We love cycling but just occasionally it all goes horribly wrong

We love cycling. No, we really love cycling, and we like to dwell on the positive whenever possible. But sometimes, just sometimes, it can be – what’s the word? – challenging.

Here are 18 things that we reckon every cyclist hates. Do you agree?

1 Clicking down a gear, only to find out you’re already in the lowest gear
That’s bad. Really bad.

2 Thinking you’re at the top of the hill, then discovering you aren’t
What, there’s more? How much more? Oh no!

3 The bonk
Blowing up, the hunger knock, hitting the wall… When you’re out of energy, it feels like the end of the world.

4 Creaks and squeaks

13Bikes Intuition Beta - bottom bracket

Is it the headset? The bottom bracket? The saddle rails? Your knees?

You can sometimes go around the whole bike systematically eliminating each individual component as the source of a mysterious noise until there are none left. And it still bloody creaks.

5 Red traffic lights
They’re especially bad if they’re at the bottom of a hill. All that momentum gone in a flash. Grrr!

6 Cold fingers
Still, it’s not as bad as the feeling of cold fingers coming back to life. That’s pure evil.

7 Punctures
It goes without saying, really.

Rema Tip Top TT02 repair kit

8 You attack as hard as you can, check over your shoulder to see how much of a gap you have… and they’re still on your wheel

9 Forgetting you’re clipped in until it’s too late
Don’t even try to make out it didn’t hurt. You’re fooling no one.

10 Your light goes out
You knew you should have recharged it, didn’t you?

Cateye Rapid 3 front

11 It starts to rain the moment you put your kit on
You had nice weather all morning too. Also, while we’re at it: needing to use the toilet as soon as you put your bibs on.

12 Putting on wet kit for your commute home
It rained on the way into work this morning and the seatpad is still soggy. Urgh!

13 Unacknowledged waves
You wave or nod at a cyclist coming the other way and they don’t do it back. Rude!

14 Tyre sidewall splitting 
The first you feel is a strange knocking coming from either the fork or the chainstays. If you’re really unlucky, within a few seconds you’ll hear a sound like a gunshot. That’s the inner tube exploding. Now you’re in trouble.

15 Getting dropped
From beginner to World Champion, it hurts just the same.

16 Running out of drink

Camelbak Podium water bottle.jpg

This usually happens when you’re in the back of beyond, rarely when there’s a service station just around the corner.

17 The turbo

Elite Real Axiom Trainer - riding

A lot of us do it, but only as a means to an end. You put up with the short-term pain for the long-term fitness gains. But you know there are some lunatics who actually enjoy it?

18 Getting caught in the rain

Marrakech Atlas Etape Still Images4

This usually happens just after you’ve cleaned your bike, when you’re wearing a white jersey, or on the day you forgot your waterproof. Or all three.

Over to you. What did we miss? Don’t hold back now!

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.


Yorkshire wallet [2428 posts] 2 years ago

Seem to be missing cars driven by twats. 

Grahamd [1056 posts] 2 years ago

Finding the cafe closed...

ktache [2224 posts] 2 years ago

Closed cycle route.  With no detour signs or advice.

Man of Lard [345 posts] 2 years ago
ktache wrote:

Closed cycle route.  With no detour signs or advice.

Scottish Borders Council are great at this - and being a spectacularly sparsely populated area, the diversions are often 15+ miles extra with plenty of hills as well... The party of Danish cyclotourists I encountered when SBC closed NCN1 loved their diversion (only 9 miles and 300ft of ascent from where I intercepted them rather than having a 7 mile double back and 9mi/300ft)

gunswick [138 posts] 2 years ago

Squeaky chain
Rear derailleur needs indexing
Washing a wet lubed chain
Slow strava times in winter
Dog walkers with no leads or extendable leads
Broken spokes when you are setup tubeless

part_robot [304 posts] 2 years ago

Rubbing disc brakes 

StraelGuy [1746 posts] 2 years ago

Disc brakes that yowl in the rain.

StuInNorway [327 posts] 2 years ago

Nr 5 - Red lights at bottom of hill, I used to commute via Muswell Hill in London with lights at the bottom of a cracking hill, it was a real skill to read the timings from the top by how many cars were waiting where to ensure rocketing though at full speed.  Now here, one of my routes that used to be great has a set of lightshalfway down, that seem to have a bike sensor that goes red when you're exactly at the point it's too late to dash through, but not so far back that you can do anything other than brake HARD ! 
Nr 18 also usually occurs (if you don't havewaterproofs with you, as when you left it was perfectly blue skies and no forecast even of clouds) at the furthers point possible from home, and normally exactly havfway between the only 2 bridges on the route there is to shelter under.

Mockenrue [9 posts] 2 years ago

Half wheelers!

jimbo2112 [94 posts] 2 years ago
  • Car drivers that are idiots
  • Cyclists that jump lights
  • Bad coffee
  • Being ill and not being able to ride
  • Winter early nights
  • Headwinds (can't believe you missed that one)
  • Saddle sore
  • Strava routing you through fields/forest trails
  • Awful gravel resurfacing
  • Losing a KOM
  • Doing a cycle trip and leaving stuff behind

But, the list of good stuff is far longer!

