“The Rules” (Or Why I Am Not Cool: Part 6 In A Continuing Series)

If you haven’t already done so, swing by The Velominati’s website.  It’s a great reference for uber-cyclists and those aspiring to be one.   There is also handy information for the not-so-serious cyclist and some entertaining reads on cycling news/culture.

The Velominati fashion themselves as keepers of cycling’s numerous traditions and etiquette.  In their own words,

“A Velominatus is a disciple of the highest order.  We spend our days poring over the very essence of what makes ours such a special sport and how that essence  fits into cycling’s colorful fabric.  This is the Velominati’s raison d’être.  This is where the Velominati can be ourselves.  This is our agony – our badge of honor – our sin.”

Heavy stuff.  While I do not have aspirations to cycling perfection such as the Velominati, there is still much to learn from themProbably the greatest contribution the Velominati have made to cycling culture is “The Rules,” 88 iron-clad dictums which can never be violated by anyone claiming to be a serious cyclist.  These are very helpful to me as they quickly point out the ways in which I am not cool.

At this moment, I am currently in violation of 15 of The Rules.  The number could be higher, except I am compliant in several rules (such as the proper way to display the number 13) simply because I haven’t had cause to violate them.  I have various reasons for failing to fall into line with The Rules, and I have conveniently grouped my violations into categories for your review and consideration.  Contemplation of The Rules helps me to figure out how and why I cycle.  Even though I don’t agree with them all, they remain a standard from which we can discuss our personal cycling preferences.  Enjoy.

Now That’s Just Silly

8.  Saddles, bars, and tires shall be carefully matched.  Why?  This isn’t a fashion show were running here (at least it shouldn’t be).  Do what you like and start pedaling!  I was only briefly in violation of this rule, when I put white tape on my Trek 2.1.  With the purchase of the Madone 3.1 and it’s stock black tape, I am once again in compliance.

24.  Speeds and distances shall be referred to and measured in kilometers.  I am an American.  This means many things, not the least of which is the fact that I measure distances in miles.  Sorry for that.  This rule is clearly an attempt to be more “French-like,” which is very important in cycling circles.  I would respect the Velominati more if they simply commanded everyone to speak French.  THAT’s  how you show you’re serious about copying the French!

30.  No frame-mounted pumps.  Sorry, but the hybrid gets one.

31.  Spare tubes, multi-tools and repair kits should be stored in jersey pockets.  These go quite nicely in the saddle bag under my seat, which is where they will stay, thank you.

33.  Shave your guns.  “Guns” is a euphemism for legs.  Violation of this rule apparently makes me susceptible to being called a “hippy douche on his way to Critical Mass.”  So be it.

47.  Drink Tripels, don’t ride triples.  I am not that big a beer connoisseur and I happen to believe there is room in our society for triple cranks.  Use of one should not be grounds for ostracism.

57.  No stickers.  I like stickers.  I have one on my hybrid, tastefully placed on the seat post.  I like it.

74.  V Meters or small computers only.  You will need to pry my Garmin from my cold, dead hand.

I Simply Am Not That Dedicated

4.  It’s All About The Bike.  Sometimes it is about my family.  Other times it is about my job.  Still other times it is about watching sitcoms.  There’s a lot going on besides my bike, is what I’m trying to say.

7.  Tan lines are to be cultivated and kept razor sharp.  While I do not go out of my way to smooth my tan lines and they are a source of amusement to my wife as the summer goes on, I must confess and report I do not “cultivate” them.  I have even been known to remove my shirt for a dip in a pool or the occasional day at the beach.  My apologies.

26.  Make your bike photogenic.  Valve stems at six o’clock and cranks at 30 degrees.  Yikes.  I’ll keep the bike clean and try to pose it nicely.  That’s as dedicated as I can get on this point despite the fact I like to take pictures.

You Are Wrong.  Period. 

1. Obey The Rules.  Some of these rules are silly.  Others are wrong.  Thus, this rule is wrong.

11.  Family Doesn’t Come First.  The Bike Does.  Of all the stupid statements about cycling ever uttered by one human being to another, this is the most stupid.

25.  The bike on top of your car should be worth more than the car.  Talk about a recipe for disaster!  Even if you’re riding a top-end carbon frame machine, I would hope your automobile was worth more.  Otherwise you probably won’t be getting to where you hope to ride very often.

32.  Humps are for camels: no hydration packs.  This one could cost someone their life one day.  When I head out into 110 degree temperatures on an unfamiliar route, I don’t want to count on being lucky enough to find a store to buy more liquids.  I bring mine with me – the liquids that is; I couldn’t carry a store on my bike.


37 thoughts on ““The Rules” (Or Why I Am Not Cool: Part 6 In A Continuing Series)

    • This is not a bad rule for me as I don’t expect to ever win anything on a bicycle and therefore will be able to leave my legs precisely the way I want them to be!

  1. I love the rules. These guys have a great sense of humor. And the funniest part is that certain rules cancel out other rules on their very own list.

    As for gun shaving… the only thing worse than a hippy douche riding with unshaven legs is a complete, utter king douche of Doucheville guy whose legs are shaved, but rides at a Segway pace and has the V02m of Rosie O’Donnell.

