Welcome to my favourite time of the year: It’s summertime and the second half of the season just started. Since I raced neither the Giro nor the Olympics I had quite a hiatus and therefore time to prepare well for the upcoming races.
This “break“ also allowed me to join my boyfriend and his teammates for their annual summer training camp. Since we are all getting older and the crew grew the size of a baby, the guys had their partners and kids with them.
Two of the “better halves“ just started cycling and brought their bikes to ride together for the first time. A circumstance that led to quite a few talks about training, gear and general points all around cycling.
This made me realise how much some life-/cycling hacks have changed my cycling experience and I decided to list my favourite hacks for ladies (and gents):
The general perception of the handelbar bag changed within the last few years. Most people that laughed about mine got themselves one by now 😀
But there are still a few left who will tell you it’s useless and nonsense.
So let me tell you: it’s not! From the classics like tools, food or a tube, you can easily store additional stuff like sunscreen, a second baselayer, facemask, jacket… The bag will keep your jersey pockets comfortably empty, all stuff dry from rain and protected from your sweat. Because what’s worse than putting on a sweat soaked facemask at the coffee stop.
I have to admit I didn’t always use chamois cream, mainly because as a student it was just too expensive for me. Or so it seemed, because this money is so well invested! In the past I was always struggling with my saddles and changing my positions on the regular. All simply because I didn’t know how to sit down on my bike/saddle anymore. Since I use chamois cream even for very short rides ( >20 min.) no more major changes needed and only a bit of pain from time to time.
No panties under bibs
I know it’s weird at the beginning and probably that’s one of most common “mistakes“ of people who’ve just started to ride their bikes. But as soon as you wear bibshorts with a chamois, there’s supposed to be nothing between you and the bibs except the aforementioned cream. It will also help to solve saddle sore issues and gonna make your ride way more enjoyable.
Changing tubes/fixing flats
There is an unwritten rule, that you shouldn’t go on a ride alone before you can’t change a tire/tube yourself. And I guess in terms of unburdening your friends and saving money for a taxi the rule has a point. There are a lot of YouTube videos and hacks that can be found on the Internet on how to do it best.
First things first: Study those or ask a friend how to do it, but most important: Practice it! A few attempts at home before you leave for your first solo ride to check how your wheels and skills work. There are wheels that are super easy to get a tire on, there are some where you gonna need a bit more patience and power. According that last factor and to all the ladies out there: My dad and other guys while putting tires back on told me to “just push a little bit more with my thumbs“… well what can I say: My thumbs don’t do the job, my hands just don’t have the power needed, but that’s why tire levers were invented. They do not only help you to get the tire off, but they can also help you to get them back on.
Start off with Zwift
A good tool to gain confidence and fitness before hitting the road is Zwift or indoor training in general. I used to feel under pressure and insecure about joining group rides. To get yourself in shape and gain a bit of confidence, you can start with some indoor training first. It also allows you to practice riding with cleats and how to handle them completely crash-free. Following Zwift chats on your screen will also help you to learn some cycling related vocabulary.
If you are worried about not getting your bike handling skills in, you can use the rollers instead of a turbo trainer. That’s going to boost your handling skills for sure!
Don’t ride too fast
Believe it or not, but in terms of training it’s sometimes easier to go too fast than too slow. So it’s not only a beginners tip but a general one: slow down! If you train with a certain plan then do your efforts hard and enjoy your easy rides. But in general riding a bit too easy will benefit you way more than always going a bit too fast.
Wave at each other
There are two rules: if you are a cyclist and you see another cyclist you gonna wave, say hello or just lift a finger to say hi EXCEPT (and that’s the second rule) the other cyclist does not wear a helmet. Which leads to a very important point that’s not a hack, but still a lifesaver: WEAR A HELMET! ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET!
Bike fit. Pain is not an option.
It might feel weird to start cycling and get a bike fit right away, but it’s probably the best thing you can do. If you’re inexperienced in how to position yourself on the bike, ask an expert for help. It will probably save you a lot of pain, saddle sores, maybe even an injury. And it will for sure make your ride way more enjoyable.
Which brings me to my last but most important point:
Enjoy riding your bike, because it’s awesome!!!
Maybe one or two points might help you. And if you see me out there on the road, give me a wave 🙂