The Rules

We are the Keepers of the Cog. In so being, we also maintain the sacred text wherein lie the simple truths of cycling etiquette known as The Rules. It is in our trust to maintain and endorse this list.

The Rules lie at the beginning of The Path to La Vie Velominatus, not at the end; learning to balance them against one another and to welcome them all into your life as a Velominatus is a never-ending struggle waged between form and function as we continue along The Path towards transcension.

See also The Prophet’s Prayer.

  1. // Obey The Rules.
  2. // Lead by example.It is forbidden for someone familiar with The Rules to knowingly assist another person to breach them.1
  3. // Guide the uninitiated.No matter how good you think your reason is to knowingly breach The Rules, it is never good enough.
  4. // It’s all about the bike. It is, absolutely, without question, unequivocally, about the bike. Anyone who says otherwise is obviously a twatwaffle.
  5. // Harden The Fuck Up. 2,20
  6. // Free your mind and your legs will follow.Your mind is your worst enemy. Do all your thinking before you start riding your bike.  Once the pedals start to turn, wrap yourself in the sensations of the ride – the smell of the air, the sound of the tires, the feeling of flight as the bicycle rolls over the road.
  7. // Tan lines should be cultivated and kept razor sharp.Under no circumstances should one be rolling up their sleeves or shorts in an effort to somehow diminish one’s tan lines. Sleeveless jerseys are under no circumstances to be employed.
  8. // Saddles, bars, and tires shall be carefully matched.3Valid options are:

    Match the saddle to the bars and the tires to black; or

    Match the bars to the color of the frame at the top of the head tube and the saddle to the color of the frame at the top of the seat tube and the tires to the color where they come closest to the frame; or

    Match the saddle and the bars to the frame decals; or

    Black, black, black

  9. // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.
  10. // It never gets easier, you just go faster.As this famous quote by Greg LeMan tells us, training, climbing, and racing is hard. It stays hard. To put it another way, per Greg Henderson: “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.” Sur la Plaque, fucktards.4
  11. // Family does not come first. The bike does.Sean Kelly, being interviewed after the ’84 Amstel Gold Race, spots his wife leaning against his Citroën AX. He interrupts the interview to tell her to get off the paintwork, to which she shrugs, “In your life the car comes first, then the bike, then me.” Instinctively, he snaps back, “You got the order wrong. The bike comes first.”21
  12. // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.
  13. // If you draw race number 13, turn it upside down.Paradoxically, the same mind that holds such control over the body is also woefully fragile and prone to superstitious thought. It fills easily with doubt and is distracted by ancillary details. This is why the tape must always be perfect, the machine silent, the kit spotless. And, if you draw the unlucky Number 13, turn it upside down to counter-act its negative energy.
  14. // Shorts should be black.Team-issue shorts should be black, with the possible exception of side-panels, which may match the rest of the team kit.
  15. // Black shorts should also be worn with leader’s jerseys.Black shorts, or at least standard team-kit shorts, must be worn with Championship jerseys and race leadership jerseys. Don’t over-match your kit, or accept that you will look like a douche.
  16. // Respect the jersey.Championship and race leader jerseys must only be worn if you’ve won the championship or led the race.
  17. // Team kit is for members of the team.Wearing Pro team kit is also questionable if you’re not paid to wear it.  If you must fly the colors of Pro teams, all garments should match perfectly, i.e no Mapei jersey with Kelme shorts and Telekom socks.
  18. // Know what to wear. Don’t suffer kit confusion.No baggy shorts and jerseys while riding the road bike. No lycra when riding the mountain bike (unless racing XC). Skin suits only for cyclocross.
  19. // Introduce Yourself.If you deem it appropriate to join a group of riders who are not part of an open group ride and who are not your mates, it is customary and courteous to announce your presence. Introduce yourself and ask if you may join the group. If you have been passed by a group, wait for an invitation, introduce yourself, or let them go. The silent joiner is viewed as ill-mannered and Anti-V. Conversely, the joiner who can’t shut their cakehole is no better and should be dropped from the group at first opportunity.
  20. // There are only three remedies for pain.These are:

    If your quads start to burn, shift forward to use your hamstrings and calves, or

    If your calves or hamstrings start to burn, shift back to use your quads, or

    If you feel wimpy and weak, meditate on  Rule #5 and train more!

