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Monthly Archives: April 2012
I’ve been asked this question by quite a few of the men who I ride with. They, like me, love cycling so much that they want to share its many benefits with those closest to them. So here’s a few tips that might help. Please excuse the stereotyping and generalising.
Be patient and understanding
Women generally approach activities like cycling differently than men. It starts early in life and patterns are set. If you cast your mind back to your childhood you’ll recall that if you were a boy and rode a bike then you probably did some daredevil stuff like riding off jumps or at the least rode around for hours on end with your mates. Girls on the other hand tend to amble along, not ride as far, generally don’t take risks and stop for a chat. Sound familiar?
So when adult women start riding a bike again they generally don’t have too many fundamental bike skills other than being able to balance. That was certainly the case with me. As I said, I’m making some generalisations here.
So if you’re a man trying to encourage your female partner to ride a bike then you need to be patient and understand that she’s probably not very confident or even competent on the bike. Don’t expect her to want to jump on a road bike, and hit the closest road for a 50 km sprint around the neighbourhood. Let her dictate the pace at which she progresses. For example, if she’s not keen on clip-in shoes to begin with then encourage her, but don’t push her into it. Perhaps it’s better to start with flat pedals and running shoes and progress to clip-ins. But keep that pedal spanner on hand if she changes her mind though.
I’m very lucky that I live in a place with a temperate climate which affords me warm summers and cool (not really cold) winters. In researching for this blog post I read about dressing for sub-zero temperatures which thankfully I’ve never experienced on my bike so I won’t be covering that here.
I thought it would be useful to share with you how I cope with my cool winters and the autumn and spring temperatures in between.
Firstly, it’s important to still look good and colour coordinated. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you need to lose all sense of style.
The secret rests with layers. Things you can take off and store in your pockets if you get too hot. The easiest way to test if you’ve got too much on, is if you’re already warm before you start your ride, you’ll be hot within a short period of time. You should be cool rather than cold before you start so you’ll be just right when you’re in the middle of your ride. Also, don’t forget to factor in the outdoor café at the end of the ride.
Now I have to confess up front that I don’t commute to work so I’m not an expert on the subject but I know many other cyclists, both men and women who do and I thought it would be valuable to put a few tips together.
However I do think that commuting to work by bike is an option that many women should consider. Women tend to approach cycling differently to men (please excuse the stereotyping) and that includes bike commuting. A lot of men treat commuting like a race and constantly attempt to outdo their previous times and those of other riders. On the other hand women tend to treat it more like a practical way to get to work and are more focused on safety than speed. So naturally women have a few ‘special’ requirements.
To me it’s all in the planning. Here’s a few tips I’ve compiled to get you started.
A little known fact about me is that I have three university degrees (and am currently undertaking my fourth). One of them is a MA in history which I completed many years ago at Sydney Uni just for fun. History, and in particular social history has always fascinated me. I came across a wonderful description of women who took up cycling in the Victorian era and the challenges that their attire brought.
“What shall we wear?” is a query rising from every channel of woman’s life: for upon each occasion we must be suitably clad to enjoy its peculiar benefits. This is especially noticeable for such exercise as bicycling, for, in this case, it is not only a matter of appearing well, but the health, the comfort and safety demand a carefully selected costume and equipment. From The Ladies Standard Magazine, April 1894
Also from the same magazine came a letter from a reader that described in detail the problems women faced when riding a bicycle in restrictive clothing. If I was compelled to go back to wearing a skirt on my wheel, I would give up cycling…. I shall never forget what I suffered with my arm, all the fault of my skirt. Some friends and I were riding one day last summer against a very heavy wind, when it caught my skirt and wound it around my pedal, throwing me. The rapid gait I was going caused the force of the fall to break my arm. It laid me up six weeks; then it was I decided to wear almost any other costume, but never a skirt, and declared if ever I recovered the use of my arm, I should wear bloomers; and truly glad I am that I did so decide, for never in the years of my experience as a bicycle rider have I derived such pleasure from cycling. I climb hills impossible before. It has increased my speed just double. I fear nothing from teams or roads, for if I slip I light on my feet. With my bloomers and heavy undergarments, leggins to my knees, a corset waist, and in cool weather a double-breasted box coat, which amply protects me from chilling, I enjoy my riding.