Now the summer has arrived and the weather outside is often nice and warm, you’re probably looking forward to the many opportunities you’ll have to enjoy a bit of cycling. It’s a fantastic exercise that works almost all of your body, and you’ll see your fitness levels dramatically increase if you cycle regularly. One of the great things about cycling is that a large majority of people can endure very long bike rides without tiring too easily, and that means there’s an abundance of things you can see and experience – all while boosting your health.
It’s an activity that can be enjoyed with the whole family, a few mates or alone, and you’re far from limited for choice when it comes to choosing a biking destination. Even most of the big and intimidating cities have dedicated cycle lanes on the road to promote your safety, and thanks to the heavy traffic, it’s one of the best ways to get around. Cycling to work isn’t a new phenomenon, biking to the shops is faster than walking, and countryside adventure biking offers some of the best views in the UK.
If you’re new to the biking game, you might not have a full understanding of what kind of kit you’ll need. You might be tempted to think you can just jump on your bike and go, and while that’s technically true, you won’t be taking care of your safety or optimising your performance without the right gear. Here’s a quick guide to what kind of kit you’ll need.
Even if you consider yourself a fashion expert, cycling shorts are a necessity if you want to get the most benefit from this activity. Sure, your friends may chuckle somewhat the first time they see you rocking that tight spandex, but they’re hardly an uncommon item of clothing and you won’t look out of place when you’re speeding down the road on your bike.
Prices can vary between £15 and £80 generally, with some exceptions both above and below those prices. If you’re planning to speed down a mountain avoiding obstacles as you go, you’ll need tight shorts to make you streamlined and comfortable. If you’re planning to use your bike about town for a bit of exercise but mainly due to convenience, baggier shorts with pockets might be the best solution.
The main reason shorts are so important is because they let your skin breath, reduce air resistance and prevent discomfort and pain due to chafing. You might not look like your ‘cool’ usual self when you’re wearing them, but you’ll certainly notice the plethora of benefits bike shorts provide when you embark on a long-distance adventure. Here are a few factors to consider when buying shorts.
- Elasticated waistband or shoulder straps
- Skin-tight or baggier with pockets
- Chamois or synthetic padding
- Style, colour and pattern
- Adventure or town riding
- The price
This is another item of clothing you might not be too keen to look at, but many people consider them to be quite attractive, and they’re available in a range of different colours, designs and styles to help you achieve your desired look.
A cycling cap is usually made from a soft material such as cotton, elasticated to fit your head nice and snug with a peak at the front. They can be worn with or without a helmet – though we’d recommend always wearing a helmet during bike rides.
In terms of practicality, the light material used to make the cap is designed to make sure you don’t get too hot. It also prevents both rain and sweat from dripping down into your face and eyes, and the peak acts as a sun shield when you’re biking in clear view of the sunshine. It’s a good idea to wear a cap when you’re on the road as glare could cause a nasty accident. Whether you’re on the road or in the countryside, a cap is going to prevent you from having to stop paying attention, and that makes them a great tool to help you stay safe.
When you’re purchasing a cycling cap, here’s a few things to bear in mind:
- The price
- The design
- Which materials it’s made from
- The comfort it provides
Perhaps the most fundamental piece of cycling gear in terms of safety, the helmet has saved countless lives by protecting the head and skull. A fall is usually relatively harmless, but every so often a fall can have nasty consequences, and that’s the last thing you want if most of the impact goes to your head.
Biking is a great way to stay in shape, but nonetheless, the risks are very real. It doesn’t have to be potentially life-threatening as long as you take safety seriously. Just to show you how important wearing a helmet really is, almost three-quarters of fatal bike accidents are the result of a head injury, and an overwhelming majority of deaths involve people who neglected to wear a helmet. It might not be cool or stylish to wear a helmet, but it’ll be worth it if it ends up saving your life.
The most important factor to consider when buying a helmet is how well it fits. The helmet needs to stay firmly in place – if it’s constantly falling or slipping, its safety is made redundant, and it could be a source of distraction. At the same time, you don’t want a helmet that’s going to cause a lot of discomfort. If you’re unsure of what size you need, you might want to talk to a professional.
We’re not trying to scare you away from biking; as long as you take safety seriously and remember to pay constant attention to your surroundings, biking is a great way to get in shape and enjoy some of the wonderful sights the UK has to offer. Forget about fashion, be safe, and biking will prove to be a rewarding hobby.