Does This Bike Make My Butt Look Big?


Hello. My name is Rachel, and I’m a bicycling addict (Insert a collective, sympathetic, “Hello, Rachel” from the group here).

And I’m not alone. There are thousands of us. Yes, I know, most of us don’t have boobs, but that’s gonna change. In fact, it is changing. 

But I’ve been thinking: Why don’t more women ride? Let’s see. 

Safety? Women, being the more rational creature (admit it, boys), are the more safety conscious. For starters, San Antonio has a scarcity of bike lanes, and a city without bike lanes is a city of non-bike-lane-conscious drivers, from texting teens (“LOL. Where? Me too!”) to harried parents tying to find their teens––who won’t text back. And then there’s always that scary guy in the raised pickup behind you with his cast iron bumper sniffing at your thigh, or the one in front with the, “Keep honking…I’m reloading!” bumper sticker smiling back at you. 

Time? I mean, who has enough of that! Between jobs, relationships, kids, and, “Oh, Jesus, the laundry? I just did the laundry!” sucking at your energy reserve…Hey, it’s hard to be a woman. Try it, Mister! I mean, how many women do you see playing golf on Saturday morning? OK, I’ve never played golf, but still. But say you want to make time. OK, my argument is: it takes a lot more of that to pack a bedazzled gym bag, drive to the gym, and wait for a favorite elliptical trainer to become available than it does to open the garage door and ride, baby, ride! Anyway, that’s been my experience. 

Fashion? “Does this bike make my butt look big?” Question: Were bike shorts designed for men, by men, or is this just me? There seems to be an offensive lack of clothing designed for bodies that aren’t, well, men’s. Personally, I’m a little hesitant to stuff my own behind into an outfit that makes mine look like, well, not a man’s, a man’s doing speed trials, or one that, I’d don’t know, suggests the Michelin Man’s estranged wife.  

OK, those are three quick explanations that might cause any self-respecting woman to have second thoughts about cycling. Are there any benefits?

How ‘bout some sex!  Remember when you actually wanted to have sex––before life mucked everything up? That’s right, ladies, being more physically active improves vascular health, which in turn boosts your sex drive. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, but trust me: orgasms will come easier. Little known fact: in order to have an orgasm, you first must become aroused (no secret there), then relaxed! All this has something to do with something called the autonomic nervous system. Look it up. Tons of stuff on the Internet. 

Burning calories. For example, a 135-pound woman pedaling 12 to 14 miles an hour will burn approximately 488 calories in 60 minutes, and as a bonus will keep burning them for hours after you finish! 

Being mobile. According to a recent National Household Transportation Survey, half of us live within five miles of our workplace. That’s about a 20-minute bike ride each way, that if done just twice a week will burn up to 3,000 calories—that’s close to one pound a month! 

Muscle toning. Cyclists are notorious for having killer legs. After all, the quads, glutes, and calves are propelling the bike. And according to Erik Moen, a physical therapist who treats elite athletes, working the handlebar sculpts your upper body too, giving you balanced tone. 

Boosting energy. You’re tired, right? You’re burning the candle at both ends: maintaining career, the household, and family life. It’s exhausting. But there’s a way out of this swamp of fatigue. A study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that bike riding increases energy levels by 20% and decreases fatigue by 65%. According to lead author Patrick O’Connor, PhD, cycling triggers a release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to increases in energy levels. Dopamine is also implicated in rewards from unexpected experiences, and if there’s anything you can expect from cycling is the unexpected, even if you’re riding your usual route: the route may be the same, but the weather won’t be (it will be in the gym), nor the colors and the people you meet or see along the way. And remember, you don’t have to ride like a bat out of hell to feel better. Pedaling at a low to moderate pace just three times a week is the best way to fight fatigue. 

Protecting the proverbial ticker. Scary fact: heart disease is the number-one killer of women in this country. The two top risk factors for heart disease are not your kid’s talent for avoiding homework or your significant other’s tendency to leave the toilet seat up in the middle of the night, but high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol. In one study, researchers had 32 women ride at a moderate to high intensity three times a week for at least half an hour. After a year, they’d lowered their blood pressure and LDL while increasing their aerobic fitness. And what have we learned about increased aerobic fitness? You’ll have better sex! 

So ladies, let’s ride! Let’s have better orgasms! Let’s melt away our empty calories! Let’s love our asses again! Find a bike, strap on a helmet, find the nearest hill you can coast down and free yourself! I promise it will change your life. 

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