Five common cycling mistakes to steer clear of

Beginner cycling tips to avoid ruining a big ride

If you’ve been working towards a big ride all year, then the last thing you want is for it to all go wrong on the day. Avoid these regular errors...

Most of these mistakes have caught out many of BikeRadar's team in the early days. Learn from our sage advice so you don't fall into the traps that have caught other cyclists out.

In addition, you may want to have a look at our other guides, such as our best tips for sportives, our bike maintenance guides and our collection of nutrition tips for cyclists.

  • UK readers: can you help us get more people on bikes? Whether you’re a keen cyclist or a complete beginner, we’d love you to get involved in our Get Britain Riding campaign, in association with B’Twin. Click here to sign up!

1. Avoid setting unrealistic goals

You should have spent plenty of time training in the build up to your ride, and this will have allowed you to work out how hard you can go for the distance you will be riding.

Using a heart rate monitor or power meter will help you measure this, but if you don’t have either get a feel for your optimum pace. 

Resist the temptation to set a goal for your ride that is vastly greater than your training speed suggests is realistic. You will risk blowing up on the day and will end up disappointed.

2. Fuel right

Sort out your fuelling and hydration strategy in training so that you have it nailed down on the big day. Don’t rely just on the event’s feed stations, and take with you supplies of products that you know work for you.

Get used to riding with others to improve your confidence and bike handling in a group

Check out our article What to eat before, during and after a big ride for some helpful nutrition ideas.

3. Sort your bike out

If you know your way around your bike, give it a good service in the weeks leading up to your event, and if you aren’t fully confident book it into your local bike shop a couple of weeks beforehand. 

This will give them time to do the work, order any parts, and allow time for the cables to settle in. There’s not much that’s more frustrating than failing to finish due to your bike letting you down when your legs feel good.

Our bike maintenance section has probably got the info you need to get your bike in order.

4. Stay upright

Some crashes can’t be avoided, but you can reduce the risk by riding within your limits — especially on descents. Check out our guide How to descend safely on a road bike for some tips.

Riding in a group safely is a key cycling skill
Riding in a group safely is a key cycling skill

Also, get used to riding with others to improve your confidence and bike handling in a group. Joining a local club is a good way to get some practice in and make friends. Just be sure to read our guide to riding in a group first!

5. Don't miss the start

If you’re travelling on the morning, set two alarms and allow time to get there, stretch and warm up before heading to the start line. 

Pack the night before so that you don’t have to mess around in the morning.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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