Want to get pedaling but not sure where to start? We asked British Triathlon Level 2 Coach and keen cyclist Lois Barmby for some tips on getting into the saddle for the first time. Read on for her guide to road biking for beginners.
You may have been captivated by the scenes of Chris Froome running with his broken bike on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, or perhaps you’re just bewildered by the amount of lycra-clad wannabes overtaking you at traffic lights. Here’s a handy guide for getting started in road, inspired by the magnificent Tour de France.
Road biking for beginners: Essential kit
First off you need a bike. Entry level road bikes start from around £500 and there are lots of handy buyers guides around like this one from Wiggle to make sure you get one that fits. Next stop is finding a suitable saddle for which can make all the difference during a long ride. Chances are the one your bike comes with won’t suit you so look around and check out all the options and the online reviews.
And so on to kit. Following on from the advice to get a decent saddle, gel-padded shorts are a must. These are designed to be worn without underwear which may sound odd but underwear will potentially case some unpleasant chafing, so you’ll be more comfortable without. On the subject of chafing, some riders (and almost all male riders) find that chamois cream is an essential item – so we suggest you stock up and apply liberally.
There are lots of different cycle shorts out there but bib shorts are ideal in that they prevent your kit from shifting as you ride and having an unseemly wardrobe malfunction. These clever shorts from dhb give you the comfort of padding, the security of a bib and the ability to take a “comfort break” without removing all your clothes. Which is key when you are confined to a hedgerow. dhb also do some a great versions for men like these ones, offering a great technical spec for a decent price.
With shorts sorted it is time for the fun part – the cycle jersey. As summer is finally here you’ll want something that is cooling and short sleeved such as this women’s cycling top, also by dhb. It combines sweat-wicking fabric with a fit that won’t leave you with fabric flapping and 3 handy back pockets meaning you won’t need to bring a rucksack as these pockets should take everything you need for a ride.
There is even a generously-sized zip pocket which is ideal place for putting your valuables. Pop these inside a plastic sandwich bag to make sure they stay nice and dry.
Even in warm weather, cycle gloves offer comfort to your hands and grip should you run into wet weather. You’ll also be mad to leave without a spare inner tube or two tucked into your jersey pockets and this handy kit will make roadside repairs much less annoying. And of course don’t forget a well-fitting helmet.
Ready to give it a try? It’s worth going out with friends or joining a local club ride as not only does it make the experience more sociable, it is safer too. You can find a club near you with British Cycling, and there are lots of handy guides to group riding etiquette out there which are worth consulting beforehand. Most clubs are very welcoming, however, and that Tour de France feeling will soon be yours.
The next steps
Cycle shoes save you 30% effort (allowing you to benefit from your power pulling up as well as pushing down) so are well worth investigating. Buy pedals to match and practice clipping in before going out on busy roads as the first time you will probably fall off forgetting to clip out. Bike shoes aren’t necessary when you start out but you will be working harder than everyone else so are worth investing in once you’ve got the bug.
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July 19th 2016 - by @CollectPlus