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31 Biking Tips from Elite Female Cyclists

Take Some Pressure Off

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“Get familiar with checking your tire pressure. Lots of women run way too much. Lower pressure helps with traction, cornering, and comfort while riding. Buy a gauge at a bike shop, start around 25 to 27 psi (or 110 psi for road bikes), and work from there. Feel free to play around with it and see what works for you.” — Georgia Gould, 33, Luna Pro Team

Saddle Up, Sister

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“Whether you are a serious racer or a casual weekend cruiser, choose a bike seat that is comfortable and fits you well—it can make or break your entire riding experience. Don't settle for what came on the bike when you bought it. Most bike shops will work with you to try, fit, return, and try again until you find something that works.” —Cari Higgins, 36, Exergy TWENTY16

Seek Biker's High

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“I believe that if you truly love being on your bike and are amazed by what you can do with the power of your own two legs and how it makes you feel, then regardless of skill level, fitness, or experience, you will see cycling as a positive challenge. You will be motivated to ride and become a better, happier cyclist.” —Amber Gaffney, 30, Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies

Head Off Hunger

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“Don't ever let a growling tummy dictate when to throw back a energy gel or bar on the bike. Aim to consume 200 calories for every one hour of riding. Bring along food that you like, want, and have no problem consuming and digesting while riding. —Vicki Thomas, 40, 2010 Canadian National Cyclocross Team

Be So Predictable

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“When you're riding in a group, pedal in a straight line and avoid sudden movements or changes of speed. Try to be smooth on the bike. This will help you and fellow riders stay safe whether you're traveling in a group or in traffic.” —Janel Holcomb, 35, Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies

Wean Yourself on the Green

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“Get more comfortable with riding close to each others’ tires in a group by honing in your bike-handling skills in a grassy park with friends. Make a narrow obstacle course with water bottles, then practice leaning on each other, bumping handlebars, or running into a rear wheel with your front wheel. This will help increase your pack-riding ability and confidence, therefore making riding with others that much more enjoyable.” —Kristin McGrath, 30, Exergy TWENTY16

Get a Grip

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“I wear rubber dish gloves when I’m riding in the rain. It really helps to keep my hands dry and warm while still providing enough grip on the handlebar and the brakes.” —Joelle Numainville, 25, Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies

Wiggle It

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"My 80-something-year-old bike-racing grandpa gave me this simple advice: While you’re riding, every now and then wiggle your toes. It ensures you're relaxed, which keeps the blood flowing to your feet for good circulation, limits tension that causes cramping and fatigue, and makes you remain fluid so that you can absorb the bumps and turns of the road." —Alison Tetrick, 28, Exergy TWENTY16

Use Social Media Strategically

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"Sure, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all awesome, but don't let yourself get stressed out by everyone else's training 'highlight' reel. You can use it as motivation, but stick to your training plan and don't worry how many Strava trophies or the thousands of feet in elevation gain that your friends have logged. They've got off days too—they just don't tweet about 'em." —Denise Ramsden, 22, Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies

Light Up the Night

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"Wear neon-colored clothing while training, especially on dark or rainy days. Although it may sound like a blast from the past, the colors really do make you much more visible." —Andrea Dvorak, Exergy TWENTY16

Straighten Out

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"While parked at the starting line on race day, stand up straight above your bike instead of slumping over your handlebars. This will show others that you are confident and strong, and it'll help bring out your power too." —Serena Bishop Gordon, 33, 2012 National Cross Country Champion

Don’t Miss a Beet

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"Beets are the most popular vegetable right now among endurance sports athletes. Studies suggest their high nitrate content may lower blood pressure and reduce the oxygen cost of endurance exercise. Juiced, powdered, or cooked and consumed whole, they are a delicious performance enhancer." —Leah Kirchmann, 22, Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies

S’not Cool

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“Don't blow snot on people.” [Editor’s note: Bicycling magazine recommends shooting a rocket down between your bent arm and thigh—just over the top tube—rather than over your shoulder.] —Greta Neimanas, 24, Exergy TWENTY16

Save Your Own Skin

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"Sunny and hot or cold and damp, your skin needs your help. Year-round, wear a lotion that contains sunblock on exposed skin to prevent sun- and windburn. In the winter, wear a light oil like jojoba under your cycling gear to help keep skin nourished." —Maureen Bruno Roy, 37, 2006 and 2010 U.S. National Cyclocross Team

Bypass Bike Butt

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"A lot of people think the chamois—the built-in cushion in bike shorts—looks funny and is unimportant. After a helmet, it’s actually the crucial thing that I wear. It protects your inner thighs from chaffing and gives you extra padding on your bum. Use a basic chamois cream to reduce friction and prevent irritation, which will help you last longer on the bike." —Lauren Hall, 34, Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies

Be Your Own Cheerleader

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"Phrases like 'I can't keep her pace,' 'I expect to finish tenth,' and 'This will be hard,' can keep you out of the moment and set you up for disappointments. Keep your focus on your goals, such as 'I want to get top five,' or 'I want to be the first to the top of the hill.' This will open you up for breakthroughs as well as help you say 'next time' with a smile if things do go according to plan." —Judy Freeman, 39, Crankbrothers Race Club

Gulp!

