WE Bike NYC’s 2nd Rapha Women’s 100k Ride!

Getting Ready For This Year’s Rapha Women’s 100 Challenge — from WE Bike NYCer and co-leader of the Rapha Women’s 100 Elyse Bejasa

Early last summer, I stumbled across the WE Bike NYC website and saw that they were hosting a ride for the Rapha Women’s 100 challenge. At that point, I had been a bike commuter for about 11 months, riding 5 miles to and from work on my old, clunky 3-speed cruiser. The longest ride I had ever done was the TD Five Boro Bike Tour a few weeks prior, but I wanted to challenge myself with the 60 mile ride. I didn’t know what to expect and was pretty ill-prepared for the ride, but with the support of the amazing women of WE Bike NYC, I finished. All 60+ miles. On my cruiser. I honestly don’t know how I did it without my legs falling off.

This year, I feel like I’m ready for the Rapha Women’s 100 because I’ve learned SO MUCH since last year and because I’ve biked way more than I ever have. So I figured I’d share a few of the things I’ve learned in my quick transformation from commuter to cyclist that’ll help me get through those miles on July 26th.

  • Bring snacks and EAT THEM! I usually have snacks on me (I’m a hungry person), but it never used to occur me to me that I needed to be eating fairly often while on my bike. Biking burns a lot of calories and it’s easy to miscalculate how much energy you’re expending until you’re just about to bonk. I found that I need to eat something (usually a pack of energy gummies or a KIND bar) every 20 miles to stay steady. The amount of energy you need varies person to person. How your body reacts to heat and humidity and other extraneous factors also play a part in this equation. That said, I often carry more food than I think I will need because I would rather be safe than sorry. If I cannot physically carry enough food for my ride, I will bring enough cash and plan my route accordingly so that I have places to refuel along the way.
  • Riding in groups is VERY different from riding alone. For one thing, it’s more fun. But it also requires communication between riders. I learned about the various hand signals and audible cues that cyclists use so other cyclists are aware of what’s going on. Good communication between riders helps people trust that the group is looking out for their safety. So ride predictably and pass back signals when you’re riding in a group.
  • Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Did I mention HYDRATE? It goes without saying that water is the best, but remember to add electrolytes to replenish the ones you lose as you sweat over a long period of time.
  • Don’t be afraid of bike gear! As much as I can, I try to use what I already have when it comes to gear. But as I began to do longer rides and ride more often, I realized upgrading was in my favor, procuring different gear as I was able. I went from casual commuter to cyclist because I was looking for gear that would make my rides more efficient. Whether it was cycling jerseys (the pockets on the back are magical and hold snacks!), chamois shorts (protecting our bottoms doesn’t just mean more comfort – it’s also better for our health), or clipless pedals, I invested in them because they make my ride better for me and also because I knew I’d wear them pretty often.

I’m glad to be co-leading the Rapha Women’s 100 ride this year. If you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share, if you have any questions about the ride, or just want to chat about something bike-related, please feel free to post on the Female Bike Forum presented by WE Bike NYC.

Hope to see everyone on July 26th!!

WE Bike NYC’s Hot Summer Weather Tips and our 100k Rapha Ride!

As we approach that infamously unbearable first week of August, WE wanted to share some of our FAVORITE HOT WEATHER RIDING TIPS that helped us through this super long ride!

  1. Replace your backpack with PANNIERS, which attach to a back rack and can hold all of your things away from your body! It’s hot enough with just the sun on your back. If you’re really committed to riding with a backpack, try sticking an ice pack inside towards the part that rests on your back.
  2. Dampen a handkerchief or cycling cap and FREEZE it overnight! The cold fabric will melt against your skin as you ride and cool you off! You might be a little wet and soggy after, but at least it will be water and not sweat.
  3. Get a light-colored HELMET with lots of vents! Those bucket-like skater-style helmets are super cute for fall, but they trap heat against your head in hot, muggy weather and can contribute to making you miserable. Also, black helmets are like black cars- they will absorb heat from the sun faster than lighter colored ones.
  4. DRINK TONS OF WATER. WE sweat more in the summer, and want to avoid dehydration or heat exhaustion. Get a second water bottle cage to hold a spare bottle, and remember to take a good hearty swig at every red light!
  5. HYDRATION POWDERS are your friend! They’re basically little packets that you can add to water to turn it into an electrolyte drink, like Gatorade but without all of the sugar! Get more from your water by carrying these with you on long rides!
  6. ALWAYS BRING SNACKS. Sometimes the heat can diminish your appetite, but it’s important to make sure your body has the calories it needs to keep burning energy while you’re on your bicycle. Peanuts, bananas, fruit, and other foods with natural sugars and protein will help keep you going!
  7. Look for clothing with MOISTURE-WICKING properties. Lots of athletic clothing these days is designed to help carry sweat away from your body. Just check the tags to see if the items you’re thinking of purchasing are made of these special materials!
  8. Get a pair of CHAMOIS SHORTS and never wear denim short shorts in the saddle ever again (at least for those epic rides)! Padded shorts intended for cycling are about a hundred times more comfortable than regular summer shorts. Especially for long rides, chamois shorts will never ride up, bunch, or chafe against your legs and crotch. It is definitely worth the investment!
  9. Try an anti-friction CHAMOIS CREAM to minimize sweaty friction around your nether-region… spending long days in the saddle combined with sticky sweat can result in painful chafing and saddle sores, and products like this are designed to reduce friction and discomfort!
  10. Cut the sleeves off of your tee shirts! Opting for sleeveless, spaghetti-strap, or racer-back style tops will give more room for air to move around your armpits, because it always stinks (literally…) to ruin a favorite tee with big pit stains!