Urs Freuler

Guest Article: Breaking the Rules- A Note on Rule #50

Guest Article: Breaking the Rules- A Note on Rule #50

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I have no dog in this fight but @Henrik does. I can’t swim in the serious ‘stache growing gene pool. And yes, it’s already Vajanuary, we left Mo’vember with nary a nod, why, because it’s stupid. Rule #50 could have included having the last name Freuler and wearing the prison stripped Atala kit as the second exception for facial hair, for he was a stud. I could be accused of putting too many photos of him on this site already and to that, I would plead happily guilty.

VLVV, Gianni

Personally I consider myself an enforcer of The Rules constantly (though admittedly with at least an effort of subtlety) correcting friends and family over issues such as how to wear their shades, sock length, or the the dreaded long-tights-short-sleeves-combination. However, complete compliance with The Rules is hard. I have on several occasions been caught with a premature aero tuck (I defend myself with the need to practice) and back in the day I have also been seen rolling around in unforgivably hi-viz jackets and jerseys.

More recently there is only one Rule that I regularly and willingly break: Rule #50. The no facial hair rule. This Rule states that the only facial hair allowed is a goatee and then only if your name starts with Marco and ends with Pantani. I have neither goatee nor the appropriate name and thus my moustachoid appearance is in clear violation.

But this transgression is not just mindless ignorance, I do have feelings about this Rule. Currently””and admittedly for quite some time””facial hair is a rarity in the pro peloton. There are of course the comedy moustache of Dave Zabriskie (which wasn’t particularly nice looking), Wiggo’s now-shaven sideburns, and the slight and youthful pencil-moustache of Lochlan Morton. Otherwise, it is a rarity (though out of competition ‘staches can be spotted regularly, see the “Movember” article on Cycling Tips). In the history of cycling, and especially in the early days, things were quite different. Maurice Garin had moustache of course, and so did many of his contemporaries. As was pointed out on Velominati, Urs Freuler wore a cyclo-stash proper thoughout his career. One could go on here but I choose not to and instead refer the reader to said article. Although there is a plentitude of historical prejudication to draw from that might instill lenience on the application of this Rule, that is not my point.

I do my best to ride all year around, in direct conflict with the place which I call home. I am a Swede currently living on the windy, and fertile plains of the south. It doesn’t get quite as cold down here as further north, but the weather is hell by any measure you choose. Every winter has snow, albeit to varying degree. Sometimes it lays around for months on end, other winters it will quickly rain away. However, since the temperature often hovers around freezing one usually will often go on rides where part of the route is snowy, part is slushy, and part is just plain wet. The relative lack of forests and flat landscape also does little to stop the winds. The summers are plenty windy but fall and winter is much worse, especially with the frequent storms. The intermediate position of southern Sweden also promises much darkness, there will hardly never be the kind of snow cover that provide some reflective light, but the days are still short, which means a lot of riding in the dark. In the last couple of weeks I have ridden in complete darkness (this is a component in almost every ride), 15 cm of snow, 25m/s winds, 1°C temperatures and relentless rain, and so on. It is impossible to stay warm and dry and one will often come home after a few hours with no sensation in hands and feet. In other words: Rules #5 and #9 comes to mind.

So the point is, one should consider The Rules not as completely set in stone, the different principles can influence one another, and compliance with some Rules can earn you the right to break others. The many hours spent freezing my nuts off, sliding across ice and slush, on dark and windy afternoons have earned me the right to sport a moustache.

// Breaking The Rules // Guest Article

  1. I enjoy a properly worn mustache, so good on ya Henrik. I’m with Gianni; I could wait for weeks and never have anything substantial on my upper lip. I have never seen my old man without a full, black mustache though.

    I however am suitably tired of people wearing facial hair as a joke or to be edgy or something. Nothing worse than lacking a personal sense of style and just following the crowd. And people wearing non-prescription eye glasses? Fuck them.

    Hmm, winter weather. I was just thinking about this because it is 2* here today and I keep wondering if my decision to ride this afternoon is a good one. The sad thing is that before I moved to the southern U.S., I’d have never thought twice of riding on a dry day in these temperatures. I’ve gotten goddamn soft.




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  2. @Ron

    And people wearing non-prescription eye glasses? Fuck them.

    That’s the spirit! Yeah, fuck them.




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  3. Nice writing, Henrik. With that weather to deal with, don’t you get home with ice and snow on your ‘tache? Brrr




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  4. I had to decide – Obey the Rules or get laid more often? My wife loves my goatee.




