Greener, leaner and once you make the initial investment it could save you a fortune in travelling costs – more and more of us are waking up to the life-changing benefits of cycling, whether it’s for commuting, leisure or sport.
Cycling is on the rise, particularly as it’s getting a little warmer. If it’s something you’re interested in, it’s time to start thinking about what you need to get the most out of your bike. I chose from a range of hybrid bicycles, but there are road bikes and other options to choose from. Having taken up cycling properly over the last year or so, and trained to become a Breeze Champion with British Cycling, I hope I have learned enough to help you get into cycling too.
Here are a few must haves for budding cyclists:
This may seem a little obvious, but there are still people out there who are cycling without a helmet! Study after study has shown that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of fatalities and injuries for all cyclists. Even minor falls can have potentially disastrous consequences if you hit your head, no matter what bike you have or even if you have the best neighborhood bicycle. Remember, your brain is the only part of your body that can’t repair itself, so be smart and protect it.
When shopping for a bike helmet, it’s important to have the right size and one that matches your riding style. Measure your head’s circumference at the broadest point or about one inch above the eyebrows. Your helmet should fit snugly but not annoyingly tight. It should sit flat on the head without tilting back for forehead protection. If you plan on mountain climbing, choose a helmet with more padding at the back.
Portable Tool Kit
Knowing how to do basic maintenance is a must for all cyclists. Nothing can ruin a ride faster than a flat tire, crooked stem, or a loose seat post. Invest in some basic, quality tools, and maintenance becomes a whole lot easier.
We’re all familiar with sunburn, but the sun can damage your eyes, too. It’s also important that the sun doesn’t restrict one’s vision, especially if driving on road. For mountain bikers, there’s also the danger of sticks, rocks and mud getting into your eye, which can cause more serious injuries. Most cycling sunglasses today are designed to protect your eyes with UV blocking treatments.
When you ride you will burn a huge amount of calories. If you’ll be riding more than 90 minutes, you should take snacks and water en route.
Before biking, consume a light source of protein such as scrambled eggs and drink water for hydration. During cycling, grabbing carb-based energy bars is a good idea in between rides. You can boost post-ride cycling recovery by eating dry fruits, nuts, or recovery bars. Bicycling would require protein and carbohydrates.
A great pair of cycling shorts will be a life changing investment on your cycling journey. A good pair will include a chamois pad sewn in that offers plenty of cushion and support that will work with your saddle to keep you comfortable. The lycra material most shorts are made from also is highly breathable, wicks away sweat and is designed to minimize rubbing and chaffing.
Having spent hundreds on a bike and gear, have you thought about insurance? Sometimes locking up your bike just isn’t enough. Last year approximately 448,000 bicycles were stolen in the UK, while research earlier this year shows that one bike is stolen every minute in the UK. That’s pretty scary. If you’d like to get a quote for insurance on your bike, you can cover it with your home contents with Urban Jungle – their quote journey only takes a few minutes from start to finish and will leave you feeling secure about your bike. With a unique contents calculator you can use to see what insurance would suit you best.
A good jacket can help save your ride, especially in transitional seasons like spring. For the upcoming season you should go for a model that is windproof, water-resistant, and can pack up small enough to fit into a jersey pocket. If you prefer to go mountain biking, then a mountain bike jersey is another essential, so that you keep cool and dry.
Choosing the right cycling shoes is one of the most important decisions you can make. A bad fitting pair of shoes can turn what should have been a pleasant bike ride into hours of agony. The right pair of shoes aren’t the ones that look the coolest, they’re the ones that fit your feet the best.
Here are the different types of cycling shoes:
- Road cycling shoes: Achieve maximum pedalling efficiency by wearing road cycling shoes. This type of cycling shoe has stiff soles equipped with three-hole protruding cleats, connecting the shoes to clipless pedals.
- Mountain bike shoes: They have grippy soles to sustain rugged trails. Mountain bike shoes come in two types, one with a clip and two-hole cleats and one that works with flat pedals (a sticky rubber sole without cleats).
- Casual bike shoes: They resemble sneakers suitable for recreational riders. Casual bike shoes can work with clipless pedals. They have recessed cleats into the sole, which make walking a lot easier.
Cycling gloves soak up that sweat, keeping your hands dry and allow you to maintain a safe grip on the handlebars at all times. Gloves can have padded palms, providing extra comfort by cushioning your hands from the vibrations passed through the bike and handlebar to the main contact points.
If you’re considering cycling as a way to get fit for summer, use this list to make sure you stay safe and comfortable. If you have the essentials, you’ll have no excuses!
*collaborative post – all opinions are my own.