I'm no expert, but if anyone has screwed up, it's me. I've made just about every mistake out there.
Learn from my mistakes. It'll save you a lot of headaches.
It doesn't matter what kind of riding you want to do. IF you are going to race, I strongly recommend that you RENT a bike or borrow one for your first race.
Why? Because cycling is expensive. If you want to ride AND become a better rider, you HAVE to make the financial commitment. That's it. There is no easy way around it. If you've never even done a race, you don't know if you are going to like it. It's really a waste of money to buy a bike until you know what it's going to be like.
Ok, so you've bought a bike. Now what? These are the must haves. I know. You're going to disagree. You're going to say that you don't have the money.
If you don't have the means, cycling is NOT for you.
Stage 1 purchases
1.) PEOPLE: YOU MUST BUY PEDALS. You don't have to buy the most expensive ones but these:
are NOT going to work.
Why? First, you need to change your way of thinking about riding. Pedaling (cadence) is not an up and down motion. Cadence is a back to front, left to right or some people call it a kicking motion. The only time you foot should even have pressure on the bottom is when you are dismounting. Imagine a compass, don't think of your feet going north to south. Think of them going west to east.
Without pedals and shoes, forget it. You have no power to go up a hill. You can't do proper drills (ie one leg drills) to increase leg strength. Forget high cadence work. It is physically impossible to do either of those drills without proper pedals and shoes.
Why are they important? The goal is efficiency. Efficiency is gained when you can put out a higher level of power at a higher cadence. Grinding at a low cadence only wears out your legs. (Yes. It can be used for training purposes; however, in a race, grinding is bad). Fast legs. That's the goal.
2.) SHOES. You have to have cycling shoes. Again, it's not even possible to do a back to front motion without shoes.
3.) Tubes, cartridges, basic fix a flat stuff. More than likely, the first "mechanical" issue you will run into will be a flat. Learn how to fix a flat. Most bike shops (actually out here ALL bike shops) offer basic instruction for free. If you don't live near a bike shop, youtube it. There are hundreds of videos about fixing a flat. You don't have to be able to fix a flat in under a minute.
But you DO need to know how to do it yourself. Because trust me...in a race, no one is going to stop to help. They might toss you a cartridge, but you're on your own babe. That's exactly the way it should be.
4.) cycling shorts/tri shorts. Yes, I know. They're like $80 a pair. DO it and your ass will thank me later. Buy them on clearance. I don't care but buy them.
Stage 2 Purchases
Once you've done a race, bought a bike and become completely obsessed with riding, it's time to look at how you can improve. If you want to become a faster, stronger cyclist. You need these things. But, don't freak out....you have time....budget the purchases. After all, with all the training you're going to do, becoming faster is still going to take time.
1.) Indoor trainer. Yes, there are people who will ride outside in any conditions. I'm not that person. In fact, my cold threshold is about 20 degrees. Even then, I have to be registered for a race to go out in that cold. So, what's your option? Well, yes, you could do spin classes, but it's always best to train on your OWN bike. Welcome in the indoor trainer. Even without hiring a coach, you can rent or check out from the library various workout dvds that make it a heck of a lot more interesting...dare I say even fun? Yes, I will.
2.) If you've been running, you SHOULD already own a HR monitor. If not, stop reading. Go buy one NOW. You can't train effectively without one. Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before, "I know when I'm going hard, and when I'm not". The reality is you probably don't. Typically, going hard isn't the issue. It's going TOO Hard on days you should be recovering.
3.) Power/Cadence: You can easily split these in two because a power meter is going to run you anywhere from....hell, I don't know $800 to over $2k. If you don't have the $$$ right off the bat, at least get a cadence sensor. If you already own a Garmin or some type of device, the cadence sensor is actually quite reasonable. If you remember from earlier....cadence....cadence....cadence....no grinding.
4.) Bike upgrades: This list is endless from carbon everything to water bottle cages. You can make the bike as light as possible. But, before you put a ton of money into the bike....keep this in mind....you'll be saving grams by upgrading your equipment. If you lose 5lbs of bodyfat, well.....that's definitely a greater weight reduction isn't it?
Again, this is all just my opinion. Remember this, all the fancy equipment in the world is only going to be as good as your training. Without training, that fancy $5000 bike isn't going to give you a PR.
Up next....my thoughts on swim equipment.