Author Topic: The Rules


The Rules
« on: August 17, 2014 »

You've probably heard of The Rules compiled by the Velominati. They've had an influence on many. The Rules took the cycling world by storm and eventually became a book; if it was adapted to a movie, it would have to star Charlton Heston, if he's still alive [...googling...] ok, Tom Hanks, who doesn't have the desired gravitas but does have experience in film treatments of Dan Brown novels.

The Rules are decidedly old school, which is fine if you're a traditionalist, not so great if you're not so reactionary. You can't just write your own: an authority figure is required to impart them with the necessary stature, as prophets of all persuasions have realised over the years.

I am in possession of The Sacred Etch A Sketch. For those unfamiliar with the regular old consumer version of this device, it is a pre-iPad era tablet, back when if you wanted to see anything on the screen you had to resort to DIY. The Sacred Etch A Sketch was discovered by myself one day in a charity shop.

When I first beheld it in my hands the screen was blank, but not for long. That night I must have entered a trance state, because the next morning this new set of rules had appeared.

A bit wary – and if I'm honest, unwilling to shoulder the responsibility of transmitting this information to the masses – I immediately erased it and taped down the knobs for good measure. Not to be deterred, come that night His Eminence once more induced a trance to repeat the exercise, this time forcing me to eat a fish pie afterwards to teach me a lesson. Readers, the pie made me sick, but it humbled me, which was the point.

If any of these rules do not sit right with you, please remember not to shoot the messenger. Kindly direct any foul oaths to the heavens.

Of course they're meant to be taken seriously. That's why the heading is in all caps.

#1 - Cycling is about freedom
That includes freedom from being told what cycling should be about. Let's call this the Golden Rule. In fact, this list could end right here, if it wasn't a list.

#2 - Forgive those who trespass against you
Even if they're driving a white van. But get their number plate first.

#3 - Harden the Frak up, Cnut
This one was in the Old testament, but has evidently been hardened in honour of Bradley Wiggins. (It's NSFW; work is Not Safe For Life.) A little tough love from above to prepare you for the school of hard knocks.


#4 - Matching, smatching
Just as it's OK to wear socks that don't match (more of a life rule), there's no prohibition against components which don't photograph well. Dilettantes, see rule #3.

#5 - Faster isn't always better
Being a rouleur is fine. Tours de France are fine. Even commuter challenges are fine, if they keep you out of trouble. Any activity which pits your muscles and wits against competitors is fine; it may even be sublime, at times. The need for speed should not infect those who have other needs, and who may be perfectly happy pootling from A to B without making a Strava segment out of it.

#6 - The correct number of bikes to own is X
X is however many your partner or roommate or mother will let you own before they turn into an Ex (excluding mums, hopefully). Relationships are more important than bikes.

This rule has a corollary, The Rule of Acquisition. If you have a partner, keep her or him informed about major purchases.

#7 - Wave
You don't literally have to wave.


A half smile is also OK, as is a raised eyebrow. It's not a touchy-feely validating exercise; it's about being receptive to our shared – and on a bike, much more visible – humanity. Or something.

Don't forget pedestrians and motorists! This is known as maintaining good relations with civilians. Situational of course, else you might never get any riding done for the sake of all your ambassadorial duties.

#8 - Weave
That's right: filter. My understanding is that this isn't so much a diktat as it is divine permission for those trained to hold the line no matter what. Not only is it your right as an enhanced road user to insert yourself into interstices, perhaps throwing in the occasional wobble to show you're only human, but inhabiting the space between things will help you experience the full joy of cycling.

#9 - The pockets rule
If you wear a conventional jersey, don't put anything in the pockets which you wouldn't want in your back should you come off and land the wrong way. Preferably don't buy a jersey which has pockets you don't need. Wear whatever is comfortable, of course; but don't assume that just because it's in a bike shop, it belongs in your closet as well.

#10 - Shaving
If you shave your legs, don't use your wife's or girlfriend's razor. Women, however, are permitted the use of any damn razor they want. They can also wear your shirt, while they're at it.

#11 - Support your local bike shop
Only if it isn't staffed by people trying to sell you stuff you don't need, and doesn't have cute signs in the workshop that say they charge more for labour if you want to watch or help.

#12 - Earbuds are not the devil's earwax
It's your head, fill it with what you want. Cyclists don't have bat ears that they depend on to find their way in the world, and so are free to carry a tune.

Ears are keen, but the eyes have it.

#13 - Helmets
There is no blessed guidance on this. See rule #1.

#14 - Thou shalt not be be a bike snob
In public. In private, be anything thou pleaseth. Shaming others onto the consumer conveyor belt is not cool. (His Eminence still uses words like "cool".)

#15 - The Quicksilver Rule
Don't feel compelled to watch anything just because 'two wheels good'. Kevin Bacon is said to have called this courier caper the lowest point of his career. Even those not closely related to Bacon by a casual chain of encounters felt the sting of a bike-themed movie belly-flop. When Pee-wee Herman can win more hearts and minds by doing this than employees of the Quicksilver Express can doing this, it's time to remind everybody of the Breaking Away rule: Breaking Away is and always will be the best bike movie ever made.

#16 - Don't litter
Also a holdover from the old testyment. If you've insisted on buying jerseys with pockets, put that crap in there.

#17 - Don't call
Wrong rules. Still, it shows how popular rules are.

