What’s grinding your gears?

The paradoxes, dilemmas and decisions of a cyclist.

Cyclists spend a lot of time inside their own mind when they’re training. A ride tends to lead your mind through many differing functions, be it concentration on the effort and bike skills of the ride, the next thing to eat, the day ahead, the recovery meal, the weather, your favourite flavour clif bar (note the recurrence of food), or sometimes, nothing.

You also find yourself pondering a lot of random thoughts and arguing between lots of different options to a certain decision or action, some of deep meaningful significance regarding the human condition, some just about cake.

Furthermore, when a cyclist isn’t riding, they are probably thinking about riding or training most of the time. Although a lot of things that flit through your mind are transitory and forever lost, some are recurring and forever forefront of a cyclist’s thought pattern.

Some of the paradoxes, dilemmas and decisions I believe many of us find ourselves pondering are laid out below. These grind away in the cassettes of our mind, an unfortunately, no amount of bike cleaner and lube clears the squeaks and grinds:

On the pain and torment of training:

  • I’m a glorious and heroic cyclist pushing myself beyond my limits, I am one of those hollow eyed tortured looking Rapha models, I AM SPARTACUS
  •  What’s the point of this? I’m just some office worker weekend warrior who needs to get a life. Why do i do this to myself? Can’t be arsed.


  • Does my ass look big in these bibs?
    • My glutes create awesome power. I’m getting stronger! I am PETO SAGAN
    • Am I getting fat!? What about my climbing speed?!?


  • It’s raining, windy and grim outdoors:
    • I will have to train and compete in all weathers, so I need to train in all conditions. Get the gabba on, HTFU and be a bloody hard bastard.
    • But I REALLY hate rain. My bike gets filthy, I get cold and wet, and I have no fun
        • Turbo or outside?
          • 60-90 minutes on the turbo is quality time. No messing, pure focus on the intervals, minimal faff getting ready and getting through traffic etc. A session in the therapy of the pain cave will do me good
          • It’s the turbo. It’s not the most fun (refer to the etiquette for survival tips)



  • In a coffee shop on a work day, or with a non-riding friend (remember them?) – i.e., not when out on a training ride: Should I eat this piece of cake?
    • I’ve been training 5 days this week and burnt thousands of calories. I deserve cake
    • But i may undo all my hard work! I want to be a lean mean climbing machine. I WILL BE Chris Froome / Dan Martin / Nairo Quintana / (insert cycling hero here)



  • On reaching a new and improved FTP, or pushing a bigger weight at the gym
    • I am a bad man. My training is working, I’m getting stronger and faster.
    • Oh shit… I need to increase my FTP or up wy weights… the next session is going to be BRUTAL


  • To clean the bike or not clean the bike:
    • My beauty is a bit grubby, and needs a good sort out. Riding a clean bike is like putting on a freshly laundered pair of pants. It just feels good. And well all know that cleaner bikes are more aero
    • What’s the point? I’m riding outdoors tomorrow… the second i go through a puddle or any back road it’s likely to get filthed up again



  • On having a bad session where you just can’t hit the numbers:
    • Perhaps I’m fatigued. Rest will do me good. At least a day off is required to let the legs rebuild and come back stronger
    • But if I rest, how am I going to get stronger?! Glorious victory comes with pain and suffering. I MUST CONTINUE
      • Which leads to… the rest day
        • Hmmm… I’m bored, I feel lazy and lethargic and i need to move the legs. Maybe just a gentle little spin for an hour. Yeh, just an hour… it will be fine
        • Must sit still. This is a rest day. Rest brings improvement. REST. REST



  • Lastly… one where there’s no dilemma… Should I get the lift or take the stairs? Should I stand at the back of this busy meeting room or selfishly grab a chair? Should I lay out on the sofa to watch this race or sit?
    • I hope you are all aware of the vital cycling proverb (an oldschool cyclist said this, am not sure who… maybe someone like Mercx.. and it’s well known that Wiggo used to make his wife carry his luggage in the summer prior to his Tour win)

Don’t walk if you can stand. Don’t stand if you can sit.Don’t sit if you can lie down.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s