When I first started riding about five and a half years ago I understood the need for lycra clothing, but I set out to buy the cheapest I could find, and at the time I thought this was okay. The result was that I look pretty ordinary and worse still my new lycra clothing didn’t fit properly, plus it certainly didn’t last the regular washing it required.
I soon learned that I needed to spend a bit more and be more discerning about the lycra clothing I chose to wear.
Fast forward to now and I’m very conscious about how I look in my riding kit, how it fits and how it washes.
So it’s been a pleasure to try out some of the items from the new Velocio range of women’s cycling kit. I purchased (albeit at a discount because I’m writing this review) the ‘Paint’ short sleeve jersey, signature bib knicks and light long sleeve jersey.
The range is the brainchild of Australian Kristy Scrymgeour who among other things is the owner/manager of women’s pro cycling team Specialized-lululemon. Kristy told me about her new venture when we met up in January when she was home in Sydney for her summer break.
Specialized women’s three quarter knicks
I’m lucky enough to live in a place with a temperate climate which means I can ride my bike outdoors all year round. But even in the mild Autumn and Spring mornings I wear a number of warmer clothing items to keep me comfortable on the bike.
The most important thing I’ve learnt about riding in cooler weather is you need to wear layers, so you can peel them off (and on) as required. It’s really awful to go riding and feel cold but it’s equally bad to get overheated on the bike.
So when the weather starts to cool you need to think about the following items of apparel:
Three quarter length knicks – I own several sets of three quarter length knicks, all of them are bib knicks but you can also buy regular knicks in three quarter length. The bib knick variety are a little hard to track down, so look out for Rapha and Specialized which are two brands in my cycling wardrobe.
My saddle choice – Specialized Oura
For me it’s a no brainer that women need different bike saddles than men. Nowhere on the body is it more evident that women have different needs to men, than in the area of the body that makes contact with the bike seat, known as the saddle.
The saddle is the key contact area of the bike. It takes most of your weight and therefore it is crucially important to having a comfortable seat.
If you buy a women’s specific bike then chances are it will already be fitted with a women’s specific saddle but it’s not necessarily the right one for you. My recommendation when you buy a new bike is to try the supplied saddle first, but be prepared to change it if it proves to be uncomfortable.
In my experience, everyone will feel a degree of discomfort when they first start riding a road bike because it’s a new activity and your whole body needs to adapt. However, if after a month or so you are still uncomfortable then you should seek help.
Of course, as a dedicated cyclist your New Year’s resolutions should all be about cycling, so here’s my suggestions when you’re setting yourself some goals for 2014:
Don’t attempt to go from riding zero kilometres per week to riding hundreds because it just won’t happen. Make it realistic and just increase your cycling incrementally. You’re only setting yourself up for failure if you aim too high too quickly.
Make them measurable
Don’t come up with a general statement like ”I’m going to ride my bike more than last year”, instead make it measurable like “I’m going to increase my number of ride days from two to three by 31 March and then by three to four by 30 June” or something similar.
Tiffany wins the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2013.
Pro female cyclist Tiffany Cromwell has always loved sport. Despite her short stature (166 cm) she was a keen basketballer before she was identified as a potential cyclist in a school talent search program in her home state of South Australia. Interestingly fellow pro cyclist Nettie Edmondson attended the same school and was picked up in the same program.
The transition from baggy shorts to lycra was not a difficult one and Tiffany began her career as a professional when she joined (as a guest rider) the Colavita-Sutter team in 2007 at the tender age of 18 and headed to Europe. She’s since ridden for the Lotto, Hitec, Orica-AIS and has just signed a contract with Specialized-lululemon for 2014.
After two years with the Australian Orica-AIS team Tiffany says she’s ready for a change and in fact thrives on change. It takes her out of her comfort zone and helps her to raise the bar. She says that she wouldn’t have made the team switch for just any team, she’s very excited about joining the high profile Specialized-lululemon team which has had consistently good results since it was formed two years ago. Her debut race with the team will be the Tour of Qatar in early February, followed by the defence of her title in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium in late February.
When you live in a country like Australia it is pretty difficult to avoid heat and sun exposure while you’re riding your road bike. The summer sun can be pretty fierce so here’s my tips for handling it.
Ride early and late
I do most of my riding early in the morning. There are a number of reasons for riding early but one of them is definitely sun exposure and heat. You’ll also avoid traffic if you ride early in the day. But if you can’t ride early in the morning then try a twilight ride to avoid the sun.
Make sure you carry at least one full waterbottle on your bike, if not two. You can buy insulated bottles like the ones I use from Camelbak. I fill them up with fridge-cooled water before I go out and the water stays cool for hours. If you’re going on a long ride (more than say 60 km) then you should consider a sports drink in a second bottle. This helps with hydration but also energy. There are always places to stop and refill bottles, particularly on organised rides.
Professional rider Amanda Spratt
Obviously the most important thing to get into road cycling is a bike but there’s also a few other items that will enhance the experience for any budding roadie, both women and men.
A road bike
You can spend any where from about $800 to $20,000 on a road bike, even cheaper if you opt for a second hand or low quality one. However, like all manufactured items in our modern world, you do tend to get what you pay for, so stretch your budget just a little and you’ll enjoy the riding experience much more. I suggest you consider spending at least $1,500 (that’s Australian dollars) on your first road bike. For that you’ll get an alloy frame and entry level gearing like Shimano Sora and Tiagra or perhaps a mix of Shimano 105 and other options.
My first bike was a Jamis brand bike and cost me around $1,500. It served me well for about two and a half years before I decided to upgrade to a carbon bike. I’ve still got that bike and occasionally ride it out on the road, or more often on my indoor trainer.
I would recommend that you consider a women’s specific road bike. I’ve written a couple of posts on this subject previously that might help.
I wrote about the subject of dressing for riding in cooler weather in April last year and while this post is not dissimilar, I’ve changed a few items and habits in my cycling wardrobe and I’m happy to share my updated preferences.
Firstly, I need to stress that I live in Sydney, Australia and we enjoy a temperate climate which affords me warm summers, and cool (not really cold) winters. I know many of you live in climates where you frequently experience sub-zero temperatures which thankfully I’ve never experienced on my bike so I won’t be covering that subject 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 be colour coordinated. In my first cycling winter I just threw on whatever seemed warm and I must have looked a mess. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you need to lose all sense of style!
When you live in a country like Australia it is pretty difficult to avoid sun exposure while you’re riding your road bike. The summer sun can be pretty fierce so here’s my tips for handling it.
Ride early and late
I do most of my riding early in the morning. There are a number of reasons for riding early but one of them is definitely sun exposure and heat. You’ll also avoid traffic if you ride early in the day. But if you can’t ride early in the morning then try a twilight ride to avoid sun exposure.
S-Works Amira SL4 Compact
Last Friday I headed to Melbourne to visit the Ausbike Expo which is the annual bike industry trade show which this year featured hundreds of new products and services for the Australian bike industry.
I spent all day working my way from stand to stand asking the eager participants if they had any products specifically designed for female cyclists or products they believed would appeal to women. Quite a few people steered me towards anything pink but I quickly explained that while pink is popular with some women cyclists it doesn’t appeal to me and I know many of my readers agree.
So here’s a few highlights of the show: