Ok, so you’ve got an Optibike. What’s next? Well, you have to ride it. But you have not exercised in a while. Maybe a long while. And maybe you have never ridden a bike for exercise.
The key to success is comfort. Comfort creates consistency. To be comfortable, your accessories must fit correctly and be the right pieces of equipment for the activity.
Most important: You need a helmet. Helmets these days are light and comfortable, and do not impede your motion in any way. Helmets protect your most important asset. Helmets might seem a little expensive but they’re cheaper than a cat scan! And your brain is priceless! Try on a few helmets, see which one seems to fit the shape of your head. Many have extra pads and a head-lock system for multiple areas of adjusting.
Although you might think that bikers look funny, cycling specific clothing increases your comfort and the length of time you want to spend on the bike. First, you want to look for a pair of cycling shorts (bike shorts). Bike shorts are snug so that they don’t bunch up while you ride. They minimize chafing and ease the stress on your rear end. A pad (chamois) is built in and gives you that extra cushion you need, right where you need it. There are lots of brands on the market. Try on a few brands and see what is comfortable to you. Remember, they should not be baggy.
For your jersey, any breathable sports shirt will do. They are cycling specific jerseys out there with pockets for longer rides. There are many materials and styles. Find the one that is right for you. Make sure that the jersey is long enough in the torso so when you are riding and holding the handlebars it covers your back completely. There’s nothing worse than a sunburn on the small of your back!
Get yourself a Camelbak or some kind of water delivery system. Hydration is crucially important. If you get 1% dehydrated, you’ll lose 20% of your efficiency. Drinking while riding is a must. And the hotter it gets, the more fluid you need. Camelbaks have a genius design so you can drink while still keeping both hands on the handlebars. So you are safe and hydrated at the same time!
When you really want to get serious about your riding and maximize efficiency, get yourself a pair of cycling shoes and clipless pedals. There is a wide variety to chose from, both in width, fit and materials. The most important thing is your shoes are snug without any room for your foot to move around. Cycling shoes with an incorrect fit are painful and annoying. Your local bike shop is a valuable resource. Never, ever buy bike shoes online without making sure of the fit first!
And as always, any time you are outside, protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen. Hours on the bike out in the sun can cause skin damage. Head off trouble at the pass with some SPF 50. My suggestion is to use Coppertone Sport, it does not clog your pores or make you feel hot. A variety of brands are out there. Find the one you like and use it. A lot.