Base Layer Basics
A base layer is a thin layer of fabric that has one or two job to do as a piece of clothing. The first and most important is to wick. Wicking away your sweat or built up moisture helps with your body temperature control and keeps you warmer in the cold weather or colder in the hot weather.
Winter Clothing Essentials
It is a wonderful time of year, some places in the US have received snow already, and others are only now finishing the changing of the leaves. This is also the time of year you need to decide if you are investing in extra winter clothes or going to invest on an indoor trainer.
Here are my essentials :
A good base layer, this will be snug and close to your skin. The goal is to pull moisture from your skin so that you don’t get cold and wet as you ride harder. Base layers can be sleeveless, short sleeve or long sleeve. It is completely up to you what you pick.
Tip : If your sports bra doesn’t wick put your base layer on first.
Arm Warmer and Knee Warmers
Your knees are precious and your arms get cold easily. If your ride starts off in the cool morning and warms off you can quickly take your these off and put them in a jersey pocket. I personally run knee warmers under 65, and run arm/knee with a combination vest well into the late fall.
I love wool socks, and will live in them from November through March. They manage moisture well, and keep you toasty warm. Personally, I wear the 6″ through the winter as it comes close to touching my knee warmers and then ski style ones that come up to my knees when its snowing or a cold rain.
Tip: Put a plastic bag over your socks before you put your feet in your shoes. It will help keep the wind chill down and warmth in.
Keeping the chill off your body is key. A good vest will keep your chest and core warm by keeping your body heat in and the windchill out. There are many different vest out these days, some with Windstopper, others that pack very small, and others that have a layer of thermal fleece.
I have three different types of gloves I wear through out the winter. A basic mountain bike glove that is good down to 40 degrees or so. A basic cycling liner glove that keeps the heat in and has a brushed top that keeps the wind out. Finally a good winter glove that is thermal, wind and waterproof with insides that wick off my sweat as my hands heat up.
This is only the essentials that I recommend to every woman. Depending what weather and how cold you can endure the extras like jackets, knickers, tights, jerseys and such are all going to be personal preference. I hope to get you through picking those this winter as well.
Thanks for reading and please leave your feedback below.
Open Forum : Winter Clothing
Photo from Majikimaje
Here is your chance to let all of us women know what your favorite pieces for winter are. Tell us the brand, why you like them and what you would change. I’ll be following it up with winter clothing essentials later this week.
Riding with Your Menstrual Cycle : Guys Beware
How do I ride during my menstrual cycling?
A tough question, that only seems to be asked by women with very tough skin or no shame. It is something that all women go through, and daily riders can’t take the few days off to deal with their monthly “friend.”
Q & A : What Makes a Bike a Women’s Bike?
Question : What Makes a Bicycle a Women’s Bicycle?
This is a broad question with long answer so maybe take a seat.
In the old days…
Many women rode their bikes with skirts (much like they rode horses side saddle.) When bicyles were designed for women they came out with a dropped top tube design. The most popular of these were the “mixte” or step through. The design is still carried in many lines. Personally I think it is much easier to get on and off a step through frame, though some people don’t like the look. Another advantage of the step through is for tight clothing, or tight hips. I have successfully sold step through bikes in black or grey to gentleman with bad hip joints.
For a very long time this step through design is all women rode and men had a diamond frame with taller top tube. Even now many people visit bike shops and shop for bikes based on this very traditional thought process.
Modern time and modern designs…
These days bikes are designed differently. Most mid to high end womens bicycles have many other features that make them womens, and almost none of them are a step through design.
Some key thoughts going into the designs of modern womens bicycles :
- Most women have longer legs over longer upper body. This makes so when they ride a traditional “squared” geometry, their seat is too high and length or top tube of the bike is too long . Making for a very stretched out, painful, ride.
- Women come in all sizes, but often smaller sizes than men.
- Most women have narrower shoulder width than men, which means narrower handlebars.
- Most women have breast or chest to worry about when getting into a more aggressive fitting. This also means more weight on the upper body.
Details by Bike…
Road bikes have a couple key differences :
- Shorter top tube of the bicycle. I touched on this above but many women have longer upper body and shorter legs. A shorter top tube allows them the length of the bike they need without needing to raise the seat on a smaller sized bike.
- Taller head tube. A taller head tube allows the bikes front end to sit up higher. This allows for a more upright fit, if you decide, and less weight on your hands and more on your rear. It also makes it so you don’t have to rock your pelvic bone and hips so far forward to get the proper fit alignment on your back.
- Womens seat. These seats tend to be shorter, wider in the back and a medically designed cut out to relieve pressure.
- Narrower & shorter handlebars. Women tend to have narrower shoulders, so they need a narrower handlebar. Another thing a womens handlebar addresses is the “reach” down to the drops. Womens tend to be shorter, so easier to get into an aggressive position.
