10 ways to get worse on a bike

There is a whole industry devoted to making you a better cyclist. Whether it’s coaching, tips from Bicycling Magazine, or tech web sites that tell you which component has how many extra milligrams of weight, everyone knows how to make you better.

Yet, you aren’t.

This is mostly because although there a billion ways to improve, the marginal gains for any one item are minuscule and the mental effort to do any one of them consistently is harder than doing five push-ups every morning. Sure, everyone knows that five push-ups only take a few seconds. So? The day I start my morning off with a push-up is the day I start my morning with a bullet in the forehead. My day begins with coffee, period, so GTF out of my way.

Unlike improvement tips, deprovement tips number only ten, and each one of them has a catastrophic effect on riding, and chances are you do most of them. If you never did a single improvement tip and cut out a mere one or two deprovement items, you’d probably win the Tour.

Here they are:

  1. Diets. Please stop dieting now. It doesn’t work. If you’re really overweight, dropping a few pounds might make you go faster, but you’ll be so weak and cranky and angry and hair-trigger-ready-to-kill (otherwise known as “hungry”) that you won’t be on your bike. You’ll be roaming the sample aisles at Costco with lust in your heart and there’s no fitness to be found there.
  2. Equipment. With the exception of carbon, the more bike stuff you have, the worse you ride. Take Shirtless Keith. He owns one old, rusted-out hybrid bike with fat tires. He has one chain ring (a 55). He rides in work boots. HE STILL STOMPS THE SHIT OUT OF 84.2% OF THE PEOPLE ON THE DONUT RIDE.
  3. Race clothing. Race clothing is aero but it shows your multiple tummy rolls and pinches tender places, which makes you not want to ride. You are never going to get better not riding.
  4. Riding. If you have to choose between riding and not riding, always choose the latter. Riding a lot will initially make you a better cyclist, then it will make you broke, then it will give you a weird physique, and finally you will only know people who talk about bicycle topics = LIFE FAIL. One day you’ll wake up and go, “This is dumb,” and quit riding completely, which will in turn really make you a bad rider. So mostly don’t ride if you want to ride better. Knoll rides to the guitar shop to pick up new strings once every six weeks and he does just fine, thank you.
  5. Coaches.
  6. Cyclocross. Do you know why they wear face masks and stuff when sparring? It’s to prevent getting beaten to shit so badly in practice that you can’t do the actual fight. Cyclocross is like sparring with brass knuckles and no protective gear. It will first make you tough, then unconscious, then a tube-feeder.
  7. Group rides. These are fun. So is heroin. Neither is banned by USADA because neither one makes you any good.
  8. Anything that comes in a big plastic tub. Magical elixirs that replace crucial fill-in-the-blanks operate on the proven scientific principle that there’s one born every minute.
  9. Crossfit, running, weights, stairs, anything that requires a membership or is trademarked. If you want to improve, get out there and ride your bike a little, then treat yourself to a Twinkie. Ignore everything else.
  10. Bed. That place you lie in? It’s killing your performance gains.
  11. Internet cycling blogs. If any of those clowns knew anything worth knowing, they wouldn’t be giving it away for free.



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22 thoughts on “10 ways to get worse on a bike”

  1. At last, a set of instructions from the internet that I have mastered and integrated into my life that work exactly as advertised.

  2. # 2 Checked a gear chart for the the tire and rim size on Kieths bike and he pushes the equivilant of a 53 x 13 on a standard 700c road bike and rarely shifts, (never on the switchbacks). Since this post is about how to ride worse ie slower,here is my advice to mere mortals. Climb in a 53 x 13. The 15.8 % ahead of him can ride any gear they want.

  3. You’ve settled it for me. I’m gonna get an old, rusted-out hybrid bike off of Craigslist. If it doesn’t have fat tires, I’m gonna go to WalMart and get me some. I’ll disable the front derailleur with the chain stuck on the big ring. Then I’ll proceed to blow past 84.2% of you and your fellow Wankers.

      1. JF Choppers Shredrick

        Darn right its fun! I will NEVER forget that day you and Man’s Laughter were coming off Crest, towards the dirt, on a pair of MTBs and I was just coming up from my dirty funfest. (BTW, “Man’s Laughter” is Trademarked, I just don’t know how to put that cool little superscript in there because computers and brains)

  4. Im still trying to figure out how 10 deprovement tips went to 11.
    Must be that #10 had me up at 4.50am to NPR. Pigs R Flyin!

    1. You win the prize of first reader of this blog who can count to ten. Your prize will be an $11-bill. Check is in the mail.

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