Welcome to Max's Guide to Cycling For N00bs, part 1. Everything you're about to read is purely my opinion. There might be some factual stuff thrown in there as well. See if you can tell what's fact and what's not
To cycle, the minimalist needs only three things:
- A willingness to ride.
- A bike with a working bell (a bell is a legal requirement in most states).
- A helmet (so is this). Some people think helmets are uncool. I think brain damage is uncool. The right helmet can both a) protect one's noggin and b) lend coolness to its wearer.
Everything else is an added bonus. People who say cycling is an expensive sport are obviously not minimalists. "But Max", I hear you say, "although a minimalist only needs those things, surely there's stuff I, a non-minimalist, should have?" I'm glad you asked. Non-minimalists should consider the following additions to their cycling paraphernalia:
- A water bottle and associated water bottle cage. Whilst water is not an absolute requirement (in that you can technically ride without it), please consider it a 99.999% requirement. Dehydration is not cool. You may also hear water bottles referred to as "bidons". This is not to be confused with a "bidet". Whilst a bidet also contains water, I'd recommend against drinking from it.
- Cycling shorts, commonly known as "knicks". These are typically made from stretchy fabric such as lycra, and have some padding in the crotch and bum area.
- Cycling jerseys. Unlike the average T-shirt, these are made of wicking material that draws sweat away from the body, making for a more comfortable, cooler ride.
- A small saddle bag that contains, as a minimum, a multi-tool set, a spare tube, some tyre levers and some cash. The cash will get you home if the toolkit, tube and tyre levers can't.
- Glasses. Some people enjoy having dried-out eyeballs filled with dust and bugs, squinting into an unrelenting sun. These carefree souls ride around aimlessly, with not a care in the world, crashing blindly into obstacles they would've seen had their eyes been appropriately protected. Make sure you're not one of those people.
- A small pump, or a CO2 inflator. Having replaced a damaged tube with the spare you keep in your saddle bag, you will need some means of inflation. Small hand-operated pumps can do the job, and will at the very least give you enough air pressure to limp your bike home. CO2 inflators will get the tube fully inflated without the need for bicep-building pump operations.
- If you intend to ride in low-light conditions, proper illumination is absolutely essential. It is a) a legal requirement and b) life-saving. Don't leave home without decent lights.
- Lip balm. Closely related to the glasses, lip balm will help prevent you looking like a split-lipped street brawler, or, possibly, a nomadic camel-riding desert dweller. If you are either of these things, well and good. If you are not, do yourself a favour and apply some lip balm. Your lips, not to mention those whose lips you kiss, will be forever grateful.
- A cycling computer. This will help you record all-important information like how far you've gone (more specifically, how far you have to ride to get back home), how fast you've gone, your average speed etc.
I can hear howls of protest already. All this gear sounds expensive, doesn't it? Well.. some of it is. But the good news is that it's not absolutely necessary. You don't have to buy it all at once (if at all), and not having it won't prevent you from riding. But having some (or all) of this stuff will greatly enhance your riding pleasure.
Stay tuned for future instalments of MGTCFN, in which I expand on all of these points individually.