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This post is really for Nikki’s benefit, because like she said in a previous post, she’s going to at some point actually start to look like she is meant to be on a bike. I can’t really see her being comfortable on the bike for 7 hours a day looking like she has stepped out of the 1950s.
So, cycle shorts!
Although not the most flattering piece of attire, cycle shorts (or leggings if its cold) are actually very important! (especially if you happen to own a gel seat which is absolutely useless like mine!) Not only do they have padding around the crotch and bottom areas for comfort on the saddle, they are also very tight! Why I hear you ask is that a good thing? Well, the fact that they’re so tight means they help protect the muscles in the leg, meaning its more difficult to pull a muscle (which given the time frame for our training would not be good! Obviously it wouldn’t be good in any circumstances, but even more so when time is not on your side, meaning less recovery time or less training time)
Next, the t-shirt. Generally cycle t-shirts, just like the shorts, are tight (compression fit), mainly for the same reasons too, however, when it comes to t-shirts, they also help keep you warm in cold weather. Normally you’d keep warm by adding more layers, however this has the effect of making you sweat more, therefore requiring you to drink more to replace lost water. By acting as a second skin, cycle t-shirts stop sweat and absorb everything, reducing the need to carry de-odourant around in case you meet someone and don’t want to be self conscious about smelling.
The Helmet. This was news to me, but apparently there is no law in the UK stating that a helmet must be worn, even when on the roads. Really though, its a must! Its the difference between falling off and risking brain damage, or a bit of a headache.
Cycle gloves are an essential as Nikki has discovered. Spending so long gripping the handlebars of a bike can cause blisters. Cycle gloves are padded in key areas of the hand to ease the strain put on the skin. They can be full gloves or fingerless. Personally I would opt for fingerless as the hand’s dexterity isn’t compromised. They also keep your hands surprisingly warm!
Now this is one piece of equipment I may have to invest in, cycle shoes! Although looking like regular trainers, there are two key differences! The first being that they have no laces which could get tangles in the gearing system of the bike. The second is that many have clips in the soles which attach to special pedals on the bike, meaning the rider can not only push down on the pedal, but also pull up, giving more power and making better use of the rider’s energy.
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p.s. Its said that after exercise, you don’t ache the day after (unless you’ve pulled something) but the day after that! As this day has progressed, my triceps and chest have been in pain. Tomorrow is going to be fun!