Cycling is terrifying. Bikes are fast and your feet are attached. There’s actual mechanical things to learn. Bike snobs exist. It’s a bewildering place! For any other newbies who are thinking of taking up cycling, I have asked some of my favourite cycling and ironman babes for their top tips for newbie cyclists. Enjoy!

Abi Williams – double Ironwoman, who can be found on instagram and twitter @afloralcrown and her blog, also called A Floral Crown (she also takes lovely photos). 

Good kit. I think it’s worth investing in some nice pieces – it doesn’t have to be expensive, but nice kit can make a huge difference to the comfort of your riding when you’re starting out. My first winter I wore the wrong kit and was fairly miserable. But when you have good kit, that you feel comfortable in, and does the job, it makes cycling a lot more pleasurable. Key pieces that will lash are worth the investment, but you don’t need to spend a huge amount on them. Layering is also a good tip. And if you’re doing a long ride – little and often eating. Works for me, but I guess everyone is different!

Sarah Marsden – Ironwoman in training who can be found on twitter at @intrepidsarah and who blogs at Goldilocks Running.

I’d say it’d be to make sure your bike is set up right for you- that the gearing is right for the terrain you’ll be cycling on, the saddle is comfy and you’re in a comfy position to reach the handlebars and brakes. I’m a firm believer being comfy on the bike makes you more confident and in turn enjoy it more!  Usually a local bike shop can advise on gearing and do a bike fit for you, where they measure you up and get you in a comfy riding position, like the right saddle height. Makes a world of difference!

I also asked Sarah about looking after your lady areas…

Saddle choice helps, especially ones with a slot cut out to relieve pressure where you don’t want it. Shorts choice is very personal, but I like Chapeau, and DHB at Wiggle have a lot of choice of bib vs no bib, different lengths etc. It’s worth trying some chamois cream as well!

And Cathy Drew, who can be found on twitter @cathydrewbies and who blogs at Runs like a Dog.

I’d say to beginner cyclists to pick your battles. Cycling can be rough in bad weather, and it can be hard to stay motivated if you’re cold, wet and tackling hills. Choose nice days to go out, pick routes with plenty of variety and not too many bumps (a few though, obviously!). There’ll be plenty of time for rides in the rain once you can’t stay away from your bike at the weekend!

What are your top tips for new cyclists?


It’s good to push yourself, right?

Recently I’ve been in a bit of a rut with my fitness; no new races to aim for, bored of all my running routes, keen to try something new but with nowhere to start. So, when the team from Halfords got in touch and asked if I would like to give a new model from Boardman Bikes, it seemed like too good an offer to turn down.

To be very clear, cycling terrifies me! I learnt to cycle as an adult (I think I was about 21) on this little beauty:

Dayve refurbished it for me as a gift, and then taught me to ride it. It was tiny! Unfortunately it got stolen when we moved to London together (classic); we did eventually get it back (long story) but it was broken beyond repair.

The next time I rode a bike was back in 2013, when I took part in the Jenson Button Triathlon, and I was lent a road bike a few weeks before race day. I practised on the bike for about three weeks before race day; on race day I rode the bike to the start line, fell off and broke my elbow.

And that is the sum total of my bike experience. So it is pretty exciting/nerve-wracking to be getting back on the bike again! Mainly exciting though. I have always loved the idea of tackling a cycling challenge, and so maybe 2017 is the year I finally pull up my big girl pants and do it!

About the bike…

This is the Boardman Road Team Carbon Women’s bike, which is based around Boardman’s SLR Endurance C7 carbon frame (the super fancy Boardman one). It also has a full carbon fork. For those who this means something to (!) it has 2×10 speed Shimano Tiagra gearing, Tektro R540 dual pivot calliper brakes and mavic rims with 25c Vittoria tyres (which is an all-season wheel set). It is also kitted out with women’s specific geometry and saddle, but I think I’ll be the judge of how lady friendly it is in reality! Also, it might seem obvious, but I can’t get over how light it is. Super light. Less than 9kg light. It’s amazing.

It comes in four different frame sizes – I have the smallest one (48.5cm). When I picked up the bike from Halfords the staff there customised the fit of the bike for me, and helped me learn to adjust it myself. I went to the Chingford store, and the team there were amazing! They set up the bike for me, helped me pick a well-fitting helmet (junior size, which was embarrassing) and some lights, and didn’t laugh once at how inexperienced I was. I also took out their care plan, which covers all labour for repairs during the next year, which I think is going to be well used given how little I currently know about bikes. They also informed me that my local store (Mile End) is pretty much a cycle specific store, so it’s genuinely great to know I’m covered and I have somewhere to go which is local.

The bike also comes fitted with pedals (cages), which is perfect for me as I’m going to have a hard time just staying on – let alone battling with cleats! I definitely want to make the move to cleats though, so I’m hoping to upgrade later in the year.

So – time for a cycling adventure! If you’re also a total beginner (or just interested in laughing at my incompetence) keep an eye out for my cycling blog series, where I’m going to document the highs and lows of getting to grips with an amazing road bike like this one. If you’re an experienced cyclist – I would love to hear from you! Please let me know if you have any tips for beginner cyclists, or any leads on friendly groups to ride with in London!

This Boardman bike was generously provided by Halfords, in exchange for a feature on my blog. All opinions are my own. All of the extras (accessories, care plan etc.) are funded by me.