Over the last few months I've been fortunate to ride out with Team GB and Rapha-Condor Pro - Andy Tennant. On one our last runs out, we got talking about kit. I asked Andy if he'd consider knocking a blog up on his Top 10 tips for us non super-humans on the road. He's been good to his word, so you want to ride like a Pro? Read on for some great tips: -
I Have been riding now for 10 years. A relatively short time compared to some people. However in this short period I have been round some of the best riders and ridden the best kit in the World.
Currently I am Ridding for Rapha-Condor-Sharp on the road and Represent GB on the track during the winter months. This means that I have to train all year round so I know how it feels to have cold hands - something I try and avoid at all costs!
Now I could start listing all sorts of wonderful items of kit. For example; the best track bike is the one I ride, but you'll need a small fortune to go and buy one of these. My idea for my 10 products are 10 things that are not too expensive, but mainly things that I think will make your ride more enjoyable. At the end of the day, if you don’t enjoy something you will never keep doing it, so here goes: -
- Chamois Cream. Saddle sores are not pleasant things. Riders have quit the Tour de France because of it. You don’t need to suffer from this problem. The main cause is chaffing, then this getting infected by sweat. My recommendation is using a product called Aqueous cream, the Boots own brand is the best you can use and apply lots of it. Its inexpensive and a lot cheaper and more effective than many of the Chamois creams out there (Note from Phil. I used this on the Fred Whitton following Andy's advice and found it to be A1).
- Get fitted up. A beautiful carbon bike with carbon wheels are great however you will never get the best out of yourself unless it actually fits. My second recommendation is a bike fit. My recommendation is to visit Claremont who you can find here. This will help you enjoy your bike riding more and maybe actually make you go faster.
- Wool rules. Friends always used to rave on about wool. Being a young guy and man of the future, I always thought new technical fabrics would be the best. However, I am now a changed man. This year I am lucky to be given Rapha kit and one thing they make is Merino wool undervests. They are a modern take on wool not like the 60s jersey - all I can say is amazing. I wear them all the time even off the bike. I live in them. They're so good a new Pro-Tour team distributed them to their tour riders last year!
- Recovery drinks. People forget them and generally skip this important ritual. They get in off their ride and reach straight for the biscuit tin or whatever sweet sugary food is close to hand. I know because I do the same, however I always make sure I have my recovery drink to get in the carbs and the protein for recovery. At the end of the day its great doing all this training but unless you allow you body to recover you will never get better. So give yourself the best chance possible. everyone has different taste, my advice is try a few until you find one you like, but I like products from Science in Sport.
- Tyres. Lots of people by a brand new bike from the shops and when they do this they are looking at what cranks its got on and what handlebars make they have. No one seems to look at the tyres on the bike. The thing you are relying on the most when cycling. If they go wrong you either are going to get dirty hands - as you have a puncture - or worse if you lose grip on a corner in the wet and you have a few nights of not great sleep with road rash or worst. So don’t be tight get yourself some good rubber. Continental GP 4000 are great fast reliable and grippy.
- Heart rate monitor. I think these are a great tool. Don’t become too obsessed with them though, a lot of riders do. It’s a tool, and should be used in a combination with feel. They are really only super useful if you have done sports testing but great for giving you confidence if you are maintaining lower heart rate to get fitter. Or if you feel bad and your heart rate is really low it confirms it time to go home! Don’t think about spending you money on power measuring tools. In my opinion they're not worth it and they just seem to break all the time!
- Helmet. Quite simply it may save your life. If you by a high quality one you will forget you have it on I do I personally choose this one - Giro Aeon. Great combination of lightweight and well ventilated.
- Good quality winter cycling kit. For me winter riding is made hard by my hands and feet being cold, I hate it!! Some good quality gloves and and overshoes are a great start. If its wet or really cold, try wrapping your feet in cling film and maybe some tinfoil. For your hands some of those cheap latex gloves, hopefully this will keep you a bit warmer in the winter.
- Big frame pump. I hate these little mini pumps. Yes they look cool but when you're wet in winter and you need to blow your tyre up there is nothing worse than it taking too long than it needs to. Actually the worst is, when your waiting for someone else to pump there tyre up. If you haven’t got a pump, well you should have one. There lots of makes out there. Just buy a quality one and when you puncture and you pump up easily then you will have a big smile on you face as you see people struggle with their mini pumps.
- Coffee - A cyclists best friend. Go find yourself a nice coffee shop, preferably with nice cakes. Treat yourself, go on make your easy ride even more enjoyably by getting a little coffee stop in. Best thing though is to find a nice independent shop. Good place to start http://www.beanhunter.com/
Hopefully these 10 recommendations will make your bike riding more enjoyable.
Twitter - @Tennanto