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The Benefits Of Cycling Clothing

There are a lot of myths around cycling clothes. Those at the top of the list come from people who don’t ride or are just getting started. As a new cyclist you might have subscribed to some of the notions that bicyclers wear tight clothes to get that extra fraction of a mile of speed. Or that we all wear bright colored clothing because we want people to look at us. In a sense that’s correct. Nobody wants to get hit by a vehicle and if a brightly colored shirt, or jersey, reduces that possibility then it’s all worth it. Well, that and a few more reasons all of which have benefits you might not have realized. Below are some of the most basic items that you will find in most avid cyclers arsenal.

jerseyJerseys are made of a wicking material typically consisting of polyester. The material doesn’t allow sweat to gather and soak the garment like a tshirt or similar garment. Sweat gets dispersed quickly and dries quickly allowing you to stay more comfortable to concentrate on your ride. Almost every jersey also has pockets in the back. These pockets are for snacks and food like gels, bananas, and power bars. These items are easily accessed by simply reaching around your back while you’re cycling providing necessary fuel to keep adding miles or maintaining speeds. Other items like cell phones or media players can also be stored in the jersey pockets. They’re your pockets, fill them up with whatever you like.

Some considerations when purchasing a jersey would be whether or not you need long sleeves or short sleeves. Typically the long sleeves would be for the cooler days and at least one of each is a good idea in most climates. You can easily stuff a short sleeve jersey into the back pocket of your long sleeve jersey just in case you get too warm. Ventilation can also be enhanced on a jersey via a zipper. Many jersey’s have no zipper so there is no option for increasing the amount of airflow. However there are a large assortment of jerseys that offer half zippers as well as full zippers. If you tend to heat up quickly you will most certainly appreciate a jersey with a zipper to moderate the air flowing around your upper body.

Jerseys come in several fits. While some are tight others are relaxed offering more room. Let’s face it not everybody that rides a bike is in great shape. A relaxed fit jersey is better for someone who is looking to lose a few inches around the waist or for someone who has broad shoulders or a large upper body. When you get down to the nitty gritty each jersey fit is specified so whether it’s a casual commute everyday or a weekend club ride you can find a jersey that suits your riding style.

A few final considerations are colors. SPF ratings and reflective piping. Today’s color options range from black to neon green for high visibility. The hi-viz jerseys have become very popular especially for those who commute in the city. SPF ratings are in place and noted on some garments for those who are concerned about the sun and generally begin around an SPF rating of 25. And the reflective piping is usually subtle on each jersey but serves it’s purpose in low light conditions.

cycling-shortsThe biggest hurdle for riders looking to make this first purchase of cycling shorts is getting over the thought of wearing them. And quite frankly you don’t need them. In fact none of this cycling clothing is absolutely necessary. But they are designed to make your time in the saddle more enjoyable and comfortable. And being comfortable means you can spend more time on the bike and that is the goal for most cyclists. If you have reservations about wearing the clothing you will most likely forget about it once you’re on the road. If you’re still hesitant then try a pair of cycling shorts underneath your regular shorts to build your confidence.

What you don’t readily see in a pair of shorts is the biggest advantage. Padding. In each pair of riding shorts you will find what is called a chamois. In simple terms it’s a padding sewn into the shorts that protect your private areas and buttocks. This little advantage will help transform that 10 mile brutal ride into 20 miles of leisure especially if you’re new to the sport. We’ve all felt the pain of being saddle-sore at one time or another. A pair of cycling shorts won’t eliminate all of the stress, only hours on the bike will condition your body properly, but a pair of well padded shorts will absolutely relieve some of those pressure points.

Cycling shorts don’t really offer a ton of options. There are different cuts such as a style made for the tri-athlete all of which are similar to the jersey’s wicking properties. Different colors are available but typically you will find black is predominant. Some offer compression in the legs for added support and leg grippers which keep the shorts in place on your legs as you pedal. Padding can be found in wicking material and gels.

headsweatsBesides the helmet of course there are other forms of headwear. Some are designed to keep the melon warm in colder weather and other designs are meant to keep the head cool. So to speak.

Because most of the population starts mashing pedals when the weather heats up you can imagine they feel the heat. And that’s where the rest of the headwear comes into play. We’re all familiar with headbands and their potential to catch sweat. They work well but a big bulky terry cloth headband under a helmet really isn’t that comfortable. Besides, once the headband soaks with sweat it ceases to work properly.

In today’s market headbands and skull caps are made of material that catches the sweat and then wicks it away. In other words the sweat is dispersed quickly and evaporated. Of course nothing will stop you from sweating but for those who battle the heat these little inexpensive options are more than welcome. And these caps and headbands aren’t limited to cycling so you can really get your money from this multi-use product around the yard or a brisk walk during the mid-day sun.

raingearWhen it comes to rain gear don’t skimp on your budget here. While you might rarely ever use your rain gear you want it to perform when it’s needed and it takes up very little room in your packs or bags. Good cycling rain gear keeps out the rain and wind while the material breathes. Without the proper material your body heat would be trapped beneath the rain gear and instead of being wet with rain you would be soaked with sweat. Not a great choice. Another great option of rain gear is it’s high visibility. Keep in mind that during a storm you will most likely encounter low-light conditions. The added visibility will help keep you safe.

Some added considerations you might not realize is besides the jacket and pants you need to protect your head, hands, and feet. Imagine, pouring rain and you have the jacket and pants but the rain is running right through the ventilation of your helmet, down the back of your neck, and down your back. Not good. Wet feet, not good and very uncomfortable. And while you could certainly get along with wet hands it makes little sense if you’re protecting the rest of your body.

Rain doesn’t need to keep you at home. With the proper gear you can be equipped to take on the elements.

short-finger-glovesCycling gloves are another product that the non-cycling crowd typically view as another vain item worn by those who want to be different. And again, this small affordable item can make a huge difference but without giving them a try, you’ll never know or understand.

Cycling gloves come in many different styles. Warm weather and cold weather gloves. Short finger and full finger. Gel and padding. And you could jump right into a bunch of options but the end result is some sort of protection for the hands. Many people suffer from numbness or even pain in the hands and wrist. While it’s not always the case, this discomfort can be caused by nerves experiencing the pressure of many miles gripping the handlebars. The ability to adjust your hands goes a long way towards alleviating the problem and the gloves are added comfort. The padding in gloves varies substantially in both quantity and placement so shop around before you buy your first pair.