Road cycling might sometimes be intimidating for women, as most of the images, you see usually transmit speed, high performance, technicality, and eventually make road cycling appear as a very competitive sport - rather than something that is fun.
The truth is that road cycling is actually much more accessible than it might appear and a sport that doesn’t require an extremely high level of fitness to start. But it will help you to increase your fitness level pretty fast!
If you always thought that road cycling is not for you, I believe it is worth at least a trial. Let me share some tips on how to do that:
1 – RENT OR BORROW A BIKE TO START
For the first test perhaps you might want to approach a friend or somebody you know that practices road cycling and can eventually join you for a first ride. That gives you confidence and also the first basic indications of how to get going at the beginning. I recommend renting or borrowing a bike for the first trials, ideally in a size that fits you well. Bike rentals can fit the bike for you perfectly, that might be the preferred choice, but if you have a friend in your size, for the very first ride in your neighborhood you might be able to borrow her/his bike.
2 – CYCLE PATHS
Try to take the first rides on a cycle path or a road with very little traffic. You might need a moment to get comfortable with the position of the handlebar and the brakes, as well as the shifters and it is much easier if you don’t need to worry about cars or trucks at the same time.
3 – CLIPLESS PEDALS
If you are not used to clipless pedals, start riding with flat pedals. That helps you to focus on the performance of the road bike and start to get familiar with the shifters - especially for your first uphill ride. I have been mountain biking my whole life – when I shifted to road cycling I fell the first time I cycled uphill - I was not used to the difference between the gears of a road bike compared to the mountain bike. I wished I had clipless pedals back then!
I am sure that already after those first small tests you will either love or hate it! If you feel excited and want to take it further then here you go with some more tips:
4 – BIKE WITH THE RIGHT SIZE
Find yourself a bike with the right size. You don’t need to buy immediately the best and newest road bike, there are plenty of second-hand bikes around with great performance and eventually, you gain more knowledge about bikes and your needs over time and you can make a better choice at your next purchase. Just make sure that whatever bike you buy has the right size for you.
5 – BIKE FITTING
Book a bike fitting with a specialist. This is the most important thing to make sure that you enjoy road cycling over time. A bike that is not fitted perfectly, leads to discomfort, pain, inflammations, and in the worst case, you might stop cycling. Most good bike stores are settling your bike and you also find specialists that provide this service. Ask friends or research the net in your surroundings to find advice about where to go best.
6 – GREAT BIKE SHORTS
Get yourself a great pair of bike shorts with a perfect woman cycling pad. Personally, I recommend always a bib short for road biking. You might want to read the blog post "Why can it be good to wear bib shorts?” to get more insights and have a look at SHER's cycling shorts for women. Check out also Sher's innovative women-specific cycling pad.
7 – CHANGING THE INNER TUBE
Get yourself up to speed with basics about how to change an inner tube so that you feel comfortable riding alone. Whenever you meet other cyclists they are always very helpful, however, you can find yourself in situations where nobody is around. Many women do not cycle alone because they can’t change a flat tire. You can find great tutorials or also ask a friend to show you how to do it. Check out SHER’s tutorial about changing a flat tube and the basic tools to always take with you.
8 – PLAN YOUR ROUTES
Start small, plan your routes, and slowly increase the distance. Start with flat tours and once you have some miles in your legs, build in climbs if you live in an area that allows you to do so. You will soon discover that on a road bike you can go much further and much longer than you expected!
9 – CYCLING MATES
Find some great cycling friends! There is nothing better than riding together and sharing a great day out. Cycling is fun and you alone decide how fast and strong you want to go. If riding with others intimidates you, just make clear from the beginning that you keep your speed and that it is not an issue if somebody cycles faster - as long as you get together again at the coffee stop!
Getting started is much easier than you think and you will find out quickly that road cycling is a sport for everybody. It not only keeps you healthy and fit but allows you to make new friends, discover the landscape in a totally new way and experience happiness and satisfaction at the end of a great cycling day with friends. Good luck and if you like to share stories about how you started road cycling we are happy to read you!