What did I say? Something like “It’s all about the bike”. Yes, the bike is important, let’s put it at number 1 on the essential kit list but its number 1 on a very long list. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the ‘kit’ of this kit-heavy sport is the major attraction for many cyclists.
Get ready to open your wallet at the counter of your LBS – or more likely just set up a regular payment to the bank account of Chainreaction or Wiggle and arrange for a secret delivery address from which you can smuggle your stash home without your partner noticing the ever-growing bike related deliveries.
Let’s start with the contact points:
- Get some cycling mitts, fingerless for summer, full gloves for winter. They provide grip, padding, stop blisters on the palms of your hands and provide some protection if you fall off.
- Cycling has a multitude of cycling specific shoe types. Cleated shoes aren’t-compulsory but it’s a good idea to start with hard soled training shoes and pedals with toe cages or straps. The sooner you are confident enough to move to cleated or clip-in cycling shoes the better (they’re more efficient and promote a more fluid pedal stroke).
- Lycra isn’t compulsory either – just recommended – but your backside will soon tell you that padded Lycra shorts are (if you’re the shy retiring type wear them under shorts or a track suit).
There is a simple choice between bib-shorts (think: mankini – but thigh length) or padded shorts. It’s a personal choice, serious cyclists wear the former, if you’re not comfortable with the thought of getting completely naked in a public toilet during a ‘comfort break’, start with the former.
Don’t forget chamois team for longer rides – make sure you read the instructions on the pot (NB. Vaseline or Nappy Rash cream is not a recommended substitute!).
- Hopefully this is never a real contact point but just in case give yourself a chance and get a cycling helmet.
That’s the true essentials but whilst we’re talking kit what else is useful?
A T-shirt or running top is fine but cycle jerseys have pockets on the back for the sort of stuff you should take with you on a ride like: keys, mobile, cash card, inner tube, bike tool, pump or CO2 inflator (and canisters), energy gels and bars.
This is already a very long list of essentials but if we’re going to do this properly let’s complete the list. I’d add sun glasses not because I’m optimistic about the British weather but more to guard from grit, mud and flies in the eye, a water bottle on bike (or two) is advisable, bike computer (Garmin Edge recommended) or just a mount for a smartphone for navigation and recording your rides, a saddle bag for spare inner tubes and tyre spanners, arm warmers, cycling jacket (or jackets – 1 for each season!) and a track pump to pump tyres up hard to reduce punctures.
I did warn you, the list is endless!
So, in the end the best thing to do is to step away from the cycling kit websites, get out on your bike, get riding, talk to other cyclists and you will soon know what kit you really need and the kit you really want (there is a difference!)
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