  21. // Cold weather gear is for cold weather.Knickers, vests, arm warmers, shoe covers, and caps beneath your helmet can all make you look like a hardman, when the weather warrants their use. If it isn’t wet or cold, save your Flandrian Best for Flemish weather.
  22. // Cycling caps are for cycling.Cycling caps can be worn under helmets, but never when not riding, no matter how hip you think you look. This will render one a douche, and should result in public berating or beating. The only time it is acceptable to wear a cycling cap is while directly engaged in cycling activities and while clad in cycling kit. This includes activities taking place prior to and immediately after the ride such as machine tuning and tire pumping.  Also included are cafe appearances for pre-ride espressi and post-ride pub appearances for body-refueling ales (provided said pub has sunny, outdoor patio – do not stray inside a pub wearing kit or risk being ceremoniously beaten by leather-clad biker chicks).   Under these conditions, having your cap skull-side tipped jauntily at a rakish angle is, one might say, de rigueur. All good things must be taken in measure, however, and as such it is critical that we let sanity and good taste prevail: as long as the first sip of the relevant caffeine or hop-based beverage is taken whilst beads of sweat, snow, or rain are still evident on one’s brow then it is legitimate for the cap to be worn. However, once all that remains in the cranial furrows is salt, it is then time to shower, throw on some suitable aprés-ride attire (a woollen Molteni Arcore training top circa ’73 comes to mind) and return to the bar, folded copy of pastel-coloured news publication in hand, ready for formal fluid replacement. It is also helpful if you are a Giant of the Road, as demonstrated here, rather than a giant douchebag. 5
  23. // Tuck only after reaching Escape Velocity.You may only employ the aerodynamic tuck after you have spun out your 53 x 11; the tuck is to be engaged only when your legs can no longer keep up. Your legs make you go fast, and trying to keep your fat ass out of the wind only serves to keep you from slowing down once you reach escape velocity. Thus, the tuck is only to be employed to prevent you slowing down when your legs have wrung the top end out of your block. Tucking prematurely while descending is the antithesis of Casually Deliberate. For more on riding fast downhill see Rule #64 and Rule #85.
  24. // Speeds and distances shall be referred to and measured in kilometers. This includes while discussing cycling in the workplace with your non-cycling coworkers, serving to further mystify our sport in the web of their Neanderthalic cognitive capabilities. As the confused expression spreads across their unibrowed faces, casually mention your shaved legs. All of cycling’s monuments are measured in the metric system and as such the English system is forbidden.
  25. // The bikes on top of your car should be worth more than the car. Or at least be relatively more expensive.  Basically, if you’re putting your Huffy on your Rolls, you’re in trouble, mister. Remember what Sean said.
  26. // Make your bike photogenic.When photographing your bike, gussy her up properly for the camera. Some parameters are firm: valve stems at 6 o’clock. Cranks never at 90 or 180 degrees. Others are at your discretion, though the accepted practices include putting the chain on the big dog, and no bidons in the cages.
  27. // Shorts and socks should be like Goldilocks.Not too long and not too short. (Disclaimer: despite Sean Yates’ horrible choice in shorts length, he is a quintessential hard man of cycling and is deeply admired by the Velominati. Whereas Armstrong’s short and sock lengths are just plain wrong.) No socks is a no-no, as are those ankle-length ones that should only be worn by female tennis players.
  28. // Socks can be any damn colour you like.White is old school cool. Black is cool too, but were given a bad image by a Texan whose were too long.  If you feel you must go colored, make sure they damn well match your kit. Tip: DeFeet Wool-E-Ators rule.
  29. // No European Posterior Man-Satchels.Saddle bags have no place on a road bike, and are only acceptable on mountain bikes in extreme cases.
  30. // No frame-mounted pumps.Either Co2 cannisters or mini-pumps should be carried in jersey pockets (See Rule #31). The only exception to this rule is to mount a Silca brand frame pump in the rear triangle of the frame, with the rear wheel skewer as the pump mount nob, as demonstrated by members of the 7-Eleven and Ariostea pro cycling teams. As such, a frame pump mounted upside-down and along the left (skewer lever side) seat stay is both old skool and Euro and thus acceptable. We restate at this time that said pump may under no circumstances be a Zefal and must be made by Silca. Said Silca pump must be fitted with a Campagnolo head. It is acceptable to gaffer-tape a mini-pump to your frame when no C02 cannisters are available and your pockets are full of spare kit and energy gels. However, the rider should expect to be stopped and questioned and may be required to empty pockets to prove there is no room in them for the pump.
  31. // Spare tubes, multi-tools and repair kits should be stored in jersey pockets.If absolutely necessary, in a converted bidon in a cage on bike. Or, use one of these.
  32. // Humps are for camels: no hydration packs.Hydration packs are never to be seen on a road rider’s body. No argument will be entered into on this. For MTB, they are cool.
  33. // Shave your guns.Legs are to be carefully shaved at all times. If, for some reason, your legs are to be left hairy, make sure you can dish out plenty of hurt to shaved riders, or be considered a hippie douche on your way to a Critical Mass. Whether you use a straight razor or a Bowie knife, use Baxter to keep them smooth.
  34. // Mountain bike shoes and pedals have their place.On a mountain bike.
  35. // No visors on the road.Road helmets can be worn on mountain bikes, but never the other way around. If you want shade, see Rule #22.
  36. // Eyewear shall be cycling specific.No Aviator shades, blueblockers, or clip-on covers for eye glasses.
  37. // The arms of the eyewear shall always be placed over the helmet straps.No exceptions. This is for various reasons that may or may not matter; it’s just the way it is.
  38. // Don’t Play Leap Frog.Train Properly: if you get passed by someone, it is nothing personal, just accept that on the day/effort/ride they were stronger than you. If you can’t deal, work harder. But don’t go playing leap frog to get in front only to be taken over again (multiple times) because you can’t keep up the pace. Especially don’t do this just because the person overtaking you is a woman. Seriously. Get over it.
  39. // Never ride without your eyewear.You should not make a habit of riding without eyewear, although approved extenuating circumstances include fog, overheating, and lighting condition. When not worn over the eyes, they should be neatly tucked into the vents of your helmet.  If they don’t fit, buy a new helmet. In the meantime you can wear them backwards on the back of your head or carefully tuck them into your jersey pocket, making sure not to scratch them on your tools (see item 31).
