So, you’ve taken the plunge.

Perhaps it was a New Year’s resolution to get fit? Maybe an office challenge? A drunken bet? A twinge of charity conscience? Or just the good old fashioned spirit of adventure. You’ve signed up to lose your cycling event virginity this summer.

And it’s suddenly looming rather large in the calendar. Spring has sprung, and that sportive’s potentially only few weeks away. All seems a bit forbidding, doesn’t it? And it probably feels like everyone else doing it is a seasoned pro?

Don’t panic. You’ll be just fine. You’re in good company as a first timer. The chances are you’ll get to the end feeling invigorated, proud, fit and looking for the sign up clipboard for the next one. For so many women, this point marks the start of a lifetime of wonderful cycling experiences.

Let’s face it, you’re already perfectly capable of riding a bike. You’ll hopefully be gaining experience and confidence with each outing. And sportives are generally well signposted, with plenty of food and water at regular feedstops.

So one of the most open questions can often be: what the heck do I wear?!

It’s easy to be intimidated by apparently experienced cyclists who look like they came out of the womb in lycra.

But shhh… whisper it: a lot of it’s just bluff.

There’s a little seam of snobbery that runs through cycling and it’s easy to be intimidated by it.

Don’t be. Most cyclists are an open-minded and cheerful bunch who recognise that the crucial thing is that you’re enjoying it in your own way.

So here are our top tips on what to wear:

  1. Start with your bottom:  if you’re doing more than a few miles, you’ll need padding. This doesn’t have to mean traditional cycling shorts, if you don’t fancy them. There are modest calf-length ones, flatteringly cut ones that don’t dig into your thighs, and even ‘skorts’ – shorts covered with a skirt. Take your pick and you won’t regret the padding.
  2. Layer up:  it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that the early morning sunshine’s set in for the day. Always take a waterproof, and preferably one that squashes down relatively small, in case you never need it. Even if it doesn’t rain, you might appreciate the protection from the wind once you start perspiring. A base layer can also help regulate your temperature under a jersey.
  3. Arm warmers:  we swear by them. Start your ride wearing them and you’ll have the option to peel them off as soon as you warm up. They take up almost no space to store and make a surprising difference to your temperature.
  4. If the cap fits:  cycling caps are ingenious. On a cold day they give you an extra layer under your helmet. On a wet day, the rain will run off the peak, not into your eyes. On a hot day, run your cap under a tap to soothe that overheated melon. Plus they look really cool.
  5. Colour matching:  don’t feel guilty for wanting to look good out there. There are so many styles and designs available that you can even match your bike frame. We even have a colour filter search on our shopping pages. Equally, don’t feel obliged to put on a fashion show. Nobody worthwhile will judge you.
  6. Cover your eyes:  on a long ride, make sure insects, dust, grit, pollen and sunshine don’t spoil your ride. Whatever filter lenses you choose, make sure you wear some kind of glasses.
  7. Hold on tight: if you’re not used to long rides, you might wonder: ‘why gloves?’ After 50 miles, you’ll know why. Well padded mitts will save you from blisters and soreness.

Importantly, don’t feel you have to go nuts. If you’re just starting out on your cycling adventure, we’d suggest building on any trusted kit you already have. Once you’re hooked, you’ll find there’s ample temptation to add to it!

Good luck, and enjoy it! And if we can be any help with advice on what might work, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

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