Sixteen things your non-cycling friends will never understand - Road Cycling UK

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Sixteen things your non-cycling friends will never understand

Shaving, Strava and the other annoying questions you're always asked

It’s a tough life being a cyclist. In between the training, the cake eating and compulsively watching every broadcast moment of professional racing in the calendar, you have to field a load of questions from your non-cycling friends, who just don’t get it.

Whether they’re questioning your choice of transport, or querying your allegiance to a particular team or rider, or simply can’t fathom the mechanics of who wins the Tour de France – these are sixteen of the most common questions your non-cycling friends will always ask you.


If you’re British, why are you cheering for some Dutch guy to win?

Because I love him, alright? I love Tom Dumoulin and his handsome jaw more than I love Chris Froome and his ungainly, flaily limbs.

Oh, Tom! (Pic: Sirotti)

Nationalities mean about as much in pro cycling as exchange rates between the Pound and the Euro mean to a Komodo dragon – on a macro level there’s probably some relationship between the two, but I’m stuffed if I know what it is.

Don’t you get bored of just pedalling for hours and hours?

This one should always be answered with, ‘Don’t you get bored of going to the gym and running on a treadmill?’


Does this look boring to you? (pic: Garmin)

How could anyone ever get bored of riding their bike outdoors, exploring new places, improving their fitness and having fun?

Why do you wear those little caps? Are you a hipster?

For some reason this question seems to be asked most often by baristas, bartenders and waiting staff.

The humble casquette… (Pic: Chapeau)

As any fool knows, the humble casquette has a proud heritage in the sport of cycling, shielding riders from the sun, keeping sweat off their brows and rain out of their eyes for more than a century.

Basically, cyclists have been wearing casquettes since before it was cool. Now hand me my flat white/craft beer/kale salad, I need to send some emails from my MacBook and update my Instagram.

So you’re racing, but against people you don’t know, and from the past?

Ever tried explaining to a non-cyclist why it’s so important that you just beat a time set by a stranger three years ago on your favourite Strava segment?

Chasing a Strava KOM/QOM title? Just don’t expect your workmates to be impressed (Pic: Strava)

If not, our advice is don’t even bother!

You spent how much on a set of wheels?

“Wait, but just the wheels? Isn’t that more than a whole bike should cost? Are they special magical wheels with a motor in?”

Well a bike can’t move without wheels, can it?

To be honest, they may have a point on this one. Once you get sucked into the world of cycling, it’s hard not to lose the plot in terms of what is a ‘normal’ amount to spend on bike bits.

Still, where can I get hold of those new Zipp 454 NSWs?

How can you eat that much?!

The capacity of a cyclist who has just finished a big ride to consume huge amounts of food will never fail to impress/amaze/disgust (delete as appropriate) the uninitiated.

Any excuse… (Pic: Media-24)

Until you’ve spent four hours being dragged round the countryside on the wheel of your fitter, stronger ride buddies, to arrive home just moments before the point of complete exhaustion, it’s hard to understand just how much food a hungry cyclist needs.

How do you get everywhere without a car?

Well, this miraculous two-wheeled contraption of mine is actually cheaper than a car, requires no fuel, burns fat and in many cases gets me there quicker than a car would.

Cars – important for transporting bikes (Pic: Michelle Arthurs/Factory Media)

So actually I’m fine without, thanks. And, believe it or not, some cyclists also own automobiles – how else could we transport bicycles on longer journeys?

You shave WHERE now?

For male road cyclists, the questions about leg shaving never seem to end. Whether male or female, our non-cycling friends can’t seem to get their heads round why an amateur cyclist would shave his legs.

While it might look ‘pro’ to shave your legs, there are genuine performance benefits, too (Pic: Simon Wilkinson/

Of course, the reason for their confusion may be in part due to the fact most of us don’t know why we do it ourselves: is it the aero-ness? The precaution against road rash? Or do we just think it looks cool?

How much Lycra does one person need?

You can always have more Lycra. Always.

More lycra? Of course…

When indie brands like Svelte, Milltag and Maap stop bringing out awesome new kit designs, we’ll all stop buying them!

So why isn’t there a women’s Tour de France?

Well, actually, this one is a good question. And in truth we also don’t understand why Tour organisers ASO haven’t yet followed the lead of the five-stage Women’s Tour and organised a showpiece women’s event on a par with the Tour.

Lizzie Armitstead is the first Brit to win the Aviva Women’s Tour (pic: Theo Southee/The Tour)

But if you want to watch the female cycling elite in action, our very own Lizzie Deignan was victorious at the 2016 Women’s Tour and we’d highly recommend getting out of the office and onto the roadside to watch next year’s race.

So, tell me again, if Mark Cavendish is the fastest, why can’t he win the Tour de France?


You may as well record the following and have it handy to play back to people:

Yes he is the fastest. No he can’t win the Tour. Because. (pic: Sirotti)

“Because while Cavendish is a very good sprinter, this does not necessarily make him a contender in a three-week Grand Tour. He can win sprints, but he’d get left behind in the mountains if he tried to compete against Froome, Quintana and co.”

But it’s raining/hailing/blowing a gale, why are you going out?

Because, like millions of cyclists before me, I get a secret little thrill from going out and tackling bad weather head on.

A bit of weather never hurt anyone… (Pic: Sirotti)

Sure, I’d prefer to be riding along a Mediterranean coastal road in the blazing sun, but right now all I’ve got available to me is some rural British B-roads and gale force winds.

Doesn’t your bum get sore?

In a word, ‘yes’, yes it does. Although how much depends a great deal on the quality of your bib shorts, whether or not your saddle fits and how long you spend riding.

Good bib shorts mean less discomfort (Pic: Jim Clarkson/Factory Media)

And of course, there’s always the blessed chamois cream, which alleviates much of the discomfort.

How far is that in miles?

Many cyclists – even in the UK – will give distances in kilometres, rather than miles. It’s just a habit we’ve picked up from watching European pro races on TV.

But the big races give their distances in kilometres…

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of your non-cycling mates, who measure everything in miles. Expect nonplussed looks when you tell people you rode 100kms, and rapturous applause (well, maybe not quite applause, but some impressed looks) when you say you rode 50 miles – actually a shorter distance.

You commute to work? Don’t you get sweaty/smelly?

Well, a bit, yes, but through the miracle of modern plumbing, many workplaces now have these things called showers.

Nothing a bit of deodorant can’t fix… (pic: Bruno Bade/ASO)

And you can always bring a spare change of clothes and some deodorant with you if yours doesn’t.

So what team do you support?

None of them – and yet, all of them…

The transient nature of cycling teams is one that isn’t mirrored in any other sport. Most current pro teams were founded in the last five-to-ten years and often they are cobbled together from the remnants of pre-existing teams.

Supporting anyone and everyone is a difficult concept for some to grasp (pic: Sweetspot)

As sponsorships change, so do the names, colours and riders on the teams. It’s a tricky one to explain to people who’re more used football and rugby teams that have been around for decades, often supported fervently by multiple generations of the same family.


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