A few months ago I was lucky enough to attend a workshop run by Angelo from Pedal Stroke Yoga, a variation of hatha yoga developed by Angelo to utilise the benefits of yoga especially for cyclists. I used to attend yoga classes on a regular basis so I know the benefits that yoga can bring. Unfortunately I’ve not managed to fit regular yoga into my schedule of late but I’m eager to change that in the near future. Despite my own lack of attendance at yoga classes I’m a true believer in the benefits it can bring to your life and your performance on the bike.
A few interesting points I learnt from Angelo in the workshop include:
- Yoga helps you create a body that is pain free
- Cycling keeps your body in a linear motion whereas yoga is about twisting
- In cycling you use your big muscles & sympathetic nervous system, in yoga you use small muscles & your parasympathetic system which controls rest & digestion
- Yoga helps you learn diaphragmatic breathing (it’s something I learned through yoga and it helps me on and off the bike – you breathe deep into the bottom of you lungs rather than shallow breathing)
- As a cyclist you need to strengthen your glutes and core and yoga can help you do that – strengthening your core allows you to hold a forward-leaning position for longer.
Juliana in the Australian outback
I’m not sure how this amazing story has passed my notice, but I’m glad I’ve finally stumbled upon it. Juliana Buhring is clearly an extraordinary person. Wikipedia describes her as a British-German ultra-endurance cyclist and writer. Having read a little background about her I think she could only be described as an internationalist.
I didn’t interview her for this blog post, instead I’ve compiled this from a few articles I found about Juliana from the past few years.
It all began in December 2012, when she set the first Guinness World Record as the Fastest Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe by Bike, riding over 29,000 kilometres in a total time of 152 days (144 actual days in the saddle).
In order to qualify for the title, Guinness World Records requires the rider to cover 28,970km – the world’s circumference – by bike, passing through two antipodal points. The ride must commence and end in the same location and must not deviate more than five degrees off course. The same bicycle must be used throughout and the clock does not stop on any occasion.
It was fantastic to visit Eurobike in Friedrichshafen in Germany last week. It is unlike any trade show I’ve visited before. Here’s a few statistics just to give you an idea: 1,350 exhibitors; 46,000 visitors from 100 different countries; 2,000 journalists including Women Who Cycle from 40 nations; 100,000 square metres of exhibition space.
Huge is the only description I can give you. Hundreds of well known brands but also lots and lots I’d never heard of before. It took a whole day and a half to walk slowly through the major halls and I’m sure I didn’t see it all.
Based on what I saw e-bikes are set to become more and more popular. There were literally hundreds of exhibitors with everything from electric downhill mountain bikes to electric conversion kits for existing bikes.
I’m always interested in research relating to women’s cycling. It helps me and others understand what barriers women see to cycling. Is it the lack of safe places to ride? Is it the blokey bike shops? Is it that they have to wear a helmet even for a short trip? (in Australia where I live helmets are mandatory for any type of bike).
A US group called PeopleForBikes commissioned the US Bicycling Participation Study in late 2014. They measured all kinds of riding by all kinds of people, including women. Here are six important and interesting findings from the study:
1. The gap between men and women isn’t so large
They surveyed more than 16,000 individuals and weighted that sample to represent the US population and found that 104 million people—a third of the population—rode a bicycle last year and of those, 45 million (43%) were women compared to 59 million men (57%). The findings revealed less of a gender gap than the 2009 National Household Travel Survey which (using a different methodology) found that just 24% of bicycle trips were made by women.
I was contacted recently by a company called Pure Adventures that offers self-guided cycling tours around the world and when I looked into the detail I realised they are exactly the type of cycling tour I’d like to do myself.
Self-guided touring offers almost all the conveniences of a guided trip with more flexibility and personalised style and the cost is closer to doing it yourself. In short, Pure Adventures organises the itinerary for you, books the hotels, arranges luggage transfers, hands over the maps and instructions and off you go. Sounds like an ideal to way to tour on a bike to me.
