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Everyone loves to cycle, but cycling 500 miles in 5 days, in Europe, takes some doing, and a reasonable amount of preparation. It is within every one of us to achieve this, but to enjoy it takes knowledge, which is why I am hoping to impart some of my experiences in a series of posts – so stay tuned!

“Cycling is hard, and it requires that we are tough in response.”

These are incredibly wise words from one of cycling’s favourite communities – The Velominati.

If you consider yourself a cyclist, then you will know this, and will only consider yourself a cyclist, if you have not cycled the Alps before then read on.

Which brings me to Rule #5 – The “V” (The Five) – Harden the F**k up!

It is important to remember that you are a dentist who cycles.

The Rules: the way of the cycling disciple

Get over yourself!  We do dentistry, or are all associated with it in some way, which is why we are on this journey preparing for the 4th Straumann Charity Bike Ride. We sit or stand, mostly in the same room all day, doing our bit for the planet saving one tooth at a time.  We are not Olympic cyclists whose job it is to spend every waking hour ruining our bodies to get that gold medal.  So let’s see how we can leverage the resources we have to enjoy (and survive) our mini Giro.

As dentists we are stubborn, but focussed, generally quite an arrogant species and are used to working with the best equipment to achieve the best outcomes with very little room for error, so why change the habits of a lifetime when it comes to embarking on a marathon bike ride?

“Just because it’s only five days, don’t think you don’t need to invest.”


Just because it’s only five days, don’t think that you don’t need to invest.  When you are only 1/3 of the way up the 10th 9% climb of the day, and your undercarriage is shouting at you nearly as loud as your legs, and all you can hear is the regular crack of your pedals – you might just hate yourself a bit more for insisting on purchasing that bargain on Ebay!

And it’s not just you affected on the ride, if your shoes squeak and your rims rattle, you will soon find yourself at the back of the pack trying to keep up as your cycling buddies go on ahead without your moaning, or stay close in sympathy (still having to listen to your rattling rims!).

It’s simple – buy the right kit and look after it.

You are a dentist for god’s sake, and even if you’re not a wealthy one, a cheaper bike that’s in better shape, is preferable to a carbon masterpiece from the 80’s that has been ridden into the ground.  Better still – borrow one from a cycling friend, if it is right for you, but give it back in better condition.  If they are a real cyclist they will have a few[1], so will probably even have a range for you to try.

Have it properly serviced at your local bike shop[2] (not Halfords!) and tweak things to suit you.  A smooth-running bike is a joy to ride especially when the climbing starts.  Get the bike fitted to you if you are not buying new and take your time ensuring you’ll be comfortable for the duration. A small adjustment to the pedals or saddle can be the difference between knee pain and comfort.

Invest in a new saddle (more on that later); buy some inner tubes – punctures are inevitable but don’t start at a disadvantage, think about a new chain, and get any parts that are unique to your bike (spokes, derailleur hangers, brake pads etc…).

Be prepared for the cost, but don’t get tight.  Like any hobby, cycling can get really expensive, and it has changed a lot since you used to cycle to school!  So buy smart and spend money on the things that will really count – you’ll thank yourself on those aforementioned inclines!


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[1] Rule #12 The correct number of bikes to have is n+1

[2] Rule #58 Support your local bike shop

Ashley Watson

BDS (Kings) LDS RCS (Eng)

Ashley Watson is a 3-time Straumann charity bike ride cyclist and a general dental practitioner who has been placing implants since 2003!

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