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When I first entered the cycling scene, I was a complete newbie, however now after completing seven triathlons’s I think I have some sort of vague idea of how to act the part. So I thought for my second blog I would pass on some of the knowledge on. Most of these lessons were discovered the hard way.
Now before I get started, I am not an expert on everything cycling and many of the things below are just what I think work best for me!
Now, how many times have you driven or cycled by someone and thought “God, he can’t be comfortable”. Chances are the rider probably isn’t. It’s so important when you buy a bike that it’s the correct size for you and getting a bike fit is highly recommended before you venture on any ride. This will minimize the chances of picking up a little niggle or injury like lower back pain or knee pain for example. It will also make your rides far more comfortable.
TOP TIP – Chamois Cream for those longer rides. You’re welcome.
Look after your bike and it will look after you. Keeping the bike maintained is so important. Keeping your drivetrain clean in particular will increase the life of your chain, cogs etc. Now that being said you don’t need to give it a deep clean after every ride. Obviously, the weather conditions and the terrain you’re cycling on will have an influence on that. Sometimes even too much cleaning can be bad for your bike because it can wash away grease and lubricant needed in important components of your bike. Also, don’t forget to re-lube those important bits.
TOP TIP - You’d be surprised how clean you can get a bike just by using a couple of baby wipes.
If there’s no café stop on a long ride then frankly what’s the point. Having a café stop is an essential for a long ride. Gives everyone a chance to refuel, top up water bottles and have a loo break. Usually, a café stop will be around the halfway mark or turn point of your ride and I’ll regularly plan a route around a café stop. There are some great café about the place and a lot of which are biker friendly. Some around by me have track pumps and spare inner tubes just in case.
TOP TIP – Check opening hours of the café.
Keeping your energy levels up through a ride is so important as well as keeping yourself hydrated. Bonking is horrendous and can be dangerous. Taking plenty of fluids and food is a must. My general rule of thumb is to drink every 15mins and eat every 30. Using a carbohydrate drink for your drinks bottles is great to assist in keeping the energy levels. I also take some hydro tabs with you to put in your bottles once they’ve been topped up in the café stop. I tend to always have a bag of fruit pastilles in my back pocket for fuel on the move.
TOP TIP – Try the brands to find which one suits. Some brands do not agree with my stomach at all where some that I find fine don’t sit well with others.
You may think yeah I’ve got all the tools I need in my saddle bag. But have you actually used them yet? There are some essential maintenance things you’ll have to learn sooner or later. Probably the main one is changing a tyre. There are some great how-to guides on the internet especially one by fellow Primal Ambassador Rachael Davies https://www.primaleurope.com/blogs/news/changing-a-tyre-made-easy-with-rachael-davies
TOP TIP – Chuck a pair of rubber gloves in your saddle bag for DIY jobs when you’re out and about because no one wants black oil on their hands and kit.
Now weather forecasts get a lot of bad press for being utterly wrong. However, they’re still worth a look. I wouldn’t check the weekend forecast on a Monday but I’d leave it until Friday night which would probably be much more accurate. This will help with route planning, kit options and which bike you’d choose to take.
TOP TIP – I tend to plan my routes so that I’ll get any headwind done at the start rather than at the end when you have a number of miles in the legs.
I’m a huge fan of arm and leg warmers rather than bib tights or long sleeve base layers. There are a couple of reasons why but the main reason is that they give you options and flexibility. Even in the early summer mornings can be chilly but you don’t want to have a thick base layer on when the midday sun comes out. Again you can assess when you’re sipping your coffee and eating your wedge of cake in the café. Primal do a good range of these so make sure you check them out: https://www.primaleurope.com/collections/mens-warmers
TOP TIP – No need to wear a waterproof if it’s not raining. You’ll bake.
Joining a cycling or triathlon club was one of the best decisions I made for many reasons. They provide excellent opportunities to ride and train and learn from other likeminded enthusiasts. If you have a good club in your area there can sometimes be things going on every day such as club rides, Time Trials, Cycle cross, Mountain Biking to name a few. People can sometimes be training for the same events or a sportive and it can avoid lonely rides on your own.
TOP TIP – There’ll be a range of abilities within a cycling club. Make sure you ride to your own ability.
Now this is just a personal thing but I prefer a higher cadence. I cycle with some mates who are the opposite and who’ll happy churn out a low cadence all day long. You’ll soon find out which one works for you. Once again, stick to what you’re comfortable with. Even in the pro’s you see varying cadence speeds. Example watch Chris Froome and Tony Martin in a TT, very different speeds.
TOP TIP – Get yourself a cadence meter. Not too expensive but will be handy for you to monitor your cadence.
Now this is a debate that will rage on and on. Once again I am no expert and I’m not saying which one you should do but for me, outdoors wins every time. I don’t want this final tip to turn into a rant, but for me cycling is all about getting outdoors. I spend most of my days in front of a computer screen because of work, why would I want to set up my bike indoors in front of yet another screen? Again just my opinion.
TOP TIP – Even if you’re thinking of getting a turbo trainer ready for winter where you won’t be able to ride as much; well, some mudguards and some good waterproofs could be cheaper.