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5 things we wish we could tell random cyclists but probably shouldn’t (except for one)

Best not to dispense these morsels of unsolicited advice on the road

Photo by: Getty Images

Everyone’s got an opinion, but sometimes it’s best to keep it to yourself. This doubly counts when you’re out for a ride and see something that you consider incorrect. There’s a lot of new cyclists out there, learning the joy of the bike, and sometimes, they may be doing something that some would consider wrong.

1. Helmet worn wrong/backwards/dated…or none

We’ve all seen it. Someone will be riding across town with a helmet, except it’s backwards. The tail will be sticking to the front. Helmets are designed to reduce impact and harm to your head, so if it’s on backwards, obviously some of those effects are reduced. Worse than that, you might see someone wearing a helmet from 1994, which is probably so old that it is not nearly as effective. Or there’s times you’ll see people wearing helmets where the shell has long fallen off, and it’s simply Styrofoam.


And then of course, you may see someone riding lidless. Although it’s legal in most provinces in Canada,  should you tell them they should put one on? Chances are letting them know they should wear a helmet will fall on deaf ears.

2. Pushing too big or small of a gear

Then there’s a person who is riding along in their 53×11 going 25km/h. Their cadence is slower than a Tour de France pro in the ‘80s climbing Alpe d’Huez in his 39×19. You can feel the tendonitis brewing in their poor knees. Do you tell them? Someone randomly going up to a stranger giving them gearing advice might not be received so well. Sometimes people who are new to cycling, and unfamiliar with gear shifters, may keep it in the same gear. So that means at a stop they will accelerate in a massive gear, at 10 rpm.


Hopefully, someone they know may give them a pointer some day, but it ain’t your job. The same goes for when you see that dude riding along spinning faster than Kelsey Mitchell in the finals at the Olympics. You just want to ride over and click clack that shifter to a better cadence. Oh well, you can’t.

3. Wearing giant Beats by Dre-type Headphones on a busy road

Your ears are some of your biggest assets when you’re riding in busy areas. If you can’t hear cars or people or obstacles, it means you’re taking a giant risk. Sure, you could go nag someone that they shouldn’t be using noise-blocking headphones…except they won’t hear you, anyway, so don’t bother.

4. Not ringing a bell when someone passes you on a bike path

You’re going to sound like a jerk to them, but this is a maybe. Someone buzzing by you on a narrow bike path with no notice can be super dangerous for both of you. If someone passes you without any warning, no “on your left” or ring of a bell, and you happen to veer to the the left…well, kaboom! Both are you might hit the deck. Bells can come off and on easily, so even if you are training on your race bike, you should use a bell when you’re training in an area where you might be passing other riders.


5. Quick release undone

If you see someone with a QR undone, it’s okay to politely offer to do it up for them. Although so-called “lawyer tabs” will usually prevent the wheel from coming out, there are those who file them off. So you’re doing someone a huge favour and saving a really nasty crash by showing them how to tighten it up.


Honourable mention for something that you should never ever correct someone about

Anything to do with their kit. Please stop. Especially anything to do with  “The Rules Of Cycling, According To the Velominati.” If someone wants to train in a world championship jersey, or yellow jersey, and they haven’t won it? Who cares. People play shinny in Vancouver Canucks and Leafs jerseys. Honestly.

As Phil Gaimon says in The New Rules of Cycling: a.ka. Philuminati : Wear whatever the hell you want.”