How do you become a good cyclist? It’s a question that is often asked at Q & A sessions. The simple answer is to first become a bad cyclist. Until you start something you can never become good at it. It is very important to do something badly in order to become good at it and to know how you became good at it. No person has ever sat up on a bike for the first time and gone out and won a 160k race, or even managed to cycle 160k. It takes time, hard work, perseverance and a strong desire to succeed in cycling, at whatever level success is defined for you.
There is no hiding place on a bicycle. If you have the training done you can cycle 100k any given Sunday with your local club or group and enjoy it. If you don’t have the training done, no matter if you are a total beginner or a World Number 1 you will suffer.
Nowadays you see all shapes and sizes out on bikes and that is because cycling does not discriminate. No matter what your build if you train and put in the work and effort you can become a strong cyclist. If you are small and skinny you may dance up the hills. If you are big and carrying excess baggage around the midriff you may be able to put everyone in the gutter in a crosswind. Once you train and put in the effort you are guaranteed to find your strengths and develop them.
Setting goals and achieving them is always possible on a bike. Whether its going from A4 to riding the Ras or going from A couch to riding the Ring of Kerry both require commitment, dedication, perseverance and plenty of hard work, and both should be admired.
Each and every cyclist out there has had to start somewhere. Never feel intimidated by a more experienced cyclist. They too had to start somewhere and the vast majority will respect you for any effort that you put in. Every club has a stable of riders who have gone from getting dropped on Sunday spins and always turning early for home but who kept at it and progressed on to winning races, completing Etapes and Grand Fondos and who became the strongest riders on those very same Sunday spins.
Experienced cyclists must also remember to respect those who are not at the same level as them yet. Recently I was disgusted to read about a slightly overweight female cyclist in the UK who was verbally abused by so called experienced cyclists stylishly dressed on expensive bikes looking fit and lean. These were not cyclists in the true sense of the word. They were just scumbags who happen to ride bikes.
Cyclists in general are friendly and encouraging. Helpful and considerate. They respect the efforts made by anyone, no matter what shape or size, to get out there and ride a bike. Or, as a friend of mine once put it a little more succinctly – ‘I’ve yet to meet a bollix on a bike’
Do not ever fear being a bad cyclist as being a bad cyclist is the number one ingredient necessary to become a good cyclist. And being a good cyclist is a definition that you get to decide for yourself at whatever level that may be.