Great cycling gear is all about enabling optimum performance – and that includes comfort. However feeling comfortable goes beyond padded bottoms and silicon thigh grippers – it also includes feeling confident about how you look.
Not everyone wants to wear skin tight lycra or is a size 8, and that’s why we love the fact that alternatives such as skorts and cycling dresses are available, and that kit collections like Lasses (with sizing up to 26) by FLAB are helping to make cycling more inclusive.
But still, occasionally, we can be made to feel vulnerable.
Cycling blogger Elz Lloyd’s moving ‘Skinny Cyclist? Not Likely’ post illustrates what happens when, for instance, we are unfortunate enough to encounter male cyclists who have an A* grade in rudeness.
One of the reasons I love riding so much is how it makes me feel... as opposed to how it makes me look
Even throwaway comments can have an impact.
I once cycled in a group with a gentleman who casually let slip during a light-hearted post-ride chat that my bum (which is quite small and unremarkable) ‘wasn’t suitable for twerking’.
To be fair he’d barely got the words out before he realised he’d strayed into dangerous territory, turned bright red with embarrassment and started to apologise (profusely) - but it was certainly a reminder that cycling gear doesn’t leave much to the imagination.
So I’m just going to put this out there.
One of the reasons I love riding so much is because of how it makes me feel (strong, powerful, happy) as opposed to how it makes me look.
In fact, my thighs and calves have probably got bigger since I started riding - but I love those muscles because they enable me to ride great big hills with a great big smile on my face.
In short, I don’t ride to look hot, I ride to feel fabulous and it seems I’m not alone.
“If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over 3 years of owning Velovixen, it’s that there’s pretty close to zero correlation between shape, size and ability on a bike,” says Phil, VeloVixen Co-Founder. “You only have to look at the variety of dimensions in the top women’s pro ranks to realise that.”
Indeed, last summer - thanks to a press pass - I spent some time behind the scenes at the Tour Series, watching pro women riders warming up for the race ahead. They all shared the same awe-inspiring strength, courage and determination, as well as physiques honed by phenomenonal training effort – but they certainly didn’t share the same body shapes.
However in this elite environment the focus was on one thing only – riding your heart out.
If I took one thing away from that event it was a determination to carry that same focus with me when I‘m on my bike.
Let’s celebrate the fact that we are out there riding by supporting each other – whatever shape and size we are - all the way.
Just don’t ask me to twerk.