Written by: Danny Valentin
Now that you’ve found a cycling studio, you need to ask yourself, what do I need to bring? Here are some of the basics.
A Water Bottle With a Straw (or two)
Invest in a water bottle with a straw or a drop cap. Avoid twist tops.The most essential item in cycling is water. Your body needs to hydrate as there is no doubt you’re going to sweat. But many people make some basic mistakes with water. The biggest mistake is they bring a Poland Spring bottle with a twist cap. Try to avoid the bottles with a twist cap. In the midst of cycling, it’s a bit too cumbersome to unscrew the cap, then screw it back on while pedaling your feet 80RPM. Many times I’ve seen the cap fall and go into unforeseen places, then the rider jumps off and begins to look for it, disrupting not only his or her workout, but those around.
Invest in a nice water bottle with a straw. I’m a huge fan of the Motivational Bottle. Contigo Bottles are also nice and are often on sale on meh. Having your own bottle to carry around with you is essential, but truthfully, you should probably have two. For every minute of cycling, you should have at least 1 fluid oz of water. That means riders need anywhere from 45-60 fluid ounces. Make sure you’re hydrating before and after class to replenish and nourish your body.
Luckily there are towels provided for you at Cycle 6. But you are more than welcome to bring your own towel or wash cloth. Most people in a cycling class are going to sweat, so you want sweat to wipe your brow, but you’ll also want to wipe your bike from time to time. Making sure your handlebars are moisture free is a good way to keep you focused and safe.
Women tend to be better at this than men, but make sure you have appropriate attire. Sweatshirts, sweatpants, and loose fitting clothing isn’t for cycling. There’s plenty of nice and appropriate cycling gear. You may even want to invest in cycle shorts. As a man, I usually wear a cycling bib to make sure everything stays where it’s supposed to. The loose mesh shorts are fine to start, but think about upgrading sooner rather than later. Make sure your fabric is breathable. There’s pretty much of a cycle version of everything, including socks.
The Next Level
Once you have your basics, it’s time to start thinking about the other items you may want to acquire to enhance your ride.
I couldn’t ride without cycling shoes. Cycling shoes often clip into the bike and give riders a fuller range of motion while pedaling. While beginning cyclists tend to mash down like the Incredible Hulk, experienced riders make sure they’re sliding back and pulling up with each pedal stroke. The easiest way to make sure you have a full range of motion is through cycling shoes. Furthermore, riders may notice less stress on their ankles and calves. While they’re a costly endeavor, they’re well worth the price. If you mention Cycle 6 at the time of your purchase at Danny’s Cycles in Mohegan Lake, you will receive 10% off your entire purchase (excluding bikes).
I’m a big fan of Shimano shoes. Check Modells or a local cycling store before you go online.
Heart Rate Monitor
Perceived heart rate and actual heart rate are two very different things. The only way to get true bio feedback is through a heart rate monitor. While often times instructors will give clues on perceived heart rate, “maintain a breathy state” or “feel your breath cross threshold” your actual heart rate may vary. For me, when I first start to pedal, my heart rate will immediately surpass 110. During intervals, I often surpass that of 175. After an interval, I often want to rest my heart rate. For me, I want to see numbers around 120, but often times I’ll perceive that I’m resting and when I look at my heart rate I’m still in the 140s.
Getting a heart rate monitor is a good way to keep your body safe, but it’s also a good way to make sure your body knows when and how to rest. Additionally, there are times when I think I’m really working, and I’ll take a look at my heart rate to see it hovering in the low 150s, which means I can definitely kick it up a notch. Bio feedback is essential and many instructors often teach with heart rate goals in mind. Knowing your heart rate will give you a more worthwhile ride as you learn to understand your body.
The Polar FT series is an elite brand of watches.True heart rate monitors will have a strap around the chest. I’m a big fan of the polar watches. Try to avoid products such as Fitbit, which is great as a fitness tracker, but as a heart rate monitor, is questionable.
These are just some of the things to consider as you begin your cycling journey. Good luck and see you in class!