Whether you’re a cycling pro or a complete novice, if you’re taking on a cycling challenge, you’ll need to dress the part. Although you can get away with wearing your ordinary clothes for everyday bike rides, you’ll need something a little more robust if you’re doing some serious cycling! For long-distance journeys, you’ll need to be prepared for the elements – and, perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to be comfortable.
If you’re going to be sitting on a bike for quite a long time, you’ll need to feel comfortable whilst doing it! You should opt for padded shorts for extra comfort – avoid buying unisex shorts if possible, as the padding is different in men and women’s cycling shorts. Of course, you don’t have to go for tight-fitting materials such as Lycra, but they do offer the most aerodynamic, comfortable fit and let you experience a full range of movement.
Bib shorts are also popular with elite cyclists – they have shoulder straps to reduce binding and discomfort around the midriff and won’t feel as if they are slipping down. If the weather is a little cooler, cycling tights extend to the ankle and are made of a slightly thicker material.
Also, remember that you shouldn’t wear underwear with padded shorts – the pad is designed to sit next to this skin and absorb sweat. Wearing underwear on long rides can cause chafing, so make sure you go without! Chamois cream is also helpful for protecting against saddle sores, which is caused by the friction between your skin and the saddle, so it should be applied directly to the skin or to the pad of your cycling shorts.
Base layers are designed to keep you comfortable whilst you’re on your bike, by wicking sweat away from your skin to keep you comfortable and dry. If you pick a thermal base layer, it’ll also keep you warm by trapping air next to your body. For summer cycling, look for base layers made of synthetic materials, as these have more stretch for a better fit. It’s up to you if you’d prefer to go for a sleeveless or short-sleeved base layer – a vest style will be slightly cooler on hotter days.
As the base layer is worn close to the skin, it’s best to look for one with as few zips and seams as possible, as these could get quite irritating after a few hours on your bike!
If you’ve signed up to cycle as part of Team Prevent, you’ll receive your exclusive jersey, designed in collaboration with sportswear brand Fat Lad At The Back, once you hit £125 of your fundraising target! Its tongue-in-cheek corset design is eye-catching and fun, and the jersey itself is designed to be lightweight and breathable, made from wicking fabric so that you won’t feel clammy.
Jerseys tend to have a high neck to shield it from the sun, and pockets at the back so you’ll have somewhere to stash your belongings. In terms of fabrics, consider the weather conditions you’ll be dealing with to decide how thick your jersey should be – but you can’t go far wrong with a medium-weight fabric, as you won’t be too warm with a light base layer underneath.
If you’re cycling in the UK, the chances are pretty high that you’ll encounter a bit (or a lot!) of rain, so a waterproof jacket should definitely form part of your wardrobe. Opt for a close fit that won’t billow in the wind, but not so close that it restricts your movement. A wind jacket is ideal for changeable weather and can withstand light showers of rain – but if you’re anticipating slightly more adverse conditions, a classic waterproof jacket will offer more protection. Ideally, you’ll need a jacket that can be folded up enough to stash in the pocket of your jersey.
Although you can ride a bike wearing regular trainers, shoes that have been specifically designed for cycling offer a host of benefits. The type of shoe you’ll need will depend on your bike and the type of cycling you’ll be doing. Road bike shoes provide a greater connection to the pedals, improving overall performance. They are also lightweight and well-ventilated, but have a very stiff sole that is uncomfortable to walk in. Mountain bike shoes are flexible and versatile, with cleats inside the sole that won’t impede walking.
Don’t forget that you’ll also need to stock up on cycling socks – they are made from thin, sweat-wicking fabrics with a padded sole to add an extra level of comfort.
It goes without saying that, as soon as you hop on your bike, you’ll need to wear a helmet! Helmets designed for road biking offer protection and ventilation, and ideally will be as light as possible. Measure the circumference of your head to make sure you’re getting a helmet that fits correctly – it shouldn’t be shifting around your head, but it shouldn’t be so tight that you start getting a headache. To test the fit, try it on using the retention system and tip your head forward – if it falls off, it’s too big.
Cycling glasses shield your eyes from the sun, but also stop dirt from the road getting in your eyes and keep the wind at bay, ensuring that you always have a great view of the road ahead. Make sure to get some cycling gloves, too, as they cushion your hands and allow for a better grip on the handlebars.
With these additions to your sporting wardrobe, you’ll be ready for any cycling challenge. If you’re taking part in RideLondon-Surrey and have any questions about your kit, our team will be happy to help!