick a favourite but probably the most versatile and fun bike I own is Bobby the BRAVA – perfect for all terrain and great for when my daughter Lillie joins me on a ride. I wrote a blog about this because seemingly the N+1 rule always applies ;-) http://www.duathlongirl.co.uk/2018/02/27/n1-my-kind-of-maths/
I hope you’ve found that useful. Remember everyone has to start somewhere! I know roads can be a daunting place so why not try a park or trail if you can and go with someone more experienced who can help you get started.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! Happy Pedalling - you’ll be so glad you started!