What’s the worst that can happen – the perils of cycling?

The Cycle Safe campaign initiated by the Times newspaper is gathering momentum. Last week there was a debate in the House of Commons on cycle safety where the government endorsed seven out of eight of the campaign objectives. Whilst there is no pledge to ring-fence 2 per cent of the Highways Agency annual £4.9 billion budget for state of the art cycle infrastructure, there is support for a range of initiatives designed to make cycling in cities safer, and to raise the public awareness of cyclists. So this worthy campaign is off to a good start, and you can keep in touch with the latest development directly from this blog. Scroll down the right hand column until you see the “Cycle safe” logo and you will find the latest news.

So what are the perils that the leisure cyclist faces – what the worst that can happen to us? Well, I thought I would share a more light hearted look at the things I have learnt over the years.

Sometimes you need to expect the unexpected….

So what are the most common problems that we face:

  • Pedals – in order to maximise the power throughout the pedal stroke, we clip our shoes onto the pedals. With legs ‘fixed’ to the bike, that means unclipping whenever you need to stop. It’s a technique that is easy to learn, but that does not stop a few mishaps. Embarrassingly these most often happen on the drive at home; at the meet point with TVT club team mates. No injuries – other than pride!
  • Nutrition – the longer you ride for, the faster you get, and the more energy you need to keep going.  The cycling equivalent of running out of petrol is not a pleasant experience, so most rides for me now start with porridge; have multiple drinks for the journey plus an energy bar as a “Scooby Snack” if required. Best of all are the feedstations on Sportives – the tea and cake are to die for!  
  • Risk assessment – wind, rain, ice are all potential hazards that could lead to falling off. On winter group rides, the risk assessment will vary the route or the time of the ride to minimise the possibility of an incident. But when racing, some of these principles go out of the window, with the following outcome. How frustrating if that happened to me on the way to the Olympic Stadium!

And to conclude, here is a little bike parts experiment that you could try at home – the human bicycle:

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