Say What?!: The Awkward Parts of Cycling

Say What?!: The Awkward Parts of Cycling

Contrary to what most cyclists would lead you to believe, cycling is not always a constant state of bliss. It is a beautiful sport, but it can be hard, dirty … and a little weird.

Because we make custom clothing for a wide range of cyclists, from newbies to pros, we receive every cycling-related question you can imagine (and many times, accompanying photos). So no matter how awkward you feel asking it, trust that we are here to help. And to save you the trouble of asking, we’ve included a few of the most-asked questions below.

Chafing & Saddle Sores

The number one question non-cyclists ask cyclists: “Doesn’t your butt hurt?”

The fact is, as long as you don’t dramatically increase your time in the saddle out of the blue, you probably won’t suffer from an aching tailbone. Chafing and saddle sores, however, are a whole other issue.

Friction causes chafing, and chafing plus bacteria causes saddle sores. You don’t want either. Luckily, avoiding these issues is pretty easy. Wear tight clothing, change out of your kit immediately after each ride, and consider applying chamois cream if necessary. Troubleshoot any problematic areas by adjusting your posture or clothing, and you’re good to go!


This one doesn’t typically concern the guys, but it can pose quite a lot of anxiety for female riders. What happens when nature calls 37 miles away from a bathroom?

Relax, take a deep breath, flag down the group (or catch up later), and pull off to the side. Once you find a little privacy behind a tree or bush, your bibs are the only thing in your way. It can be stressful in the moment, but take your time and trust that your group will wait for you as you would for them. Unless, of course, you wouldn’t wait for them!

Shaving Legs

Finally, time for the women to relax and let the men stress for a change!

Shaving your legs isn’t something most men are used to, but is absolutely essential for avid cyclists. It’s a common misconception that cyclists keep their legs smooth for aerodynamics; in reality, the reduction in drag caused from shaving your legs only makes a difference for those at the very top of the sport, where races are won by hundredths of a second.

The main benefit is safety. Road rash isn’t fun, but it can be managed a lot easier if hair isn’t tangled up in the bandaging. This lets you change and dress the wound frequently without risking further agitation, a crucial advantage when you go down in the middle of a stage race.

Swallowing Bugs

In through your nose, out through your mouth. Words to live by, but easier said than done when you’re finishing a five-mile climb with a 13% average gradient.

Inevitably, whether it’s from the heat or a hard effort, your jaw will drop and you’ll gulp for air. Unfortunately, you’ll probably swallow some bugs down, too.

There’s really no way around this one (other than keeping your mouth closed as much as possible), so instead of being grossed out, look on the bright side and appreciate the extra protein!

Getting Dropped

It will happen, it will not be fun, but it will not be the end of the world.

It always feels disappointing (and maybe even embarrassing) at the time, but getting dropped means you’ve reached your limit, and even though it wasn’t enough this time, pushing yourself until you can’t anymore is exactly how you get better.

It’s common knowledge among cyclists that you should always ride with people who can push you, so don’t be intimidated by the fact that you might not be able to hold on. Strap in, give it your all, and embrace the fact that it’s better to get dropped and grow than it is to spin along without pushing yourself.

Learning to Clip In (and Out)

Ask around, and if any cyclist tells you they didn’t fall at least twice while learning to ride clipped-in, they’re surely lying.

Don’t let that scare you. It becomes second nature in no time, but not before you learn the hard way once or twice (or more). You may not ever be able to clip-in instantly each time like the pro’s, but you won’t fumble as much as time goes on.

Also, falling down a few times while pushing off or stopping will help ease you into falling, something you might as well get used to.

Cat 5 Tat

If you’re unfamiliar, the infamous cat 5 tat is the bane of all cyclists.

Most common among beginners and recreational cyclists, the cat 5 tat/mark is a grease mark left on the side of your right calf when it brushes against the chain. Although you might assume this is the result of a poor riding position, there’s no way your calf will touch your chain unless something is seriously, seriously wrong. Instead, this happens when you’re un-clipped and standing up, probably leaning your bike against your leg.

The mistake is easy to avoid (and easy to make fun of), which is why it is associated with beginners. Don’t let the newbie-insults discourage you. Just like learning to clip-in, everyone has been there at one point or another, so take the badgering and mockery in stride and trust that it will soon happen less frequently.

Ride Shameless, #ridehincapie

Just like golf, soccer, or really any sport, there are a million things to learn about cycling. Some are obvious, others aren’t, and a few are a little awkward. It’d be a shame to let a few quirks get in the way of enjoying the freedom of cycling because there just isn’t anything else like it. So dive in, experience all cycling has to offer, and never look back. For any questions about what you need to get started or to continue your journey, visit our website or give us a call at (866) 359-4796.