Despite having never seriously ridden a bike before the age of 27, Hayley Jane Warnes is now a dedicated triathlete and keen to see more women on two wheels.
The English fitness influencer – who, fun fact, played a member of the Queen’s Guard in hit film Wonder Woman last year – believes that by getting more ladies on their bikes, the profile of women’s cycling will finally be given the attention it deserves.
As a UK brand ambassador for LIV, the all-female cycling brand from GIANT, Warnes now hopes to break down the ‘invisible’ barriers that can sometimes be intimidating when it comes to riding on two wheels.
She spoke to TRAIN for HER about how we can get into cycling, even if we’re total newbies, and how it can benefit us mentally and physically.
What do you think is so great about cycling?
I love cycling for so many reasons! It has forced me out of my comfort zone, makes me feel like an absolute badass and has given me a super strong pair of legs.
It also enables you to explore new countries on a bike whilst getting fit and breathing in fresh air, as well as making lifelong friends.
Why is it good for fitness?
It’s incredible for improving cardiovascular fitness and physical strength without putting too much strain and impact on your joints. It’s also said to decrease the risk of diseases such as cancer and heart disease by up to half.
Can it improve mental wellbeing at all?
It can have an immense impact on your mental and emotional wellbeing. It helps builds self-esteem, confidence and can bring about those all-important social interactions that otherwise might not take place.
How do you advise beginners to get into cycling?
Get online and search for cycling clubs in your area – we really are a friendly bunch, I promise! Give them a call and let them know you’re a beginner but that you’d like to join one of their rides.
They’ll make sure you’re looked after, as well as imparting valuable road cycling wisdom and group safety tips.
If you’re not yet ready to brave the road, invest in a turbo trainer which will enable you to ride your bike from the comfort of your living room. They’re a great training tool and handy for when the roads are terrible in winter.
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Isn’t it quite an expensive sport to get into?
Cycling can be as expensive or as cheap as you need it to be. Bikes are always going to be costly, but the good news is, once you’ve invested, it should last you a really long time. Just be sure to look after it and service it every six months or so, depending on how often you ride.
Remember, when you’re choosing a bike it’s so important to get it correctly sized as it will only improve your overall experience. Riding a bike which is too big or small will not equal a happy cyclist!
What kit should beginners invest in?
After getting a bike and helmet, I would recommend investing in a really great quality pair of shorts (or tights, depending on the season!). LIV have a brilliant range from budget to splurge, with no lapse in quality at either end. That’s your number one purchase as there’s little worse than getting saddle sore midway into a long ride, nothing will put you off cycling faster!
A waterproof jacket will also be a godsend when you get caught in unexpected weather. I would also recommend getting a basic toolkit and spare inner tubes, then spend a bit of time on YouTube learning how to use them.
Is there any cycling tech you recommend?
If you’re planning on riding outdoors a lot and have the cash to flash, I would recommend a Garmin Edge – you can pre-plan routes and it’s the most failsafe way of not getting lost.
A more affordable option would be the Quadlock bike kit. It fits onto your stem or handlebars and holds your phone securely so that you can use Google Maps.
If you’re going to be riding indoors at all then I would recommend a Garmin Speed & Cadence Sensor which pairs with either your watch or navigational system. It will allow you to focus on cadence (the rate at which you turn the pedals) and pedaling efficiency, as well as giving you a real-time view of how you’re doing and what your effort is equating to in terms of speed and distance.
Cycling can be quite painful, right?
Saddle soreness is horrible but occasionally it’s inevitable. If you’re new to the sport there will definitely be an adjustment period – which is where having decent kit will really help you.
Also, to avoid any unnecessary chafing (yes, I went there!) make sure you ditch the underwear and apply chamois cream liberally to the pad on your shorts.
If your bike doesn’t fit you properly, other aches and pains can happen, especially in the upper back and shoulders and also hips and knees. This is why it really pays to buy a bike that has been created specifically for the female anatomy.
I would also avoid buying online and, instead, head into a store where the professionals can actually get you on a bike and help to make sure you find one that fits you well and will keep you pain-free.
The bikes at LIV are made by women for women so definitely take them up on their wealth of knowledge.
Is there a gender imbalance when it comes to cycling?
Despite learning to ride a bike being something that we all learned as children, irrelevant of gender, cycling has long been seen as an all-boys club.
We have some incredibly talented female riders but it’s not something that the public are used to seeing on broadcast media which definitely makes getting more women on bikes an uphill battle.
Brands like LIV are doing great work in challenging these stereotypes, making cycling accessible and welcoming for all women.
Social media, for all the grief it gets, is also playing a huge part. Never before have you been able to do a quick hashtag search and see thousands of women either riding bikes for the sheer fun of it or training and competing at a really high level.
I think if we want women’s cycling to be shown on the world stage in the same way that men’s cycling is, it’s so important to get more women out cycling in the first place, it’s how talent is found and this injection of new talent is how the overall level of competition rises each season.
Hayley Jane Warne’s lifestyle blog, Break the Loop can be found here.
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