The Unappealing Facts about Cycling and How I Carry on Despite Their Existence

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 😎😀

Buttttttttttttttttttttttt……………………

1. The Sweat

Yep, obviously!

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!

The state of my “fly ” pants when I got off my bike

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

3. Accessories

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.

Amanda Ngabirano, an urban planner and famous female cyclist in Kampala . (AmandaNgabirano, 2020)

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.

My bike having a green plastic bag and pieces of cassava stems secured tightly at the pillion and my helmet in the front cargo basket.

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.

4. Helmet

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.

5. Lanes

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

One of the very few cycling lanes in Kampala Downtown along Namirembe road – Luwum street stretch. PC: Amanda Ngabirano

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.

21 Comments

  1. Woowww Brenda !!! It was like I was having our conversation all over again !!! You are phenomenal, it’s one of the reasons you are my person .Thank you for this , thank you for looking out for us in all ways and mostly thank you for listening to me .I don’t take that for granted ❤️
    And most importantly Thank you for celebrating me in such a remarkable and honorable way , I’ll forever carry this with me , because it’s a big deal !😭i am teary right now 🥺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At first I had neglected to read this coz am not a good reader but today I clicked on the link and to my surprise 😲😲 it’s an exciting blog am so overwhelmed and so eager to try out cycling,,, for the pants😆😆😆😆😆 OMG , I didn’t know “ride of shame” also existed.weldone dear keep up with putting smiles on our faces

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry about your pants. I always carried a change of clothes in a bag and wore lycra whenever i cycled to the office and was lucky we had a shower so I would freshen up before starting the days duties.
    I see you ride a fixed gear bike. Is it a case of not liking the advantages that comes with multiple gears?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately we don’t have such luxury where I work. So I have to improvise.
      I ignorantly chose that one combined with a couple of other reasons. I was sorta still new to the gear bikes and had mastered the gearless one. I also liked its colour to be honest. I am workout enthusiast so I thought the one without gears would make me do serious work.

      Like

      1. I ride a 11 speed road bike & I can promise you, there is work to be done especially on climbs. I used a fixed gear bike in my younger days though- I considered it a work horse.
        I feel your troubles. Work places should have such facilities

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have considered buying one with gears except that I still think i may may find hard time changing the gears. I would need a pro to take me through that one.

        Yeah definitely! Although, how would you start asking for bathrooms to be installed yet the available toilets are in poor condition?😏

        Like

      3. This if you have no one to show you just check out YouTube videos on gearing. Maybe the only issue will be maintenance. The fixed gear has fewer demands compared to several gears

        Liked by 1 person

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