03 Apr Woman on Bikes: Some Insight….
At FourPL we believe that sport provides a setting to change social norms, culture and behaviour to promote diversity in our communities. We asked the girls in the Splattie Cycling Team to share some insight on “woman on bikes”…
What advice would you give women who want to start racing?
Racing looks hard and scary and in truth it can be both those things but it is also so much more than just riding your bike fast around a track or road. Its about friendships and comradery of the riders in your grade, club or team. It’s about doing your best and being pushed harder than you thought you could go, achieving more than you though possible and feeling fitter and healthier than you ever thought you would be. Its just an amazing community to be a part of.
What do you think stands in the way between getting more women onto bikes?
- Confidence – On average women take longer to gain confidence in their abilities on the bike than men do. Masters riders especially take longer probably due to the fact they are conscious of the repercussions should they fall and get hurt and not be in a position to manage kids, workload etc. Not to say that men do not have these concerns but I think women sometime put these concern ahead of getting on a bike.
- A new hobby especially one that involves balance and speed is daunting and may be a bit off putting.
- Finances – Road bikes on average are pretty expensive
Is there any reason we should ride “ladies” bikes? Is there any real difference between male and female bikes?
No – it is all about riding style and personal preference. Some women prefer a more aggressive stretched out riding style so will prefer to use a men’s frame. If you are a very petite women then a women’s frame may be best. Most frame manufacturers are now making men’s / unisex frames in more sizes allowing for women to use them should they wish. It is crucial to have a proper bike fit though once you have purchase your bike to ensure proper riding position on your bike. This will minimize injury and should ensure you are comfortable and feel good on your bike.
Have you seen more involvement of women and acceptance by men in the bike world…more sectors than others (say bike rides vs bike shops)?
The number of women starting to ride has definitely increased in the social scene. Racing numbers for women specific events have decreased slightly but that may be due to cost and time away from the family. Cycle races are generally quite far away from home which means a whole morning away from the family when attending a short crit type race. For a longer road race it could mean three quarters of a day away from the family.
What sort of things can bike shops do to cater for women better?
- Offer weekly shop rides catering for all levels of rider.
- Most cycling stores have a wide range of men’s kit and a very small range for women. Women love choice so it would be great to have a bigger range to choose from if you do choose to go instore for a kit. For those of us that prefer online shopping there are a number of really good quality women’s kit available from very well-known brands.
- Take the time to talk to customers and have staff who are knowledgeable and able to answer questions no matter how simple the response may seem. Offering sessions on basic bicycle maintenance mechanics – changing tyres, tuning gears etc. Sometimes it is not just being able to change the tyre but also knowing how it fits back onto the bike in the case of a rear tyre change.
- Following up on bicycle purchase to invite rider to shop rides