Are These Five Myths Messing Up Your Rides?

Peter Glassford
by Peter Glassford
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Are These Five Myths Messing Up Your Rides?

Cycling has its own set of rules and best practices that help new riders progress initially but sometimes these rules of thumb are taken out of context or to extremes. As you progress as a cyclist it is important to challenge the rules and norms that might be holding your riding back.

Cycling is a gear-heavy sport; you need a bike, a helmet and clothes to do it. That said, it is possible to pedal a bike cheaply using bike-share programs, buying a used bike or doing spin classes at the gym. If you want to buy but find yourself short on a lump sum, the cost of purchasing can now be spread out with financing at many shops and manufacturers. Whether you buy or finance your bike, think of the purchase in terms of the long-term benefit as many people use their bike for several seasons.

While the latest gear is great, it is important to remember that even bikes from 30 years ago were two wheels, a frame and a chain linked to pedals that allowed humans to have fun and travel great distances. Many great riders ride older gear, used gear and models that are not top of the line with great success and enjoyment. Whether that means a frameset that is a few grams heavier (but significantly cheaper) or drive train that is cheaper but still very durable and proficient at moving your chain up and down the cassette. Save your splurging for key contact points like shorts, seat, bar-tape, gloves, shoes and glasses, which will help keep you safe, comfortable and riding longer.


I use MyFitnessPal with my Smart Athlete Coaching clients to get an idea of what they are eating (quality) and how much they are eating (quantity). Often their error is not eating during long and/or hard rides. Many riders think they can cut calories during a ride only to come home and eat a whole pizza because they are so hungry. These depleted rides are generally poor quality (lower wattage) and the post-ride gorging derails efforts at weight loss.

Shifting is very confusing and hard to teach. I have had success teaching shifting to all levels of cyclists by putting the bike in a repair stand and showing riders how the buttons work without the distraction of pedaling and balancing. Learning how the chain moves and that the shifter is not a magic button but part of a relatively crude system that pushes the chain back and forth between two metal plates. Once you know the limits of the system you can get on the bike and try shifting on a gradual hill listening for a loud, grinding shift, which indicates you had too much load on the chain. As you become proficient with shifting you will notice improvements in your climbing, accelerating, starting and sprinting abilities.

There is a cycling discipline for everyone. Do some research in your area for things like velodromes (indoor tracks), cyclocross practices, mountain bike rides (or ‘no-drop’ rides) and fat-bike clubs. Even spin class and trainer rides may be something you enjoy if you come from a gym or indoor sport background. Not all disciplines require huge fitness either. Mountain biking is a mix of fitness and technical skill, while low-key disciplines like bike-packing are quite different from high-intensity road rides. For those looking for something exhilarating, downhill mountain biking prioritizes technical ability over fitness.


Since road cycling is popular and gets most of the television coverage it is not surprising most people think about Lycra-clad Tour De France riders with shaven legs. (Only a small subset of cyclists actually wear tight clothing and shave their legs, however.) Many brands have great athletic clothing lines that let you look good and stay comfortable on and off the bike.

About the Author

Peter Glassford
Peter Glassford

Peter is a cycling coach and registered kinesiologist from Ontario, Canada. He travels frequently to work with athletes at races, camps and clinics. He also races mountain bikes for Trek Canada and pursues adventure in all types of movement. Follow @peterglassford on Twitter, or check out his online and in-person coaching at


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