what are the cycling rules

What Are The Cycling Rules?

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You might have come across various references to “the rules” if you read cycling blogs or forums and they are often referenced in a sort of nudge nudge wink wink style that, if you don’t know what the hell they are or what’s going on, can make you feel, well, a bit left out to say the least.

How many times do you see stuff like, “Oh yes and it was a stiff climb all the way back but I just say refer to rule #5 and get on with it.”

I’m sorry what the hell you on about!?

It does make you feel a bit excluded and as if there’s a whole lot of things that you could possibly be doing all wrong. Surely you just get on your bike and ride the damn thing? What’s so complicated that there needs to be rules?

At first I just ignored these silly rule references thinking that they were probably just people talking about the rules of the particular bike clubs they belonged to or “in jokes” between cliques of cyclists.

But after a while I realised that I was seeing them all over and had the dawning realisation that everyone else in the whole cycling world seemed to know what these bloody rules were apart from me.

Shit, I must be doing everything wrong. How many rules had I broken? Was it obvious that I didn’t know the rules and is that why so many other road cyclists just don’t say “Hi” when I meet them out on a ride.

I’d always thought it was because I was breathless, red in the face and had a pained expression of exertion on my face.

But maybe it was because, to anyone who really knows anything about road cycling, it was painfully obvious that I didn’t know “the rules”.

It started to feel like there was a big happy cycling rule clique that I didn’t belong to. Actually, I exaggerate as I hate rules, particularly the ones made up by people who think they know more and are better than other people and just make up rules to make themselves feel more important and I had a sneaking suspicion that the elusive cycling rules may well fit quite snugly into that category.

However I persisted and, after a bit of research, found that “the rules” refers to a famous set of cycling rules compiled by a hilarious set of chaps on the rather smugly self satisfied but awesomely likeable Velomanti website.

It’s a serious cycling site with pictures of men with bulging shaved leg muscles, reports on cycle racing and articles on how to half kill yourself riding your bike and the more pain you suffer the more noble and worthwhile human being you are – Yuk! In fact I feel like a bit of a wimpy imposter even daring to explore it’s pages – like I’m going to be found out for being the slow middle aged, comfort loving cyclist I am.

But, bear with it because on reading through the rules for the first time I have to admit that I was, despite myself, a) amused b) in agreement with many c) already know quite a lot of them without realising d) started to feel smug as if I was reading the ten commandments or something and was undergoing some sort of weird initiation into the inner sanctum of the cycling world.

Om Namah Shivaya…….Om Namah Shivaya……surely you’ve seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?

So, without further ado:

A few of my highlights:

#5 Harden the Fuck up


#6 Free your mind and the legs will follow

Indeed, but what if my mind is screaming stop, it hurts?!

#9 If you are out riding in bad weather it means you are a badass. Period.

I thought it actually meant that you were too poor or, in my case, too tight to buy a turbo trainer or get a gym membership but I’ll go with it…….I’m badass!!

#12 The correct number of bikes to own is n+1

Where n is the current number you have. I do actually quite like the additional observation that you can also express the equation as the correct number of bikes to own as being s-1 where s is the number of bikes that will lead to you and your partner (non – cycling I assume) to separate.

#38 Don’t play leapfrog

Man, this is a tough one. I was overtaken doing a good 25mph on the flat the other day and boy I was pumping away full of energy feeling like I was flying and the other cyclist went STEAMING past me, head down all aero and carbon fibre frames and yes IT WAS A GIRL and yes, I did, for a moment contemplate trying to catch her up, and yes, my ego was slightly battered, and yes I’m a silly old slightly unfit git.

#47 Drink triples, don’t ride triples

Life is short, don’t waste it on piss beer. If anyone’s reading this after my death I would like that on my epitaph,please. Yes, beer is a recovery drink and, as Velomanti sayeth, cycling and beer are so intertwined that we may never understand it. I bow down to your superior wisdom and accepteth all of your teachings.

This has to be the easiest rule to follow and the one that will come most naturally to many.

#63 You shall not ride with headphones

I often ride with cheekbone headphones and love them and I enjoy having some good music on whilst I’m on a ride but there is also a great deal to be said for the more mindful approach of just listening to the sound of the air, the tires on the road, the birds singing and your bike ticking along. It is in fact slightly meditative.

This links nicely into….

#74 V meters or small computers only

And here I have to say that I am slowly bit by bit learning the virtues of this minimal approach – no distracting bike computers, just listening to my body and mindfully pushing as hard as I can go ie #5.

#90 Never get out of the big ring

Yeah – right!

#91 No food on training rides under 4 hours

Man up yer fat bastard. You don’t need to eat, lose some weight, go faster ie #5. I don’t like this rule, I like tea and cake half way round.

#93 Descents are not for recovery, recovery ales are for recovery

An excellent rule. Pedal the fuck down hill and go as fast as you can and then adhere to rule #47 for recovery.

So there we have “the rules” of cycling and, against my slightly better judgement I do quite like them and think they are amusing.

Check them out and let me know which ones are your favourites in the comments below. Do you have any rules that you think should be added?

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