The Ultimate Guide to Cycling for Beginners

A guest post by Catherine Bedford, Dashel.

Have you been bitten by the cycling bug? After all, the increase in take-up of cycling over recent months has been phenomenal! 

No doubt you have seen this and, perhaps, are thinking of following suit. But, if you haven’t ridden a bike since childhood, where on earth would you start in your cycling journey? Here are some things to consider when getting back into the saddle after a long time:

Which bike is best for you?

Your old BMX is probably not what you’re thinking of using to restart your cycling journey, so which should you choose? The best way to decide which bike is best for you is to think about what you will be using it for and where you are likely to be cycling. 

If you are looking for speed, perhaps to commute to and from work in the quickest time possible or if you are looking to travel far and fast on your weekend ride, then a road bike, or racer, is probably the right bike for you. They are lightweight and designed for speed. A tourer is similar to a road bike but is slightly sturdier so if you are likely to use your bike for longer journeys where pannier bags might be useful, for example if you are fishing or camping, this is worth exploring.

Alternatively, if you’re considering something a bit more adventurous and fancy taking your bike off-road in your free time, perhaps on forest trails or over hilly paths, then a mountain bike is probably what you need. These have better suspension and thick tyres designed to grip in muddy or loose terrain.

If you can’t decide or fancy a bike that you can commute to work on but ride off-road at weekends, have a look at the hybrid bikes. They are lightweight but also sturdy and comfortable and a good all-rounder.

And there is a lot more choice than these three, too. If you have a long commute but still want to cycle either side of the train ride, a folding bike is lightweight and practical, or for people with back and knee problems, it’s worth considering a recumbent bike, where you sit in a reclining position.

Your bike will be an investment so take the time to research what will suit you best. You can look online but I’d also suggest talking to the staff at your local bike shop to find out what will best suit your needs.

When it comes to cost, like anything you mostly get what you pay for. If you’re on a tight budget, do look at second hand, reconditioned bikes. They save money and are obviously also better for the environment.

Safety measures

Once you have decided on your bike you need to ensure you will be safe. This also does not need to cost the earth but do make sure you have the essentials. Starting at the top, helmets are not actually legally required but I do feel it’s important because, in the unfortunate event of an accident, it will protect you! If you think helmets mean looking silly, think again. There are some really stylish helmets on the market these days which means you can make a fashion statement while keeping safe. You can also buy helmets made of recycled materials, that can themselves be recycled at end of life.

Visibility is also key. You must have lights on your bike and, if you are likely to be riding in traffic, consider one you can wear on your (stylish) helmet too. This will make you even more visible to 4x4s and buses. Even if you’re not planning on riding after dark, it’s wise to carry something reflective with you at all times. Who knows, you might enjoy your ride more than you thought and want to go for a bit longer. You don’t have to be clad head to foot in day-glow; a simple sash that can be easily carried with you is enough to be sure you are seen.

Gloves are also a good idea, not just to keep you warm in cooler months but they will protect your hands in event of coming off your bike – these are generally the first thing you put out to save yourself. Also cycling glasses are not only good for protecting your eyes from glare and UV rays, they also protect your peepers from wind and rain, bugs and dust.

Finally, I’d also recommend you learn a little bike maintenance so you can ensure your bike is fit for purpose on a regular basis. Make sure you know how to check the air pressure in your tyres, test your brakes and ensure you have sufficient lube on your chain. Again, a good bike shop should talk you through the basics when you buy.

Geared up

Firstly, don’t think you need to go and buy loads of Lycra before you can get on your bike. Indeed, you can ride in your everyday clothes, up to a point, although you should avoid heavy shoes or loose laces and baggy skirts or trousers which could get caught up the pedals or chain. Wear light and comfy clothes and avoid things like jeans for long cycle rides as thicker denim can chafe after a while. If you already own leggings for yoga or running they’ll be perfect.

Of course, if you get seriously involved in speed riding you may want to buy clothes and gear that aid with streamlining. On the other hand, if you are commuting, that is probably the last thing you want to do. Instead, look out for cycling gear specifically designed to transition between bike and office. Not only can you get helmets that don’t cause ‘helmet hair’, there are stylish jackets which look great in a meeting but glow at night when you’re riding home. Similarly, there are some amazing shoes out there, perfect for cycling in that really look the part when you are sitting at your desk. There are even pannier bags available that you can take off the bike and hide the clips so you look like you bought from a local designer boutique. Similarly, this gear is great if you are cycling to meet friends for a pub lunch, cream tea or picnic.

