The Top Reasons To Skip a Ride
For most cyclists, a ride is something to look forward to. No matter how many times you’ve done it, that big Saturday ride might be the main event of the week. You train and ride … so you can train and ride some more.
If something gets in the way, it can be a major disappointment, so much so that you may try to push through it even when you shouldn’t. In many cases, the reasons to abort a ride are obvious — but not always. And there’s one thing, in particular, that should be a red flag for you.
Longtime cycling coach Darryl MacKenzie learned this lesson the hard way — twice. Now, he’s far more attentive to signs he shouldn’t ride. Read on to learn what they are.
Not Every Ride Works Out
Any cyclist who’s been riding long enough has probably had to cancel an outing or two mid-ride or even before their wheels ever hit the pavement. All sorts of reasons outside your control make it fairly obvious your ride isn’t going to happen:
- The weather looks bad, and there’s no way to get enough miles in before the storm hits or the pavement becomes too slick to ride safely.
- You’re coming down with something, and you don’t feel physically up for pedaling.
- Work has been too busy to squeeze in rides before or after your shift.
- Before you hit the road, you discover a problem with your bike — maybe a flat without a spare tube.
- You’re dealing with other personal or family pressures that crowd out your riding schedule.
Whatever the cause, the common theme here is that these reasons for not riding lie largely outside your control, and it’s fairly cut and dry when they get in the way. It may be disappointing, but it’s relatively easy to call it off when you clearly can’t make it work.
The Hidden Dangers of Distraction
Sometimes, though, it’s not that obvious. In some cases, the reason not to ride may not be outside you — it may be right inside your head. Ironically, that’s when it’s most difficult to recognize. When you’re preoccupied or distracted, that’s one of the most dangerous times to get on the bike.
Coach Darryl has experienced this danger first-hand on two different occasions. In the first situation, he and his wife had just decided that they were going to get a divorce. Unsurprisingly, the next ride brought Darryl’s worse biking accident in his 35-plus years of cycling. When he didn’t notice a major bump in the road, he went down hard and ended up with gashes on all four appendages.
The second incident wasn’t as serious, but it firmly reinforced the lesson of the first crash. When Darryl pushed himself to the point of exhaustion by riding two double centuries and a few more long rides leading up to his favorite Memorial Day ride, he soon found himself in a minor fender-bender.
Looking back on both situations, Darryl realized that his mind simply wasn’t engaged in the ride. Whether due to personal stress or mental fatigue, he wasn’t fit for riding — but he learned that lesson too late.
“I pushed through it and paid the price,” he says.
Thankfully, neither crash had long-term implications for Darryl’s well-being. But, if you ride when you’re mentally distracted, you never know when something more serious may happen. You could miss a bump in the road, like Darryl, or you might not notice a red light at an intersection with vehicles. You may veer off the road with a ditch on the side or run into another rider. In any of these cases, the consequences could be serious.
“It’s extremely important to consider this, because if your mind isn’t engaged, tragedy is far more likely,” says Darryl.
Live to Ride Another Day
People get preoccupied for any number of reasons. It may be bad news at work, an argument at home, or concerns over your finances. Not every case is bad enough to make you mentally unfit to be in the saddle, and sometimes a ride is just what you need to shake off the blues. But it’s critical to learn to recognize when your head’s not in the game.
Before you get in the saddle, take a minute to check in with yourself. Will you be able to focus during the ride? Or will whatever is bothering you continue to pull your attention off the road? Be honest with yourself, and know that it’s better to play it safe in this situation.
As Darryl puts it, you have to make sure you can “be here when you are here.” After two crashes, he’s become much more attuned to that reality. He once called off his planned ride after he got some bad news at the dentist. More recently, he even decided not to ride when he realized he’d pedaled 20 straight days.
Ultimately, it’s important to take a long view of your cycling journey. Missing this ride may feel devastating in the moment, but if it ensures you can pedal for many more years, it’s probably worth it, right?
Saddle sores are another big reason many cyclists have called off a ride. Don’t let that happen to you — check out our lineup of tensioned leather saddles to ensure you’re always comfortable.
Look for more of Coach Darryl’s tips and insights at his website.
Photo by RDNE Stock project on Pexels