While it may be easy to assume that most of these mistakes are reserved for rookies, sometimes even veteran cyclists can have bad habits – things they picked up while learning the trade and now are established in their riding. Some of these mistakes are made by good riders who don’t realize they are doing anything wrong. Luckily, with a little education, most of these problems are simple to fix. Let’s take a look at some of the most common and most egregious mistakes.
You’re not in England
This is a really common mistake, because the poor education starts early. I remember as a kid, parents and others telling me to ride on the opposite side of the road because I would be able to see the oncoming traffic better. This isn’t a past misconception either. I’ve heard parents tell children the same thing in the past weeks and months. Riding UK style is the most common reason for bike/car collisions. You are a vehicle when you are riding, so make sure to follow all the laws as applicable.
Gearing for the Hill
Waiting for the climb to start before shifting down puts a lot of undue stress on you bike. This also happens when you try to shift while standing or running heavy. If you’ve been dropping your chain a lot, your problem may be poorly timed shifting.
This has become such a prevalent problem that KSL had a feature story on it a few months back. I was able to visit with them to talk about the dangers of cyclists breaking the law and what the new laws mean. Cyclists often want the protection that comes from being treated like a vehicle, but then take advantage of the system by running red lights, rolling through stop signs, and riding on sidewalks. To be safe, we need to ride safe. Obey all laws like you would in a motor vehicle. To find the few exceptions you can watch the video above, or get the book we wrote all about cycling in Utah. We’ll send it to you free if you visit http://utahaccidentbooks.com/.
360 Pedal Power
Clipless pedals offer more than just convenience or fashion. They allow you to put power in your stroke all the way through. If you’re only pushing on the down stroke then you’re losing half your stroke and half your power. You can think about it like you’re pushing through peanut butter – down, around, and back up. Another power thief is having the wrong saddle height. This will rob you of the effectiveness of your stroke, and it could also contribute to injuries. Your knees should be about 90% extended at the bottom of your pedal.
Heading in the Right Direction
The most dangerous mistake anyone can make is deciding to bike helmetless. I’ve heard all the excuses, “I look goofy in my helmet,” or “It makes me sweat too much,” or “I’m only going down the street.” I’ve heard them all and they’re all stupid. In 2009, 91% of cycling deaths were people without a helmet. These are largely preventable deaths that could have been avoided with a few dollars and a couple of seconds of preparation. Helmets have come a long way in style, function, and affordability. Don’t be a statistic.
Photo courtesy of Paul Krueger.