Tips and tricks for the lady cyclist

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Let's get biking ladies!

Let’s get biking ladies!

There’s a biking boom going on in Calgary and I am all for it. With the launch of the new downtown cycle track and tons of new and old riders hitting the road, it’s a great time to join the cycling fun. For me, I enjoy riding my bike for fun on the weekends and getting some exercise on my commute to work. But fashion and function is an important part of my bike ride too – it doesn’t do to show up at your destination tired out and sweaty as all hell. Cycling for women can a challenge, but it shouldn’t be a deterrent. Kim Fisher and Kayley Fesko are the lady cyclists behind the local blog, Commit 2 Commute, and have set out to conquer winter cycling and raise awareness to help encourage other women to get biking. I’ve learned some of my own tricks but Commit 2 Commute was kind enough to provide me with some of her best biking tips to help get women on their bikes. Let’s get biking!

Plan your route!  

For a lot of people, biking to work is something they would like to try, but aren’t sure it will fit in with their schedule or lifestyle. Well, the first step is to get a plan and try!

  • Google Maps offers great route options that show you different ways to get from point A to point B. Map it out and save to your phone or printout to take with you.
  • Test out your route on a weekend or anytime that is not rush hour. It will give you a chance to see how well you do at the ride and how long it will take you. It’s also a good way to find shortcuts and other routes that you won’t find on a map – it’s amazing all the nooks and crannies you can find when you get out and explore on a bike.
  • Grab a friend and make it a social experience. It’s more fun to bike with a friend and you gain safety in numbers on the road.
  • This also goes for any day trips or other excursions you may have in mind – plan it out and give it a go!

Over time and practice, you’ll figure out more efficient routes and get faster with each ride.

Make your own bike gang. It's so much more fun to ride with friends

Make your own bike gang. It’s so much more fun to ride with friends

Make sure your bike is in good working order

Like any mode of transportation, you want to make sure it’s safe and ready for travel. Taking care of your bike takes a fair bit of effort but is worth it to ensure your fun and safety.

  • Just like your car needs a regular tune-up, a bike requires the same TLC. Take your bike into a local bike shop for regular maintenance to check it outs. This will mean spending some money, but is worthwhile if you don’t know how to care for your bike yourself.
  • Speaking of which, why not learn how to maintain your bike yourself? Many companies offer bike workshops for all levels. I’ve taken part in the MEC Calgary bike class which was super helpful and informative. A full list of resources can be found online at the Bike Calgary website.
  • The ABC’s apply to your bike:
    • Air – make sure your bike tires are properly filled up with enough air. A proper bike pump will ensure that the air pressure is correct.
    • Brakes – being able to stop is super important! Prop your bike against a doorway and give the wheels a spin while cranking the brakes. If the brakes do not stop the wheel properly or does not feel like it’s gripping properly, inspect the brake pads for wear and tear and if necessary replace.
    • Chain – your bike chain is one of the most important pieces on your bike as it moves all the parts together to get you going! Make sure it is properly cleaned and lubed regularly to prevent wear down on the teeth.
  • The “low seat pandemic” is something that Kim sees often. Many riders often have their seat too low making it more difficult to bike. Make sure you have almost full extension of your leg when pedaling to avoid this issue.
  • Sometimes you can run into a problem on your bike – a flat tire, a fallen chain. An emergency bike kit with tools can help you fix the problem to get you on your way. If you’re not such a handy person lock up your bicycle while you get help or call a friend. As a back-up, it’s good to have a bus pass, credit card for a taxi or car2go membership to get home.
  • No matter where you go, keep a secure U-lock available to lock up your bike during stops.

 

Stay stylish and practical when biking

Whether you’re commuting to work or biking just for fun, putting your best foot forward is another part of cycling for ladies and often one of the biggest reasons for not biking. But there are tons of ways to make it work and here’s how:

  • Safety first! Keep your noggin safe, but look cool while you’re doing it! There are tons of cute helmets available and you can even pick up a free one from the Prohab Helmet Society.
  • Nobody likes to ride with a heavy backpack on their back so that’s where panniers saddlebags or a bike basket can help to hold your stuff. I love using my bike basket and use it for my shopping and even take it into the pub with me. That’s right, I’m the girl with a basket in the bar. Work it.
  • Just bike slower! It doesn’t have to be a race to get to the office. Taking the more scenic route can be more calming and get you to work feeling refreshed instead of a hot, sweaty mess.
  • This is where public transit can come in handy. I like to bike to work in the mornings when it’s cooler and then catch the C-train home in the afternoon when the sun is at its hottest. Remember to check on rush hour times so you can get your bike home with you.
  • Wearing a dress? No problem, wear some shorts underneath too so you don’t flash everyone you pass by. The coin trick is also another way to keep your skirts down. Watch the tutorial video below:

Penny In Yo’ Pants: The Prototype from Penny in Yo’ Pants on Vimeo.

  • Biking doesn’t just mean sneakers. Throw on your high heels and adjust your bike seat to fit.
  • Let your hair down: tie it up in a low knot or bun to let your helmet sit on top.
  • Helmet head? Dry shampoo can help you “tszuj” your hair up.
  • Keep extra gear on hand for when you reach your destination. This can mean anything from extra shoes, shower supplies, dry shampoo, makeup kit, and extra clothes.

Well, there you have it – tons of tips and tricks to get biking ladies! Do you have any of your tips to share? Comment below or tweet me at @heyseto. Thanks to Commit 2 Commute for your help!


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