What Kind of Gear Do I Need?

Imagine: you’re wearing a shirt and pants. That’s enough to be considered “dressed” properly to be out in public. But, your pants are a little too big so you need a belt. And, you may also want to wear a watch or have some socks and shoes. This can be practical or stylish.

Imagine: you have a bike and you ride it. You are a bike rider – congratulations! But, sometimes your tush hurts from riding. And, you sweat a lot so you want to be able to wick moisture away from your head. Carrying a water bottle around in a backpack becomes cumbersome and limits its availability to you on the bike. You can accessorize your bike and your clothing in many different ways, both practical and stylish.

For the beginning rider, my suggestions for accessories are the following:

  • Water bottle
  • Water bottle cage
  • Gloves (more on gloves later)
  • Helmet (more on helmets later)
  • Headband or cycling cap

Water bottle: You need to hydrate when you ride, even in the winter. There are insulated water bottles that can keep your cold beverages cold, and they’re great, but don’t feel like you have to shell out $15 per bottle (or more) if you have some at home that will work. (But believe me, cold water is like a gift on a hot hot day.)

Water bottle cage: Metal cages can be as inexpensive as $2.00 and give you on-board access to water, Gatorade, or whatever. You do need braze-ons to attach a bottle cage to the frame, but if you don’t have them there are other alternative options.

Gloves: Gloves seem like a luxury item – and they aren’t really necessary for around town type of riding – but in the summertime, in Nashville, they are invaluable for providing a piece of fabric to wipe sweat off of your face. Additionally, if you ever do take a fall on your bike, your hands will be protected from being scraped up.

Helmet: A helmet provides a safety backup for your dome. Until we live in a culture here in the U.S. that fully integrates bike riders into the transportation schema, a helmet is invaluable. (Also, most bike crashes are single-person crashes at slow speed, and a helmet will help you to not crack your skull.) I use a Bell helmet; there are lots of other manufacturers out there too.

Headband or cycling cap: A headband or cycling cap will help keep sweat out of your face and eyes. A headband can also double as a ear protector in the winter. (You should check out my friend Sandy’s great Sandybands as a creative alternative to the “sporty” headband.)

I’ll talk about more advanced gear – and why cycle-specific items can be so great, and so frustrating – in a later post.

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