Do you fancy yourself as a bit of a comedian? Do you regularly invite your clubmates to “try the veal” and do people actively avoid riding next to you on Sunday morning for fear of being subjected to your bon mots?
If so, you’ll love this list of incredibly hackneyed cycling phrases that you should never, ever use because they’re utterly played out.
“Keep the rubber side down!”
Suggested alternative: “keep the saddle side up!” Robin Wilmott/Future Publishing
A cyclist’s substitute for a simple farewell, this charming piece of wordsmithery invites the recipient to maintain a safe road-tyre interface, the alternative being some sort of horrific crash.
The sentiment is pure but I’d encourage you to stick with such tried-and-true classics as “bye” and “later”.
“Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades”
Buy whatever you want and ride wherever you want, regardless of what Eddy Merckx did or didn’t say. Getty
This delightful nugget is frequently attributed to famous lover of human flesh Eddy Merckx, which seems extraordinarily unlikely given that it’s distinctly American to refer to a climb as “a grade” and The Cannibal is a Belgian man who speaks decent English but isn’t famed for his anglophone wordplay.
Anyway, you should buy whatever you want and ride wherever you want. Don’t listen to the haters.
“Harden the f*** up”
Cycling can be hard work, but we do it for fun, right? Ben Delaney / Immediate Media
Often abbreviated to HTFU and deployed by the sort of person who is just dying for you to ask about their FTP, this gem of advice (one of the so-called ‘rules’ of cycling) is, on the one hand, refreshingly ungendered compared to the more mainstream “man the f*** up”, but is also not very helpful if someone is struggling.
There are all different kinds of pain. Sometimes you can simply push through it, but no amount of physical determination is going to help you if your blood sugar has crashed or you’ve cramped to the point where your legs simply don’t work anymore.
In a similar vein…
“It never gets easier, you just go faster”
Sometimes it gets easier and you do go faster, don’t tell anyone. Russell Burton
There’s a certain truth to this in that, for a given perceived effort, you will go quicker as your fitness improves.
Saying that, an experienced rider simply will not suffer in the way a rank beginner does in the course of normal riding unless they’re a true masochist.
If you’ve been riding for years it’s easy to forget that what feels like a short, inconsequential ride (say, 20 miles) might be a real struggle for someone just starting out.
It does get easier and, with even the most minimal base of fitness, you will suffer less and enjoy your rides more.
“The correct number of bikes is n+1, where n is the number you currently own”
The correct number of bikes is that which makes you happy. Steve Behr
Choose a f***ing big television. Choose washing machines, cars. Compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol. Choose your next bicycle.
You don’t actually need to keep buying things for the rush of dopamine and the thrill of the new. New bikes are great, new tech can be wonderful, but there is more to life than simply acquiring more things.
Also, the correct number of bikes is the number that covers the variety of riding you enjoy. For some people that’s one road bike, for others, it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a fixie, a gravel bike, a cargo bike, an e-bike and a vintage steel Pinarello.
To each their own.
What are your least favourite cycling aphorisms? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to misattribute them to famous historical figures.