Where it all began…
Mooloolaba to Peregian return. A round trip of roughly 60 kilometers. 60 kilometers of rolling hills and beautiful ocean views. I was invited to join my Dad and a lady called Sue on a morning ride. Sue was in her 70‘s. I had never ridden a road bike before, though figured that if a 70 year old lady can, heck I could too!
Off we ventured on our journey north. Me on my brothers blue road bike with my joggers tucked into cages on the pedals, my laces flapping wildly in the wind. Sue was riding a Brompton, a folding bike that had 16 inch wheels. They were tiny! This provided me with some relief, surely I could keep up with a 70 year old lady riding a very cute foldable bike with 16 inch wheels!
Oh how very wrong I was.
Five years later and Dad makes sure that this story lives on by frequently checking my memory, “hey kiddo remember that time Sue kept coming back to see if you were okay?”. Thanks Dad.
People start riding road bikes for all sorts of reasons. Mine was to cross-train while carrying a running injury. Perhaps your motivation to ride is also the same? Or simply to keep fit and active. Though be warned, it’s addictive. My running injury has now long subsided, and The Bike remains a big part of my life.
Beautiful crisp mornings, being outside exploring the world, keeping fit and healthy, meeting new people, talking with friends, and most importantly the post-ride coffee. These are the main reasons my two wheeled friend continues to be a big part of my life. Perhaps also the same reasons that have drawn you into cycling as well.
Get on ya bike and ride!
If you are just starting out, here are a list of basics that you will need to get you rolling out of the garage and down the road:
- A bike
- Comfortable Knicks (pants)
- Cycling shoes
- A helmet
- Water bottle
- Saddle bag (like a ladies clutch, but for your bike)
A lot of people start out on borrowed bikes, like I did with my brothers (speedy) blue road bike. There are a lot of avenues to source second hand road bikes to purchase through Facebook pages such as Triathlon Marketplace, and any other triathlon or cycling pages or clubs in your local region. If your budget allows, have a look at some entry level road bikes in your local bike shops. Personally I couldn’t go past Liv Giant’s female specific road bikes, with their pretty (and also functional) bikes, at competitive prices. If you are on the Sunshine Coast go and see Lou and Ian at Giant. The staff are super friendly, and are happy to explain things in easy to understand language.
The second point is important ladies, so listen up. Never underestimate the importance of comfortable, padded cycling knicks. Cycling pants come in two varieties; knicks (just pants), and bib and brace (pants held up with a brace). There tends to be a divide in what every one prefers. I am definitely not a fence sitter here, and take bib and brace over knicks any day. I don’t mind the extra time getting undressed for a little bit of extra comfort on the bike. Again there are many different options with brands that cater for all budgets. My favourite brand is Tineli’s Premium Bibs boasting an “anti-sausage leg band”. While I am not sure if this feature is really that effective on me, the knicks are actually very comfortable.
While you might not yet know how to change a flat tyre, or fix a puncture, a saddle bag is a must! And as a rule of thumb, try to make sure that you always have your saddle bag with you, so that you don’t have to impose on your riding buddies to provide you with gear. The basic contents of a saddle bag should include a spare tube, patches, levers, CO2 canister and a regulator. Making sure that if your bike has deep rims, the valve length on your spare tube is longer than the standard length. This makes getting CO2 into the new tube a million times easier (yes, I speak from experience)!!! If you don’t know how to change a tube yet, don’t stress. Why? Because you’re looking fabulous in your comfortable knicks with an anti-sausage leg band that will surely lure a passing cyclist who will help you change it.
While riding a bike is great fun, there are risks involved. I do a lot of my riding solo and in isolated areas. As a precaution I always carry money, my credit card, cash, my mobile phone and ID (and also several coffee shop loyalty cards). There are other forms of ID that cyclists use including Road ID, and the ICEdot Crash Sensor. The ICEdot Crash Sensor is a more advanced system and is definitely worth looking into if you often ride solo in isolated areas. Don’t let fear of any mishaps stop you from getting out there and having fun, just make those precautions for if something were to happen.
Time to roll..
After the morning I got chicked on a social ride by a 70 year old lady (on a foldable bike with 16 inch wheels), I chose to pick up my act and attempt to resurrect my battered ego. I started riding a couple of times a week, gradually gaining more confidence back. Then Dad got me some cleated cycling shoes (Thanks Dad!), and my ego took another battering. My knicks with the anti-sausage band again worked their magic, as they lured passing runners to my aid after forgetting to unclip at traffic lights. Once I mastered some of those basic bike skills (like staying vertical at traffic lights), I started riding with a ladies only group through Giant on the Sunshine Coast. This is when I realised that I could ride in a group, develop my bike handling skills further, (and being multi-tasking females) talk and laugh the whole way.
While you think you might not have the bike handling skills, or speed to ride in a group. I highly recommend joining in on a ladies only ride, as they are perfect for developing those skills. They also provide a great opportunity to meet like minded people, and you might even meet someone of similar ability who you could ride with at other times during the week. There are loads of ladies only rides happening, with Liv Giant organising some from Giant shops around Australia. Their rides are advertised on Facebook. In more regional communities there are also groups that are starting like the CQ Spin Sisters in Rockhampton that do regular ladies rides. If you are unsure of any groups near you, talk to your local bike shop as they are usually in the know.
Safe riding girls xx