What You'll Need
The Bike - how fat is your wallet? Buy from
a specialist bike shop where the staff should ask you what you
intend to do with it and ensure that you get one that fits (watch
out for your first bike being too big - you should be able to
stand astride it with a couple of inches clearance). Generally
speaking you'll add hundreds of pounds to the price just to
save a couple of pounds in weight. However expensive bikes are
like expensive cars, they perform much better. Be warned bikes
cost almost as much to run as cars. Winter conditions are hard
on bikes, suspension and parts.
The Helmet - a requirement for racing and
a sensible thing for riding in traffic and in the hills ...
but the choice is yours. Heads are heavy and they always seem
to be attracted to something hard in a crash.
The Map - Ever since the day I happened
upon a naked mountain biker on the moors I've put the map above
clothes in my list of requirements.
Where to Ride - Bikes are allowed on
bridleways, RUPP's (roads used as public paths) and BOAT's (byways
open to all traffic) but not on public footpaths. Get your local
Ordenance Survey map and figure out some good loops - you'll
be amazed with what you find. It's also worth checking your
local definitive map as sometimes, as in my own area, many footpaths
are actually bridleways. Tourist information offices often have
local ride leaflets, which can be useful if tracks in your area
happen to get upgraded in status.
Clothes - out with the wallet again. If
you go into the hills or mountains be prepared for the conditions.
Remember if you crash and get injured your body temperature
will drop quickly, since you're likely to be pretty sweaty.
A windproof cape or waterproof is the minimum extra layer you
should take. (link to other sections of Blue Dome). Cycling
shorts are a must for your backside ... and yes you don't wear
anything underneath. Several of the clothing manufacturers make
clothes especially for mountain biking, that'll handle mud,
keep you warm and attempt to wick away some of the copious amounts
of sweat you'll produce. Follow the layer principle.
Shoes - There are shoes for racing and leisure,
the latter tending to have more tred and be easier to walk in.
Thankfully they are also usually cheaper than their lighter,
stiffer racing counterparts. Both will usually take cleats for
clipless pedal systems if you wish.
Other Stuff - Maybe you'll need a bum bag
or small rucsac, some allen keys, pump, spare tube, tyre levers,
small saddle pouch, mudguards or Crud Catcher, a lock, some
lube (for your bike and perhaps your bum!), a water bottle and
maybe even a computer (just so you know how far you haven't
gone and in case you want to e-mail us).
The list is endless, but at the end of the
day just get out there an have fun.