Slowly I've started to increase my purchases that are specific to the sport. I think this is a normal progression to someone who has come from a complete beginner to 6 months into training. I would definitely say find your bearings first and find the need for these products before you splash the cash and then you end up with a pile of unused items slowly encroaching in your under-stair storage space.
BEST THINGS I'VE ACQUIRED
A saddle (that fits)
Wahoo bike computer
A smaller helmet...
A shorter stem (for closer handle bars)
The saddle I was recommended was a Specialized Mimic Pro. The chap in the shop said that this was the only seat that he could confidently say would be comfortable without getting measured. I took this advice onboard but still measured... there were size variations and after my experience with the ISM seat I purchased earlier in the year, I thought I'd better put in the effort to measure.
Now there are two points that I've realised I've jumped to there. One - the ISM seat with the separated head and expanded channel. OH MY GOD was this painful. I expect the channel would have worked with the intention of not restricting blood flow in the perineum area. Instead it felt like it literally cut into my groin. Wasn't for me.
The second point here is measurement. I am keen on completing tasks myself - mainly because I'm poor and I do not like spending on service. Tight git basically. To measure your sit bones (according to Mr. Youtube Man), you need a damp sheet of paper towel that can be placed on a flat surface that you can sit on and a piece of dry ordinary paper placed on top. You should mimic to how you'd sit on a bike, so slightly leaned forward and feet raised slightly. After around 10 seconds, you should be left with an imprint of your sit bones. Mark the middle of these points with a pen and measure between them in mm. Add 20mm to that number and there you have it!
A couple of rides in - wow what a difference. I can still feel my toes at the end. It's not pain free in the ol groin area but it is 10x better than before.
Wahoo Element bike computer
This has turned out to be a life saver. My confidence to get up a go out on the roads and commit to a ride has grown so much because of this gadget. I am not saying to go out and buy this expensive accessory for just satnav purposes, but it does bloody help. I can concentrate on other factors... like... holy shit that truck was close!!
I also use the Wahoo for my indoor training on the turbo. It connects to the Wahoo sensors that detect speed and cadence and therefore I can make my training a little more specific than just going off of my RPM.
So I was really starting to beat myself up when it came to the weekends. Me getting outside on my own on the roads, using foreign equipment, no confidence in my fitness and navigating abilities, was started to stress me out. Like head battles for hours to 'man the fuck up' to 'what's the point'. In the end I listed out the variables that I could change. Mainly the components that I was fearful of. Clipless pedals were one of them. When you haven;t ridden a bike for years, balance is questionable and I found it really hard to start from being stationary, especially on a hill. I train on a Concept 2 indoor bike with flat pedals, so I dropped the ego and just thought, I'm not a fucking pro so just get some flat pedals - I've not looked back. Sure, clipless could benefit my pedaling efficiency but I thought, if I'm training with 'more challenging' components now, then I'll be more than ready for the comps.... If any of you were wondering, I now have bright red Nukeproofs - great for grip and pretty sure they're made for MTB riding.
I'm going to be honest about this one. I felt like using my mountain bike hemet that I looked like a complete and utter donkey. It's a Bell full-faced helmet but the bottom chin guard can be removed. It's still a heafty bit of kit and gives me so much confidence when I riding single tracks.
Now the measurement of my head puts me in the lowest end of the adult head size category.... stop laughing. It's in proportion. To be safe, I purchased a youth helmet. It's nice and sturdy, lightweight and I can shake my head about without it wibbling around. So there you go.
At this point, I know what you are thinking -all the gear and no idea. And I'm sure you are also thinking... what an earth does she look like on the bike! I've painted a beautiful picture of me!
This is actually a more necessary purchase that came from the recommendation from my coach when he assessed my riding position during my bike fit. The shorter stem meant the handle bars are closer to me so I'm not reaching for them and I have more control of the bike. It's amazing what a difference 40mm make.
A couple of other non essentials: a windcheater. I haven't gone down the full path of rider gear just yet but something to take the chill off when your on the bike and running is a billy bonus.
Glasses that stay on and do not rattle on the bridge of your nose. Something light weight. It stops glare on those beautiful sunny days and also stops your eyes streaming with water as you shoot down those speedy declines.