Avalanche of Advice

A few weeks ago, several of us rolled with a rider who was new in town. He did very well for two serious days of riding – he’s strong. But he was obviously beat. While resting, several of us started to dole out the usual information pellets: electrolyte drinks, supplements, cadences, bike foods, gels, gearing ratios, clothing, positioning… it just kept flowing. I admit, I started to chime in too, until I thought about what it must be like for this guy who is just trying to catch his breath. I mean, if that were me sitting there trying to recover – and let’s face it, I’ve been there a lot – would I be listening to this stuff?

Nope, not in the slightest.

In fact, I remember being in just that position many times. I’m beaten, broken, and barely breathing, but there’s a flood of advice that’s being poured over me when all I really want is water, shade, and a nice bed.

I bring this up not to berate myself and/or my fellow cyclists. The advice we let fly isn’t being said to show off our bike-geek knowledge, or to pull an “I told you so.” From what I’ve observed, cyclists naturally want other cyclists to get better, to do better. And – having usually been in the same position at one point or another – to make sure the suffering cyclist doesn’t have to go through this again.

The problem though, is that when you’ve hit the wall and you’re trying to recover, those little pieces of advice can sound eerily like “Well, if you had only done this, you wouldn’t be feeling like you were run over by a Mack truck. Twice.” It’s not that the advice is wrong in any way. In fact, the advice that’s usually doled out are the exact things that cyclists have taken to heart, and work well for them.

The advice is good… it’s the timing that’s off. It’s like telling someone “I recommend these all-terrain tires for your truck. I use them and they’re great,” a few minutes after someone skidded into a snow bank. Is the advice correct? Yeah, sure. Doesn’t mean they want to hear it at that time.

Another thing to be aware of is quantity. You might only give a single piece of advice, like “Hey, use Enduralytes, they’ll help fight cramps.” But the more cyclists there are, the more advice their fallen comrade will get. “Try some shot bloks,” or “Nuun tablets in your water, that’s the key,” or “Honey Stinger waffles will keep you from bonking.” All of a sudden, the poor rider’s got three, four, five recommendations to help prevent a problem that they have to deal with now. Not helpful.

So, from beginners to Boonens, let’s all try to take this piece of advice: before you give out that nugget, look at the situation and consider whether now is the right time, and if they’ve already gotten more advice than they need/want. Save it for next time if you think it’s a particularly good ingot of info. Good advice is only good if someone can use it.

In the meantime, check that they’re okay. Give them our cramp-bustin’, energy-blastin’ power foods. Share our water, and compliment them on a job well done. The advice can wait.