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Beginners Guide To Competitive Cycling Part 1 - Bikes, Clothes And Clubs
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Beginners Guide to Competitive Cycling Part 1 - Bikes, Clothes And Clubs

What do you need to do to get into cycle racing?

Firstly there needs to me a motivating force. Do you like competing? Do you want a challenge? are you involved in other individual competitive sports?

Secondly there is going to be a significant investment in the kit.

The Bike

This is obviously a big part of the investment and in terms of cost can be between GBP500 and GBP5000.

It will be made from, at the very least, aluminium or, at the high end, carbon fibre. There are many makes on the market with all the leading brands competing for your purchase. There is also a very active second hand market that can be seen on Ebay. This is in part driven by riders trading up as they become more involved.

My personal advice is to buy on Ebay as you will be able to get a bike for a fraction of its original cost. I have purchased a number of bikes using this method.

The last purchase for my son was a Specialized Allez Elite (2008) which had carbon forks front and rear, carbon components and was in an "as new" condition. The current model would have cost me x3 what I paid for the bike.

Kit

Cycling Shoes:-All modern competitive bikes come with "clip-less pedals". These require some getting used to but the effect of these being on the bike is that you then require cycling shoes that will take the type of clip that clips into the pedal. There are two general types of clip. Road clips and off road clips. In addition manufacturers have their own variation of clips. For instance Shimano clips will only work with Shimano pedals. I have standardised with Shimano pedals as they offer a wide range of price points and they are in my experience as good as it gets! One word of caution the sizes can be quite "snug" with some makes so if you buy on line make sure you know how the manufacturer sizes the shoes. Also if you are buying for a Youth it makes sense to err on the site of a little too big or you will be buying every few months! One good value make I have discovered is DHB from wiggle. These get 10/10 reviews and they are much cheaper than the opposition.

Cycling Shorts:- These are another key part of the equation. All modern shorts are padded and by using then you will minimise any discomfort. They are essential if you are going to cycle for more than 30 minutes. For road racing they usually come in a close fitting style. For off road use they look more like casual shorts with padding. If you join a club they may well be offered at a discounted rate.

Cycling Tops:- These again will probably be provided by a club but you will require additional tops to contend with the wind chill as you ride along. I personally have a purpose made top that I purchased from wiggle who are a good source of kit. It is also dependent on which time of year you intend to ride. Winter is more expensive as you need much more specialised kit.

Cycling Clubs: This is an important part of your set up. There are many clubs in the UK and in my area I have ended up joining 2. The reason for this is that one club is very local, very friendly and runs a good Youth incentive scheme (VC Meudon) . The other club focuses on track but there are many more Youths in the club (Palmer park Velo). Both are great clubs and offer much more motivation than the local athletics clubs. Cycling at the professional level offers the same type of incentives as most other sports and also features as a sport that you can bet on

In conclusion cycling is a great individual sport and although it costs more than athletics to become invoved with it offers great rewards .......and there is loads of kit you can buy!!!!!


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