Jonathing [77 posts] 2 years ago

Water running down the road towards you.

beezus fufoon [972 posts] 2 years ago


BarryBianchi [418 posts] 2 years ago

Factious list articles.

antonio [1169 posts] 2 years ago

Traffic lights all on red when you're flying, traffic lights all on green when you're knackered!no

Miller [298 posts] 2 years ago

First ride on a new bike and inevitably it rains and makes the bike dirty.

henrypurcell [10 posts] 2 years ago

Contraflows - usually uphill - when it's impossible to get through while the lights are green.

Boltsy [12 posts] 2 years ago

Headwinds on long flat roads

hawkinspeter [4258 posts] 1 year ago

Old recycled articles on cycling websites.

1tal [24 posts] 1 year ago

You've all got it wrong, ride the turbo/rollerers and you don't suffer any of the above. I only go out on the road to keep fit for the turbo.

yourealwaysbe [26 posts] 1 year ago
ktache wrote:

Closed cycle route.  With no detour signs or advice.

"Cyclists dismount"

risoto [105 posts] 1 year ago

Two things:

1. You've checked the weather, the sky is blue (or at least it doesn't look like it's going to rain and you've even checked the forecast on 3 weather apps and they all show no rain). You put your kit on, make the bike ready, looking forward to a nice ride. As soon as you open the door it's raining!

2. Pedestrians/joggers/dog walkers on bike lanes - they have no awareness of bikes and so make dangerous moves from left to right/right to left. They wouldn't do this on a street with cars!

(3. I really hate punctures, they interrupt my ride and I have to do irritating work to mend them. I perceive them as a very personal insult, a mental attack).

(3.a. The new bike pump takes 2000 strokes to pump the bloody tube to 2 bars)

(4. Being overtaken and not being able to follow the wheel of the 'idiot'. Another insult and mental attack!)

(5. Really upsetting when the bike computer stops working mid-ride, the navigation doesn't work (that was only a problem until I sold my Garmin Edge 1000!!!)  or you forget to start the device from the beginning of your ride!)

(6. Car drivers berating you (honking the horn, pointing fingers, giving you the fist etc ) for not using the bike lane even when there is plenty of space on the road. Taking the road is often necessary due to poorly maintained tarmac/potholes on the bike lanes or  you ride during 'dog-walking hours') so they are packed with pedestrians and joggers listening to loud music)

(7. Your phone starts ringing during a pleasant ride. Or you see the notification on your bike computer that your wife/kids are calling, sms'ing or your boss sends an e-mail. You don't want to stop and worry the for the rest of your ride: was that something important?)

(8. It a hot summers day - the water in your second bidon is now very warm and impossible to drink and you are very thirsty)

(9. Having to clean a very dirty bike after getting caught in heavy rain)

kil0ran [1733 posts] 1 year ago

People riding bikes on shared use paths/cycle lanes without lights, dressed in black. Usually on full-sus BSOs with the saddle way too low.

kil0ran [1733 posts] 1 year ago

Black ice

(as discovered by the missus this morning coming back from the school run) /ouch

salokin [26 posts] 1 year ago

Yep, I prefer to go out in the crappiest weather than ride my bluddy trainer

brooksby [5178 posts] 1 year ago

"18 things that cyclists hate" - just to be clear, here, but are we talking about Real Proper Cyclists or just about people who use bicycles to get about in their daily life? yes

abedfo [18 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

All true except 

17. I kind of enjoy turbo now due to Zwift 

18. Kind of feels epic when its on the way home and you are on a good day 

alansmurphy [2332 posts] 1 year ago

1. Valbrona

PRSboy [573 posts] 1 year ago

Crappy English road surfaces.  Have me howling with rage on frequent occasions, particularly seeing as I do pay ROAD TAX on three cars...

BehindTheBikesheds [3322 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

"8. You attack as hard as you can, check over your shoulder to see how much of a gap you have… and they’re still on your wheel"

Never, ever look back, also don't "attack" just make it seem like your natural pace and that everything is a serene pootle even if inside you are absolutely on the limit. Looking back makes it look like you're trying which is a no-no. Wait for a bend in the road or a turn to have a peripheral look, do not move that head even slightly.

in any case if somone comes past you, so what, in fact I expect to be passed every time I'm out.

I do find it hilarious though when someone clearly trying comes past (and say nowt) only to drop about 20-30 metres in front and not get any further ahead, I've even eased off sometimes because I was catching them back up with no extra effort so I didn't want to seem like I was actually trying to do so, I just can't be arsed.

Drink too warm, either man the fuck up and simply drink it or prepare in advance, freeze one of your bottle/drinks and by time you're needing it as the second bottle it'll be defrosted to a cold drink,if it's hot enough to make your drinks warm.

I often just take a fiver out for a pint in the pub when I'm about 7 miles from home on a w/e ride, don't even take the house key sometimes, not bothered about taking a phone either and hardly bother with a computer anymore.

Not stressing about how fast/not fast you're going and just letting your body do the talking is how I prefer it, sure I'll check the data after the event if pop the GPS logger on but I'm really not that fussed for those type of rides anymore. Just use a computer for my utility bikes so I know timings for appointments/how far I've got to go to a specific destination.

I don't even hate punctures, haven't had one for a while so if one comes up I consider it a blessing because then I generally know it'll be a fair while til my next one and not having to think about it for a while.

BonerFide [7 posts] 1 year ago

One that everybody has missed so far:

  • Stopping at a cafe on the Sunday club run and forgetting to press start on the computer when you set off again, realising 15 miles later.  Nothing you do will get that distance back onto Strava!