Do invest in some rain gear – after all, this is England. A lightweight jacket and over-trousers are good to have to hand and a poncho is great for showery weather too.  

Avoid the aches and pains

Taking up a new physical activity will almost always leave you with some aches and pains, where you are using muscles that haven’t been worked for a while. Unfortunately, cycling has some additional potential discomforts.

You may find that you are saddle sore to start with. Check your saddle is in the right position and, after a while, as your muscles and tendons get accustomed to it, this ‘pain in the bottom’ will abate. In the meantime, you should stand on the pedals at regular intervals to give you some relief. It may also help to invest in underwear with minimal seams or even some specialist shorts. If the discomfort does not improve you might need to think about a different saddle.

You can also find you have discomfort in other parts of your body; neck, lower back, hands, feet and legs. These are almost without fail due to your position on the bike and the handlebars and seat not being in the optimal position. Again, it is worth asking the shop that you buy your bike from to help you get this correct in the first place or ask advice from friends who have cycling experience.

Find the right route

Whether you are cycling to work or for pleasure, consider sensible routes when starting out. You do not want to begin your new pastime weaving in and out of inner-city traffic. Not only is it dangerous to do so without experience, you are highly likely to put yourself off before you start. Try some rural off-road routes to start with. When riding to work, ask about and find some quieter routes that go through parks, for example, or beside the river. It may take a little longer but it will be safer and far more pleasant. Also consider the difficulty of your route. Novice cyclists are unlikely to enjoy hilly rides initially and would be much more sensible to opt for easy terrains and low gradients. You can always build up as you gain confidence and fitness. Best of all, use your early days cycling to explore local routes and find some you really enjoy.

These are all things to consider when you take up or resume cycling after a long absence. Don’t rush into it or think you need to have the full kit before you start. Ease yourself in, get comfortable and, as your cycling journey continues, you will learn what your mode of cycling is; whether you are a speed freak or an off-road adventurer, someone who loves being closer to nature on rural rides or social cyclist; the list goes on. Wherever your cycling journey takes you, I’m sure you will have a wonderful time!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catherine Bedford is Founder of Dashel. Dashel offers a range of slim, ventilated, lightweight cycle helmets manufactured in the UK. With a distinctive urban feel Dashel Helmets are made from recyclable materials – ensuring that they are low impact at the point of manufacture and produce very little waste at the end of life. The new Re-Cycle helmet will be ground down into new helmets at the UK factory when it is finished with. The helmets are portable, sold packaged in a handy rucksack that means there is no superfluous packaging. They come in an array of classic colours. Choose from black, blue, sage green and red. Dashel helmets are £79 and available from all good cycle shops and online at Dashel.co.uk.

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How much money will you waste on fitness fads?

Man in gym lifting weights ahead of getting fit

A new study has revealed the amount of money Brits waste on fitness and diet fads, including everything from memberships they’ve never used and workout clothes that remain in the back of the wardrobe to supplements that were thrown away.

Of course, we’ve all seen the “new year, new me” motto bouncing around all over  social media, with us all rolling our eyes, and rightly so, because it was found that Britons spend £26.8 billion on fitness and health items that they never use in attempts to keep healthy and in shape.

The amount Britons waste on fitness fads and diet crazes has been revealed, finding that there is £26.8 billion wasted on fitness and diet fads across the UK. Unused gym memberships cost the average Briton £429 per person, while £179 is wasted on unworn workout clothes and £57 on discarded health and fitness supplements.

The team at the protein supplement company, P-Fit.co.uk, polled a total of 2,321 UK-based adults, all of whom were aged 18-65 years old. Respondents were quizzed about their fitness and diet habits and how much they had invested in their health.

Initially respondents were asked if they felt they spent a lot of money trying to keep fit and healthy, to which 31% stated they did. They were then asked if they thought that these purchases helped with their overall fitness to which 87% stated they did.

Afterwards, respondents were asked “How much have you spent on unused gym or fitness memberships, if anything?” to the average answer emerged as £429. They were asked to detail how much they had spent on any untaken health and fitness supplements, to which the average spend on unused supplements was revealed to be £57 per person. Finally, they were asked to consider their spend on any unworn workout clothes and accessories, to which the average Briton confessed that they had spent £179 on gym and workout clothes they had never worn.

