Getting Back On Your Bike: Cycling Essentials Part Four
Words by Jane Bedford McLaren and Jonathan Keenan.
Image by Lucy Sykes.
The main thing is to wear whatever you feel comfortable in. You don’t need any special clothing, unless you are planning a long ride. That said, here are some tips that might make the ride more comfortable:
- Jeans have bulky seams in inconvenient places for riding, so that is something to consider when choosing what to wear.
- Cotton will hold moisture, whether that’s sweat or rain, so if you are going somewhere with no changing facilities, you may want to consider wearing something that has moisture wicking properties, which is fast-drying.
- Take another layer to wear at the other end of the ride, as you will be warmer on the bike than you will be when you stop.
- Padded underpants – these exist for both men and women. It can add a level of comfort whilst not having to wear full lycra.
- If you do want to try out lycra, don’t wear underpants under the shorts. They are designed to be worn snug against the skin.
- Gloves – your hands can get surprisingly cold if you are not riding in the height of summer. Cycling-specific gloves will have padding to dampen the road vibration and to ease the pressure points. Fingerless versions exist for riding in summer.
- Longer skirts need tucking into pants to avoid getting caught in the wheels (leg holes; not the waistband!).
- As mentioned in Part Three of this blog series, use trouser clips, tuck trousers into socks or fold trouser legs up to avoid getting oil on them.
- If you were to buy one piece of cycling specific clothing, I would recommend a cycling specific waterproof jacket, because these are cut in a way that is more comfortable to ride in than traditional waterproofs and are usually a bit more breathable.
There are loads of brands offering cycling specific clothing that is not lycra and would be completely acceptable to wear at work, other than the most formal of settings. Again, I would recommend riding regularly for a few months before spending money on those brands, because you may find you don’t need them.
Showers – it is a myth that you need somewhere to shower at the other end of your journey. If you pedal steadily you will probably find that you are not overly hot or sweaty when you arrive. Your need of a shower largely depends how fast you want to go!
The current circumstances we find ourselves in are scary and unusual. I find it reassuring in these times to see those helping and supporting others. I thought about what I might be able to offer. As an experienced cyclist seeing loads of new and returning cyclists out and about, I thought I might be able to give some simple tips on making your cycling experience easier and more comfortable. I have collaborated with Jonathan Keenan of Walk Ride Greater Manchester on putting this blog series together.
The main thing to remember is that cycling is a simple pleasure. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. If you have a bike that you like and feel good riding, then read no further!
But if you are wanting some pointers on either improving your cycling experience or are looking to start riding, then I hope this series is helpful.
About the writers:
Jane Bedford McLaren – is solicitor acting for vulnerable road users at Leigh Day and also rides a bike regularly. She cycles to work and likes to ride bikes at the weekend with her local women’s cycling group, Team Glow, of which she is ride leader coordinator. She also gives her time and voice to Walk Ride Chorlton.
Jonathan Keenan – is a freelance photographer based in his Northern Quarter studio and living in Chorlton. He’s a secret petrolhead and occasionally drives for work but it makes him very grumpy. He took to cycle touring as a youth, including organising an expedition to cross Iceland long before that was somewhere anyone went. Interest in architecture, regeneration and urbanism came together with his interest in cycling when kids came along and it became obvious how much their independence and freedom was stifled by our car-centric design and planning, so he became an activist for better cities through the medium of cycle infrastructure. He now has an unfortunate inclination to suggest a bike is the solution to any and every social problem. Because it is.