  40. // Tires are to be mounted with the label centered over the valve stem.Pro mechanics do it because it makes it easier to find the valve. You do this because that’s the way pro mechanics do it. This will save you precious seconds while your fat ass sits on the roadside fumbling with your CO2 after a flat. It also looks better for photo opportunities. Note: This obviously only applies to clinchers as tubulars don’t give you a choice.
  41. // Quick-release levers are to be carefully positioned.Quick release angle on the front skewer shall be an upward angle which tightens just aft of the fork and the rear quick release shall tighten at an angle that bisects angle between the seat and chain stays. It is acceptable, however, to have the rear quick release tighten upward, just aft of the seat stay, when the construction of the frame or its dropouts will not allow the preferred positioning. For Time Trial bikes only, quick releases may be in the horizontal position facing towards the rear of the bike. This is for maximum aero effect.9
  42. // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.If it’s preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run, it is not called a bike race, it is called duathlon or a triathlon. Neither of which is a bike race. Also keep in mind that one should only swim in order to prevent drowning, and should only run if being chased. And even then, one should only run fast enough to prevent capture.
  43. // Don’t be a jackass.But if you absolutely must be a jackass, be a funny jackass. Always remember, we’re all brothers and sisters on the road.
  44. // Position matters.In order to find the V-Locus, a rider’s handlebars on their road bike must always be lower than their saddle. The only exception to this is if you’re revolutionizing the sport, in which case you must also be prepared to break the World Hour Record. The minimum allowable tolerance is 4cm; there is no maximum, but people may berate you if they feel you have them too low.
  45. // Slam your stem.A maximum stack height of 2cm is allowed below the stem and a single 5mm spacer must always – always – be stacked above. A “slammed down” stack height is preferable; meaning that the stem is positioned directly on the top race of the headset.
  46. // Keep your bars level.Handlebars will be mounted parallel to the ground or angled slightly upward. While they may never be pointed down at all, they may be angled up slightly; allowed handlebar tilt is to be between 180 and 175 degrees with respect to the level road. The brake levers will preferably be mounted such that the end of the brake lever is even with the bottom of the bar.  Modern bars, however, dictate that this may not always be possible, so tolerances are permitted within reason. Brake hoods should not approach anything near 45 degrees, as some riders with poor taste have been insisting on doing.
  47. // Drink Tripels, don’t ride triples.Cycling and beer are so intertwined we may never understand the full relationship. Beer is a recovery drink, an elixir for post-ride trash talking and a just plain excellent thing to pour down the neck. We train to drink so don’t fool around. Drink quality beer from real breweries. If it is brewed with rice instead of malted barley or requires a lime, you are off the path. Know your bittering units like you know your gear length. Life is short, don’t waste it on piss beer.
  48. // Saddles must be level and pushed back.The seating area of a saddle is to be visually level, with the base measurement made using a spirit level. Based on subtleties of saddle design and requirements of comfort, the saddle may then be pitched slightly forward or backward to reach a position that offers stability, power, and comfort. If the tilt of the saddle exceeds two degrees, you need to go get one of those saddles with springs and a thick gel pad because you are obviously a big pussy. The midpoint of the saddle as measured from tip to tail shall fall well behind and may not be positioned forward of the line made by extending the seat tube through the top of the saddle. (Also see Rule #44.)
  49. // Keep the rubber side down.It is completely unacceptable to intentionally turn one’s steed upside down for any reason under any circumstances. Besides the risk of scratching the saddle, levers and stem, it is unprofessional and a disgrace to your loyal steed. The risk of the bike falling over is increased, wheel removal/replacement is made more difficult and your bidons will leak. The only reason a bicycle should ever be in an upside down position is during mid-rotation while crashing. This Rule also applies to upside down saddle-mount roof bars.23
  50. // Facial hair is to be carefully regulated.No full beards, no moustaches. Goatees are permitted only if your name starts with “Marco” and ends with “Pantani”, or if your head is intentionally or unintentionally bald. One may never shave on the morning of an important race, as it saps your virility, and you need that to kick ass.
  51. // Livestrong wristbands are cockrings for your arms.While we hate cancer, isn’t it better to just donate some money and not have to advertise the fact for the next five years? You may as well get “tryhard wanker” tattooed on your forehead. Or you may well be a bogan.
  52. // Drink in Moderation.Bidons are to be small in size. 500-610ml maximum, no extra large vessels are to be seen on one’s machine. Two cages can be mounted, but only one bidon on rides under two hours is to be employed. Said solo bidon must be placed in the downtube cage only. You may only ride with a bidon in the rear cage if you have a front bidon, or you just handed your front bidon to a fan at the roadside and you are too busy crushing everyone to move it forward until you take your next drink. Bidons should match each other and preferably your bike and/or kit. The obvious exception is the classic Coca-Cola bidon which by default matches any bike and/or kit due to its heritage. Coca-Cola should only be consumed flat and near the end of a long ride or all-day solo breakaway on the roads of France.
  53. // Keep your kit clean and new.As a courtesy to those around you, your kit should always be freshly laundered, and, under no circumstances should the crackal region of your shorts be worn out or see-through.
  54. // No aerobars on road bikes.Aerobars or other clip-on attachments are under no circumstances to be employed on your road bike. The only exception to this is if you are competing in a mountain timetrial.
  55. // Earn your turns.If you are riding down a mountain, you must first have ridden up the mountain. It is forbidden to employ powered transportation simply for the cheap thrill of descending. The only exception to this is if you are doing intervals on Alpe d’Huez or the Plan de Corones and you park your car up top before doing 20 repeats of the climb.
  56. // Espresso or macchiato only.When wearing cycling kit and enjoying a pre or post ride coffee, it is only appropriate to drink espresso or macchiato. If the word soy/skim latte is heard to be used by a member wearing cycling apparel, then that person must be ceremonially beaten with Co2 canisters or mini pumps by others within the community.6
  57. // No stickers.Nobody gives a shit what causes you support, what war you’re against, what gear you buy, or what year you rode RAGBRAI.  See Rule #5 and ride your bike. Decals, on the other hand, are not only permissible, but extremely Pro.
