In fact there are some people out there who refuse to even acknowledge cycling as a real sport, possibly because you don’t have to be a real athlete to participate in it and because people participate in it for all kinds of other reasons including fitness, recreation, and even commuting.
Athlete is only half of the success equation
There’s also the fact that the athlete is only half of the success equation, while the other half is dependent on the bike technology. For example, you will get way better performance with something like a Continental Grand Prix 4000S II Folding Road Tyre compared to using a regular tyre, and that’s just for openers (wheels and tyres are definitely the most important consideration).
Cycling; image source: berkeleywellness.com
This may go some way towards explaining why so many myths have sprung up around this unusual sport. It’s different to begin with, and then there are some people who just flat-out don’t like cycling or cyclists, and perhaps they’ve engineered these myths to discourage them. Let’s dig into them and see if we can uncover the truth.
Stationary cycling always gives a better workout than regular cycling
Without any doubt, stationary cycling actually is a great way to exercise. With adjustable tension levels, you can simulate hill climbs, and there is a huge array of add-on technology to make your workout totally scientific.
Above all, it doesn’t have the stop/start situation that you’re likely to encounter with on-road cycling. But whether it is better or not really depends on your point-of-view.
There are other considerations beyond just the exercise. Non-stationary cycling is more challenging. It keeps you alert and focused, because if you’re not, you’ll probably crash.
It is also generally more enjoyable, as you are able to give yourself a change of scenery. This way, you’ll probably be more motivated and less likely to quit.
Cycling causes male infertility
This one almost makes sense, and the stated reasons certainly seem logical at first glance. The basis of the myth stems from an actual truth: high temperatures kill sperm cells.
There is research that shows bathing regularly in very hot water may have a negative impact on fertility, so the logic follows that because cycling generates quite a bit of heat between the legs, it will have the same effect.
But to get this effect you would need to spend many more hours riding than anyone ever does, and besides that, dead sperm cells are constantly replaced anyway. Researchers in the UK found that there was also no link between cycling and decreased sperm production due to other causes such as restricted blood flow.
You lose weight more efficiently if you cycle before breakfast
Here is a strangely widespread myth that only makes sense to people who know nothing about metabolism. For some reason, there are people out there who believe that exercising before eating breakfast will make fat burning more efficient. Actually it’s more likely to have the opposite effect, and in the worst-case scenario it could even put you in danger.
Breakfast sets you up for the day. It gets your metabolism fired up, and makes you more alert. When you’ve been asleep for 8 to 10 hours, your body is slightly dehydrated and slightly malnourished. Exercising in this condition doesn’t put your body into fat burning mode, it puts it into fat storing mode!
Your body has no way of knowing that breakfast is coming, so what it assumes is that you’re in grave danger of starving to death and tries to protect you from that by leaving your fat alone and harvesting energy from anywhere else it can, including catabolism of your muscles.