Mistake #1: Leaving the house unprepared
Not only is this a mistake that can leave you stranded, it's also not fair to the cyclists you ride with to outsource your needs to them. I recommend a small saddle bag or if you can't stand to lose the aero advantage, just a small zippered pouch you can throw in your pockets. At a minimum, it's recommended that you bring:
- Pump or CO2
- At least 1 Tube
- Boot for fixing big gashes in the tire
As a bonus, think about bringing:
- A 2nd tube
- Tube patches
- Multitool with chain tool
Mistake #2: Going out without enough food or water
In my experience, if you're riding for over an hour, bring food. I can typically ingest about 100 calories per hour. Any more than that and the food will sit in your stomach. Stick to simple carbs but ditch anything hard and dry. There is nothing worse than being out of breath and taking a big lung-full of cookie dust! For water, bring a sports drink. In warmer weather, allocate a 16-ounce bottle per hour. Obviously, use your judgment depending on intensity but 1 bottle per hour is somewhere right in the middle that has worked for me. Consult a doctor first.
Mistake #3: Braking harder than is necessary.
This is really not one you can teach someone how to avoid. You need to learn it by experience. But over-braking if you're in a big group can pose some serious issues.
Mistake #4: Incorrect Saddle Height
This is a common one and also possibly the easiest to fix. A saddle that is too high will hurt the economy of your pedal stroke and kill your power. It'll also stress hip muscles and hamstrings. So if you're getting hamstring pain, think about dropping your saddle a little bit.
How can you spot it? That's an easy one. If your hips are "rocking" back and forth like you're reaching to get to the bottom of the pedal stroke then you're saddle is too high. Try dropping it in small increments first.
Mistake #5: Incorrect Kit Washing
Now I'm not saying this is the only way to wash a kit. And if you do it another way, more power to you. But I've done it this way for the last 15 years as well as tried other methods and this one yielded the best results. Here are some tips:
- Wash kit as soon after ride as possible - this will prevent bacterial growth
- Be sure to remove all items from jersey pockets
- Zip up jerseys before putting in the wash
- Hang dry items in the sun if possible.
Mistake #6: Not being able to unclip
There is nothing more embarrassing than falling over at a red light or stop sign. If you want to avoid this, you need to build muscle memory. In my opinion, it's not enough to hold onto a railing and practice rotating your ankle. You need to make it second-nature. To practice this, go to an open parking lot with no one around and practice going through the motions of coming to a stop and unclipping before putting that foot down.
Mistake #7: Braking mid-corner
Like with racing, the best tire contact patch for braking is when your bike is going straight. Braking mid-corner will put forces on the tire that might make it more susceptible to washing out underneath you.
Mistake #8: Over-lubing your chain
Nobody likes a squeaky chain. But over-lubing yours can actually lead to pre-mature wear because a wet chain will capture dirt and dust and then work that abraisive paste into the rollers.
Mistake #9: Wearing pants or underwear under your cycling kit
This one is a no brainer. Having a panty-line or a bunched up pair of boxers is going to ruin your day on the bike.