Cycling could use some destruction. From the outside, it is accessible and inviting. From the inside, it is incestuous and exclusive. The language used is archaic and off-putting. The gender roles are pervasive show few signs of letting up. Different factions within the community can be elitist and influential. The time for change is now.
That said, we aim to tear down the obstructions and we have found that the most efficient way to ruin anything is to follow a simple program. Having guidelines typically keeps things in order and allows for the quickest route to temporary disaster, chaos and ultimately change and growth.
In the cycling world, there have been several “programs” along the way. One that is ever-changing and very fluid is the pre-determined status-quo that the cycling insiders set in place for any and all that wish to breach its hallowed walls. This series of hoops has been set in place to secure the future of innovation and the evolution of paint as a means to lock in the prosperity of few and keep the many at the edge of their seat wanting more.
For too long the cycling industry (a term we hope is quickly replaced with community) has kept the keys to its inner circle in a secret location. For too long the powers that be have kept the outsiders at bay. It is our hope, with this body of work, to tear down the walls and throw the keys in the trash. Cycling, at all levels, is something that should be available to all persons, not just those with fair skin and disposable income.
For the purposes of our exitprise, we have modeled what we will refer to as suggestions around several completely asinine “rules'“ put forth by a real jack-wagon who identifies themself as the Velominati. It may be worth your time to examine their “rules” before trudging forth through our suggestions. After all, a program is nothing without reference. Also worth noting is the reality that while the Velominati may have been born as satire, it has been adhered to by the ever-narrowing margin of cycling’s elite and taken as gospel by more than the minority. Far too often “Rule Number 5” is shouted from the roof tops under the guise that it’s inspiring and encouraging. Not anymore we say.
Regardless, here’s to destroying everything that’s coveted by the influential few in the cycling world and having a guide to get it done.
Fuck the Rules
Be an Example, Lead No One
Being an example and being a leader are two different things. The former is personal responsibility. The latter is communal responsibility. While the two are absolutely necessary, they exist in two different spaces. Focus on being an example. If leadership is your calling, you will find yourself there.
Guide yourself. See Number 2
Be an example. If you focus on guiding yourself and can manage things with success, others will take note.
Nothing is All About Anything, Especially the Bike
The world we live in is a magical place. There are billions of moving parts that all co-exist to create each and every moment we experience. To put something as trivial as a bike ahead of all else is to ignore the beauty and splendor of the world at our feet.
Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
Don’t. Just don’t. If you have trouble with this one, see number 4.
Stay Present. Always
The past is a place reserved for books and film. The future is only an idea. The present is the space we occupy when we can stay right above our feet. Stay present and enjoy everything that now has to offer.
Form Follows Function
This is true of everything that successfully exists. When it comes to cycling, you are in charge of what works for you and what doesn’t.
Run Whatcha Brung
An old adage that simply means you get to ride what you want, when you want.
If You Find Yourself in Bad Weather, Stay Present
Being in bad weather does not make you tough. Being present in bad weather makes you capable. Know the difference.
You Define Your Best. Not Someone Else
Comparison is a slippery slope. If we put our efforts on the bike, or off, as subject to the opinions of others, we have allowed comparison to guide our motives and ultimately removed ourselves from being present.
Bikes are Not Greater than People, Especially Family
This shouldn’t even need to be mentioned. For real. A bike is a bike is a bike. Putting a bike or a bike ride ahead of people, especially family is a ridiculous concept and should be cast aside for eternity.
The Correct Number of Bikes to Own is the Number You Own
For a long time there has been a clever saying in the bicycle community that the correct number of bikes to own is N+1, where N is the number of bikes you currently own. Historically, it has been a way for those with many bikes to casually brag about that fact to folks that may have fewer. In reality, the correct number of bikes to own is exactly the number you currently own. There is no equation to determine this.
If You Believe in Superstition, Great
If superstition has a place in your life, fantastic. If it doesn’t, fantastic. In the cycling community there are a handful of superstitions that come up from time to time, typically around the racing circles. If you choose to participate in them, wonderful. If you’d rather not, wonderful. Either way, superstitions are your choice and not that of someone else. So…keep it to yourself.
