The science of sitting comfortably: How can the cycling industry help more women ride bikes without pain?

The women we know have been put off cycling by saddle discomfort are the tip of the iceberg, many suffer in silence and promptly exit the sport. First female rider home at the 2016 Transcontinental, Emily Chappell, explores what the cycling industry is - and could be - doing to get women riding comfortably

(Image credit: Future)

This article forms part of a week of women's focused stories, in celebration of our Women's Special edition of Cycling Weekly Magazine, one sale from Thursday, March 10. See the full schedule of upcoming articles here.

I’ve heard more than my fair share of saddlesore stories, but even I was shocked when I received a message from a successful ultra-cyclist after a short training ride. “It suddenly dawned on me that I was cycling without pain,” she enthused. “Normally a ride begins with intense pinching agony while I find a comfortable way to sit. Now I just fit! Is this how nice cycling is for everyone else?”

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Emily Chappell has been riding more-or-less full-time ever since she took the step from London commuter to cycle courier in 2008. Her journeys have taken her across several continents, through some of the world’s coldest winters, and to the finish line of the Transcontinental Race, in which she was the first woman to finish in 2016. 

With a background in literature and academia, Emily is often drawn to the more cerebral side of cycling, reads any book about cycling history that she can get her hands on, and has written two of her own.