Open potholes and the crazy spring weather are not half the reason why I hate spring cycling. These are big problems, but you can probably live with them.
Maybe it’s because every amateur Fred and Doris will be out on the paths with their creaking chains. It’s so annoying to see a poorly maintained Trek Madone or Chrome Hearts X Cervelo.
Whatever it is, I do not enjoy biking around in spring, and I will tell you why. But, I’m aware not everyone shares my disdain of spring cycling, so I will try to be objective here.
We’ll see what sucks about it, what’s great, and what you can do to make it the fun it’s supposed to be.
Here’s Why I Hate Spring Cycling
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Cycling in spring should have been breathtaking. I know most people manage to squeeze amazing memories from springtime riding. I just can’t seem to get the same feel, though.
Here are a few reasons why I don’t like spring cycling.
Potholes are the bane of spring cycling. It is irritating to have an open country road ahead of you while you can only zigzag about at 15 mph trying to avoid them.
With winter just passed, most of these will be filled with icy water. You may avoid them, but that oncoming car won’t and will be sure to spray you liberally with dirty water.
Even worse, you cannot know how deep those potholes are. Many good bikes have been ruined when a cyclist riding too fast hits a pothole that is too deep. And because the ground is still frozen, it is usually too early for the authorities to do anything about them.
No matter how well prepared you may be, riding in the rain is awful. You may be covered up in the right gear: jacket, gloves, shoes, and all, and you still get wet and cold.
I always make sure to check the forecasts before heading out, but it often proves useless. I have had to look for shelter in the open country more times than I can say.
Rainwater has a way of getting through to the worst places. It makes me cold, and it hurts my bike too. I have since learned to make sure that I lubricate my bike properly because wet conditions can really accelerate rusting.
If you cycle in the rain, make sure your brakes can handle the wetness. Disk brakes are okay, but pads tend to slip so that more power and stopping distance is needed.
You will also need to keep your phone and similar electronics safe from the water. A ziplock bag works great for that.
The worst part of all is the crowded roads and cyclist paths. Every amateur with a bike will be on the road. I don’t hate the company, but sometimes it is too much to bear.
You will have lots of others drafting you, lots of grouping, and impatient motorists honking. Plus the aforementioned rickety bikes.
Drafting is also okay, I’m not against it. In fact, you can save up to 40% of energy through drafting. It’s just that there are right and wrong ways of doing it, and not everybody appreciates that.
Cyclists are not as friendly as they used to be. It is no longer fun to join a large group and challenge each other to the next milestone.
There are lots of amateurish Freds who just want to show off their new gear, and even many professionals do not bring that team spirit.
The Highway Code allows group cycling up two abreast except on narrow roads. With the 1.5 m safe overtaking distance allowed for cars, that is the right number.
Some people don’t seem to understand it and will endanger not only yours but their lives as well.
If you are allergic, you know that it’s not fun to ride with red eyes and a runny nose. Spring is when pollen is floating around like an invisible fog. It messes up the whole season for folks like us.
However, I’ve realized that if you go out after a rainstorm, the air is much clearer. The raindrops clear the air of pollen and other allergens like dust for a few hours before the wind spreads it all out again.
You can also make sure you take antihistamines before every ride to prevent major problems.
Insects and birds
I understand that the animals are also giddy, what with a new season. But do they have to be so careless? I don’t need to have birds with a death wish cross my path when I’m cruising at 30 mph. Neither do I appreciate insects colliding with my face during such rides.
This is why spring cycling for me isn’t as much fun as I would like it to be. It doesn’t happen often, but it takes the joy out of my day.
Spring Cycling: Am I Wrong?
I understand that I sound biased, which is why I offer a more objective view of spring cycling. I know a lot of people who love it. I have had some great moments, and I don’t let my bikes rot away just because it is spring.
Cycling in spring can be awesome or terrible, depending on what you make it. Biking, in general, requires preparation, but spring biking needs it even more. You can be your own judge of what spring cycling is like, but let us see what it takes.
Cleaning and maintenance
Whether you were cycling in winter or not, springtime is when you go over everything carefully to make sure it is in tip-top condition.
- Hose it clean. If you were riding in winter, you need to get the salt out as soon as possible. Even if it was in storage, you still need to give it a good clean.
- Check for rust. Some bikes have more problems with it than others, but always check metallic components for rust.
- Lubricate every moving part.
- Check the chain for tightness.
- Check the condition of the braking components.
