We can all agree that we love cycling. After all that’s probably why you’re here reading this article.
However, it’s not always sunshine, tailwinds and KOM’s. In fact, there are some things about riding a bike, which at times can leave us feeling more than just a little disgruntled.
Here’s my list of some things that really annoy me about cycling... and in the spirit of positivity a solution or two at how you might best mitigate them.
There are too many rules about what you should and shouldn't do.
All of these so called rules quite frankly should be ignored. Being safe and comfortable is all that matters.
It’s likely that we’ve all heard of ‘the rules’, an outdated set of so-called guidelines created by a previous generation of riders. All that needs to be remembered is that there are no rules. If you can enjoy the privilege of owning a bike or having access to one then swing your leg over the saddle and just enjoy the freedom a set of wheels can give you.
Cycling can sometimes become too much about the numbers
Too many numbers can kill the reason we started cycling in the first place. It’s not always about who comes first but who gets the most out of the journey.
During a long block of training, it can feel like I’ve spent more time looking at my Garmin than I have looking up at the landscape I’m rolling through. Heading out on a ride without a Garmin but being safe in the knowledge of a route I know really well, can give me the headspace to unwind, decompress and enjoy the best of what cycling has to offer.
You really don’t need the latest gear
Great bikes and gear can be found second hand with a sizable cost reduction. Don’t forget, a full life cycle of a well serviced bike can be well over a decade.
A good second hand bike to get you going can be found for around £300. If you need more advice on what to look for when buying a second hand bike then just take a look at our guide.
The overall quality of more budget options is only getting better as trickle down tech reaches the lower echelons. It wasn’t that long ago that the vast majority of the peloton was racing on rim brakes. If it was good enough for them, it’s still good enough for us now.
There really is no good time to have one. Be it a puncture, skipping gears, rubbing brake pads or a snapped spoke. All these little issues that can creep up on you can be incredibly infuriating while out on the bike.
Of course, making sure you get your bike serviced or stay on top of any gremlins yourself with some home maintenance will reduce the chance of something going wrong but no amount of servicing can save you from a sharp thorn or piece of glass. However, carrying one of the best cycling multi-tools, a pair of the best tire levers or plugger tool for those riding tubeless, on each and every ride at least ensures you're prepared when the inevitable happens.
Weird creaking, rattling, tinging, pinging, ticking noises
We’ve all been there.
You’re riding along having a grand old time and ever so slowly a new noise slowly creeps into your ears. You’re looking around, is it me? Yes, you’re by yourself. Then you stop pedalling to see if the sound stops. It does. You carry on pedalling. It’s back.
Ahh. It must be the bottom bracket. Or your spokes, or pedals or headset or hoses or thru axles. Quite frankly it could be anything. Yet another joy of cycling. As with my previous point, if you can stay on top of servicing, these weird annoying noises should hopefully be kept at bay… at least to some extent.
The amount of time it takes to get out the door
Running and cycling can often tend to attract similar types of people. There are similarities in a shared love of the outdoors, getting that burn going in your legs, the social side of sport, the data you can dive into. However, there’s one thing which myself and I’m sure a few of you may be slightly envious of. It’s a simple one, but just getting yourself out of that door.
For runners, it’s a case of getting changed, whipping on a pair of running shoes, grabbing some water and hitting start on your smart watch. I don’t think I need to go into too much detail but that process is 10x simpler than the fiasco that is choosing your kit, getting changed, loading your map, making sure you have keys, money, phone, puncture repair kit and any other ride essentials.
Then there's the need to check the direction of the wind, make a drink, see if your bike is still working and has air in the tires. And don't forget ensuring your electronic gears have battery. All while hoping you don’t get to the point of being about to leave the house and then needing to make an emergency dash to the toilet where you all but have to entirely strip off again. It really can feel like a win by just stepping outside and starting your ride!
Need I say anymore?
Probably not. But in the hope of helping others to avoid the unpleasant experience that is the hunger knock, then here's our guide to how fuel optimally.
Not having enough gears
I love climbing, and my stature allows me to feel right at home on the slopes. The feeling of dancing up a climb, to get to the top and enjoy the view is one of cycling's great joys.
Other days aren’t quite so spritely. Which is why, running out of gears is one of the most humbling experiences out there. Gurning your way up a climb as you stare at your stem in pain offers very little enjoyment. Either you need to revise your gear selection or, just get a little fitter. The point stands though, no matter the reason, running out of gears sucks!
Forgetting you’re clipped in
This one goes out to all the beginners, who are still finding their feet when it comes to riding clipless pedals.
We’ve all been there. You’re coming to a stop, maybe at a set of lights and you completely forget you’re attached to your bike. All of a sudden you feel yourself falling in slow motion, usually to the enjoyment of the other road users around you. Happily this experience only happens once or twice before you very much learn your lesson.
I have a bit of a love hate relationship with this one.
In my early days of cycling I was of course the slowest rider in the group. However, as annoying as it was feeling like you’re holding everyone back, it was also a huge source of motivation to get faster. It meant I was digging as deep as possible to be as fast as possible.
I believe that if you truly want to get quicker out on the road, then just ride with someone consistently who will continually drop you. It may not be fun but at some point there will come a time when you’ll be able to drop them or at least hold their wheel. Sometimes it’s not all about power zones and heart rate data, you just need to be able to go flat out, dig deep and find that extra level you never knew you had.
Again, need I say more?
Uphill red lights
These are never fun for any cyclist, no matter how experienced. Pushing off uphill can be ripe for not being able to clip in, which is exactly why I taught myself how to trackstand.
The skill of being able to stay clipped in while staying still has saved me so many times. If there’s a skill that’s worth mastering, it’s this one. My recommendation would be to just start learning on some soft grass with an ever so slight gradient.
A sensitive topic for sure.
When you spend a long amount of time in the saddle, and maybe haven’t used enough or any chamois cream you may fall victim to the painful saddle sore.
I find they can also creep up after a period of time off the bike and you maybe aren’t quite conditioned to being in the saddle again.
Of course, this is something that can be looked after. Simply apply a generous layer of chamois cream to the chamois in your shorts and this will most certainly help save you from this nasty injury. It also helps to have a quality pad that's at the heart of all of the best bib shorts.
Forgetting to restart your head unit
I fell foul of this one fairly recently.
I was 30 miles into a ride when I stopped for lunch at a cafe before continuing on for the next 30 miles of riding. With 10 miles left I realised that I hadn’t pressed start on my Garmin when I left the cafe, meaning the last 20 miles were now unaccounted for. A schoolboy error for sure.
Cycling is a pretty expensive game. To even own or have access to a bike is a real privilege. I think no matter what level of cycling you’re at though, the cost of partaking in the sport can be quite grinding. It’s very much the nature of the game but I don’t think it’ll ever become less annoying.
However, there are a few ways you can alleviate the pressure on your wallet. When you have the itch to upgrade your bike, there are some upgrades that will deliver more for their money than others, and knowing where to spend and where to save is vital.
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1