Clothing

There is a huge amount of cycling clothing in the market. Choosing the right clothing for your ride can be tricky but not with this helpful guide.

Choosing the correct clothing to ride in is very much a personal thing with different people having different tolerances of temperatures and conditions. As a result, choosing the right kit to wear should be a process of trial and error. Try to avoid rushing out to buy all your gear in one go. Instead buy the essentials (helmet, shoes, shorts/bib and shirt) and add to this list as your cycling progresses and you are able to define your needs more precisely.

 

The essentials – body and head

When riding in cold or variable weather common theory says that you should first try to keep your core body parts (body and head) warm as this is where the body loses most of it’s heat from. On your top half there are a large variety of fabrics or tops on the market. The best approach is to wear thin layers that will help trap air in between which will help insulate you. If you get too hot you can peel one layer off. To keep you head warm you should consider investing in a skull cap to wear under your helmet.

Added extras

Rain Jacket

Cyclists only usually tollerate getting caught in the rain once. If descending a mountain or hill in the wet you’ll be amazed how quickly you can get very cold. To avoid such discomfort always carry a light weight rain jacket. The two things to look out for are size (so you can stash in your jersey pocket when not wearing it) and water proofness. The exact quality of jacket your opt for should be decided by the exact requirements you want it for – do you need it to just get you through the odd wet commute home or through a multi day tour (potentially endless rain for days on end!)?

Arm/Knee Jacket

These are great for riding during cooler temperatures (autumn, spring, evenngs, early mornings etc). They simply look like long socks with the end cut off! Their main benefit (apart from helping to prevent heat loss from your limbs) is that they are very compact so can be stuffed into your jersey pockets without taking up too much room. In addition in race conditions if you become too hot you don’t have to pull over to remove them – simply roll them down to reveal your skin again!

Over shoes

Cold feet on the bike is a horrible sensation. If you are riding in winter or early spring/autumn you should consider a pair of over shoes. You simply pull them over your existing shoes and alaign the hole on the bottom with you cleats to allow you to clip into your pedals still. Not only do they helpw insulate by keeping the wind out they will also help keep any moisture away from your feet if riding in the wet.

One quick cheap work around to cold feet is to use sandwich bags. Cold feet are suually caused by the wind evaporating any sweat around your feet, causing rapid localised heat loss. Simply take a sandwich bag and trim down so you can slip the front part of your foot (keep your sock on as normal) into it then place your bagged foot into your shoe. The bag should help prevent evaporation and help keep your tootsies warm!

Gloves

Your average fingerless gloves may not be adequate duing winter. Again consider the temerature differences you’ll experiance betwen mountain ascents and descents. Many riders you traing/race out of summer time invest in waterproof full length gloves. These can easily be stuffed into a back pocket if not required on a climb or on the flat. It’s better to have them and not need them than the other way round!

Eyewear

As with any outdoor activity if out in the sun for extended periood during summer it makes sense to give your eyes some UV protection by wearing sunglasses. In addition sunglasses provide the cyclist with added protection from insects and road deberis and wind getting into the eyes while riding at speed which can causing streaming eyes or loss of vision. Ordinary sunglasses will suffice for the beginner however the large range of cycling specific shaeds on the market are designed for riders who tend to be in a crouched down position looking up and offer better protection.

Long distance cycling equipment

Going on a longer ride such as a century, double or longer will obviously require you to take more equipment than if heading out on an evening training spin, especially if the ride will be unsupported. During training create a checklist of kit and maintenance checks to do before any long ride. Add to this list over time so that come the day of your race or long ride you’ll know exactly what you’ll need and can concentrate more on the task ahead.

The Bike

It goes without saying that before a long ride your bike and set up should be familiar to you. During your training, when you find a set up or fit that suits you write down the details such as saddle height and handlebar height so that should you need to remove or replace a component for any reason you are quickly able to reset the bike to your ideal setup.

On longer rides you’ll generally encounter much more varied terrain. As a result there is a valid argument to adjust the gearing of your bike accordingly, perhaps by selecting a compact chainset. Doing so may relief any stress on your muscles and knees which may help you go the distance.

Performing repairs on the road is a fact of cycling life. At the very least your should be comfortable repairing or replacing a tube with a puncture, and make sure you have the equipment to do so. Being able to patch a torn tire, replace spokes, adjust brake pads or a derailleur may be the difference between making it to the nest help station and having to abandon your ride so be sure to learn these skills.

Other Gears and Clothings

Over a long ride you are much more likely to experience different weather conditions and temperature ranges than on a short ride. As a result you’ll need a wider variety of clothing to help you remain comfortable on your ride.

As with other sports, layering your clothing is the best approach. That way you can remove or add more layers to adjust to the changing conditions. Be sure to thoroughly test your gear out and work out what works and what doesn’t. Yo may find for example that you have a favorite pair of cycling shorts or a lucky pair of gloves. Make sure it is all tried and tested so that come race day you are not worried about new or untested kit/clothing.

During your training be sure not to skip training in poor weather. Unless you get out there and do a long training ride in the cold and wet you will not know if your clothing will be adequate on the big day. Getting cold or wet is best avoided as it can turn a long ride into something much worse than just uncomfortable.

 

Heart Rate Monitors

 

Helmets

Baggage

Once you’ve worked out during training what equipment you’ll need or want to take with you your next decision will be to decide where to put it all. You’ll have to choose from seat bags, panniers, handlebar bags, frame bags, rucksacks. Your choice will depend on your personal preferences however as with all equipment and nutritional decisions you should use your training to find the answer that suits you best.

On longer rides it is best to keep all baggage on the bike not you so this rules out back packs or bum/fanny packs. In addition extra large handlebar bags may obscure your view of the wheel in front if riding in a group which may be dangerous, however they do provide much easier access than large seat bags which can only be accessed when stationary. For longer tours, panniers may be the better option if you’re carrying much more gear.

Carrying larger baggage on your bike can seriously affect you on bike balance and braking distances. Be sure to spend time riding ‘fully loaded’ so you are used to both riding with the extra weight and able to adapt to the bike handling.

Guide to Buying a Mountain Bike

If you are looking to buy a mountain bike and are a touch baffled as to which bike or model to select and are looking for help you’ve come to the right place. If you need some impartial advice and want to learn about some of the key features of mountain bikes these days then it may well be worth looking at this guide to buying a mountain bike.

This guide is one of the most comprehensive books out there that will help you buy the perfect bike. No matter what you knowledge base this guide will help explain everything from the basics about mountain bike features such as disc brakes, to more advanced purchasing information such as the secrets to finding the best deals on the bike you want.

One of the biggest mistakes buyers of bikes make is buying with their eyes and not their bodies. Too many people end up buying poorly fitting bikes that make their riding uncomfortable and make them susceptible to picking up injuries or back pain. The Essential Bike Buying Guide talks you through step by step exactly how to find a bike that will be compatible with your body in order to ensure maximum comfort on your future rides. Various brands use very different geometry for the same size of bikes meaning that if anyone in a shop tells you are simply a size X, they do not really know what they are talking about. This guide will explain exactly how to fit a bike to your body, no matter what the geometry.