Gus' Gals Guide to Road Riding!

Cycling is the fun way to health, happiness and fitness!

A few of the ladies on Gus' Thursday night ladies ride.  Come join the fun!

Cycling is a great way to stay in shape!

You'll meet new friends and most importantly have more fun!. Here are some woman-to-woman tips to make your cycling adventures fun and successful.  In this article we'll cover getting the right bicycle, the right gear, riding drills, rules of the road  and then now famous ladies ride  - Gus' Gals

Get the Right Bicycle at Gus'

We'll help you choose the perfect bicycle from our wide selection!

Having the right bike makes riding even better! Gus' has many styles to choose from and are happy to point out the differences so you're sure to find one that's perfect. First, it will help if you think about how you plan to ride your new bike. Do you want to cruise the bike paths for a little exercise? Are you signed up for a local charity ride? Are you looking to trade your commute by car for one by bike? Looking to ride a bit of gravel or the growing network of rail trails? Knowing the answers to these questions makes finding the right bicycle much easier.

We can help you with the next important question, too, which is what size bike you should get. Here at Gus' we pride ourselves on fit and we are the only shop in the area to use a laser fit system to determine the right size bike for you. It's included in all road bike purchases - a $100 value! Gus' also features a state-of-the-art fit studio to precisely dial in the bike that's right for you.  Call for an appointment today!  We'll measure you and provide professional advice on the bike that's right for you.

Keep in mind that while both Felt and Raleigh make bikes specifically for women, not all women require these models and you may fit a standard one just fine. This is because the parts, such as the saddle and handlebars, can be easily adjusted or changed if needed (this is included in both levels of our fit systems.

Once you hit the road on the bike perfectly fitted to your needs, you'll be amazed at how comfortable and in control you are will be able to appreciate how much more fun riding is!

You might be tempted to ride in basic athletic shorts, a T-shirt and running shoes, but genuine cycling clothing is so much more comfortable, safe and practical you should really give it a try. Start with a helmet. All of ours pass all the safety standards, so choose the one you like that's in your price range and most comfortable. Helmets have gotten so airy and light you'll hardly feel you're wearing it.

It's also a great idea to not ride in regular shorts, but to wear a good pair of cycling shorts instead. This is because basic cut-offs or gym shorts have seams inside that can cause chafing and numbness. True cycling shorts (available in different styles from baggy to spandex) breathe to keep you dry, offer padding for comfort and are seam-free so there's no chafing. Both Terry and Endura offer excellent cycling short options.
The right cycling accessories keep you comfortable and safe!
Many cycling shorts are made with antibacterial fabrics, and many provide pockets for safely storing gear. Find a pair that fits like a second skin and remember that your skin is the only thing you wear under them.  Many women cyclists also choose to use an a pH balanced anti-chafe cream developed by cyclists for use with all chamois.  The non-greasy skin lubricant improves riding comfort and soothes already chafed or irritated skin.

Equally important for comfort is riding on a saddle that fits your anatomy correctly. Sometimes the seat on your new bike will fit perfectly, sometimes not. When a seat doesn't feel right you should try a new one. Keep in mind that most women's saddles are designed to fit a wider pelvis, so if you have slim hips, you may want to consider different men's saddles, which are narrower. It takes a while to get used to new saddles so try it for a few rides before deciding if it's right.  Often it's possible to "demo" a saddle before you purchase it.  Ask an associate for more information.

Other important accessories include cycling gloves, which have padded palms for additional comfort and protection, cycling eyewear that blocks glare, UV rays and airborne debris, and cycling jerseys that wick and breathe to keep you dry and comfortable plus usually include handy pockets for carrying essentials like your I.D., energy bars and cell phone, all in an easily accessable location.

As you gain riding experience, you may also want to consider cycling shoes. Unlike running shoes, these have stiff soles to keep your arches from collapsing when pedaling, which keeps your feet from getting sore and tired. They also allow for great transfer of power from leg to pedal. Here at Gus' have a great selection of women's shoes, clothing and accessories and are eager to help you find just the right gear.

Practice Makes Perfect
When you're confident in your ability to shift, brake, turn and ride in a straight line, you'll have less to worry about when you're riding on the road. And the best way to tune these skills is to practice them in a safe location like an empty parking lot or smooth grass field. Ask some friends to join you to make it more fun. Pacticing basic shifting and braking and getting on and off smoothly is easy when there's no traffic and you'll improve a lot with some repitition.

