What Do I Need?
To start with, your bicycle can be anything from the old relic that you dig out of the garden shed, to an all singing, all dancing carbon fibre road bike, although due to the occasional use of bumpy and/or muddy trails, this must be a consideration for those who are particularly precious about their machine.
It would be expected that bikes are in a roadworthy condition. Please also check that your tyres are fully inflated, as exhaustion will quickly set in even for the fittest of riders if you are fighting the extra resistance of a flat or partially inflated one.
For anyone anticipating joining rides who doesn't yet have a bicycle, I would advise that you resist the urge to run out and buy a brand new one without first of all considering several factors that might make your cycling more enjoyable in the long run, please seek advice if you are unsure or come along first to see what others are riding. There are several, cost free bike rental schemes from local social enterprises or simply borrow one from a friend. .
The "Big Birmingham Bike" project offers free cycle training and free hire bikes. Our nearest hubs are at Ley Hill park (next to Holloway Hall), or the Eco Centre, 53 Church Rd, Northfield, find more details on www.birmingham.gov.uk/bbb
A Spare Innertube
A spare innertube that would correctly fit your bicycle is a must. It doesn't matter if you are not sure what to do with it but should you get a puncture, changing it will be the quickest option to get you (and the group) on your way again. The size can be found on the sidewall of the tyre.
Longbridge Cycling Club advise riders to wear a helmet.
Bicycles are always left outside cafe's/pubs etc at the owners risk but putting a lock around it will always act as a deterent to any opportunist. Some riders will double up with someone to share a lock and at times we are able to leave bikes in view but for those times when we would like to take as much precaution as possible, it is a good habit to carry one of your own.
It is advisable to bring a little cash with you should you wish to buy a coffee, cake, a bit of lunch or all three.
Packed lunches however are encouraged for those on a tight budget or with special diets, the choice is yours.
A Mobile Phone
Your phone is invaluable should we need to make contact whilst you are enroute to meet the group and should you need to advise family or partners, childminders or dog sitters if your ride runs late due to a mechanical or otherwise. It is advisable to have a number in your phone simply labeled ICE (Incase Of Emergency).
Please remember to bring along any medication that you may regularly need. Even on the shortest ride, those requiring an inhaler often find that they can't manage without.
Drinks and Snacks
A little snack can often save the day should a rider just need that little boost to get them to the refreshment stop or back home from a demanding ride. It may only need be something small that will fit in a pocket and you may carry it around for weeks before needing it but it is always a comfort to have something with you.
A bottle to carry a drink can easily be fitted onto most bikes with the use of a bottle cage or maybe you have a bike bag or a little ruc sac. An onboard drink is particularly advisable in warmer weather and on longer rides.
What to Wear?
Although Lycra is the obvious choice, it is important that you choose something that you feel most comfortable in and so long as your outfit doesn't threaten to get caught up in your bicycle chain or steering, anything goes. Padded shorts, padded gloves and other cycling specific items are generally a huge benefit for anyone who likes longer rides however it is advisable to make sure that cycling is really for you before you go to any expense.
Wind and waterproof clothing will always help protect riders from the elements, particularly during the winter months and definitely worth considering should you choose to ride regularly.
Back Pack or Bike Bag?
Until a rider is certain that they wish to continue with their cycling, I would suggest that a simple drawstring bag or back pack is sufficient to carry any spare layers, keys, phone etc or in the warmer monthes, a waist bag can be ample. Once you decide that this is the pastime for you, there are several bags of varying sizes that can be attached directly to the bike either on a rack at the rear or to the handlebars.
For Your Comfort
A simple pack of tissues, lip protection, suncream and sunglasses are all optional but can all offer comfort against the effects of the elements.
The list above is to be used only as a guide for anyone starting out. The list grows accordingly depending your cycling appetite. Endurance rides, camping trips or hostel and hotel breaks will all provide an opportunity for a bit more retailing. The die hard winter riders may also get into the technicalities of warmth for weight fabrics and obsessed with finding a jacket that really does keep the water out, yet for the most enjoyable day out, simpler is far better.