There is no book, no golden tablet, no ancient scriptures, nothing carved in stone regarding the golden rules of Cycling. It’s a basic interpretation by each and every cyclist. The golden rules of cycling manifest out of courtesy, respect for fellow cyclists, respect for traffic law, self-respect, and respect for all other pedestrians who use public roadways. The rules help to provide cyclists with safety, attitude, posture and health. The common attributes go hand in hand with bike maintenance, preparation, and the improvement of skills.
Evolution and Rules
The unwritten Golden Rules of cycling have evolved with the sport, they are a blend of scientific research, opinion and common-sense. But even though the rules are not set in stone, they are applicable to each and every cyclist, every single time he or she gets on the bike. They can be regarded as suggestions, but if applied universally, cycling is safer and more fun. What may be even more important, the application of rules puts a good face on the great sport of cycling, and gives inspiration to non riders.
Cycling rules are not isolated to a single discipline. Mountain bikers, road riders, tri-athletes, the common cruiser, vintage, group riding — which have a set of rules all to themselves — are all covered by the basic cloak of golden rules.
Discipline and Rule
With all the disciplines of bicycling in general, each category has it’s own set of specialized rules that typically don’t cross-over to any degree. For example: Mountain bikers have specific rules. Road riders have specific rules. The golden rules of cycling are general rules that can be applied universally to all cyclists.
Rule One: Just Ride
Regular rides build endurance. Don’t feel that you have to belong to a single discipline. Doing so cuts down your options. The natural imbalance of confining yourself to one bike, or one type of biking cuts down your time on the bike, and your opportunities to ride. If you’re training for a specific race, doing miles on a mountain bike can give you better climbing skills. Doing miles on a road bike builds your endurance.
Rule Two: Priorities
Cycling should be near the top of your priority list. Ride daily if possible, even if it’s only a few miles. It’s okay to skip a day or two when you have to, but if you prioritize your work schedule to allow for it, you’ll be happier, sleep better, and become an overall healthier, better, more aware cyclist. If the weather is miserable, tell yourself that you’ll only ride for 30 minutes. If you’re still miserable turn around. You’ll have logged an hour on the bike.
Rule Three: Don’t Ride Sick
Even a common cold is going to be exacerbated by riding your bike. Listen to your body, it’s trying to tell you something. Rest up and don’t ride again until you’re feeling better. And when you do get back on your bike, take it easy.
Rule Four: It’s Not a Competition
You don’t have to beat everyone. Drop the time-trial mentality. Most cyclists are just out there to have fun, but when another rider blows past them at 25 mph, it often starts a competition that some riders don’t appreciate, yet, can’t help but take up the challenge. There’s nothing more frustrating that hot-shot riders constantly challenging you.
Rule Five: Free Your Mind
Leave all your worldly thoughts behind you. Do all your worrying about finances, relationships, career etc, before you get on your bike. Once the pedals start to turn, cloak yourself in the sensations of how your body and bike feel together. Take in the scents, the sounds and the feeling of the sun and wind on your skin.
Rule Six: Stop for a Break
Don’t be afraid to pull over. Cycling is an adventure. Stop for ice cream, lunch at a quaint cafe, a hole in the wall dive, candy shop, coffee shop or bakery. If you have no destination, plan your ride around some of these diversions, relax and enjoy it, you’ve earned it.
Rule Seven: Know Your Bike
Understanding how your bike works is important. Wear out your shifters, constantly changing gears when needed to maintain a certain cadence. Challenge your bike until you come to a certain comfort level with it. Your bike shouldn’t intimidate you in any way.
Rule Eight: Basic Maintenance
Learn how to adjust brakes and shifters. Don’t ride a bike that’s performing poorly, it only takes a few twists of a nut to fix most shifter issues. Get some books, go online. There’s thousands of tutorials out there for help. Use them.
Rule Nine: Tires
Top off your tires, or at the least, check them before every ride for proper inflation. Nothing can defeat effort like under inflated tires.
Rule Ten: Learn to Fix a Flat
Always keep a spare tube with you, and all the tools necessary for fixing a flat, and know how to use them. Practice fixing flats at home if needed, so that you’re not stuck out there with a flat tire.
Rule Eleven: Rules of the Road
Follow the same laws that motorized vehicles follow. Ride on the right, pass on the left. Stop at intersections, and proceeded only when doing so won’t endanger you or anyone else. Use hand signals when appropriate.
Rule Twelve: Respect
Respect fellow cyclists. A simple nod or wave of the hand is appreciated by everyone. Respect yourself.
Rule Twelve: No Traces
Leave nothing behind. Pick up and take any small wrappers, debris from a flat tire or anything else with you.
Rule Thirteen: Make Friends
It’s always a good practice to treat other cyclists like old friends. Make conversation, join groups. Promote your sport and enjoy it, good things are waiting for you out there.
Rule Fourteen: Know Your Body
Know your body. Fluid and nutrition are your fuel. The general rule of thumb is to drink before you’re thirsty, and eat before you’re hungry. The choice of hydration and nutrition differs for all cyclists, but you should stick with what makes you feel good, and you know without a doubt, that it won’t upset your stomach.
Rule Fifteen: Keep the Rubber Down
It is completely unacceptable to intentionally turn your bike upside down. Be aware. Don’t take chances, don’t be a hotshot, and may the wind be always at your back.