Ladies Only: How to enjoy cycling and get motivated

Preparing for Cycletta 2013? Here are some tips on how to get motivated.

The Cycletta 2013 series has begun yesterday at Tatton Park in Cheshire, which will run from May until October at seven venues in England, Scotland and Wales.

The aim is to encourage more women to cycle in the great British countryside, while supporting Cycletta’s official charity, the Macmillan Cancer Support.

Double Olympic Gold medallist, Victoria Pendleton CBE, was at the start line on Sunday. She has been Cycletta ambassador for the third year running.

Victoria Pendleton OBE. Photo © Cycletta 2013
Victoria Pendleton CBE. Photo © Cycletta 2013

GLUE is delighted to be taking part in Cycletta Surrey, which is close to our spiritual home Richmond Park in southwest London.

For those who aren’t familiar with GLUE yet, we are regulars at Richmond Park trek every weekend. Sometimes we join Rapha London on their Thursday night rides.

We love cycling and bicycles. In that respect, we see ourselves as cyclists first before our gender – which is female.

The good news is we started seeing more women turning up at Richmond Park in the weekends for rides.

I guess we owe this surge of interest to Pendleton and the spectacular performance by the ladies from Team GB Cycling at London 2012.

Here are some tips on how to enjoy cycling, while you are training for Cycletta:

Join a club ride

There are many types of cycling to suit your personality and fitness level, if commuting is not your thing. Road, MTB, keirin time trial, cyclocross, duathlon, etc.

There aren’t many ladies at Rapha London Thursday evening rides. That is quite understandable because for new female cyclists, seeing strong lads whizzing fearlessly around Regents Park on fancy bikes can be quite intimidating.

However the team leaders are very patient and understanding. Give club rides a go some time. You’ll love it. Don’t worry if you are not fast enough, nobody gets fit overnight.

Check out Rapha Women’s 100 event.

Find a cycling buddy. Make plan to cycle together regularly. It’s a great way to relax.

Roehampton Gate at Richmond Park. Photo © Zarina Holmes
Roehampton Gate at Richmond Park. Photo © Zarina Holmes

Don’t be afraid

The main hurdle preventing women from cycling is fear. Many women get easily intimidated on the road and lacking confidence to navigate the traffic.

This is not helped by so-called “statistics” that claims more women than men are involved in road accidents.

It stems from the old stereotype of “women can’t drive”. Ignore it. If you worry too much about statistics, you’ll never leave the house and live your life.

Understand the route, be safe

I don’t like commuting on busy London roads on my bike. If I have to, I use safer routes that I had studied beforehand.

I don’t take chances by cycling without lights, or do dangerous overtaking. Let huge vehicles pass first. When in doubt, dismount and push your bike. In short, use your common sense at all times.

Last year Cycle Surgery did a very good women-only workshop around London.

Stylish female rider at Richmond Park. Photo © Zarina Holmes
Stylish female rider at Richmond Park. Photo © Zarina Holmes

Treat yourself

For cycling motivation, it’s good to treat yourself with nice cycling gear like jerseys and helmets.

There are cool labels like Rapha, Anna Nichoola, Donkey Label, (iL)Soigneur and online shops like Wiggle, Morvelo and Decathlon.

There is a wonderful world of colourful cycling jerseys and musettes to discover. You won’t spend so much money on painful high heels anymore – and you’ll get a fit body in return.

Learn cycling maintenance

To look after your ride, enrol into a cycling maintenance course. There are many affordable ones, such as the Hammersmith & Fulham Adult Learning workshop from £5.

If know how your ride works, you are less likely to be ripped off at the workshops.

I was at a well-known cycling shop last week, where a lady cyclist were quoted £100 to have her chains changed. If you are trained to do cycle maintenance, you know that would probably cost around £30 only.

Night cyclist at Southbank Centre. Photo © Zarina Holmes
Night cyclist at Southbank Centre. Photo © Zarina Holmes

For peace of mind, buy decent locks

To enjoy your ride completely, get two decent locks. Not the thin pig-tail wire that cost a tenner. That is false economy.

Nothing is more annoying than having your beloved ride nicked.

Try not to leave your bikes parked outside in plain view. In fact, no self-respecting cyclists would leave their beautiful rides outside their homes. Would you leave your Christian Louboutin shoes outside on the pavement? Exactly.

It’s an investment in your health

Cycling is empowering and healthy for your mind and body. I cannot think of a better “me-time” activity for a woman, apart from a spa break.

For some women who are recovering or have recovered from serious illnesses, cycling is instrumental in restoring their fitness level and confidence.

GLUE’s own Wheelsucker (aka our Twitter manager @smellslikeglue ), started cycling after being given an all-clear last year. She also runs with the Serpentine Club and is training for a duathlon.

That's Wheelsucker, our Twitter manager, on her morning ride. Photo © Zarina Holmes
That’s Wheelsucker, our Twitter manager, on her morning ride. Photo © Zarina Holmes

Cycletta is part of the Human Race Women Only series which includes triathlon, swimming, running and cycling events. To find out visit: http://www.humanrace.co.uk. For all Cycletta events and booking your place visit: http://www.cycletta.co.uk

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