Cycling while pregnant – the first trimester

My first trimester roughly corresponded to winter and the start of spring – mostly fat biking and ski season. My policy was to try and get out and start a ride (or a ski), and just do as much as felt ok. Despite not gaining much weight, and not having any morning sickness, I took a big hit in terms of form. I was much slower than normal and there were a lot of days where I was totally exhausted after only 20 or 30 minutes of riding.

I was being thrown headfirst into figuring out how to do the activities I loved at a different level than before. I often felt nervous about how far to push my body early on, but looking back, I am happy with how I assessed and responded to how I felt.

Hitting the trails and getting some sunshine in the first trimester.

There’s a wonderful weekly social fat bike ride in Regina, and I found myself avoiding it so I wouldn’t feel pressure to explain what happened to my form before I was ready. Thankfully I’m a terrible skier, so I don’t think anyone noticed there.

That social ride is a big motivator for me to brave the cold weather. Without it I found it nearly impossible to get out in the dark and frigid temperatures, riding outdoors only on weekends in the sun. To stay active, I dug out my rollers for after work rides. I hadn’t used them since buying a fat bike, but it was great to just toss on some shorts and bang out a quick ride after work – no balance issues here!

Once the bitter cold went away, it was time to break out the gravel bikes. At 10 weeks pregnant my husband and I drove to the valley for a short, scenic ride. It wasn’t the best day – terribly windy and I felt very crampy, especially on the big climb, which made me feel very nervous about what kind of effort I should put out. I asked my OB at my next checkup who informed me I was experiencing textbook round ligament pains. This lingered for several weeks and I stuck to flatter rides for a few weeks until they subsided.

Unexpectedly, my biggest challenge was a mental one: coming to terms with my lack of form. After years of steady progress in terms of speed and endurance, there were many days when I was frustrated by my exhaustion and, in those moments, I lamented my potential inability to cycle during the summer season to come. I frequently wished I could just have my old body back – I didn’t look any different on the outside, but I just didn’t feel right while I was on the bike. Objectively I knew my body was busy doing another amazing thing, and I should have been kinder to myself about it.