  2. What language are the rules written in? I had to get a touring to racing dictionary (dialypeloton.com) to translate. Dang, had no idea how uncool I am>:-(

    • I have a suspicion this gets even more complicated and that the very things which make a cyclist cool to one group (Roadies) make them uncool to another group (Touring). I guess you just choose your camp and deal with the criticisms from the others.

  3. The rules crack me up. The one that really throws me is #8. I’ve been scuba diving for 25 years and matching gear is a sign of a newbie you don’t want to dive with. You pick the right pieces for you from different lines and replace them at different times. The result is an eclectic collection of stuff meant to work. A newbie wouldn’t know how to pick the right gear for them and is getting it all at once, so they tend to favor form over function. Clearly I’m going to have to compartmentalize my rules!

    • Culture is a fascinating thing. What one group greatly values another group finds disdainful. To get along, you just need to know the rules for the group you are with.

    • The “carefully” in #8 is ironic since the real point of the rule is all those things should be old-school black.

  4. I am a sort of pedaling antithesis of the Velominati. We might as well be living on different planets. Unfortunately, I am accidentally in compliance with some of the rules. For, example I measure my rides in kilometers.

    • They were actually instructive for me. Understanding why I choose to disobey a rule helps me to understand why I cycle. Good luck with the kilometers thing. I can say one good thing about them: the numbers are higher than miles, which makes you look more dedicated.

    • LOL! I think we can learn from everybody, even those people whose goals are significantly different than our own. If nothing else, they have interesting articles on cycling history which I enjoy. They were the ones who taught me the history of white bar tape!

  5. I’m English and we have a love hate relationship with the French, going back centuries. Therefore we try to be as unlike the French as possible, so its mile for me thank you. Also living in Northern Europe we don’t see enough of the sun to worry too much about tan lines, they usually wash off in the shower.

    • Everybody has a love-hate relationship with the French. Fortunately for us Americans, an ocean separates us. My sympathies are to you and your chunnel-breached channel.

  6. I would be seriously upset if I found myself obeying any of the rules as I would obviously have gone off my head.
    As a yokel, I would hesitate to offer advice to anyone as sophisticated as you Steve but substitute ‘snooty’ for ‘cool’ whenever you come across the word and you will be calmly able to enjoy not being snooty for the rest of your life.

  7. Rule 89: Give a friendly wave and a smile to any other bicylist on the road. There are way to few of us on the road so we ought to stick together so don’t be jerk and think that your Tour Du France training ride can’t be disrupted for two seconds.

  8. The rules are a combination of real recommendations and “tongue in cheek” humor, right? The silly thing is, we all tend toward different strokes and all know some goons who seem to actually live by those rules. It’s the nuts who actually take the rules seriously that make me not sure these are a spoof.

    • I’m pretty sure all (or almost all) of the rules are real recommendations. I don’t view them as being any different than the norms followed by any culture. The biggest difference is the ultimate expression of the Roadie culture took the time to actually write their rules down, which also says a great deal about that group!

  9. I’m pretty sure the rules are meant to be read with a sense humor, especially the self-deprecating king. (Rule “43” seems to make that clear.) When read them that way, I find them actually quite funny and entertaining.
    Also to quote from the “about” page
    “We strive to foster an open, fun, critical, and censure-free environment. Any critisism of our writing, spelling, grammar, or intelligence is welcome and nothing said will ever get you suspended from the site.”

    That being said, I do like to refer to rules 9, 12 and 68. They should be written in stone 😉

    • That is certainly a plausible explanation. As I mentioned earlier, I take no offense at the Velominati or The Rules. I think their site is quite good and I’ve linked to it for over a year now. Writing a code, whether humorus or serious, puts you “out there” and opens you to criticism. I prefer to think of it as a common frame of reference which we can all refer to, as many have done in this comments section already. For example, “Refer to Rule 5” is a common refrain everywhere!

    • Absolutely true! They may be a few other “rules” beyond the highway code worthy of obedience and that would be an interesting blog post, wouldn’t it? 🙂

  10. Super post, so was the last one. After reading the last one I held my tongue, or was it my pen…umm, my keyboard, for reasons I now understand better. All are related to how very uncool I am: woman, grey hair, touring cyclist i.e. persistently carry heavy loads uphill on an uncool bike in all kinds of weather and oh heavens who knows what is next: put a flasher on the back of the bike in the rain, a light on the front in long tunnels, and a mirror to keep an eye on heavy large things hurtling at me from the rear.

    There are a million wonderful ways to ride a bicycle!

    Hope to get to meet you and say hello at the Sunday VASA ride!

    • Thanks, Suze. I think you would enjoy reading BikeSnobNYC’s book (if you have not already done so). He does a marvelous job exposing the silliness of all cycling subcultures and celebrating cycling for the fun of it.

      See you Sunday. It looks like it will be one of the coldest days we’ve had for awhile. Yippee!

  11. Pingback: It Never Gets Easier, You Just Go Faster « 2K in 2K10 Unfat Project

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