Getting Started - Besides the bike, what else does the beginning cyclist need?
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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Getting Started - Besides the bike, what else does the beginning cyclist need?

by Brian Butts at 7:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: General, Getting Started
 
What does a beginning cyclist need? Well…a bike for one, but it also takes the proper equipment and a little know-how to make sure your beginning foray on the road is as comfortable as possible.

O.K., so you got the bike, what else do you need? The most essential piece of equipment to buy is a helmet. Not only is it required by law in most states if you are under a certain age but if you listen to your common sense you know that riding a bicycle, especially on roads with automobiles, is inherently dangerous and the most vital body part to protect, is your head. As reported by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, Two-thirds of 770 cycling related deaths in 2006 were the result of traumatic brain injuries and an estimated that 45% to 88% of these head injuries can be prevented, by wearing a helmet. It is critical to make sure that any helmet you buy is approved by the correct safety standards. Any bike shop can give up to date information, as well as assist you in finding the appropriate size helmet.

There are three points of contact between yourself and your bicycle: Hands, Feet, and Butt. It makes sense for anyone who rides a bicycle, beginner or pro, to pay particular attention to these three areas. A good pair of padded gloves will not only protect your hands in a crash but also provides a little extra comfort when riding. Gloves take the pressure off your arms and shoulders and minimize road shock that can leave your hands and fingers numb and tingly.

It is also important to have a good pair of cycling shorts. As every seasoned rider knows and every beginner will find out, how much you ride is in direct correlation to how sore you butt is going to be. A good pair of shorts and a padded saddle will make your “adjustment” period a little more comfortable. Cycling shorts have a padded crotch section called Chamois, which helps prevent irritation and chafing due to the high friction caused by pedaling. A number of different creams and lotions help diminish the effects of friction as well and help prevent against bacteria and fungal infection. No two riders are alike and each have our own preferences and specific fits, so try on as many different types of shorts and chamois and pick the best one for you.

Good Chamois is best when partnered with a good saddle. For a beginning cyclist, a bigger, padded saddle will provide more comfort than the lighter non-padded saddles many racers use. A bigger saddle may not be the optimum choice as you start to progress as a rider and start to log longer rides and more miles, but it pays dividends after that first 15-20 mile ride as a beginner. Just like Chamois, there are a lot of different saddles and it is important to try as many as you can and pick the right fit for you.
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