13 Things New Cyclists Wish They Knew

Everyone starts cycling at the same point. In the beginning, you didn't have the foggiest clue of what chamois cream was, what kit to buy and what cycling 'rules' were true or full of rubbish.

To avoid the overwhelming late-night research, we've gathered some of our cycling experience and knowledge into 13 things we wish we'd known at the start...

fat lass at the back women cycling orange yellow jersey cycle wear plus size on bike

Are padded cycling shorts worth it?

A bike ride without padded shorts can be a complete pain in the bum and if you were only going to buy one item of cycle wear, we’d say padded cycling shorts or leggings should probably be it.  

Quality padding will enhance your ride no end and will ensure that your lasting memories of your first few rides are of the fun you had, not the sore bum you had.

The number one job of cycling shorts is to protect the rider from saddle sores, chafing and discomfort by providing a layer of cushioning and support to critical areas of the nether regions. In addition, the fabric on the surface of the pad wicks away moisture and will help to keep your important little places from getting hot and clammy. 

Cycling shorts, tights and leggings are most often made of stretchy Lycra fabric which ensures maximum breathability, moisture wicking and compression as well as stretching in all directions so you get a close fit that moves with you as your best moves during pedalling and in the cycling position.

If you want to know more about cycling shorts, padding for the larger rider and how to get the best fitting padded cycling tights, check out our About Our Gear pages. If you’re sold and want the best for your bum, shop our Men’s and Women’s collections.


Should I wear pants under my cycling shorts?

It may seem weird to go commando but cycling pads are designed to fit next to the skin. This avoids the likelihood of chaffing and also ensures that the wicking fabrics can more effectively transport moisture away from your skin. Most underwear is cotton and this fabric can hold onto moisture leaving you feeling a bit hot and bothered down under. 

Of course, it’s entirely up to you and there are no pant police on patrol, however, we do recommend that you get your pants off for a smoother ride experience. Give it a try – you might like it!


Should I wear a cycling helmet?

It’s an emotive point – some people can’t wear a helmet for religious reasons, some people choose not to but whichever side of the helmet fence you fall on, if you’re wearing a cycling helmet you’ll do a lot less damage to your head.


How many cycling jerseys do I need?

Some say that the more cycling jerseys you have the happier you are. Have a jersey for each day of the week, one for every weather condition and if someone says you can’t, then they clearly haven’t got your best interests at heart.


Does cycling make you ache?

After your first ride or two, your body will be sore, but celebrate the pain! You earned every ouch of it. Keep moving, but take things easy and use the next few days to plan your next two-wheeled adventure. 

group of plus-size cyclists on their bikes in colourful premium cycling jerseys men's and women's cyclewear fat lad at the back fat lass at the back

Do I need to buy bike lights?

If you’re cycling through the winter when dark nights and mornings can creep up on us, lights are essential but they’re also a sensible option for the rest of the year when DRL’s (daytime running lights) will ensure that you are visible to other road users however bright the sunshine. 


Good lights don’t just ensure that you are visible on the road, they also enable you to see far enough in front of you to avoid potholes and obstructions. Our advice is to spend as much as you can on lights based on the conditions and frequency of your riding. You can get some recommendations by asking on our Facebook Forum – lovely people exchanging advice and first-hand experience of all things bike.  

Are there cycling clubs for people like me?

Nothing bonds people together like slogging through a windswept, rainy ride around the local hills. Throw in a few punctures, a near-miss with a herd of cows and some post-ride pints and you’ve got yourself a cracking group of friends for life.


The thought of joining a cycling club can be a bit daunting and in truth, some of them are elite and exclusive BUT it’s still worth reaching out to see what kind of folk frequent your local club. The nice ones usually have starter groups or female-only groups which can make joining a club a lot less scary.


Alternatively, check out our FLAB Social Rides to see if there is a group near you. These informal regular group rides take place across the UK and were established to help members of the FLAB community find people to ride with. They’re volunteer-led and free to join and no matter what your ability, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome! We have a no-drop policy meaning no one gets left behind and we ride at the pace of the slowest. These are social and all-inclusive rides and nearly always involve a cafe or pub stop at some point of the ride. 


Do cyclists always stop at cafes?

If your route doesn’t have a cafe stop, choose a better route. If your cyclist mates don’t want to stop, get some better friends. There’s nothing quite like having a break with a cup of coffee in one hand and a slice of cake in the other. That and the banter are arguably the best part of the ride. 


Is pushing your bike ok?

‘Course it is! Hoping off your bike to walk up a hill is completely OK. It’s no one else’s business how you got up the hill as long as you get there with a smile. Hills get easier and (more enjoyable) over time, trust us, we live in Ilkley and we can only cycle 2 miles before we come to a hill. Plus if you walk up the hills, you'll be able to enjoy the fabulous views at a slower pace. 


Do I need to lock my bike?

The cycling fraternity is generally an honest one, however, bikes are just too easy to nick by passing badun’s so you should take the simple precaution of locking your bike. Plus you’re much more likely to enjoy your pint/cake if you know that your precious bike is safe and secure.


How far should my bike ride be?

When you’re new to cycling it’s easy to be put off or intimidated by what feels like a long distance. We suggest that you forget about the distance and just think about the amount of time you’ll be cycling. Half an hour there and half an hour back seems easily achievable whereas 10 miles might seem completely out of the question! 

For your first few rides pick a length of time that suits you, not a distance, then once you’ve built up your confidence and know how far you can get in that time you can start to look at distance as well. 

How fast you go and how far you go aren’t important, so focus on your awesome self and your surroundings and enjoy your ride.

group of plus-size cyclists on their bikes in colourful cycling jerseys men's and women's cyclewear fat lad at the back fat lass at the back

Do cyclists really shave their legs?

To the pro cyclists, the wanna-be and for the serious club rider this is a right of passage, not only does a silky smooth leg feel rather lovely it makes you (very slightly) more aerodynamical although you’re probably not going to notice this unless your shaving (sorry!) milli-seconds off your PB. 

Another reason for deforesting your legs is that if you do have an accident, you’re apparently less likely to get in-growing hairs in your road rash sores. The logic of this doesn’t quite make sense to us but if you’ve ever experienced road rash you’ll know all too wincingly well that sticky dressings and leg hair are not a good combo and that in itself is enough of a reason to (at least wish that you did ) get the blades out.  


Should I say hello to other cyclists?

We always say hello to other cyclists but not all of them say hello back. You’ll soon be able to spot the no hello-ers and we like to give them a particularly exuberant hello just for the fun of it!

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