Technique and bike positionTechnique and bike position
Bike maintenanceBike maintenance
The most important factors when considering what clothing to wear when cycling are both comfort and practicality. Keeping warm in the winter and cool in the summer are also important considerations and cycling clothes generally contain specific materials for this

A more breathable material is used for summer jerseys and many of these jerseys have the option of a full zip for added ventilation. In the winter thermal and wind-stopper garments are probably the most popular choices for keeping warm.

Cycling shorts are the most important and possibly the only absolutely essential item of clothing required for cycling. A good pair of cycling shorts with a padded insert will help eliminate saddle soreness and allow the rider to cycle happily all day if necessary.

There are many types of cycle shorts such as baggy shorts with an internal padded chamois liner worn by mountain bikers, slim fitting Lycra models and cheaper padded under shorts that fit with any pair of loose fitting pants.

It may be wise to try as many styles of bike shorts as possible before purchasing in order to get the best fit as everyone’s tastes and requirements are different and what fits one person perfectly can be very uncomfortable for another. The most effective way to stay warm and dry when cycling is to use layers. As you get warmer layers can be removed to stay comfortable.

The first and most important step in choosing a bike is identifying what kind of cycling you want to do and how often you intend to use the bike.

There are four main types of bike:racing bike galway

• road bikes;

• mountain bikes;

• hybrids; and

• folding bikes.


Road bikes These have drop handlebars and are faster on the road. The position of the rider is lower than on a mountain bike and these bikes are generally used for competitive cycling although there are some exceptions. They are designed to handle smoothly, climb and accelerate rapidly and corner at speed. There are two main types of road bikes: Touring bikes Touring bikes are designed for carrying luggage and for providing comfort during a long day in the saddle. Touring bikes are equipped with a wide range of gears to cope with carrying extra weight and particularly when cycling in the hills. They have a more relaxed riding position and are more comfortable than competitive racing bikes.

Racing bikes are designed for competition as the position is more stretched than on a touring bike. Racing bikes are kept as light as possible for climbing and the stiff frame ensures that the rider’s power output is maximised. Road bikes generally come with either a double or triple chain ring at the front but most race bikes have just the double chain ring. If you are planning on carrying loads, riding a lot of hills or just doing some general fitness a triple chain ring allows you a wider range of Equipment 6 7 gears which makes cycling on steeper hills that bit easier.

Mountain bikes are designed to handle all types of terrain but are much slower than road bikes. There are two main types of mountain bikes: Cross-country Cross-country mountain bikes are also known as hard tails. These only have front suspension and are typically lighter making climbing easier. These bikes have less travel than the full suspension bikes as the emphasis is on speed not comfort. Full suspension Full suspension bikes are, as the name implies, fitted with suspension on both the front and rear. These are intended for heavy usage and more extreme trail riding and downhill racing. Full suspension can make the experience more comfortable and more exciting. It allows you to push your technical skills further. Mountain bike suspension has been designed to absorb the shocks from riding over uneven terrain. It aids traction over difficult loose surfaces and helps you to control the bike.

Hybrid bikes A cross between a road bike and a mountain bike is the hybrid. These generally have flat handlebars, a wide range of gears, 700c road sized wheels and wide tyres. This makes the hybrid a good choice for allround cycling and they can be used on both roads and on cycle trails. These bikes are the most popular for commuting as the upright position gives you a clear view of the road and the flat bars inspire confidence in traffic, and promote good bike control. Hybrids are also ideal for leisure and fitness cycling as the lower gears allow you to tackle gradients at your own pace and the position means that they are comfortable for all levels of cyclist. 6 7 Folding bikes Folding bikes are designed for commuters who use their bike in combination with a train, car or bus. They are designed for cycling shorter distances and the emphasis is on ease of folding and lightweight frame, as opposed to speed and comfort.

Modern folding bikes can be equipped with up to ten gears or more and have a proper cycling position so feel natural to ride. They can be folded into a carrying position within seconds. They are also becoming increasingly popular with urban living where storage may be a problem, as folding bikes take up a fraction of the space of normal bikes.

