How to make sure you enjoy cycling before you even get on the bike
Cycling is a strange sport in that the majority of a ride is determined before the ride. In our last piece, we spoke about the importance of eating properly, sleeping properly, training properly and prepping your bicycle but today we want to continue the conversation.
How can you set yourself up for a great ride and how can you consistently enjoy cycling before you even get on the bike?
We took 5 tips and comments from 5 riders and professionals;
All the gear
“When I first began cycling, I couldn’t understand why the gear was so expensive so I just bought the cheaper options on everything, including a bike and saddle, not to mention training gear. Well needless to say I ended up paying for it in saddle sores as well as numerous trips to the physio.” Lisa Steingold, Bia Member
We’ve spoken about proper gear before in our piece on “The Ultimate Riding Tips for Winter Cycling” but today we want to mention three critical items;
There are a few things that you need to have in order to start riding outside of a properly fitted bike, which is critical point number 2 on “How to make sure you enjoy cycling before you even get on the bike”, these include;
- Properly fitted shorts, or bibs.
So here, we have to profess our love of bibs. The only advantage of shorts, those pants without straps, versus bibs, the ones with straps, are that it’s easier to make a quick loo stop. Bibs help keep the shorts’ crotch firmly against your nether regions and skin thereby preventing chafing and saddle sores.
Our suggestion? Bia Gobik long tights for cold weather or Bia Gobik Bib Shorts for warmer temperatures. If you DO need regular loo stops, look out for the new Castelli women’s bibs coming into stock at The Hub soon.
- A quality approved helmet
POC Sports’ cycling helmets offer the next level of protection for cyclists of all kinds.
Our suggestion? The POC Ventral Spin which offers aerodynamic performance, safety and ventilation work together to keep the Ventral SPIN at the cutting edge of protection.
- A perfectly fitted saddle
Just because a saddle looks like an armchair, doesn’t mean it’s comfortable. Get recommendations and try them on short rides, long rides, climbing, flats and on your trainer! Don’t worry about looks worry about fit! Drop into the hub and let’s talk saddle happiness. We suggest (and ride) Ergon saddles. If you would like a ‘test ride’ on one, lets us know!
Here we say think front, back and top. Wear an additional light on your helmet. When behind a car your lights are obscured from other cars. Ensuring you have lights on the front, back and top will make you more visible from all aspects. Our suggestion? We stock a variety of Lezyne lights at the Hub. If you’re unsure, always opt for higher power than you anticipate and remember to keep them charged.
A badly fitted bike will take away your love of cycling faster than you can say “call the physio”.
We recently spoke to Sam Barley, who does our bike fits at Bia Cycling on the importance of a bike fit.
Sam, what is a bikefit?
At a very basic level, a bikefit involves taking a bicycle with arbitrary components (stem length, handlebar width, saddle type and so on) and tweaking it so that it works with — and not against — the endless quirks and characteristics of the person riding it.
“Fit the bike to the human and not the human to the bike”
No two humans are the same; since becoming a bike fitter I have been amazed at how individual each bikefit is — I’ve seen as much as 100mm difference in saddle position between two riders of the same height. Though bike-fitting is a relatively new concept, it is staggering to think that not so long ago bicycles used to be sold off-the-shelf with the expectation that they would fit any rider of the intended ‘height range’.
What is the importance of a bikefit?
Whether you are a novice cyclist or high level, consider the fact that for thousands of pedal revolutions your body is being strapped to something with fixed contact points that will not adjust or absorb to your physiological demands. Making sure your position is spot on will not only reduce your risk of injury but also make sure you are riding in the most efficient and sustainable way possible.
What happens during a bikefit?
Every bike fitter has their own style, but I choose to learn more about the person I am fitting before I even see them on a bike. That way, I can fit for purpose. I check for any limitations in flexibility before making changes to the bike: cleat position, saddle height, saddle setback, type of saddle, handlebar height, handlebar reach, hood angle – you name it. My style of fitting is more democratic than authoritarian; I don’t tell riders how to ride but instead explain every change I make so that they leave the session knowing exactly what was modified and why. The end result is a position that the rider feels they have contributed to, invested in, and understood.
How can people learn more?
