Chicks On BikesLet’s face it: cycling isn’t always glamorous. There’s the sweat, the helmet hair and the trousers-tucked-into-socks factor. Add in the grease marks, tyre punctures and agro car drivers and it can be downright dirty and a touch stressful. Plus, it’s a male-dominated game, which is less encouraging for the fairer sex.
According to a recent survey, while 17% of all local residents ride each week, the number of female cyclists is only half that of men. Young women especially are not cycling. In fact, of the chicks aged between 18 and 29 in the local area, only 2% use bikes to get around.
However, it doesn’t need to be this way. Check out these tips gleaned from cycle-savvy local ladies and Waverley Council’s transport guru on how to make pedal power safe, stylish and social, as well as sexy and slimming!
Get Groovy Gear
You can get stylish and comfy commuter gear from most sports clothing stores these days. If you love your dresses and skirts, throw on some leggings underneath or bloomers (like ‘I Quit Sugar’ guru and cycling campaigner Sarah Wilson does) to avoid flashing your undies to the world. You can also now buy women-specific helmets that have a little cut out section at the back so your ponytail can fit without squashing your locks down – so clever! Baskets are optional, but pretty funky and handy for carrying your water bottle, towel and iPad.
Choose Your Wheels
Deciding on the type of bike depends on your personal style and the journeys you’re likely to make. Sit-up Euro style single-speed bikes and ‘fixies’ both have the retro appeal and are better for baskets and panniers (bags slung over or attached to the back of the bike). Plus, it’s easy for that Sunday cruise down to the beach. If you’re considering a more serious commute including hilly climbs, you may want to try something sportier with extra gears. There are also fold-up and electric bikes. It’s best to talk to the experts in bike stores to pick the right wheels for your individual needs.
‘Tune Up’ At Free Workshops
Waverley Council runs regular cycling maintenance and ‘rusty riders’ workshops to help build confidence and basic skills. They are very popular. Book in for one at www.waverley.nsw.gov.au /cycling.
Be seen and heard and you will be far safer. Reflectors on bags and clothing are especially important when riding at night and lights are a must, fitted to the front and rear of your bike. Bright coloured clothing also helps and bells are vital (and the law).
Be Gracious (And Graceful)
Engaging drivers with a simple smile and wave can go a long way to endearing the car (and bus) community to riders and help build a good impression all round. Cyclists depend on drivers to keep them safe, so showing some respect, goodwill and honest-to-goodness female friendliness will make them care more.
Play By The Rules
The streets are there to share and you have as much right to be there as any other vehicle, but that also means respecting the rules. Remember to ride on shared paths with extra care. Give way to pedestrians and be ready to stop, especially when it’s busy. Stop at red lights. Don’t drink and ride. Indicate when turning. You get the drift.
Get Social Sister
Riding with a buddy is fun and can also boost your confidence on the road. Bike to work with colleagues who live close by. On the weekends there are a number of social ride groups you can access on Meetup.com such as ArtCycle, which takes people on slow cycle tours of art galleries in Sydney and hosts brunches. The Sydney Girls Bike Club (www.sydneycyclist.com/group/coolgirlsridebikes) is also worth a look.
Blogs And Resources
Bikegal – An online stash of tips on gear, road rules, bike trends, riding routes and more.
Visit bikegal.com or www.facebook.com/Bikegalcom.
BIKEast – The bicycle user group (BUG) representing cyclists in the Eastern Suburbs, with plenty of resources and meeting info. Visit www.bikeast.org.au.
For local maps as well as info on racks and lockers, bike events, workshops and plans check out www.waverley.nsw.gov.au/cycling