Bike: Expect a good beginner's model to start under $1,000,have 27 gears, and be crafted from light aluminum alloys;comfort-focused bikes have an upright pedaling position, flathandlebars, and broader saddles. For more performance (and morecash), expect lighter frames and drop handlebars. The CannondaleSport Road 1000 (shown) runs about $1,900.
Shorts: You'll want Lycra, with a chunk of strategicallystitched-in padding called a chamois (designed to be worn withoutunderwear).
Jersey: Loud prints are de rigueur on club rides. Trueroadies only carry what fits inside the three smallpockets―patch kit, pump, and energy bar. Descente ClassicHalf Zip Jersey, $65.
Helmet: Crash protection and, with good vents, naturalair-conditioning for your head. Bell Ghisallo, $100.
Shades: Plastic (for safety) polarized lenses combat glareand protect eyes; photochromatic lenses lighten and darken.Specialized San Remo, $140.
Saddle: You want all-mesh, ultracush―worth a splurge.Saddleco Flow saddle, $130 (not shown).
Gloves: Gel padding lessens pinched blood flow in hands andsoftens road shocks. Pearl Izumi Gel Lite Glove, $36.
Pedals and shoes: Click-in style increases pedalingefficiency. Shimano PD-A515, $80. Compatible shoes from about$90.