Question of the Week: “Bike riding doesn’t look very bouncy—do I really need to wear a sports bra when I’m in the saddle?”
May 28, 2011
I LOVE answering this week’s question! Because if there’s anything that makes me feel energized, carefree and like I’m 9-years-old-all-over-again, it’s zipping around town, zooming up and down hills on my trusty “Bad Boy” bicycle!
Cycling is my #1 go-to action sport, and here in my great city of Portland, Oregon (#1 bike-friendly city in the country), it’s easy to practice at least four different indoor/outdoor versions, each with its own unique set of sports bra requirements. Unlike many other strenuous aerobic sports, cycling doesn’t always produce a lot of bounce, but there’s a lot more to consider for a comfortable ride:
Road Riding: Probably the most familiar style of bicycle training (think Tour de France!), riding outside on the roads usually involves longer distances on a bike with ‘dropped’ handlebars that keep your body in more of a crouched-forward position. Reaching out to the handlebars makes your back bend and your shoulders round forward, which actually increases the length and width of your back. So while I’m relatively unconcerned with bounce during road riding, I’ve definitely found that a little extra ‘ease’ across the back and in the straps of my sports bra puts a lot less stress on my shoulders and neck, especially during long rides. If I’m wearing a style with an adjustable bottom band, I just let it out a notch, but I’ve even gone up a bra size if necessary to get the best fit and feel.
Depending on the season, riding outside can be hot and sweaty, or damp and chilly! In either case, you want to keep things inside your sports bra are as dry and comfy as possible, so great wicking fabrics are an absolute must (especially if, like me, you may stop for a cappuccino mid-ride, cool down, then hit the road hard again).
Off-Road Turns Bounce On: When I get off-pavement on my mountain bike in places like Portland’s 6,000-acre urban forest, this is the one time when the need for great support definitely kicks into high gear. The bumpier the trail, the jumpier the ‘girls’ get, and I turn to a strong compression or encapsulation sports bra to tame the bounce.
Riding off-road can lead to all kinds of ‘interesting’ terrain/weather conditions. In the cold, the stop-and-go opportunities to work a sweat up a hill, followed by an easy downhill coast, can leave my gear damp and chilly. Since my sports bra sits right on my skin, I make sure it’s great at wicking away the moisture so my breasts and nipples are less susceptible to chilling and pain.
Biking for Business: I like to use my sweet hybrid ‘townie’ bike for business trips around the city when I can. I’ve found myself pumping up a major hill one minute, then needing to project a cool and professional image the next. While there’s not always a lot I can do for the dreaded “helmet hair,” if I’m wearing a super-wicking sports bra with a shapely silhouette that looks great under my top, that goes a long way toward feeling comfortable and confident no matter what the day brings. Because I’m in a more upright position in my hybrid (great for scanning traffic hazards!), tightness across the back of my bra is less of a concern.
Take It Inside: Portland is famous for its plentiful rainfall, so when I can’t outwit Mother Nature for a road ride, I head to the gym for spinning. A closed indoor environment can be warm in spite of the AC, so cool, wicking fabrics in my sports bra are non-negotiable. My class instructors take us through demanding changes in body position on the bike during the course of a tough spin workout, so again, I really like a little looser fit across my back, shoulder blades and neck to unstress these areas.
If you have a specific sports bra question, cycling or otherwise, that could use a personalized answer and/or a specific product recommendation, I hope you won’t hesitate to visit the “Ask the Expert” link and leave me a confidential message—I’d love to help out!
Have a great weekend, and if you get a chance, grab a bike and have a blast!