Here’s how to identify and avoid some of the most common cycling mistakes to enhance your training and graduate from rookie rider to pro-cyclist.
Mistake 1) Overtraining
With any activity it’s easy to overdo it and take your training too far. Using professional cyclists as a model for training is one way to steer yourself into fatigue and injury. Professional riders push for hours on long rides. No matter how casual your ride is, your body isn’t going to have time to properly recover if that’s your training model.
Like every other intense activity you need to have recovery days, and those recovery days do not have to be spent on a bike. A day at the beach, bowling, movies with family, yard work – do something that doesn’t have you sweating your heart rate or sprawled on the couch.
Mistake 2) Fat, sugar and salt are your enemy
Speaking of lounging on the couch... When you live a sedentary lifestyle then taking in excess fat, sugar and salt will contribute to the wrong kind of weight gain because you’re taking in more calories than you’re burning.
However, when you’re cycling regularly each week these are all necessary to thrive. Without the energy from sugars, your legs won’t be able to go the distance for you. Minimize your salt intake and your body will retain a lot less water. Dehydration will ruin your performance.
Moderation is important; take in enough of each to keep your body fueled and running at its peak.
Mistake 3) Skip the bike fitting
It’s a common mistake with new cyclists to purchase their bike online. You get it home and adjust the saddle by how it feels. You eyeball it, feel like the fit is right, and then wonder why everything aches.
There’s no true science to getting a perfect with your bike; it can be a bit of an art form. That’s why it’s a good idea to see a professional fitter. They can help you focus on comfort and aerodynamics while also paying close attention to the contact points – your bottom, hands and feet - to maximize performance without sacrificing comfort.
A good, quality fit will help you avoid some of the most common injuries that riders experience.
Mistake 4) Neglecting bike handling skills
Anyone can learn how to ride fast in a straight line. It’s how you handle your bike when obstacles present themselves that counts. That includes things like hopping a curb or a small obstacle on the trail, taking a sharp corner, and even rubbing shoulders with other rides without falling into a crash.
The skills are easy to master with enough practice. Take short, casual rides on variable terrain with some other riders and ask them to help you practice things like curb hopping and rubbing shoulders. Repeated practice will help you think faster on the fly and stay upright.
We recommend connecting with other more experience riders in your area. RideNa offers a directory of coaches and trainers in the resource section. You can also find other professionals to help you dial into the perfect ride with mechanics and merchants as well.
Mistake 5) Ignoring your overall physical balance
Cycling is a two-dimensional activity. You’re working your legs continuously but the rest of your body rarely engaged. Depending on the frequency and duration of your rides you could damage your posture and wind up with a significant physical imbalance.
The easiest way to fix this is to work other activities into your routine. Yoga and other low impact/low to mid intensity activities are great for rest days where you’re not riding. Full-body activities and some additional cardio will also improve your endurance, giving you that extra push when you’re on your bike.
Mistake 6) Improper breaking
When you’re new to riding it’s a common mistake to want grab the breaks and grab them hard. New cyclists often ride the break through turns and corners. Either technique, especially breaking hard while banked at an angle, is most likely going to result in your bike locking up and a loss of control.
Braking is all about control. When approaching a turn brake early and in a gentle manner to shave off speed. Tune yourself so that you’re scanning farther ahead. This will give you more time to anticipate braking needs, and will help you avoid a sudden lock up that pitches you over the handlebars.
Mistake 7) Poor bike maintenance
Whether your bike was custom built by a local shop or imported from German, bikes are fairly simple machines. Don’t let their operation and the parts intimidate you. Pretty much every aspect of your bike can be maintained and adjusted at home with the right tools and little know-how.
Not only can you pick up maintenance tips from videos on YouTube, but making connections with experienced cyclists here on RideNa can provide you with pro-tips on bike maintenance when you get stuck.
Check your bike before you ride, maintain it after your ride, and store it so that it’s ready to go when you’re ready to go.
(Photo credits: revrider.wordpress.com; fineartamerica.com)