As a followup to the previous piece entitled Trailing The Rails, I decided to focus some attention towards our newer recreational cyclists and share suggestions regarding items that will most certainly add to the experience of riding your bicycle.
The two most important items that a casual cyclist can have are a bell and some way to carry water. Having a bell on your bike when the trail is in heavy use can be akin to Moses parting the Red Sea. Give a well timed ring and people move to the side of the trail, oftentimes offering a “thank you” for your courtesy. Sheer magic. A bicycle engine (you) requires fuel in the form of water. Most bicycles have at least one place on the frame to attach a water bottle and cage to. Some have two. If your bike has space for one cage, buy a larger bicycle water bottle instead of the smaller size. If you require more water, you can buy a bottle cage that mounts onto the handlebars. If your bike has the space for two cages, buy two cages and two bottles. It’s better to carry too much water than run out on a hot day. It’s interesting to note that there are now bottle cages called sidemount cages that allow a larger bottle to fit a smaller frame.
It’s nice to be able to bring needed items with you for the day. Things such as your cell phone, lip balm, sunscreen, snacks, energy foods and money etc. There are plenty of ways to tote your things on a bike. You can go all out and attach a carrier rack to the rear of your bicycle. This allows you to carry the traditional pannier or saddlebag. Many people use what is called a trunk bag. This is a box-like bag that sits on the top of a carrier rack. It isn’t as unnecessarily large as a saddlebag and most of them keep food and drinks cool. You can also buy traditional small bags that hang under the seat of your bike. A newer type of bag that is gaining in popularity is called a gel box. This small bag was designed so that triathletes could carry energy foods in a convenient location during a race. The bag sits on the top of the bike frame directly behind the steering stem. A magnetic flip top allows easy access to your cell phone and other small items without having to stop and open a rear mounted bag. There are also many handlebar mounted cell phone holders to choose from.
To take things further, you can add a small portable tire pump or CO2 air cartridges to your bike or bag. It’s also a good idea to have an extra inner tube, sized for your bike, with you. Many people carry a small tool kit or a multitool with them. The thinking behind this is that in the event of a breakdown you’ll have all of the tools needed in case someone comes along with repair knowledge. You don’t necessarily have to know how to fix it yourself. Most cyclists are willing to help.
The final pieces of the puzzle might include a kickstand, a good lock, and a front and a rear small light. Many casual cyclists and commuters like the extra confidence that a mirror can give. There are mirrors that can be added to your handlebars, your helmet, or a pair of glasses.
For the rider themselves, a helmet makes good sense and on a hot day it provides more cooling than a bare head. Cycling gloves offer extra padding for additional hand comfort and may help to alleviate numb hands. If you find yourself heading out for longer rides it might be time to consider investing in a pair of padded bike shorts. There are many styles available. You can even find padded “underwear” that you wear underneath your regular street clothing. Once you try them, you’ll be hooked.
There you have it. A list of basics that will make your cycling very enjoyable. You’ll be sure to discover other items that you can use. Every year the cycling industry comes up with another interesting widget. That’s what makes cycling fun.