With the writing of our first book supposedly well underway (but in reality being discussed ad-nauseum in the Boardroom rather than actually committed to text), The Rules have at least been getting some form of attention from The Keepers. When deciding which Rules each of us were to curate, no-one really had much idea what exactly was in there; ask me what Rule 64 is, and I’m giving you a blank stare.
So a list was drawn up, and we found some deadwood hiding away, dry and rotten and ready to be tossed into the fiery cauldron atop Mt Velomis. Yep, time for a burnin’. We get a good number of suggestions for new Rules weekly, some are pure gold, some warrant a sternly-worded rebuttal, but all are usually forgotten quickly as we are just too damned useless to actually commit them to the Canon Of Cycling Etiquette. Which is why this one comes from within our ranks; it’s easier than looking back through dozens of old emails.
Without further ado, we present the newest Rule, slotting in at #52, replacing one that if any of you can recall what it was, then you deserve accolades (or sympathy) for committing such nonsense to memory.
Rule #52 // Drink in Moderation.
Bidons are to be small in size. 500ml 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.
There you have it. Let the discussions/arguments/bitching begin.
In the meantime, nutcase Aussie/esteemed community member @harminator gives us his take on the humble (and definitely small) bidon.
Yours in Cycling,
REVERENCE: THE BIDON.
The history of cycling is punctuated by technological advancement. Some developments come in giant leaps while others evolve more slowly. Either way, the march of progress is well resourced and never tires. It seems like every second week there’s a new gadget, composite material or design innovation which is absolutely necessary. I mean who could possibly continue to exist without a laser-etched, co2-filled tyre lever forged from West Flandrian unobtanium. Right?
The bidon is the forgotten cousin in the technology family. Back in the day, transporting water away from its source was pure genius. We take it for granted now, but it’s the bidon that makes endurance bike riding possible. Without it we’d be limited to riding around tracks, beside streams or from the billabong to the waterhole. Just imagine the indignity of Moser slurping from a puddle Bear Grylls-style, or a Grand Tour with Evian mountain-top drinks breaks?
But for me, the real fascination of the bidon lies with two paradoxes. Regardez-vous:
The first relates to value. On the surface they seem absolutely critical. The team necessarily commits a couple of riders to work all day on the bottles: Drop back to the car, cram one in every available jersey space, toil back up to the bunch, distribute, repeat. But the bidon itself is worthless in comparison to its contents. To the Pro, it’s a glorified bar wrapper. Drink then discard. For the average Velominatus Budgetatus, the decadence is exhilarating. I can only imagine the moment in a young Pro’s life when he first gets to fling an empty to the side of the road. There must be no clearer sign that you’ve hit the big time.
Further, when the bidon gets tossed aside, it becomes infinitely valuable again. Spectators who go nuts for all the crap thrown out by the caravan have been known to trample their own ailing Grandmothers for the things. They salute as if they’ve won the fucking Stage when they souvenir a grotty piece of cheap plastic dripping with Belgian Toothpaste. In the world of the bike race spectator, the bidon is the ducks nuts.
The second paradox centres on its use. The bidon has become part of the glorious realm of cycling gamesmanship. A rider’s use of the bidon should not give anything away about his or her level of suffering. Many of us have felt the total demoralisation of inhaling wasps, trying to hold on to the group, when the rider in front takes a drink as if they’re sipping a Mojito by the pool. Don’t get played. It’s a standard show of strength and often all bluff. The bottle is probably empty. Conversely, if you’re about to expire from dehydration, it’s critical not to show it by guzzling lustily. You might as well announce that you’re suffering badly and that now would be a good time to attack.
In the world of the amateur group ride, the bidon can be a measuring stick for rider competency. You can tell a lot about a rider by the way they take a drink. When the new guy in the group keeps his eyes ahead, makes a clean pickup, drinks modestly, and re-cages surely, all the while observing Rule #59, you know they’ve got their shit together. But if they throw an empty to the side of the road, prepare to hang tough – things are be about to get very messy.