  58. // Support your local bike shop.Never buy bikes, parts or accessories online. Going into your local shop, asking myriad inane questions, tying up the staff’s time, then going online to buy is akin to sleeping with your best friend’s wife, then having a beer with him after. If you do purchase parts online, be prepared to mount and maintain them yourself. If you enter a shop with parts you have bought online and expect them to fit them, be prepared to be told to see your online seller for fitting and warranty help.
  59. // Hold your line.Ride predictably, and don’t make sudden movements. And, under no circumstances, are you to deviate from your line.
  60. // Ditch the washer-nut and valve-stem cap.You are not, under any circumstances, to employ the use of the washer-nut and valve-stem cap that come with your inner-tubes or tubulars. They are only supplied to meet shipping regulations. They are useless when it comes to tubes and tires.
  61. // Like your guns, saddles should be smooth and hard.Under no circumstances may your saddle have more than 3mm of padding. Special allowances will be made for stage racing when physical pain caused by subcutaneous cysts and the like (“saddle sores”) are present. Under those conditions, up to 5mm of padding will be allowed – it should be noted that this exception is only temporary until the condition has passed or been excised. A hardman would not change their saddle at all but instead cut a hole in it to relieve pressure on the delicate area. It is noted that if Rule #48 and/or Rule #5 is observed then any “padding” is superfluous.7
  62. // You shall not ride with earphones.Cycling is about getting outside and into the elements and you don’t need to be listening to Queen or Slayer in order to experience that. Immerse yourself in the rhythm and pain, not in whatever 80’s hair band you call “music”.   See Rule #5 and ride your bike.8
  63. // Point in the direction you’re turning.Signal a left turn by pointing your left arm to the left. To signal a right turn, simply point with your right arm to the right. This one is, presumably, mostly for Americans: that right-turn signal that Americans are taught to make with your left arm elbow-out and your forearm pointing upwards was developed for motor-vehicles prior to the invention of the electric turn signal since it was rather difficult to reach from the driver-side all the way out the passenger-side window to signal a right turn. On a bicycle, however, we don’t have this limitation and it is actually quite easy to point your right arm in the direction you are turning. The American right-turn signal just makes you look like you’re waving “hello” to traffic.
  64. // Cornering confidence increases with time and experience.This pattern continues until it falls sharply and suddenly.
  65. // Maintain and respect your machine.Bicycles must adhere to the Principle of Silence and as such must be meticulously maintained. It must be cherished, and when leaning it against a wall, must be leaned carefully such that only the bars, saddle, or tires come in contact with the wall or post.  This is true even when dismounting prior to collapsing after the World Championship Time Trial. No squeaks, creaks, or chain noise allowed. Only the soothing hum of your tires upon the tarmac and the rhythm of your breathing may be audible when riding. When riding the Pave, the sound of chain slap is acceptable. The Principle of Silence can be extended to say that if you are suffering such that your breathing begins to adversely affect the enjoyment of the other riders in the bunch, you are to summarily sit up and allow yourself to be dropped.10
  66. // No  mirrors.Mirrors are allowed on your (aptly named) Surly Big Dummy or your Surly Long Haul Trucker. Not on your road steed. Not on your Mountain bike. Not on your helmet. If someone familiar with The Rules has sold you such an abomination, return the mirror and demand a refund, plus interest and damages.
  67. // Do your time in the wind.Nobody likes a wheel sucker. You might think you’re playing a smart tactical game by letting everyone else do the work while you sit on, but races (even Town Sign Sprints) are won through cooperation and spending time on the rivet, flogging yourself and taking risks. Riding wheels and jumping past at the end is one thing and one thing only: poor sportsmanship.
  68. // Rides are to be measured by quality, not quantity.Rides are to be measured by the quality of their distance and never by distance alone. For climbing rides, distances should be referred to by the amount of vertical covered; flat and rolling rides should be referred to by their distance and average speed. For example, declaring “We rode 4km” would assert that 4000m were climbed during the ride, with the distance being irrelevant. Conversely, a flat ride of 150km at 23kmh is not something that should be discussed in an open forum and Rule #5 must be reviewed at once.7
  69. // Cycling shoes and bicycles are made for riding.Any walking conducted while wearing cycling shoes must be strictly limited. When taking a slash or filling bidons during a 200km ride (at 38kmh, see Rule #68) one is to carefully stow one’s bicycle at the nearest point navigable by bike and walk the remaining distance. It is strictly prohibited that under any circumstances a cyclist should walk up a steep incline, with the obvious exception being when said incline is blocked by riders who crashed because you are on the Koppenberg. For clarification, see Rule #5.7
  70. // The purpose of competing is to win.End of. Any reference to not achieving this should be referred immediately to Rule #5.11
  71. // Train Properly.Know how to train properly and stick to your training plan. Ignore other cyclists with whom you are not intentionally riding. The time for being competitive is not during your training rides, but during competition.
  72. // Legs speak louder than words.Unless you routinely demonstrate your riding superiority and the smoothness of your Stroke, refrain from discussing your power meter, heartrate, or any other riding data.  Also see Rule #74.
  73. // Gear and brake cables should be cut to optimum length.Cables should create a perfect arc around the headtube and, whenever possible, cross under the downtube. Right shifter cable should go to the left cable stop and vice versa.
  74. // V Meters or small computers only.Forego the data and ride on feel; little compares to the pleasure of riding as hard as your mind will allow. Learn to read your body, meditate on Rule #5, and learn to push yourself to your limit. Power meters, heart rate monitors and GPS are bulky, ugly and superfluous. Any cycle computer, if deemed necessary, should be simple, small, mounted on the stem and wireless.
  75. // Race numbers are for races.Remove it from your frame before the next training ride because no matter how cool you think it looks, it does not look cool. Unless you are in a race. In which case it looks cool.
  76. // Helmets are to be hung from your stem.When not worn, helmets are to be clipped to the stem and draped over your handlebars thusly.
  77. // Respect the earth; don’t litter.Cycling is not an excuse to litter. Do not throw your empty gel packets, energy bar wrappers or punctured tubes on the road or in the bush. Stuff em in your jersey pockets, and repair that tube when you get home.12
  78. // Remove unnecessary gear.When racing in a criterium of 60 minutes or less the second (unused) water bottle cage must be removed in order to preserve the aesthetic of the racing machine.13
