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What Are Your Bike-Related Superstitions?

Are you superstitious? I asked riders at TPC what sort of superstitions they had about bikes, riding, and racing. Now you'll know all about the hokey things that could affect your next ride! Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Fun

Superstition: A belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.

Recently, my wife was painting the walls in our house and her ladder was blocking a hallway. She laughed at me when I made great pains to not walk under it because I had a race coming up. I didn’t want any bad luck!

Of course, rationally, I knew walking under this ladder wouldn’t suddenly ruin everything. But after months of training and prep, I wasn’t going to take any chances. Superstition got the better of me. Go ahead and laugh — I think it’s funny too.

This got me thinking about all the silly little superstitions cyclists might have surrounding bikes and riding. So I thought about some of my own superstitions and asked some of my co-workers if they had any too. Superstitions can be hokey, but sometimes, they're just weird and funny habits that we’ve developed after years of riding.

If any of our superstitions resonate with you, or if you have any bike-related superstitions of your own, tell me about them in the comments!

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Two More, Skip the Last

He definitely said, "Last run."

"NEVER EVER SAY 'last run!' I always will take one more run if someone says ‘last run’ to make sure that it is not the last run.” - Clint Hobbs, Inbound Operations Manager

By far, the most prevalent superstition I heard about is the fear of the “last run.” This is prevalent among mountain bikers (and skiers) who visit downhill bike parks or regularly lap downhill trails. The idea is that the last run of the day is always the run where something goes wrong and you get hurt.

If you say something like, “I’m just going to do one more lap,” then you’ve essentially doomed yourself. Instead, it’s better to always say you’re going for “two more,” with the intention of omitting the last run — a convenient loophole.

“Growing up, me and my friends would always say, ‘Two more, skip the last.’ Sketchy riding always happens on the last runs when you’re tired at the end of the day!” - Owen Halself, SEO Strategist

Words have immense power, and “last run” is not the only loaded phrase mountain bikers fear.

“I can’t stand ‘Ride Safe.’ Whenever I tell my girlfriend or my mom that I am going riding, they also tell me to ride safe, and the only thing that pops into my head is unsafe things. That juju is going to take me out someday." - Clint Hobbs (again), Inbound Operations Manager

Don’t Shave the Night Before a Race

Breaking away shaving legsThose Italians would let you ride next to them if you didn't shave before races, Dave (watch Breaking Away if you haven't seen it).

I originally heard this from former pro roadie, Sean “Sully” Sullivan. While racing in Europe for an Italian team, he was told not to shave his legs the night before a big race because it would waste precious energy.

“It’s because your leg hair needs extra energy to break back through the skin after you shave,” Sully explained.

Supposedly, this superstition originated from the Belgians, and Sully’s Italian team took it very seriously. But they also had plenty of other wacky ideas. Sully also recalled regularly being woken up at 3 A.M. by his director to eat a bowl of pasta before a race (see more food superstitions below), a fueling strategy clearly backed by… science? Probably not.

When asking if any other roadies were familiar with this superstition, I may have sparked a new fear in one of our Masters racers.  

“Oh no! I didn't know about this superstition about not shaving your legs before a race! Now I have to add that one to the list.” - Richard Scudney, Catalog Specialist

Richard had a race not long after I mentioned this to him. The night before, he said he held his razor in the shower, agonizing over whether he should shave or not.

"I should have shaved the day before," he said. "Thinking about it really messed me up." Ultimately, he didn't shave and finished on the podium in his age group. Coincidence? I think not. 

Poor Preparation Produces Preventable Punctures

Bike tire puncture no flat kitThere's no flat kit on your bike. This wouldn't happen if you just carried a flat kit... probably. 

If you don’t bring a flat kit, then you’re definitely going to flat. That’s just the way of the universe.

