Bike, body and kit

Even if you are just planning to ride and enjoy the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge with plenty of calm training, part of the challenge of this race is the fact that it’s not quick, nor easy.

Here’s some important hints to help you conquer #CC2017:

Bike:

Making sure that you can stand over the bike’s top tube with your feet on the ground and a bit of a gap to your crotch is simple, but over time a bike that really suits your body, riding style and goals can make you even more efficient, comfortable and quick. If you have bought a fancy bike, the shop might have tried to set it up comfortably to look awesome on your Twitter and Facebook posts, but if you have just been encouraged to ride and a friend or family member donated or loaned you a bike that’s not an absolutely perfect size; don’t panic yet.

Because your legs do most of the work, positioning the saddle correctly is the most important aspect of your bike setup. READ HERE for a detailed description about getting that done like a professional.

It may also help to get someone who is experienced to take a look at your position and offer some advice, but if you are struggling with numb feet or hands, a neck that feels stiff, or a sore back, you really need to get this sorted.

One of the most popular bicycle setup facilities in Joburg is Cycle Fit. Arran Brown established this service in 2005, and since he won the Cycle Challenge, Cape Cycle Tour and Amashova Classic in one year, has the expertise to offer this advice.Another good option might be to join one of the Cycle Lab clubs. Bike fit technology is one of the services offered, and you will also be able to enjoy professionally organised group rides, and discounts from a huge number of well supplied shops. You can find more information about this on cyclelab.com.

Maintaining your bike:

Not even a fancy bike will survive if you don’t maintain it regularly, but you don’t need to panic about this if you are not a technical expert. As long as you clean the bike regularly, and check the A,B,C before every ride it should work comfortably until it is time to book it in for a proper service. - ‘A’ refers to the air required for proper tyre pressure, and it is also a good idea to just check that the quick-release levers or thru axels that fasten the wheels to the frame are tightened properly while you are there.

- ‘B’ refers to the brakes, which you just need to squeeze to make sure that they grip properly, whether you have rim brakes or disc brakes.

- ‘C’ refers to the chain which you need to lubricate regularly, because this is the device that links the chainring at the front end of your drivetrain to the gear cassette and derailleur at the back. This will help you to pedal comfortably and shift the gears easily, but a chain that is too wet will collect dirt and then it will have the opposite effect, so ‘C’ also includes cleaning the bike regularly.

Need to know how to lube your bike? Watch here.

Body and kit

Not even a well-maintained bike can always prevent numb feet, sulky legs or sore fingers, and now your body might want some clothes to help it work happily.

You probably don’t need to be convinced that padded cycling shorts are useful, but as you push up the distance it’s worth having a look at different brands. We all know the lycra fabric offers stretch to keep your moving legs comfortable, but the number of panels can affect comfort, and there are many different crotch pad shapes and thicknesses to choose from while they all reduce friction, prevent the growth of bacteria and wick moisture.

Shoes that don’t fit properly can actually cause lower extremity numbness that affects much more than your feet, so this deserves extra attention. Because they are made rigid to help you pedal efficiently, it is not a good idea to just check the colour and size when you choose cycling shoes. You also need to make sure that the width and height works for you because they don’t stretch. This is particularly important if you have high arches.

Although you might not want one that fits quite as tight as a skinny professional rider’s cycling shirt, these garments work hard to keep you comfortable on the bike. The synthetic fabric will wick sweat off your body, and you can pull the zip down if you are still battling with heat, but the high collar will protect your neck from the sun. While the front is shorter, the rear is long enough to keep you looking decent despite leaning forward, and the pockets on the back offer a safe place to carry quite a few things with easy access.

Here’s a detailed article about what to look for when choosing shorts, shirts, helmets, gloves and cycling socks that seem very expensive until you experience the pleasure of not getting blisters. If you don’t have a favourite bike shop nearby, but now know what you need to buy, you can shop online at Cycle Lab, or Google online stores.

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