Your Clothes do Not Define You, On the Bike or Off
You are not defined by your clothing. If you have trouble with this, see number 15.
Wear Whatever You Want
For real. Wear whatever you want and let others wear what they want.
Seek No Ones Approval
Riding a bike shouldn’t hinge on the judgement of others. Riding a bike does not require approval from anyone.
If You’re on a Team, Great. If You’re Not on a Team, Great
There are benefits to being a part of a team. Understand them and respect them. Teams work together, if they don't they are not teams. If independence is your thing, embrace it and enjoy it.
Don’t Let Anyone Tell You what to Wear
Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and everyone thinks everyone else’s stinks. You are in charge of you. That said, if you’ve made apparel decisions collectively, respect the decisions and oblige accordingly.
This has as much to do with bikes and it does with everyday life. Be respectful. Always.
Ask for Help
Not knowing things is a shared human quality. No one knows everything. If you don’t know something about your bike, or about riding…ask. Good people will help you. Bad people won’t. Know the difference.
Your Body Your Rules
This shouldn’t need definition. it’s your body. You get to decide everything about it. Period.
Hats are Just Hats
Cycling hats can serve a purpose while riding. Cycling hats are also just hats. Wear what you like…cycling hats included.
Rest When You Need Rest
If you’re riding your bike and you get tired, rest. If it means coasting down a hill, coast. If it means walking up a hill, walk.
Speeds and Distances are Best Measured by One
Measuring speed and distances in quantities of one is a simple way to remove the emphasis of comparison, whereby repositioning the focus of the activity to the activity. For example: Last weekend I rode my bike from Iowa to Canada. It took me one trip to get there and it was incredible. (We will explore this further down the road)
Your Value is Not Determined by the Things You Own
You are not your bike. You are not your job or your car or your house. You are a person and, as such, you are just like every other person in the world with bones and blood and skin. Bicycles do not define people. Ride them because you want to, not because you think they make you better than others.
Ride Your Own Ride
Bikes are for riding. Staying present on the bike can be an amazing experience. Taking pictures of your bike to show people how amazing you are is hollow and will not deliver endless rewards. If you ride your bike, just ride it. There is no need to make a declaration of your achievements.
There is Not One Way
There are many paths in this world, some of them are accessible by bike. Explore them and find the joys that line them. Go where you want, not where you’re told.
Matching Things is a Personal Decision
In cycling marketing there is a constant message that proclaims the importance of wearing matching apparel. This is bullshit. Seem number 15.
There is no skill greater than being prepared. Experience is your greatest asset. If you don’t know, do not be afraid to ask.
Understand the Tools You Use
Bicycles are made of moving parts. Moving parts break. Understanding the proper tools to make adjustments and repairs is helpful. If tools aren’t your thing, seek professional advice from a trusted mechanic. Mechanics are, by and large, good people that have dedicated themselves to bicycles. Treat them with respect and kindness and understand that their livelihood is fixing the things you don’t want to. Compensate appropriately.
Own What You Need
You ride your bike. You know your needs. If you’re going forward into an area that you have no prior experience, find someone you can trust to help you make decisions about your needs. Good people will help. Bad people won’t.
Drink water from whatever vessel serves you best. Let no one judge you. Hydration is key.
On the Subject of Shaving, See Number 21
Your body. Your rules. Shaving hair from the body is a component in the cycling community. It typically exists within the racing community and is done for two purposes. The first is reducing the difficulties that surround the healing of flesh wounds (less hair eases the application and removal of bandages). The second is bullshit posturing. Your body. Your rules.
Footwear is Your Choice
You get to ride your bike in whatever footwear you choose. Plain and simple.
A Helmet is a Helmet
Helmets exist to reduce injury in the event of an accident. They all function similarly and while there are definitely differences in their construction and performance, they all exist to do the same thing. An important thing to know is that a helmet is made primarily of styrofoam and styrofoam dries out every 3-5 years. Replacing helmets is a thing that should be considered…but, again…Your body. Your rules.
Eyewear is Eyewear
Keeping the bugs and the sun out of your eyes is a choice. Make it personal.
