Guest Article: Proposed New Rule #96, the Marcellus Rule

Roof racks Rule.  photo-Honda
Roof racks Rule. photo-Honda

This note arrived to the Velominati Bunker back in April. It was a confession. It was a cautionary one. Everyone knows someone who has done this. I nearly did it myself*. I replied to Alex, not sympathetically enough yet his message has stayed with me. Is this worthy of a New Rule? 

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

Dear illustrious members ,

I wondered if the members had a Rule for irregular removal of bikes from roof, off vehicle? I feel the need to explain a little incident that occurred after picking up my two Specialized bikes from storage after having moved house.

Both  bikes  were sitting comfortably on the Thule roof rack and we were making good headway back to my new residence in Bourne end. I had both my boys in the car and was a little distracted with a conversation with my eldest. Mentioned in the conversation was the issue of lunch. So it made sense to pull into Waitrose to get a bite to eat. Err need I go on? We entered into Waitrose at a good speed.

There was a horrendous noise that I cannot describe and still haunts me, followed by the sound of breaking glass as both bikes and roof rack hit the ground after briefly entering the boot through the rear window.

Some of you will remember an incident, many years ago, to a chap called Marcellus. I remember thinking I would never be stupid enough to drive my car through a barrier with a bike on top of my roof. Well I have exceeded this by wrecking my bike and my girlfriend’s bike. oops

Training is on hold for the moment.

Proposed Rule #96 -Twatting your bike.

Driver and also owner of bikes on roof of car, removes bikes from roof of car by driving through a barrier. Owner of bike shall be referred to as a twat until bike has been replaced, or repaired. Exceptions are if wife or girlfriend is driving car in which case a possible conspiracy theory may have to be investigated. This confirms the need for Rule #12: the number of bikes owned should be N +1. You can at least be sure of a spare available.

Waitrose are suing me for damaging their barrier

Bastards

*Two identical Alan CX bikes on the roof of my car as I delivered a racer to the airport after he won the cyclocross nationals many years ago. Luckily the handlebars lightly hit a warning sign as I ripped into the departure drop off. Had that gone badly, I would have had to find another sport.

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95 Replies to “Guest Article: Proposed New Rule #96, the Marcellus Rule”

  1. Thank goodness no bikes were hurt on his first day on the job.

    Caused a pile up 6km back though.

    Measure twice, drive once – safely.

  2. @therealpeel

    @V-olcano

    Unrelated because I have no story to share (I drive a hatchback and the bikes fit inside standing up – proper protection, that is):

    What is going on here with having to log in before being able to read posts/comments? It’s not quite maddening, but adding a step each time I visit seems silly.

    Are you a small person? Ride BMX? How do your bikes possible fit inside your hatchback standing up?

    I’m not a BIG person, but no. The front wheel comes off and is slotted into a wheel carrier next to the bike, which stands in a fork mount bolted to the floor.

    It’s a great arrangement, but will only work with bikes up to about 56 cm without dropping the seatpost. No damage to bikes, no loss of fuel efficiency, and I can lock them up to grab a bite to eat with a little more piece of mind. Highly recommended if available to you.

  3. When I first read this story I thought it was going to be about cellar based love with a man in a gimp mask! But disappointingly no.

    you revelations are rapidly putting me off buying a roof rack or even a rear rack or even putting the bike near the car ever again. It might limit my range but maybe safer just to cycle from home all the time, as I am the most forgetful person EVER when it comes to driving, Christ I’m only saved from fender benders because the land rover is so slow, Ohhhhhh look at that pretty field of wheat/barley/potatoes etc! You can guess the rest.

  4. Or,here’s a thought. Bikes on roof of car? Garage door opener goes in trunk or kit bag, anywhere out of reach. Or am I being too practical? Mind you, this only prevents some of the accidents described above. For those, I have no remedy.

  5. My car is a Mercedes Vito.  Say no more, squire !!

    It’s not a problem for me.  I know for a fact, that if I mounted bikes on the roof of any car, I would destroy them at some point.  I’ve gently massaged a surfboard on the roof of my van, and our recently sold acreage garage had two separate marks where both my wife and myself drove our ROPS equipped tractor in , or tried to, anyway. It almost fit, just not quite.

  6. No this is not worthy of a rule. Are we to have a rule for every err of a Velominatus? I would have thought “don’t wreck the bikes on your roof by forgetting they are up there” is pretty apparent to anyone who puts one up there. Maybe the rule should be; don’t transport your bike on the roof of your vehicle.

  7. Youse guys are hilarious.

    Bikes sometimes are transported on the roofs of vehicles.  Get over it. It’s not a measure of character if one does it or not.

    That being said, I have roof racks to carry my multiple bikes.  I know that it’s inevitable that such things will be driven into low hanging impediments.  The strategy is to mount the bikes with rear wheel facing forward.

