5 Enemies of Every Single Cyclist

By Adam Marsal

Every cyclist faces annoying things with the incredible potential of turning our daily ride into torment. Here are the five most unpopular obstacles and solutions to combat them.

1. Headwind

Headwind might slow your pace into a crawl. Instead of experiencing delight from the ride, you’re feeling like being tortured on the road. So, what now? Riding with a mate would help as you can change leading positions to draft. If there’s nobody else to share the fight against the wind, get as low as possible, which means holding the drop bars at their lowest end-points and tuck your chin down onto your chest. The most important aspect is taking it easy mentally – somebody might tell you the Buddhist way. Going slow brings you less fun than flying like a bolt but it’s still cycling and for people taking the ride as training, this is just a more intense workout than usual, which will make you even happier once the trip is over. The other thing is that as soon as you change the direction back home, the exhausting headwind turns into a blessing tailwind that evens your velocity with the speed of passing cars.

The exhausting headwind turns into a blessing tailwind as soon as you turn towards home.

2. Road debris

Getting a flat can’t be avoided for all but you can still solve this issue elegantly by using tubeless tires. Despite the little more complicated initial set-up, they’ll prevent many troubles. Not only they’ll provide you with a more comfortable ride but they’re also more resistant to glass or other sharp objects causing punctures as the inner sealant will sort out most minor slashes. Even if the puncture makes your tire flat, you still can repair it by placing a regular tube inside.

3. Dogs

Most dogs are friendly but some of them might get you in trouble. The first group of complicated dogs are those ignoring bicycles or not regarding them as a potential threat when it comes to collisions. Generally, it’s highly advisable to slow down any time a strange dog stands in the direction of your ride. In most cases, you’ll pass them safely. The slow pace enables you to launch a safe avoiding move if the dog unexpectedly crosses your line. Rather than a threat, it’s mostly just ignorance of the traffic. Dogs are smart with balls but they know little about highway codes. So, please, be patient with those furry fools. And what about the angry dogs? Speed works in your favour most of the time so you’ll escape just by pushing the pedals a little more. If you get in an aggressive encounter, put your bicycle between the beast and yourself and use the air pump as your defence.

Cycling Dog
Not every dog loves cycling as much as you do.

4. Cobblestones

Riding over cobblestones might induce the illusion that your teeth are about to fall out just behind the next corner. Well, cobblestones will make your ride bumpy anyway but you can still make it slightly more comfortable. Avoid holding the bars too firmly because this would lead to your fingers getting stiff and painful soon. It helps to hold the bars loosely. Using your eyes, try to find the least uneven line on the road. Usually, the middle of the road lane is passable the best since heavy trucks or tractors compressed the cobbles under their wheels on the sides, so you get a hit every time your wheel gets stuck in the increasing gaps between the paving stones. Professional cyclists taking part in the Paris-Roubaix race would tell you that riding faster and using heavier gear might bring you over the gaps easier too.

5. Rain and wet road

Since we can hardly assume that you’d change your tire or put the mudguard on in the middle of the trip when the rain starts, we will focus only on tips that might help you right away. To avoid a slide risk, let a little bit of air out of the tires. Reducing tire pressure will improve the grip as there will be more rubber in direct contact with the surface. Use your brakes wisely because using your front brake lever would most probably lock the front wheel. Once your front wheel loses traction, it’s a task for a stuntman to stay on the bike. Never use brakes when crossing the tramway tracks or manhole covers.