Muscle Man sat doing weights in the gym with tattoo on arm

In order to analyse these figures, researchers next took figures from the Office Of National Statistics* to calculate how much money Britons aged 18-65 wasted in the health and fitness industry as a whole. Using the average wasted spends of £429 on gym membership, £179 on workout clothes and £57 on supplements, they calculated that Britons are wasting £26,757,160,780 (£26.8 billion) on the industry.

Finally respondents were asked why they kept spending money on these objects when they did not always use them, to which the majority (71%) stated that they had ‘high hopes at the start’. A further 63% believed that if they spent more money, they were more likely to use the products or memberships that they had bought.

Ross Beagrie, Managing Director at P-Fit.co.uk commented:

“In the fitness industry consumers often don’t know which products they need, this often means that consumers don’t get the results that they expect. Before making the purchase be sure the products are what you need to achieve your specific goals. A great way to stop yourself from wasting money on supplements that you don’t need is to use services that tailor your order specifically to your needs, as P-Fit does; many people end up discarding products because they don’t work in the way they expected them to. A personally tailored product allows supplements to be suited to your lifestyle and goals and will also provide guidance on how and when to take them to get the best results.”

Iconic cycling brand ASSOS gears up for opening of first UK store

assos-of-switzerland

ASSOS of Switzerland, the iconic cycling brand, will open its first international concept store on Regent Street, in the heart of London’s luxury shopping district.

Marking the brand’s 40th anniversary as an industry leader, ASSOS is set take a significant step forward with the opening of its first flagship store outside the company’s Swiss headquarters, giving rise to a new era of specialized customer service for both professionals and cycling enthusiasts.

If you know us, you’ll know we’re sporty guys, we tell you all to often enough how to support your junk in the form of underwear (‘Support During Sport’ article here), but there comes a time in every rider’s life when an appreciation for fine, well-fitting shorts outweighs any concern about their cost. Indeed, a great pair of bib-shorts can transform your time on the bike from tolerating the ride to indulging in another 10km. Sure, a new set of high-priced shorts won’t improve your legs, but if you’re aching in the saddle from a poor set of shorts, it doesn’t matter how good your legs are.

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From launch of the first carbon fibre bike frame and design of world’s first performance Lycra® cycling shorts, to the more recent release of the Urban lifestyle collection, ASSOS has been at the forefront of apparel innovation for four decades. The new high-tech store maintains these design values and will house the full ASSOS apparel collection, helmets, eye-wear and accessories.

The landmark store at St James’ Market, is designed to help cyclists find their perfect kit by providing the opportunity to road-test the performance-led range in store. A uniquely designed elliptical change-room, complete with a sample of every garment in the collection, gives customers the opportunity to trial the range on a Goomah racing bike, in order to determine the all-important fit in the saddle before they leave the store.

ASSOS CEO Phil Duff said: “Wherever you live in the world, cycling is the best way to get from A to B and we firmly believe that performance and style aren’t mutually exclusive. London is the epicenter of fashion and the ever-growing buzz around cycling and we’re thrilled to bring our passion to Regent Street”.

“From professional and avid riders through to the weekend warrior, the ASSOS range is designed to allow cyclists to focus on the ride, whether that be at a competitive level or simply on the daily commute to work”.

He continued: “We are committed to developing the most technically advanced product and through our new retail experience, customers can rest assured they have chosen the perfect fit before they take to the saddle”.

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Designed by Ab Rogers, son of renowned architect Richard Rogers, whose portfolio boasts work with Comme Des Garcons, The TATE, the V&A and Conde Nast, the store opening heralds an exciting era for growth for the brand in an increasingly competitive market which sees more than two million people take to a bike every week across the UK.

Rogers said: “As a cycling enthusiast myself, I’m drawn to the unwavering commitment to performance and the attention to detail ASSOS invest in every garment. I wanted to designed a space that echoed this ethos, but importantly, also offered an innovative retail solution to guarantee customers an unmatched experience both on and off the bike”.

When it comes to performance cycling, whether it’s long rides on Sunday mornings or road racing, and sportives, bib shorts are where it’s at for outright comfort. ASSOS’ range of apparel and accessories provide comfort so you can sit in the saddle for hours at a time.

The eagerly awaited store will open to the general public tomorrow on the Friday 18th November from 09:00, with fitting appointments available daily.

