After getting on and off my bike for the last 10 years or so, I’ve concluded the only way to gain more confidence on your bike is to go and do it, don’t think that it will just happen!
For a lady cyclist, or any cyclist wanting to start up, having the confidence to get on your bike and challenge yourself is the only way!
Drooling over the bike you want, dreaming about the cycling trip you want to do or the adventure day you want to plan won’t get your adrenaline going, the bike needs to hit the trails with you on it!
As a starter, this is really basic but essential, good balance on the bike is key, so try and start simple, easy trail, flat….. round your local reservoir maybe, at a time of day (if you can) when there’s not too many people around that your scared you might ‘take out’!!
Build up to longer more technical rides once you feel you’ve conquered the last and you feel confident to do so.
The more riding you do the more confident you will become and the fitter you will be for that next challenge.
Get to know your bike the basics and how to change your tyre, you may need the knowledge at some point!
It isn’t scary and is easy to do, oh and remember to pack a set of disposable gloves, these are a god send for us ladies that like to keep our nails clean and tidy!
It’s essential that your bike is set up properly, if your borrowing one or you are starting to ride again after a break, then make sure you check the seat height is comfortable for you, you should be using your thigh muscles in the right way so make sure your knees when peddling come no higher than your hip joint.
The slightest movement up or down of your seat position can make all the difference to ride.
Make sure the tyres are pumped up and that the breaks are in good working order, if it’s a new bike you have it should have been set up to your specifications, if you not happy then talk to the dealer/shop again even if it’s for a few simple pointers that your not quite sure of, don’t be scared to ask.
Taking time to choose the right kit is also a key point to being comfortable on a ride, not matter how long or short the ride is, the last thing you need to be worried about is that sore bottom, flapping arm on a jacket or ill fitting glove, do your research and whatever the budget you will find something that suits.
It depends o the time of year and if layering is needed but the basics needed are a decent tight or short with padding if you prefer this, a base layer and windproof jacket or jersey and a good set of mitts or gloves, also depending on the style of riding your doing.
Polaris offer a wide range of all kit from starter items to the more technical, fit for purpose garments.
Be prepared for weather changes, a lightweight pack-up waterproof is always a good choice that you can stash easily in your back pocket or ruck sack, along with you pump and PR kit.
Having a comfortable saddle can make or break a ride, depending on the distance you do depends on the type of saddle you need.
Some people think a thicker, wider more padded seat is better, but in fact the thinner, slimmer less padded seat from personal experience is a better choice, also it depends how much time you will be sitting on it!
Some people finding standing up whilst cycling a little un-nerving to start with, but standing does help with descents, allowing your arms and legs to be the natural shock absorbers so you can stay in control, again this comes with confidence and riding often.
IN A GROUP
Try and ride in a group, as well as feeling safer, it’s more fun if there are a few of you, keeps the motivation going and the fun high on the agenda!
Riding with guys is also a good tip, this will give you a push, you’l probably get dropped and maybe have a few crashes, but don’t feel you have to keep up, ease yourself into it, but push your limits as often as you can.
Stay relaxed, this helps you stay in control and focus your attention on the road or trail ahead, not the tree stump or rock you are about to hit!
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FUN
Have fun with your rides, don’t put yourself under too much pressure, cycling is a huge learning curve and each skill takes time to master, each ride you will learn something new about cycling and about yourself, how far you can be pushed physically and mentally.
Crashes will happen, but makes sure you learn from it and take your own advice for next time.
Don’t concentrate on the calories burned, RPM, average speed or cadence, this takes all the enjoyment away and puts you in a whole different mind set, leave that to the athletes who need to know all that stuff!!
ENJOY AND MAKE SURE YOU SQUEEL!
The main thing is to enjoy the ride, it can be really hard work at times, but when you get to those times, think why you are doing what you are doing and the benefit you will see physically and mentally at the end, weather it be getting to the top of that mountain that you’ve been worrying about, pushing yourself to brave that steep descent, or test you newly found skills over those rocks and roots.
There will be times that take your breath away, make your heart pound and voice squeal but remember it’s all work in progress and each achievement makes way for a new challenge.
Karen Berridge Product Technologist