Despite the growing population of female cyclists, I’ve often noticed that cycling is still very much a male-dominated sport. While there are many female cyclists, statistics, and facts show that sports events are usually about 98% male as outlined by a survey by Cyclist Weekly in 2007.
So why don’t most women cycle? I think that it started out with the expense of the bikes, the male domination of the sport, and probably the fact that it can be easier to go for a run. But cycling is fun, and healthy and can give you a feeling like no other with the wind whipping through your hair (or around your helmet) and the ground speeding by at a breakneck pace. Cycling is incredibly fun, and competitive and can be the healthiest hobby or sport that you can participate in.
Know Your Bike
Knowing your bike is possibly the most important part of cycling. If you don’t know how your bike works, what it can do, and what the parts are called, then you might find yourself simply pushing pedals and moving forward so that you don’t fall over instead of actually cycling. What’s the difference between that and riding? When you ride your bike, you know how each part of it works and use it to its best advantage. I’ve also noticed that about half of the time when a woman has trouble with cycling, it’s because she doesn’t know her gears.
- Pedals – There are three types of pedals you can have on a cycling bike, platforms, toe clips, and clipless pedals. My personal favorite is clipless pedals because they allow you to maximize your downward stroke without sacrificing your hold on the pedal. However; these require cycling shoes with cleats on the bottom. Toe clips also allow you to pull up and pull down just like clipless pedals but have to be quite snug and therefore, can slow you down. Simple platform pedals are the most common for beginners but don’t allow you to pull up with your feet.
- Gears – Depending on your bike, you will either have two or three chain rings attached to a different set of gears. As a general rule, large gears located near your pedal are most appropriate for making large shifts and transferring more power to the bike (I.E. for going uphill). Smaller gears can be used to shift the pace, to go faster, and to make pedaling easier. I’ve noticed that most cheap bikes tend to have two gears so if you’ve recently purchased a bike with a third chain, you should take the time to adjust to it and learn what it can do.
Ride Your Bike Properly
Riding your bike properly is incredibly important. A few beginner mistakes that I usually notice include leaning with the bike during turns, not shifting weight while going downhill, not applying breaks evenly, and not driving defensively.
When you make a turn, you should push your bike to the side to turn it without adjusting your weight. Keep your body straight in order to balance the bike and avoid a potential fall. While going downhill, it is important to shift your weight towards the back of the bike in order to stabilize the bike and give the back tire traction. You should also remember to apply your breaks evenly and slowly in order to avoid being catapulted over the bars, this is especially significant if you’re more used to bikes with pedal brakes.
Finally, it is important to drive defensively. Learn what your bike can do before taking it out on the road and always remember to be on the lookout for potential hazards to you or your bike.
Wear Appropriate Gear
No matter what type of bike you are riding, you need to be dressed appropriately. Women’s cycling shoes such as road shoes and mountain shoes should always be worn in order to give you more power and to protect your feet!