Written by Sarah Matarazzo
Cycling is becoming ever-more popular, with women all over the globe taking to two wheels and the freedom of the road.
Cycling can be liberating, rewarding and hugely beneficial for the body and mind. It does however have its perils – discomfort and pain often setting in during the longer more arduous rides.
Having cycled through many terrains and conditions, I’ve spent many an hour grumbling to my other half about my cycling ailments and subsequently spent even more hours researching solutions to my cycling complaints.
Here I list my top tips for female cyclists on how to get the most out of your bike and cycling experience.
Let’s deal with the most important piece of equipment first – the saddle.
A significant talking point between all female cyclists is the saddle. One of the most important aspects of your bike that females simply must get right to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable ride. If you’ve tried riding in a mens saddle you’ll quickly have noticed that they are designed differently. Saddle sore is real – and painful. And totally avoidable if you opt for a well-designed female saddle.
My absolute favourite saddle is the Specialized Mimic saddle.
The new power saddle with MIMIC technology makes numbness and pain disappear with a design that mimics the body’s response to different types of pressure to create equilibrium with soft tissue.
This saddle has been a game-changer for me and I no longer finish a ride feeling numb or walking like a cowboy.
A good pair of Cycle shorts
Never to be underestimated.
Firstly, I’m personally not a fan of bibs. I tend to use my bib leggings during winter months only when I cycle short distances.
I find bibs to be uncomfortable and hugely impractical when I can’t hold out any longer and hurriedly need to find a toilet stop.
However I rode for years in bibs based on the fact I couldn’t find a cycle short that would stay on my waist for a long ride. Until I found Endura. They simply do not move. 100 miles later, they’re exactly where I left them.
It is worth investing those extra few pounds in finding a good pair of padded cycling shorts. Never wear underwear in any circumstances – this will only add to discomfort and will not allow the chamois (the pad on the inside) to protect your skin.
Endura Womens Xtract Lite Short – perfect for the warmer temperatures in spring and summer.
There’s only one bike position for you
Ladies, we have hips. Unlike men, we carry our gravity in our lower back and so our optimal cycle position will be different to that of our male counterparts. A good bike fitter will assess the range of movement you have, your pelvic rotation and reach.
If you’re struggling with knee, back or neck ache then a bike fit could be just the solution. Organising a professional bike fitting gives you peace of mind that you’re properly connected to your bike and reduces potential discomfort.
It doesn’t matter how great your shoes are if you don’t accomplish anything in them
If you’re riding in trainers then I salute you. After years of riding in trainers (and admittedly being pretty damn good) along with a rather expensive Bianchi bike and various trendy jerseys, I decided it was time to move to clipless. Trainers allow your foot to flex too much whilst riding, slip off the pedal and can cause problems from your legs to your hips.
Tired of the disapproving stares from other road cyclists and admittedly feeling a little self conscious, I wanted to up my game so my pedals could reflect my performance.
Then came my inevitable “rite of passage” fall – with an upcoming wedding I decided to revert back to trainers. At this point, I found Bythlon pedals and cleats and never looked back. Solution found.
My favourite cycling shoes have to be Giro Cadet Road Cycling Shoes.
The Cadet shoe combines a supple, breathable Synchwire upper with a stout fibre reinforced plate for pedalling efficiency, plus a supportive footbed for optimal comfort and fit. Simply twist the dial to tighten the laces and press to release.
Don’t get caught out – all tyres can get a flat
Let’s face it – there’s a significant chance of getting a flat at some point. I’ve been super proud of my beloved Bianchi as in three years – not one flat. However, I’m also sensible enough to know that I’m not immune and so urge any of my fellow female cyclists to at least learn how to change a tyre, should the time come.
Your local bike shop should be able to talk you through how to change a tyre and will certainly be able to provide you with the basic equipment. I’d recommend purchasing a spare tube, tyre levers and a gas-canister inflation device.
I have far too much storage – said no one ever
So you’ve learnt how to repair a flat tyre, awesome! You have the basic tools required should the event occur – but you need to carry these items.
This is where a seat pack comes in handy and is one of my “must-have” bike accessories. I manage to keep my basic tyre tools along with tissues, emergency £20 and house key safely stored on my bike.
I opted for the Topeak Aero Wedge saddlebag and although I occasionally get frustrated having to zip and unzip, it has been great storage for my cycles across Europe. As it’s neatly tucked away under my saddle I don’t even know it’s there. Much better than having bulging jersey back pockets.
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