- Different steering angles. When you shorten or lengthen a bike, it changes the handling. Many manufactures have fixed this by changing the angle that the fork and seat tube sit at.
Mountain bikes carry many of the above differences plus some extra :
- Lighter weighted suspension. Suspension works two ways, coil or air activated. With air you can easily change the feel of suspension with a shock pump. With coil if you are below or above the recommended weight for that coil, you need to replace it. Many womens mountain bikes if they come with coil suspension are set up with the lighter suspension coil.
- Lower stand over. Allowing women to feel more confident on the bike.
There are many other things I can talk about in this topic, which in the future I plan to, but for now try to read through everything above and let me know your questions. Many things have to do with brand specific designs and thoughts. One thing that happened when womens bikes first hit the market was an overwhelming feeling of “fru-fru” and that the product managers just didn’t get it. The bikes were mostly pink or baby blue and hit some of the above design thoughts but not all. They wanted to put a band aid over the issue. Granted, I partially feel that the band aid is still there for many but hopefully it is slowly being pealed off.
Next in this series will be “Do I Need a Womens Bike?” question. If you have questions or comments about that topic please let me know.
Riding Tips : More Than Zero
Our first guest post from another Bike Shop Girl, Sarah Matchett. Sarah is a USA Cycling coach based out of my shop, Cool Breeze Cyclery in North Carolina. Sarah recently competed in the UCI World Duathlon Championships, placing 10th overall in women (non-elite.)
I’m often asked how I keep doing what I do. 5 a.m. mornings, endless miles on the trainer, in the pool. Worn out running shoes… worn out dog. Folks think I have some secret knowledge, or extra gear that keeps me uninjured, motivated, strong and healthy. The truth is, there is no secret gear. No magic pill, no religious practice, no expensive bike part that will bring you the results you want. There is simply, moving your body, more than zero, every day.
Grease Monkey Wipes : Intial Review
There is a buzz online about a couple different individual packaged wipes. The first one we are going to talk about and get into a review is Grease Monkey Wipes. Designed originally for cyclist these degreaser wipes claim to even clean crayon off the wall.
Rain Gear for Women
Men have it easy, across the board it seems, with cycling. Clothing fits them easier, they don’t need specially designed bikes normally and most men don’t care what rain gear looks like or how it fits on them.
I’m different and it seems like, in the few emails I received, you are to! I’ve scored many places trying to find a suitable rain gear outfit for women and I still haven’t nailed down the colors but sizing seems to be getting better.
Suggestions for rain gear :
Not very cheap, but good waterproof and breathable rain gear isn’t. This jacket has tons of ventilation through out, including zippers under your arms and a vent on your back side. With a catching blue color this may change your idea of how a rain jacket should look.
A jacket made by the company that brought us Gore-Tex. Could you not ask for more? This jacket is in the Paclite family so it can be packed in a jersey pocket. A flip down tail will also add extra protection from road or dirt spray on your behind. With the slim fit, it is true, you need to be pretty slim to wear this jacket.
Gore Solid Lady Pants
I still have not been able to find a women’s cut, non-black, pair of decent rain pants. The closest I have found are these from Gore. Unfortunately no other colors but I guess that’s how it is for now.
Which Hybrid or Comfort Bike is for You?
One of the most popular types of bicycles right now is that recreational style. Either one to ride with the family around your community, take for errands or maybe do a Rail To Trails with your local church group. Below I have outlined a good amount of the various lifestyle bikes out there, depending on which brand you try the options may vary but I can do my best to help you along the way.
How to : Weekly Safety Check
We’ve hit upon the preventative maintenance and how to lube your chain so now is a weekly safety check that all riders should know how to do.
A Safe, Clean, Bike
Wipe frame and wheels down : This is a pretty important step to make sure structurally your frame and wheels aren’t developing any cracks or chips in the paint or metal. I use a watered down Simple Green in a spray bottle to do this.
Clean in tight areas : Make sure to wipe down in tight areas, between pivot points or where your cables may wear. Built up dirt can actually wear into your frame.
Tighten pivot bolts : This applies to mostly full suspension bikes but any part of your bike that moves, like the full suspension linkage, needs to be checked more often.
Check over all bolts : This is pretty self explanatory. My biggest word of advice is to not OVER tighten the bolts.
Go through shifting and braking : Make sure the brakes hit the wheels or rotor evenly and there isn’t any excessively odd wear on the brake pads. The shifting should be crisp and not over shift any cogs or chain rings.
This process, though sounding lengthy, can take only about 5 minutes once you get the hang of it and also if your bike isn’t so dirty. Soon I’ll go over the proper way to clean off that mucky bike but you are well on your way of a happy bike that will live a long life as your taking good care of it.