Promotional feature with Decathlon UK (opens in new tab)
As cyclists, we're a misunderstood bunch. Apparently every single cyclist is a middle-aged man in unflattering tight clothing riding around on a bike costing thousands and thousands of pounds. However this really isn't the case, so we've teamed up with Decathlon (opens in new tab) to break down nine cycling myths that might be stopping you getting into riding.
1. You have to spend a lot of money on a bike
Cycling isn't the cheapest sport in the world, but don't think that you need to go out and spend thousands of pounds on a bike. In fact you can pick up a proper road bike such as the B'Twin Triban 500 (opens in new tab) for less than £300, and it will be more than good enough to help you get started in road cycling.
For that sort of money you get everything you'd expect from a road bike, with skinny tyres and dropped handlebars, but if you can afford to spend a bit more then you'll begin to get bikes with lighter frames and better shifting.
2. Cycling is dangerous
Away from the Tour de France, the only time you usually see cycling in the media is in your local newspaper or regional news channel when a cyclist is killed on the roads. This might make you think that cycling is a dangerous sport, but in actual fact it's very safe and is only getting safer.
According to Department of Transport figures UK cycling fatalities are at a historical low, with one cyclist being killed for every 27 million miles ridden - the equivalent of riding 1,000 times around the world. In fact, the chances of being killed when cycling is pretty similar to the chances of being killed when walking, and you wouldn't think twice about that!
3. You have to be really fit
The great thing about cycling is that you really don't have to be fit to do it. Go out riding on your own or with a good friend or family member and there's no pressure to go at any particular speed or ride for any particular distance. Just get out there and do what you can manage.
And of course the best thing is that if you are a bit out of shape, then a bike ride or two a week will help you shed the pounds in no time. Now go out and buy a cycle computer (opens in new tab) to watch your distances and average speeds increase.
4. Lycra isn't flattering
Here at Cycling Weekly we think lycra gets a lot of unfair criticism. Frankly, if you're in good shape then why not show off your physique with a tight aero cycling jersey (opens in new tab) and some long white socks (opens in new tab) to bring out the tan.
The good news is that if you're not quite as lean as you perhaps could be, then there are lots of looser jerseys on the market that won't show off your curves too much. Something like the B'Twin 500 jersey (opens in new tab) is a good option here, and the good news is that looser-fitting jerseys are generally cheaper too.
5. You have to shave your legs
You'll hear a lot of different reasons why cyclists shave their legs ("it's more aerodynamic", "you don't get hair in the wound if you fall off", "it's nicer for my masseuse") but really the only reason most people do it is because lots of other people do it.
It's actually rare to go out on a ride with a group of mates and for everyone to have shaved legs, and away from the highest level there's no snobbery about people who choose not to shave. Plus, if you choose to stay hairy, you won't be asked by non-cyclists at what point up your legs you stop shaving.
6. It's no fun in the rain
Bright, hot days at the height of summer at certainly the best times to get out and enjoy riding your bike, but that doesn't mean you need to stay in and watch TV at the slightest sign of rain. In fact those really wet rides can be surprisingly enjoyable as not only do you feel incredibly hard when you're out there, but your sense of self-esteem will be through the roof when you get home to a enjoy a nice hot shower.
However, essential to that enjoyment is making sure that you're dressed properly. The last thing you want is to be wet and cold, so make sure you've got a good waterproof jacket (opens in new tab) and a set of water-resistant overshoes (opens in new tab).
7. Cycling saddles are uncomfortable
The first time you prod a proper road cycling saddle it can be shocking how little padding it has. But don't despair. Because the amount of padding it has has very little impact on your comfort (in fact some professional riders use saddles entirely made from carbon-fibre).
More important is the shape of the saddle and that it fits your anatomy and riding style. In general, narrower saddles are best if you ride in a low aggressive position, while wider saddles are better if you're more upright, while women should go for a female-specific saddle such as the B'Twin 500 Women's Sport saddle (opens in new tab). These are all generalities, but most shops offer a try before you buy service to make sure you're not investing in an uncomfortable perch.
8. You'll arrive at work hot and sweaty
Unfortunately not all workplaces have shower facilities, but that doesn't mean you should avoid cycling into work.
A good baselayer will help to wick moisture away from your skin so you don't arrive all sweaty, while any half-decent cycling jersey will be nice and breathable to let cool air through. But if don't want to change out of plain clothes, then an electric bike such as the Elops 900 (opens in new tab) is a great option for exertion-free commuting.
9. It's just a load of men
While the majority of cyclists are indeed men, the number of women on the sport is growing, and quickly. Back in 2013 British Cycling announced its #WeRide campaign to get more women cycling, and now there are now more than 500,000 women regularly riding their bikes, making up almost a quarter of regular cyclists.
If you don't feel comfortable riding in a macho peloton, then there are a growing number of women-only rides and sportives which are specifically aimed at newcomers to the sport. So just get a suitable bike (opens in new tab) and get out there!
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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
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