7 Things the Pros Do That You Shouldn’t

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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7 Things the Pros Do That You Shouldn’t

There’s a lot you can learn about cycling from watching the pros — but that doesn’t mean you should do everything they do. Here are seven habits you’ll commonly see in the pro peloton that you should steer clear of to be a safe, considerate and injury-free cyclist:

1

SLAMMING YOUR STEM

If you take a look at the pros’ bikes, you won’t find many with spacers beneath their stems. Instead, you’ll see the stem as far down the steering tube as possible, placing the handlebar several inches below the height of the seat post.  

In addition to making your bike look pretty cool, pro cyclists choose this setup for speed and aerodynamics. But keep in mind that you’ll need to be flexible and strong enough to tolerate this ultra-aggressive riding position for hours and hours out on the road. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a sore back and neck and likely end up injured.

For those of us not getting paid to ride a bike, it’s a better idea to opt for comfort over speed and let a bike fitter at your local bike shop determine how many spacers you need beneath your stem. This allows you to ride in a slightly more upright position and make the miles you put in out on the road easy to tolerate.

2

CYCLING IN THE MOUNTAINS IN BAD WEATHER

Rain or shine, pros are out training and racing. While you shouldn’t let a little cold or rainy weather keep you off the bike completely, there are times when you should stay off the bike. Icy roads and severe downpours are a few instances when you’ll want to opt for the indoor trainer or other cross-training options instead of heading out on the bike.

You’ll also want to avoid potentially dangerous situations like descending a steep mountain pass on slick roads, which drastically increases your chances of taking a spill at high speed. While the pros may need to take a few risks, you don’t — and ending up with a few broken bones when it can be avoided just doesn’t make sense.

3

CHANGING YOUR DESCENDING TECHNIQUES

During the Tour de France and other big pro races, you’ll see guys like Chris Froome using less than traditional riding positions while they descend. However, sitting on the top tube or resting the chest on the handlebars to get into a lower, more aerodynamic position for a boost of speed should be left to the pros.

These positions give you less overall control of your bike and can make for a dangerous situation at high speeds. Hitting a pothole or swerving just a little can throw your balance off and send you sliding on the pavement. For this reason, no matter how confident you are in your bike-handling skills, it’s better to opt for a traditional descending position with your butt on the seat and both hands on the handlebar drops at all times.

4

RIDING IN THE TIME TRIAL POSITION ON YOUR ROAD BIKE

On a breakaway, the pros sometimes adopt a time trial-like position, taking their hands off the handlebars and resting their forearms on the bar tops. This replicates the position you’d ride in with aerobars, lowering the chest for a more aerodynamic position.

While this might help save a few precious seconds that may be needed to keep a massive peloton off your tail as a pro, this can be dangerous for the rest of us. Taking your hands off the bars gives you little to no control over the bike and increases your chances of an accident. On the other hand, getting yourself as low as possible in the drops is always a safer, better alternative.

5

GETTING RIGHT BACK ON THE BIKE AFTER A CRASH

Unfortunately, pile ups in the peloton are all too common. Unless they’ve broken a collar bone or suffered another significant injury, most cyclists pop up and get right back on the bike after taking a spill.

Since most of us aren’t getting paid for reaching the finish line, a smarter option is to stop and take your time before getting back on the road. Check your helmet and make sure there isn’t any damage. If there is or if you think you might have hit your head during a crash, get checked out for a concussion as soon as possible and don’t get back on the bike. If you have any other injuries that are causing you pain, call it a day and have a friend or family member give you a ride to the hospital.

6

RELIEVING YOURSELF WHILE YOU RIDE

During a pro race you may have seen a rider or two attempt to relieve themselves while cruising down the road to keep from losing pace with the peloton. Aside from being messy and against the law, it’s also quite dangerous.

When it’s time to get rid of all the excess fluids you’ve consumed, attempt to find a restroom before pulling off to the side of the road. If that isn’t an option, you can still find a private roadside location that will allow you to park your bike and finish your business in a less rushed, more cleanly manner.


READ MORE > GOING COMMANDO AND OTHER (SENSITIVE) LESSONS LEARNED ON THE BIKE


7

TRAINING HARD ON CONSECUTIVE DAYS

Hard training weeks are good for everyone. But the pros always seem to take things to the next level. Doing intervals three days in a row or following up your weekly long ride with another hard effort the next day is a sure-fire way for most weekend warriors to end up over-trained and injured.

So unless you’re one of the most well-conditioned athletes on the planet, like say a Peter Sagan, the smarter way to train is to include a recovery workout or a day of rest in between hard efforts to let your body recover. Training this way not only makes you faster, but it keeps you healthy and riding pain free.

About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.

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