The Col-onisation of THE RULES

One of the catalysts for the rules, circa 2004

There has been unprecedented and unexpected interest and discussion on this blog since the first mention of ‘The Rules’.  From that very first post, a name that has been oft-mentioned is that of the mysterious Johnny Klink.  A good mate of mine since the late 90s when we first met in some random shop, we forged our friendship through our passion for bikes, and riding them.  We were both primarily mountain bikers back then, and still are, but with a deep appreciation and love of road riding, and the history and traditions of racing.  Klink has an eye, and a mind, for cycling and all things bicycle that few can match.  But he considers himself “a talker, not a writer” when it comes to conveying his passion to other Velominati.  So it took me a while to get him to put down on paper what The Rules mean to him, and how they came about.  Now seems like an ideal time for his modest take on the origins of The Rules.  Brett

Most of us will have a friend or acquaintance who, no matter what they do or how much money they spend, be it on fashion, music or in this particular case bicycles and cycling accessories, they just can’t get it right. Each decision, each new purchase becomes another faux pas or crime against good taste. Fundamentally, this is where the initial mutterings of the idealism which has now been venerated on Velominati as €˜The Rules’ originated from.

I vividly remember beers in the garage with my good mate Brett, putting together any number of new two-wheeled creations and alluding to the unspoken (at the time) rules or guidelines that should be adhered to when one builds or designs a new dream ride. Integral to these discussions were light-hearted taunts and scorn that would be directed at friends or any other random cyclist who we felt had no idea. As Brett was getting into blogging about all things cycling, I recall my instruction to him was always to €œblog that shit!€ so we could document our rules which would become a jovial talking point amongst our mates who read the blog. I never thought it would go further than that

As an Industrial Designer and, as Brett will attest, a person with somewhat pedantic tendencies, I find it hard to rest easy about a bicycle that has been put together in a piecemeal, haphazard fashion. I feel that somewhere inside me there is an inherent appreciation of the unspoken art of bicycle design. Custom players like Vanilla Cycles, Indy Fab and Australia’s Baum Cycles, for example, build the bikes that €˜The Rules’ embody to me.

Ok, back to that friend that we all know….our case in point could take a top-of-the-line, five figure machine and turn it into a department store Huffy, the bike of your dreams into a carbon fibre tragedy. I have never seen a person who could devalue a bike just by owning it. Gaffer tape used to stop cable rub, packing tape on the cranks to stop heel scuff, and randomly placed pieces of wool and string for reasons we are yet to understand. The certain irony behind all these attempts at keeping his bike’s future value intact meant that it had to resemble something you would have to pay me to own. The Rules had to be enforced!

Needless to say Brett blogged that shit, and on my last look at the Velominati website there were over 70 rules and growing. For me these Rules were always linked towards an appreciation and awareness of the form and function of the bicycle and associated accessories. Using a keen eye for pulling together a final design, which the average punter could see that thought and time had gone into the build. Equally, cycling being a sport steeped in tradition, these Rules also have to be kept at the forefront of the mind throughout the build process.

The Rules, for me, could be a succinct list of guidelines to aid everyone from the novice to the experienced cyclist with no idea. As with everything some people get it and some people don’t, and that is why we must have The Rules.

Johnny Klink

Here’s our great mate Col, who was the inspiritation for The Rules.  No matter how mismatched his clothes were, how bad his bikes looked, he could still put the hurt on you, drink a few beers, and then drive us 4 hours home at the end of it.  Good on ya Col, you legend.

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16 Replies to “The Col-onisation of THE RULES”

  1. Nice article Johnny Klink, thanks. I think, no I definately know, guys like Col. Some are in the world of cycling, some are in the world of free-heel skiing, and yet others are in the world of whitewater and sea kayaking. These are the types of dudes I looked up to when I ventured into these lifestyles and I can only humbly aspire to emulate. Somewhat ramshackle gear yet supremely functional and affective, great stories to tell and lessons to share, and the type of guys who are alway the first on the road and the last off. It’s sort of like when I was little and saw my teacher outside of school for the first time. It never dawned on me that teachers were ever anywhere other than school. Dudes like Col may indeed live rich lives off the bike but to me, they seem misplaced unless their legs are thrown over a top tube.

  2. It is good to know the origins of The Mighty Rules, thanks to Klink, Brett and the Frankster for promulgating them to a world in need!

    We all have friends and or meet the Cols of the world and they have their own style that is a plus to life in general. Then there are the types who are at the other end of the spectrum, just as dedicated, just as massively hardcore but with machines, kit and a style that is what we aspire to.

