Riding a bike is so much fun! The beauty of it though is that it has so many other benefits too:
- You’ll get healthier and happier. It’s great for both physical and mental health. Many women say they ride to get some sanity time - time just for them away from the noise of everyday life and they finish the ride feeling more relaxed and more positive.
- It’s free transport that’s good to the environment
- You can ride on your own or make it a social event by riding with others
- You can do it on the roads or off road on trails
Cycling is flippin amazing and anyone of any age or ability can do it! Odds are that you already know how to ride and possibly even already have a bike, perhaps at the back of the garage somewhere. So what’s stopping you from getting back on and having fun riding?
Here are some common reasons I’ve heard from women I’ve talked to, and my top tips for dealing with them.
“I don’t have time”
I get it. There are only 24 hours in a day and life seems to be getting busier and busier. My top tips for finding the time to ride are:
- Double up. You can still do the things you’re doing now and some of those can involve being on the bike :) Some examples:
- Go for a bike ride as part of your family time. Most children love to ride their bikes so why not ride with them?
- Or instead of meeting your friend for a drink for a catch up, meet for a bike ride and talk while you’re riding - perhaps on the way to a pub lunch or cafe for a coffee and cake.
- Instead of driving to the shop, take a backpack and go on your bike. My local shop is less than a mile from my house and I feel so guilty when I drive there. So I’ve started to cycle instead and everytime I do I’m so glad I did because I really enjoy it!
- If you commute to work then consider cycling there. If it’s a bit too far to cycle then you could cycle part of the way there. I know people who drive part way, park up, get their bike out of the car and cycle the rest. Often it means free / cheaper parking, saving on fuel and a quicker journey. Some people do the same but on the train.
- Review how you spend your time to see if there are 30 mins or more you could spend riding instead. For example, are there times when you’ve sat down to watch something on TV just for the sake of watching TV? Perhaps another repeat of something you’ve watched about 5 times? Would you really miss that time if you went out for a quick pootle on the bike instead? You’d probably enjoy it more.
- The “just 10 minutes” technique. Sometimes if I’m feeling too busy to ride I’ll say “OK I can go out for just 10 minutes” and often I’ll stay out longer because I love it and figure out a way to re-jig the stuff I thought I needed to do instead. Sometimes it might just be 10 minutes but I’m glad I got out there for some fresh air and sanity time. It can be enough to get me into the routine of riding regularly and then I build from there. If you feel stuck in a rut, like the idea of riding but are super busy then why not try this?
- Make it quick and easy to get on your bike. If your bike is in the back of the garage covered in cobwebs and stuck behind loads of junk that’s a pain in the arse to move then it’s going to make it harder to get out on your bike because you’ll just think “Ugh, I can’t be bothered with the hassle of getting it out”. So try to find somewhere you could put it that’s easier to get to. I have mine right by the front door. I live in a tiny house so that means it’s behind my sofa in the lounge but it’s not really in the way and since it’s been there I’ve ridden my bike so much more often than before. I know that’s not going to be possible for everyone or maybe you’d really prefer not to have your bike near the front door, but think of somewhere easily accessible you could put it to help you get out and ride more.
“I’m too slow”
So many women I’ve spoken to would love to ride but don’t because the person/people they’ve ridden with go too fast for them. It’s so frustrating because if you can just about keep up then it’s still not enjoyable because you’re struggling so much, and if you can’t keep up you’re either worried that everyone’s annoyed at you for being so slow or you’re just not enjoying yourself because you’re stuck at the back on your own. Not fun.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
It might sound silly but have you asked them to slow down? They may not realise what you’re going through. I know in the past I’ve been on rides with stronger riders and been struggling and when people have asked me if I’m OK I’ve said “Yeah, I’m alright thanks” when really inside my head I’m screaming “I can’t bloody do this! I just want to ride on my own!”. I’ve also been on the other end where I’ve been the stronger rider and someone slower has said they’re fine, but they didn’t look fine. It’s so hard to know whether another rider is pushing themselves hard but still enjoying it or whether they’d rather slow down. If you ask the people you’re riding with if you could go a bit slower I’m pretty sure they’d be fine with it as most people just like being on a ride together. If they’re not fine with it then it’s time to find someone else to ride with or perhaps get a bit stronger on the bike by riding on your own or at a spin class so the next ride with them is more enjoyable.
“I’m scared I’ll get a puncture and I won’t know how to fix it”
This is easily fixed. There are loads of videos on You Tube showing you what to do (and if you want a jargon-free guide I’ve created one here). I recommend practicing at home first and then when you feel like you know what you’re doing, walk down the street with your bike and have a practice there too (where you’re outside but not too far from home).
To be honest, I’ve been cycling regularly for about 5 years now and have had less than 5 punctures. It hardly ever happens. But if you’re really not confident fixing a flat then why not ride with someone who is? Don’t let the fear of a flat tyre stop you from riding.
“I have nobody to ride with”
- Join a Breeze ride. All across the country, women volunteering on behalf of British Cycling are leading women-only rides that are free for any women to join. Rides are classified as easy, steady or challenging and range from about 5 miles up to 50 and beyond. The ride leaders ensure that the rides go at the pace of the slowest rider and everyone is really friendly. You can see if there are some rides near you by putting your postcode into the search. Find out more here.
- Womens Cycling Facebook Groups. I’ve created a list of women’s cycling facebook groups that I know about here. Some are local to an area. I’m often posting in the Women’s Cycling Manchester facebook group and sometimes see people posting in there asking if anyone wants to join them for a ride. If you don’t know of a group in your local area then joining one or 2 of the groups that are not near you can often be a good start as (1) facebook will start to suggest other cycling groups to you and (2) there may be other women in those groups in the same location as you. Or how about starting your own?
- Join a Club. Joining a club can be a great way to learn about cycling, make new friends, experience new cycling routes and get tips on getting stronger and more comfortable on the bike. I’ve created a list of women-friendly clubs that I know about here. If there aren’t any near you or you don’t fancy joining any of those then check out the Velo Sisters Cycling Club where you can get inspiration, encouragement and support from an online community of women who ride.
I hope that helps :)