“My best friend was in the Marines and they had a credo about preparation: ‘Two is one, one is none.’ The idea is that you should be prepared for plan A to fail, and maybe even plan B when it comes to supplies, tools, etc. I always bring two tubes and two CO2s on every ride. Ever since I started doing this, my flat rate has nearly disappeared (I believe it has happened once) and so now in my mind, I bring two tubes and two CO2s to actively prevent flats.” - Chris Blick, Business Analyst

“I only get flats when I don't bring inner tubes on a ride. I normally bring 2 spares with me at all times. The last time I bought a new bike, I didn't have tubes in the correct size (27.5”), but figured I'd be fine for a quick 45-minute spin to get my position dialed in. 30 minutes later, I was on the phone calling for a pickup so that I didn't have to ride home on my brand new rims. Is it Karma? Superstition? Ronnie Romance teaching me a lesson? I don't know, but nowadays I'm vigilant about bringing my tubes.” - Andrew Austin, Associate Category Purchasing Manager

“Always check your tire pressure before a ride, even if you think your tires are good. I've never had issues with flat tires in a race except the one time I didn't check them.” - Carl Sechrist, Master Technician

Speaking of flats, have you ever noticed that misfortune often comes in twos and threes? One bad thing often leads to another and flats can have a domino effect so be prepared.

“If I get a flat on one bike, I believe that I will flat most of my other bikes in the near future.” - Matt McCulley, Senior Ride Guide

We Are Compelled to Always Follow the Correct Order

Cycling which shoe firstWait, you put WHICH shoe on first!?

Every good ride has a list of requirements and we can only succeed if each aspect is prepared in the correct order. You may call this compulsive behavior. But this is how we ensure the universe always bestows its favor upon us. It also brings up one of the greatest debates here: Right shoe first or left shoe first? (I always put the right shoe on first. ALWAYS)

“If my pre-race routine is done out of order, I go back and redo it just in case it causes some misfortune along the way. I don't want to find out if it will. Things like always putting my race food in the same order in my pockets. Bars on the right and left. Gels in the center. I always put on my right shoe first and my right glove first. And shoes on before helmets because who the hell walks around with a helmet on their head but no shoes!?” - Johann Van Zyl, Catalog Supervisor

“Everybody puts their left shoe on first right? Isn't that how to ensure we avoid crashing on any given ride?” - Brian Bouchard, Fullstack Engineer

“There's a local area where a dog chased me once. This was years back and I've passed by hundreds of times since and seen no sign of a cyclist-seeking Cujo. Still, every time I approach I go through a little checklist: make sure I have some sprint in my legs, ready an energy bar to toss if I need a diversion, and go full gas until I'm safely out of sight, just in case! Also, oh my gosh, is putting your left shoe on first even an option!? Put me solidly on the right shoe side!” - Megan Schmidt, Ride Guide Sales Team Lead

“ALWAYS put the left shoe on first, even if it’s for no good reason at all.” - Ian Smith, UX Engineering Manager

Food Is Power

Red bull and doritosThe secret to success.

I believe in the power of Red Bull and Doritos. Every good race result I’ve ever had, guess what I ate halfway through… Red Bull and Doritos. Yes, it makes my heart feel like it’s going to explode. Yes, the Dorito dust shreds my dehydrated mouth. But victory is (mostly) assured, so it’s worth it.

“PB&J before a ride or a chicken salad, nothing else. Can’t risk it.” - Clint Hobbs, Inbound Operations Manager

“Never try a new food on race day. Don’t be tempted by that aid station gel or drink mix. When you take it on race day, it’s guaranteed to cause stomach issues and a DNF.” -  Carl Sechrist, Master Technician 

Always Wave

Waving to cyclistsHaving a good day? It's because you wave!

Do you wave at other cyclists? You should! You're riding a bike. They're riding a bike. Being good to each other ensures the universe is good to us. 

“Always wave to other cyclists. It's the right, decent thing to do and you will be rewarded with good karma.” - Chris Blick, Business Analyst 

Chance Is the Best Decision Maker

Bike diceHmmm... time to bust out the dice. 

Not all those who wander are lost. Luck and chance will always lead us to great adventures. 

“My touring bike has a stem top cap compartment that holds two mini dice. If I'm stuck at a fork in the road, unsure which way to go, I can give the handlebar a shake and see what numbers come up. Odd number = Left. Even number = Right. It hasn’t led me astray yet.” - Steve Gardner, Warehouse Manager 

A Clean Bike is a Fast Bike

Clean bike is a fast bikeThe cleanliness is next to... riding really fast I guess...

“If your bike is dusty, it provides no performance benefits. Starting with a clean bike is just good race-day motivation. It makes me feel more ready to go fast.” - Carl Sechrist, Master Technician


“My bikes always start squeaking after I wash them. And every time I do wash them, they immediately get dirty from mud or rain. Solution: don’t wash them.” - Me

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