The 13 Commandments of The Bicycle

A reading from The Holy Bible of Cycling, The Book of Merckx, chapter three, verses 11-42:

“She looked down and saw Her people walking on the Earth.  She saw that they toiled and moved slowly with much effort, keeping close to their villages. ‘I shall make for them a way to travel from place to place; a way that is quiet and quick and light; a way that takes their measure and keeps them healthy; a way that makes no pollution; a way that can be fixed with simple tools; a way that all my people may enjoy.’  And so, She created The Bicycle.  She looked at The Bicycle, with its two wheels, frame, drivetrain, seat, and handlebar, and saw that it was good.

She gave The Bicycle to Her people and said: ‘Use this well for I have made it for you and your children, and your children’s children, and all who come after you, so that you may be free.’ And Her people rejoiced.  They sang hymns of thanks and praise for Her ingenuity. Taking The Bicycle they moved across the Earth at great speed, travelling to distant places, spreading Her message of love and compassion and gear ratios.

But, Her people could not fathom the subtle intricacies of The Bicycle. They crashed. They bonked. They augered-in. They made likenesses of The Bicycle with one wheel, then with three wheels.  They added baskets, horns, lights, fenders, kickstands, and cup holders to The Bicycle.  They rode The Bicycle down from mountaintops, across vast snowy wildernesses, and into the dark depths of the sea. They created dual suspension, powermeters, velodromes, criteriums, aerobars, energy gels, and doping.

After some time, She looked down and saw Her people ignorantly misusing the gift She gave them and became annoyed.  She spoke to Her people in a stern voice saying: ‘What have you done to The Bicycle? Why do you ride it so? What is that thing on your head? Who is that Lance person and why do you revere him so?’  And the people saw their folly and cried out: ‘Please help us, guide us, as we use your creation.  We love The Bicycle.’  She heard Her people’s contrition and shame.  So, She said to them: ‘Very well.  Hark unto my words as I now give you the 13 Commandments of The Bicycle.  Abide by these, take them to your hearts, speak of them often amongst yourselves, and never forget them for they are from Me.’


Thou Shalt Not Be A Poseur

(Never wear a jersey with World Champion or National Champion stripes unless you are the current World Champion or National Champion in your cycling discipline)

Thou Shalt Ask Permission

(If you are riding solo and you come up on an individual cyclist or group of cyclists, always ask permission to draft off the rider in front of you,  especially if it’s the last rider in a group or pace line)

Thou Shalt Be Quiet

(If no one in the group is talking while riding or carrying on a conversation with a rider next to them, don’t start talking)

Thou Shalt Be Self-Sufficient

(When you flat, expect that you will be repairing it yourself — even if you are riding in a group — so always carry an extra tube, pump or CO2 cartridge (and valve chuck), and tire irons)

Thou Shalt Not Get Aero In The Group

(Never ride in the aero position when riding with a group)

Thou Shalt Get Out Of The Way

(When you stop on the side of the road or trail, move off the roadway or trail so you do not block or impede traffic and other cyclists)

Thou Shalt Cover Your Nasty Bits

(Do not ride in bicycle shorts that are so thin or threadbare that your junk or butt crack are visible to other cyclists around you)

Thou Shalt Communicate

(If another cyclist says hello while passing you, give them a courteous verbal greeting and when an approaching cyclist waves to you, return their wave)

Thou Shalt Be Courteous

(When you approach equestrians and hikers on the trail or slower cyclists or pedestrians on the road, let them know you are approaching by calling out ‘on your left’ and, especially with equestrians, ask them if it is OK for you pass)

Thou Shalt Be Careful Where You Pee

(When taking a ‘nature break’ do not pee on driveways, sidewalks, playground equipment, school yards, community gardens, tombstones, lemonade stands, or people standing nearby)

Thou Shalt Not Be A Dork

(Never wear compression socks while riding)

Thou Shalt Show Respect

(When riding with a new or unfamiliar group of cyclists, it is considered bad manners to ride on the front — unless you are pulling through as part of a pace line — and it is also considered bad manners to dangle off the back of the group or stay in last position when everyone else is taking a turn at the front)

Thou Shalt Maintain Your Bike

(Keep your bike in good working order  by regularly inspecting your tires, break pads, chain, cassette, spokes, rims, and cleats for excessive wear and tear as a rider who experiences frequent flats, mechanical failures (chain suck, broken spokes, etc.), or rides a noisy bike will find often himself at the back of the group or riding alone)

Hearing these 13 Commandments of The Bicycle, Her people were much relieved and inspired.  They praised Her grace and compassion. And She smiled upon them and it was good.”

A reading from The Book of Merckx.  Thanks be to The Bicycle.


About The Author


Aaron Hanson (a.k.a The Cap’n) is manager of the Southern California Colavita Regional Amateur Team.  A 25-year veteran of the sport and lifestyle of cycling, Aaron has raced both road and mountain bikes, advocated for bicycle transportation funding and facilities at the city, county, state, and federal levels, planned and facilitated numerous bicycle events, and helped several municipalities and counties create viable bikeway master plans.

Aaron has been honored by IMBA, CORBA, Clif Bar, the City of Los Angeles, the County of Ventura, the City of Simi Valley, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Senate for his bicycle advocacy work.  He has even won a bike race or two.

Aaron can be contacted via e-mail at:

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