15th September 2015
Cycletta has teamed up with British Cycling, Cycling Weekly and Cycling Active to provide comprehensive support and advice about preparing for cycling; whether a seasoned regular on the bike or getting started for the first time. We offer you online support, practical hints and tips.
What bike should I ride?
You do not need a specialist bike for this event and can complete the course on any type of bicycle you wish. However, if you are considering purchasing a new bike then you need to make sure that the bike is suitable for your intended use. If you are likely to ride mainly on the road then you should be looking at a road or hybrid bike (as opposed to a mountain bike which will be harder work and slower on the road). The bike retailer will determine that you have the right size of bike for you to make your riding experience as comfortable and efficient as possible.
Whether you are buying a new bike or using any bike the set up is extremely important. “It’s Uncomfortable” is perhaps one of the biggest reasons people use for not cycling. But it doesn’t have to be. Discomfort is predominantly the result of unsuitable equipment and clothing, all of which is easily remedied.
Saddle height, bar height and reach will need to be set up in optimal positions to help you enjoy riding your bike. It is worth taking your bike to be serviced at your local bike shop to ensure that everything is in working order – correct tire pressure, chain lubrication, tightening of bolts, oiling and checking of the chain and cassette are all necessary checks for your bike to be in good working order and to prolong its lifespan.
What kind of bike helmet?
All bike shops should sell you safe cycling industry standard helmets which are based on Snell and Ansi to determine whether a helmet is safe to use for its intended application. The bike helmet design industry forges on at the cutting edge of science, seeking new and effective ways to build helmets which are essential in reducing the risk of head injury by absorbing the impact of blows. Once you have determined that the helmet passes the industry’s safety requirements, it will come down to the fit on your head and also the weight of the product.
An uncomfortable bum is not necessarily related to saddle design. Just small adjustments of the angle or how far forward or back the saddle is can have a big impact on how our body interfaces with the bike. If you feel like you are falling off the front of the saddle, adjust the nose end of the saddle upwards very slightly. If you feel that you are falling off the back, lower the nose of the saddle. If you feel that you are sliding from one side of the saddle to the other as you pedal, your saddle is possibly too high for you. If you don’t seem to fall off the front, or the back of the saddle, and yet you experience uncomfortable pressure levels in the pubic bone region, it is possible that your saddle is set too far back (or that the handlebar stem on the bike is too long for you). Buying a proper pair of cycling shorts and wearing them correctly is another big influence on your comfort riding. They should be worn directly against the skin and nothing underneath them to eliminate any chaffing.
Most cyclists start off riding in some kind of trainer shoe. This is absolutely fine and probably ideal for a beginner or occasional cyclist.
You could consider the use of toe-clips but they’re most effective when coupled with cleated cycling shoes. That difficulty in getting out of clips and straps is one of the key benefits of clipless pedal systems. These keep you firmly attached to the pedal until you want to get out… then you just twist your foot slightly outboard, and you’re free. Clipless systems require the use of cycling shoes and compatible cleats if you’re to get any benefit from them.
Benefits? With either type of system, once you’ve trained yourself to make use of them, you can pedal more efficiently by using more of the pedal stroke for generating power… “scraping” your foot across the bottom of the stroke and beginning your downstroke a little earlier without fear of your shoe sliding off the pedal. With more practice at “spinning”, you will usually find yourself adding a slight pull almost all the way around the upstroke.
Drawbacks? Any of the usable options will be considerably more expensive than just a plain old set of pedals. Cleats for clipped pedals from the bottom of the shoe and can make walking awkward.