There is No Wrong Way to Wear Something
You get to decide what you want to wear. You also get to decide how you want to wear it.
Seriously. Be courteous. Always.
Your Sight, Your Rules
This is redundant to prove a point. See number 36.
Understand Why Things Break
Much like knowing how to use a tool, understanding why something breaks will help you better make decisions as to how to proceed. Breaking down in the middle of a ride can be troublesome. Knowing how to get yourself out of it can be liberating.
Never Change the Way You Do Something to Impress Anyone
Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business. Ride because you want to, not because you think someone else will like you more.
Activity is Activity
Riding a bike is an activity. Swimming is and activity. Running is an activity. Be active. Or don't. You get to pick and those that suggest you should be doing something else can pound sand.
Ride within your limits. Push yourself if you can and your limits will expand, but understand yourself and how far you can go while remaining safe.
Your Bike, Your Rules
Much like your body, your bike is yours. You get to do whatever you want to it. Paint it? sure. Cover it with stickers? sure. If you understand the moving parts and how they directly relate to your safety, go nuts.
Understand Your Position in Every Situation
Knowing where you are in relation to others is helpful in any situation. Knowing where you are on a bike in a group with other people on bikes is safe. Understand your ability and be mindful of others. Keeping things upright and moving along should be the goal for everyone.
Drink What You Like
Your stomach. Your rules. Drinking before or during or after a bike ride is a personal choice. Keep yours, yours and let others have theirs.
You Owe No One Anything
Nobody gets to tell you shit about what you owe them. The free world doesn’t work that way because the free world is not business. To owe is to be owned. Fuck that.
Be Safe When You’re Active
Riding a bike can be dangerous at times. Understanding and respecting that fact is a great step toward being safe. People love you, get home safe.
Body Hair is a Personal Choice
This shouldn’t need to be addressed…but here we are. Grow whatever you like. Shave whatever you don’t. Bikes don’t care and neither should people.
Support What You Love
Local bike shops are operated by local people that ride their bikes just like you. If you find one that embodies these suggestions, support them. If you find one that feels exclusive and off-putting, don’t support them.
Everything in Moderation
If you choose to do the same thing over and over and over again, you will likely begin to take the shape of that thing. Understand moderation and the importance of variety. Or don’t.
Identify Your Priorities
You are important to you. You have things in your life that are important to you. Embrace those things and enjoy them, but not at the cost of the rest. See number 52.
You do You
This one is easy. You are your own boss. Not somebody else's.
Live as if No One is Coming to Save You
Personal responsibility and self-sufficiency will carry you through troubling times without question. On the bike or off. Embrace this.
Take Your Coffee as You Like it
Nobody gets to tell you how to drink coffee. There is no right way and there is no wrong way.
Champion the Causes You Love
If you love something, proclaim it. Or don’t. If you have questions, see number 2.
Support Your Community with Your Wallet When You Can
Times are hard all over and saving a couple of bucks on cycling stuff is certainly tempting. The folks that run your local shop have bills to pay just like you. If you find a shop that embodies these suggestions, support it.
Be yourself. Hold your line when it comes to being who you are. Nobody gets to make that decision, but you.
Details Matter, They Don’t Define You
There are billions of moving parts in the world. Many of them are small. These are the details. They definitely matter, but they are not the be-all end-all. This certainly applies to your bike and they manner in which you keep it.
Judge No One
Don’t do this. Ever. Judgement is not your business. Never was. Never will be.
Music is Therapeutic
If you like to listen to music while you ride, have at it. Please be respectful of others and get your groove on.
If you ride alone, communicate your intent to other traffic. If you ride in a group, communicate your intent to other riders. Communication will keep you safe and alive.
Understand Your Past as it Relates to Your Present
You are the sum of all of your experiences to date. Your past got you to your present and it will go that way until you're dead. This applies to riding bikes and just being alive.
Care for Your Things
All things break. Prolonging the existence of things is directly proportionate to the amount of care invested to said things. If you’re not a fan of replacing parts and such on your bike, take care of it. If you don’t know how, ask.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
You do not live in a bubble, so don’t ride your bike in one. Keep your head up and be aware. It can save your life.