#17 - Cycling is about freedom
A little repetition goes a long way.

see also the Apocrypha


The Rules
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2014 »

These Rules originally appeared on, where one critic likened them to the "utterly pointless" remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still.


The Parable of the Hill
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2014 »

I cycled up a steep hill, seeking wisdom and enlightenment. It took so many days and nights I lost track of time. There seemed to be no end to the climbing. I nearly got off and walked, such was my weariness, but I was afraid that if I did, enlightenment would not be given to me. I could not spin; it was too steep, my gearing too unforgiving. I could only honk. At one point a flock of geese flew by low, honking as if to mock me. I passed the bones of others who had come before and failed. They must have lost hope. I was not made of better stuff; I was merely more stubborn. Finally when I thought I could climb no higher, I reached the top.

At the top there sat a very old man. He looked at me and asked "Why do you come?" I said, "I have come to understand hills." He said, "Only after ten years can you begin to understand hills." So I sat with him there for ten long years. He wasn't a conversationalist; we said nothing. I merely contemplated hills. Occasionally I brought him a cup of tea, which he always spat out. This I took as a bad sign, but still we said nothing.

After the ten years had passed, I said: "Now tell me about hills." He said, "What goes up must come down." I said, "I already knew that." He said, "So why did you ask?"



The Allegory of the Cave
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2014 »

At the bottom of the hill there was a cave. After so many years out in the elements – the old man didn't believe in "coddling" as he put it – it felt odd to be inside. It took a while for my eyes to adjust. When they did, I saw that I wasn't alone. There was another old man, sitting cross-legged on the floor, watching me quizzically. "Why don't you turn on the light," he said. "The switch is on your left."

When light flooded the cave I saw that it had all the creature comforts, including a kettle. He got up to make me tea. This was a change, and I told him so.

"Then you've met my brother Fredo," he said. "My name is Plato." He bid me sit down for my cuppa and we had a nice chat. Then he bid me indulge an allegory he'd been working on. A gracious host doesn't have to ask twice.

The allegory required that I guess what shapes he was making with his hands on the wall of the cave after he had positioned the lamp just so. No real guesswork was required, as the shapes he made were exquisitely rendered.

He even managed to portray an okapi being chased by a leopard; how I knew it was an okapi I cannot explain, but he was that good.

The final shape was of a traditional steel-framed bicycle with Campagnolo groupset. It seemed so real I almost felt I could hop on and ride it out of the cave. When I told him this he said "Go ahead." I said "Surely you're joking."

He did not say "Don't call me Shirley," as I was half hoping he would (Fredo had zero sense of humour). Instead he bid me not to be a "prisoner of your mind," as he put it, though he put it so nicely it was impossible to take offence (he pronounced it 'offense' as a polite nod to my country of origin). I do not know if it was to humour him, or because he had me half believing the convincing words that came out of his mouth, but I got up and approached the bicycle, which was now gliding to a stop.

I looked at Plato. He looked at me, eyes twinkling. I got on. Then I rode out of the cave and into the light.


The Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2018 »
“Tell me a story,” said the hare to his mother, which is highly unlikely, as mother hares have very little to do with their young. But this hare had a kindly heart, so she obliged.

“Once upon a Tim,” she began.

“Don’t you mean 'time'?” asked the leveret, for that is what baby hares are called.

“Don’t interrupt your elders,” shushed momma hare. “This is about a tortoise named Tim, and his best friend Harry…”

“That’s my name!” squealed the baby hare, having already forgotten not to interrupt.

“You will find as you grow up that life is full of coincidences,” said momma hare, herself having forgotten her scolding.

“Tim and Harry were inseparable.“

“What does in-sep-ar-able mean?” asked the baby hare.

“It’s the opposite of me and your father,” said the momma hare. “Now as I was saying, Harry went everywhere with Tim. He even tried to squeeze into his shell with him when they listened to scary stories, but of course there was no room in the Tim.”

Too young to groan at puns, the little hare settled down to listen.

One day Tim signed up for a charity run. He was always doing thoughtful things like that. It hadn’t occurred to Harry to sign up as well, as he ran everywhere anyway, but once he found out, he was very quick to say #MeToo!

The event was to raise awareness for homeless homing pigeons.

On the day of the run Tim and Harry gathered with the other animals, including a badger, a fox, a squirrel, a lamb, and three pigs who lived in a brick house that needed repointing, but that’s another story.

“It’s not a race,” said a sloth as he passed out a route sheet. “Yeah right,” a snake winked at Harry. “You probably think you’ve got this all tied up, but don’t count your chickens.”

“There’s chicken?” said the fox.

“Please don’t eat each other,” said the sloth patiently. But then, he said everything patiently. “There will be cruelty-free food available at a tea room at the halfway point.”

Somewhat belying his admonishment that this wasn’t a race, the sloth then fired a starting gun, inadvertently winging a homing pigeon hopefully hovering over the proceedings. And they were off!

The snake immediately tripped up the badger, establishing his modus operandi (“Latin for a dirty trick,” explained the momma hare) and apologising insincerely. But the angry badger quickly recovered and stomped on the snake – “Who’s roadkill now?”

The lamb gambolled, as lambs do, and wandered off to chase a butterfly. The fox followed him, having read uncomplimentary reviews of the tea room on TripAdvisor.

The squirrel decided he needed to annotate his route sheet with locations of nut caches. This would take some time.

The three pigs took turns at the lead, setting a surprisingly blistering pace for victory.

to be continued