King of Style Spearheads Cycling Rules of Twitter

I just Googled Rules of Twitter and received nearly two hundred million results. That’s astounding enough to prove that Twitter is not merely a fad of 2009. Surely a great number of these sites provide recommendations how to avoid Twitter faux pas, offer definitions for Direct Messages, ReTweets, and others, explain the origin of the emblematic  “@”, and basically be a general User’s Guide to Twitter.

I do not, however, think you would find any rules of Twitter catering specifically to cyclists. Cycling and Twitter go hand in hand with as much as symbiosis as cycling pairs with coffee (…except for my comrade from the women’s Cervelo TestTeam who told me this very morning that she “doesn’t enjoy coffee in the morning.” I was flabbergasted. If not the morning, when do you drink it – nighttime?!).

Before I begin, I offer an emphatic, You’re welcome. Transgressions to these rules stand out like a hybrid Mapei-Astana cycling kit; the word clash doesn’t even begin to do justice to the cycling tweets injustices witnessed with regularity. There is a very good chance some of you will feel disparaged when you see what I have to say. Yet, following these simple steps are like a life preserver tossed to the floundering swimmer – fear not, friends, the King of Style is here offering hope and promise for a positive and productive Twittering future.

Without further ado, I bring you the King of Style’s Cycling Rules of Twitter.*

1 — As KoS has stated in the past in reference to emails and texts, faces are always disallowed. In my twenty-six years on planet Earth, I have found myself in no more than three circumstances ever where I have felt the desire to use a text face. In each situation, I allowed myself roughly seven more seconds of thought, and thereby found a simple alternative. You should too.

2 — No abbreviations unless they’re original. ROTFL? Really… you’re going to tell me with a straight face that you are literally rolling around on the floor laughing? No you’re not, you liar. Alternatively consider an original abbreviation like BDC, short for bomb dot com. The irony here is excellent because an abbreviation like BDC is not yet mainstream, so when lobbed out there in casual discourse it confuses the recipient. Once mainstream, however, it should cease being used and you should look for an alternative once again. I definitely recommend GIAW (giving it a whirl).

3 — A follow up to the above rule, as stated in the past, WTF-(adjective) is one of the few continually acceptable abbreviations. Example, “That was a WTF-good buffet, yo! We slayed that.”

4 — Word-shortening for the sake of using <140 characters is acceptable. Example: “though” becomes “tho.” If the word is already short, however, then you should never shorten it unless you are restricted by the 140 character rule. “You” only rarely must become “u” and “see” rarely is “c”. If you’re short for space then just use multiple tweets (three or fewer are recommended) in rapid succession. Remember, you’re tweeting, not writing a doctoral thesis.

5 — Read your Tweets before you publish them. There is NO deleting them once they’re published. I will readily admit, I’ve screwed this one up more than once.

6 — Your name isn’t Hume or Plato or Descartes, is it? Then don’t get too philosophical.

7 — Any chance to practice humor is acceptable. (However, see subsequent rule.) Witty, dry humor is the most preferable, but toughest to administer, so be sure you have a strong handle of it before using it with reckless abandon.

8 — Political correctness trumps all. Insulting slurs should never be used. As I just said, once published, your tweet is out there forever. Presumably, you don’t want to come across as a bigot, so if you have a distaste for a certain creed, nationality, sexual orientation, or race keep it to yourself. I truly wish this need not be stated, but it does.

9 — Be courteous with your two-way conversations. There is a time and place for Direct Messages so tediously uninteresting conversations should be kept out of the public.

10 — (Yet somewhat conversely to the above rule…) speaking highly of yourself is absolutely fine. I’ve posed the question in the past, what is self-promotion if it’s not shameless?

11 — Silence is golden. Less is more. Cliché expressions are awesome… Look, long story short: don’t tweet just for the sake of tweeting. If you have something to say, say it. If you type something out, however, and as you’re reading it back to yourself before hitting the Tweet button – as I just taught you to do – you find it boring, abort the tweet. If you find it dull the rest of us will find it even worse.

Photo rules:

12 — Don’t take pictures of just your freshly shorn legs or robust tan lines. Although strange, people inherently have an affinity for garishly vile pictures, so if your skin is literally boiling from being sunburned, snap that picture with an appropriate warning tweet. If not, no one cares about a mere color contrast.