  79. // Fight for your town lines.Town lines must be contested or at least faked if you’re not in to it or too shagged to do anything but pedal the bike.
  80. // Always be Casually Deliberate.Waiting for others pre-ride or at the start line pre-race, you must be tranquilo, resting on your top tube thusly. This may be extended to any time one is aboard the bike, but not riding it, such as at stop lights.15
  81. // Don’t talk it up.Rides and crashes may only be discussed and recounted in detail when the rider required external assistance in recovery or recuperation. Otherwise refer to Rule #5.
  82. // Close the gap.Whilst riding in cold and/or  Rule #9 conditions replete with arm warmers, under no circumstances is there to be any exposed skin between the hems of your kit and the hems of your arm warmers. If this occurs, you either need to wear a kit that fits you properly or increase the size of your guns. Arm warmers may, however, be shoved to the wrists in Five and Dime scenarios, particularly those involving Rule #9 conditions. The No-Gap Principle also applies to knee and leg warmers with the variation that these are under no circumstances to be scrunched down around the ankles; Merckx have mercy on whomever is caught in such a sad, sorry state. It is important to note that while one can wear arm warmers without wearing knee or leg warmers, one cannot wear knee or leg warmers without wearing arm warmers (or a long sleeve jersey). It is completely inappropriate to have uncovered arms, while covering the knees, with the exception of brief periods of time when the arm warmers may be shoved to the wrists while going uphill in a Five and Dime situation. If the weather changes and one must remove a layer, the knee/leg coverings must go before the arm coverings. If that means that said rider must take off his knee or leg warmers while racing, then this is a skill he must be accomplished in. The single exception would be before an event in which someone plans on wearing neither arm or leg warmers while racing, but would like to keep the legs warm before the event starts; though wearing a long sleeve jersey over the racing kit at this time is also advised. One must not forget to remove said leg warmers. 16
  83. // Be self-sufficient.Unless you are followed by a team car, you will repair your own punctures. You will do so expediently, employing your own skills, using your own equipment, and without complaining that your expensive tyres are too tight for your puny thumbs to fit over your expensive rim. The fate of a rider who has failed to equip himself pursuant to Rule #31, or who knows not how to use said equipment, shall be determined at the discretion of any accompanying or approaching rider in accordance with Rule #84.17
  84. // Follow the Code.Consistently with The Code Of The Domestique, the announcement of a flat tyre in a training ride entitles – but does not oblige – all riders then present in the bunch to cease riding without fear of being labelled Pussies. All stopped riders are thereupon entitled – but not obliged – to lend assistance, instruction and/or stringent criticism of the tyre mender’s technique. The duration of a Rule #84 stop is entirely discretionary, but is generally inversely proportional to the duration of the remaining time available for post-ride espresso.17
  85. // Descend like a Pro.All descents shall be undertaken at speeds commonly regarded as “ludicrous” or “insane” by those less talented. In addition all corners will be traversed in an outside-inside-outside trajectory, with the outer leg extended and the inner leg canted appropriately (but not too far as to replicate a motorcycle racer, for you are not one), to assist in balance and creation of an appealing aesthetic. Brakes are generally not to be employed, but if absolutely necessary, only just prior to the corner. Also see Rule #64.18
  86. // Don’t half-wheel.Never half-wheel your riding partners; it’s terrible form – it is always the other guy who sets the pace. Unless, of course, you are on the rivet, in which case it’s an excellent intimidation technique.22
  87. // The Ride Starts on Time. No exceptions.The upside of always leaving on time is considerable. Others will be late exactly once. You signal that the sanctity of this ride, like all rides, is not something with which you should muck. You demonstrate, not with words but with actions, your commitment. As a bonus, you make more time for post-ride espresso. “On Time”, of course, is taken to mean at V past the hour or half hour.
  88. // Don’t surge.When rolling onto the front to take your turn in the wind, see Rule #67, do not suddenly lift the pace unless trying to establish a break. The key to maintaining a high average speed is to work with your companions and allow no gaps to form in the line. It is permissible to lift the pace gradually and if this results in people being dropped then they have been ridden off your wheel and are of no use to the bunch anyway. If you are behind someone who jumps on the pedals when they hit the front do not reprimand the offender with cries of ‘Don’t Surge’ unless the offender is a Frenchman named Serge.
  89. // Pronounce it Correctly.All races shall be referred to by the name given in its country of origin, and care shall be taken to pronounce the name as well as possible. For Belgian Races, it is preferable to choose the name given in its region of origin, though it is at the speaker’s discretion to use either the Flemish or Wallonian pronunciation. This principle shall also be extended to apply to riders’ names, bicycle and component marquees, and cycling accoutrements.
  90. // Never Get Out of the Big Ring.If it gets steeper, just push harder on the pedals. When pressed on the matter, the Apostle Johan Museeuw simply replied, “Yes, why would you slow down?” It is, of course, acceptable to momentarily shift into the inner ring when scaling the 20% ramps of the Kapelmuur.
  91. // No Food On Training Rides Under Four Hours.This one also comes from the Apostle, Johan Museeuw, who said to @frank: “Yes, no food on rides under four hours. You need to lose some weight.” Or, as Fignon put it, sometimes, when we train, we simply have to go out to meet the Man with the Hammer. The exception is, of course, hard rides over two hours and races. Also, if you’re planning on being out for more than four hours, start eating before you get hungry. This also applies to energy drink supplements.
  92. // No Sprinting From the HoodsThe only exception is riders whose name starts with Guiseppe and ends with Saronni. See the Goodwood Worlds in 82.24
  93. // Descents are not for recovery. Recovery Ales are for RecoveryDescents are meant to be as hard and demanding as – and much more dangerous than – the climbs. Climb hard, descend to close a gap or open one. Descents should hurt, not be a time for recovery. Recovery is designated only for the pub and for shit-talking.25
  94. // Use the correct tool for the job, and use the tool correctly.Bicycle maintenance is an art; tools are designed to serve specific purposes, and it is essential that the Velominatus learns to use each tool properly when working on their loyal machine.
  95. // Never lift your bike over your head.Under no circumstances is it acceptable to raise one’s machine above your head. The only exception is when placing it onto a car’s roof-rack.

