A female cyclist’s guide to measuring your progress

I’ve recently started working with a coach. It’s the first time I’ve used a coach and it’s come about because I’m involved with my cycling club’s women’s team. I don’t really consider myself to be a fully fledged member of the racing team but I decided as one of the key administrators of the team, I’d step up and try a bit more racing this year.

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Stages Power Meter

Set a goal

So if you ‘re interested in stepping up and either developing your own training program or working with a coach you need to set yourself a goal. Without a specific goal you might as well just continue to be a keen recreational cyclist. There is of course nothing wrong with that, but if you’re serious about training you need to know where you are heading.

Don’t make it so easy that you’ll achieve it in the first month, make it a challenge. And make sure it’s specific like, “I’m going to research all the cycling clubs in my area, join up and try my first race by the middle of this year”. Or it could be that “I’m going to participate in a timed ride like the Amy Gillett Gran Fondo in September 2014”.

My main goal is to improve my time in my Club Championship Individual Time Trial in July. I have all the stats from my first two attempts so I’ll be able to easily measure if there’s an improvement.

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Thumbs up for new Velocio women’s cycling apparel

Velocio paint jerseyWhen 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.

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How to keep riding as the weather cools

Specialized women's three quarter knicks

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.

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Calling female cyclists – You should try a Cycling Sportif

B2B Apr2014

On my way

I’ve just returned from an excellent weekend of cycling in the NSW central west town of Bathurst. Bathurst holds a special place in my memories because I attended University there some years ago just after I left school so it’s always a pleasure to go back for a nostalgic visit.

Every year Bathurst Cycling Club and Cycling NSW host a great weekend attended by lots of locals and plenty of Sydney cyclists who want to challenge themselves and breathe in some good country air.

There are three events included in the weekend – the NSW Hill Climb Championship, Bathurst Criterium Races and the Blayney to Bathurst race/ride (B2B), a Sportif rather than a race for most of us, which for the uninitiated is a ‘timed event’.

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Lights for road bikes – See and be seen

LightsLike many road cyclists I ride early in the morning to avoid traffic and to get a 20 km plus ride in before I have to get to work. This means that at quite a few times during the year I leave home in the dark. One thing that constantly amazes me is that I see other cyclists riding around with inadequate or even no lights on their bikes. They are also often decked out in dark clothing on dark bikes. I’m not sure if they are trying to be really ‘cool’ or are just plain stupid.

Many cyclists do not realise that it’s actually illegal to ride a bike at night without lights. In the state of NSW (and many other places) where I live if you ride at night you must have a steady or flashing white light that is clearly visible for at least 200 metres and a flashing or steady red light that is clearly visible for at least 200 metres from the rear of the bike. I also take night to mean 5 am when it’s still quite dark at certain times of the year.

I use lights pretty much all the time when I’m riding alone. When it’s dark I use the front light on a steady beam so I can see where I’m going, because even if you are on familiar roads and paths there can be obstacles like sticks, rubbish and rocks that can be a big hazard. When it gets lighter and I can see where I’m going I change my light to a flashing pattern so that other road users can see me. I always use my rear light on a flashing pattern and I nearly always have it on, except when I’m riding in a group and it’s fully light.

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A women’s guide to better cornering on a road bike

Cornering - MelCornering is one of those fundamental skills you really need to perfect if you’re going to be a good bike rider. I wouldn’t claim to be an expert but my cornering technique has really improved over the years. This has been through watching other riders with superior handling skills to mine, listening to advice, attending skills sessions and practicing what I learnt.

I’m a pretty risk averse person so when I started out on a road bike I used to rely heavily on my brakes every time I went around a corner. Over time I learned that for a vast majority of corners you don’t need to, and shouldn’t brake at all. You might wash off speed before you reach a corner, but you don’t actually brake as you turn.

Women are generally more cautious than men when it comes to anything that involves physical activity and we need lots of a encouragement before we become proficient at something.So here’s my tips learnt from various people and a bit of research.

