The Rules and Why They Don't Matter

There are two sets of rules that are talked about commonly in cycling circles. The first, everyone should know and follow. They are road rules. This post isn’t about road rules, it is about “The Rules”, as posted at Velominati, Keepers of the Cog.

I don’t have the time or inclination to break down everyone of their 91 rules. The fact that there are 91 shows just how ridiculous it actually is. Now, I hear the people screaming, “hey, they are just a bit of fun!” and I agree. However, there are a subset of cyclists that seem to live by them. Bagging the crap out of others for not following them. These elitist tools seem to think that just because they look pro, means they ride pro. Sure, some of them do, but there are just as many that don’t. I rode past one yesterday. Head to toe in GreenEDGE gear, wobbling all over a country road sitting on 25kph. I sat on his wheel for a while so I could get a better look, then I rode up besides him for a chat. When he saw me, he upped the ante. WTF, I was just trying to be social. I edged back in behind him. He was really going now, 27kph. I waited for about 3 minutes then rode up besides him again. He was working hard.

“G’day mate, hows things?” I asked. Between breaths he explained he was out on a 25km ride and he was pushing to get his average speed up. “Want to get on my wheel and we can sit on 30 along here?” was my next question. The look I got, as if to say I couldn’t keep up that pace. Then the clanger, “What’s with the bar tape?” he asked.

mmmm, Tang colour.

I had just replaced my bar tape the day before and apparently I had broken a rule! I explained that the old tape had torn and I replaced it with orange. Apparently white is the choice of colour for pros. I wonder if he has read the rules. I had had enough, and judging by his breathing, so had he, so I gently hit the gas and left him behind.

It isn’t the first time I have had people mention the rules, and I am just a tad miffed about it. The way I see it, there aren’t enough people out riding bikes. For people new to the sport, it is enough to buy a bike let alone the fancy gear that goes with it. It isn’t cheap. I have slowly gone from some fairly basic riding gear, to now owning some reasonable quality gear and loads of accessories to make cycling more enjoyable. Leg and arm warmers, water proof gloves, rain jackets, merino base layers, the list goes on. Most of these have been on special online, so they aren’t all colour coordinated or Rapha gear. But it doesn’t make me less of a cyclist. I’m no Eddie Merckx, but that has nothing to do with my gear.

So I say bugger “the Rules”. Wear what you want. Just get out there and ride. And if you are one of those people that look like you belong in the pro peloton, I am happy for you, just don’t tell me I am breaking any rules, unless they are road rules!

Please feel free to comment. I would love to hear if I am the only person that gets pissed off by the Rules Police.

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57 Responses to The Rules and Why They Don't Matter

  1. Sam B says:

    You tell them Norbs…

  2. Tim O'Mahony says:

    hmm, I think there are specific road rules about that colour of bar tape.
    That is some fugly tape.

  3. CLP says:

    well said 🙂

  4. Duke6amer says:

    Like I’ve been telling you all along norbs, White is so old hat & so not Pro in my rules!!!
    Great Post. 🙂

  5. bike rider says:

    orange, blue and white – Rabobank colors. What’s wrong with that ?

  6. Hannos says:

    My white bar tape is no longer white, more of a dirty grey bordering on black…
    But I suppose that is another rule broken?

  7. JR says:

    25 kph .on and a 25km ride! was he going up hill all the way?

  8. pmark1bike says:

    The guys I ride with quote “The Rules” as a joke but I’m sure like most secretly they follow them.

  9. Colinoldncranky says:

    I have kids who are always grizzling that I am an embarrassment. That something I do or wear is uncool. I have made it a standard response that as I age there are more and more REAL restrictions and I don’t need any optional ones. Indeed REAL aged related physical restrictions are what forced me off the bike many years ago. I regret that I will never again be able to ride a bike.

    Yep – whatever motivates people to ride should be encouraged or, at the very least, not held against them.

  10. Lewy says:

    Another Nowra tool roadie hey. Orange bar tape rocks. I did notice on the Go Pro that your bike colours matched your jersey colours on Saturday,

    You rule follower:-)

    As for me I always dress euro pro

  11. Guest says:

    If he had read The Rules he would have known that Team Kit is for Pros. I like them as a bit of fun. I do like the rule about the Ride Starts on Time though.

  12. Marcus Moore says:

    As far as “The Rules” go – there really is only one – #5: HTFU

    All the rest are a bunch of guys sitting around having fun with the MAMILs!!

  13. Lauren says:

    Oh dear. I’m in trouble then. I have pink tape on my bike. But I’m a girl so I think I can get away with it.

    (In my defense, it goes with the very subtle pink detailing on the frame.)

  14. Tom Benson says:

    Rule #8 // Saddles, bars, and tires shall be carefully matched.
    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

    20 Hill Repeats and 3 Our Merckxs for you.

  15. Paolo. says:

    A true Velominatus would not be wearing Greenedge kit and would never acknowledge a rider with such ugly bar tape. I call BS on your whole story.

    Lauren, that is absolute rule Holism. Matching the bar tape to subtle frame detailing. Perfect. You should log on to Velominati and join right now. We need more Velominata.

  16. scaler911 says:

    Welcome to the Velominati Norbs. By signing up and commenting over there just now, you’re one of us! Cool huh? Cheers and safe cycling folks!

  17. Frank says:

    You are right to get pissed off by The Rules Police, recently dubbed The Velominazis. The Rules are meant to be fun and help cultivate your enjoyment of Cycling, based on the notion that if you look better, you’ll feel better; if you feel better, you’ll ride better/more.

    Don’t take it too seriously, its all supposed to be fun.

