Monthly Archives: August 2011

GreenEdge women’s team finally gets a mention

It’s great to see the GreenEdge Women’s team getting a mention in cycling news. Thanks to professional cyclist Bridie O’Donnell for bringing it to our attention via Twitter @Bridie_OD.

In short the article reaffirms GreenEdge’s commitment to the women’s team. Read the full article on cyclingnews.com.

It would be great to see more of this type of news coming through the mainstream.

A guide to getting started in road cycling for women (and men)

So you’ve made the big decision that you want to take up road cycling. You can read about my own personal journey under the My Story tab. I’ll try not to repeat too much of it here.

The first and most important thing to remember is that it’s called a ROAD bike, that means you should ride it on the road (or perhaps a bitumen or concrete bike path) but pretty much nowhere else. You can of course ride for short distances on firm gravel surfaces, paved surfaces and even firm grass but never forget the golden rule – it’s not called a ROAD bike for nothing. It has very skinny tyres with very little grip. Just ask any novice rider about their experiences of off-road riding on a road bike and you’ll hear the same sad ‘bruising’ stories.

Before we get started, I’m assuming that you can already ride a bike and that you’ve decided you want to ride a road bike not a weekend cruiser.

So here are a few things to consider:

Assess your fitness level

The first step is to assess your own fitness level. If you’re already exercising regularly you’ll have no trouble completing a 30 km ride on your first attempt. If you don’t exercise very often then you might have to take it a bit slower.

Bike choice

Specialized Vita Sport flat bar road bike – not as good looking as ‘Speedy’ but definitely functional

See my previous post for a long explanation of women’s specific road bikes. You could also consider starting on something more affordable like a flat bar road bike (so called because it has flat handle bars rather than drop bars). A few of my bike riding buddies started on these types of bikes but now they’ve all switched to road bikes. If you’re lucky enough to be able to borrow someone else’s bike just to get going and it’s about the right size then go with that.

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Do I really need a women’s specific road bike?

Me on my Specialized Amira Expert completing Loop the Lake in early 2011

There appears to be a little bit of conjecture about this subject so I thought I’d do a bit of research and give you my own opinion about women specific bikes or WSD (women specific design) bikes as many of the manufacturers call them.

Firstly I should tell you that I ride a women’s specific bike – a six-month old Specialized Amira Expert road bike which I love. I call it ‘Speedy’ but it’s really a bit of a joke with myself because I’m not exactly a speedy rider (although my average speed continues to increase over time so maybe one day I’ll really deserve the name).

My first bike was a Jamis road bike which was also women’s specific although probably didn’t have as many ‘women’s specific’ modifications as my Specialized.

So you could conclude that I ‘believe’ in the WSD philosophy and that would be quite true. However not every woman probably needs a WSD bike. For some, if you don’t ride a great deal then a bike that’s roughly the right size is going to suffice. Also, if you’re tall or not a ‘typical’ women’s dimensions then it may also not be necessary. On average, women have shorter torsos, shorter arms, and longer legs than a man of the same height. Women’s hands and feet are smaller, and shoulders are narrower………. and – no surprises here – women’s hips are wider. The important thing to note here is that these differences refer to averages and of course we’re not all average. I’m shortish – 160 cm or 5 foot 3 inches, and I think for that reason a WSD is for me.

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The low profile of women’s professional cycling

I’m a little ashamed to admit that I’m a keen follower of the top echelons of professional cycling but my knowledge of the peleton is completely focused on men.

I know only a few names of the professional women like Rochelle Gilmore, Bridie O’Donnell, Tiffany Cromwell, Josephine Tomic, Anna Meares and that’s about it. However, I could recite for you a long list of Australian men who ride professionally in Europe and many of their key international rivals as well.

The main reason behind this deficit in my knowledge is the low profile that women’s professional cycling has in this country. The only time you hear about women’s cycling is during the annual World Championships or the Olympic Games which isn’t very often.

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