    What this does in the event of the unthinkable happening is to impact the rear wheel on whatever it is that you’ve hit.  This will most likely push the crossbars off the rails leaving the bikes surprisingly intact.  It leaves the really expensive bits prone to damage like brakes, shifters and forks out of harms way.  Also keeps the bugs off the front of the bikes from those late evening summertime drives.

    Of the two times that my (now) ex drove our bikes into our garage (blame baby brain – lack of sleep), the only damage was to the racks themselves, well and the roof of the car where the rack clamps created a mighty furrow in the bodywork.  The wheels and the rest of the bike were completely undamaged.  These were easily repaired using McGyver skills.

    I can’t claim innocence though.  I drove my cross bike into my carport after winning a race series. My euphoria was somewhat dampened.  Again, damage to the rack and a saddle destroyed but that was all.

  8. Also, my children upon the completion of the carport incident heard the use of the word fuck in a sentence about 12 times. A new record for me.

  9. Drove my ti framed bike into the garage. Busted the carbon seat post and saddle. Destroyed the roof of the car. Derailed the garage door and put a huge hole in the stucco. Bike had a small scratch on the top tube. After that I was convinced ti was the way to go for a commuter.

  10. Roof racks interfere with Rule 11, anyhow.

    I transported three bikes and three people in a dinky Suzuki Swift (or Geo Metro for the Americans). Leave one rear seat unfolded, remove wheels, stow smartly. If it works for my size 60 TT frame, it works for anyone.

  11. Reverence for the roof rack, especially when you’ve got one that gives great service — and you can get the good from it. Even better when it’s used randomly, making you even more aware of your bike.

  12. @Rob

    If those things do not fit into ones life style then a sign taped on the sun visor with the word BIKES should suffice?

    I’ve often thought that it would be good to paint BIKES at the front (back?) of the garage on the wall, in day-glo yellow. A Yellow Sign of Authority, as it were.

  13. @the-farmer

    When I first read this story I thought it was going to be about cellar based love with a man in a gimp mask! But disappointingly no.

    you revelations are rapidly putting me off buying a roof rack or even a rear rack or even putting the bike near the car ever again. It might limit my range but maybe safer just to cycle from home all the time, as I am the most forgetful person EVER when it comes to driving, Christ I’m only saved from fender benders because the land rover is so slow, Ohhhhhh look at that pretty field of wheat/barley/potatoes etc! You can guess the rest.

    I too am one viewing away from a fender bender, Ohhhhhh look at that pretty lass in the bikini/sarong/smaller bikini/that’s too small for a bikini, what is that? They are everywhere, worn beautifully. And a hazard to navigation in beach parking lots.

  14. I don’t carry my bikes on the roof, but if I did, I would install one of those antenna like ‘flag on a pole’ sans flag, the mines legistate around here. If you don’t have a bull bar, there are bonnet mounts for antenna’s that you could use easily. It would look just like an antenna, BUT being the same or similar height to the bike on your roof, it would altert and remind you of the bikes up there and also act as a measuring stick if you intend to drive under a low object.

  15. This is how we got to the Fleurieu Cogal .  Brought about by my mate with the trek ripping his giant off the roof of his car trying to fight a car park boom gate

  16. @Ccos This is the exact reason why I decided on a roof rack. I’ve seen the damage to bikes caused by other peoples lack of judgement on rear racks. I opted for a Yashima Frontloader and used it for the first time last week. Quick and easy to load and dismount. I did have to remind the VMH to stop once before we went through low arches at the castle we stayed at.

  17. decided against a roof rack for this very reason. i heard of a guy driving down the highway, his litespeed secured to the rack on the roof. only problem is, the rack wasn’t secured to the roof. so at cruising speed, he hears a sudden whoosh, looks in the rearview mirror, & sees the rack (w/his bike on it) skidding & showering sparks behind him on the highway. it landed “jelly side up”, w/no harm to the bike. so it’s a hitch rack for me–i can see it in my rearview mirror the entire time.

    also, if i need to drive somewhere & take my bike (& don’t want to dally w/ the hitch rack), we have a honda fit, so it goes in the back seat–no parts removal necessary. now mind you, i ride a 64cm frame!  follow along here: pop off the front wheel, turn the bars 90° to the left, slide the bike in from the rear passenger’s side door, & rest the bottom bracket on the edge of the seat (L crank up, R down). 1 fork arm will rest inside the door handle, & the majority of the bike will slot behind the seats. put front wheel between bike & rear seat, viola. takes less than 30 seconds. i put an old sheet down on the rear seat to prevent fabric from picking up any grease marks.

  18. @actor1

    i put an old sheet down on the rear seat to prevent fabric from picking up any grease marks.

    You mean the greased parts from picking up any fabric, right?

  19. I used to carry the bikes on the roof but having to reverse out of a French toll gate with a height restriction bar in the middle of the night in heavy traffic should have been enough incentive to find an alternative method of transportation. Watching a car in the rear view mirror swerve to avoid two bikes that had jettisoned themselves from the roof without warning certainly was. This is how we travel now:

  20. @Ron In most states in Oz, texting while driving will get you a $300-odd fine. Last year, someone got a jail term for killing a pedestrian while texting.

