Being in a male dominated sport like cycling can be intimidating at times, where guys would normally blast by when you’re having a nice weekend ride. Naturally, men produce more testosterone which helps them recover faster, build more muscle and so forth. But that doesn’t mean women have to always take the back seat. I’ve seen many women take the lead by pulling the peloton with amazing feats of strength and endurance. So, if you like cycling and excelling in what you love doing, here are some tips to get you right on that path to 2 wheeled greatness and tons of fun competing with some guys.
1. Getting a bike
When shopping for a bike, if you haven’t got one and are planning to have a new one, just like buying clothes, do remember that sizing is the most important aspect to consider. Get a right size bike for your body size. So, for example, your height is 152 – 160cm, you could roughly fit a 49 – 50cm road bike. Those are estimations, but do check with your trusted bike shops or you can refer to sizing on the internet. Also, stems can be changed according to your preferred reach to your handlebars. Best bet is to go to an independent bike fitter before buying a bike. Don’t get scammed with wrong sizes.
2. Glute love
Sitting on a saddle can be a love hate relationship. If it’s the right one, you’ll love it; whereas the wrong ones can make you hate cycling. So, choose your saddle wisely. One thing, for sure is, it will take some getting used to. Don’t expect the sensation of sitting on a nice fat sofa. First thing is to measure your sit bones. Some bike shops have a gel bench seat indicator to indicate how wide your sit bones are before choosing the correct size. Usually for longer distances, using a firmer saddle is necessary to support your hips from rocking which could cause postural issues. In general, women have wider hips that means you might need a wider seat to get proper support.
3. Don’t go flat on flats
If you’ve been riding, the inevitable flat tire can occur to anyone, regardless of your gender. And don’t wait for prince charming to come rolling in to save the day. Always bring necessary tools like a toolkit, spare tube, and a mini pump. Level up and learn how to fix it. Be a queen and show that women can handle heavy stuff too.
4. Skill up
Riding confidently can mean riding safer and more composed while in a peloton. Even riding with one hand can be tough for some especially if you hadn’t ridden a bike in ages. Do practice and get reacquainted with the bike. Don’t be afraid to experiment with easy and safe low speed drills for improving your balance and controls. From the simplest single-handed drills or just standing confidently while coasting can make the biggest difference in your riding ability and confidence, in the meantime making it safer for yourself and others around.
5. Sensitivity issues
If you are planning for long rides, the best advice for men or women is to not wear underwear when you are wearing cycling specific shorts. Cycling shorts are designed specifically to contact the skin. Riding with underwear can cause chaffing and it’ll make you walk like a gorilla. So, avoid looking like our cousin and go commando style.
6. Taking care of your steed
Caring for your bike is very important, so treat it like your baby. After playing with it, be sure to clean it and lube it. However, everything we own or even with ourselves is in a constant progression of decay. Even if you leave a bike for years without touching it, it can rot, rust, and corrode. So, be sure to check your chain for adequate amount of lubrication, brake pad thickness, smoothness in all moving parts and make sure nothing is loose or rattling when you ride. Accidents can happen due to malfunction. Therefore, in order to avoid looking like a scene from Final Destination, please love your bike and maintain it well. It’ll serve you like a loyal horse.
7. Learning how to ride in groups
Sometimes, riding can be daunting. Hence, find friends or groups of riders that are suited to your riding abilities; some groups are competitive, some ride for leisure, some are beginner friendly too. Riding is also a team sport where support for each other is vital in keeping everyone safe on the roads. Especially for women, it can be scary riding alone here on the roads in Malaysia. Always ride with a buddy, if it’s a guy, chances of threats could be lowered as predators only pick on people at the most vulnerable situations. So, ride smoothly and safely in a group. You’ll find yourself going further, getting stronger while being safe and having tons of fun!
Cycling & Fitness Coach
Jessen Lee is a Level 2 Sports Science Coach, specializing in cycling skills and performance, triathlon and general physical fitness. Certified by Majlis Sukan Negara, PMBIA, and ITU, he also conducts group and personal coaching sessions under The Ride School for road, off-road cycling, and triathlon for all levels. With 20 years of training, racing, and coaching experience, he passionately shares his love for sports with the community.