The clever girls guide to riding a bike! What you should know before you push the pedals

Claire Steels - Cycling

It is safe to say that I bought a bike on a whim. I was out running with a friend one day and after discussing triathlons and the fact that I am terrible swimmer I made the impulsive decision to buy a bike. A £1000 overnight decision, literally OVERNIGHT! I didn’t know it at the time but £1000 in the cycling world is just a drop in the ocean!

So one Thursday in October 2014 I turned up at my local bike shop to pick up The Unicorn and so began my cycling journey and also a whole new education.

Over recent months I have a met a number of women who have recently purchased or are about to purchase their first road bike and have found myself overloading them with random pearls of wisdom, snippets of advice and several comedy anecdotes relating to my early months as a ‘cyclist’.

In the interest of saving other women from the trauma that I have experienced, I have decided to put pen to paper (fingers to laptop) and share!

1. If you ever want to use you erm, woo woo, for anything other than riding a bike then please, please, please invest in some decent shorts!

If you value your sex life and your ability to pee without a burning sensation then invest in some good quality, well fitting shorts. If you buy cheap you will buy twice. Bite the bullet early on and splash out! You don’t need the top end stuff but don’t scrimp when it comes to this ladies! I honestly can’t stress this enough.

2. Wear a vest under your bib shorts / tights!

The first issue to address here is the concept of bib shorts / tights. The designers of cycling apparel really need to pull their fingers out and get some female friendly bibs on the market! We do not want to get naked to go to the toilet!!!! Seriously, come up with a better solution! Please! Until then ladies, can I suggest wearing a vest under your bibs. If you do need a pee stop then at least you don’t have to get entirely undressed and you can also maintain some dignity should you need a nature wee.

3. On a muddy day, squirt before you suck.

Pedalling along wet and muddy roads will probably result in a dirty water bottle and a foul tasting mouthpiece. On a day like this, take your water bottle from your cage but before you take a drink from it, squirt some water out of it onto the floor. This will give the mouthpiece a bit of a clean before you drink and end up with a mouth full of dirty road water, not to mention any animal faeces if you’re riding in the countryside. Yummy!

4. Perfect the plait

If you’re planning to ride your bike on a wet day, which if you’re living in England chances are you will, then get that mane of yours into a plait! Your everyday ponytail will not survive the abuse of the wind and the rain when you’re on the bike You will be left with a long messy bun, resembling a birds nest and only after a bottle of conditioner and potential several broken combs will you have your locks back to how they were pre-ride.

5. Puncture practice

It is inevitable, there’s no avoiding it, you will get a puncture so be prepared.

Get your practice in at home. Set up in your kitchen, garden, lounge, wherever you want but practice changing your inner tube and getting it pumped back up with a hand pump! This will stand you in good stead for any solo rides!

6. Your body will change! AND you will like it!

Having spent most of my life being very active I didn’t expect my body to change that much. I mean, I’ve been running and playing hockey for as long as I can remember, what was cycling going to do to my legs that as any different? Time to welcome definition and power that I hadn’t ever considered and also time to throw out the last pair of skinny jeans that I could squeeze myself into. The best part is that I don’t care! Lean, muscular legs and strong powerful glutes are far better than a daily battle with my Topshop jeans!

7.You will be hooked!

The places you can go, the people you can meet and the experiences (not to mention the cake) waiting for you on your cycling journey will leave you hooked and addicted to this fantastic sport!

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