Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. When you’re on the bike, doing the wrong thing can result in an injury or accident that might have easily been avoided. Breaking any or all of these six common bad habits is a great start to becoming a better, safer cyclist.
Maybe it’s summer time and temps are over 100 degrees or you’re only running an errand a few blocks up the road or you don’t want to mess up your hair. Whatever your excuse, getting on the bike without your helmet is something you should never ever do. Period.
Like driving without a seatbelt, it only takes a split second for an accident to occur, and if it does you will be significantly increasing your chances of a serious head injury.
Try: Buy a helmet you like to wear. If the helmet you own is too hot for summer, look to purchase one with lots of vents. If you think your road helmet looks out of place when you’re on your commuter bike or cruiser running errands, purchase an urban helmet that’s slightly more stylish and doesn’t look weird with regular clothes.
We get it — long miles alone can get boring. While music is used often for extra motivation when you run or lift weights, on the road it can create a much more dangerous situation. Not being able to hear sirens, horns, other cyclists approaching from behind or other verbal warnings you should be aware of can cause an accident that may have otherwise been avoided.
To stay safe, cyclists should always ride defensively and be aware of their surroundings at all times. If you’re listening to music with headphones, this just isn’t possible.
Whether you’re in a car or on a bicycle, operating a vehicle while you’re using a smartphone can be incredibly dangerous. Taking selfies, pictures of your riding buddies, texting or even searching for directions are all things you should only do when you’ve pulled to the side of the road. Doing so while you ride takes your eyes away from traffic where it only takes a split second for something terrible to happen.
Try: Invest in a cycling-specific GPS that features a map, step-by-step directions to your destination and messaging alerts for incoming calls and texts to the front of your handlebars. This allows you to determine the importance of the call and decide whether or not you need to pull over without having to take your phone out of your jersey pocket.
Trying to best your PR a specific route or beat a previous timed segment is incredibly fun and can be a good way to spice up your rides with some harder efforts. However, doing so by taking huge risks is simply not worth it. Running red lights, rolling through stop signs, and weaving in and out of busy traffic are all things you should never do — even when you think no one else is around.
Try: Be a good ambassador for the sport. Your actions will be seen by other cyclists and motorists, and when you behave badly, you’re giving others a bad reputation as well. Always abide by traffic laws and make safety your first priority.
One of the great things about cycling is you can burn a ton of calories. If you ride at just 14 mph and weigh around 150 pounds, your calorie burn on a three-hour ride will likely be above 2,000 calories. While this might seem like the perfect time to reward yourself by splurging on pizza, beer and dessert, it’s a better idea not to negate all the hard work you’ve just put in.
Try: To get fit and lose weight, make good nutrition choices following a workout. Give your body exactly what it needs to replenish and refuel. This means lean proteins, lots of greens and avoiding processed foods and sugars.
What started out as an easy one-hour ride with a friend suddenly turns into an all-out suffer fest. While riding hard every once in awhile isn’t necessarily a bad idea, you should stick to your plan and make your easy days easy and your hard days hard. Completing too many hard workouts in a row when you are due a day of rest is a sure-fire way to end up overtraining and injured.
Try: Let your training partners know what your plans for the workout are. Instead of charging up a hill on an easy day because your training partner is looking for a challenge, stick to the plan. Invest in a heart rate monitor or power meter to help you with your pacing and make it easier to stay in the correct training zone on rides that are supposed to be geared toward recovery.