You Don't Practice Proper Bike Maintenance1 of 18
If you're prone to leaving dirty dishes in the sink, ignoring the laundry for weeks at a time or letting the garbage pile up like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you probably don't take care of your bike the way you should, either. Just like you shouldn't let the Check Engine light on your car go ignored, odd noises and issues with your bike should be addressed in a timely fashion. You know what they say about a well-oiled machine? For something that costs nearly as much as your car (and sometimes more), why wouldn't you want it working at its best?
You Fail to Announce You're Passing2 of 18
This is a recipe for an accident. Sure, you might feel silly shouting, "On your left!" However, making people aware that you're coming up alongside them can prevent a collision or, at the very least, avoid unwanted surprises.
You're Guilty of Half Wheeling3 of 18
It's common group ride etiquette to stay parallel to the cyclist riding next to you. Rather than speeding up and slowing down erratically, stick to the pace and formation of the group and don't be the annoying half wheeler everyone hates.
You Stay in a Higher Gear When Stopping4 of 18
Trust us—this one's mainly for your own benefit. Try getting started after a stop, while clipped in and in a high gear, and you'll know why it's on the list. It's much easier to restart pedaling in a lower gear than to have to put all your weight into moving the pedals--especially if there are other cyclists in the peloton behind you, or even cars waiting to move.
You Avoid the Doctor5 of 18
If you've been cycling for a while, you're probably pretty good at recognizing when a pain is just routine soreness as opposed to something more serious. When you know it's the bad kind of pain, don't just brush it aside and think to yourself, I can push through. Sometimes, those small aches are warning signs of bigger things to come. Do yourself a favor and stop by the doc's office to get it checked out just in case.
You Skip Sunscreen6 of 18
While you might not regret it during your ride—or even realize you forgot it—you'll definitely feel the effects of skipping sunscreen after the fact. The burning, itching and peeling that comes along with a sunburn is something that will ensure you never forget the SPF 100 ever again.
You Ride Without a Helmet7 of 18
It's that one time you say to yourself, I'm just running to the store, that the accident happens. You hear the screech of tires before hitting your head on the ground after colliding with a car—then you're dealing with concussion symptoms for months to come. But we don't have to tell you helmets are important, right?
You Wear Headphones8 of 18
Unless you're in the pain cave in the safety of your own home, headphones are never a good idea while you're in the saddle. They can prevent you from hearing important alerts from cars, other cyclists and emergency vehicles that, if unnoticed, can be disastrous. Stay safe on the road and leave those buds at home the next time you head out for a ride.
You Go Too Hard Right Out of the Gate9 of 18
Whether it's a group ride, a sweat session in the pain cave or an actual race, you never want to spend all your energy up front and end up bonking before even getting in sight of the finish line (and post-ride pint). With time, you'll learn just how much effort you can give and the ideal pace you can ride at without completely burning out.
You Miss Important Non-Cycling Events10 of 18
In the heart of race season, it's possible you'd rather head to bed at nine o'clock than go to happy hour with the gang—and that's fine. But skipping birthday parties, family gatherings and other important obligations in the name of cycling will only put you on the fast track to loneliness. While you might think your training sessions are the most important things on your calendar, it's also important to make time for loved ones.
You Skip Rest Days and Recovery11 of 18
You've been on a roll on the bike recently—figuratively and literally. A scheduled rest day comes up, and you decide to skip it. Hey, you're not tired, sore or needing a break. Fast forward two months, and your body is overworked and you just can't seem to find the motivation to kit up and get out on the road. What if you had taken that rest day?
Days off from cycling do more than allow your body to recover from the stress it endures in the saddle--although that's a big part. They also help prevent burnout and are even necessary for improving performance. A rest day doesn't mean you have to sit on the couch and do nothing, either. Foam rolling, taking an ice bath and stretching are all great options.
You're Unprepared for a Mechanical12 of 18
Unless you have money to burn on cab rides or an extremely gracious and forgiving significant other willing to pick you up whenever you get a flat, preparing for the worst is the best thing you can do before setting out on a ride. An extra tube, CO2 cartridge and multitool are must-haves, as well as the knowledge to fix all the basic mishaps, from flat tires to broken chains.
You Break Traffic Laws13 of 18
Traffic laws weren't just made for cars. They were made to keep everyone on the roads safe, including cyclists. Do the rest of your cycling counterparts a favor and don't fall into the cycling stereotype--the one that drives motorists mad and inspires folks to sign petitions to kick bicycles off the road. Don't blow through stop signs (even if it means having to unclip), neglect to use your hand signals or run through red lights.
You Set Your Expectations Too High14 of 18
If you're an amateur cyclist who just rides for fun on an old fixie on the weekends, don't expect to be winning the Tour de France anytime soon. And while your long-range goals might not be that unrealistic, it's important to keep yourself in check with smaller, achievable goals that you can reach along the way. After all, it's not fun to fail, is it?
You're Cheap About Bib Shorts15 of 18
Cycling's expensive—we get it—but one thing you shouldn't skimp on is your cycling shorts. You'll thank us the next time you come back from a ride feeling fresh as can be down there, and not suffering from saddle sores, chafing or something worse just because you wanted to pinch pennies.
You Compare Yourself to Others16 of 18
Setting out on each ride ready to beat all the other cyclists on the road isn't a way to improve your performance. Unless you've trained for the speed at which they're riding, you're more likely to bonk than to get better. Your one true opponent is yourself, and beating your own past results is the best way to become a better cyclist.
You Forget to Have Fun17 of 18
Can you honestly say cycling is just as fun now as it was when you were a kid, with the wind blowing through your hair and uncontrollable joy filling your heart? For the majority of cyclists, the answer is no—but it shouldn't be that way. You should cycle because it's what you love to do, because it's fun and because it's how you want to spend your time. Don't forget that.