  21. This was my solution to having my bikes on the rook of my truck for 3 days while moving cross country. Never ran into anything.

  22. @GeeTee

    @Ron In most states in Oz, texting while driving will get you a $300-odd fine. Last year, someone got a jail term for killing a pedestrian while texting.

    yet a 21yr old only got a $4.5k fine & lost her licence for 9 months after admitting she hit a cyclist while on the phone & didn’t give a shit…

    http://www.standard.net.au/story/2219242/i-just-dont-care-texting-p-plate-driver-hits-cyclist/?cs=73

    http://www.standard.net.au/story/2225030/support-flows-for-texting-crash-victim/

    and yes, she happily went out & got busted for drink driving in between the accident & the court case because she knew she was going to lose her licence anyway…

  23. @Gianni

    @the-farmer

    When I first read this story I thought it was going to be about cellar based love with a man in a gimp mask! But disappointingly no.

    you revelations are rapidly putting me off buying a roof rack or even a rear rack or even putting the bike near the car ever again. It might limit my range but maybe safer just to cycle from home all the time, as I am the most forgetful person EVER when it comes to driving, Christ I’m only saved from fender benders because the land rover is so slow, Ohhhhhh look at that pretty field of wheat/barley/potatoes etc! You can guess the rest.

    I too am one viewing away from a fender bender, Ohhhhhh look at that pretty lass in the bikini/sarong/smaller bikini/that’s too small for a bikini, what is that? They are everywhere, worn beautifully. And a hazard to navigation in beach parking lots.

    Yeah but G, ogling crops is just how we roll in the countryside, besides Scotland’s too cold for anything less than 3 layers!

  24. @Chris

    I used to carry the bikes on the roof but having to reverse out of a French toll gate with a height restriction bar in the middle of the night in heavy traffic should have been enough incentive to find an alternative method of transportation. Watching a car in the rear view mirror swerve to avoid two bikes that had jettisoned themselves from the roof without warning certainly was. This is how we travel now:

    I’ve been thinking about this one; have I found a convenient Rule 25 loophole? After all the family’s bikes are transported on a dedicated conveyance that is worth less than any one of the bikes (apart from the green one which has subsequently been replaced by a rather nice 24 inch wheeled road/CX bike for the youngest velonipper).

  25. @Mikael Liddy

    yet a 21yr old only got a $4.5k fine & lost her licence for 9 months after admitting she hit a cyclist while on the phone & didn’t give a shit…
    http://www.standard.net.au/story/2219242/i-just-dont-care-texting-p-plate-driver-hits-cyclist/?cs=73 http://www.standard.net.au/story/2225030/support-flows-for-texting-crash-victim/

    and yes, she happily went out & got busted for drink driving in between the accident & the court case because she knew she was going to lose her licence anyway…

    Wow. What a twat. Nine months isn’t enough. :-(

  26. I’ve only ever used a trunk-mount removable rack when carrying >2 bikes. I can fit two road bikes quite nicely in the back of my car with the back seats folded down. When I put a rack on, my mileage turns to crap, so I prefer to put ’em inside.

  27. Damn I missed this article!  Holidays on the Isle of Lewis unfortunately yield very poor internet connection and zero mobile phone signal.  I know someone who has done this and the tears and self loathing she endured still haunt me to this day.  I drive with 2 roof fork mounted bikes and this occurs to me on a regular basis but not so often that I can be confident it will never happen to me.   Love the rule….can we not find something more imaginative that twat though….it seems somehow to underplay the moment of realisation.  I am struggling for an alternative but there must be some great words/descriptions out out there…or should the person just not be referred to as Marcellus?

  28. @sthilzy Yeah those sucker things are popular out here for people wanting to put bikes on their Porsches – they seem to work and I haven’t heard any horror stories of them coming off.

  29. @ChrisO

    @sthilzy Yeah those sucker things are popular out here for people wanting to put bikes on their Porsches – they seem to work and I haven’t heard any horror stories of them coming off.

    Friends of mine have them. When they fail (which, invariably, every suction cup has to at some point), you’ll know about it in advance since it just won’t hold to begin with before mounting the bike. With three cups per main mounting point and two for the rear wheel strap, it has some fallback security.

    Ridiculously easy to mount and even easier to remove, and for a suction cup to last nearly three years in middle-eastern weather is quite impressive.

  30. I have something to add to this – If you’re going to get a roof rack, get a cheap roof rack.

    I drove my bike into a height-restriction sign going into a car park in Cornwall. The impact on the front wheel neatly removed the bike from the £20 halfords own brand rack, firing it over the boot to land on the tarmac behind. As it landed on the back wheel a lot of the force was absorbed and the bike was actually still rideable, although I did end up replacing both wheels.

    If I’d done the same with a Thule carrier I would have probably completely destroyed the bike and ripped a chunk of my roof off.

    I’m going to make a sign to put on the dashboard in future.

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