Are you a doctor saving someone's life over the phone? No? Hang up and ride, buddy, or at least take it to the back of the pack.
Illustration by Mike Reisel
As you're thinking of all the things you'd like to do as a cyclist—train smarter, lose weight, win a race or two—it might be wise to consider a few things you shouldn't do.
Over the years we've seen our fair share of stupid moves. Heck, we've committed more than a few of them at some point ourselves. To help you on your merry racing way, we've compiled a few things to avoid, and added a few suggestions on what to do instead.
Don't Be That Guy...
...who ignores pointing out debris and potholes on the road. There is all manner of danger out there, and those behind you can't necessarily see it.
» Instead, honor the golden rule
Ride like the person you like riding behind. Assume anyone riding on your wheel is blind to anything in front of you, and err on the side of caution when it comes to anything that could cause a crash or puncture.
...who warms up obliviously on a mountain bike or cyclocross course while others are racing. If race officials allow it, warming up on course is fine. But not paying attention will put you in the way of those who are racing.
» Instead, get to the race early
With enough time, you can properly scout out the course and master any specific technical sections by riding and re-riding without screwing up someone else's race.
...who is unnecessarily sketchy in a race.
» Instead, learn how to better pick and hold your line through corners and in the pack
Keep in mind, however, that riders with well-honed skills can find holes and take lines that other less adept riders may find sketchy. If you have the skills, then exploit them. Unnecessary sketchiness happens when you take chances without the proper skills and put yourself and racers around you in danger.
...who highlights every single race on the calendar. Remember, rest is just as important as training and racing, and unless you're paying for "training supplements" from Eufemiano Fuentes, chances are your body can only peak a few times each season.
» Instead, choose three or four races you want to be in peak physical condition for
Use the other events as training. And don't be afraid to take a weekend off now and again.
...who takes a King-Kong pull at the front and then gets dropped. If your aim is to impress your fellow group riders, then not dropping yourself is a better option.
» Instead, take a seamless pull
Gauge your effort on the front and then drop back into the draft while you still have something in the tank.
...who waits until the morning of the race to fill out registration.
» Instead, take care of everything possible prior to race morning
Online registration saves time and eases stress, allowing more time for warming up and porta-potty lines.
...who turns up late for a three-hour training ride sans water, food, spare and money, then tries to dictate the day's labors.
» Instead, be prepared and flexible
Be that guy who's on time, ready for anything and flexible about training. And bring a little something extra just in case that other fellow shows up, too.
...who does the same ride over and over. And over again until you're on a first-name basis with all the potholes and could ride it in your sleep.
» Instead, take that carbon wonderbike down a new road, maybe even a dirt one, now and again. Rekindle the spirit of adventure that got you into this sport in the first place. Besides keeping you mentally fresh, the variation in terrain will be good for your training.