Next, we recommend setting up a mini obstacle course you can ride around avoiding the hazards, working on your slow-riding balance and control, then gaining speed and stopping short to work on your emergency stopping, too. These are essential skills no matter where you ride. Practice riding in a straight line while glancing over your left shoulder as if you're looking for traffic, too (try not to swerve off your line when you look back). Another good drill is to put your water bottle on the ground and then try to pick it up as you slowly ride past without getting off your bike or putting a foot down. Drills like this will help you develop better handling skills and riding near traffic and flying down hills will feel natural and safe.

Know the Rules of the Road
Be safe by following the rules, riding predictably and staying alert!A key way to improve your confidence and safety riding in and around traffic is knowing the rules of the road and your responsibilities. One of the most important safety rules is to always "ride right" with traffic and never against it. Bicyclists must follow the same rules as drivers because cyclists and motorists are the same under the law.

Be sure to ride predictably and defensively, signal your intentions and give yourself plenty of time and space to maneuver, too. Pay attention to your surroundings and you won't be caught off guard. For example, if you're aware that a car is passing you'll be ready should they suddenly make a righthand turn in front of you, cutting you off.

Some riders choose to use a rearview mirror to keep track of things behind, but even if you use one you should also always look and listen for approaching cars. There will be times when you'll need to take over the middle of the lane, such as when you make a left-hand turn at an intersection or if the road is too narrow to allow for a car and a bicyclist. Look, signal, and make your move to the center of the lane when it's safe to do so.

If you want to explore unfamiliar roads by bike, it's a great idea to drive the route first to see what kind of traffic you may encounter and use the car's odometer to find out how far you'll be riding. And, if you see other cyclists on those roads, it's a good sign that you've found a popular and safe cycling route you'll enjoy.

Be Prepared!
Because you can easily ride long distances on a bicycle and run into varying weather and conditions it's important to be prepared for anything. Check the weather before you head out (not Carry the right gear and you won't have to worry about flat tires, bonking or being out too late!just for your town but for where you're cycling to, also) and choose clothing that will keep you dry and warm. The best approach is to dress in layers so you can cover up if it's cool and remove layers and tuck them in your pockets or pack into a cycling bag once it warms up. Keep in mind that in cool weather there's a wind-chill factor and it'll be colder once you're cruising along. Be sure to bring enough outerwear to stay warm.

An important part of enjoying rides is eating and drinking enough so you don't run out of energy (cycling burns calories quickly). Even on short rides it's important to stay hydrated, so bring a bottle filled with water or your favorite sports drink. On longer rides you should carry water and/or a sports drink and gels and/or energy bars for easy refueling.

We also recommend include your I.D. in case of emergencies, and a little cash or a credit card for those coffee or ice-cream emergencies. A small lock is another handy item. It won't offer high security but will safeguard your bike while you go in to use a restroom or pickup a drink. Carrying a fully charged cell phone is important, too. If you encounter something unexpected, like an afternoon rainstorm you'll be able to call for a ride home. And, if you're going out near dusk or dawn, be sure to have a front and rear light for safety. By law those lights need to be visible from a distance of 300 feet.

Alas, it's likely that eventually you'll get a flat tire, so always carry a pump, spare tube and tire levers on every ride. Some riders find it helpful to write down instructions for fixing a flat to carry with them when they ride. You can find detailed instructions on fixing a flat here on our website by clicking here.  If you're not sure how to do it, we're happy to explain and set you up with the correct pump and tube for your bike. And, it's an excellent idea to practice flat fixing at home so you can do it on the road when the time comes. It's easy once you know how.

Join Gus' Thursday Night Ladies Ride
One of the best ways to start road riding and enjoy it even more is to join a group or club. Gus' has an organized ladies ride every Thursday during the cycling season. Gus' Gals was picked by Bicycling Magazine as one of the "Top 50 Shop Rides in America". Organized into groups of fast, medium, social and really social, these rides are "no drop" rides, meaning the group stays together for the entire ride, or regroup during the ride. This ride is a great way to talk with other  women cyclists to learn tips and tricks and practice riding with a group. Plus, you'll make new friends for sharing riding routes and swapping cycling stories.

We hope these tips and suggestions help you enjoy cycling and achieve your goals. And, remember that there's no such thing as a silly question! Please feel free to contact Gus' anytime you have a question and we'll be happy to help!