What Do You Need To Get Started?
Your road bike journey should get started with precautions that take into account the fundamentals of the sport. Of course the obvious is the need for the bike itself and for that reason I did not include it in my numbered list of must have road bike basics. So what do you need to get started?
Road Bike-As a road bike tyro your focus here should be on a decent used road bike. This does not mean that it has to be fancy in any way . A used road bike is ideal in this case because if as a beginner, you may not know upfront if road bike riding is for you. Keep this aspect conservative and in perspective. Many experienced riders started on something simpler than what they ride now. I still ride my old Miyata 512 that I have owned for over 20 years. It actually has turned out to be an excellent training road bike for me. I learned as I took road bike riding seriously in 2009 that it’s not about the bike…it’s all about YOU!
- Identification. The single most important item you can have is identification. The easiest way to make that happen is with Road ID
- Helmet. Wearing a helmet is an option for many people depending on the laws where you live. I think there is no room for argument on this one… you should ALWAYS wear one. If you are ever involved in an accident, you certainly want to protect the most valuable organ you have.
- Clothing. These don’t have to be expensive if you shop around and particularly in the outlet section. You could get away with riding in some regular shorts and t-shirt but the focus here is owning your decision to be a focused road bike cyclist. The more you ride and grow as a road bike cyclist, you’ll appreciate the comfort, and protection, that padded cycling shorts and specific jersey affords you.
- Shoes. Selecting the right shoe is as personal as selecting your helmet. The right fit is the key element when choosing a road bike shoe that is suitable for both short and eventually longer rides. Other considerations will include the cleats in relations to the pedal you choose. Picking an entry-level pedal when trying the clipless system for the first time should avoid a wasted shoe and pedal purchase should riding clipped in prove too difficult.
- Gloves. The importance of having a good set of gloves are twofold. First, they give excellent grip and confidence particularly with aggressive effort. Secondly, they offer protection in the event of a spill (accident) and offer your hands a layer of initial resistance to injury.
- Sun Glasses. A pair of glasses are necessary for this specific activity for a few good reasons. First they protect your eyes from direct sunlight protecting them from harmful UV radiation risk of eye damage from the sun and is directly related to length and intensity of exposure. Secondly protecting eyes from dirt, dust and a laundry list of projectiles (e.g., flying insects), sunglasses are the best way to make sure that your eyes are safe.
- Sun Screen. Always wear sun screen. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, accounting for half of all cancers in the US. In the US alone 68,130 died from Melanoma in 2010 compared to 630 bike fatalities on the road in 2009, most likely without a helmet. Considering the lengths we’ll go to as cyclists to steer ourselves out of danger and fight for our rights in traffic, why wouldn’t we take care of matters in our own backyard to save our skin?
- Wedge Pack This is a life saver and will offer a convenient place to house all the items listed in the next point given in a wedge pack.
- Tire Repair Kit It is without a doubt that at some point in your journeys you will have the unpleasant experience of a flat tire. It may not happen on your first ride but being ready for it is key. Having a tire repair kit with the proper components will save your day from embarrassment and the possibility of walking home or back to your vehicle and ending your day. You should keep the following items: 1 new inner tube , co2 inflation system with co2 cartridges, patches with glue, tire levers.
- Tire Pump. Having a tire pump is a must as it is often your backup for the co2 cartridges. It also comes in handy as it allows you to search for the puncture(s) at your leisure.
- Cyclocomputer. Having a cyclocomputer allows you to keep track of your statistics such as cadence, current/average/maximum speed, total distance (programmable odometer), two trip distances, elapsed time and a 12/24 hour clock. There are a few others but these here are the main focus to track your progress.
- Saddle. This item you will not want to overlook. Your saddle is where you park your rear and should be considered carefully when choosing what feels right for you.
- Water Bottle. Water is absolutely an essential when taking your road biking experience seriously. The common rule is to drink before you are thirsty and if you wait until your thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Drink often with little amounts (e.g., every 15 minutes with a mouthful swallow).
By following the list above you will be well on your way to properly begin your road bike experience. These items are the fundamentals for a happy road bike tyro but if you decide to skip a few of these items due to your budget constraints, let’s consider a few items. At the bare minimum the bike, helmet and water bottle should be a reasonable start. However, it should be your earnest effort to acquire the balance of the items listed to make sure your road biking experience is the least bit troublesome.
Considering that all the items in the numbered list are new, please keep in mind that there are intended to be installed and/or used with your newly purchased USED road bike. Purchasing a new bike is not necessary for beginners. The first rule here is to “know thyself” and whether or not road biking is going to be a long-term activity for you. There is no reason to buy a new bike.