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  5. @Gianni

    @Ron

    And people wearing non-prescription eye glasses? Fuck them.

    That’s the spirit! Yeah, fuck them.

    WTF? How hipster do you need to be. I would throw mine to the depths of Hell if I could see where it was!

    Ah, Rule #50. In a recent podcast, I was asked of which of The Rules would I most frequently break, or at least bend. It caught me off guard, so I waffled up something about Rule #33 – it gets a might coolish in these parts, so my guns get covered and I get lazy sometimes; and something about an EPMS or whatever the awful things are called. Reality, is that I will go for long rides on tubulars with no more than an iphone and a multi-tool as back up. Yeah, I have been know to wait for a few minutes for the team car to arrive.

    So on to Rule #50, the only real transgression of The Rules I sometimes break. Re-read Rule #50. It clearly say, “or if your head…” So, when I chrome the dome, the facial hair grows. And yes, I will grow facial hair without shaving the melon too. I am a retired officer, whom was commissioned to uphold Her Majesty’s awesomeness. And that includes awesome sideburns, wavy hair, and the occasional 1800s patch of hair on my face. Dashing is the word I would use.




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  6. Posted today on cyclingnews’ FB feed…




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  7. One more to get my point across…




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  8. The article is, of course bullshit, but a great read.

    The last paragraph is in sharpest focus a a great example of where the Masturbation Principle should be taken particularly seriously.




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  9. @Dan_R

    @Gianni

    @Ron

    And people wearing non-prescription eye glasses? Fuck them.

    That’s the spirit! Yeah, fuck them.

    WTF? How hipster do you need to be. I would throw mine to the depths of Hell if I could see where it was!

    Ah, Rule #50. In a recent podcast, I was asked of which of The Rules would I most frequently break, or at least bend. It caught me off guard, so I waffled up something about Rule #33 – it gets a might coolish in these parts, so my guns get covered and I get lazy sometimes; and something about an EPMS or whatever the awful things are called. Reality, is that I will go for long rides on tubulars with no more than an iphone and a multi-tool as back up. Yeah, I have been know to wait for a few minutes for the team car to arrive.

    So on to Rule #50, the only real transgression of The Rules I sometimes break. Re-read Rule #50. It clearly say, “or if your head…” So, when I chrome the dome, the facial hair grows. And yes, I will grow facial hair without shaving the melon too. I am a retired officer, whom was commissioned to uphold Her Majesty’s awesomeness. And that includes awesome sideburns, wavy hair, and the occasional 1800s patch of hair on my face. Dashing is the word I would use.




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  10. Well penned article. I’m of the humble opinion that there are people that can wear facial hair, and those that can’t. Every “Movember” I attempt (feebly) to grow a ‘stache and get told by someone who matters a) I look like either a pedophile or a 70’s pornstar or b) I’m just flat not getting laid with that stuff on my face. So aside from a few days growth when I’m lazy it’s just a soul patch.




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  11. Eddy Merckx and Joe Strummer did not need facial hair. NEITHER DO YOU.




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  12. This is not me, nor do I know who he is, but he’s from where i’m from. It was -34c a couple days ago.




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  13. @wiscot That would have been awesome! And maybe just a little intimidating. Either that, or he would have thought he was dealing with Baron Von Munchhausen.




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  14. @frank

    The article is, of course bullshit, but a great read.

    The last paragraph is in sharpest focus a a great example of where the Masturbation Principle should be taken particularly seriously.

    Oh, but I meant not to brag but was merely making a factual claim! Erm, well, regardless of this possible second transgression, what about the principle? Compliance with certain rules is a continuous affair and comes in degrees. For other rules compliance is discrete and binary, one either complies or one don’t, there is no middle ground. With continuous compliance rules the greater extent to which one complies with them, the better, naturally. So the suggestion then would be that particularly ardent compliance with “continuous rules” can earn the cyclist the privilege of being less ardent with respect to other such rules, or possibly, breaking non-continuous rules. That being said, it certainly seems that certain rules one can never ‘earn’ the right overlook.




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  15. As a fellow Swede I can attest to facial hair sometimes helping against blistering cold, and yes, small icicles will form after a while (from damp air, exhaled when laying down the V). These icicles could possibly be used as an alternate hydration source, other than that a hairy face really does not contribute to the work. Still, I think, if it’s ok with the VMH/VMW, and you repent the rule violation, go with the mustache!