13 — If you’re a dude, don’t take shirtless pictures of yourself. Cyclists are vain. We’re not that vain though. If you’re a woman, umm…

14 — If you have an iamnotTedKing shirt, definitely tweet pictures of it by replying to (Have I mentioned cyclists are vain?)

15 — Speaking of vain, perhaps you recently returned home from a hot ride and your legs look like a road map with veins roped abundantly throughout. See how your girlfriend doesn’t care whatsoever? Neither do the rest of us. Abort tweet.

* If I’ve insulted anyone with this post, you have a few options moving forward. You can be pissed off, angrily believe that KoS has a holier than thou mindset, and continue along on your misinformed Twittering ways – you certainly have every right to do that. Another option is to put your tail between your legs, acknowledge that the KoS is actually quite correct here, and use this as the educational seminar that it’s intended to be.

Whenever I see a failure of the aforementioned rules, I generously offer my services in the form of a Direct Message to you. I never publicly call anyone out by name, and for that you should be rapturous (yup, I used my thesaurus to find that word). Remember the You’re welcome that I started this blog post with? Charitably accept it.


  1. Tod

    I will mark this as a favorite and keep it handy. Excellent Twitter reference tool! Have you checked out my Leadville Blog yet?

  2. Tom

    These rules should be numbered. I would love to be able to help educate people by using an @Reply indicating the rule number broken. Should there be a Tweet etiquette police?

  3. Rica620

    Brilliantly written! Wow… the kid can write, make brilliant observations and provide us guidance in the disorderly world of Twitter. I really enjoy your blog!

  4. Justin

    I have one addition/objection. The use of “moving forward” in place of “in the future”, as used in your penultimate paragraph. Ever since this phrase has come into popular use in the media, it has annoyed me. It is one of those attempts to replace perfectly clear English with an attempt to sound smart. Please don’t encourage its use.
    Besides that, I’m all for your rules. Keep it up.

  5. Ashley

    King of Style,
    One topic not covered in your Rules, which may be a source of some contention and/or debate amongst the Twitterverse (as are most topics worthy of spirited discussion), is in regards to who should really be twittering to begin with.
    Some people (disclaimer: “people” refers to the relatively small and select group of suburban Northern California-reared, college-educated, mid-twenties females, 99% of whom don’t give two hoots about cycling [me being the 1% who does care/actually rides] that I call my friends, therefore, not a terribly diverse cross section of America) believe twittering should only be for people with “interesting” or unusual jobs/lives ( for example: professional cyclists or Martha Stewart). The other side believes twittering is for the masses; this great equalizer, known as the Internet, was created so that if you have something to say, by golly, say it (and see how many other people will read it).
    What is your stance on this? Both sides can pull down a strong argument and rebuttal, for sure. However, I still wonder if someone such as myself (grad student/future middle school teacher, budding cyclist, avid baker, and Twitter reader) took to twittering, would I be playing into our society’s self-centered nature? Yet another way of communicating without actually communicating. Or, does twittering, even about a tremendously “normal” life, make this crazy world a little bit smaller and remind us that there is always someone out there who cares?
    Sorry, that was T.L.W. (terribly long winded); but I’m very curious about your, Ted, and others’ thoughts on this debate.

    P.S. For Christmas, an incredibly astute Santa bequeathed me with my very own I.A.N.T.K. shirt…but with no Twitter account of my own, I have media through which to send evidence of said shirt’s ownership. Quandary.

    • iamtedking

      Hi Ashley,

      Great question. I don’t know what direction my answer will ultimately lead, but let’s get the creative juices flowing as my fingers type and see where we go.

      To be short and sweet, I think the more people on Twitter, the better. I continually ask friends, family, and basically just random people who I meet if they’re on Twitter and more often than not they say no for the same reason that you just said – namely, they don’t find their day-to-day business interesting.

      Sure racing a bike around the globe is relatively unique and therefore at least mildly interesting, but sometimes I often don’t care about what my cycling colleagues are doing. Moreover, I want to know what my family is doing, what my friends are cooking for dinner, and what sort of witty retort Joe Random dished out at Starbucks this morning.

