Within my role as a Liv Cycling ambassador, I am lucky enough to get the opportunity to host events across Yorkshire, and meet tons of amazing, inspiring women in all different stages of their cycling journey.
Recently I have hosted or sat on the panel at a couple of ‘Getting into Cycling’ events, which naturally consisted of a lot of newbie cyclists. I have noticed a common theme with questions and concerns at these events… there’s a lot of fear surrounding certain elements of cycling that seems to be putting women off getting on the saddle. We have all been there, some of us cyclists still have these same fears, but we learn how to manage them and not let it put us off enjoying such a fabulous sport. I thought I would sum up the most common ones in a blog post, and hopefully make you feel a little better!
Being afraid of having both feet attached to an object that’s balancing on two very thin wheels is a very rational and normal fear to have… I don’t think anyone could possibly find this natural when they first make the transition to clip in pedals. They’re not necessary, but they will make riding much more efficient, so it’s a good one to face your fears with!
My advice would be to practice the motion of clipping in and clipping out on a stationary bike… do this until the process of getting in and out is super easy and natural, you will soon get to grips with where your foot needs to be, which direction and how much force you will need.
Once you’re there, take the bike up and down your street, constantly practicing stopping and starting at pretend traffic lights. You will probably fall (hopefully at a very slow speed), but it will soon remind you to slide those heels out at junctions!
I really would just do this repeatedly until it becomes natural, taking the fear away! It may takes you a couple of hours, days or weeks until you’re ready to brave it on the roads, but you will get there if you stick with it!
Most bikes have two or three chainings in the front, and about 7-11 gears in the back. The left hand shifter changes the front gears, and the right one the back. Pedalling feels easier in a smaller chainring and harder in a bigger one.
Everyone rides differently, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Personally I prefer to push around a harder gear with fewer cadences, but that might not be comfortable for you!
Again, my advice would just be to get to know your bike by riding up and down the street, constantly changing gears until it becomes second nature – just like riding a car! If you set off in the wrong gear, nothing majorly bad will happen! Practice makes perfect… don’t worry about it!
Unfortunately we can’t change the fact that cars are whizzing past us, and not all drivers are cyclist friendly. The road is dangerous, and we have to respect that, but we can’t let it stop us doing something we love!
Although a lot of drivers don’t agree with it, we should be riding side by side (two people), which means cars have to go right around us – obviously that means riding in a group, which is a good way to start if you’re really nervous of traffic!
Don’t ride in the gutter… make yourself big! Give yourself enough space from the curb in case of potholes, and forget about if you’re annoying any cars!
Utilise lights and bright kit to make yourself seen, anything that will make you stand out to oncoming cars.
Group riding is one of the best ways to get into cycling, but it can also be quite intimidating if you are a complete beginner.
The biggest concerns seem to be about riding close to other cyclists, and also not being fit enough to keep up with the group!
Feeling comfortable riding closely to other cyclists simply comes with practice, and if you voice your concerns with the group, they will be conscious to watch out for you. It’s important to not act like a nervous cyclist in these situations, as it only seems to make you clumsier… relax, act confident, and enjoy it!
If you are worried about going out on group rides due to fitness levels… don’t! There are so many fantastic cycling groups around that cater to all abilities, and if they know that you’re new they will usually always ride to your pace, they want you to be there!
Hopefully this helps! Happy riding!