Durations can be modified to meet your needs, hotels are available for many budgets and there is no minimum participation, eliminating the threat of cancellation by the operator.
You’ll have to forgive me for this slightly self-indulgent post but I’m really proud of myself. I’ve been writing Women Who Cycle for four years. My first post was on 13 August 2011 and ever since then I’ve been writing a weekly post to share with the world. That’s around 200 posts on all sorts of topics.
During those four years my own life has changed quite a bit and I hope through reading my posts there are other female (or even male) cyclists who can say the same. Since I bought my first road bike nearly seven years ago, cycling has had a positive impact on my life. I know it sounds dramatic, but it is completely true that riding a bike on a regular basis has changed my life in a number of ways.
Writing this blog on a weekly basis has given my life a real purpose. It’s not that I was unhappy or without purpose before cycling, and before this blog began, but I really feel it’s my life’s mission to share the positive benefits of riding with other women.
My partner and I have just finished our third trip to the Tour de France so I thought I would share a few tips for following the mighty race. I know it’s not strictly a women’s cycling topic but I know many female (and male) cyclists who would like to undertake a similar trip.
Choose your transport wisely
Lots of people follow the Tour in campervans but it can also be tackled by car and either camping of staying in hotels. We hired a campervan so I can’t really tell you about the other options and in my opinion a camper is the ideal way to see it. You can park at the side of the road in just about any location making it completely flexible.
If you go with the camper option make sure you book early. A lot of companies are booked out in October the year before because that’s when the full route for the following year is announced. Also make sure you check inclusions on the hire like bed linen/towels, kitchen equipment and outdoor furniture. A lot of hire companies charge extra for just about everything.
A lot of others wrote about La Course by Le Tour de France before the race took place on Sunday. Many wrote about its significance for women’s cycling and I definitely agree with them. I had the pleasure of watching La Course on French TV in the middle of a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon in a bar appropriately named Cafe de Paris in the French Alps.
I was keen to watch it to see the women’s pro peloton race in front of such a huge audience but also for the pure enjoyment of seeing them race. Unfortunately for the riders it rained throughout the race which meant there were quite a few crashes and plenty of abandonments. I found it exciting to watch and really admire the women who made it to the finish line. It was predicted to conclude in a bunch sprint but a dutch rider, Anna Van Der Breggen from the Rabo team broke away right near the end and survived to cross the line first.
La Course is in its second year and as a standalone event it’s not really a big deal. Just one 89 km race around the city of Paris. The reason it’s so important is what it represents. It’s organised by the Tour de France to show their support of women’s racing which to me is really symbolic.
I’ve had a few women comment about their fear that cycling could make their thighs bigger so I thought I’d do a bit of research and clear this one up. In short, cycling will not make your thighs larger. In fact in my own case I’ve slimmed down in my thigh and bottom area since I took up cycling, even though I actually weigh more than I previously did.
Here’s a few reasons why your legs are not going to expand:
Muscle is leaner than fat
Muscle weighs a lot more than fat. Cycling will change the shape of your legs, but unless you’re doing a lot of squats, and maintaining the same levels of fat (by eating a lot), you’re not likely to get “bigger”.
I know this will probably not be a popular post with traditionalists, but I’m of the view that podium girls at men’s professional cycling races belong in another era and need to go. For me this topic is very top-of-mind because my partner Phillip and I are currently following the Tour de France in a campervan and I write this from the foothills of the great Pyrenees.
The use of pretty women on podiums is demeaning to all women. It says that women are there just to look good in photographs, and to compliment the athleticism of men. I know that women line up for the privilege of standing beside a man on the podium. Apparently 500 apply every year. Most are models who see it as an opportunity to get a break and perhaps to travel around France for three weeks. I’m not trying to say that these women are worthless, but they are putting themselves forward as trophies not human beings.
When Peter Sagan pinched one of them on the derriere a few years ago I actually thought it was pretty funny. To me he was pointing out how stupid the role of podium girl actually is to many people. Instead it was interpreted as rudeness and he was forced to apologise to her. Maybe we take it all a bit too seriously.