      Yes, I said in the above post that if your post is boring, then don’t post it. But that was my rule for cyclist! And by boring, I really don’t care if you “Just had a sweet ride for 5 hours and 11,000 feet of climbing. Wicked epic!” I do, however, care what sort of normalcy occurs with my family and friends back home. It pulls at my heart strings (whatever the F that means), but I want to know what I’m missing. This sport is a lot about sacrifice and missing the weddings, dinners, parties, and so forth are worth hearing about.

      On another note, if you’re tweeting and everything you say is boring and you notice the number of followers falling instead of growing, it’s a good indication that you should change the genre or tone of your tweets. Unless you don’t want to have followers, but that brings up another point entirely – what’s the point of Twitter…

      Peace out Ashley,

      iamTedKing and you’re not

      p.s. On that note, I’m psyched you got an iantk shirt. That’s #superepic.

      • Ashley

        Hey Ted,

        Thanks for responding, one, and two, for being honest and thoughtful with it. When I was thinking about the greater cultural significance of Twitter (yes, I think big thoughts about frighteningly unimportant topics…what else does grad school teach you?), I didn’t put it in a “personal” context. It’s the only medium, that I know of at least, that can really give voice to the polaroid moments in life; funny, happy, boring (only in the eye of the beholder, I guess?) and ridiculous, however lame that may sound. I’ve always believed that the little things matter, whether in relationships or just out and about in daily life. For someone, such as yourself, who spends long periods of time away from loved ones, Twitter really can be a way to feel connected and a part of the dailyness of home (and vice versa). Let those heartstrings be pulled, tied into a bow, left hanging, or whatever…tis a part of that dastardly thing called being human.

        I guess Twitter, as with most things in life, is all about intention and perspective. Wow, this response got a lot schmotlzier than I expected.

        So, in the G.T.D. (Great Twitter Debate), you may have swayed me…those squirrely little buggers (ie: middle school students I’m learning how to teach) are quite hilarious and I do enjoy sharing the baking love, so as Wayne and/or Garth would say: Party on!
        (I may just need a beginner course in being [was going to insert wicked, but am still learning how to use the word properly and as I am not from New England, probably shouldn’t quote it to a native] awesome at Twitter…tips are heartily encouraged)

        P.S. IANTK photo to follow

  6. Liam

    You can delete tweets. Go to your profile page on twitter while logged in, mouse over the tweet in question and a delete button will pop up in the lower right hand corner.

    If you do mess up and catch it within 30 seconds or so, there is a good chance nobody will ever read it.

    You can even delete tweets from 3 years ago.

    Is a correction in order here?

  7. Andy

    Rule 2, a more realistic alternative for ROTFL I’ve found is BOAC (bit of a chuckle).

  8. Rick

    My Blog God,

    I enjoyed you Twitter Rules for Cyclists and would like you and your fellow cyclists to realize how important your tweets related to your job successes (training/races) are to us cycling news deprived followers in the good ol’ US of A. We do our best with Velo News and Versus, but getting just the highlights just doesn’t cut it. Twitter puts us on the sidelines of the “cycling game.”

    I enjoy your blogs and look forward to all the wisdom that comes from he who is Ted King. By the way, my best Christmas present this year was the I.A.N.T.D. shirt! My picture is forthcoming.

    My the wind be alway at your back and you wheels under you.


    Not Ted King

  9. Steve M

    It’s a credit to you and the blog that the comments are as readable and entertaining as the posts. I agree that the little things are as interesting as the “epic” things and that it’s great to be able to fill in the cycling media gaps with tweets from the riders. Continued success!

  10. IANTK

    May I just add one more to your rules for cyclists twittering: complaining abut drug testing. It is boring and makes cyclists sound like whiny brats. Please tell them to stop.

    • iamtedking

      What’s shaking IanTK?
      I’m going to leave my response here and not in the form of a blog entry unto itself for reasons xy and z. To be frank, IanTK, I couldn’t agree more. The rule would read something to this effect:

      –Cyclists, please never complain about the UCI coming to test you. Yes, it sucks ass and is de-humanizing. Yes, it’s often extraordinarily inconvenient. Yes, it’s typically extremely early in the morning. But complaining that “The evil vampires are here again to suck my blood” is hackneyed and no longer funny. They’re simply doing their job, similarly you are doing your job by participating. Just do it and get on with your day (or in all likelihood, it’s now 6:45am when you finish with them, so go back to sleep).


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