One of the pleasures of cycling is the nearly endless amount of kit and equipment you can spend your money on. Most of it is unnecessary but fun – here is a list of essential kit that will greatly improve your cycling experience. Members are not short of advice on the best kit to get. Please also read the club rules – there are not many.
A bicycle in good condition – it might sound obvious but someone once turned up on a horse. Just kidding.
You will need a racing bike, ideally with drop handlebars. A sporty hybrid with narrow tyres will do but drop bars will provide you with more hand positions and this is better on longer rides. It does not need to be an expensive or new bike; we ride all sorts of machines – old and new steel bikes, aluminium, titanium and (yes) lots of carbon fibre. We have not yet seen a bamboo bike, but this too would be welcome.
Mountain bikes are not suitable for our rides, even if they are suitable for our roads – they are too slow! We do have a mountain bike group in the club and that’s who to ride these bikes with, off-road.
Remember please, that you are responsible for your safety and that of those riding with you by ensuring your bike is roadworthy. For example, you must make sure that the brakes and gears work, the tyres are safe and nothing important is loose (handlebars, saddle, levers etc.). We reserve the right to ask you not to ride with us if the bike is not fit. If you are not sure, get your bike checked by a local bike shop. Read the legal stuff below.
A helmet – Wearing a helmet is not a legal requirement but we recommend them for all club rides and they are compulsory for the chain gang. They are also compulsory for road races, off-road and for juniors under 16. If you do not wear one that is at your risk and not the club’s, but consider the impact on the people around you who might have to deal with your serious head injury – many of us have had our skull saved by a helmet and will not ride without one.
Emergency contact details – if your bike breaks or you take a tumble we might need to ‘call a friend’ to get you home. Please make sure you have contact details on you in a place they can be easily found. British Cycling membership cards have your name and a contact number on them – bring this on rides! Or get an ID tag, especially if you have a medical condition that a paramedic might need to know about.
A spare inner tube, tyre levers, a pump or CO2 canister, quick patches – we all get punctures from time to time, so come equipped to fix them, please. You also need to know how to fix a puncture, bearing in mind that, to save time at the side of the road, most of us do not repair the puncture but replace the inner tube.
3rd party insurance – this provides cover for claims against you for damage to property or people as a result of something you do on your bike e.g. scratching the paintwork on a white van. The easiest way to get this is through membership of British Cycling or Cycling UK, both of whom offer insurance as part of the membership package. Without insurance, you are personally liable for such claims and not the club.
Eye protection – most but not all riders wear cycling glasses of some sort. Clear plastic safety glasses will do, keeping out grit and insects (being hit by a wasp, in the eye, at 30mph can have adverse health effects…).
Food, drink, a phone and some cash – for any ride longer than an hour you will need liquid and food, otherwise you risk ‘bonking’ (not as pleasant as it sounds) – that’s completely running out of energy and not being able to ride any further. You’ll need a resealable bag for your phone to keep out the rain and sweat.
The right clothing e.g. cycling shorts with a seat pad, gloves, cycling shoes – if you are not yet familiar with cycling shorts, get some – you’ll be far more comfortable, especially on longer rides. Cold fingers cannot control the bike. Trainers slip off pedals and are horrible when wet – talk to club members about ‘clipping in’.
The legal stuff
As a member or guest of Hastings & St.Leonards cycling club, you participate in club runs, rides or training sessions entirely at your own risk. You must accept responsibility for your own conduct and safety at all times, including the roadworthiness, safety and security of your bike and equipment. We strongly recommend you take out appropriate third-party insurance such as that offered through membership of CTC or British Cycling.