Technique: Be bad, ride better!

10 naughty things you can do to improve your cycling (and life)

Sometimes, doing the wrong thing can have positive repercussions. Here are 10 naughty things you could do to improve your cycling (and life).


1 Start cursing

Next time your muscles are on fire as you power up a killer climb, have a go at effing and blinding to see if it helps – a study from Keele University has suggested that swearing ups your pain threshold.

Sixty-four participants were asked to submerge their hands in icy water for as long as possible while using curses of their choice. The test was then repeated without swearing. People could spend an extra 40 seconds in the water on average and said the pain was dulled when they swore.

This is believed to be because of the fight or flight trigger – swearing increases your aggression and masochism, making you more able to push yourself and less willing to give up.

2 Stay dirty

Ben Foxall, Cycling Plus

Ever experience unexpected shortness of breath or early fatigue when you’re out on a ride? If you’ve ruled out asthma, heart disease or immune system failures, new research suggests showering too often could cause the symptoms.

Yes, research from the University of Colorado at Boulder has found that showerheads could be spraying us with harmful bacteria (called Mycobacterium avium) that can be inhaled into the lungs, causing tiredness, weakness and breathlessness. Best stay dirty then. If your friends, family or colleagues complain about the smell then just let them know it’s for health reasons.

3 Booze more

Ben Foxall, Cycling Plus

A University of Miami study has found that male and female drinkers work out for an average of 7.2 minutes longer than non-drinkers. This time rises with units consumed. Furthermore, a report published in the European Heart Journal found that people who drink moderately and exercise are 50 percent less at risk of heart disease. For people who do sport but don’t drink, or drink but don’t do sport, the benefit is only 30 percent. Unfit teetotallers are at the greatest risk. Anyone for the pub?

4 Hit the vino

Drinking red wine might actually double your exercise endurance ability, according to a study from the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Illkirch, France. Researchers found that when mice were given resveratrol, a polynutrient that’s found in red wine, they were able to run twice as far as they could without the extract. The resveratrol mice group also had energy-charged muscles and a lower average heart rate.

5 Drink Guinness

Yes, Guinness really is good for you, report researchers from the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida. They say that the antioxidant compounds found in the alcoholic drink can help slow down the build-up of harmful cholesterol in your arteries and are similar to those in fruit and vegetables. This means they’re good for your heart and consequently beneficial to your overall health and cycling performance. Have you had your five a day?

6 Have fry-ups for breakfast

Ben Foxall, Cycling Plus

Put the Cornflakes away and go for the full English option if you want to have the best possible start to your day. Scientists at the University of Alabama have discovered that eating a fattier breakfast will make you feel fuller for the rest of the day and therefore help you to stop snacking. It also kick-starts your metabolism and can prevent metabolic syndrome, which leads to obesity and cardiac problems. On top of the fat, a fry-up is also packed with lots of protein and carbohydrate – two top nutritional priorities for any cyclist.    

7 Lie in

Lie in:
Ben Foxall, Cycling Plus

More sleep may be essential to boost your brain power and energy according to a study published in Sleep Journal this August. The test found that 159 sleep deprived participants, getting just four hours’ kip a night, performed better on computerised-assessments after having one ‘recovery’ night on a full 10 hours. However, results only returned to pre-sleep-loss levels after more than one lengthy snooze. So stay under the duvet from Friday night until Sunday lunch – after this you’ll be well slept, well fed and ready for a late-afternoon ride!

8 Eat chocolate

Ben Foxall, Cycling Plus

The German Institute of Human Nutrition conducted a study of 19,357 people over the course of 10 years and found that the flavanols in cocoa contribute to the lower blood pressure of those who eat chocolate. It also found that chocolate helps prevent strokes and heart attacks.

A further test from Bar-Ilan University in Israel discovered that chocolate is just as good as exercise for relieving stress, and a professor from Indiana University, USA, found that riders who drank chocolate milk before riding to exhaustion were able to go on for as long as those who drank Gatorade and for up to 50 percent longer than those using other energy drinks.

9 Have more sex

Ben Foxall, Cycling Plus

Numerous studies have noted the benefits of sex. One in particular from the New England Research Institute in Massachusetts studied 1,000 men between the ages of 40 and 70 since 1987. It concluded that those having sex regularly were 45 percent less likely to develop fatal heart conditions than those who had sex once a month or less.

Another study in Experimental Biology and Medicine found that the oxytocin and endorphin surges during sex act as a painkiller, so if your muscles are aching after a long ride an ‘early night’ could be just what the doctor ordered.

Furthermore, a team at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that having sex once or twice a week in winter can reduce your chances of getting a cold or flu. Just think of all those lost days when you’ve been nursing an illness instead of going out on your bike – if you needed an excuse for more nookie, here it is!

10 Flirt away

Ben Foxall, Cycling Plus

Researchers from the University of California have found that just five minutes of chatting to an attractive woman can raise a man’s testosterone levels by 14 percent and the anti-stress hormone cortisol by 48 percent. Cortisol is known to act as an anti-inflammatory agent and stimulate the creation of glucose to ensure an adequate fuel supply, making it a positive resource for any cyclist.


However, spending the same time with other men saw testosterone drop by two percent and cortisol by seven percent, showing that to improve your ride you’re better off having a flirt with a member of the opposite sex than a chat with your mates.