Ask No One to do Something That You Wouldn’t Do
This is humanity 101. Not doing something because you don’t know how is far different that not doing something because you simply won’t do it. Understand the difference.
Quality is Greater than Quantity
Having a lot of things is not a reflection of anything other than ones ability to have more things than someone else. It is comparison and it is inherently different that and appreciation for quality.
If You Own it, Own it
If you have something, have it for a reason. If it’s a bike, own it. If it’s something else, own it. Stand behind it wholeheartedly.
Competition is a Slippery Slope to Narcissism
Winning is important to some. Competition and recognition is important to some. This exists in the cycling community as much as it does in every other community. If you enjoy winning, great…keep it to yourself. If the goal is to win at all costs, you’ve abandoned all of these suggestions and we wish you nothing but tail winds and cool breezes.
Improvement follows Effort
This is much like form following function. If you want to become a better rider in whatever terms you feel define that, your effort will dictate that. There is no other way.
Don’t Talk Shit
Don’t. This never works.
Understand Mechanics Where Necessary
Knowing your way around your bike will help you in many ways. Regardless of your willingness to get hands one, knowing the mechanics of your bike will help your make educated decisions when it comes to to repair.
Stats Keep Us in the Past
It is impossible to record statistics in the future or the present. Therefore, stats hold us in our past. See number 6.
Racing is for Racers
Racing can be a fun way to see if our efforts directly equate to improvement. It can be a great opportunity to see how we stack up in a field of similarly interested folks while handing off the responsibility of making records to someone else. Racing has a place in the cycling community, but it is definitely a place for racers. Understanding this is key.
Your Stuff, Your Rules
Nobody gets to tell you what to do with your cycling gear. You are the boss of it. Much like you are the boss of you.
We get one earth. Be respectful to it.
Don’t Waste Things
Understand your needs. They are different than wants. Wasting things excess.
Winning is not Anything
To win is to place oneself ahead of another. This is far different than leadership. This is comparison and can become very toxic very quick. Walk the road of winning softly.
Being Cool is Dead
There is no inner circle. There is no secret handshake. All are welcome. If that’s not the case, ride somewhere else.
Nobody wants to hear it. They never did. They never will.
Seriously. Mind your own business. Judgment is narrow and exclusive. We don’t need anymore of this.
Be Responsible for Yourself
You are in charge of you. You will get yourself into things and you should be prepared to get yourself out. Understanding this concept opens up a host of opportunities.
Just do it. People have helped you your whole life. If you think you came into this world feeding yourself, you’e high AF.
Live Within Your Means
Wants and needs. Understand the difference. This applies to bikes as much as everything else.
Don’t Bully People
Don’t. Just don’t.
Respect Other People’s Time
You are in charge of you and that is a perfectly time-free existence as long as you are alone. Should you wander into another’s existence, be respectful of their time. It needs to go both ways.
Don’t Taunt People
Don’t. Just don’t.
Don’t Appropriate Languages
You have a native tongue. You may have learned another language in addition, or perhaps even several more. If you come across another language that you’re not familiar with, don’t appropriate it by trying to pronounce things as a native speaker would. Just don’t.
Understand Your Limits
You have limits and boundaries. On the bike and off. Push yourself to know them. Stand behind them.
Eat When You’re Hungry
If you get hungry, eat. If you’re riding and you get hungry, eat.
Understand Your Abilities and Exercise Them Accordingly
You are a capable human. You can do things directly proportionate to your abilities. Fear will hold you back from understanding the full scope of your abilities. Push your limits and exercise yourself accordingly.
Sleep When You’re Tired
If you get tired, sleep. Depriving yourself of sleep is a fast track to injury.
Learn How to Fix Things
No one enters this life with a complete knowledge of mechanics. These skills are learned. If there are things you would like to know how to fix, as they relate to bicycles or otherwise, ask someone. Learning how to fix things can be liberating.
Do What You Want
Take these suggestions or leave them. These are not gospel. You are a human with a mind and a body and choices. Do what you need to, when you need to.
Never be an Asshole
If you made it through ninety-five suggestions and this is the one you really needed, welcome.