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You think you’re all that, you seasoned cyclist, you? Well, unfortunately for you, we’re here to tell you that you’re not. Sorry.
If you’re someone with a few thousand miles under your belt, being a beginner cyclist might feel like a long, long time ago, but like many things in life, there are always new things to learn.
In our book, there are a few blunders that even the most experienced riders make. We’ve put together five – although we could have added many more.
There are a few classics in there, and perhaps one or two that you may have been guilty of. But hey, before you high mileage riders shoot us down, read the last one on our list – now that’s got you thinking, hasn’t it?!
1. Not Checking Tire Pressures Before a Ride
Okay, okay. Starting with something humdrum, something simple, something so downright basic that we’d wager most cyclists never do, even the seasoned ones.
Checking tire pressures is important before every ride, but it’s a step that many cyclists often skip. Low tire pressure can lead to a less efficient ride, increase the risk of a flat tire, and make it harder to control your bike. On the other hand, overinflated tires can lead to a rough ride and less traction on the road.
Invest in a good-quality pump – with a pressure gauge, of course – snap it onto those valves, and get checking. What’s thirty seconds of checking your bike when you’ve got a whole hour’s ride ahead of you?
2. Not Using Fenders in Winter
Yes, yes fenders (mudguards for our UK friends) aren’t cool, we get that but sometimes, just sometimes, practicality trumps aesthetics. Fenders keep road spray off your bike, off you, and even off your bags or riding mates. When the rain falls, it’s a satisfying feeling to watch the wash off your front fender as you ride along.
There’s really no excuse these days not to run fenders. There are any number of designs, from full-metal guards that deliver complete coverage and never, ever rattle to more discrete numbers that offer less protection but can be easily removed when summer returns.
On that subject, even seasoned commuter cyclists should have mudguards on their bikes year-round. Even if the ride home is just a short pedal away, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be afflicted by the odd shower or three, even in the warmer months.
Even if your bike lacks the necessary mounting points or eyelets, brands offer clip-on options. Tire width is no excuse either; brands like SKS offer most of the best-selling fenders in a variety of widths.
3. Forgetting Riding Essentials
Another pre-ride faux pas now. We’d wager it’s mandatory for all cyclists to carry a small selection of maintenance tools, irrespective of their ability. We’re not advocating a full tool chest of supplies either, just a boutique selection of bits and bobs that could easily get you out of a tight squeeze.
The gear to change a flat tire and perhaps a multi-tool are things that, if packed correctly, won’t take up a huge amount of room. Really, it’s easy to pop these kinds of things in the bottom of a rucksack or stow them in a saddlebag or pannier and forget about them until you need them.
If you’re riding with mates, there’s nothing more embarrassing than asking for a spare tube, a pump, or a multi-tool.
4. Overconfident Riding
Although we’re reticent to put a figure on it, graduating from beginner to seasoned cyclist can take decades. Achieving that perfect harmony between bike and human is something honed over hundreds if not thousands of rides.
That said, even the most confident (and therefore seasoned) cyclist can be caught out when they start getting too lackadaisical with their riding. Maybe it’s riding too fast around a corner. Maybe it’s braking too late when you see the car up head start to slow. Maybe it’s trying to squeeze through a gap in traffic that you really should never have gone for.
After all, nothing takes seasoned riders back to reality more than a meeting with the unfriendly Mr. Tarmac.
5. Not Cleaning Your Bike When Getting Home
After a long ride, it’s tempting to park your bike and call it a day. We get that. The couch is calling, that laundry isn’t going to do itself, and those pesky kids are hungry again. Hear us out on this one seasoned rider – you should clean your bike every time you get home from a ride.
But let’s be clear here: we’re not talking about a full clean. We’re not suggesting you need to wack out the pressure washer, spin onto the foam setting, and clean every last inch of muck and grime from your bike. No, no, nobody has time for that, not even seasoned cyclists.
What we’re suggesting here is a simple wipe-down affair. Grab a clean cloth and wipe key areas of your bike that attract dirt. The chain (obviously), other parts of the drivetrain, your brakes, and the frame, too, of course. These are the key areas, and even the briefest of brief wipes isn’t going to take longer than a minute. What’s that in the grand scheme of things?
This kind of attention is especially important if it’s been raining during your ride. Removing moisture from your bike before popping into storage is a really good idea. It prevents things like rust from blossoming on your chain or paint on your bike’s frame from beginning to blemish.
Oh, and simply getting on your haunches to wipe down your bike also means you might end up catching something that could prevent you from riding in the future. Maybe it’s a thorn in the tire, a set of brake pads that are well overdue being replaced, or a loose derailleur jockey wheel. Spotting things like this can prevent panicked calls to your local bike shop or hurried browsing of internet bike stores.