Wearing the Right Gear
Be prepared for all sorts of weather conditions with our gear guide…
- Take care in fitting cleats to your shoes. Position these so that the ball of your foot is centrally over the pedal spindle and allows the leg to function in the correct fashion, ie without twisting the leg and particularly the ankle and knee. It is as well to involve someone else when checking position, as it is not easy to see the set up while you are on the saddle. Tighten the fixing bolts securely once correctly positioned and check for looseness from time to time. A loose cleat will not release from the pedal in an emergency. Also regularly check for wear. Again a qualified coach or good bike shop can help with fitting cleats correctly.
- While trainers may be OK for going to the shops and back they will give you a real problem on longer rides. If you are new to cycling shoes try ‘touring’ shoes to start; they are not as stiff as racing shoes and have the cleat within the sole, which means you can walk in them. Also get your local shop to set the pedals fairly loose so that your feet pop in and out easily while you are still getting used to the system.
- Learn to dress for the weather. Look at the thermometer, rather than the calendar, and pay no attention to the light meter. Allow for changes during the course of the day. Always carry at least a lightweight rain jacket especially when riding in mountainous terrain. Quite apart from use in wet and windy conditions, a jacket offers invaluable protection on cold descents and when a roadside repair is required.
- Invest in a good merino wool or synthetic fabric wicking base layer. This garment can make all the difference to your comfort and therefore performance.
- In cold conditions, keep the knees covered. These badly designed but important joints are susceptible to cold and although apparently unaffected at the time, can suffer at a later stage. A pair of knee warmers can be added to your shorts and easily removed and stowed away once the weather improves.
- Your closest friend should be the seat/pad of your shorts. Treat it accordingly, ensuring both self and shorts are cleaned meticulously after every ride. Failure to do so can lead to infection and time off the bike.
- Application of ‘anti-chafing’ cream to the seat of your shorts should cut down friction and soreness. This tends to be very personal and you’ll need to experiment to find the best cream for you. A quality cream will also help to prevent infection occurring.
- Your hands can take a hammering, so a good pair of close-fitting track mitts is a must. As well as cushioning the hands when holding the bars, they will help to stop unpleasant grazes, should you have the misfortune to fall off your bike.