Posts related to The Rules may be found here.

Submit your suggestions in the posts, or via email here.

Credits

1 Thanks to Geof for this submission.
2 Stijn Devolder on Rule #5, in defense of staying in Belgium when his teammates went off to train in sunny Spain: “It is not so cold that you freeze on to your bike. You go from a temperature of zero (Celsius) to minus one and you’re not dead; It hardens your character.”
3 It is possible for experts to mix these matching guidelines successfully without breaking The Rules.  This is a very risky undertaking and can yield unpredictable results.  Proceed carefully and, if in doubt, run your configuration by the Keepers for approval.
4 Famous quote by Greg LeMond, hardman and American Cycling legend. Greg Henderson quote courtesy of Neil. (Incidentally, it does not matter how fast you go, but you may never give up.)
5 Thanks to James for his sound input on modifying this submission from it’s original draft which read, “An exception to wearing a cap when not riding is: If you have a soigneur (you don’t) and he places the cap on your head after you’ve just won a mountain top finish or soloed into the velodrome (you haven’t).”
6 Thanks to Rob for this submission.
7 Thanks to Rob (different from Rob in 6) for this submission.
8 Thanks to Saul at Speedy Reedy for this submission.
9 Thanks to BarryRoubaix for the astute observation regarding Time Trial Bikes.
10Thanks to Souleur for the astute observation regarding the Principle of Silence.
11 Thanks to Charlie for this addition.
12 Thanks to Jarvis and Steampunk for their tidy ways.
13 Thanks to Cyclops for this sensibly aesthetic addition.
15 Thanks to SupermanSam via our friends at CyclingTipsBlog.
16 Thanks to Rusty Tool Shed and Reid Beloni for assistance in helping craft the language of this Rule.
17 Thanks to Karim for this most accurate contribution.
18 Thanks to SterlingMatt for this most accurate contribution.
21 There are variants of this story, including one which is more likely to be the actual way this story unfolded, which goes that Sean Kelly is met by his wife after a the ’84 Amstel Gold Race and they get in his Citroen AX: “Ah, Sean” says his beloved wife, “in your life the car comes first, then the bike, then me.” “You got the order wrong,” Kelly scowls, “the bike comes first.” Thanks to Oli Brooke-White for helping sort out the details of the story.
22 Thanks to David Ezzy for this excellent contribution and fantastic ride out to Kaupo and back.
23 Thanks to Donnie Bugno for this most accurate contribution.
24 Thanks to Robert Millar – yes the Robert Millar for filling this most glaring omission.
25 Thanks to @urbanwhitetrash for the submission.

12,413 Replies to “The Rules”

  1. @ralasdair

    I was looking to make something like that myself as I sew for a living, now I can just steal the idea and then try to improve on it. Looking to have a compression type sack that I can completely shove under my Fizik Antares. It would have to look retro at the same time.

  2. @Oli

    Classic! The story of that race is very interesting…

    Hell, I was just cracking up at the Disco music! Only 26 finishers that year, talk about hardcore! And the doping control failures as well.

    That site is really cool and added to my favorites for awesome cycling history!

  3. @Oli

    Classic! The story of that race is very interesting…

    Cool, it’s just like a direct link into @Oli’s brain…

  4. Welcome @scaler911, to the Velominati Strava King of the Mountains Competition Virtual Velominati Cogal Climbathon

    as you can see, Dave “all things in large amounts” Buches, is putting us all to shame – properly Pro stuff…..

