Whatsapp Image 2024 05 03 Crop

6 TOP TIPS FOR WOMEN : CHASING THE SUN FOR THE FIRST TIME…

10 May 2024

Hi – I’m Issy, in 2022, I signed up to ride Chase The Sun with very little cycling experience but I’d heard the event had a great concept and figured it was worth a shot!

At the time, my brain cooked up a whole batch of thoughts and concerns about whether this was a ride for me, some specifically female-related. I realise there will be others grappling with these, so I think it’s about time I share and debunk them…

1. I’m new to cycling, and there’s no way I can do this!

Remember, you are a cyclist. You might not win races or own a fancy bike. But you are a cyclist because you cycle. The Chase the Sun events promise an ‘extra-ordinary adventure for ordinary cyclists’… so thats you – right?

Training for riding Chase The Sun can seem daunting at first. While using the CTS training schedule and training guide (which help massively), make sure you go riding to have fun and explore new places rather than for the sake of ticking off the miles.

My top tips for training miles are:

  • Turn your training into bikepacking trips / holidays
  • Plan routes around friends’ houses and cafes
  • Whenever you’re heading out, think, ‘could I ride rather than drive this?’

.

So that’s the physical training but training your mind will be the most powerful tool of them all. Here are the mental tricks that have helped me most to keep pedalling:

  • Use positive affirmations and mantras. My favourite is ‘I love a good hill’. It makes hills seem a lot less scary.
  • Set small goals. For Chase The Sun events, I have found that breaking 200 miles into 40-mile segments works best.
  • Visualise success: Picture yourself riding and finishing the day over and over and you will.
  • Three words (this is my favourite!): Name three things that you want to be or feel during training and on the day. Then picture them on your bars when you’re riding. Mine were ‘resilient, fun and energised’. Pretend to push them like buttons when you need a boost. I was injured while I was training last year, so I needed some extra motivation. This worked wonders for me!

If you need a confidence boost or want to know further methods to improve your mindset during training and during the day, drop Ciaran from Peakin High Performance a message. Ciaran is a mindset coach for amateur and world class professional cyclists.

Whatsapp Image 2024 05 03 At 18.30.11 (2)

Photography credit : Alan Danby

2. Chase The Sun will be very male dominated

Road cycling is often associated with being a ‘MAMIL’s’ activity (middle-aged men in lyrca). Although times are changing and the sport is more inclusive than ever, this stereotype initially put me off and made events feel daunting.

At Chase The Sun, you will find all kinds of people at the start line: different genders, different ages, different sizes, and different shapes. Some will be solo, some will be with friends and some will be riding with their local club.

Being a super social event, it’s easy to make friends and find like-minded people to ride with on route.

Whatsapp Image 2024 05 03 At 18.34.55 (4)

3. Other riders will be stronger than me

The first time I completed this coast to coast event, it was at 10 p.m. We had missed the sunset; it was pouring with rain, and I was freezing.

But I was also completely stoked, and it was one of my favourite days ever!

Since then, I have improved my time and finished at 7pm in 2023. However, I have no idea how I compare to other riders, and that’s because Chase The Sun is a non-competitive event.

Not only does the event promote itself as being non-competitive, but it stays true to its values; the event feels sociable and fun. On the day, you will see groups of people stopping for all kinds of reasons, including helping others out, picnicking with friends and even grabbing a quick pint.

4. what if my bike breaks – I can’t fix it!

Some people are drawn to depend on bike mechanics, but I am not one of those people. While I’m often tempted to get my boyfriend to fix my bike, I’ve found it empowering to work out how to do the basics of maintenance and repair myself. And I promise, it’s not as bad as it first seems.

Knowing how to maintain and repair your bike before you set off will give you extra confidence and peace-of-mind that you can tackle many issues that could occur on any ride. These are the things I would prioritise learning…

How to maintain your bike:

  • Cleaning
  • Pumping and changing tyres
  • Doing a bolt check
  • Maintaining and oiling the chain

How to complete basic repairs:

  • Fixing a puncture
  • Putting the chain back on
  • Tuning gears
  • Changing brake pads

Whatsapp Image 2024 05 03 At 18.30.11 (1)

Photography credit : Alan Danby

5. My menstrual cycle will stop me cycling

For females, menstrual cycles impact happiness and performance on the bike in several ways, including energy levels, pain levels, discomfort and logistics. Here are some tips that might help:

Keeping a diary of how you feel at certain times of the month will help you plan training rides around when you feel strongest mentally and physically.

The hardest time to cycle will likely be during your premenstrual period. This is because hormone levels are generally high, and a lot of women experience GI issues, changes in mood and feel hungrier. All these things make cycling more challenging. You know when someone tells you to ‘dig deep’? Well, personally, during this time of the month, I find this deep level of energy just doesn’t exist for me, and it may be the same for you. I would suggest using this time to go easy: refuel, eat well, stretch and drink lots. Most importantly, don’t feel guilty if you don’t get your training in on these days.

On the other hand, exercising during your period is one of the best times to do it! Due to hormone levels, you are likely to feel stronger and have more energy than at other times in your cycle. So go ahead and plan your ride—go get it.

There are a few ways to make the experience easier if you’re riding on your period.

  • It’s perfectly hygienic to ‘free bleed’, aka not wearing sanitary products and just wearing your cycling shorts. Just make sure you wash out your chamois as soon as you take it off.
  • If you wear tampons, cut the string to avoid chaffing.
  • Although it’s tempting, don’t wear pants. Wearing pants under your shorts/chamois can lead to chaffing and moisture buildup.

Unfortunately, most of us can’t control whether or not an event like Chase The Sun will line up with our menstrual cycle. I have found that the best way to deal with this is a bit of pre-planning and self-care. If you find you’re doing the event during your pre-menstrual week or during your period, look at the route and plan to stop at public toilets, and allow for more time and more snacks. Lastly, celebrate how awesome you are that you’re doing it! Your body is doing incredible things.

6. Are all saddles painful?

A while ago, I was chatting with a friend, and she said, ‘do you find you have to just pedal through gritted teeth?’ She was talking about her saddle and how much pain it causes ‘down there’.

Bikes (even women’s ones) often come with a unisex saddle. Women’s specific saddles are shaped differently to make them more suitable for women’s shapes and sit bones.

There are at-home ways to measure your sit bones so that you can choose the right saddle for you. However, going to your local bit fitter will be the easiest and most accurate way to find the best saddle for you.

Cycling can and should be pain-free. Go get your saddle checked to protect your body (and teeth!).

As we pedal through misconceptions and stereotypes, Chase The Sun becomes more than a cycling event. It’s an event where everyone is included and where everyone can feel empowered and amazed at what their body can achieve. 

Whatsapp Image 2024 05 03 At 18.34.55

Riding Chase The Sun UK NORTH across the beautiful southern Scottish landscape has been my favourite experience.” 

Issy Pritchard has Chased the Sun in 2021, 2022 and 2023!


    

Click below to find out how Issy found success, and fun – in her previous Chase the Sun rides…

WHO AM I TO CHASE THE SUN? TALES FROM THE LONGEST DAY ON THE ROAD with ISSY PRITCHARD

Split the miles! - Ride in a team - RELAY places available for IRELAND & UK NORTH & SOUTH >>RELAY INFO
+