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"You may not have too many opportunities in a race to drink because of the course, or you may just forget. During training, practice taking hefty swigs instead of small sips from your water bottle. This way you can make every time you hydrate count more." —Judy Freeman, 39, Crankbrothers Race Club

Don’t Turn a Blind Eye

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"Before you turn left or right, be sure to take a quick glance over your shoulder before committing to the turn, even if you have signaled properly. You never know if a rider or car behind you could have missed your signal." —Elle Anderson, 25, LadiesFirst Racing Elite Team

Kill the Hill (Not Your Teammate)

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"If you're riding in a group and approaching a climb, remember two things: 1) If you're on someone's wheel when they get out of the saddle to climb, it is likely that their speed will slow down just enough for their bike to jolt backwards, so leave an extra bit of room to be safe. 2) Similarly, if you decide to get out of the saddle, be sure to have one extra strong pedal stroke right before you stand up to prevent this from happening to the person behind you." —Elle Anderson, 25, LadiesFirst Racing Elite Team

Layer It On

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"There is no bad weather, just bad clothing. It's worth it to invest in a breathable cycling rain jacket, fenders—mudguards that go over your wheels—and waterproof booties and gloves. Wear lots of thin layers so it's easy to adjust as you ride and warm up. As you remove them, roll them up and stash them in your cycling jersey pocket or bike pouch." —Leah Kirchmann, 22, Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies

Master Fixing a Flat

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"It's going to happen. If you're riding alone, you need to be able to replace your inner tube on your own so that you can continue riding. Attend a clinic at a bike shop or with a local cycling club, then carry a pump, tire levers, and a spare tube with you at all times." —Vicki Thomas, 40, 2010 Canadian National Cyclocross Team

Go with the Flow

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"When race day comes around, be confident in your training and preparation, but be open to the fact that your pre-race plans may change. Whether it’s an official race delay or an equipment or clothing malfunction, stay focused, make any necessary adjustments, and don't let it throw you off your game. —Jennifer Valente, 18, Exergy TWENTY16

Trust Your Ride

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"When a tricky descent has you nervous, know that your bike wants to stay upright. Usually it's our interfering that causes crashes! Try to stay relaxed and let your bike flow through. Smile at the awesomeness of your descending." —Catharine Pendrel, 32, Luna Pro Team

Focus on the Good

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"When racing or training, some days will be harder than others or not go well at all. Begin a practice that allows you to recognize what did go well and intentionally be kinder to yourself when things go awry." —Maureen Bruno Roy, 37, 2006 and 2010 U.S. National Cyclocross Team

Prep Your Pocket Fuel

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"I like to cut the top of the packaging off my Clif Shot Bloks before racing. This makes them easier to consume and guarantees I will eat them during the race." —Lauren Tamayo, 29, Exergy TWENTY16

Make Friends

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"Don't be afraid to say hello to anyone and everyone you meet on a group ride. It can be intimidating when you are new and you may think that everyone there has more experience or has been riding for years, but it's okay! Cycling is supposed to be fun and social." —Janel Holcomb, 35, Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies

Try It Again...and Again...and Again

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"If you get to a section of trail that is particularly technical and intimidating, slow down, keep your eyes on where you want to go, take deep breaths, and pick your way through carefully. Don't be afraid to try that section as many times as it takes to build your confidence—sometimes I’ll repeat a section eight to 10 times." —Teal Stetson-Lee, 26, Luna Pro Team

Trade 4 Wheels for 2

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"Make the most of limited training time by integrating bike commuting into your regular fitness routine. It's great to get moving more frequently throughout the day, and it's so fun to freely explore your hometown. Then use the money you save on gas and parking to do yoga to ease sore muscles." —Mara Abbott, 27, Exergy TWENTY16

Warm Hands, Warm Heart

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"Being cold doesn’t make you tough; it makes you uncomfortable. When you head out in cool spring temps, be sure to wear more than you think you should. Until it's 65 degrees, I wear a wool beanie, full leg warmers, a buff, shoe covers, a vest, and long sleeves. Staying warm will reduce the chances of tendon damage, allow your body to use energy to go fast instead of keep you warm, and make your riding experience much more fun." —Serena Bishop Gordon, 33, 2012 National Cross Country Champion

Grin and Bear It

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"When the going gets tough during a race or training ride, a smile goes along way, and can change your mental outlook and help you feel and perform better." —Vicki Thomas, 40, 2010 Canadian National Cyclocross Team

Pretend to Be the Invisible Woman

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"If you're riding in traffic, it's best to assume you're invisible. By not expecting anyone in a car to see you, you can expect—and avoid—all those opening car doors and awkward intersections." —Denise Ramsden, 22, Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies