MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR NEXT RIDE.
by Joanne Xu
Back in 2019, Team OV met up with our friends at Rapha, the London based cycling brand, for a week of cycling and designing in Mallorca, Spain. Almost a full year later, Rapha + Outdoor Voices is here: a collection of reimagined cycling essentials designed just for women.
Cycling is one of those sports that can feel intimidating and serious from the outside, until you remember that you’ve probably already nailed the hardest part — learning how to ride a bike. All that’s left to learn is how to make the most of your ride. We’ve joined forces with the Rapha team and avid cyclist Caitlin Cash to break down the basics of cycling.
Why + What
If you have a bike at hand (or even one you can rent), cycling is the perfect summertime Recreation for getting your full body moving from a socially safe distance. Cycling is one of the most freeing sports there is, and it’s easily adaptable to be a solo or group activity depending on your mood. It requires little to no prior experience — leave for the learning how to ride a bike that you probably checked off your list as a kid. There’s freedom in hopping on your bike after a long work day and letting the breeze float past your ears, or letting the wind decide which route you take today.
Team OV saw this magic first hand a year ago in Mallorca. And it’s why The Recreationalist is jumping on board now.
The Essentials: Cycling Kit
Like any other sport, cycling has a uniform that’s easily adaptable depending on if you’re riding around the neighborhood or through tough terrain. We call this a cycling kit. To build your perfect outfit, you’ll need:
1. Jersey + Padded Shorts
The most important part of your kit. These should feel like second skin, and should help protect your body from the elements — cold or hot, rainy or dry. You don’t want bulky material flapping around in the wind, or for your tush to start cramping up a few miles in. Snack-friendly pockets never hurt, too.
Choosing the right shorts are especially important. After all, they’re the only thing keeping your tush and an extremely weird cramp apart. Good cycling shorts have a built-in chamois pad (pronounced sha-mee) that give you Kim K level cushion.
Pro Tip: Go commando! You heard us right. Your derrière will thank you.
2. An Optional Layer.
Depending on what your ride’s going to look like, you may want a wind-deterring jacket with you. Gotta get those aerodynamics working for you, not against you!
3. A Trusty Bra.
You can’t do that “hold your things while you’re bouncing” dance while you’re biking over a bumpy road, now can you? Look for one that gives you maximum range of movement — a common misconception of cycling is that it’s not a full body sport.
4. Things For Your Feet.
Make your socks fun and fit your aesthetic, but also make sure they help keep you unstinky and cushioned. As for shoes: Recreationalist’s choice!
5. Snack Storage
As we are The Recreationalist, it’s only right we call out snack storage in several areas of this one post. Here’s the first: cycling is a tiring activity. When it’s your turn to be the designated snack buddy, make sure you have room for enough. A detachable bar bag lets you store essentials off your body and adds a touch of personality.
6. Head Protection.
Don’t let anyone fool you — all cool kids wear helmets. Even the best cyclists get in accidents, so protect that noggin!
Check Your Equipment
Cycling is less of a solo sport than you may think. After all, you and your bike have to move as one unit wherever you go — so be sure to check your equipment in advance. “For the casual rider, your seat position is the number one thing to check,” says Caitlin. “If you’re sitting on the saddle and you push your heel down on the pedal itself, your leg should comfortably extend straight.”
Another good rule of thumb: before you head out, bounce your bike against the ground a few times. If something jangles, check it out.
Show Some Personality
Your bike is an extension of you, so it’s only right to make it your own. Cash isn’t the biggest fan of her bike’s main colors, so she’s found other ways to make it fit her personal style. “Change out the handlebar tape on your bike! Tape comes in really fun colors and cool patterns, and any bike shop can help you change it out.”
Don’t Forget the Snacks
You know we would never. Cycling snacks need to be small and easy to unpackage, with enough nutrition to refuel you for your next leg. Our friends at Rapha tell us to eat “small and frequent amounts of carbohydrates” in the first 30 minutes to help keep your glycogen stores fully replenished. Remember, “you’re not eating for now, you’re eating to feel fresh” later in your ride.
Cash opts for Haribo gummy bears on her rides, which is objectively puzzling at first — you’d think that cyclists would be stern about consuming maximum nutrition when on a ride. False. “The fun thing about cycling is that you burn so many calories out on the bike,” says Cash, “and so you need to replenish your body and it’s okay if it’s not the healthiest thing. Sometimes I see really intense riders and we’ll be at a stop somewhere and they’ll pull out a cookie the size of my head.”
Other pocket-friendly snacks include dates, dried mango strips, or your own baked goods. Why not put that newfound obsession with baking to good use? Save bite sized leftovers for your next ride.
Visit Rapha here for more recipes to try before and after your ride.
Let Your Body Move Your Mind
The beauty of cycling is that you’re your own transportation. There’s nothing else you have to rely on besides your sense of direction and the wind — so The Recreationalist in us recommends that you let your body lead your mind. Though we always suggest that you follow street signs and proper bike etiquette when interacting with busy roads and traffic, try not to plan the rest out too much. Just let your intuition guide your route. As Cash says, “There aren’t many other times when I feel so free than when I’m blasting down a hill on my bike.” If you’ve got your snacks, your helmet, and your bike, you can go anywhere.
Love to ride? Let us know about your best times. If we missed anything, be sure to share your best cycling pro-tips with us below. Shop the Rapha + Outdoor Voices collection here.