Today I was asked by a friend about what she should bring with her on her cycling trip. For the benefit of everyone (like my brother – are you reading this?) who has picked up cycling recently, here’s a checklist of what you need to have for your rides.
Let’s start with the fun stuff first!
Your kit (attire)
- Cycling Shorts.
To keep your bits in good condition and to prevent chaffing of all your delicate skin “down there”, invest in a good pair of cycling shorts. Don’t be afraid that they “look too pro” (that’s what my bro said), or are too figure hugging, or have that huge wad of padding. You’ll be thanking the padding. Padding helps to cushion your seat bones, is seamless so it won’t cause blistering, and please WEAR YOUR CYCLING SHORTS WITHOUT UNDERWEAR. Underwear is just going to defeat the purpose of the seamless, smooth feel of the padding on your skin.
A really high-tech pair usually also incorporates compression technology to slow down muscle fatigue.
- A Suitable Cycling Top.
By this, I mean it can be a cycling jersey for warm weather, cool weather, or a waterproof rain jacket. Cycling jerseys wick sweat away from your body, reduce air drag (the slim fit ones do), protect you against sun exposure, and have back pockets that keep all your stuff. Winter jerseys keep you warm. Summer jerseys keep you cool. A waterproof rain jacket is for the times that you go out in the rain (although I don’t suggest riding in the rain especially if you’re new to this)
OH MAN. I can’t even start to emphasise how important these are. Famous last words I’ve heard friends utter include, “we’re cycling on the pavement, why do I need a helmet?”. Please, invest in one of these. They’re gunna keep your skull intact. Recently I crashed off road and thanks to my helmet, I only had a very mild concussion which included not able to gather my thoughts for a few days.
- A Buff
These super useful things around your neck keep the wind out if it’s cold, and you can use them as sun protection (I personally wear them “balaclava” style and look like a bandit). Sometimes I even tie my hair with it or wear it around my head if my helmet is too loose.
When you’re out in the open for a long time, you need to protect your eyes from sun exposure. I could go into great detail about your eyes getting wrinkles from the sun, but really, the filters from the sunnies help you focus better when riding. I personally like my Rudy Project Magster Sunglasses with photochromic lenses. They claim that they’re shatterproof and so far.. they’ve been holding up even when I fall.
Ah, many times overlooked but crucial, these babies protect your soft paws palms not just from the wind, but also incase you tumble. Many also have special gel padding that stop you from getting blisters, and those feel really good. You can get special windproof gloves if you’re riding in cold conditions, or simple mitts if you’re riding in warm climates.
Firstly, whatever you do, don’t go riding with slippers or sandals! They offer your feet zero protection in any accident, and those flimsy soles are dangerous.
There are special cycling shoes with cleats that attach your foot to the pedal. However, if you’re a beginner, I suggest you ride on flat pedals for the time being till you’re comfortable to take it a notch up. Try to find the stiffest soled shoes you can wear, and still comfortable enough to not get blisters from. Stiff soles prevent your feet from flexing too much with each pedal stroke, which means the energy from your leg gets efficiently transmitted to the pedal and not wasted on keeping your foot level. A stiff sole will also help to prevent any aches on the soles of your feet from the pressure.
If your shoes have laces, tuck them under the tongue. I’ve seen people getting their laces stuck in the crank!
Lots more parts to this beginner’s guide coming up! Please visit again soon and I’ll be working on them in the meantime 🙂 If you’ve any questions, leave me a comment below!