Beginning to cycle again is daunting. There is traffic to navigate, equipment to buy or adjust, fitness to build up, and perhaps a new skill to learn or relearn. Each of these concerns can become overwhelming and a barrier in themselves to going out cycling, so here are some tips to try to overcome them.
Women are more likely than men to describe themselves as “inexperienced cyclists” and as lacking in confidence. Finding this confidence can be difficult when beginning to cycle again as it encompasses every aspect of the sport; how you feel on a bike, how you think others will perceive you, and how you navigate the roads.
One way to start building confidence is to begin off-road – in a park, a closed supermarket carpark or a business park on a weekend when it is quiet. Perhaps ask some friends to join or find a community cycling club that you can join while gaining some more confidence. Riding on familiar roads and mapping out a regular route where you know every junction, roundabout and traffic light can also be helpful. Even indoor cycling can also help build up confidence.
And as Samra Said – chair of Cycle Sisters, a London-based organisation inspiring and enabling Muslim women to cycle – remembers, people around are always willing to help.
“When I was feeling like I was a liability, it wasn’t the same experience for the people who were helping me,” she says.
They were really comfortable to see me grow and able to see how far I’ve come, whereas I was like, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing,’ so I think having a supportive group like Cycle Sisters is a good starting point. There’s a comfort in the many, in the collective…and there’s a joy in doing things together.”
Combatting Safety Concerns
Being concerned about safety when first getting out on your bike is a common worry, but there are many ways to feel safer while cycling. Cycling in groups can sometimes make women feel safer on the roads and provide a way to meet people.
“In a group, you take up more space, and that makes them feel safe,” Adna Dumitrescu, co-founder of the Edinburgh-based cycling group Queens of Pain, notes. “So from this point of view, riding in a group can make people feel more comfortable riding alongside traffic…It might be daunting to be in a group, but there are benefits to it.”
British Cycling provides a list (opens in new tab) of their women-only rides available around the country, as well as those open to all…
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