So I tried to write a blog post about how more of us women should get out on our bikes. You know, a clever, encouraging, well written type of post like this one from the Veggie Runners.
Instead I failed miserably, and ended up writing a post about why I wear cheap, pink lycra!
So yeah, I wrote a blogpost about cycling from a female’s point of view all about clothes. Nice one Hels…Which I then edited several times after publishing, which was really unprofessional. Even for me. Oops!
As much as I take those articles with a pinch of salt, there is a element of truth to them. After all, I would much rather sit on my arse and eat Maltesers all day than do any exercise when its my time of the month! I cannot speak on behalf of 50% of the population as to why cycling is not so popular with women. All I can do is talk about is why I never wanted to go cycling until recently, and why it took me so long to get back on the saddle.
Lets start with a little background info. When I was a kid, I was a tomboy. A proper Shiloh Jolie-Pitt kind of tomboy. It is still is a running joke in my family that when I was little I insisted everyone called me George and I only wore trousers (still do), loved football and most of my friends were boys. Primary school aged me rode my bike a lot. In fact, I loved riding it! I was forever riding around my (Mum approved allocated) local area with my male BFF.
But then I went to secondary school. An all girls secondary school.
It was around the time that I entered secondary education that I stopped riding my bike. I don’t know if the going to an all girls school thing had anything to do with it, or if it was because I became a teenager and just outgrew it. The boys my age were losers and the last thing that I wanted to do was ride around the block with them. I was only interested in older (unobtainable) boys in bands and figuring out how I could sneak into pubs and get served.
In my late teens and for the majority of my twenties the last thing I that wanted to do was any exercise. I was only interested in partying (because by then, I could get into pubs and get served!) Then later on, laziness, work and general life stuff all got in the way. Recreational exercise was the last thing I wanted to do in my free time.
Thankfully I have seen the light! I now know that my health and fitness levels effect my wellbeing, so I try to keep them in check. I am not a spin class/cardio/zumba/kettle bell/gym bunny type, nor will I ever be. I much prefer to enjoy the great outdoors rather than sweating indoors in front of too many mirrors in exchange for a large monthly fee. I try to keep fit with my long walks, swimming and (new to the list) riding my bike.
I was a couch potato for most of my twenties and I hugely relate to this online magazine article, I too am a late bloomer to this exercise lark! Here’s my excuses why I didn’t ride a bike between the ages of 11 to 33 –
Lack of spare time. I do have more free time now that I work part time. But in my twenties I should have made time for more exercise. If you enjoy something, you will find the time for a your hobby.
I am too scared to ride on the road. I still am. It is illegal to ride bikes on the pavement, but I hate riding on roads because the cars scare the shit out of me. The only way for me to get round this is to stick to riding woodland trails, parks and ridiculously quiet country lanes. I rode on roads on our holiday in the New Forest, but I was only over taken by about eight cars in three days and they all stuck to the 40 mile national park speed limit. I could just about handle that! Although I nearly shat myself when a coach load of tourists drove past me! I do need to get my confidence up more. I now ride to my local park (5 minutes away) on the road. I am still a bag of nerves, and Rob tells me that I slow down every time a car comes near me (sorry drivers!). However, I will continue sticking to riding only on woodland trails, parks and ridiculously quiet country lanes, thank you.
I was intimidated by the pros. By pros, I mean people who are fast. I think we are all a little proud and don’t want to look silly. Its human nature to want to be good at what we do, and generally if we feel we are no good at something, instead of trying to improve, we stop doing it (or at least I do – take my crafting and bread making attempts). But even the super sporty pros were beginners once. So ignore the show offs (which luckily there aren’t that many of around in the cycling community) and just concentrate on enjoying yourself.
I was worried about being too slow. I have stopped caring about being slow. Its as simple as that, really. See above. I figure doing something active is better than doing nothing.
The daft clothing. Again I have stopped caring. Also, padded cycling bottoms are worth every penny spent.
I was scared of falling off. I still am. But its a chance you take. Ride cautiously and don’t run before you can walk. Rob has recently fallen off his bike and fractured his shoulder in two places, proving that accidents do happen. But please don’t let that put you off from riding your bike!
I am too old to start cycling. Surely I should have started cycling in my twenties when I would have been at the peak of my fitness levels? I will admit that is something that I have thought before, but its nonsense! Yes, I might have found it easier to pick up where I had left off with my childhood cycling if I had started cycling again earlier. But look at all the 50/60 something year old MAMIL’s out there – if they can do it so can we! Plus I need to give myself more credit as I am fairly fit thanks to walking everywhere and a decent diet, and my cycling is improving slowly but surely. I recently had a morale booster when I went cycling with my 21 year old work colleague as, to my pleasant surprise, I was quicker than her going up the hills. In fact, I am going to blow my own trumpet now and say that I am currently the 8th quickest woman on Strava going up the steepest hill in my local park! (I know, Im as shocked as you are!) To be honest, I think the numbers go in my favour with the lack of cycling women out there, but hey ho!
Its too expensive. Bikes are not cheap, nor is the clothing. I am lucky that Rob paid for my bike and that I have enough disposable income to spend on entry level clothing and accessories. And then there is the money spent on petrol to go to country parks etc to ride around and entrance fees for sportive’s and events – it all adds up. But I look at it like I look at my choice to buy organic milk and yogurt. Yes, it is more expensive, but I bloody hope that it does me good!!!! Money spent on things like swimming at my local leisure centre (the same price as a sandwich meal deal) and healthy pursuits is money well spent. Even if it does mean less meals out, take aways and pints, its better for me!
Sad but true I am slightly addicted to pinning cycling motivational quotes at the moment! I need to get out more!