    Rank Athlete ———-Elevation Gain (meters)
    1 Dave Buches ———— 14,160
    2 Mikael Liddy ————— 6,971
    3 Graham Little ————– 4,226
    4 Adam Krumbein ———– 3,497
    5 Geoffrey Grosenbach — 3,195
    6 Chris O ——————— 2,557
    7 Dr C ————————- 2,290
    8 Jud Gutheil —————– 2,251
    9 Ben Wilson —————– 1,742
    10 Don Joling ——————— 71

    Total —— 78 rides ——— 40,959 meters

  5. @Dr C

    I also joined in the fun on strava. Don’t expect to see my climbing the list to fast with the season getting chilly quick here (despite setting the thermostat to 55 the heat came on overnight, and I can’t afford cold weather gear (why else would I willing set the thermostat to 55?). Figure it would be another way to participate in the community, plus any climbing I do helps the group move up in the rankings right?

    The only issue is the gps reciever for the iphone 3g is piss poor. Will do my best despite this.

  6. Top man – if you are in the USofA it will record okay on iphone – use the free Strava App, which might work best – any metres are better than no metres, so good to have you aboard

    I find that climbing is much less frigging awful than roleuring in the wet and cold, as you don’t get hosed as much at the lower speeds, and most of the water runs off the road, unlike the lakes that we have now on the flat bits here – that said, yesterday I was communing with trout instead of butterflies, and riding upstream rather than cycling uphill – never been so wet in all my life, in fact my bike was clean when I got home!

    I was sailing saturday in Dublin in nuclear breeze – full metal jacket and loads of stacking it at high speed – but I was still drier after that, than I was after 40km in the pissing rain on my bike – arghhhh – bloody Rule #9!!!!

  7. @Dr C

    The only downside to climbing in the rain is the descending after! Make sure you have a good set of brake pads, like KoolStop or the like, made for wet riding. The first time I went down a big hill (~350m) in the rain with my bike the pads that had came with it started to turn into mush by the time I was at the bottom – it was somewhat scary. I went to the LBS that very ride and upgraded – very much worth the $30 or so for good pads.

  8. @Dr C
    ahh good work, nice to see and to have the extra bit of encouragement. I will endeavour to put in more hours although it would seem the majority of them are going to be night time now. Which reminds me, would the morons on Richmond park with big rig headlights strapped to their bars kindly fit a dimmer switch. Cycling head on into those because they are taking the route with no wind in their face is not right!! Also got a couple of pics in from Sunday, no glasses as they got smashed on a decent.

  9. @Dr C

    yesterday I was communing with trout instead of butterflies, and riding upstream rather than cycling uphill – never been so wet in all my life, in fact my bike was clean when I got home!

    Communing with Trout!! GOLD!!

    @huffalotpuffalot
    How do you smash your glasses on a descent? Great Prophet you’re riding, by the way!

  10. @huffalotpuffalot
    That is a @Cyclops-esque smile you’ve got cranking in the second shot, the guy 50m back doesn’t look like he’s having anywhere near as much fun!

  11. @Dr C

    Welcome @scaler911, to the Velominati Strava King of the Mountains Competition Virtual Velominati Cogal Climbathon
    as you can see, Dave “all things in large amounts” Buches, is putting us all to shame – properly Pro stuff…..
    Rank Athlete “”””””-Elevation Gain (meters)
    1 Dave Buches “””””””” 14,160
    2 Mikael Liddy “””””””””” 6,971
    3 Graham Little “”””””””- 4,226
    4 Adam Krumbein “”””””- 3,497
    5 Geoffrey Grosenbach “” 3,195
    6 Chris O “””””””””””””” 2,557
    7 Dr C “”””””””””””””””- 2,290
    8 Jud Gutheil “”””””””””- 2,251
    9 Ben Wilson “”””””””””- 1,742
    10 Don Joling “””””””””””””” 71
    Total “””” 78 rides “””””” 40,959 meters

    As I mentioned on the strava page, what makes Dave’s stats so impressive is he’s blatantly carrying the rest of the team up those hills too!!!

  12. @Mikael Liddy

    @huffalotpuffalot
    That is a @Cyclops-esque smile you’ve got cranking in the second shot, the guy 50m back doesn’t look like he’s having anywhere near as much fun!

    Your not wrong, i was in pain and i was loving it and thinking just how white my milk bottle legs were going to look in the photo’s he was taking.

  13. @frank

    @Dr C

    yesterday I was communing with trout instead of butterflies, and riding upstream rather than cycling uphill – never been so wet in all my life, in fact my bike was clean when I got home!

    Communing with Trout!! GOLD!!
    @huffalotpuffalot
    How do you smash your glasses on a descent? Great Prophet you’re riding, by the way!

    Well whilst i was being casually deliberate on the descent at 80kmh i thought i should put my glasses seeing as i did not have a set of windscreen whipers on my eyeballs to get all the fly’s off. Its fair to say i screwed that move up a little bit and then ended up under the rear tyre.

  14. @huffalotpuffalot

    wtf, my typing was terrible there here is how it should have read…

    Well whilst i was being Casually Deliberate on the descent at 80kmh i thought i should put my glasses on seeing as i did not have a set of windscreen whipers on my eyeballs to get all the fly’s off them. Its fair to say i screwed that move up a little bit and then the glasses ended up under the rear tyre. C’est la vie, now I can buy a new pair….V-antastic

  15. @Buck Rogers

    @huffalotpuffalot
    Great photos. Looks like a super route you’re on. Was it a race?

