Last week I hoped to quash some of the more popular excuses for not cycling. This week I plan to give a few tips to
help you get the most out of your first few cycling expeditions, before you can think of any more excuses!
First of all, in these days of wide-spread litigation, I have to tell you that if you haven’t done any exercise recently, it’s probably a wise idea to visit your GP to check that you’re up to it.
A little preparation is a good idea. Firstly yourself; as I mentioned last week, a complete lycra outfit is not necessary, shorts or something similar is fine, many people buy baggy shorts with padded inserts or even wear lycra shorts underneath.
Don’t forget that if you’re going for the padded option it has to be worn straight onto the flesh, no undercrackers! The reason for this, is that any damage done is usually caused by the material creasing up and chafing. Sorry if that’s too much information.
Whatever you do, don’t wear jogging bottoms, at worst they get caught in the chain and at best they get covered in oil. On your top half wear something that wicks moisture, if possible, and cover that with a thin windproof jacket, ideally something with a zip,so that you can regulate the temperature.
If it looks like rain, swop that for a waterproof, but don’t forget that you generate a lot of heat cycling, so a breathable jacket is best. Personally I always wear a cycle helmet, modern helmets are light and airy, and you soon forget that you’ve got one on.
On a more disturbing note, I believe that not wearing a helmet is often cited as contributory negligence in some court cases. Finally, it’s better to wear a shoe with a stiff sole when cycling because it doesn’t waste your effort as much as a trainer with a shock-absorbing sole would.
Next the bike. Here we assume that your bike hasn’t spent most of the last year out in the back garden at the mercy of the elements and those lovely salty south westerlies that we enjoy in Jersey. If it has, it’s probably very rusty and in need of urgent attention. I
f it has been kept inside, simply check that the brakes work properly and that the brake blocks have enough material left. Pump the tyres and check that they aren’t perished, and that the inner tubes are still airtight. Get someone to hold the back wheel off the ground while you turn the pedals and run through the gears. Check that the wheels turn smoothly without catching on anything. Finally make sure that all nuts and bolts are tight. If in any doubt, visit your favourite bike shop.
You are now ready. Next week, where, when and how often.
Braking (hard) News
British Standard for locks and cycle parking racks?
London cycle campaign group Southwark Cyclists are pressing for British Standards to be applied to cycle locks and cycle parking racks. While there are 27,000 British Standards already for other products, these two cycling essentials are not covered. At present, the only standard for locks is the ?Sold Secure? accreditation. To attain this standard, manufacturers have to submit, and pay for, the testing of their locks. It’s felt that modern thieves are using equipment that doesn’t appear in ?Sold Secure?s testing, such as bottle jacks and 36? bolt cutters .
Decathlon postpones bike production
Because of overstocking, industry giant Decathlon is putting on hold its plans to open a cycle production plant at Lille in France. At last week’s Tapei Show, other mass marketeers such as Halfords, Walmart, as well as Decathlon, were claiming that sales of low end bikes were poor. All these companies said that they still had large numbers of bikes in stock, and they were asking for their Far Eastern suppliers to suspend further deliveries until the beginning of summer. A the end of 2008, Decathlon had a million bikes in stock!
Ladies – Important cycle ride coming up? Nothing to wear?
Then check out the range of cycling products from Cyclodelic, which is being launched in early April at Topshop in Oxford Street. Run by ex London College of Fashion student Amy Fleuriot, and textile graduate Sarah Buck, they aim to mix fashion with function. The range includes cycling capes, caps, bags and lock holders.
Cheaper than a cycle lock? I don’t think so. I noticed that you can now buy ‘rust/scratched’ effect stickers on the internet. The idea is that, hopefully, these will make your bike look so worthless that no one will consider pinching it. I like the idea, but realistically, the best bike lock that you can afford is the route to go.
• Arthur Lamy is the manager of Boudins for Bikes, in Sand Street, and author of Jersey Cycles. He has spent 15 years as a tourist guide and writer, and is also a keen photographer. More information can be found on his website: www.arthurlamy.com/