Cycling while pregnant – the second trimester

My second trimester corresponded to the spring and summer cycling seasons: gravel and road in good weather. The exhaustion I felt in the first trimester dissipated, the round ligament pains went away, and I was finding it easier to set reasonable expectations for what I could do on the bike.

I had already decided I wasn’t going to participate in our club’s Tuesday night race series. Although I was feeling more comfortable, I was taking considerably longer on climbs, so staying in the bunch was going to be pretty much impossible. Between pandmeic restrictions, risking a crash in the pack, and then having every ride turn into an individual time trial, I decided to take a different approach.

Going on a gravel adventure at 21 weeks.

A good friend of mine wanted to start a novice/intermediate ride program for women, and so I traded in my racing for ride leading in that program. Instead of riding in the ‘fast’ group on our mixed gender social ride night, I lead a ‘party pace’ group instead.  Nervous about COVID exposure while pregnant, these rides also allowed for better distancing, and were smaller groups meaning fewer exposures. And for the most part, I traded in Saturday long rides for working in my local bike shop and riding with my husband on Sundays.

I was lucky to have had an easy second trimester, where my main complaint was that I was going up climbs like a tonne of bricks. As it turned out, my first trimester worries about being unable to participate in the cycling community were unfounded. Ride leading novice/intermediate groups still provided a great workout, and I met a lot of people and made a lot of friends. I did sometimes miss riding with my usual group, but I still got to see them at the start/finish. And I loved working at the local bike shop: not only did I get to help people find their perfect ride, but I saw my riding buddies (new and old) when they came in as well.

As with every cycling season, I went on some fantastic rides with great people. My husband and I did some exploring in new areas, and I continued to commute by bike. I even completed a 100 km gravel group ride at 22 weeks pregnant! That day I felt good, the weather was cool, and the route was a figure eight, so I had the option to drop out half-way if needed. I leaned on my experience, riding efficiently, eating and drinking a tonne, and I felt great the whole time. By the end of the second trimester I had gained about 15 pounds and my baggier jerseys were starting to get a little snug, but my bib shorts were still comfortable and I was still feeling good.

On a descent part way through a 100 km gravel event at 22 weeks.

I thought I was going to spend pregnancy fighting against my body to be able to continue to cycle, and I certainly continued to have moments of frustration. After all, it took a lot of time and effort to get the confidence, fitness and skills to keep up in our (primarily male) club. At times it felt unfair that none of the guys had to set aside their training in the same way to have their families. I was fortunate, in a way, that I missed out on less than I would have in a normal year, due to the pandemic limiting our club rides, although I would of course choose no pandemic if that were an option. And I reminded myself of my role models: mothers in the club who are stronger and faster than me already! Despite the hard days, I was able to lean into my experience to pace myself and be efficient and effective on the bike. Rather than feeling unsteady, I became more aware of my skills, and that was a wonderful surprise!