  18. Sometimes The Rules get my dander up too, but it’s usually because I’ve let some knob who doesn’t even know The Truth get into my head. As Frank and other Velominati have pointed out to me on several occasions, it’s not worth getting het up about – if you’re secure in yourself and your place as a cyclist it shouldn’t even worry you at all anyway…

    • norbs says:

      Good point Oli. I’m not all that secure though. Fat gut and I pedal like a lady of the night. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting.

      • When you’re talking about a fat gut you’re talking to the king of fat guts. I’m so big one of the Keepers even wrote an article about how fat I am! I’m not sure how my pedaling compares to a lady of the night, but old Grannies in wheelchairs have been known to pass me…

  19. Marcus says:

    While your choice of orange is clearly flawed (breaching Rules 8 and 26), looks like whoever did it, did a nice wrapping job. Your treatment of the Velominazi was sound and appropriate. Dropping him (with what could only have been a blistering acceleration from 27kph?) was the only option.

    You were actually a Rules policeman.

    You love the Rules Norbs – and the Rules love you back.

    • norbs says:

      I accelerate like cold honey off a colder knife!

      I wrapped the bar tape, my first attempt. All the flaws are cleverly hidden.

      I love most things associated with cycling. The rules, not so much.

  20. Ignore the wankers and enjoy yourself.

    My LBS talked me out of putting sky blue bar tape on my all-black bike. It’s such a boring look that I may still do it anyway next time.

  21. Shazz says:

    I don’t like how a complete novice thinks he’s a cyclist just because he buys top gear and follows these Rules. There is nothing more pathetic than a guy on a 6 or 7K bike convulsing as he rides a 600 metre ‘climb’. Do your time on a crappy bike and a crappy set of nicks and you will truly appreciate cycling for what it is. Suffering!

  22. yarravalleyplodder says:

    OK before checking cycling tips today I had no idea about “The Rules” being a newbie I guess I have an excuse.

    Well I have read them now and surely they are taking the piss? Its nice to know I conform to some of them (no pro team kit for me and my assos bibs are black) but seriously some of them are for laugh value, arent they!

    Then again some of the looks I have got with my hairy legs and pump attached to my bike I guess some take them seriously.

    Anyway, I must say the orange bar tape does your bike no favours!

  23. LatteRider says:

    I’ve always loved cycling, but it’s only in the last year that I’ve truly got into the sport, lycra and all. In a time when we need more people cycling, the last thing we need is ‘rules’ that inhibit others from joining in.

    I love the Velominati and I guess consider myself one of them. Although I follow the rules very liberally, I love to ride for riding’s sake – which is the main point.

  24. Black, black, black... says:

    ‘The Rules’ are just lane markings and probably most helpful for the masses that wish to stay safe in the conservative middle. Religiously follow all the rules and there’s a fair chance you will actually get it wrong and look like a try-hard tool (if you’re not paid to ride a bike then why do you need to look like a pro??)… ignore all the rules (purposely or ignorantly) then your look will probably end up more ‘beginner’ than you hoped for. Sure, the middle-ground is dull, but it keeps you out of orange bar-tape trouble!

  25. Gozu says:

    I got blue tape yesterday. It looks awesome 🙂

  26. Welshy says:

    Great write up Norbs.

    They are a bit of fun.
    Each to their own I say.
    The only rule to ride by is #5.
    Note that in verse 2 line 2 you are forgiven.

    Now lift your ass off the chair, down on your knees and say out loud.

    The Prophet’s Prayer

    Our hardman who art in Belgium
    Eddy be thy name
    thy cobbles come, thy hands are numb
    from pavé
    as it isn’t heaven.

    Give us this day our daily V (five),
    and forgive us our Rule violations,
    as we drop those who attack against us,
    lead us not off our line
    but deliver us from Anti-V.

    For thine is the big ring,
    and the power, and the glory,
    for Eddy and ever.

    A-Merckx.

  27. Guest says:

    Orange bar tape would positively be applauded by OREC, maybe you should be following our rules instead, you’ll fit right in.

  28. Mingsta says:

    Nice article! While I found “The Rules” to be an entertaining read and presumably a bit tongue in cheek, I abhor the fact that there are now a legion of numpties who’ve taken it to heart and now bang on about The Rules as if its the gospel truth rather than the pretentious (and impractical) twaddle that it really is. FFS, rather relying on a book to know how to think, how about learning from your own cycling experiences and making your own godamn rules? You might find that ditching that frame pump and saddle bag because its not-cool wasn’t such a great idea when you’re stranded on the furthest stretch of a century with nothing but a crappy minipump and not enough spares to fix your chain or mend that 3rd puncture…or that keeping your knee’s covered and warm is rather more important than your arms. That orange bar tape is gopping.

  29. HaworthBantam says:

    If folk want to follow “the rules” then that’s fine, if folk don’t want to follow the rules that’s fine also. I’m a mountain biker who’s just recently bought a road bike so I can go out with a roadie friend – I still wear baggies on the road bike, and I don’t care. I’m comfortable and enjoying myself.
    I do wish all cyclists would acknowledge ALL cyclists when they pass them though, not just roadies to roadies, mountain bikers are cyclists also…

  30. John Perry says:

    People who are obnoxious about the rules are not following the rules:

    Rule #43: Don’t be a jackass.

  31. chris says:

    I just got kicked out of a group because I stated that velominati was for Dicks. The prompt was that I was sick of The rules being quoted to degrade any decent person’s post. The last post I saw was a gentleman asking for advice as his 12-year-old son was having difficulty overcoming his fear of descending to which it was suggested rule#5 HTFU.

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