Following on from our previous article "5 beginner tips for newbie road cyclists: Bike setup", here are some more tips for newbie road cyclists - this time to help you look good!
1. Wearing your helmet
It's great that you're wearing a helmet in the first place, but it helps to wear it correctly. Most helmets have an adjustment system to make the fit smaller or larger given your head size. But try and wear your helmet level, that is, not over your eyes or down your neck. When you put your helmet on, make sure you can fit two fingers between your eyebrows and the helmet nose. You should be able to see the front of your helmet while you ride - something you might not be used to.
They may be mountain bikers, but they are displaying two ways to wear socks, both well above the ankle. Photo: Sonya Looney / Flickr
2. Cycling kit fit
Lycra is in no way flattering - so just wear it with pride. No matter your shape, wearing lycra that fits snuggly is best. Having a cycling top flapping in the wind can become quite irritating. This becomes especially apparent when you put stuff in your rear pockets, and your top sags down over your bum. Wear it tight, and you'll look alright! When it comes to cycling shorts, having the seam stop a hands width away from your kneecap is best. This ensures your cycling shorts are long enough to prevent your thighs from chafing on your saddle.
3. Sock height
This one is a confusing topic - most cyclists just copy their Tour De France idols, including their sock height. But there is real method to the madness... Wearing a slightly taller sock means you keep your achilles tendons warmer, reducing the chance of suffering from tendon problems such as tendonitis. The other benefit is that your socks won't slide down into your shoe while you ride. You'll also look the part, so why not?! (Tall socks also make your calves look bigger. Important when psyching out your riding mates.)
4. Pocket packing
When you start doing longer rides, you'll also start carrying more stuff. From extra spares to much needed food for the ride; it all adds weight to your top and pulls your clothing lopsided if you don't balance your load. Try packing spares in the middle pocket, such as a tube and pump. Then put an equally balanced weight into each of the side pockets. Maybe a banana in each side, a muesli bar in each side, and your phone in the middle with your spares. This means your top stays straight, and you can access your food while you ride.
Remember to check your cleats for wear every six months. Photo: Road Cycling UK
5. New cleats
Once every six months, you'll want to check your cleats for wear. Flip your shoes over and check the plastic cleats for wear. You don't have to be an expert, but if they look worn then consider replacing them. This will mean your pedal will engage with the cleat better, and will prevent your feet from moving around too much while you ride.
So there you have it, no excuse to look like a novice next time you ride. Keep in mind that there is a functional benefit to each of these points, so don't think of these tips are purely aesthetics based. It helps to look the part, and it makes your riding more comfortable and safer!