Cycling Rites Of Passage

You’re not a cyclist until you’ve done these.

As cyclists there are happenings that we’ve all gone through at some stage in our cycling life. Although we may not realise it at the time, looking back they are the moments most reflected upon and shared with others.

“Yes, been there done that”. Everyone taking up cycling a bit more seriously will do most of these eventually.

Will you identify any of the happenings below? I’m sure we can all tick off at least half.

Oh and anyone who says they didn’t have a tumble or wobble when trying clipless pedals in the first few rides is a fibber!

Worn Lycra

Have you got the confidence?



Is there anything more obvious to identify yourself as a cyclist than wearing Lycra shorts?

The tight fitting shorts can be daunting at first and not wearing anything underneath them for the first time can be an experience for some.

The thing is, by the end of the first ride you’ll be so won over by the padded insert and not having any clothing flapping round your legs that you won’t care.

Chain ‘tattoo’

Touching the oily outer chainring with your leg while having a rest will give you the distinctive chainring tooth pattern on your shin or calf.


It usually only happens when you’ve not cleaned the bike in a while and there’s a nice build up of black oil and dirt to really highlight it. It’s not so bad to do during the winter when you are wearing tights.

We’ve all done this one and many experienced cyclists still do much to their peers’ amusement.

Fallen off when using clipless pedals

clipless pedalThis is a definite rite of passage for road and mountain bikers who make the leap to using clipless pedals.

The first few rides are nerve racking. Concentration levels are through the roof, trying to anticipate when you may need to stop quickly and trying to remember to twist your foot to release it from the pedal.

If you’ve been lucky enough to get away with the initial spins around the block to set the cleats we can bet you’ve forgotten once you were settled on a long ride. Coming to a junction and the inevitable slow fall while trying to disengage WILL happen.

Helmet hair

Modern hardshell helmets are lightweight and have great ventilation but you still sweat wearing them. Take the helmet off after a hard ride and you have a very different hairstyle from the one you had before it went on.

The hair sticking up shows just how much air goes through the helmet vents so you end up with a ridged barnet. Some helmets can also leave a nice line across your forehead or pressure spots from the pads which only add to the spectacle.

helmet hair

Spikes and lines, thanks helmet!

Weird tan lines

Spending so much time in the sun (well, daylight anyway) with your arms and legs out is great. Unfortunately only certain parts of the aforementioned limbs get to see the sun and with jerseys and shorts sitting in the same place all the time the tan lines are stark.

Add to this the fact that cycling shorts are often longer than casual shorts and even short sleeve jerseys have longer arms than T shirts and you get some very odd and distinctive lines to show off on the beach.

Shaved legs

One for the boys this one and the second most defining moment after wearing lycra shorts in a man’s cycling career. There are many reasons – some valid, some disputed – as to why male cyclists shave their legs but for most it’s because everyone else does it and it really marks you out as a cyclist.

shaved legs

Hack down that forest on the legs.

Bonked far from home

Running out of energy in a big way. We mean really running out of energy and finding it difficult to concentrate never mind pedal.

This is called ‘bonking’ or ‘blowing up’ in cycling terms.

When this happens you know about it. It’s not just feeling tired but it is the inability to even think straight as all you want to do is stop, lie down and stuff your face. This tends to happen on long rides if you haven’t fuelled properly and usually when you are quite far from home. When it does happen even the simplest and shortest of routes home becomes a struggle. You will eat absolutely anything.

But it’s a good lesson in learning how to fuel correctly and an even better talking point as your riding mates will no doubt never let you forget about it.

Eaten like you just don’t care

Leading on from the point above, there is nothing like eating as much as you can, as fast as you can, when you have blown up.

JellyBabiescokeNo matter how strict you are with your nutrition, there is nothing like eating several packets of Jelly Babies and cans of full fat Coke in record time as this is the only thing you can think of to feel better.

This usually takes place outside a village shop or petrol station as you’ll more than likely be miles from home,  You don’t care what you look like or who’s watching.

That should be enough to fuel you again.

You haven’t sweated until you’ve sweated on a turbo

Although you may have thought you sweated a lot before during indoor exercise sessions, you don’t know the half of it. You haven’t experienced sweating until you ride a static indoor bike trainer (turbo trainer) with no ventilation.

The initial warm up doesn’t seem so bad. A towel will take care of the first beads and it’s not too bad. The fun starts when you really get into a session and the sweat literally runs of you. Continuously towelling, using a fan or venting the room you’re in doesn’t help.

Just look at the pool of sweat on the floor round the turbo after a hard session and you’ll realise why a specific indoor trainer mat is a good idea.

turbo mat

Buy a sweat resistant mat, you’ll need it

Lied to a partner about the cost of bike kit

This is argably the defining moment when you realise you are a cyclist. Having to tell a few porkies about the price of a bike or piece of kit is an indication that you already have so bike much that your other half is questioning any more purchases. You obviously have more than enough similar things already.

We all know the latest gizmo is ‘crucial’ for our cycling enjoyment but having to justify that hefty price tag when you have three similar items already (“but they’re not like this one”) can be hard for suffering partners.

If you’ve noticed that you have to start fibbing about the cost of kit then you’re not alone, welcome to the world of a regular cyclist.



“Yeah these were just over £100.”

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