The Evolution of Women’s Cycling Nutrition
I always thought of myself as a gym rat. Training hard to get stronger, maintain my health, flexibility, and mobility. Never in my wildest dreams would I have considered myself a cyclist. Sure, I took the random spin class here and there, yet to be completely honest, I kind of hated it. So how did I become this obsessed cyclist dietitian who now feels comfortable using terms like cadence, FTP, average speeds, and lap times all while wearing padded shorts? Read on to find out!
The Beginnings of Fear
From the time I was a young child, I watched with envy as men, women, and children zipped around effortlessly on their bikes. Look Ma, no hands – many exclaimed loudly as they pedaled by, waving their hands freely in the air. Truth be told, I never experienced the traditional rite of passage that most 4 to 6-year-olds are privy to—learning to ride a bike. I cannot recall the actual reason I never mastered a 2 wheeler. Perhaps it was the early memory of a young boy getting hit by a car in front of my house that had a lasting, negative impact. Needless to say, I spent much of my childhood dodging plans whenever cycling was involved. It got to a point where I was embarrassed to admit that I never learned the most basic of skills that even a 5-year-old can master. After some time, I just accepted that I clearly preferred pointe shoes and the ballet barre to my two-wheeled nemesis.
Lady Lace: My First Ride
Fast forward many years and I got engaged to someone whose preferred form of exercise was casual cycling. He vowed that he could teach me.
One morning, on a quiet street near our new home, my husband took on the task of teaching me to ride a bike.
I mounted my new lavender ride, which I lovingly named Lady Lace, and wobbled my way to finally balancing on 2 wheels.
I wish I could go on to say that I lived happily ever after, cycling into the sunset, but sadly, I still could not overcome my paralyzing fear and Lady Lace was ultimately donated to a worthy party. I decided that life with two feet on the ground was more my speed. Yet, the envy I felt when I saw cyclists was still palpable, but not enough to jump on the saddle to relieve my fear of the unknown.
My Silver Lining of Quarantine
For us gym rats, 2020 hit hard. Gyms and fitness facilities closed and with them, our means of obtaining meaningful exercise. For me, chronic injuries made running out of the question. With stress quickly mounting, I became desperate for some “real” cardio. I cautiously glanced over at the old burgundy and silver Mongoose mountain bike that had been a permanent dusty fixture in our garage since my daughter was a teen. She barely rode, so this “old” bike” was almost new.
One morning, perhaps after a fit of quarantine anxiety, I got up the nerve to hop on the bike. My son stood by as I mounted the saddle and watched as I rode my first cautious meters down the road.
I remember that day, the discomfort of feeling winded after a mere mile, yet full of pride at what I had accomplished.
As the days turned to weeks, the miles increased, the fear diminished and hesitance turned to passion. The mongoose was traded in for a coral-colored Felt road bike. Flat pedals morphed into clipless SPD. Cycling kits soon dominated the workout drawer. AND Women’s Cycling Nutrition was born.
The Birth of Women’s Cycling Nutrition
Cyclists, as I have come to realize are a tribe unto themselves. Early on in my cycling journey, I was welcomed into a few women-specific cycling Facebook groups. Through these groups, I found my people, women who were as possessed as I was by the mere mention of anything cycling-related. The few nutrition questions peppered in were always where I felt most comfortable jumping in, offering up the knowledge from my 30 years as a registered dietitian.
It soon became clear, that a separate women’s cycling nutrition Facebook group was not just warranted, it was needed! The rapid growth of our private group further proved how extensive the need for science-backed nutrition information was.
What You Can Expect
In 2020, we saw a huge uptick in the number of women taking up the sport of cycling. Because cycling is mainly a male-dominated sport, there is little female-specific nutrition information readily available. Sadly, much of the viral nutrition information is based on fads, not science.
Since then our mission expanded to provide evidence-based nutrition guidance and support to all women cyclists, no matter their experience. We aim to teach female cyclists how to fuel correctly, hydrate efficiently, feel strong and confident while reaching their health-related goals.
So stick around, we will be posting regular nutrition information on many different topics.
Here are some easy ways to stay in touch: sign up for our newsletter and if you are not already a member, request access to our free private Facebook group.
If my story resonates with you, we would love to hear from you!