15 Bits of Bad Cycling Advice to Ignore

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We’ve all been there, out on a group ride, with friends a cafe and in all other kinds of places. When we get talking about cycling, it’s difficult for people not to offer an opinion. Here’s some of the bad cycling advice we’ve heard over the years, and learned often, it’s just best to ignore! 

— BIKE TRENDS – THE FUTURE OF CYCLING —

The small chainring is for wimps.

Well while that can sometimes be the case, if you’re rolling along a flat in the small ring, you probably need to push a bit harder… most of the time, the small chainring is there for a reason. There’s no need to damage your legs slugging up climbs in the big ring, when the little ring is there. Often it’s far more efficient to drop into the little ring. Your legs will thank you for it, and so will your bike!

Slam your stem

If you haven’t already had a bike fit, get one. Bike fitting is so important in cycling and can make a huge difference to both your comfort and performance. Avoiding injuries, increasing power output, making you more aerodynamic, these are just a few things that a good bike fit can achieve.

Slamming your stem can have a whole range of issues that you might not even feel at first, and often, it won’t even make you more aero. Closing your hip angle, putting a lot of strain on the lower back – it can be really difficult to perform with these issues. So rather than just going ahead and making changes, see a good bike fitter! 

— HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR CYCLING BASE ENDURANCE —

Don’t listen to your body use the power meter

Power meters are great, they’re a phenomenal tool for training and racing. They’ve completely revolutionised the cycling game and offered us things that we just never had access to before. You can judge efforts much better and gauge fatigue from training. But there’s still a lot to be said for listening to your body. It’s not an exact science, and with thousands of years of evolution, your body is still an exceptional tool. It’ll tell you when you need to back off, and you should definitely listen! 

Eating is cheating

The old school guys seem to ride for hours without ever eating or drinking a thing on the bike. It’s incredible to watch them, they never bonk, they just seem to go for ever. And it’s often said that by not eating you’ll improve your bodies ability to burn fat as fuel. Parts of this is true, but on the whole there is only so long you can go without eating carbs. You can do much more harm than good from trying to ride under fuelled, and if you’re bonking and struggling to perform at the end of a long ride, it’s probably because you’ve not got enough in the tank! Make sure you keep on top of your nutrition to optimise performance.

— WHAT CAN BRITISH CYCLING LEARN FROM OTHER SPORTS —

It’s not the bike, it’s the rider

Ok ok, this is 80% true. But some times, a nice bike helps! You can only get so far on certain bikes before you’re doing far more work than you have to. You don’t have to spend thousands on all the gear, but by having a well maintained, reasonable quality bike, it’ll make a huge difference! It’ll be much easier to keep up with the faster group if you at least start on a level playing field, not a bad habit to get into.

Stand on your pedals for the climbs

While some people prefer to climb out of the saddle, standing from pedal to pedal is only going to cause unnecessary fatigue in your legs! By staying smooth up the climbs you’ll save yourself a lot of energy and probably make it up there faster. Cycling is all about efficiency, and if you can avoid bullying yourself up the climbs, do. If the people standing on the pedals are the same people telling you the little ring should never be used, you’ll start to see the picture! 

You don’t need chammy cream

Try telling yourself that after a long week at training camp, or a heavy few days. Chamoix cream does a fantastic job of keeping you fresher for longer, and allowing you to spend a lot longer in the saddle. Saddle sore will stop a lot of athletes on training camp far before your legs do!

Carb load the night before a race

The old myth that filling yourself full of gluten the night before a race is good has now been proven to be wrong. It’s now known that slowly increasing your carb intake a few days before a race has far more benefit than the night before. Racing bloated and sluggish never helped anyone get around the course faster.

— ELECTRIC BIKES TIMELINE – PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE —

Hold your brakes on up climbs to get fitter

This is similar to the myth that big gears will also improve your leg strength. There’s a time and a place for resistance training, but these kind of things don’t have a huge benefit. Using scientific methods and sessions to do hill repeats can create more than enough training stress to let you get as fit as you possibly can, without doing anything too crazy. Besides, you’ll go through much fewer brake pads & chains.

Sweat out a cold

If you’re ill, your body needs time to rest and recover. Athletes at the top of their game will take the time to rest and recover. Don’t force yourself to get out the door if your body isn’t up to it. Take the time, you’ll thank yourself for it in the long run. Taking the time to rest and recover and come back stronger afterwards. You’ll set yourself back a lot longer if the cold gets worse or moves into your chest.

You should pump your tyres up as hard as possible

As tyre widths go wider and wider we see tyre pressures come down. Gone are the days of people trying to ride 140psi on all terrains. Does more pressure in your tyre reduce the risk of a puncture? Not if they’re tubeless. And as we see this tyre system becoming more common across the whole board, you don’t need to run the crazy pressures people used to.

— GRAVEL BIKE OR HARDTAIL – A PRESSING DECISION —

Ride long in the winter

Most people don’t have the time to spend hours and hours in the winter on long rides. Or hammering themselves for hours on end on the turbo. Plus it’s not very efficient. Is it just a bad habit? It’s much more effective to get your training stress from high intensity rides or big zone 3 sessions than spending hours in the “low quality zone”. If you haven’t already it’s definitely worth considering getting a coach to help you develop alongside the constraints of a full time job & a family. 

You need to shave your legs

You don’t need to shave your legs to go faster. There are now plenty of elite athletes that post some incredible bike times, without shaving their legs. It’s not a necessity, though you will thank yourself for it if you hit the deck. If you don’t manage to stay shiny side up you might spend a while picking stones out of your leg hairs, and that’s not somewhere we’d want to be! 

— WHY YOU SHOULD TRAIN WITH POWER —

MTB is safer than Road

There are a lot of very questionable drivers out there, granted. And the road is a dangerous game, especially in the city. It’s also very common in racing for big smash ups to happen, especially in the lower categories. This doesn’t make it any more unsafe that MTB racing or riding. You see just as many big accidents in this game as you would in the road world, there’s just less traffic involved. Unless you hit a stray farm yard animal!

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing

Icy roads, huge downpours that make it too sloppy to ride. There are certainly weathers that make us thankful for the turbo. There’s a reason a lot of the professional teams base themselves outside of the UK for winter. That’s because it’s very difficult to get the top quality training in outdoors in this weather. It can get very dangerous, and you wear through a lot of kit. Some days, it’s best to just leave the bike indoors, and sit this play out.