When I first started biking I had to learn the hard way how long cheap gear and accessories last. It was three months when it all started falling apart. Ouch, quite a waste of money when you add it all up, and I have never made that mistake again.
Get Good Gear!
Do your research and try to purchase a good quality bike. Do not rush into a purchase, as you should have your bike for a long time and you need it to fulfill your needs.
Learn about the different styles of bikes, and then start researching brands online. Compare components and get out there to try them. Make sure they fit your body. If you can, ask a friend if you can borrow their bike for a longer test ride.
If you are going to buy used, bring someone along who knows how to tell if the drive train is hooped as overhauling an older bike can sometimes cost the same as a new one. Also, keep those wheels spinning — many bike shops now offer free tune-ups for a year with a bike purchase. It is always in your best interest to try and buy from a shop that you can develop a trusted relationship with.
I have a waterproof breathable outdoor jacket that I use for pretty much everything… until last year, that is, when I tried out my husband’s cycling jacket. I LOVED it! It really is designed for all my cycling needs, kept me cooler yet when it was raining I didn’t feel wet at all. The cut is perfect for the action of cycling. Now, I would not hesitate to purchase a good quality cycling jacket.
Derecho Jacket by Mountain Equipment Coop, $189
Shoes and pedals
For my touring bike I use mountain bike clipless pedals with my Diadora shoes. I have had these shoes for 12 years and they fit me like a glove. They were expensive at $175, 12 years ago, but look how long they have lasted. I will have to replace them soon and am eyeing Diadora’s Escape 2Ws.
ESCAPE 2 W cycling shoes by Diadora
In the pouring rain I use shoe covers, which extend the life of your shoes and keep your feet warm and dry.
For commuting and small errands I use two panniers that are waterproof and have decent capacity. The utilitarian pair I have been using for the past four years are from Axiom and are holding up great.
On my wish list, if a certain husband is reading this, are the beautiful ones designed in Portland by the Queen Bee company.
Gingko Pannier by Queen Bee Creations, $124
There are a multitude of styles, brands and price points out there.
I use a bike trailer that my husband and I designed and built together. We wanted to develop cargo trailers for road use that we would actually test and use, all year around.
My basic kit honed over the years:
Bottoms: In the summer I wear capris or cycling/workout shorts with a sport skirt over top. In the winter I wear tights with waterproof breathable pants.
Tops: In warm weather my choice is long or short sleeve top either cotton or breathable. In the winter a breathable top that keeps me warm but not overheated.
Socks: Purchase breathable cycling socks, you will not be disappointed!
Cycling Hoodie by Riyoku, $59
Helmets and Accessories
I once made the mistake of purchasing a helmet online and go figure, it didn’t fit! Take the time to find a helmet that fits like a glove and is well ventilated.
I have been through dozens of pairs over the years and have found that simple gloves last just as long as the über-expensive gloves.
I tend to avoid gadgets and anything that will distract me from paying attention to the road or trails.
If you ride in the dark you will need a light(s) for your bike. Purchase a flasher for the rear and lights for your handlebars. Even though I took the bus in the winter, I still had to ride home in a rural area with no street lights. I saved several hundred dollars by fashioning several small flashlights onto my handlebars with hose clamps and old inner tube.
*DIY TIP: Use two hose clamps to hold one small, bright, waterproof flashlight in place. Attach one hose clamp to the handlebars leaving some room to weave the other clamp underneath, then attach to the flashlight. Tighten both hose clamps. You can use small strips of inner tube if you find your clamps slipping.
Wear colours and clothing that are visible with some form of reflection. There are many fashionable choices out there. When I am on the highway I have an orange helmet, vest and reflective ankle straps.
You want me to bike, NOW?
If you are interested in getting started in biking for health, to save money on a vehicle, fuel or bus pass, or just to get out there and enjoy this great Fall air, then don’t hesitate!
However, I do have a few thoughts regarding inclement weather.
For me, riding in the rain comes down to three elements; safety, comfort and confidence.
If your gear sucks you will be miserable, bottom line. When I wear waterproof breathable cycling rain gear, gloves and booties then I don’t give the rain a second thought which allows me to build my confidence.
When I am confident riding in the rain, I feel safe. If I start to feel anxiety in traffic during the rain, I actively calm my brain down and regain control, telling myself I have the skills, the gear and confidence to do this. And yes, I do keep telling myself those things over and over like a loop, year after year!
Practicing is key, as little or as much as you want to. The beauty of singular sports such as cycling is feeling tremendously proud of yourself when you recognize small gains. When it is rainy, I personally feel safer riding in the day and putting my bike on the bus in the dark. However, I do live in a rural area so the city is much better lit.
Be careful when braking in the rain, especially the first rain after a dry spell as the oils on the road are reactivated. Practice braking in rain when you are not in traffic.
And, it is very important to be VISIBLE to drivers when it is rainy and a bit dark out there.
Ride safe, everyone.
Kez Sherwood is a regular Jane who really loves her bike. She is an artist & designer living in Gibsons, B.C. with her son Dexter and husband Jeremy. She found that committing to increased cycling was a learning curve and not always easy but worth it.