Ask any cyclist what their “must-have” gear would be and you’ll likely get a wide array of answers based on the individuals style, needs and type of riding they are most interested in. For example, if you ask Major Hubs what is the one cycling “must-have” he just can’t live without, you’ll most likely get a mischievous grin as he tells you ….a kickstand! This is a long running joke between us as I tell him that “real” road bikes don’t have kickstands and he laughs every time I have to prop mine up against something while airing up the tires or when we stop for a rest during long rides. Inevitably, mine will fall at some point and he loves to say “now who has a ‘real bike’?” as his is standing perfectly poised on its kickstand. However, whether you want a kickstand or not, if you’re new to cycling, there are a few things that every cyclist should consider buying.
Well, this is a no-brainer ….unless of course, you want to be a “no-brainer” and have your brain splattered all over the pavement. I’m always amazed at how many people still ride, even casually, without a helmet. Just because you’re riding on a ‘rails to trails’ type of path doesn’t mean a helmet isn’t necessary. Any debris along the path or critter darting out in front of you can cause a bike wreck. Please people, protect your head anytime you are riding!
Besides protecting my noggin, my Giro helmet also accommodates my ponytail! Win, Win!
These are an absolute necessity when cycling. In addition to giving you that uber cool and badass look, they protect your eyes from the suns damaging UV rays, tear inducing winds and kamikaze bugs! They can range in price from $20 up to several hundred. Find what works for you and just be sure they have a good nose grip to prevent them from sliding down your nose when you get sweaty. My personal favorites are these from Ironman …they don’t slip and are comfortable behind the ears.
Okay, so these may not really be a necessity ..but for me they are. Not only do they absorb the shock from the road, they also provide an extra layer of protection from some nasty road rash in the event of a crash. You can choose from different levels of padding depending on your preference. I, personally, prefer just enough padding to absorb the bumps of the roads while still allowing me to have a good ‘feel’ for the handlebars.
4. Padded Shorts
Trust me on this one …if you’re planning on riding longer than an hour, you need cycling shorts! They come in many different lengths, rises and degrees of padding to suit everyone’s needs. The padding in cycling shorts is called a Chamois and it not only provides a cushioned barrier between your nether region and the saddle of your bike, but it also provides added support for your tail bones and aids in chafing prevention. Triathlon shorts have a much thinner chamois which allows for ease of running off the bike and women’s specific cycling shorts have a chamois that is designed specifically for a woman’s anatomy. However, it’s important to note that none of them will do their job if you are not willing to go commando. That’s right…. cycling shorts = sans underwear. Seriously, just do it!
5. Safety Lights
According to the CDC, there were an estimated 1,000 deaths of cyclists due to accidents involving motor vehicles and over 400,000 injuries reported. With a growing number of cyclists taking to the roads each year, it’s even more important to take every possible precaution to be visible at all times. There are many different options available on the market today to make yourself and your bike more visible to motor vehicles. LED lights are the most effective and affordable and generally very easy to install. I recently purchased these Lumintrail High Intensity LED safety lights with quick release and waterproof batteries on my bike ….and let me tell you, they are BRIGHT!
According to Runner’s World, cycling is one of the best methods of cross-training for runners and a great choice for those looking for a low impact activity with maximum calorie burn. Now that you know all the health benefits of cycling, the cycling gear that really isn’t necessary for beginners and my ‘must-haves’ for getting started …what are you waiting for? Come on …..pump up those tires, lube that old rusty chain, strap on that helmet and go for a spin around the block, down the road or through the park. Be careful though, you just may get addicted to ‘life behind bars’!
Finding “Fabulous” at Fifty, one mile at a time!