My cycling season has begun! Most of you are not cyclists, so I thought you might like to hear a few interesting tidbits about us. Like any athlete, we have our own peculiarities that might or might not be obvious to the casual observer. Here are ten:
- Yeah, you drivers make us nervous, too. We just learn to be brave and adapt. I know you don’t like our presence on the roads, but for long-distance training, the road is the best place. Plus many of us commute via bike or ride to the store to save gas. Please be kind and share the road.
- The rumors are true: we don’t generally wear underwear beneath our cycling shorts. I don’t see why you couldn’t, but I’m told that bad things happen if you try. Lest you think us immodest, cycling shorts have a built-in gel pad in the crotch for added comfort. So, um, anything you might think you see on a cyclist isn’t necessarily the real thing.
- We notice wind a lot more than normal people. In a car, you only feel the wind if you’re getting buffeted by a really nasty crosswind. On a bike, even a 15mph headwind can make you work much harder, and a 15mph crosswind with stronger gusts can throw off your balance.
- We are required to obey all normal traffic laws plus stay as far toward the right as practical. So if there’s a red light or stop sign , we’re supposed to stop. Unfortunately, we don’t always comply, which can lead to nasty accidents. We need to obey the law so the drivers know what to expect from us.
- We have a saying, “The motor is more important than the bike.” In other words, the bike is merely a tool for the cyclist to use. You could put Lance Armstrong on an entry-level road bike and me on his five-figure pro bike and have us race. I assure you that Armstrong would smoke me, with or without PEDs. Why? Because his motor is so much better than mine. I could trade in my mid-level roadie for something twice as expensive, and I’ll bet it would only increase my speed by 1-2mph at most.
- We don’t get as sweaty as other athletes due to the constant wind. Riding in the Texas summer is much better than running because I can ride over twice as fast, letting the wind evaporate my sweat much faster and cooling me off much better. Sure, I might not smell any better once I get back, but my cycling jersey won’t be soaked like my running shirt would be.
- Our jerseys are ridiculously expensive. Well, by my definition, anyway. A normal one will generally run $75-80. I’m sure some are much higher. But they are really nice for riding. They fit tightly for low drag, are made of wicking material to keep us cool, and have three pockets on the back to hold gels, phones, keys, etc. (remember, our cycling shorts don’t have pockets)
- To my knowledge, the vast majority of us ride clean. Sure, the vast majority of us aren’t winning, either. But even among the elites, the sport seems to have cleaned up quite a bit over the last few years after all the doping scandals of the 1990s and 2000s. Apparently the testing methods have improved significantly, making it much harder to cheat.
- I’ve already touched on the dangers of cars. Young children, dogs, and people wearing headphones are also major hazards for us, mainly in neighborhoods or on bike trails through local parks. Yes, some cyclists are out for a leisurely ride on a 30-pound cruisers with 3-inch tires, but some of us are working out and going 15-20mph during some stretches. If a kid or dog or distracted walker jumps out in front of us at the last second, everyone involved is going to get seriously hurt. I have reminded more than one irresponsible dog owner about the park’s leash laws. It usually has little impact, but I try.
- We can burn 1000 calories or more during a ride. According to my iPhone app, I burn around 50 calories per mile. On my last ride, I covered 23.3 miles and burned 1153 calories in about 90 minutes. I’m not that strong a rider, so a faster rider might be able to burn 1000 calories/hour or more.
Hope this helps! If you have any specific questions, fire away.