Purchasing a new bike is a big investment. So you probably don’t want to spend a lot of money on extra stuff at this point. But there are some essentials that will make your rides legal, safer, and just more enjoyable, so you will want to ride more. Below are some general guidelines for purchasing the gear you will need.
Proper hydration and nutrition will also make your ride more enjoyable. While the internet is full of more detailed guidelines for fueling and hydrating for your workout, we’ve provided some basic suggestions.
- Helmet: The City of Starkville requires cyclists to wear a helmet while riding within city limits, but Starkville Cycling Club requires you to wear a helmet on club rides, no matter where we go! We suggest purchasing a road or mountain bike helmet that fits your head properly.
- Clipless Pedals: After a helmet, this is your next most important purchase. These pedals, along with a pair of cycling-specific shoes, will make cycling, either on a road bike or MTB, more comfortable than toe clips and athletic shoes. Ask your local bike shop for recommendations. Warning: clipless pedals have a learning curve; you may have a few ZMPHRs (zero-mile-per-hour-wreck, pronounced “zim-fer”) before mastering them!
- Clothing: Cycling jerseys and spandex shorts are not just a roadie fashion statement! Cycling clothing is functional and a necessary investment if you’re going to ride regularly. Jerseys are designed for an aerodynamic fit with breathable fabric and have three rear pockets; these are handy for holding energy bars and gels, extra tubes, and other necessities. Cycling shorts are designed with a padded insert that makes the ride much more comfortable than regular athletic shorts. While you do not need to buy the most expensive pair of shorts available, the pricier shorts tend to last longer and feel more comfortable than the cheaper ones. You will also want a pair of cycling gloves, which dampen road vibration and secure your grip on the handlebars (especially when it’s hot and your hands are sweaty).
- Tools: You should bring your own cycling tools to each ride. Your checklist should include at least one spare tube, tire pump or CO2 cartridge, multi-tool, and tire levers. You should also practice changing your tire in case you get a flat on a ride.
- Bottle Cages: You need to have water or a sports drink on your bike for group rides (even short rides). Without water, you will dehydrate, no matter the time of year. Your bike should be equipped with bottle cages and filled bottles, unless you have a Camelback or similar hydration system.
- Hydration: Before riding, you should be hydrated; sip water throughout the day. During the ride, your needs will vary depending on your weight, ride intensity, and weather conditions. Generally, water will be sufficient during cooler months and on easier rides. In the heat and on longer rides, you may want to drink a sports drink or take an electrolyte supplement to replace electrolytes lost through sweat and prevent muscle cramping.
- Nutrition: Again, needs will vary according to the your weight, ride intensity, and weather conditions. Generally energy supplements (bars, gels, or other snack foods such as fruit) are more of a necessity on longer, more intense rides than on shorter, easier ones, provided that you are eating well throughout the day. However, you should determine when supplements are necessary to get you through a ride. On Sunday rides, the group does usually stop at convenience stores every 20-30 miles (so you will want to bring cash, too), but you should never come to a ride empty-handed.