We’re a fun-loving and relatively easy-going bunch, us cyclists – just give us an open road and we’ll find hours of potential fun. Well, until the heavens open, our tyres burst or the dreaded bonk arrives, of course.
You see, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to cycling, no matter what the adverts and glossy magazine photos might tell you. Sometimes cycling can be a pretty torrid experience, one that not even a mid-ride café stop and fresh slice of Victoria sponge can improve.
There are a lot of things that can give us the hump while riding, but here are a few that are universally hated, from potholes to getting dropped and everything in between…
[Disclaimer: we love cycling, we really do! To see just how much, check out our Instagram feed]
No matter your bike handling skills or younger years spent shredding the local BMX track, no one likes having to dodge potholes while riding on the road. Not only are they incredibly annoying, they’re also quite dangerous, especially if you hit one unexpectedly.
It’s often quite tough to find exactly which part of your bike is making that dreadful racket – is it the head tube? The brakes? The chain rubbing?
The only way to really find out is to make a habit of maintaining, cleaning, lubing or replacing tired parts. If that doesn’t work, your next option is to systematically remove each potential culprit until you’ve only got one left. If your bike is still squeaking after that then we’d hazard a guess that it’s probably not coming from the bike at all – your knees perhaps?
One of the worst parts about joining a group ride is the inevitable bike envy you’re going to experience. There’s no avoiding it; even with your prized machine by your side, you’re bound to feel jealous of all the sparkly and blinged-up roadsters passing you by. You can’t even look away, the unmistakable sound of ceramic bearings will soon have you drooling all over your bar tape.
One of the best parts of riding a bike is cresting a hill or mountain after a big effort. This feeling of euphoria can quickly turn sour, however, when you discover that the ‘summit’ you’ve just sprinted to isn’t quite the top of the climb. In fact, it’s barely even past the halfway point.
Time to climb off and push the rest of the way…?
Punctures are a cyclist’s kryptonite, able to turn a ride upside down in an instant. One moment you’ll be recalling lines from a Keats or Wordsworth poem while riding through the countryside, the next you’ll be cursing all the words under the sun as you’re trying with all your might to remove the tyre from its rim.
Guy or girl, wrestling with your bib shorts at the side of the road while your bladder is screaming at you is one of the worst feelings in the world. This can be made even worse when you can’t find a suitable place to go, roadside hedgerows and drystone walls offering little privacy from onlooking motorists.
If there’s one good thing to come from this, however, then it’s an excuse for more café stops, and who doesn’t love one of those?
The dreaded bonk
We’ve got a lot of different names for the feeling that you get when you completely empty the tank, but ‘bonking’ is perhaps the most well-known, in cycling at least. Sometimes you can feel it coming on, the rising lactate and taste of blood in your mouth enough to tell you that you need to throw a gel down your throat.
Other times it can arrive without any warning, your whole body shutting down in the blink of an eye. It’s at these times that you’ll need a riding friend with you, coaxing you out of your stupor by handfeeding you small mouthfuls of chocolate.
Running out of gears
You’re approaching the foot of the main climb of the day, feeling great and ready to set a new KOM. You reach for the right shifter to click down a gear but are met with no response. You try again, a little more desperately this time, worrying that the 10% ramp is getting ever closer.
You look down at your cassette and, to your absolute horror, discover that you’re already in the bottom gear. Time to hold on tight, grind it out and accept that you won’t be setting a KOM anytime soon.
We’re all for wearing whatever you want while riding, but if there’s one thing that we’re going to draw a line under then it’s these monstrosities.
Not only are they an assault on the eyes, especially when partnered with a garish jersey, they’re also hugely impractical. We won’t get into the dirty details here, so we’ll just leave you with the one word – stains.
Whether you’re a complete newbie or seasoned pro, there’s no worse feeling than getting dropped. It doesn’t matter what’s on the line, Tour de France title or town sign sprint, it hurts us all the same.