Hello and welcome back to the blog! I can’t believe it’s April already. March just got away from me and I didn’t make any posts so I apologize for that. But I am back at it and have some great stuff lined up for you all. One of the things I am most excited about is the fact that it is officially well into spring, and the weather is warming up. While we still have the spring rains to contend with, warm temps mean the start of cycling season for a lot of people. In today’s post, we will not only cover the basics to get started but some extras that are nice to have as well. Read on for my take on cycling season gear up-what you need to be happy on the trail (or bike path!).
The best part about cycling is you really only need a few things to get started. Namely, a proper fitting bike, a helmet, and comfortable clothes for cycling. We will start with the most important part of this equation, the bike!
There are many different types of bikes, but for the purpose of this post, we will cover the four most popular ones for adults hitting the trails and bike paths.
Road Bikes-Road bikes are the lightest option as far as overall weight. This is the bike you want to get if you have plans for biking on mostly paved surfaces, and you are looking to put some serious miles down. Road bikes have svelte frames, handles bars that allow for multiple hand and arm positions, and skinny, smoother in texture tires.
Mountain Bikes-Mountain bikes are your serious, off the beaten path bikes. With sturdy frames and meatier tires designed to grip the surface you’re traveling on, these bikes are ideal if you want to storm the forests and hillsides, cruising over rocks and roots with (some) ease.
Hybrid Bikes-Hybrid bikes combine features from both road bikes and mountain bikes to create a bike that is sturdy but not too heavy. Hybrid bikes typically have tires with a smoother center and a meatier edge. This enables you to comfortably ride on either paved surfaces or light to moderate trail surfaces. I have a hybrid bike personally and love it!
Beach or Comfort Cruisers-Beach or comfort cruises are exactly that. They will generally have a wider, more cushy seat, a lower cross bar, and handle bars that come up and back to you, allowing for a more upright seated posture. These bikes are all about comfort!
No matter which type of bike you’re looking at, you want to make sure that the bike fits you so you can ride most comfortably. Top things to consider are:
- What am I looking for in a bike? Do you just want to cruise around, put down some serious miles, or just work on your general fitness while enjoying the outdoors?
- Where am I most likely to ride?
- What type of investment am I looking to put into a bike?
If you have one available, I would look into purchase your bike from a local bike shop. Not only are you supporting your local economy, but you should also get great service and walk away with a bike you are happy with. Two of my favorite shop local to St. Louis are Granada Cyclery and Big Shark Bicycle Co.
After the bike, you should look into some other basic gear to make your ride more enjoyable. A helmet is a great start, especially if you will be riding on the road or on a trail. Protecting your noggin should be a high priority. Make sure the helmet fits properly on top of your head, not pushed back onto your forehead and that the chin strap fits snugly under your chin. Helmets come in many different styles, so picking one to work with your riding style shouldn’t be too difficult.
The second item I would recommend is a good pair of bike gloves. These will have padding on your pressure points, which will help relieve pain and discomfort in your hands while riding.
When it comes to clothes, wear what you feel comfortable in! I can’t stress that enough. If you don’t think you will feel comfortable in a pair of tight fitting bike shorts, they make liner type bike shorts that fit under baggier shorts or pants. Personally, I find bike shorts to be a must if I am going to be putting in a lot of miles. The extra cushion can really make a difference!
If you want to be a little extra
So you have your bike, helmet, and cycling clothes all sorted. You’ve put in a few rides and have decided that you want to take your cycling to the next level. There are a few more options you can add to really move your rides from general to extra.
- Clipless pedals & Cycling Shoes-Most bikes will come with flat pedals, like the ones that used to be on your bike as a kid. Some come with a cage around the top that your foot slides into. The cycling world refers to these as clips. If you find that those work for you or you prefer flat pedals that’s great. If you are wanting to maximize your effort on your pedal stroke, look into getting a pair of cycling shoes and a set of clipless pedals for your bike. Cycling shoes have little cleats on the bottom that clip into the pedal on your bike. They take a little practice to get used to clipping in and out, once you get the hang of it, you can really increase your power output on your rides.
- Bike Computers-I’m a bit of a data nerd. So I love to see what is going on when I am doing a workout or ride. Bike computers can help you analyze your workout to see where you need to put in more effort or scale back a bit. They count cadence, mileage, power output, and much more. They range from super simple to super complex. One of my favorite ones is produced by Wahoo fitness. It was fairly inexpensive and measures the things I want it to measure. Unfortunately, they don’t make the exact one that I use anymore, but here is a link to one that is similar.
- Cycling Apps-Another one for the data column. Whether you are looking to keep track of your rides or looking for places to ride, you can find an app for it. My number one favorite is Strava for cycling. Tons of data, syncs well will Garmin’s and Wahoo’s apps, and also has fun little competitive features in there if that kind of thing helps motivate you. Alltrails is a great app for finding trails and places to ride.
So that wraps up my cycling season gear up-what you need to be happy on the trail! I know I am super excited having just picked my bikes up from the bike shop for their yearly check-up to hit the trails and put down some miles. I hope you found this post to be helpful if you were thinking about getting into cycling. If any more veteran cyclist have any handy tips or tricks, leave them in the comments below. As always, to stay up to date with the latest posts, make sure you sign up for my email list and follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!