7 STEP GUIDE TO TAKING UP CYCLING
TOP TIPS FOR BEGINNERS WANTING TO GET STARTED
So, summer is nearly upon us and the nation is gripped in cycling fever. The Tour de France is set to undertake it's Grand Depart in the quintessentially british county of Yorkshire, and the track cycling events promise to be among the most exciting, and star studded, at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Aside from the glamour, cycling is proven as being excellent physical exertion for the body. It is also recognised as a very sociable past-time, not to mention a rising status as being extremely fashionable.
Let's face it, you want to get involved, don't you? But where do you start? We've put together our 7 Top Tips for the budding new cyclist this summer.
1. Choose your discipline
There are lots of cycling genres for you to consider from BMX through Mountain Biking to traditional Road Cycling, and of course, each genre brings with it it's own quirks and styles.
Our suggestion if you're just getting started is to choose something that's readily accessible to you, ensuring that you have plenty of opportunity to get used to your new hobby.
2. Be thorough in your research
Shopping for a bike can be a daunting task when you're a seasoned pro, let alone new to the game. In our experience, researching without the aid of a specialist can be confusing.
Web and magazine reviews will differ greatly depending on the writer's opinions, so get yourself down to your local bike shop and take time to speak with the staff and test ride some bikes.
A bicycle salesman is a different breed to a car salesman, and will invariably be happy to educate you so don't be afraid to ask questions.
As with any consumer product, brand placement is high on the agenda for bicycle manufacturers. Our advice for a first bike would be to go for a well known brand; you can always upgrade to a more nichey brand as your passion for the hobby grows.
American brands like Trek and Specialized are reliable and well equipped component wise. These bikes often come with lifetime warranties for the frame too. Other brands to look out for would be Boardman, the range of British cycling legend Chris Boardman, Giant, Orange, Kona and Cube.
Sir Chris Hoy also has also recently collaborated with Evans Cycles on a new range of bikes which carry his name. These brands will be widely stocked and recognised by mechanics should you need to have any work done on your steed in the future. Most brands cater for a range of budgets which brings us nicely onto our next tip...
Budget is all important when buying a bike, and don't forget to leave an allowance for accessories; a helmet, lights, shoes, cycling specific clothing etc. Our advice would be to aim a little higher than the budget you originally set by say, 10-20%.
From experience, it's easy to get hooked on the hobby, and by aiming a little higher on budget, you won't get itchy feet for an upgrade in the first couple of months. For the budding road cyclist or mountain biker, a budget of between £800 to £1,100 will get you a good spec. aluminium framed bike that will quench your cycling thirst for longer than an entry level model.
Apologies for sounding like your mum here but don't be a fool; always wear a helmet, have lights and reflectors for when riding in bad light, and wear suitable protective clothing! As cycling has become more popular, accident figures have increased.
Don't become a statistic and always ride safely. It pays to be respectful of people and vehicles in your vicinity too. Cycling is supposed to be a stress reliever and source of fitness, not something that gives you road rage!
So, you've got your bike, you've bought your safety gear, and now you need to make sure you look cool. For road cycling, Lycra is all the rage, so a pair of padded shorts or leggings and a full zip jersey will help you slot right into he commuter crowd.
Brands such as Castelli, Lois Garneau and Rapha will turn heads and get approving nods from other cyclists. For those who want to make a bold statement, Foska are a sports clothing manufacturer who have collaborated with other brands to create cycling jerseys hat stand out from the crowd. Check out their Heinz Baked Beans and Kellogg's Frosties emblazoned gear.
Mountain bikers like to keep their apparel a little further away from the skin. Brands like Fox Clothing provide padded shorts and performance jerseys which are perfect for your local trails. Our final tip on fashion is to buy some good cycling socks. A performance sock will make your ride so much more comfortable than those trainer socks you thought would do the job.
7. Embrace the sport
Now you've got all the gear, embrace the sport and broaden your horizons. Don't be afraid to push those extra few miles out of a Sunday afternoon ride, or explore that trail centre that you've heard good things about. Remember, cycling is a community within itself, and there are so many great people to meet and learn from.