Velocio wind vest
When I started riding a road bike seven years ago, I bought the bare minimum of gear and headed off for my weekly ride. I soon caught the bug, and started to buy more gear, but it took me a few years to settle on the items that I couldn’t really live without. So I thought it would be helpful to share my road bike riding essentials with other women to shortcut the process for others.
The main thing I would stress is that there’s no substitute for a quality product and although the initial investment might seem a bit much, quality items last longer and are so much nicer to use and look at, so don’t be tempted to buy the cheapest gear you find.
Here’s five items that I would strongly recommend all female road cyclists should invest in:
I wear base layers in both summer and winter. In winter my thermal base layers keep me warm and stop that cold wind from cutting through. In summer they help regulate body temperature because the base layer wicks sweat away from my skin, keeping me dry. In hotter weather I have sleeveless base layers but on cooler days I wear short-sleeve base layers which meet up with my arm warmers providing a barrier against the cold. There are plenty of companies that make women’s base layers which are the right shape for women and this is important because they are designed to be very fitted. The brands in my draw include Odlo, Craft and Giordana.
Every year I compile a Christmas gift list of things I like, and that I think other female road cyclists will like as well. So here’s the 2014 edition.
These fine bone china mugs from England are not cheap but they are a cut above you typical coffee mug. I’ve already placed my order and will enjoy a lovely cup of tea from mine when they arrive.
I already have one of these gold road bike pendants and always get comments about how nice it is and how appropriate it is for me to wear it. Once again it’s not cheap but it’s a quality item.
Here’s the third and final guest blog post from super tourer Terra Ash. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series. I now I feel inspired to try touring after reading them. Over to Terra……….
You’ve decided to go on your first bike tour, but it’s likely you’ve never had to pack for a trip quite like this before. Longer tours and bagging require more gear and more specialised gear, while shorter tours are a little bit easier to wing.
If you have a tendency to pack too many clothes, it’s a good time to break that habit. Even if you’re having your clothing transported for you on your tour you still don’t want to pack and unpack huge bags every day. For a week long bike tour I will typically bring the following for clothing:
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.