How To Start Cycling Without Looking Like A NOOB!
If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was ‘I must start cycling to work’ or ‘I must cycle to keep fit’, what are you waiting for? You should be out on your bike pedaling away right now! Or is there something holding you back? Ah – we’ve seen this before… Yes, cycling has become a very cool activity in the last few years and yes, it does have its fair share of posers and fashionistas but don’t forget, it also has it’s Lycra-clad men (and women) of a certain age too. We know what’s going through your mind: how do you go out for a ride without looking completely ridiculous? You don’t want to look like you have all the gear but no idea and you also want to avoid looking like a complete and utter NOOB too, right? Well, here are a few tips to help you keep up with the crowd and not make a fool of yourself:
What To Wear:
If you’re going to cycle properly, you can leave your hipster corduroy and skinny jeans at home. Cycling is not a fashion show, it’s about getting from A to B efficiently and in an exciting and sporty way. The key word to absorb there is ‘sporty’; cycling can be a sweaty business, so you want practical, comfortable clothing that won’t chafe your bits ‘n’ pieces. Proper cycling gear is ideal but then again, you don’t want to dress up like your riding in the peloton through the Pyrenees either: leave the professional, sponsorship clad team attire to those who actually ride on said teams. Buy the right gear that comes with a high-visibility style that doesn’t advertise your affiliation (or lack of) to a pro cycling outfit. Obviously, if you are affiliated then wear away – but you probably won’t be reading this post if you are!
How To Wear It:
You wear it tight; it’s as simple as that. Cyclists that know what they’re doing understand how aerodynamics work: they wear tight Lycra outfits to help reduce drag and basically stop their clothes from flapping around like an untethered sail. Why? Because riding with increased air resistance is tiring and it’s incredibly annoying too. Ideally, you’d visit your local bicycle apparel shop and try on a few sizes to find something that suits you best; consider dropping a size from your regular measurement for the best results. Now, you can also go too tight though… Some things are best left to the imagination; if your desired outfit is too ‘revealing’ then consider going up a size. Even if it’s not too revealing, at least look in the mirror first because you don’t want to look like a sausage that’s burst out of it’s skin either… I have been there and it wasn’t pretty.
Invest In THE Helmet:
Not just ‘a’ helmet but ‘the’ helmet’. Yes, you could argue that there’s a lot of debate about the efficiency of a cycle helmet but let’s not go calling it a ‘paper tiger’ just yet. Having something to protect your head is surely better than nothing and secondly, the courts look favourably on those who take their safety seriously in the event of an insurance or compensation situation. So get one but get the one. If you’re going to be cycling regularly, you’re going to be wearing your helmet regularly so buy something that you actually want to wear. Make sure it fits, make sure it works and make sure you’re comfortable in it. Nothing screams ‘newbie’ like an ill-fitting helmet…
We mentioned the ‘all the gear/no idea’ conundrum but there is a degree of merit to having the right gear for the right purposes. Make a list of things that would be useful to you and that won’t empty your wallet before your new cycling venture takes off either. Cyclometers are handy things to have, especially if you want to physically see the results of your labour, so get something that works. If you’re commuting, you’ll probably want a set of saddle bags or a good backpack; again, get what’s practical…A hiking backpack full of flappy straps and buckles are not what the doctor ordered – you’ll look silly and those straps will be a real pain; get a proper cycling bag arrangement instead. Do you need mirrors? No, not if you’re an attentive cyclist. This isn’t Quadrophenia so leave the mirrors at home.
Ride A Clean Machine
Having a shiny frame is all well and good but we’re talking about the greasy parts here: the chain, chain rings and cog set. What separates the experienced cyclist from the newbie are the grease marks on the calf muscles. An experienced cyclist will maintain and clean those intricate areas with the right products to avoid such mishaps. If you’re suffering from calf marks, you might be guilty of un-clipping from your pedals the wrong way, cycling with poor posture or simply failing to maintain your bicycle. As they say: ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’…well, ‘godliness’ might be a stretch but ‘not looking like a beginner’ will work just fine.
Keep these tips in mind before you tackle your first serious rides of the year and you’ll be able to cycle with your head held high! Good luck! The rest is up to you…