Lycra and the alternatives….

The first time I put on lycra in order to ride a bike was back in 2010, and it was a little daunting to say the least.

My rides at that time were limited to a 45 minute stretch over 10 miles around a few roads close to home. Because I was at the start of my personal fitness journey, the sight of me riding down the high street in lycra drew a certain degree of ridicule from people that I knew. I didn’t care, I thought that it was better to have your friends poke a little fun at you rather than being sat on the couch doing nothing, slipping what seemed inevitably into type 2 diabetes.

I tried to compensate by wearing a bright yellow waterproof jacket to cover up, but unless it was below 5 degrees I became overheated and uncomfortable pretty darn fast.

However I soon lost weight and my confidence soared. As a result of this experience, all I can say to those people worried about how they will look, there are some exceptionally good alternatives to Lycra. I hope the below will give you a few suggestions and help ease your mind on what to wear for your first few rides.

Before we explore the alternatives, why does lycra remain the stalwart clothing material of choice for cycling? The reason is that it is simply the best material for exercise (which involves lots of stretching), keeping you cool in the summer, warm in the winter, dries super fast if you encounter any showers, and for cycling is aerodynamic, it doesn’t flap around slowing you down.

In considering alternatives, tweed and denim is out, but thankfully the materials used for cycling clothes expanded dramatically over the last few years; you can now buy all kinds of garments in different materials that equal or surpass Lycra in certain circumstances. If you are worried about having to wear lycra, my suggestion is to wear clothing made from synthetics such as polyester or nylon, both are good for hot sunny days, however if the budget can stretch a little further my personal choice would be a natural fabric such as merino wool, or clothing that use a combination of both lycra and merino; at the high price range end you could opt for bamboo for a jersey, which is good for people with sensitive skin due to its natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, but as I mentioned before, at a cost. Whatever you choose, in addition to Lycra, there’s a lot of very stylish cycling clothes out there that are visually appealing irrespective of size, and they feel fantastic to wear.

Therefore, you do not need to be a slave to Lycra. If you are considering starting out on your journey to fitness and wellbeing through road cycling, my advice would be :

1. Wear lycra shorts (or bibs or leggings), and a merino jersey to give a more casual look that feels great and performs well in most conditions of heat, cold and wet.
2. In terms of colours, wear black or pastels with a little splash of colour and a tasteful motif. Less is more. Avoid white shorts.
3. Unless you ride for a team, stay away from the “team jersey” look.
4. In terms of what to wear under the shorts, the golden rule is nothing…that may seem counterintuitive, but the padding on most shorts is anti-bacterial and the wicking will keep you dry in the most important area and prevent you getting sores and tenderness. Trust me on this.

At Cycle for Fitness, as part of the service we will provide you with a telephone consultation that almost other things, will cover what you need to wear and what to avoid. Subscribe to now and we can begin your journey.

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