Alaskans are incredibly fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Alaskan women are lucky to have such a strong, supportive community for women’s cycling.
There are many women-specific events. The upcoming Bike for Women sold out in just over 17 hours this year, a new record! The road race division of the Arctic Bike Club hosts a women-only race series annually (mark the June 12-19 Pocketful of Posies on your calendars now). The Gold Nugget Triathlon sells out every year in minutes.
Why ride in women only events?
Events like these are so popular because Alaska’s women are adventurous, strong, and so exceptional at supporting each other. At every triathlon or cycling event, you see strong, inspiring, determined, incredible women, having fun and doing amazing things with their healthy bodies while encouraging each other.
According to local cyclist and ABC-road committee member, Kelsey Tranel, “Women race more calmly then men and are incredibly supportive. I learn so much… from the more experienced women.”
Women Specific Cycling Gear
Female bodies are different from male bodies. Differences in bodies translate to differences in gear. For the most comfortable ride, invest in women’s padded cycling shorts or pants with chamois. Chamois reduces unpleasant chafing during rides. The slight differences in the structure and padding of women’s shorts will improve riding comfort. Wear your bike shorts “commando,” and they’ll do their job better.
Just as women come in a beautiful range of shape and sizes, so do women’s hips and “sit bones” (those bones that are poking down when you sit). Your bicycle and your bike seat should both be the right size for you. Proper sizing considers your height, torso length, and your hip and the size of those sit bones. If you find the right-sized seat, it will make all the difference for how your ride feels after a few miles. As strange as it sounds, your local bike shop will help you measure your sit bones and help you find the perfect size seat for your tush.
Women’s bicycles are shaped and sized differently to accommodate these body size and shape differences. Obviously this is not a ‘one size fits all’ situation, and the best thing you can do is try a variety of bikes and see what fits right and what feels right. Some women can comfortably ride on a “man’s bike” and some women have more success with a women-specific bike. Often friends and family will let you try out their bike to see if it works for you. Local bike shops offer rentals, if you’re trying to decide whether to commit to a purchase. And any local bike shop will be able to get you started with an approximate bike size.
Consider investing in a bike jersey or two. Fitted women’s bike jerseys are a better shape for many women’s bodies (it’s all about the hips, isn’t it?!). A women’s cut in the top helps it stay put where it should. Jerseys also come in cute colors and patterns and typically have a ton of handy, awesome pockets which can make them useful for other outdoor activities too.
Picking a helmet is mostly about size and comfort. Some women’s helmets even come shaped for a ponytail. Make sure to look for something that fits you correctly, ask for help for sizing. A helmet that is not properly sized can do more harm than good.
Finding a female cycling buddy
You don’t need anyone to tell you that you are more likely to stick with an activity if you are doing it with a friend. Cycling buddies are no exception. A good cycling buddy will hold you accountable, push you, help you grow, support you, teach you, and allow you to do the same for them. If you are looking for a supportive group, check out arcticroad.org for upcoming events.
Emma Haddix is an attorney who was born and raised in Anchorage. When she’s not chasing her toddler she is working, trying to fit workouts in, and hunting for the best gluten free cupcake. To reach Emma, email: firstname.lastname@example.org