Cycling is an activity that’s easy to love – it keeps you fit, gets you from place to place quickly and is also a cheap and environmentally friendly way to travel! Unfortunately, too many cyclists wind up falling into bad cycling habits that can prove to be detrimental to their health and safety. If you find yourself engaging in any of these six common bad habits, then it’s high time that you cut them out and start practicing safer cycling!
1. Not taking good care of your bike
Apart from cleaning your bike, you also have to send it for regular maintenance sessions to keep your bike in tip-top condition. During maintenance, malfunctioning or worn-out parts can be replaced and tyres can be pumped to ensure they are at the right pressure. Taking good care of your bike prolongs your bike’s lifespan and also ensures that your rides are safe. You don't want your bike to fall apart when you're on the road or halfway up a rocky hillside!
2. Getting a bike of the wrong size
Riding a bike of the wrong size not only affects your comfort levels, it also increases the risk of injury. If you’re cycling for fitness purposes, a wrongly-sized bike also limits your athletic performance. This is why it’s always important to get a proper bike fitting from an experienced salesman. Also, don’t expect your ideal bike size to stay constant throughout your life – as your body changes, your bike’s size should change as well. Besides making sure your bike is the right size, it’s also essential to make sure your bike seat is at a comfortable height, so that you don’t end up placing excessive levels of tension on your muscles and joints while cycling.
3. Forgoing a helmet
Helmets are a must when you are cycling on the road – it’s the most basic safety measure ever! Accidents can happen anytime so always wear a helmet, even if the law doesn’t require you to wear one. Do your research and invest in a quality helmet. Never mind the cost; is there too high a price when it comes to protecting what's on your shoulders?
4. Not eating before or after cycling
Cycling is a calorie-burning exercise so it’s important that you eat well before or after cycling to ensure that you have enough energy to keep yourself going. It’s also important to stay hydrated, since you tend to sweat a lot when you cycle. Prioritising post-cycling nutrition is also important if you wish to optimise your recovery. This is especially crucial if you're training towards a competition or a huge event.
5. Skipping warm-up and cool-down sessions
Warm-ups and cool-downs may seem like a waste of time, but they are important in ensuring you don’t strain a muscle when cycling. Even if you are just doing stationary cycling indoors, proper warm-up and cool-down exercises are still necessary to maximise your performance and protect your body from injury.
6. Using headphones or texting when cycling
Our gadgets can literally be the death of us when they distract us from the road. Even if you are an experienced cyclist, it’s still crucial to keep all your attention on the road when you are cycling outdoors so put away the headphones and smartphone and keep alert to your surroundings. For off-road cyclists, having your full attention about you is necessary when it comes to avoiding accidents as you'll never know what's around the next bend or slope.
Cycling is as simple and straightforward as a sport can be, but our longevity within it depends on the formation of certain habits that are designed to maximise performance and keep us safe. The worse kind of accident to suffer is the kind that could have been easily prevented, so be sure to take note of the above!