11 November 2012

Bikes and Boobs: The Importance of a Good Bra...

This can be a rather personal subject but I wanted to talk about the importance of a good Bra when on a bike. Due to my Scoliosis, my body-shape goes though a lot of changes & has seen a lot more of since I took up cycling - especially my Breasts... so I finally went on a quest for a decent Sports Bra... 

The last time I had a Fitting was in a well known high-street store when I was in my late teens. My Bra size always remained the same with their lingerie, so I stuck with them, including every time I needed a new Sports Bra. Yes, this wasn't the smartest move, especially when you realise 80% of women wear the wrong bra size & it's suggested you should be fitted every 6 months! Staying with what I knew seemed to be doing the job, until I really started to clock something didn't feel quite right. The more I cycled, the more it didn't feel comfortable around my chest in my 'normal' bras; so I opted for my Sports Bras - there was barely any change comfort-wise, my boobs would still ache and the fitting was awful...

There was no way I could be the only woman suffering with bra-problems when cycling, so I called out to fellow female riders on twitter with the question: "How important is it to you to have a good Sports Bra, cycling hard or not when on your bike?" The resounding reply to that? "very important!" Some of the answers ranged from hating the hardware of a normal bra digging into you while road cycling, needing something more compressive when MTB, not wanting to drench a nice bra in sweat, being more comfortable on bumpy surfaces, and a Sports Bra feeling much better when it's a super hot day. After seeing the responses to that question, and a long period of being in shitty-fitting bras, it was time to take action and get this sorted out!

I wanted to go to somebody who knew their bras and would offer a quality fitting service. Doing some research, one place kept on coming up on my radar; Rigby and Peller. They also saw my lamenting on twitter about the never ending quest for a good bra & invited me to try them. Established over 70 years ago and holding Royal Warrant as Corsetiere to The Queen; they certainly had a good reputation in the business... so I decided to take them up on their offer & give them a go. I was intrigued (and somewhat sceptical) about their Bra Fitting process; how could you size someone, without using a tape measure? The thought of it was a bit strange to me, until my personal Fitting session started & it all fell into place.
As Zawadie (pictured above) explained as she was sizing me & my boobs up, all R&P fitters are expertly trained to assess each individual customer. A tape measure cant take into consideration your body shape - something which really struck a chord with me, especially in light of my Scoliosis. I'm pleased this is one of the first things she noticed about me - the curve in my Spine and my posture are pretty prominent when you see the back of me with no clothes on, but this was never picked-up on in previous fittings, even when I brought the matter up. We discussed the pain I'd suffer when cycling and how proper support was needed around my back and boobs... and how ill fitting the Bra I'd walked in wearing was. Immediately she detected that it was the wrong size and that as a larger-breasted woman, I'd need a strong wide band and wider straps. For cycling, I'd need the same in a Sports Bra, but in good compressive material covering the whole breast. Again - all of this without a tape measure...

She popped out of the changing room, and re-appeared with a normal Bra (which was stunning) and several Sports ones to try on. The normal bra was to ascertain my correct size (which was an eye opener compared to the size I'd always stuck to) and then we went though the Sports range. Things like colour the material has been dyed can affect the fit, and after testing them all out, I finally found THE Sports Bra I wanted to buy...
Although designed specifically for running, the Shock Absorber Run Sports Bra felt like the perfect one for cycling in. Good compressive material, no wires, correct cup size to hold'em in and the support system at the back felt comfortable on my Spine! This was long-overdue, and also quite emotional to see my posture looking correct for the first time in years.

It's SO important to wear the correct sized Bra and makes a world of difference - not just because it can change your posture and looks good, but the health reasons alone are enough to get yourself sorted. Whatever type of exercise you do, your Breasts will move - be it running, working out in the gym or cycling. Whether you're going hard on your bike or not, it's worth thinking about how much pressure you are putting on your breasts:

  • ill fitting Bras can lead to health problems including headaches, Back and Shoulder issues
  • damage / pain can be caused to breast ligaments & there is a higher chance of sagging
  • one of the biggest mistakes women make is wearing a bra too small in the cup and too big in the back - when your bust gets bigger, it's often your cup size increasing, not your Back
Although I wish I'd did this much earlier in life, I'm glad that I finally sorted out my correct Bra size and will feel a lot more comfort when I'm cycling. As I said, this is a bit of an intimate / personal thing to blog about, but it's something that I really wanted to share with all you cycling ladies out there if it means you'll look into getting sized properly and look after those Boobs on your bike!

I had my Personal Fitting done at the Mayfair Rigby and Peller store in Central London. Further information on R&P stores and Fitting Services can be found on their website. I'd like to give a HUGE thank-you to the team there for looking after me, and not getting spooked at taking pictures of me in the Bra for this post :)

2 November 2012

Bicycle Art by Lois May-Miller...

We all know that Bicycles make me happy, as does Art. So putting the two together is a sure-fire way to put a smile on my face, and Brighton-based bicycle-belle Lois May-Miller has done exactly that.
Lois created the blog Claud & I to mark her taking on the 30 Days of Biking challenge in September. What started off as a way to chart her adventures for a month, turned into a cycling blog that she didn't want to stop, after falling in love with cycling.

When she isn't riding her bike Claud, Lois works as a Graphic Designer, with illustration featuring a lot in her day to day work. As Lois explains, the relationship between her day-job and cycling started to come together naturally...
"When I got my first ever road bike back in March, I quickly became pretty obsessed by all things cycling. I was sketching my bike one evening, just for the fun of it. I showed the sketch to a friend who said 'there are people out there who would hang that on their walls!'... and it took off from there" 
Her friend was right to tell her this, as Lois' Cycling themed prints have already gone down with fellow cyclists on Twitter... and I had to have one to hang-up in my Bedroom / Workspace.
The charm of the 'Love and Bicycles' Print captured my heart and my feelings about my Pashley Princess and the freedom of cycling. There are also some other pieces there that have caught my eye, especially as they remind me of the Clubman... Alongside her Prints, Lois also creates Car Window Stickers, for motorists out there who also have some cycling pride...

With new prints in the pipeline in time for Christmas, Lois' prints have certainly made it on my list of cycling related gifts for the festive season.

You can see the current range on the Claud & I online Shop, and contact Lois via her @ClaudAndI twitter account.
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