If you’re interested in a bikefit, you can see what I do on my Instagram page or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. For unbiased opinions of my service, seek out the lovely team at Bia and they can put you in touch with riders I’ve fitted.
Many women start off cycling based on the premise of what they’re not able to do instead of what they can. Whereas men often use competition as a healthy motivating factor, women often use comparison as a means to lower their confidence and sense of self-worth.
Cycling is an incredible way to get fit and see life from a new perspective –– especially if you’re visiting a beautiful locale. Unfortunately, sometimes the excitement of the ride can overpower some of us, resulting in negative thoughts and spirals. Worrying about whether or not you ate enough breakfast, what your body looks like in the upcoming group ride photo, or even why your tire pressure is so low can sometimes ruin your riding experience.
The bicycle should be a place where you can feel confident and comfortable and also a place where you challenge yourself. We came up with 3 C’s to mentally prime yourself before, during and after cycling;
By collaboration, we mean make a friend. There will always be someone slower and faster than you and women with different strengths but finding a cycling partner is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures and can take a lot of the stress out of cycling so that the focus becomes fun.
- Craft a mantra
Every cyclist has their demons—it may be getting dropped on group rides, or it may be picking up too much speed downhill etc. These fears don’t have to be debilitating. Find a mantra to repeat to yourself every time you feel afraid and you’ll find yourself achieving more than you ever imagined possible!
- Celebrate small victories
Got up and went out but didn’t have a great ride? Well, you beat everyone on the couch! Celebrate victories, no matter how small and you will find yourself enjoying your cycling more and more. The added spin-off effect is that you’ll find your general confidence rising too!
Forget Strava, gauge progress
Well joining Strava isn’t specific to before getting on the bike but we’ve seen many a cyclist lose their love of the sport through Strava obsession. It’s a thing.
“If you’re new to cycling enjoy it! Don’t get bogged down in Strava, average speeds and sharing your rides on social media that’s just details. The bigger picture is one of adventure and exploration. Buy a map, print one off the internet, join a club, or if you have the cash get a Wahoo (other navigation devices available). Explore your local area or nearest national park; the views, hills and exploration will inspire you more than just pushing hard all the time. Getting faster will happen naturally the more you ride.” ~ TIM HOYLE, Cyclist Magazine
Get yourself a cycling buddy
Mildred Locke is a contributor to Bike Radar and spends a vast amount of time of her bicycle. She’s spent the past three years volunteering as a mechanic and workshop coordinator at the Bristol Bike Project and now sits on its board of directors. Her expertise in bikes — and what people want out of them — comes from working in real-world bike shops and learning the ins and outs of the industry.
In her article on the 5 reasons why you should get your friends into cycling, she highlights the importance of motivating each other and the reward of cycling with friends.
“We’ve all been there. It’s stupid o’clock in the morning, the bed’s cosy, and maybe you’ll just skip the ride today and sleep longer. But you can’t let your friend down.
When you know someone’s waiting for you, you’re more likely to get going, and by holding each other accountable you can achieve your goals together.”
We wanted to add to this to add a few key differences, having a cycling buddy makes!
➡️ You don’t have to talk or sing to yourself – always a bonus!
➡️ When you’re feeling flat, mates will motivate you to keep going
➡️ When they’re feeling flat, you’ll motivate your mates
➡️ Coffee and cake just isn’t the same alone besides shared calories don’t count!
➡️ You have someone to recount the day’s highlights with
And last but not least. Therapy!
“Going cycling for me has always been about who I’m with. In many ways, it’s been a form of therapy. Many a day I’ve spent with my best friend chatting up a storm and solving the world’s problems. Those have been not only my most treasured memories on a bicycle but most treasured memories of friendship. Four hours later and we’ve arrived home ready to face the challenges of life. ~ Lisa Steingold, Bia Member
These five aspects will make the world of difference to your riding and you’ll set yourself up for success even before having walked out the door!
Want to come and have a chat and see the world of cycling at its finest?
Come spend an evening with Bia Cycling on Saturday the 26th of March as we host an “Evening with Phil Liggett at The Bia Hub” where we’ll be watching the documentary of his life titled “THE VOICE OF CYCLING”