    Thanks Brett

    P. S. I just hope I am somewhere in the middle??

  3. Col is a gem…. at the moment he’s hardmanning it in Canada in one of the world’s toughest MTB races. Here’s his email after seeing himself immortalised on this site;

    “nice one Klink
    nice one BK

    the good thing about photos is at least you can’t hear the sound of the bike; the TCR for instance….. but there is nothing wrong with string. String is good. String is fine. String is … well … string! Nothing more need be said.

    I write this in a lather of sweat, having just completed the prologue of the BC Bike Race which just started in Nth Vancouver today. (

    Check it out. See if you can spot me and the deliberate transgression of “the rules” that I will make on a daily basis in order to test your powers of observation.”


  4. These pictures of Col are a masterpiece. I love the first one, with only one arm warmer on. Classic.

    Johnny Klink, or – as we in the Pacific Northwest would spell it – Tling, I’ve been waiting a long time for this contribution from you, and I am not disappointed, to say the least.

    Your explanation here of the genesis of The Rules is exactly what it has meant to me as well, and why I’ve taken such a love to this humble set we have here. I was never clever enough to coin a term so simple and concise; in my family, I have always been teased for being preoccupied with “The Pro Look”. It’s basically the same concept as The Rules, only it applies to more sports: Be good at your sport, and look good doing it. Take the Pros as your example, and you’re not far from the mark, I always think. I’ve never been too proud to copy or imitate someone who is better at something that I am. If I were to pick up football, I’d start by copying everything about the best player in the world.

    Looking good doing it. What does that mean? It means first and foremost that you have to be skilled at your craft. The pot-bellied pigs jumping on the USPS Treks in full USPS kit only to crack their carbon frames under their immense girth as they roll around a local park and call it a day are the farthest thing from being skilled; they have the kit, but look like shit. In cycling, you first need a good stroke, and a good position on the bike that works for you. You have to know your bicycle and be comfortable with it. That is function, and it has to come first, always.

    But once you achieve that, form is what makes sport obsession-worthy. And I’ve been obsessed with it my whole life. Not for anyone else – I’ve never cared about what people think of me – but for myself, for my own personal enjoyment. Even when I was eight years old, skiing the Mora Vassalopet, I did it with my hat on just so, and the gloves and skis that looked like those of my favorite skiers. With cycling (which I started two or so years later), it’s been the same. A lifelong quest of picking out my favorite riders and doing my best to emulate them.

    Looking over The Rules, I see very few of them that have any thing to do with riding. I think that bit is for everyone to figure out for themselves. You’re on your own, mostly, to figure out why you love this sport. No one can tell you why you should swing your leg over a bike, other than maybe because it’s healthy (assuming you don’t fall off or run into a car or some such thing).

    But since you’re at this site, you presumably have already figured that bit out. We can help you with the rest. To figure out what the world of a cyclist is about. The deeper history, and etiquette of this very complex culture. Because we’ve studied this all our lives.

    Sure, there are some great riding-related rules; Rule #5, Rule #6, Rule #10, Rule #20, Rule #59, Rule #64, Rule #67, Rule #70, Rule #71, and Rule #72. The others help, too, in more subtle ways. But the others are those about the more subtle points of our sport; those little details that Johnny Klink is talking about. The ones that make the Fred on the roadside look at you as you ride by and maybe become a little bit interested in our sport. Or who sees your bike and comments on it, despite knowing nothing about cycling. A non-cyclist once saw my bike and said, “I didn’t know bikes could look sexy, but that one does.” (It’s the big, long seat post.)

    Everything else – what The Rules and this site are about – those things, to me, is La vie Velominatus and is the reason why I love this sport so deeply.

    Thanks, Johnny. You’re one of us.

  5. @frank Beautiful, Frank. “That is function, and it always has to come first. . . . But once you achieve that, form is what makes the sport obsession worthy.” I’ve been pushing hard on the line that the desire to look good while doing it has nothing to do with doing it. And the more you value doing it, the less you should value looking good while doing it. Fucking Col is a new hero of mine. He just doesn’t give a shit about looking good while doing it. He just has a deep passion for doing it. Pure, authentic cycling. Fuck appearances.

  6. looks like Col is sitting 64th in BC in the master’s class. if it’s the same Col and same race in BC. Nicely done

  7. I think we are all pulling for him – that is some race, makes me feel the itch…

  8. The critics of The Rules must read this
    before start complaining.

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