What to wear and what not to wear when cycling
If you’re new to the cycling world, it might never occur to you that your underwear could be considered a factor or detractor in ride performance! Confused and slightly uncomfortable yet? Don’t worry, we were too at first. That’s why we took it upon ourselves to solve this, along with other cycling attire questions so you don’t have to!
- Underwear – to wear to not to wear?
New cyclists might never consider going commando when hopping on a bike for the first time. Unfortunately, blissful unawareness can only last so long before you become uncomfortably familiar with serious chafing! Seasoned cyclists confirm that wearing underwear is a big no-no. Bike shorts are designed with a specific gel like padding in them called a “chamois” or “shammy”, that will increase comfort, provide friction control, and help with moisture management. Investing in a few good quality pairs of bike shorts will ensure that you can continue to train comfortably and maximize your performance.
2) Helmet – this one’s a no-brainer
A helmet is an absolutely essential part of your cycling wardrobe. Don’t even try to fight us on this one! New technologies in helmet designs have translated into excellent protection and comfort along with stylish, aerodynamic shapes . Make sure the helmet fits tightly, but isn’t too snug – it should still feel comfortable. It’s important to note that helmets made with styrofoam are designed to crush on impact (so it’s the helmet that’s breaking and not your head!) If your helmet has already experienced impact, or is so old that the styrofoam has started to deteriorate, then it’s time to get a new one. Even one impact on your helmet is a significant enough reason to replace it.
3) Sunglasses – the cyclist’s bug screen
Picture this, you’re peddling your heart out, rounding the final bend, the finish line is in sight, the wind is rushing past your face, and suddenly the rider in front of you kicks up a pile of dirt and debris that finds its way into your eyes! The phrase “eat my dust” crosses your mind and you wish you had worn a pair of sport sunglasses to prevent this obstacle! In all seriousness, sunglasses are another necessary part of your uniform when road cycling. You’re travelling at high speeds and any small debris could fly into your face (including bugs) causing a major snag in your ride and posing a threat to your eye health. Sunglasses are not only useful in keeping your eyes clear from any oncoming objects, but you’ll be protecting them from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Even on cloudy days, UV rays are still present making sunglasses an integral part of training outdoors no matter the weather.
4) Cycling Shoes – These shoes are made for cycling
Cycling with regular running shoes is not impossible, but you will definitely miss out on some added benefits associated with cycling shoes. These shoes are lightweight with a rigid sole giving your feet a stable platform to work from and increased control and power. Most road cycling shoes have cleats built into them that work in conjunction with clipless pedals to give you maximum efficiency and less fatigue on your ride. Thanks to their specific sole design and added support, these shoes won’t cramp your style or your calves for that matter. Most are made to be worn without socks, but don’t worry about smelling up the trail – the fabrics are usually a breathable mesh that will allow air to circulate keeping your feet cool.
5) Gloves – Sweaty palms be gone
Gloves are another way to ensure a comfortable ride and extra control. There are fingerless, and long finger varieties with soft gel or foam pads built in to protect from the vibrations of the road. Sometimes when you’re riding, you don’t realize how tightly you’ve been gripping the handlebars until you get off your bike and flex your fingers. Cramp and callous city! These gloves will protect against the constant friction of your skin on the handlebars, while wicking away moisture and sweat. Sounds pretty good to us! Who wants sweaty palms when you’re shaking hands with all your fans after a victory?
6) Jersey – Not just to make you look cool
We all remember that feeling as a kid. Coasting at top speed down a hill with our extra large baggy t-shirt flapping madly, filling up with air to making us into some sort of makeshift blimp on wheels… Before you take off in flight it is time to invest in some tight fitting cycling tops or jerseys. These jerseys fit snuggly on your body preventing wind resistance, and increasing your comfort on a ride. It is not necessary that you have specific cycling jersey. Just ensure that the tops, jackets, and shirts you wear are snug fitting, made of technical sport fabrics, and include reflective areas to make you visible to motorists. If you want to invest in a cycling jersey, pick one that is easy to move in and has functional pockets that can store snacks or keys. Oh, some cool colour combinations don’t hurt either!