5 ways to be a real cyclist plus 5 more
1 : GET THE BONK – At some stage you must go too far with too little food at too high an average speed with too little training done and push yourself so far that you loose all sense of your surroundings and find yourself in a trance willing your legs to keep turning around. You take out your phone to call for a lift home and find the battery dead. You reach for your bottle and hear a hollow swoosh as you press a blast of air into your mouth from the empty vessel. You contemplate drinking from the half empty discarded can of Bulmers pointing out temptingly from the roadside ditch but somewhere deep down realise this will only dehydrate you further. For 10, 15 or 20k you feel as if you will not make another 100 meters but you keep on going. When you eventually reach your front door you can’t remember that last 20k but you have made it. Home at last. Just in time to fall into the shower, wolf down some lunch and head off out shopping for the afternoon, seeing that you had a grand morning off out on the bicycle whilst the rest of the family were all stuck at home. An hour later your eyes are closed as you fall asleep against a shop display unit when a fellow cyclist mooches up alongside you. You both reminisce about the great mornings training and how much you are looking forward to next Sunday already. You both briefly agree that you need to get at least two spins in during the week to enjoy Sunday but the question remains, will you ? But at least you now have a story to tell on all future training spins whenever you meet someone new.
2 : PUNCTURE – One day you are cycling along when you hit a stone or pothole and hear a quick pssst and suddenly feel as though you have just entered a cobbled section of Paris Roubaix. You had your tyres pumped up to 40 psi, thats 10 psi more than your car but 60 or 70 below what it should be for a road bike. You turn your bike upside-down resting on the saddle and handlebars and get a dirty look form your ride companions. That carry-on was OK when you had a back pedal coaster brake as a child but now you’re a grown up and the Pro’s would never scuff their saddle and bar tape in such a manner so neither should you. You take out a puncture repair kit and someone else hands you a tube and tells you to put that thing away. You fit the tube and pump it up. Then you screw on a dust cap and look up to see the shake of a head again. Put away the dust cap. Real cyclists don’t use them.
3 : CRASH – One day you are gliding along happy as Larry when suddenly out of the blue some mysterious bolt of lightening comes from the sky and you find yourself on the ground feeling a searing pain up one side of your body. What actually happened was you either touched your brakes mid corner on a damp road or you touched a wheel in front of you or you clipped your pedal off the road as you leaned the wrong way into a bend. You feel like staying on the ground until the ambulance arrives to give you a plaster for a small cut but you are now a cyclist and must get up. Soccer players can stay down and roll around but they play soccer and as Jean De Gribaldy said you do not play cycling. There are times when you should stay down when you crash and knowing the difference is part of being a cyclist. Having a few scars is always a conversation piece whenever you share a hotel room with another cyclist. Each one must have its own story.
4 : PEDAL WITH YOUR LEGS – Many new cyclists think that cycling is just a matter of hopping on and pedalling away. It’s not that easy. New cyclists have a tendency to pedal with more than just their legs. Some will flap their arms as they bounce up and down in an action resembling a duck trying to take off from a lake. Others will try under the false impression that it will work, to propel themselves forward by jutting their head forward and back in tandem with their pedal stroke. This also is futile. Then some will try the ‘kango hammer technique’ of bobbing up and down rapidly as they pedal along. Guess what, this wastes energy and slows you down. Cycle as if you have a thread attached to a helium balloon tied to your chin that slightly holds your head up and you have to keep it as straight as possible. When climbing, place your thumbs behind the top of the handlebars alongside the stem and concentrate on staying as steady as possible. The only part of your body that turns those pedals is your legs so push them straight up and down and make the most of what you’ve got.
5 : SHORTS – Never wear underwear when you wear cycling shorts. Just don’t. It will bunch up and give you saddle sores and will not be comfortable. The padding in the shorts is called a chamois (pronounced shammy). Bib shorts are best. They are the ones with the two straps that come up over your shoulders. They will not slip down as you lean out over the bars and will be much more comfortable than the waist shorts. Shorts should be worn inside leggings and not outside. The exception is leg-warmers which should be worn up under the leg of the shorts unless you are a Pro when you can wear them outside. This is a confusing one but important to get right.
and now for the other quick 5 ways to be a cyclist
6 : Remove the peak from your helmet. They belong to Mountain bikers.
7 : Fit a bike computer correctly or not at all. No loose cables or long tie wraps.
8 : Use your gears – You have more than one. Fifteen more at the very least.
9 : Wash your bike – A dirty bike is a sign of a lazy cyclist.
10 : Know that as you get better there will always be a cyclist better than you, but keep on improving.