Let’s look at the dangers of cycling and also the mishaps of cycling, especially in races. These things happen when you least expect it, and it could be anything from a front tire blowout to feeling ill in the middle of a race.
Although these moments can be relatively small cycling struggles, like getting dropped within the first 10km of a 200km day, or enormous ones like a COVID pandemic that forces you to spin on your indoor cycle. At the same time, you stare out of the window at that glorious summer day.
These mishaps and dangers of cycling happen, but there is always a way to push through any situation and keep progressing.
Who knows, you may even emerge from a bad situation with a personal win.
Here are some ways to deal with those rough patches that come your way from time to time.
Mishaps And Dangers Of Cycling
The Start Is Just Too Fast
You’re lined up for a big cycling event, and suddenly everyone takes off with a burst, hammering along at 40 km/h and hopping over curbs all vying for that front position. Not only is this one of the dangers of cycling as you could crash and fall, but it leaves you feeling slightly panicked.
If an event has a starting line, it will probably always start hard, but don’t panic.
Do a goal check with yourself. Why did you enter, to win, to be in the top 20, or simply to finish?
Remember that the pace will start to slow down, so keep reminding yourself about this as the riders all pass you by.
Keep these tips in mind from Bicycling SA: (*FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power)
- If the race is shorter than two hours, start with a burst (100 to 140% of FTP) for up to two minutes and then go a little less (100 to 120% of FTP) for the next eight minutes.
- Do your best to get into a fast group that will help pull you along.
- If the race is longer than two hours, then start at 100% if FTP and hold it there for the first 10 to 20 minutes, then fade to 85% of FTP for as long as you can carry it.
- If the race is over six hours, start at 90% of FTP and hold for ten minutes, then reduce to 80 – 85% FTP and hold for the first two hours to establish your gap. Then reduce to 70 to 80% FTP for the remainder of the event.
If you’re not worried about your timing, the solution is to let the fast cyclists go ahead of you and then ease into the race. You are very likely to pass many fast starters who put too much punch in at the beginning of the race.
Research shows that performing a good warm-up that includes some short, high-intensity movements before a race won’t actually have much bearing on finishing times, but it does benefit your oxygen delivery system so you don’t burn out during those first aggressive accelerations off the start.
You Start To Crack On A Climb
Climbing hills of all kinds topped the list of what riders said was the most challenging part of any ride. But gravity doesn’t have to be all bad.
Try varying those positions, as this changes the load on your working muscles. If you slide backward in the saddle, you use your glutes more, and scooting forward towards the nose, get the quads invited. Hover out of the saddle to get more punch into your pedals and stand upright occasionally to stretch out your legs and back. If you rotate through these positions, it will go a long way to prevent fatigue.
When the climb gets so steep that you’re going into a standstill or topple mode, try tucking your elbows into your sides, dip your torso toward the bars, and gently but firmly pull back on the bars with every downstroke you do. This lets you transfer power from your upper body through your core and into your legs to assist you in making forward progress.
Keep a bag of energy snacks handy for long rides with many long climbs. Pop a bite at the base of each hill to give your mood and muscles a little burst. It’s easier to keep the negative talk at bay if your brain has some sugar.
Taking deep breaths can help lower tension and deliver fresh oxygenated blood to your legs. If you feel yourself fading, forcefully exhale like you’re trying to blow all the air out of your lungs. The next breath you take will be fuller and deeper. This also has a calming effect and acts as a mental “reset.”
It will also help to time your breathing with your pedal stroke. Try breathing in for three counts and out for two on steady climbs and if the climbing gets more challenging, quicken your breathing to two counts in and one count-out.
You’re Staring Down A Scary Descent
You finally crested the summit of a really tough hill, and as you breathe that sigh of relief, you get to stare down a steep, rutted, rocky scary descent. Unfortunately, you are not on a mountain bike.
First, drop your psi. 60 psi sounds really slow to your road racers. Though it’s counterintuitive, high pressure on rough roads increases resistance, slows you down, and is less safe. Less pressure, on the other hand, lets the tire conform to the terrain, so you feel planted and in control. You can always pump it back up once you return to the roads with a hand pump or CO2 cartridge.
Now try and relax as you need stability and shock absorption on rough descents. If you have a death grip on your handlebars this won’t give your bike the freedom to correct itself and stay on course.
Move your hands to the drops in the bars with your elbows bent and relaxed and this will lower your center of gravity. Shift your weight backward in the saddle and bend your legs so they can act like springs to absorb the bumps.
You Don’t Feel Too Good!
If you find that you are suddenly feeling out of sorts, remember that digestion is compromised during endurance activity so sour stomachs are common.
First, you need to flush your system. Make sure you are getting adequate fluids especially if you are eating a lot of energy-type carbs. Things like energy gels aren’t diluted enough to be absorbed in a timely fashion, so they back up making you feel ill.
Drink either plain water or an electrolyte drink will help you to feel better.
Make sure you eat, as you should be replacing about half of the calories you’re burning per hour for rides longer than three or four hours. Not doing this will cause your blood sugar to drop and make you feel queasy.
If you suffer from indigestion, make sure to pack some Rennies.
You Get Dropped
Although it feels bad to get dropped from the group, it is often not final if you play your cards right.
After you get over yourself, take the chance to pick your head up and enjoy the scenery. Sometimes it is a joy to ride at your own pace without worrying about staying glued to the race. Hydrate, have a bite to eat and don’t be surprised if you catch up to the group or others that have been dropped who you can work with as you get a few more miles down the road.
It feels bad at the moment. But getting dropped is not all bad and often not final if you keep yourself focused.
Often you can see the drop happening before it actually happens. If you’re riding with a group that’s just a little faster, try to conserve energy at every pedal turn. Stay relaxed in the middle of the pack, where you’re not pulling or dangling off the back where the “accordion” effect can wear you out from repeated slowing and surging. Stay fueled and hydrated to keep your energy stores topped off. On climbs, start in the front to give yourself time and space to fall back without falling out.
The Headwinds Are Getting You Down
Of all the dangers of cycling, mishaps, or struggles, this is the most common complaint, with no simple solution in sight. Most of you dread them more than hills, which is totally understandable because unless you know you’ll reach a point where that wind will be at your back, blissfully pushing you all the way home, they feel totally deflating. You can’t stop the wind from blowing, but you can keep it from destroying your ride.
The solution is not to fight it but to treat it like a long climb. Shift into an easier gear and spin a smooth high cadence. Watch your watts and not your speed. Even if you are not making as much forward progress as you would like, you are still getting some work done.
Your bike only accounts for about 20 to 30 percent of your aerodynamic drag. The rest is your body, and mainly your frontal surface area. To lower the resistance, you want to decrease that surface area by making yourself low and narrow. The most aerodynamically efficient riding posture is with your hands on the hoods, arms bent with forearms parallel to the ground.
If you are riding in a group, use pack dynamics for protection. When you’re tucked behind another rider, you enjoy about a 30-percent reduction in wind resistance.
But even if you’re leading the charge, you still get a little boost, according to wind tunnel research, because having someone behind you creates a low-pressure air bubble that lowers the wind resistance by about 3 percent. Riding toward the back of the pack is a sweet spot with the least resistance, but minimize your time being the caboose. Being at the end of the line means you have no one behind you to create that low-pressure pocket, so it can feel harder to bring up the rear.
I hope that this post has helped you with some of your cycling mishaps and the dangers of cycling.
Happy cycling until next time.