7 hallmarks of an experienced cyclist
There are a few things that make experienced cyclists stand out from the crowd. When it comes to our sport though, there are no right or wrong ways of approaching certain things, but there are a few signs that show others that you know what you’re doing.
- Riding at a high cadence
- The right amount of kit
- Shaved legs and tan lines
- Track standing
- The right tool for all the jobs
- Making an art out of nutrition
- Even the café order has thought behind it
Riding at a high cadence
The most experienced road cyclists will look as if they’re always spinning their legs but still going relatively quickly in comparison to riders who are forcing a big gear. This is because over time a cyclist can train themselves to ride at both a high wattage and a high cadence so that they rarely drop under 80rpm. The average cyclist will find it tricky to ride at this rate straight away and may fatigue quickly. The cadence we can sustain varies from person to person so ride what is comfortable to you and eventually, with the help of varied training, your cadence and power will increase over time. A cadence sensor can also help you to improve your skills!
The right amount of kit
Wearing the correct kit for the conditions you’re riding in is one of the first lessons we learn in cycling, but often the easiest to disregard. In the UK where the weather is changeable, experienced cyclists will often start their rides in far more clothes than they finish them in. We get used to wearing arm and leg warmers under 10°C, then packing them away in our back pockets when the sun breaks through the cloud cover. Too often do you see riders bare legged and shivering away, repeatedly looking to the sky for signs of sunnier spells. When these prayers aren’t answered, it can lead to a nasty cold, muscle fatigue and other health issues. The lesson from experienced cyclists? Dress for the conditions you are currently in – the best weather forecast is seen from your window.
Shaved legs and tan lines
When they do eventually get their pins out, experienced cyclists more often than not have smooth shaved legs. For people outside the world of cycling this might seem a little bananas, but to the initiated shaved legs are a sign of true dedication. There are many different answers to why the everyday cyclist shaves their legs, but realistically it’s more a question of vanity and a badge of honour. That, and it’s what the pros do right?
The shaved leg look goes hand in hand with the dodgy tan line style that experienced cyclists love to display. Again, to everyone else these sharp bronze tan lines on a rider’s thighs and upper arms look ridiculous, but this is a sign of an experienced rider who spends a lot of time in the saddle.
When it comes to commuter cyclists you can tell the experienced ones by their traffic light etiquette. Not only do they not skip them, but they pull up in the bike box and engage in what looks like a sort of circus balancing act, a track stand. Holding their balance on the bike while remaining clipped in means that they can power away from the lights quicker than other road users, which means getting through potentially dodgy junctions or intersections before being bulked. That and let’s be honest, track stands look very cool.
The right tool for all the jobs
Experienced cyclists will also have all the tools for any bike maintenance problem. They have a deep knowledge when it comes to bike mechanics and can diagnose any issue from sight alone. Not only that but they somehow manage to bring all of these tools on a ride with them, packing them down into a tiny saddle bag. Where on Earth were you hiding that chain breaker, spare tube, tyre levers, hand pump, patches, multi-tool and pedal wrench all this time? Their bike is usually enviously clean too and working at the top of its game throughout the ride without so much as a dodgy shift or annoying clicking sound.
Making an art out of nutrition
As well as tools they also have an encyclopaedic knowledge of on-bike nutrition. Experienced riders are often tucking into a healthy homemade snack rather than a processed energy gel or bar. This way they can stay on top of all their nutrition needs and they understand how it’ll effect their performance. When riding with an experienced cyclist it can seem like they’re continuously drinking and filling up their bottles. Pre and post workout nutrition are incredibly important, and they know this all too well – experienced cyclists will have it down to a science, from morning porridge to recovery shakes ready and waiting for when they get home.
Even the café order has thought behind it
This nutrition extends to the mid-ride café stop as well. While everyone else is tucking into a nice chunk of cake and a creamy cappuccino, the experienced cyclists will be guzzling on fruit loaf and a date slice washed down by an espresso – exactly what’s needed to get round what’s left of the ride.
Can you identify any of these signs in yourself? Are you an experienced cyclist? The great thing about the multidisciplinary two-wheeled sport we play is that there are infinite ways to enjoy it. There’s no rulebook – just ride!
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