You should know that it’s really about learning something new.
Cycling is one of those sports whose outward appearance may be misleading, but here’s a secret — cycling is a lifetime sport and it’s for everyone. Women engage in sports differently than men do; women also have a different style of learning, which makes this historically male-dominated sport discouraging from the start. Plus, if the only visibility road cycling has where you are is of riders dressed in Lycra like it was a second skin, mounted atop bikes that cost more than cars, and violating traffic laws with reckless abandon, it might be helpful to know that cyclists come in all types, even yours.
When it comes to cycling, women tend to get into the sport if they grew up in a household of cyclists, or by associating with women who ride. The best place to find other women who ride is in a cycling club specifically for women. A quick search for “women’s cycling clubs UK” will turn up top ranked results for women-specific clubs. Your search will yield more results if you simply look for “cycling clubs UK” (which will for sure — unless otherwise specified — have women members). If a women’s cycling club is less important, you can search for a club via British Cycling’s website. Riding with a club that’s right for you builds community, camaraderie, and — most of the time — lifelong friendships.
However, if you are self-motivated to ride solo, get to know the rules of the road, and seek out cycling routes that are frequented by other cyclists, who tend to choose quiet roads with pretty scenery (and the occasional coffee shop).
If you’re riding a road bike for the first time, you might find an empty car park to do a few practice loops to familiarise yourself with you bike. Ride in a circle in both a clockwise and a counter clockwise direction to practice changing gears, braking, and looking over your shoulder from time to time.
What do you need to start road cycling
At the very least, there are at least two basic minimum requirements to start road cycling:
Road or hybrid bike, Not just any bike but one that’s your size and preferably one that’s been tuned up to run smoothly. Riding a bike that’s too big or too small can have a dramatic impact on how your bike performs, which can have an impact on your ride experience so find a bike (or get some help finding a bike) that’s well suited to you. If you already have a bike that fits well, have an experienced mechanic look over your bike because someone who’s experienced will know what to look for and how to treat common issues that can keep your bike from rolling smoothly.
Women-specific bikes and components, women have a different weight distribution than men and so a bike that’s been designed specifically to optimise women’s sitting position on the bike will result in a more comfortable ride and a better ride experience. Narrower handlebars plus reduced space between the handles and brake levers will not only grant you greater control, but will also increase your comfort, which should always be a primary objective when searching for a bike.
Helmet, choose a helmet that properly fits your head: one that’s not too tight or too loose, which has adjustable straps to secure the helmet snugly underneath your chin. All cycling helmets must pass minimum safety requirements, beyond those aesthetics mark one of the only main differences between men’s and women’s road cycling helmets.
But the following items are highly recommended if you want to be comfortable when you ride.
Cycling shorts, Good fitting shorts may not only decide how far or how fast you’ll ride, but shorts designed for women may determine how much you enjoy your ride. Flat-stitched seams, silicone dots to hold the shorts in place, reflective accents, and a padded insert contoured to the female form all help put fun ahead of fatigue.
Cycling jersey, Developments in fabric technology have produced cycling jerseys that are state-of-the-art when it comes to clothing performance. Comfortable and breathable, a cycling jersey is designed to move with you on the bike, as well as carry ride essentials like snacks, a spare tube, pump, an extra layer of clothing, and perhaps keys and mobile phone.
Cycling shoes, As one of the three points of contact between you and your bike, prioritise comfort for your feet with a pair of cycling shoes. Unlike trainers, which absorb all the force meant to propel you forward, women’s road cycling shoes position your foot over the pedal to optimise comfort while helping to transfer you pedalling power to your forward momentum.
Cycling gloves, Padded gloves help lessen the pressure on your palms. Foam padding is usually enough for most cyclists, however for those with sensitive hands or who tend to favour long rides, gel gloves are not only an affordable luxury, but also a must-have.
Fans of road cycling like to tell you about how elegant it is, how much history it has, and how brutally challenging it is. While all of these may be true, starting road cycling is as much about a commitment to health and wellbeing as it is about the hype. Women who start road cycling possess a greater influential power than all the racing, television coverage, and idol worshiping combined because what’s more powerful than seeing? It’s doing and then sharing road cycling with friends and family, including passing on your new skill to the next generation in your household.