The Rules

The 85 rules of cycling from

The Rules:

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    Rule #1

     / Obey The Rules.
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    Rule #2

     / Lead by example.

    It is forbidden for someone familiar with The Rules to knowingly assist another person to breach them.1

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    Rule #3

     / Guide the unitiated.

    No matter how good you think your reason is to knowingly breach The Rules, it is never good enough.

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    Rule #4

     / It’s all about the bike.

    It is, absolutely, without question, unequivocally, about the bike.  Anyone who says otherwise is obviously atwatwaffle.

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    Rule #6

     / Free your mind and your legs will follow.

    Your mind is your worst enemy. Do all your thinking before your 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.

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    Rule #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’stan lines.  Sleeveless jerseys are under no circumstances to be employed.

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    Rule #8

     / Saddles, bars, and tires shall be carefully matched.3

    Valid 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


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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #10

     / It never gets easier, you just go faster.

    Climbing 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

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    Rule #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

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #

     / 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 it’s negative energy.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #16

     / Respect the jersey.

    Championship and race leader jerseys must only be worn if you’ve won the championship or led the race.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #18

     / No road jerseys or Lycra bibs when riding off-road.

    Cyclocross is a middle-ground.  Best to wear cross-specific kit: skin suits only. No exceptions.

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    Rule #19

     / No mountain jerseys or baggies when riding on the road.

    Cyclocross is a middle-ground.  Best to wear cross-specific kit: skin suits only. No exceptions.

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    Rule #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!


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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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 après-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

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    Rule #23

     / Shoe covers are for cold or wet.

    If it’s not cold or wet and you are still wearing shoe covers because you’re a pussy, your name is probablyGeorge Hincapie.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #26

     / Make your bike photogenic.

    When photographing your bike, gussy her up properly for the camera. Valve stems at 6 o’clock. Cranks around the 30 degree mark.  Not 90 or 180. No bidons in the cages.

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    Rule #27

     / Shorts and socks should be like Golidlocks.

    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.

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    Rule #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 fell you must go colored, make sure they damn well match your kit.  Tip: DeFeet Wool-E-Ators rule.

  28. Saddle bags have no place on a road bike, and are only acceptable on mountain bikes in extreme cases.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #34

     / Mountain bike shoes and pedals have their place.

    On a mountain bike.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #36

     / Eyewear shall be cycling specific.

    No Aviator shadesblueblockers, or clip-on covers for eye glasses.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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 thevents 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).

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    Rule #40

     / Tires are to be mounted with the label centered directly 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.

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    Rule #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

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #45

     / Slam your stem down.

    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.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #48

     / Keep your saddle level.

    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.

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    Rule #49

     / Slide your saddle back.

    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 and Rule #48.)

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #51

     / Livestrong wristbands are cockrings for your arms.

    You may as well get “tryhard wanker” tattooed on your forehead.

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    Rule #52

     / Padding or body armor of any kind is not allowed.

    If you find you need it, try pointing your bike up the hill for a change.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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 timetrail.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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

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    Rule #57

     / No stickers.

    Nobody gives a shit what causes you support, what war you’re against, what gear you buy, or what year you rodeRAGBRAI.  See Rule #5 and ride your bike. Decals, on the other hand, are not only permissible, but extremely Pro.

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    Rule #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. Online is evil and will be the death of the bike shop. 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.

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    Rule #59

     / Hold your line.

    Ride predictably, and don’t make sudden movements. And, under no circumstances, are you to deviate from your line.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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

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    Rule #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

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #64

     / Cornering confidence increases with time and experience.

    This pattern continues until it falls sharply and suddenly.

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    Rule #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 effect the enjoyment of the other riders in the bunch, you are to summarily sit up and allow yourself to be dropped.10

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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 Yellow 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.

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    Rule #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 covered 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

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    Rule #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

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    Rule #70

     / The purpose of competing is to win.

    End of. Any reference to not achieving this should be referred immediately to Rule #5.11

  68. 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.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #74

     / Cycle computers should be simple, small and mounted on the stem.

    Forgo the data and ride on feel; little compares to the pleasure of riding as hard as your mind will allow. If you are not a Pro or aspire to be one, then you don’t need a SRM or PowerTap.  To paraphrase BSNYC, an amateur cyclist using a power meter is like hiring an accountant to tell you how poor you are.  As for Garmins, how often do you get lost on a ride?  They are bulky, ugly and superflous. Cycle computers should be simple, small and mounted on the stem.  And preferably wireless.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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.

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    Rule #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

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    Rule #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

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    Rule #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

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    Rule #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. 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 sorry, 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

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    Rule #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 toRule #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

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    Rule #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

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    Rule #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







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