    Thanks it was just a sportive but of course you are always racing yourself.

  16. @huffalotpuffalot

    Your not wrong, i was in pain and i was loving it and thinking just how white my milk bottle legs were going to look in the photo’s he was taking.

    Milk bottle legs!! Hahaha Perfect. I’ve had friends ask me how my legs can be so pale with how much riding I do. I have no real answer for that.

    I find photos at those types of events are a mixed bag – it’s nice to have some pro-quality riding photos, but if they catch you at the wrong moment you can just look awful. I’m not fat but I’ve got a little excess up top that I could stand to lose. I had a photo taken of me as I was climbing a hill on a warm ride early on in the summer, with my jersey mostly unzipped. With me bending over, it looked like my bib straps were holding in some wicked manboobs. Needless to say that photo is not posted anywhere.

  17. @mcsqueak

    @huffalotpuffalot

    Your not wrong, i was in pain and i was loving it and thinking just how white my milk bottle legs were going to look in the photo’s he was taking.

    Milk bottle legs!! Hahaha Perfect. I’ve had friends ask me how my legs can be so pale with how much riding I do. I have no real answer for that.
    I find photos at those types of events are a mixed bag – it’s nice to have some pro-quality riding photos, but if they catch you at the wrong moment you can just look awful. I’m not fat but I’ve got a little excess up top that I could stand to lose. I had a photo taken of me as I was climbing a hill on a warm ride early on in the summer, with my jersey mostly unzipped. With me bending over, it looked like my bib straps were holding in some wicked manboobs. Needless to say that photo is not posted anywhere.

    Yeah i guess it must be the English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish in me that has something to do with my complexion and ginger beardness. I am not a sunbather for one and most of the time my legs are turning at such a high cadence that sunlight is just not quick enough to hit my legs….well that or they are just so white they are reflecting all 99% of the light back into space and blinding the sun.

    I must admit there was some weird positioning of the photographers and as my mind was off with the fairies i was unable to compute they were there until it was too late for me to casually deliberately flash off the V-sign. I always seem to swell in photographs no mattter how pleasant the angle or my actual weight.

    I am sure the moob photo would be a worthy addition to the Velominati archives if it has not already been destroyed.

  18. @jen

    What are the Rules about naming your bike?

    Personally haven’t had one good enough to warrant it yet, but many do. No specific rules against it but the general trend seems to be a name of the opposite sex…

  19. @jen

    FWIW I’ve named my legs Jan and Eric, one’s fat and the other’s old… (to be fair they’re both old but I’m trying to spare Jan’s feelings)

  20. Rule #65 is both a blessing and a curse in so many ways. Of course there are the countless hours spent playing noise detective trying to figure out where or what is making the noise. However the part of the Principal of Silence that messes with you the most is when you’re doing long climbs in wild places where your imagination starts to fuck with you. We have bears, cougars and worse (skunks) where I live and when you’re out for an early morning/evening rip up the mountain, laying down some serious V, every bird movement, leaf falling, twig snapping compounds the feeling of exposure. At least if your bottom bracket or derailleur hanger is squeaking you’re thinking “what the fuck is that?” and not “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT!”

  21. @minion

    @jen
    FWIW I’ve named my legs Jan and Eric, one’s fat and the other’s old… (to be fair they’re both old but I’m trying to spare Jan’s feelings)

    I have Little Miss and am trying to name my new purchase (Currently trying Misfit since I am so difficult to fit to a bike). The name is so entrenched that my lbs even refer to my bike/s by their name.

  22. @huffalotpuffalot
    Hey Huffer, nice bike, admirable chain sag, and good adherence to rules of presentation, save of course for the ginger indiscretion – I sense that is more grimace than pain, and as you say, it is a shame they don’t give you a count down to the photo so you can pull a massive bunny hop at the top of the hill, as you look well capable of!

    Don’t be put of by the weather – Rule #9 through to March dude!!

  23. @Oli
    yes, and I still pine for those old skool style of gloves as well! Used to love getting the dimpled tan over the tops of ones hands.

  24. For anyone wondering about the kinds of reasoning that go into Looking Pro…Steve Jobs was an anomaly of Awesome in the business/IT world, but would be just a dime a dozen amongst cyclists. Have a read; one point for every point Gawker brings up that you respond with “oh, yeah, that makes sense.”

    http://gawker.com/5854161/the-most-anal-ceo-ever

    @Buck Rogers
    BRR is a must-read for any of us. Fucking rockstar, that.

  25. @itburns
    Who runs BRR, is it one of our bretheren?

    Fickle as I am, I am off to the Belgian Embassy to apply for Belgian citizenship

    Loving the following from BBR…

    TO MISQUOTE SOMEONE REALLY FUCKING FAMOUS, SOME MEN ARE BORN BELGIAN, SOME ACHIEVE BELGIANNESS AND OTHERS HAVE BELGIANNESS THRUST UPON THEM.

    EACH MORNING WHEN I WAKE UP IT IS A FRESH FUCKING DISAPPOINTMENT TO ME THAT I WAS NOT BORN BELGIAN.

    and of Phil Giblets as he blows the bloody doors off a floundering peleton back down the Mur….
    SO WHERE’S HE GONNA GO? QUICK STEP?
    TO THE FINISH LINE, A LOT FUCKING FASTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE, I RECKON.
    IT’S OBVS, FUCKTARD.

    Dumptruck awesomeness – fab work whoever

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