5 things cyclists shouldn't do... but do anyway

Sometimes, riding a bike sensibly isn’t all that fun

Clock09:23, Friday 22nd September 2023

Cycling as a sport is steeped in tradition and history, with plenty of self-imposed unwritten rules on what to wear, what to drink and how to ride. This is part of the rich tapestry that makes up the foundation of cycling, but there are times when scrapping these rules and venturing off-piste will have you grinning from ear to ear.

Read more: The bike you want versus the bike you need

Riding your road bike off-road

Even if we are secretly encouraging this, we would put limits on what ‘off-road’ means if you are on a road bike with skinny tyres. Deviating from the typical road loop and including a towpath or a light gravel bridleway can add something fresh into the mix. With a lot of road bikes now accommodating 32mm tyres or even wider, the places your road bike can take you have never been bigger.

Read more: Should you ride your road bike on gravel?

Spending more time in the cafe than on your bike

Cycling is a sport that allows you to push your limits and expand your boundaries beyond what you thought you were capable of, whether that be riding faster and getting stronger or riding further and for longer. There will be times when pushing yourself isn’t the right thing to do or simply just not what you are feeling on that day. Lucky for you, a huge part of cycling culture is built around the cafe stop, with an obligatory coffee and slice of cake as much a part of cycling as the yellow jersey.

On these days when an epic ride isn’t on the menu, spending an afternoon at your favourite cafe, and watching the world go by can be just what you need and there is nothing wrong with that. Working on your Instagram game or eyeing up the dream bikes that come and go are just as important a part of your riding as peddling the bike, and where better is there for this than at a great coffee spot?

One-off big days

Epic all-day rides are no small undertaking, they take a dedicated effort of building up fitness through routine training. Building up to an epic ride in this way is going to allow you to really enjoy the ride, with the confidence that what you are setting out to achieve is attainable.

Life can get in the way of even the best-intentioned training plans, but we don’t think that needs to be a reason to give up on an epic ride. Turning up to an epic ride under-prepared or lacking the training kilometres can be a daunting task, however, if you take it easy and listen to your body as you go you are almost guaranteed to get some good stories for your ride.

Training is always going to be the preferred way to prepare yourself for a ride at the ceiling of your capability. If this isn’t possible then hope is not lost and we would secretly suggest you give the ride anyway, who knows, you might surprise yourself.

Smashing it from the start

Going flat out from the start is never going to go all that well. It can be really fun, right up until the moment that it isn’t and you are left crawling back home wondering where it all went wrong. Pacing yourself and getting into your groove is definitely the most sensible approach to any big ride, but where is the fun in that?

One of the most recklessly fun things you can do at a sportive or gravel event is set off like a scalded rat and drop the field around you. Will it last? Almost certainly not, but for the time it lasts you’ll feel like a hero.

This is almost certainly a tactic that comes with a big warning label of potential rider detonation, so we advise some level of caution when it comes to this one; we will not be held accountable for any bonking or DNFs associated with the employment of this tactic.

Bikepacking minus the packing

Everywhere you look at the moment, the mention of bikepacking is hard to avoid. The idea of carrying everything you need with you on a multi-day adventure sparks something in a lot of us that wets the whistle of exploration. It can be rather daunting to work out what you need to take to the point that it becomes a barrier to getting started. Carrying the right kit for your trip will make it a lot more comfortable and perhaps arguably more enjoyable but this can be sorted as you work out what you need.

Read more: Beginner's guide to bikepacking

Taking what you need to keep yourself safe is all you really need to get started with bikepacking, the rest that is unknown is an adventure waiting to happen. Getting started this way will show you what kit you actually need and what would have been a waste of money. If you are going to take this minimal approach, we do advise checking the forecast ahead of time as all of this becomes a bit of a harder sell if a 24-hour storm is rolling in.

These are just some of the things that stray away from the norms of cycling culture and, for some of them, maybe good judgment too. From time to time, letting your hair down and doing them just because you can is one of the most liberating ways to enjoy two wheels. If you think we have missed any out from our list, let us know in the comments.

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