The better prepared you are, the more you will get out of your cycling. Making sure you set out with a correctly set up bike and a few essential items of kit will ensure your training is much more enjoyable. There’s nothing worse than a long ride when you’re on an uncomfortable bike or when you’re wearing unsuitable clothing. Simply follow the tips below and you’re guaranteed to get more out of your cycling.
1) Bike helmet.This is an absolute must. Modern cycling helmets are lightweight and well ventilated, and can literally save your life in an accident. Protecting your head should be your top priority.
2) Cycling shorts. If you are cycling any distance then seamless, padded, chafe-free cycling shorts will prevent soreness from hard saddles and repeated rubbing, a key item in your cycling wardrobe.
3) Basic bike tools. A set of allen keys, a puncture repair kit, tyre levers, a spare inner tube and a pump will keep you on the road. All you need to know is how to change a tyre and mend a puncture and you’re ready to go. Saddle bags that you can attach underneath the saddle of your bike are a worthwhile purchase for storage of these tools.
4) Lights/reflectors. Front and rear cycle lights are very important for safety, especially when cycling in low light conditions i.e. mornings and evenings. The rear lights will allow other vehicle users to see you in low light conditions, while front lights will increase your own visibility, providing better vision and thus, better control of your bike. Extra lights can be added to your helmet, clothing and bags for increased visibility. Remember, it is better to be lit up like a Christmas tree than risk not being seen by other vehicles. In addition to lights I would advise getting a high visibility jacket.
1) Cycling sunglasses. Not for posing! Sunglasses are actually very useful for cyclists; they will keep dirt, dust and flies out of your eyes, and if you choose a pair with interchangeable lenses then they can sharpen your vision in low light conditions, as well as cutting out glare and reflections.
2) Clipless pedals, cycling shoes and cleats. Clipless pedals can be attached to your bike in place of standard pedals. All require a cycling-specific shoe with cleat attachments that enable them to ‘lock in’ to your pedal, making a big difference to your pedalling efficiency. They enable you to pull up as well as push down, giving you more control and power transfer. Refer back to the ‘Cycling Biomechanics’ article to increase your understanding. If you’ve not tried them before you can get mixed pedals that have a clip on one side and a standard pedal on the other for multi use which will be easier to get used to. Make sure you practice locking in and out of the pedal on a quiet piece of road so you are able to do this quickly and efficiently when coming up to a set of traffic lights or junction. After a while you’ll wonder how you ever managed without them!
3) Speedometer. Not only will this tell you how fast you are peddling but it measures the distance you have travelled, average speed, maximum speed and time. It is a great tool that adds little weight to the bike and attaches to the middle of the handle bars.
4) Gloves. You can buy gloves with one or all of these functions; warmth, comfort and protection. There are big ranges available of both full and half fingered- wind and water resistant, with gel palms for added comfort. Gloves are especially vital in the cold weather conditions as hands will be the first to catch a chill.
5) Water bottle holder. Don’t get caught out on a long ride, having a water bottle to hand will help you stay hydrated during your training sessions.
6) Windproof/waterproof/high visibility cycling jacket. If you already have a similar jacket for running then you can always double up to reduce cost. Cycling tops or jackets sometimes come with back zips which are useful for the storage of your phone and keys whilst cycling.
I hope you have found these suggestions helpful. Good Luck everyone!!