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Making her mark in women’s cycling – Kristy Scrymgeour

Kristy-Scrymgeour #2A few months ago I was lucky enough to meet up with Kristy Scrymgeour who is the owner and manager of the women’s pro team Specialized-lululemon. Kristy was in Sydney enjoying her annual pilgrimage to her parents’ beachside home. I originally wrote this article for a UK website which they published but buried a bit in another article so I thought I’d share it again………….

Kristy Scrymgeour, despite living in Europe and the US for many years is still very much an Aussie girl at heart. She’s humble, and despite being fairly softly-spoken she gets fired up when she talks about her involvement in women’s cycling.

Like most Aussie kids she rode a bike as a child around her home in Sydney’s southern suburbs, but didn’t think of cycling as a serious sport until she reached university. Her opportunity came when the University cycling team was looking for an extra team member to race at the University Games and she rather bullishly put her hand up. She was studying science teaching at the University of Sydney and had only recently started cycling, after her boyfriend at the time gave her a second hand bike to ride.

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Calling all women – Here’s 10 reasons you should take up cycling

Gong 2013 #3I like to think of myself as a bit of a cycling evangelist. That doesn’t mean I give regular sermons about cycling but through this blog, my job and other social occasions I love the opportunity to share my love for cycling with others, particularly women. So here’s 10 reasons why you should think about cycling. They are in no particular order (just the order they jumped into my head). The initial list took me about five minutes to write so you can see that I’m completely enthusiastic about this subject.

1. Fitness

Please note that I haven’t called this point ‘weight loss’ because that’s not what it’s all about. Fitness is a key benefit of cycling. I’m in my forties and I’m fitter than I’ve ever been in my life. I also weigh more than I did before I started cycling five years ago, but I’m actually leaner as a result of all those hours on the bike.

2. Café visits

This is one of my favourite benefits. All the road cyclists that I know go to the café after a ride. This means you get to have a good chat and you get to eat yummy food because you’ve just ‘pre-burnt’ your calories. I don’t actually drink coffee (because I hate the taste of it) but I don’t let that stop me being part of the café culture. Hot chocolate doesn’t look that different!

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The Skinny Lattes – getting more women on bikes

Skinny lattes editedI first heard about the Adelaide-based women only cycling club, The Skinny Lattes a couple of years ago but it wasn’t until now that I made contact. I previously profiled a women’s only club based in Austin, Texas in the US, a country where I’m sure there are plenty of women’s only clubs. However, The Skinny Lattes is the only one I’m aware of in Australia (please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about that). I recently caught up with Belinda Bramley who is the Club Secretary and one of the founding members.

When was the Skinny Lattes formed?

The Skinny Lattes Cycling Club was formed in 2002 by three girlfriends Felicity Laing, Lynette Collins and Belinda Bramley who recognised a need for a women’s specific cycling group.

How many members do you have? How do you join?

Currently we have 90 members. We don’t search for members – they find us. You contact the club via the website, and then we chat with potential new members and if we sound like the right club you join via the Cycling Australia Website.

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An exciting year ahead for women’s cycling

ParisEver since I started writing this blog (about two and a half years ago) I’ve been following the women’s pro peleton. Prior to that, I have to admit I only followed the men’s, mostly because it was easily accessible with lots of TV and media coverage. Over those two and a half years I’ve learnt how to find information about the women’s tour and I think that 2014 is going to be big year for the women, and here’s a few reasons why.

UCI Women’s commission headed up by Tracey Gaudry

Last year Australian former pro cyclist Tracey Gaudry was named as one of three Vice Presidents of the UCI. That followed her earlier appointment as the President of the Oceania Cycling Confederation. That gives her two big roles and I’m sure she’s up to the challenge.

A new Women’s Commission of the UCI has also been formed and has already met for the first time to start planning its work.

I was lucky enough to meet Tracey at a forum in January and will be interviewing her in the next month or so for an upcoming blog post.

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