Toronto

Fit & Fat — Babes on Bikes

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I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d become a person who rode a bike. Before buying my own last summer, I used to think it looked really dangerous and it seemed like a lot of work. Why would I want to get to work and be really sweaty? What’s so bad about public transit? Why would I want to alter what I wear? When I saw my friends were getting places faster by bike than I was, I started to see the positives. I realized I could save a lot of money and time if I invested in a bike. Since then I’ve learned a lot about biking. Here’s a quick rundown of some things I’ve learned in the last year:

Don’t worry about looking cool.

When I first started biking I was always thinking about what I looked like. Do I look like those super-cool babes I’ve seen biking around town? Helmets seem so uncool! But guess what — they also protect your noggin and keep you safe. I also had worries about biking around town as a plus-size gal. I worried people would be judging me, just as I worry anytime I am doing physical activity in public, but that worry soon faded. I haven’t felt any judgement towards myself as a plus-sized biker, and that feels great. I realized that the biking community seems to be pretty accepting of all sizes and shapes. Ultimately, everyone is trying to get somewhere, and all you really need to worry about is staying safe.

Buy a bike that works for your life.

Different bikes work for different lifestyles. Once you know what type of adventures you want to get into (commuting, exercise, leisurely trips to the grocery store) head on into your local bike shop and let them help you pick out a bike. Trying out a bike to make sure it is right for your height and weight is important as well. For my daily commuter needs, I ended up choosing a sturdy 5-speed cruiser. It’s cute, comfortable, and does what I need it to do. You may have other needs.

Your endurance will get better and better.

Biking is very low impact, so it’s a great way to get in some heart-healthy cardio without feeling like you need to join a gym. It’s a way to create physical activity for yourself without feeling like you’re doing an actual workout. One of my worries when I started biking was that I was going to be slower than everyone else, and for a while I was. When you’re starting out there is no shame in getting off and walking your bike for a while. Now I am an average biker on the road, and you will be too! There will always be people on the road who are faster or slower than you, and there will always be people in a rush trying to pass you. Don’t feel pressure from the bikers around you, and go at your own pace.

Bicycle Girl Skirt

What to wear?

Biker-style shorts are a fat girl’s best friend. You can wear them under skirts while you’re biking to ensure there’s no flashing the public. Addition Elle makes the Nola yoga short, and Old Navy has the active compression shorts. You can also create your own biker shorts by cutting the leg off of old leggings or tights. When biking in a long skirt, you’ll want to tuck your skirt under your butt and between your legs for optimal riding. This will lessen the likelihood that your skirt will fly up and around you while you’re biking, or potentially get caught in your bike chain. If you are more of a pants person, high waisted pants with at least some added-spandex make biking a lot more comfortable. You don’t have to worry about your pants riding down and exposing your back or butt.

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Figure out a route that works for you.

If you’re using your bike for commuting, take the time to figure out which route will be best for you. If you work a 9-5 it’s nice to figure out the less-busy side-roads. If your street doesn’t have a bike lane, the next one over might. Personally, I would rather bike on a street with a bike lane than without one, so I will go out of my way slightly for a more comfortable bike ride. When I was starting out, I knew I was slower than a lot of other’s on the road, so I stuck to the less-busy side-roads. You’ll soon figure out which route is best for you.

Spending more on a lock is worth it.

I can’t count the amount of friends I have who have had their bike stolen. Sadly this is something that happens often, but if you get a good lock it can make a world of difference. Depending on the style of your bike, you may need something longer, or shorter. A well made U-Lock usually comes with a warranty and can help keep your bike safe. It will seem like a big investment, but it’s worth keeping your bike safe.

Oh, and always lock up your bike. Seriously. Don’t trust anyone.

Register your bike with the local police.

You can register your bike with your local police. Most bikes will come with a manufacturer’s serial number, and this is what you need to register your bike. That way if anyone does steal your bike, you’re covered. If you live in Toronto visit the Toronto police website to register your bike. For more information on keeping safe while biking in Toronto you can also check out Cycle TO.

Ultimately, if you think biking is something you might be into I highly suggest trying it out. If you’re nervous to invest, try out a bike-share program or one of your friend’s bikes. It feels great to have ultimate control of when and how you get somewhere, creating virtually no carbon-footprint while you travel, and it’s healthy to boot.

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Comments

  1. danielle says:

    What a wonderfully encouraging blog post about biking. I am a passionate cyclist by no means the thinnest or fastest but there is room for all of us out there.

    Cycling is something we can all do. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes to start.

    Padded bike shorts are a girl’s best friend. The caveat being is that many sports stores don’t carry all size ranges. There’s a niche if anyone is feeling entrepreneurial.

    If anyone has any cycling questions or concerns, I am by no means an expert but I do have a lot of time in the saddle and am happy to help in any way.

    Happy Cycling

  2. Kylie says:

    I love cycling and the only negative comments I have had were from ignorant people in cars. Padded bike shorts are a must IMO. Team estrogen have some larger sizes but not really extensive.