I recently had a real overarching conversation about cycling with a fellow workout enthusiast.
Initially I thought she of all people would be convinced to become a female cyclist like myself.
I mean, besides the fact that it is a workout, there is a whole lot of underrated benefits cycling has to offer.
It comes with hitting not just two but a zillion birds with one stone, which I definitely have to post about, later, with a Ugandan Girl perspective
So yes, in my mind I actually thought, “She will quickly get on board as I excitedly go about them all, one by one”
But NO, that wasn’t the case!
Being a conversation between two plain-spoken individuals, she made me come to terms with the fact that cycling is not all that beyond reproach – just like everything in life
Although, I would still argue that to a greater (or even greatest) extent, being a regular cyclist is the best decision you can make in a lifetime – as long as you find solutions for the things I will talk about today.
In this post, I will be talking about the downsides about cycling before you ever consider doing it as “your thing”
I mean truth be told it is cool – me doing it makes it even cooler 😎😀
1. The Sweat
The sweat is there and depends on the bike, the terrain you have to climb and the weather you decide to pedal under.
A bike without gears like mine will obviously get you to do some work and this implies a great deal of sweat
If you combine that with a hilly route, a long journey and pedaling under the scorching sun, you will definitely get sweat – messy , which gets a little uncomfortable if your destination requires you to be orderly and composed
My solution to this is having a face towel with me to wipe the sweat when it becomes overwhelming.
Additionally, before I ride anywhere, I have to first figure out a route with the least number of hills or manageable terrain; the Northern bypass for example is one route I find really convenient in that regard.
Of course, the deodorant is quite important and you don’t want to use anything else besides Nivea – this is an advert my people 😁
When I reach work, it is now common practice that I take off 5 – 10 minutes to sit outside and first cool down (usually with glass of cold water and my face towel) before I go about my day’s activities.
Make-up, well that is the tricky part – in fact the one thing my friend just found a huge turn-off about cycling.
If you have to do your whole face every day, then may be regular cycling is not for you
But if you’re like me – lipstick and occasional eyebrows, the above practice is really just enough to help you groom yourself without redoing anything.
Also, those minutes are usually enough to bring you back to normal or similar state with someone that used a taxi or boda-boda.
And well, with more birds in your bag😎.
2. Your Wardrobe
Yep, your wardrobe really really really matters!
The shoes have to have a relatively flat sole, no high heels – sorry Valerie.
Things like tight dresses and skirts, office pants are a nay when it comes to cycling.
And trust me I have learnt a lesson for this one.
I have always followed my gut feeling about what to wear when riding.
I know it is leggings, sweatpants, free Ankara-print pants, boyfriend jeans, round dresses and skirts with socks or biker shorts underneath, and things that really don’t hold my lower body when I am either seated or standing
I just knew office pants were not an option
This one morning, my eyes fell on some new fly office pants I had recently bought
“I have a couple of meetings today that require me to look formal.”, I thought to myself as I got them out of my wardrobe
They were okay on the body – neither tight nor lose
So yeah, we were good to go.
I went out on my usual route, zealous as always
When I reached a spot with heavy traffic, I got off my bike to push it through the commotion-
Only to find my pants ripped!
Did I mention I was about to reach work when that happened?!😢
I had to do a ride of shame back home to change and then again, ride to work – two trips on a day I had a great deal of meetings
And trust me, it wasn’t a good feeling – not even looking at using the workout lens of things
This is a bit tricky, especially for the gender that loves to move with their rooms in their bags.
As far as I can recall, carrying anything but a back pack was uncomfortable
So for me, carrying a handbag is uncomfortable while riding and in fact creates imbalance if heavily packed.
Although, I have seen female cyclists that actually carry their hand bags as they ride.
I have also seen other cyclists place bags – plastic and similar bags on the handlebars and it seemed a workable solution
For my case though, with extra luggage, I have both a pillion and a front cargo basket that enable me carry just anything if I wanted to.
And in fact, I am able to carry my wardrobe if I need to change my attire at my destination.
So for anyone that wants to ride, having a pillion or a front cargo basket or both on your bike comes in handy with extra things to ride with.
I have been told by everyone I know that cares about me to get a helmet
And I did!
You might be wondering why I am talking about it in the first place, as something that makes cycling not all that good
Well, it does – for starters, since it reduces the likelihood of getting fatally injured in case of an accident.
But when you are a girl like me that is all about having a good hair day, a helmet messes things up
Worse still, when you have big hair, you got to give a helmet a break.
With the big Rihannalocs that I recently installed, the helmet I got just won’t fit.
And truth be told, I have no solution for this one except being really extra careful while I ride.
Similar to the helmet aspect, this is also about safety
Truth be told, when riding in a lane well knowing you are not competing for space with a truck driver feels really safe
Unfortunately, you will not get that much opportunity in Uganda except in Kololo and in the middle of Kampala – which I rarely use
For all the routes I use, I endeavor to be as extra left (we use British standards) as I can be.
Although, this doesn’t stop boda-bodas from finding you and impact your bike from behind as they cynically work a way out of heavy traffic.
And on the highway, you can’t ride if you’re megalophobic
On top of the loud hair-raising sound they make as just big cars, trucks raise dusty wind – a combination that is just enough to create Goosebumps or further, scare you off the road as they go past you
This is not something you get used to by the way!
So the only optimal strategy to not have it affect you is to stick to the left and ride slower on hearing one coming from behind.
But besides the trucks, riding on a highway is a great remedy for a troubled mind.
It’s why I still, up to this day, find a day or two to ride on a highway just for the sake of riding and of course – healing!
Acknowledgement: I want to thank Valerie Nalubowa for being an inspiration behind this post: Happy Birthday Babesssss 🎂🎉🎊 – It was no coincidence that I published this post on your birthday, but rather a choice I made to celebrate you!
I am happy to hear your recommendations for my challenges above and if you’re a cyclist, hear what you have encountered as challenges on the road.