The pangs of guilt coming after indulging a bit too much on Christmas and New Year are certainly not a modern phenomenon. But whereas a few decades ago the solution would have been to fix the chain of the old Raleigh Activator in the garage and set off to shed the pounds, the options – and information to consider – today are much more varied and complex. In fact, the lessons of 2020 have taught us that you may wake up one day and be told that there is a limit to where you can go on your bike, and for the amount of time you can travel.
Still, most of us are optimistic that 2021 will – at some point – offer a return to normality, and that the main barrier to fitness and achieving our goals on the bike this year will be determined by willpower alone. But January is the month of ambition: and we are going to look at some ideas, kit, technology and trends below for getting bike-fit in 2021:
There is such a thing as being too ambitious, and it’s all too common for us to set unrealistic goals. When something starts to feel unattainable, it’s easy to get frustrated and give up. Dr. Stephen Cheung, writing in PezCyclingNews.com, made a superb point about new year’s resolutions, namely that motivational self talk could be key to meeting your goals this year.
The most difficult part when trying something different is the first step, but there are so many options for all different levels. A good place to begin is by joining a club. Countries like the USA, UK and many others now have national clubs networks, allowing you to find a cycling club near you. There are plenty of cycling disciplines, and mixing it up can help you achieve your personal goals.
Gadgets and Tech
There is no end to the list of gadgets that are touted to enhance our cycling experience, ranging from the inexpensive to pricey, the superb to the superficial. Of course, there are two main questions you need to ask: What do I really need? And what is my budget? The range of answers to them is usually so broad and subjective that each cyclist must determine what is necessary and affordable. But it is undeniable that there are some attractive bits of tech:
- SmartHalo 2 ($159.99) – A clever piece of technology that will launch at some point in spring 2021. The SmartHalo 2 is something of a bike light, anti-theft alarm, fitness tracker and navigator all rolled into one. SmartHalo is a crowdfunded project, with the original version getting plenty of plaudits.
- Crank Brothers Multi 17 Tool ($30) – whether it’s a broken chain or something else that derails your ride, you want to be able to fix it as quickly as possible. Crank Brothers’ set, featuring a series of wrenches, chain tools and screwdrivers, will help you get over most problems. We should add, however, that it’s quite bulky and relatively heavy (2lbs).
- Strava (Free, or $5 monthly for premium) – Look, the Strava app has been around for over a decade now, and most experienced cyclists will be aware of it. But for those who aren’t, it’s a tracker with the main goal of making you more competitive and social. There has been some backlash against Strava as the dominant market leaders, so it’s worth noting that alternatives like Wahoo Fitness and Cyclemeter are available.
While many of us will be burning off the Christmas turkey on the roads this January, we all know that fueling our bodies with the right food is essential to help us achieve our goals. If the aim is to lose weight first, then there are many online weight loss plans that can help you shed the pounds in the right manner. If choosing a tried and tested plan, like the Mayo Clinic diet, then we would advise you to gauge value for money first. Dieting is idiosyncratic to each cyclist, so spend a little time researching plans before diving into something that ends up unsuitable.
There is, of course, a whole industry designed to push you on to proteins for muscle gain. There are some pitfalls here, and you should certainly not start overloading on protein supplements too soon; in fact, getting some professional advice is recommended. For instance, an overload of protein can put stress on the kidneys, potentially leading to serious damage. Moreover, we can often get the right amount of protein from a balanced diet, including eggs, chicken, turkey, fish (cod, halibut, haddock), milk and soy.
As with gadgets, attire should be relative to your budget and needs. For instance, you can pick up a serviceable pair of cycling sunglasses, like Agu Bold or BBB Avenger (both approx. $50), for around a third of the price of the most popular Oakley sunglasses on the market. Some of us will look at solid insoles, such as Lintaman’s Adjustable Insoles, as almost as necessary as a helmet. In the winter, you will want to keep the hands warm, so it might be worth splashing out on Castelli Spettacolo RoS gloves ($89), or Sportful Giara Thermal Gloves ($40) if you want something more affordable.
Keeping safe on the road should be a priority, and there is plenty of reflective gear to suit all budgets. Proviz Reflect360 jackets are in the upper range, coming in at about $150. While not as stylish, the Hump Signal waterproof jacket comes in at about a third of the price and will keep you just as noticeable on a dark road. Of course, the one thing you can’t go without is a helmet. The Bontrager XXX WaveCell Road is a great choice, but it comes in at around $300. An affordable alternative, which has also got excellent reviews, is MET Idolo, which you can find for around $70.