The importance of having the correct bike position Under the control of an experienced cyclist a bicycle can cover hundreds of miles in a day and can reach speeds of up to 80kms on downhill stretches.

The bicycle is one of the most efficient machines invented, but this efficiency can be greatly reduced if the cyclist adopts the wrong bike position. Getting your position right before you start cycling can make a real difference to your comfort. More importantly it can prevent injury and ensure that as much of your energy goes into forward motions as possible.

Saddle height The correct way to set this position is by putting your heel on the pedal while it is as far from the saddle as is possible, with the crank arm in line with the seat tube. This is best done in soled shoes or socks. The correct height is found when your leg is fully extended. You need to make sure that the saddle is level and that your hips are not being rolled from one side of the saddle to the other. On putting your foot in the correct position on the pedal (with the ball over the axle) your leg should have a noticeable bend at the bottom of the pedal stroke. It is worth doing this with the saddle positioned quite far back in the seat post as being too far forward will put too much weight on your hands.

Saddle position By positioning the saddle further towards the back wheel, you are able to bring the larger muscle groups into play. saddle positionYou will also find that you are able to spread your weight more evenly between the saddle, pedals and handlebars. As your arms will be stretching towards the handlebars, pushing your rear end backwards it will keep your body balanced, helping you to control your bicycle, and protecting your neck, 18 19 shoulders, arms and hands from stress. If you find that you are having to stretch too far to reach the handlebars, especially if you feel forced to drop your head, you may need to fit a smaller handlebar stem, or at worst, your bicycle may be either too big or the wrong style for you.

Handlebar position The correct handlebar position is a vital component in ensuring comfort, strong aerodynamics, control and efficiency. By having your handlebars high, you are transferring more of your weight onto the saddle area. What may feel more comfortable on a shorter cycle may prove to be less so after 20 to 30 minutes. In addition, by sitting more upright you will need to work harder to push you and your bike along, and you will be less able to use your arms and legs to absorb bumps or vibrations. If you only do short rides then set the handlebars wherever you feel comfortable. For longer or more energetic cycling it becomes more important to find an efficient balanced position. At first you should try to avoid having the handlebars higher than the saddle, but as you gain fitness and experience you will normally benefit from lowering the height of your bars slightly. For road bikes with drop handlebars you should start with the bars around 2-5cm below the saddle.

Foot position The best way to find the correct angle for your feet is to sit on the edge of a table with your feet loosely hanging down and note the degree to which your feet point in or out. You may find that you will be able to replicate this position more easily with proper cycling shoes. These will also help your pedalling efficiency as they have a firm sole which will not bend or squash as you pedal. You should aim to have the ball of your foot more or less over the pedal axle.

Keeping your bike in good working order is important for your safety. It’s also smart because regular maintenance can save you money by preventing bigger problems. Plus, it gives you more time on the bike and less time in the repair shop.

Maintenance and servicing A clean, well maintained bike is a pleasure to ride. Regular cleaning and maintenance will influence how long components last and help them to function to their optimum. Cleaning After regular use a weekly clean ensures that dirt and grime never build up on your bike. If carried out regularly it will take a lot less time and ensure your bike remains in good working order. Regardless of the type of bike you have the basic principals of cleaning generally remain the same. The majority of your efforts should be focused on the chain, cassette, chain rings and rear derailleur (jockey wheels). This area is constantly moving and will lead to excessive wear if not cleaned regularly.

The chain should be thoroughly cleaned before lubricating otherwise the dirt will simply combine with lubricant and leave you with a thick, black mess. This will wear away your chain and sprockets at an alarming rate. There are numerous tools and cleaning products available from any good bike shop to make cleaning your bike simpler and faster. Invest in a good set of brushes. This should include a wide, soft brush for cleaning large areas, a stiffer brush is good for working round rims and tyres and smaller brushes for getting into tight spaces. Cleaning products break down the grime on your bike and allow it to be washed off more easily.

