A women’s guide to selecting the right bike

As a keen roadie I’m quite biased towards road bikes, but I’m also well aware as a person who sells bikes that a road bike is not every women’s perfect bike, so here’s my quick summary on a few options you could consider when buying your ideal bike. It’s by no means exhaustive.

Road bike

Amira Pro Race 2014I had to start with my personal favourite! The road bike is a fast and light machine and as the name suggests it is best ridden on roads, or at least on bitumen or paved surfaces. It’s skinny tyres will not last long on other terrain.

To me it’s just a pure pleasure to ride my Specialized Amira. It’s a women’s specific road bike which means it is designed for women and that’s not just about pretty colours. Specialized women’s road bikes are designed to meet the needs of women and that includes the frame geometry, saddle, handlebar width, gear/brake reach and compact gearing and cranks. Lots of people, and particularly bike shop owners trying to clear last year’s stock, will tell you can ride any road bike, but I’m a great believer in women’s specific road bikes and I’ve written a few blog posts on this topic previously.

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How to improve your hill climbing with hill repeats and circuits

Hill climbingHill climbing is definitely one of my weaknesses as a rider and I continue to work on them and slowly improve. I’ve previously written about hill climbing technique and for this post I’ve borrowed the words of the expert on hill climbing drills. Thanks again to Women’s Cycling in Canada for allowing me to reproduce these words of wisdom from Diane Stibbard. Womenscycling.ca is definitely worth a look for a range of interesting articles on technique, products reviews and more. Over to Diane……

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Tips and etiquette for riding in a group

14When I first started riding about five years ago, I was terrified at the idea of riding in a group of people. Every time someone rode close to me I’d move as far away as a could, but over time I’ve grown used to riding in closer proximity to others. In fact, I’ve noticed that the more experienced the other riders are, the closer they are likely to ride beside you, and on the whole this is pretty safe.

So I thought it would be useful to share a few things I’ve learned. This is not a definitive guide and I’m sure there are others both in Australia and around the world who do it differently but these tips will help get you going.

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My visit to the National Road Championships

The women in action

The women in action

I’ve just returned from a fantastic weekend in country Victoria to watch the National Road Cycling Championships.

It was my first visit but it most certainly won’t be my last. What a fabulous event. It was very professionally run by Cycling Victoria/Australia – the weather was perfect, the crowds not too large and the cycling was awesome.

We flew to Melbourne rather than choosing the 10 hour drive south and met up with my cycling enthusiast brother-in-law who drove us up to the goldfields district. He also organised for our free accommodation at his sister’s place near the racing so not only was it a fun weekend, it was a pretty cheap one as well.

We arrived in Buninyong in time to watch the men’s under 23 road race on Saturday morning followed by the women’s race in the afternoon.

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Motivate yourself with a few women’s cycling videos

This week I’m sharing a few videos I’ve found on You Tube that I thought other female cyclists might find motivational, eduational and entertaining.

Tiffany’s Top Ten Tips for Female Riders

Specialized-lululemon Get Into Cycling

Anna Meares takes Gold in London 2012

Evelyn Stevens: From Banker to Pro Cyclist

I hope you enjoyed them. There are plenty more on You Tube on a myriad of topics so search for your own topics of interest.

A female cyclist’s guide to setting New Year’s resolutions

Happy New Year bikeOf 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:

Start small

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.

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Merry Christmas to all the women who cycle

Christmas bikeI would like to wish all my loyal followers a very Merry Christmas. I’d also like to extend best wishes to all female cyclists.

I’ve had a great 2013 and I hope you have too. Make sure you use your summer holidays (that’s if you live in the southern hemisphere like me) to ride your bike as much as possible. You’ll definitely benefit from it.

Happy riding.

Nicola

Tiffany Cromwell – making her mark in women’s pro cycling

Tiffany wins the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2013.

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.

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Great Christmas present ideas for female cyclists

This year’s Christmas list is a little extravagant and is really a bike bling wish list for me. I guarantee that if the special women in your life is a dedicated road cyclist, then she’ll love these suggestions or something similar in her favourite colours. My favourite bike colours are unashamedly white, red & black in combination.

Specialized Amira Pro

Amira Pro Race 2014This gorgeous bike has a carbon frame and is powered by SRAM Force gearing and includes Roval Rapide carbon wheels. It’s also available in a Specialized-lululemon team replica version and is a bargain at $5,699.

 

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Cycling in the sun and heat

Cycling in the sunWhen 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.

Stay hydrated

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.

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