Whether you’ve been reluctant to get out of bed and join your friends on the group ride or you’ve lost the wheel of the rider in front on the tough local climb, we’ve all pulled out at least one of these popular cycling excuses.
Novice or veteran, there are not many excuses that we haven’t heard before. If you do come across an obscure one, however, be sure to stash it away in your jersey pocket just in case you ever need to dish it out during your next ride…
“The weather doesn’t look too good”
The go-to excuse for fair-weather cyclists, this is one that gets batted around the group chat every weekend morning, you and your riding mates just waiting for someone to call the whole thing off. We’re all human; once one of us pulls out we all start to fall like dominoes.
This is one of the few excuses that’s occasionally warranted, but even in the UK, it’s rare that the weather is so bad that we really cannot ride outside. If you’re ever in doubt of the weather and questioning whether the ride should go ahead, just channel this quote from Billy Connolly:
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes, so get yourself a sexy raincoat and live a little.”
Time to don those jackets, gloves and bib tights, and get riding!
“My bike is in for maintenance”
This is a niche one and tough to pull off if you can’t remember your made-up maintenance issue. If you are going to try it on, be sure to revise all of your bike’s possible ailments, from a snapped spoke to a rusted groupset.
Whatever you do, however, do not tell the group that it’s down at the mechanics for a puncture. They’ll either see straight through your bare-faced lie or you’ll be laughed straight out of the group for not being able to fix a simple puncture – both equally as embarrassing.
“Pesky knee, it’s playing up again”
If there’s one excuse that’s almost bulletproof, then it’s this one – no-one can argue with a medical problem.
It’s so versatile that it can be dished out whenever you feel the need: before a ride as one big get-out clause or during the ride as you approach the toughest climb. Just be careful not to overdo it; your friends aren’t going to be too sympathetic when they start questioning how exactly you did it, only to find out that you knocked it while partying the night before.
“I’m on a rest day”
You’ve just woken up from a pretty heavy night out at the local boozer, feeling a little sluggish and not quite up for the route ahead. Your mates don’t need to know this however, so just tell them you’ve had a week full of hard riding and this is your planned rest day.
It only takes one of them to open Strava though and your story starts to unravel. One look on Instagram and it’s gone, the cover blown as your high-school friends post an embarrassing photo of you from the night before standing on a bar, topless, with a pint in hand.
“I might have overdone it at the café…”
It’s easy to overdo it at the café stop, weighing yourself down with stodgy cakes and sugary treats – admit it, we’ve all done it. What’s not so easy however is climbing the hills afterwards, your body ruing every last morsel of cake and pastry that you crammed in at the café.
If you’re struggling to keep up with the rest of the group, you’ll want to start feigning digestive distress early – perhaps even before you’ve left the café. By the time you reach the climb, your friends might be so sympathetic that they even start to give you a push.
“I stopped to take a photo”
You’ve reached the top of a climb, exhausted and completely out of breath, only to find that your entire group is already there, tapping their wrists and asking where you’ve been.
You could be honest and admit to poor form, but then again, you’re a cyclist and there’s no such thing as poor form, just troublesome equipment. Instead, why not pull this photo excuse out of the bag; it’s certainly believable, as long as you haven’t just climbed a featureless A road.
“You should have told me, I’ve got other plans now”
This is one excuse we’ve all used at one point or another, biding our time on the morning of the group ride before another member messages us directly:
“Are you coming along today? We haven’t seen you post anything in the group chat.”
“Oh sorry, I didn’t see the message, I’ve just booked in at Pampered Pooches and my appointment is in an hour…”
‘Ah well, there’s always next week’ you tell yourself as you put your feet up, dive into a bag of crisps and throw on a re-run of the 2009 Tour of Flanders, wondering all the while what it would be like if you actually had a dog.
“My electronic shifting isn’t fully charged”
There are two reasons why a lot of riders are choosing to go electronic over mechanical these days. The obvious is smoother shifting, but can you guess the second?
Yes, with electronic shifting you’ve got yet another failsafe to fall back on just in case you’ve run out of other excuses. It’s an expensive choice, but one that not many can argue with.
“I took the wrong turn”
If you’re ever struggling up a climb or can’t quite hold onto the wheel in front, just stop, take a breather, munch a chocolate bar and slow your heart rate right down. Then cruise to the top of the climb, fresh-faced and whistling; your friends will soon look at you all puzzled and ask where you’ve been.
Simply reply with an, “Oh, I turned left at the junction and did the climb over there first before realising you all headed up here, my bad – race you to the next one?”
They’ll quickly turn down your challenge, fearing that you’re some sort of future Grand Tour contender.
“No, you’re late”
If you’re all out of excuses and you know you’re running late to the meeting point, this is the perfect one to pull out of your locker. It’s impossible for you to be late if you’re already at a meeting point, right? Granted, it might not be the right one but it’s a meeting point none the less.
Just phone your ever-reliable and on-time friend and ask, “Where are you guys? I’ve been at the meeting point for the past half hour!” They’ll tell you where the actual meeting point is as you step out of your front door, the group none the wiser to the fact that your meeting point was in fact your front porch.