Chain cleaners are small devices that attach to the chain and when used with degreaser 20 21 remove the majority of dirt making the job much easier. Water soluble degreasers can be rinsed off with plain water to remove any residue. Any degreaser left behind on the chain after cleaning will begin to break down the new oil that is applied. It is strongly recommended that household or car cleaning products are not used for cleaning your bike as these can contain strong cleaning agents that can harm paintwork and cause loss of performance. ‘Bike specific’ cleaning products help protect the components of the bike. After cleaning it is vital that you dry and lubricate your bike. Chain lube comes in many different forms.

Modern oils are synthetic and generally Teflon-based and are either dry lube, which prevents the chain picking up grit, or wet lube. Any good bike shop can recommend a lubricant best suited for the type of cycling you do. Road bikes typically use a Teflon-based lubricant while mountain bikes will require a heavier lubricant to cope with mud.

General maintenance The majority of people just want to jump on their bike and ride but for your own safety and to keep your bike in good working order, it’s important that you perform some simple checks frequently.

1. Wheels and tyres Check your tyres to make sure they are properly inflated. You should also conduct a visual check of the tyre to ensure there are no cracks, tears or holes. The wheels should be checked to ensure the nuts or quick release mechanisms that hold your wheels in place are tight. If the wheel is out of alignment you should visit your local bike shop to conduct a repair.

2. Brakes Cables should be checked to ensure there are no problems with fraying or stretched cables. Squeeze your brake levers to make sure that they apply enough pressure to stop your bike. The brake pads in the front and back should also be checked to ensure they are correctly 20 21 aligned on the rim. If your brake pads are squeezing the tyres when applied, not only can it wear or damage your sidewalls, but it can also cause an accident.

3. Seat post and handle bar stem Check to make sure that your handle bars and stem are fastened tightly and that your saddle is at the correct height.

4. Helmet A helmet is a good addition to your cycling accessories. This should be checked frequently to ensure there are no cracks on the outer shell or inner surface. The helmet should fit snugly and the straps should be adjusted to ensure a tight fit. A common mistake is to wear a helmet that rides up too high, which won’t protect your forehead in the event of an accident.

5. Chain and gears The last thing to check is that your chain turns cleanly through your front and rear sprockets and doesn’t rub against the front or rear derailleur. You can do this as you pedal when you first set off. At the same time, quickly run your bike through its range of gears to make sure there are no problems with rough shifting, chain slippage etc., and that the drive train is free from excessive grime and doesn’t need lubrication.

Cycling has many health benefits that can be built into your everyday life. As little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can help improve and maintain good health, also reducing the risk of serious health conditions.

Training for cycling can be undertaken at various levels of intensity based on the capabilities of the cyclist in question. It is important to gradually increase levels of training and to be patient with the results. The worst mistake a cyclist can make is to do too much too soon; it is very important that the body is given adequate time to recover after training cycles. When you’ve performed a hard training ride, your body will have to recover before it gets stronger.

How much time you need for recovery depends on the type of training and your overall fitness and nutritional status. There are also some other factors that influence your recovery time, but to begin with it is important to know that hard training takes more time to recover from than light training.

When you have trained for a while you start to notice that your legs feel sore the day after a hard training spin and might feel fresh the day after a light training session. To get the best level of progression you will need to find a good combination of training sessions and recovery

Energy for training The key to getting the energy you need for training is to get the most from the food you eat. A specialised training diet is not necessarily needed but a healthy balanced diet will help you get the most back from your hard work.

The foods mentioned in the food pyramid below are all important. For a balanced diet, the important thing is to eat food at each level in the right proportion. The largest section at the bottom of the pyramid includes pasta, wholemeal bread, potatoes, rice and cereals. The smallest section at the top includes food high in fat, sugar and oil. These are the foods that should be kept to a minimum.

Tips for healthy eating in training When in training it is important that the foods at the bottom of the pyramid make up at least half of your daily intake and are the basis for your main meals. These are the foods that will give you the energy for training. It is extremely important that a cyclist eats regularly when in training or when preparing for a particular event. Imagine a steam train: to travel fast, you need to refuel frequently. If you let the fuel levels in the train’s boiler drop too low the train will grind to a halt.

The quality of the food you eat is also important. Only the best of fuel will do and 30 31 anything less will lead to a reduced performance