    Well written!




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  16. Please don’t make any changes to this rule. I’m already struggling with a student lifestyle and a festive season of free food and drink at the parents’ place. Last thing I need is to be overtaken on a hill by a hulk of a woman sporting stubble, think I’d have to give up and go home right there and then.

    That said, entertaining read and all the best for the winter miles!




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  17. @Weldertron That’s not ice, that’s just shaving foam. The lad is just about to get rule compliant!




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  18. I’ll take the necessary hits for the violation. I grew my Van Dyke (goatee with a ‘stache) 20 years ago. I started cycling 16 months ago. I’m grandfathering in the whiskers and keeping the facial hair.

    Besides it’s fun to send pictures of my Michigan winter iced hairs to my warm friends in California.




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  19. Well crafted article Henrik. Thanks for addressing this critical – to some of us – issue concerning Rule #50.

    My compliance with Rule #50 has been, well, nonexistent during my adult life. While the ‘exception’ clause provides for a goatee if one is sleek-pated, a goatee is an atrocity in an of itself and I thus refuse such on my mug. I throw down the winter cycling glove (gauntlet) for mini-pump duel with any or all challenging my basis for non-compliance with this unfortunate rule. As a former member of the US Air Force, Mustache March (do a bit of google time for background on Colonel (later General) Robin Olds and his mustache) was well ingrained. Just before my wedding 35 years ago, I took a bit of a tumble from the bike whilst descending a mountain road (a priori complying fully with Rules 49, 55, and 85!) and struck the asphalt at about 85 to 90 kph. From the first blood marks to where I was scraped from the road was 94 metros. Massive deposit to the cycling karma account! I spent the better part of a year recovering from the broken skull, busted teeth, ground away skin and muscles, and injuries including regrowing the ‘stache to cover the major gap where my lip used to be (VMH married me anyway). When Urs Freuler came on the scene shortly thereafter, it was reassuring to see a well-mustachioed cyclist. I have not been without the mustache since. Thus my basis for non-compliance.

    As Henrik suggests, and MP aside, compensatory compliance with all other rules provides some additional comfort – if needed. Further, an amendment to Rule #50 might be in order.

    All the best!




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  20. Winter is the season for masturbation (principle), but I’m done with facial hair. Growing some more out the top of my head for insulation during the cold season, but that’s just common sense.

    It’s all about knowing and accepting your strengths and weaknesses. For example, many years ago I suddenly discovered that, no matter how fit I might be, a shaved head is not for short, thickly-built white guys. You accept and move on.




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  21. @Gianni

    @Ron

    And people wearing non-prescription eye glasses? Fuck them.

    That’s the spirit! Yeah, fuck them.

    It’s a disability; you can’t turn it into a fashion statement. Not in my book.

    Then again, a lot of people do ride around in Rascal’s (see: a wheelchair not requiring a human to push you from behind to move you) just because they’re both lazy, and fat.

    Rascal’s are pretty cool though, at least in some demographics. So what do I know?




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  22. Mr. Boltzmann,

    That is a rather unique reason for breaching a Rule.

    I find it compelling, resourceful, and awesome. A Freuler to cover up your cycling-based scar. Makes perfect sense to me.




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  23. This is the NZ ‘cross champ, the ‘stache basically secured his sponsored ride in Belgium this season!




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  24. unless it is a horribly disfiguring scar, why cover it up? I got 18 stitches across my face under my eye and up onto my nose. I wear it with pride that whatever forces tried to kill me that day failed.




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  25. I think I’ve mentioned this quote from the Dalai Lama before, but it’s worth repeating in light of Henrik’s and Boltzmann’s stories: “Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.”




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  26. @livingminimal

    Merckx and Strummer in the same sentence? You just broke the Cool-O-Meter.




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  27. As long as we don’t go down the road, currently fashionable in US baseball, the redneck full beard. (Other US sports are available, but I don’t watch any of them)

    The many hours spent freezing my nuts off, sliding across ice and slush, on dark and windy afternoons have earned me the right to sport a moustache.

    At various times, we all attempt to justify our rule violations, you end up realising you were wrong.




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  28. @meursault

    I don’t know about baseball or any other US sport for that matter but your point about realising that our attempts to justify our rule violations are wrong is spot on. As cycling disciples we are attempting to stay on the path; to keep our line and guiding others. Even when we stray from the path the Rules shine in the dark showing us the true line.

    And what place has Joe Strummer in these pages?!




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