The brand new ASSOS store is located here:

Underwear: Support During Sport

You can have a body of Idris Elba and a charm of Orlando Bloom, but you’ll never get anywhere showing up sloppy at the gym. Even more so, it’s not about the appearance, only – you need to be comfy under all the layers of your activewear in order to feel good while working out. Any man can tell you: if your underwear isn’t comfortable, you aren’t comfortable! Underwear that rides up, forms awkward bumps or leaves you hanging down there is a big no-no! Agreed?  Yes.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best athletic gym wear choices and underwear on shelves, so you can get a head start on feeling amazing during your gym sessions and looking your best, afterwards.

Breathable fabrics

No matter how chic your activewear is looking, unless it’s made of breathable fabrics, like cotton or technologically advanced blends, forget it. Not only will you be sweating heavily, but you’ll be running the risk of spreading an odor most of the gym members will probably want to puke from.

If you’re led by the idea of extra pounds shed by sweating in all the horrible synthetics, please stop now. Apart from the aforementioned stink, your sweating results will only be temporary and can be dangerous. Choose breathable fabrics that feel good on your skin. So, friend – say goodbye to tighty-whities and embrace streamlined UFM Underwear boxer-briefs that offer support, comfort and enough elasticity suited to men who lead active lives.

We’ve had the privilege to test run the adjustable crotch pouch range, which has proved to be an amazing pair of pants. The drawstring around the seam of your crotch can be tightened to lift your member (no matter what size you are) so there’s no chaffing during the sweatiness of a workout.

Awesome support

You know it, we know it – unless your package is fully supported, not only will you be dangling around playing bat game, but you’ll be so uncomfortable (and limited in doing most exercises) that you’ll want to scream!

These days, men are blessed to have a variety of brands to browse through until they find their perfect pair, but until you do, let us educate you on something – praxis has shown that briefs in mostly cotton with a blend of just enough polyester and Lycra to wick like a synthetic boxer-brief are the perfect options for all the boys who don’t want to skip their gym day. If you are a runner, we suggest going for a polyester-and-elastane blend that packs everything up just right. Make sure your choice is moisture-wicking, stink-resistant shorts with a barely-there feel and awesome support. Rumor has it Ryder Wear – workout apparel is killing it in this area.

Fitted gear

While baggy clothes may visually hide a few extra pounds you are working on shedding, they’re doing you no good when it comes to working out. Quite the opposite, actually – they impede movement, leading to unsexy mishaps should they become stuck in a machine or trip you. To avoid such misery, select workout apparel that follows the lines of your body without being skin-tight; skin-tight is never sexy at the gym unless you’ve got the body of Adonis. Compressed leggings are a fine option as they’ll be comfy enough to let you move around but will still follow the line of the leg suitably. Choose the material that won’t leave you sweating or stinky and go for colors that inspire your determination to get a leaner physique.

Jock Up For #Jocktober

We’re all fans of a good jockstrap, aren’t we? So, finding a good pair has always been like a quest for every gym bloke! When we heard that Avaj is taking  £10 off of all of their jockstrap for #Jocktober, it’s was something that caught our eyes right away!

Avaj is a brand represented by Joe Goddard, a british retailer from Leeds.  They offer a range of men’s underwear, sleepwear, grooming and skincare products. All of their products are made of high quality materials and are 100% British made which is always a big plus for keeping it authentic.

The look and fit of the their jockstrap is really amazing, with much attention paid to cut and details. Their jockstrap snugs are boy parts without many restrictions, and the material blend of cotton and elastine is just what’s required for a perfectly formed package. Our favorite part of their jocks strap is an extra feature for enhancing the pouch which will rock the manliness through your pants like a pro!

The overall word on Avaj jockstrap is that these bulge makers are something every bloke should own in their underwear collection.They come in 5 colours – Jet Black, Snow White, Potent Purple, Blue Sapphire, Spirit Turquoise and we were psyched to hear that even more options are to come. Our man package has fallen in love with them and we hope your’s will, too!

Don’t forget to share your jockstrap inspo’s through #Jocktober over your social medias!

We always bang on about how you should treat your chap and balls, the way our lass’ treat their boobs. Look after your manhood and it will be good to you! 

We’ve covered a lot of underwear brands and all for different occasions. Take a look at some of our other articles here: Men’s Underwear.