Women on bikes: Why we matter

After years of watching men conquer mountains on TV, I finally had the chance to witness a women’s race for the first time last June in Philly. Sure the men were racing at the same time (or there wouldn’t have been a race), but there was something about the grit and emotion everyone could feel as the women battled up the course’s famous Manayunk Wall. The male spectators surrounding me were captivated as well. Every time the women’s peloton passed, we yelled and cheered until our voices were raspy.

specialized lululemon, carmen small, evelyn stevens, ally stacher, taylor wiles

Since I first began cycling I always compared my body and my performance to men because I had nothing better to go on, but as I watched these women, I suddenly felt at home. They weren’t rail-thin like most of their male counterparts and I could feel their suffering in my own legs as they charged over the monstrous climb. This has been a tough year for cycling, as so many were dumbstruck by the sudden fall of their heroes. I never yearned to be like them, nor could I ever relate to those guys in the least. This is why women’s racing is so necessary and we all need to hear of cycling’s success stories in order to help launch our own. Continue reading

How to find the perfect women’s group ride

I love suffering in a pack of male riders. I’ve even been told that I “ride like I have balls.” But sometimes a girl yearns for a break from the boy’s club and some time with her own species. Maybe it’s the lack of ball-busting and talks/displays of bodily functions, but there’s just a different vibe in a group of women. Men might think we’re non-competitive, but some of the best women’s rides display all the friendly attacks and quad-busting efforts of a testosterone fest. While men’s rides are a dime a dozen, finding a good group of women to ride with can be a life-long search. Here are some tips to find your own group. Continue reading

TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship

After watching local crits and obsessively tuning in to all the grand tours, I finally got to experience my first pro race today. We headed down to Philadelphia early this morning for the famed TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship and promptly sought out the Manayunk Wall, a sustained climb that hits 17 percent at one point. We were fortunate enough to have passes to Fuji’s VIP tent (unlimited beer, grilled meat and free schwag!) where we waited for the brutal ascent to start claiming its victims.

The men’s field was strong, but what I really enjoyed watching was the women. The group remained pretty much intact on the first run. But after four more circuits, things got ugly, with riders shed off the back. I loved watching the racers’ boundless determination as they struggled through the pain. In the end, Ina Teutenberg (Team Specialized-Lululemon) and Alexander Serebryakov (Team Type 1 Sanofi) took the win. Continue reading

You may not want to sit down for this…

In recent groundbreaking medical news, the New York Times reported a shocking discovery: that female cyclists are also prone to sexual dysfunction issues from cycling. Thanks, scientists for finally pointing your microscope at women who ride something more aggressive than a comfort bike or beach cruiser.

To summarize, a 2006 Yale study found that when compared to runners (why are we always compared to runners!?), female cyclists had less genital sensation. In the latest study, researchers measured female cyclists’ sensations in the pelvic floor and collected feedback about any numbness or tingling as women pedaled their own bikes in the lab. They concluded that women with lower handlebars, especially those lower than the saddle, were putting excess pressure on the perineum (soft tissue), which decreases sensation in the pelvic floor. The article states that “This problem is particularly likely to occur when a rider leans forward, flattens her back and puts her hands on the ‘drop bars’ of a road or track bicycle for a more aerodynamic position.” Essentially, the scientists recommend that women either ride with handlebars above saddle height or buy a nose-less saddle.  Continue reading

Review: Pearl Izumi Drop Tail Cycling Bib Shorts

I’m envious of the guys who can down a water bottle and then quickly pull off behind a tree without missing a beat. But for women it’s not so easy, especially with bib shorts. When I bought my first bibs, a pair of sleek (and expensive) Giordana Silverlines, I knew I’d either have to carefully ration my water bottles or memorize every rural gas station in the county.

If you’ve never tried bibs, I’ll warn you right now: They will change your life. If regular lycra shorts are a Trek 1000, then bibs are a SuperSix Evo, baby. There’s no fabric slipping, bunching or gaping and no elastic band to put a stranglehold on your stomach. The only problem is that bib straps severely interfere with bathroom breaks, forcing women to shed their jerseys and bottoms first. Continue reading