Cycling Gear: What Do I Need?

This post was sponsored by The Clymb, an awesome place to get discounted outdoor gear for all of your adventures. 

So you’re a runner thinking of getting into triathlon?  Awesome!   You’ve searched online and found all sorts of great training plans.  But if you’re anything like me, you also want to know what sorts of gear you will need.

Well, to start, you’ll need a bike.  Any old bike will do to begin your training.  And you’ll need a swimming suit.  Preferably one designed for swimming and not one designed for sunbathing.

But the cycling gear.  Oh, the cycling gear.  I love it almost as much as I love running gear.

First and most importantly, you need a helmet.  This is not optional.  I don’t care what the laws are in your city.  You need to wear a helmet.  You can get a good one for under $100, and considering what it protects, it’s worth every penny.

While you can bike in any old t-shirt, I recommend wearing a tech t-shirt, but if you want to go all out, look into a cycling jersey.  The best thing about cycling jerseys is the pockets.  Oh, the pockets.  Three big pockets in the back to hold all sorts of things: snacks, your phone, a good luck charm, whatever you want to carry with you.

Next, you’ll want a good pair of cycling shorts.  Cycling shorts have what is called a chamois inside.  It’s pronounced “shammy.”  You wear cycling shorts without underwear.  That’s right.  No underwear with the cycling shorts.  Why?  You want to do everything in your power to reduce chafing.  The chamois is designed not only to provide you with extra padding and support but it also wicks away moisture and shifts with you so that nothing is rubbing as you pedal.  I know Pearl Izumi isn’t beloved by runners thanks to a poorly designed ad campaign from half a decade ago, but I must say, I love their cycling shorts and they come in a wide variety of sizes.

Now we’re getting into the part some people don’t like to talk about.  Chamois cream.  In the olden days of cycling (the early 80’s and before), chamois pads were made out of leather, so riders needed something to condition that leather.  Now, they’re made out of synthetic materials, but you still want something to prevent chafing, both between the seams and you and between… you and you.  So look into an anti-chafing cream or chamois cream.  And then rub it all up there in your nooks and crannies.  Yeah, I said it.  Also good for running.

If you’re just starting out on a bike you already own, you can just wear your running shoes while you ride.  But you’ll start to hear cyclists talk about clipless pedals.  Here’s where the lingo gets confusing.  So a standard pedal is what’s known as a platform pedal.  This is what you probably learned to ride on.  Pretty basic.  You push down, the pedal turns, the bike moves.  But what if you could get power on more than just the downward part of the revolution?  This is where attaching your shoe to the pedal helps.

One way to attach your shoe to the pedal is with toe clips or cages.  You’ll still see some riders with these, and they’re great if you’re not quite ready to go clipless.  It’s how I started out.  They’re little rubberized (formerly metal) straps on the front of your pedal that you slip the front of your foot into.  You get a little more power from your legs, but not a lot.

Then we come to clipless pedals.  And the lingo gets weird.  Since cages are also known as toe clips, pedals where you attach without toe clips are clipless.  Except that riders talk about clipping in and clipping out.  These work by way of a cleat that’s attached to the bottom of your cycling shoe.  You get on the bike and then clip in, attaching your shoes to the bike.  Yes, it’s terrifying at first, but honestly, it’s not so bad.  The added power going up hills is awesome.

But clipless pedals definitely aren’t necessary.  It’s just an easy upgrade to a bike you already have if you’re ready to take your cycling to the next step.

Cycling gloves are another thing that aren’t necessary, but are awesome to have.  They pad your palms just a bit more, reducing the numbing that can come from the vibrations of the ride, plus they help you keep your grip if you’re nervous and your palms are a bit sweaty.

A saddle bag, which goes on the back of your bike under the seat, is a great way to store a spare tube (what goes in your tire) and a tube change kit.  Learn how to change a tube.  It’s an awesome skill to have.  You can also get a bento box, which is a little pack that goes on the front of your bike to carry things.  And of course, water bottles or a hydration pack are necessary if you’re going on long rides.

So that’s a lot of stuff.  Do you need it all?  No.  To start, you need a bike and a helmet.  Cycling shorts are an upgrade you will want soon after.  But there’s no need to buy it all right away, and you can always look for deals online.  The Clymb has great sales every day.  I just recently received an order from them where I got a box of Clif Bars, a box of Luna Bars and a new pair of cycling gloves that I love, all at an awesome discount.  So check them out!

Thanks again to The Clymb for sponsoring!

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