These are necessary to protect both you and the bike. For more information, Gear Junkie has a great guide on how to get your bike spring-ready.
You may start with a hot day and end up with rain or sleet. That happens a lot, especially when you undertake to ride for a full day.
While you will want to keep your luggage as lean as possible, always have a warm jacket and gloves ready. Get a heavy waterproof jacket and cap to keep the water out.
This would be an excellent time to install mudguards. They help with preventing splashes and protecting you. Also, don’t forget to check your tires. Spring tends to cause a lot of punctures and small accidents. There will be more debris on the road, so check your tires to make sure that they are in good condition.
A good tip to remember is that the more surface area you have with the road, the better traction you have. Deflate those tires a little to get a better grip on the road and ride more safely.
You need to ease into spring riding after all those weeks doing little else. Unless you keep in shape using indoor exercise bikes, you have to start spring biking slowly and build up your tempo from there.
I find that I get sluggish at the beginning of every spring, and it is hard to break out of it. What helps is to start getting ready towards the end of winter. I eat better with more greens and less junk, hydrate, and rest.
When spring swings around, I start it off by an hour or so of sweet spot riding. I just find my favorite road and start slowly to more challenging, but manageable, speeds.
What this does is that it warms up your body and gradually increases your lactate threshold. In time, you will be back to your able self.
Maybe I’m Overreacting
I have been disparaging spring biking because it can and should be amazing. There is no better time to get your bike out, which is why everybody will be doing it. These problems arise because of poor planning, but with the right effort, you can have a great time.
There are many compelling reasons why spring cycling is wonderful. It is all about looking at things in the right attitude.
The Land Looks Spectacular
There is nothing more beautiful than land that is shaking itself out of slumber and shooting life in every way. The snow has melted off to reveal lush green scenery, trees start to bloom, and new life is everywhere.
It is an absolute joy to ride through the open country in spring. The air is usually pure and fresh unless you are allergic like me. After being locked up all winter, spring is a welcome pleasure to take the gloom away. Biking in the spring is the best way to take it all in.
The Weather Is Perfect
The weather is not usually so bad in spring. In fact, it forms the best conditions for cycling, according to AccuWeather.
Most people prefer to exercise or go biking in temperatures of about 60F, with moderate cloud cover and a light wind blowing. These conditions are available mostly during spring.
By keeping your eye on the weather, you can catch the best riding seasons of your life in spring. Just make sure to be prepared for a sudden turn in the weather.
We have all had days on the road that we wished would never end. Spring gives you more hours on the day, thanks to the spring equinox. Now you can take that extended ride you have always wanted to do!
Even better, these days have more sunshine and warmth. I think that spring days are simply fantastic, even if you just want to get out for a walk or a jog. Spring makes the best time to exercise, not to mention to ride your bike.
Spring is The Best Time to Bond
Spring is universally accepted as the time for renewal. I use it to spring clean not only the house and car but also our hearts. This is the time to go on a ride with friends and family, share an adventure, and strengthen personal bonds.
Why would I forget that Easter comes in spring? It brings with it a festive mood that even summer can’t match. This is the time to gather everyone together and have amazing rides in the open country.
Just as the plants love the spring sun, so do our bodies. It is not too hot for discomfort, not too cold for overdressing, which makes it the perfect time to get your dose of vitamin D.
It’s just like enjoying the morning sun in summer all day long. You can go out spring cycling all day without a care in the world and look fantastic in a few days.
Spring cycling is, in a word, dynamic. It can turn from a heavenly afternoon cruising alongside aromatic fields to a deluge in the remotest of places. Even in the city, it’s all about finding those precious moments when you can bike without a care in the world.
I have had mixed experiences with spring cycling. I can say honestly that it is fantastic, even with all the dark spots. Plus, there are many ways to improve the experience.
Incidentally, how you handle hardship is what separates a pro cyclist from the average Fred’s. The rain, punctures, and busy roads will temper your skill and salt your experience.
Don’t be that guy who only jumps on their bikes when the conditions allow it. Let your inner passion and drive show you the road. I may have just told you why I hate spring cycling, but I will be jumping on my Trek 520 and heading out soon.
Cycling is about letting go. From the time you let go of the ground and let the bike carry you, to when you let go of your fears and immerse yourself in nature, it is all about freedom and power.
Don’t let the challenges overcome you, but get moving until you are one with the road. Happy spring riding!
What are you thoughts?
Please leave a comment in the comment section.