Obviously the most important thing to get into road cycling is a bike but there’s also a few other items that will enhance the experience for any budding roadie, both women and men.
A road bike
You can spend any where from about $800 to $20,000 on a road bike, even cheaper if you opt for a second hand or low quality one. However, like all manufactured items in our modern world, you do tend to get what you pay for, so stretch your budget just a little and you’ll enjoy the riding experience much more. I suggest you consider spending at least $1,500 (that’s Australian dollars) on your first road bike. For that you’ll get an alloy frame and entry level gearing like Shimano Sora and Tiagra or perhaps a mix of Shimano 105 and other options.
My first bike was a Jamis brand bike and cost me around $1,500. It served me well for about two and a half years before I decided to upgrade to a carbon bike. I’ve still got that bike and occasionally ride it out on the road, or more often on my indoor trainer.
When you start looking at road bikes you’ll notice that they don’t come equipped with many accessory items. This is because there are so many options for these extra items that it gives riders the opportunity to choose their own. Therefore you’ll need to factor drink cages, pedals, lights and a computer into your budget.
Pedals are obviously essential and here you’ll have the option of clip-in pedals or flat pedals with toe-clips. I would definitely recommend you go with clip-in pedals from the start but you may find this daunting and choose to go with regular pedals. Read my previous blog post on this subject.
A repair kit is another essential, even if you’re not that confident using it. Those skinny tyres puncture quite easily if you ride through a patch of broken glass or other sharp item on the road so you’ll need to carry a spare tube, tyre levels and either a pump or CO2 applicator and canister to re-inflate your tyre. You can keep these emergency items in either a small bag under your seat (known as a saddle) or a purpose built plastic canister that fits in your drink cage.
Obviously you’ll need a helmet, particularly in Australia where they are compulsory but also advisable particularly if you ride on the road. I would also recommend glasses to protect your eyes, not only from the sun but from insects and road debris. I wear photochromatic cycling glasses which means they go lighter and darker depending on the lighting. You can also get cycling glasses that can have prescription lenses fitted.
Many new cyclists start out riding in loose fitting clothes but invariably end up in lycra within a short time. It’s comfortable, functional and if you choose the right items can even be flattering. So you’ll need knicks (padded lycra cycling shorts)a jersey and gloves. If the weather is cool you’ll also need some longer versions or perhaps arm and leg warmers. You’ll also need shoes, particularly if you decided to go with clip-in pedals.
If you don’t already know other local cyclists then you can try asking in your local bike shops, searching online or even asking other riders who you happen across while riding in your local area or at your post ride café visit.
In NSW where I live there are groups called Bicycle User Groups (BUGs) that cater to entry level riders and welcome new people along. I’m sure there are other similar groups all around the world.
Depending on your skill level you might also consider joining a local bike club like the one I’m a member of, Lidcombe-Auburn Cycling Club (LACC) and there are plenty of others throughout Australia.
For a bit of extra information………
My favourite bike brand Specialized has produced a great little booklet called Cycling Deconstructed for Women which you might also find helpful.