Riding a bike provides exercise for all the major muscle groups in your lower body, while aerobically training your heart. Because cycling is a non-impact sport, it is great for those with muscle or joint injuries.
The biking industry makes women specific products in three categories: road bikes are for racing; hybrids are for touring; and, mountain bikes generally are for off road challenges.
According to Casey Kenichicurd at Larry and Jeff’s Bike Shop on Second Avenue, fit is the most important thing to consider when buying a bike. “Being misfit on a bicycle can lead to unnecessary aches, pains, and potential injuries,” he said.
The industry designs bikes for the average woman whose body type is characterized by longer legs and a shorter torso. For example, the top bars, which run from back to front on a bike, are not as long as those on bikes designed for men. Because women typically have wider hips and narrower shoulders, women’s bike seats are wider and the handlebars are smaller.
Kenichicurd pointed out that a woman whose body type is different, may not need a woman-specific bike. Also, over time, “your initial fit may not be where you end up,” he said. “As you become more accustomed to riding, you may need to be re-fit.”
Cyclists are required to equip their bikes to meet safety regulations. In New York State, every bicycle must be outfitted with a bell or other device to alert oncoming traffic. To be visible at night, bikes should have a headlight and taillight. Wearing bright colors allows motorists, pedestrians, and other riders to see you on the road.
Although the law stipulates that all children under age fourteen must wear a helmet, everyone should wear one. Helmets help to prevent head trauma in case of an accident.
While any type of short can be worn when riding a bike, those specifically designed for the female anatomy, with extra padding in the seat, will make long rides more comfortable. Ultrasensor or fieldsensor shorts are ideal because they move perspiration away from the body. Top manufacturers of women’s clothing are Assos, Pearl Izumi, and Cannondale. Gloves help to absorb shock and prevent repetitive stress injury to your wrist and elbows. To prevent sun and debris from getting in your eyes, it is a good idea to wear sunglasses or goggles.
Now that you are equipped, where do you ride? Exploring New York on a bike is a wonderful way to experience the city. Many parks are closed to traffic at various hours to accommodate city cyclists. Central Park has a six-mile loop closed to traffic Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Central Park is also car-free from Friday 7 p.m. to Monday at 6 a.m. year round.
Other scenic spots to visit on your bike along the West Side include Riverside Park, Hudson River Park, and the Battery Park Area. Outside of Manhattan, Prospect Park in Brooklyn is a beautiful loop closed to cars year round from Friday at 7 p.m. to Monday at 6 a.m. Forest Park Drive in Queens is car-free from Woodhaven to Metropolitan Avenue, including Memorial Drive.
Bike clubs offer group rides that leave the city. The New York Cycle Club, Five Borough Bicycle Club, and the Century Road Club Association, are just a few to consider. For more information on bicycle events taking place in Manhattan, contact The New York City Department of Transportation at www.nyc.gov/dot. Wherever you choose to go, always look out for potholes, uneven pavement, and other people on the road.