Chasseral crest trail on a rigid single-speed.
Chasseral crest trail on a rigid single-speed.

Cycling And My List Of Don'ts

With every hobby there are things we love to do, things we have to do, things we can't do and yes, there are also things we simply won't do. There are a bunch of things I don't and won't do. In cycling, there's no right or wrong; some folks prefer one bike type over another, some live to bomb downhill, others rejoice in hitting hard climbs, some love to be rattled while others want squish. Ultimately it's about doing what's fun and we all achieve that in different ways. The way I roll is simply the way I roll.

Don't #1 - Cycling Computer

I had one in the early 90ies. It had a front-wheel sensor and you had to enter the diameter of your wheel to set it up. Then I rode without knowing numbers until joining Strava in 2011. Despite Strava, a computer has never made it back onto the handlebar, though. My iPhone sits in a jersey pocket and records each ride. I don't want numbers to influence my ride. I deal with numbers all day long at work and don't want to see any while I ride.

Don't #2 - Knobbies And Pavement

This is a self-imposed don't. Knobby tires belong on dirt and not on pavement. When riding a mountain bike absolute priority is given to single-trails, gravel is permitted and pavement is avoided like the devil avoids holy water unless there's no rideable alternative. Taking the road to climb the Chasseral on a mountain bike – heresy!

Don't #3 - Suspension

Just like every mountain biker who started riding in the 80ies, I mounted suspension forks to my bikes when they took off in the 90ies.

Merlin MTB with an AMP suspension fork.
Kelso Dunes, Mojave Desert in the spring of 1995.

But instead of following the trend and jumping on the full suspension bandwagon, I returned to rigid bikes at the turn of the century. I can proudly say that I've never owned a full suspension bike in 34 years of mountain biking and never will. Years ago I had the chance to test-ride a few. But none of them left me with the desire to actually own one. Rigid is how I roll, now and forever.

Don't #4 - Strava Challenges

Granted, they can be tremendously motivational for some cyclists to get out and ride. I don't participate in any because they'd only motivate me to squeeze the most miles out of my limited riding time. To rack up a ton of miles, it'd be stupid to fat-bike through the snow at 7-8 km/h when I could collect 3 to 4 times as many miles in the same time on the road. Challenges would motivate me to do maximize mileage versus effort and that's absolutely not what I'm after on the bike.

Don't #5 - Indoor Cycling

Strava's activity feed is full of Zwift, Peloton, Sufferfest, and whatnot indoor cycling activities. Good for those who enjoy them. It's a workout and certainly beats doing nothing. I for my part don't plan on spending a dime on indoor equipment. I can't ride indoors and adding a huge monitor in front of a stationary bike to gamerize the boring task of pushing pedals and going nowhere won't change that. Turning pedals is a very small part of cycling. Keeping my balance, shifting my weight, touching the brakes, powering over obstacles, picking a line, lifting the wheels, birds chirping, leaves crunching, the wind howling, the sun setting, or snowflakes falling are far more important parts of a ride. Take these away – no can do!

Don't #6 - Backpack

Well, that's not a 100% don't. I've come to like my Camelbak Chase Bike Vest. And maybe that's the real secret about it; it's more vest and less backpack. It has a bladder to carry water during the part of the year when a water bottle cannot be refilled along the way. It holds a spare tube, my tools, my phone and has room for a GoPro or Osmo Pocket along with a short tripod. That's about it.

Camelbak Chase Bike Vest.
Camelbak Chase Bike Vest.

I see tons of mountain bikers riding with humongous backpacks. Every time I see one, I wonder what they can possibly carry in those. Are they having a little mountain top party with wine, a loaf of bread, and a fine cheese selection? Are they pedaling suicide bombers out looking for a large group of hikers to blow up? I'd have to empty my dresser and kitchen drawer to fill a backpack the size of what some folks strap to their backs. Anyway, I travel light, preferably with everything pushed into the pockets of my jersey, and keep having fun imagining the contents of the neon-colored balloons I see many bikers carry around.

Don't #7 - Motorized Bike

It's disappointing that an industry of a sport that is supposed to be healthy and eco-friendly is destroying that image by selling bikes that harm the environment from the day they're built to the day they're discarded. An e-bike that is ridden to and from work on the daily commute? Good, we all benefit when a couple thousand pounds and several hundred horsepower are replaced by a few dozen pounds and a few hundred watts. As an e-MTB purely ridden recreationally? Toxic waste attached to the down tube that will poison a landfill in a couple of years just to ride a little faster. Sorry, but no thanks! Can't we accept that our legs start to spin a little slower and with a bit less power as we age?

Don't #8 - Ignore Traffic Rules

I'm a cyclist but I'm also a driver and whether I'm sitting behind the steering wheel or behind a handlebar it pisses me off when cyclists blast through red lights or ignore stop signs. They don't just endanger themselves; they give the cycling community as a whole a bad reputation. Imagine if every road user would do that. It'd be the Wild West. Strangely though, some law-abiding weekday drivers immediately turn to law-breaking weekend warriors the minute they swing their legs over a bicycle. If you're not colorblind or mentally challenged and stop your car when the light is red, you should certainly be capable to do the same on a bike.

This article was updated on November 2, 2020

Patrick

Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion; always on two wheels, no suspension and certainly no flipping motor.

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