The Rules; Drivetrain cleanliness.
After years of mountain biking, which only has one really hard and fast rule (don’t drink shitty beer after your ride), when I first started getting into road cycling in late 2012 some of The Rules seemed silly to me. As I logged more and more time on my road bike, however, I found that most of The Rules were rooted in practicality. Sure, there’s some purely aesthetic stuff in there, but style and culture are important, too.
I don’t think it’s any secret that some cyclists make judgements based on appearance. Is that stem slammed? Dork disc removed? No saddle bag or frame-mounted pump? Sunglasses over the helmet straps? Legs freshly shorn? The list goes on and on…
Those things, perhaps, indicate experience, but it could also simply mean that the rider has read The Rules and adopted them to fit in. Personally I don’t care one way or another how another cyclist has his or her bike set up, or if his legs are shaved. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t notice those things, but I won’t assume someone isn’t a strong or experienced rider simply because he’s got spacers under his stem.
You know what I do look at when I see other riders? Drivetrain cleanliness. Nothing screams “n00b” to me louder than a dirty drivetrain. I don’t care how filthy your bike frame is when you show up for a ride, but that drivetrain needs to be sparkling. Chains, at a minimum, should be wiped down after each and every ride, and cleaned/oiled frequently. Cassettes should cleaned at least once per week, more if conditions require it. Wipe down those cranks, and keep the jockey wheels and derailleur pivot points pristine and lightly lubed. This is basic daily maintenance that every cyclist should be doing.
What’s your take? Do you clean your drivetrain after every ride, or does it look more like it’s been through two seasons of cyclocross?