When NOT to ride (and the alternatives).

A commitment to making your daily commute by bike, or keeping up with your training plan, is admirable but there are times when you are better off leaving the bike at home, or putting your feet up on the sofa. We look at the top 5 reasons not to ride your bike.

 

You are feeling ill and symptoms are below the neck or include a temperature.

As a general rule, if your symptoms are only above the neck, for example a runny nose, mild headache or scratchy throat, some gentle riding is unlikely to make it worse. Keep the pace easy and the distances short and there is no reason not to continue with your ride to work. However, if your symptoms are below the neck, such as a chesty cough, or you have an elevated temperature you should take time off your bike until symptoms have vanished.

A temperature is often a sign that you have an infection or virus and continuing to exercise can make your illness much worse and should be avoided.

 

It is icy

Some cyclists see continuing with their ride, despite ice on the roads, as some kind of heroic statement of their skill and dedication. You may get lucky but no matter how talented a bike rider you are, sheet ice spells danger. A slip, on ice, often results in serious injury as you hit the ground hard and fast. Hips, collarbones and femurs are the most frequently broken by riders.  As well as yourself to think about, if you are with other riders you may bring them down too, or if near traffic, there is the danger of someone hitting you as well.

If there is ice or low temperatures forecast, it is better to accept that, for once, you will need to use your car or get on public transport. There is always the turbo, rollers, spinning classes or a quick blast on Zwift to satisfy your need to pedal.

 

It’s windy

High winds don’t just play havoc with your Strava times, gusts of wind can make it much harder to control your bike. If the wind sends you flying across the road, it makes your riding look unpredictable to cars behind, who are protected from the conditions and often unaware of the wind. Debris, both airborne and in the road, can be hard to avoid. High winds are a good reason to leave your bike in the garage until the weather calms down again.

 

It hurts, and not in a good way.

Cycling does occasionally hurt, we know that, and most cyclists thrive on a bit of suffering, but there is a big difference between the burning thigh feeling you get when pedalling up a steep climb and the pain of an injury.  Pain is your body’s way of telling you when something is wrong. Recognising the difference between the ‘good’ pain of exercise and the ‘bad’ pain of injury is important, continuing to ride with an injury can make it worse. Sharp, hot or stabbing pains are all best checked out before you ride again.

 

You are exhausted

Cycling regularly can make you tired, especially if you have ridden a little further or harder than you are used to, but temporary tiredness is easily fixed with some extra rest and a day or two off the bike. However, if you regularly ignore your body’s signs of fatigue you can find yourself spiralling downwards into a more extreme state known as ‘over-trained’. If your motivation is low, your muscles ache and you can’t seem to sleep enough, even though you feel tired, it’s time to ease back on your riding until the symptoms have passed.