Do as I say, not as I do (sometimes)

I’ve taught a lot of people to ride bikes starting with my own kids, of course.

But also when it comes to road bikes, I’ve easily taught a dozen adults.

Sometimes I wonder how I found myself in this role. Partly it’s my own evangelical zeal. Partly it’s that I like to see the people I care about and I like to ride a lot. Putting those thoughts together means getting people I like to buy road bikes and ride them.

I’m a patient teacher and pretty good at showing others what to do. Here, watch me corner and follow behind me. Shift like this, brake like that.

But there are a few areas of cycling where I say, don’t do as I do. I’ve got some bad habits that are hard to unlearn.

Here’s a few:

1. What you should do: Learn to unclip on both sides so that should the need arise you can unclip quickly and easily with both your left foot and your right foot.
What I do: I only ever unclip on the left. No reason, just habit. A bad one. I also wear out cleats unevenly as a result.

2. What you should do: Get your water bottle out of its holder with both hands and drink with your left.
What I do: Use my right hand to take the bottle out of its cage and drink out of the water bottle making access to the brakes dicey. To cut speed, on a North American bike, you use the rear brake, accessed with your right hand. Unless you’re using your water bottle and you’re me.

3. What you should do: Remain seated when climbing and maintain a steady cadence.
What I do: Whatever it takes to get up the hill.

Do you have any bad cycling habits?

Mona Lisa on a bike, from

2 thoughts on “Do as I say, not as I do (sometimes)

  1. I’m a right footed unclipper because my right leg is longer than my left and I’d fall over if I undid that side. I also use my right hand for my water bottle and I’m terrible at remembering to use my arm signals. I also like to grind my gears by staying in one as long as I can turn it over. I broke a chain once. Pretty much you should never let me borrow your bike…. 🙁

  2. I don’t really encourage people to go clipless…because I only use toeclips. Limiting, right?

    I’m not good signalling on both arms….meaning I can’t hang onto my bike with my left hand and signal with right. A good commuter should be able to do both.

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