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Cycling savvy

Biking has become a popular sport for women—and it’s no wonder. It’s a good calorie burner (you’ll use between 400 and 700 calories an hour) that serves a dual purpose: On one hand, cycling provides an aerobic workout, and on the other, it builds leg muscles without stressing joints. It’s just plain fun, captures the essence of girlhood freedom and gets you places! Here are some tips to make the most of cycling:

  • Check out cycling shops that feature women-friendly improvements, such as female-specific saddles, narrower handle bars and smaller wheels. Some clothing is also designed specifically for women, like shorts with padded crotches (called chamois) in antibacterial fabrics.
  • If you already own a bike, treat it to a professional tune-up that costs about $20—although it could be higher if the bike has been gathering dust in the basement for a long time.
  • If you’re just starting, begin slowly and on flat terrain to avoid injury and burnout. Gradually increase your mileage, time and tough-terrain goals. Keeping a cycling journal that notes your progress can be inspiring.
  • Stretch before and especially after you ride, paying special attention to your hamstrings, thighs, buttocks, back and neck. You’ll prevent some soreness and injury this way.
  • If cycling is your main form of exercise, consider adding a series of upper-body, weight-resistance exercises to your routine to keep the top half of you well toned, too.
  • Cycle with a friend if you like the company or feel safer with a pal on less populated trails. If none of your friends share your enthusiasm, your local bike shop can turn you on to other female cyclists or women’s biking clubs and trails.
  • Don’t wear headphones while biking. In most states it’s illegal, and it’s always unsafe.
  • Obey all traffic laws and always wear a helmet!