Transcending the Rules: Group Ride with T-Bone

Transcending the Rules: Group Ride with T-Bone

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The question has been raised a number of times and the answer has always been vague: do the pros set The Rules, do they Obey them, or are they beyond them? As with everything philosophical, the answer is open to interpretation and difficult to identify. The Rules are about history, culture, etiquette, class, and style. That necessarily means that no active Pro has set The Rules, yet as an inextricably bound fiber of the fabric of our sport, they also significantly contribute to their definition and evolution.

Tyler Farrar hosted a group ride on Mercer Island in Seattle to promote USA Cycling, a program that helped him and many other American cyclist reach the highest levels of our sport. Donations were the only requirement to join the ride, and all proceeds went to towards helping to grow the program. What this means for idiots like me is, “Pay $50 and you get to ride with T-Bone.”

Saturday morning dawned with gray skies and wet roads. Sipping espresso while kitting up, I kept glancing out the window as I got ready.  Do I take Bike #1, or do I do the “group ride” thing and take the Rain Bike, fully adorned with mudguards and mudflaps?  Knowing this was Seattle and I’d be encountering many a Fendangelist, I was tempted to do The Right Thing, but the Loud Voice That Talks About Things I Like To Hear kept hollering, “YOU ARE RIDING WITH A PRO. TAKE BIKE #1, FUCKTARD.”

It called me a fucktard.  I had little choice but to listen.  Besides, as any Dutchman knows, the loudest voice always wins. Off I went on Bike #1, with tire pressure reduced to 100psi for improved Rule #9 compliance. One doesn’t want to slip out in a corner and take out a Pro, does one?

I rode over to the gathering location, propped my bike up against the wall, and went in to register.  There, on a sofa in the corner, sat my boy, T-Bone, chatting up a storm with a kid who was no more than 11. Simultaneously normal and surprising, one of the most remarkable things about meeting people you’d only ever seen on TV or in pictures is how much they look like you expect them to.

I signed up and headed over to introduce myself.  Within minutes, we had concluded that he was not in fact the rider I had encountered the day before, but his fellow teammate who also lives in the area.  With our first Awkward Situation behind us, I felt ready to move onto the ride itself, complete with its associated non-zero chance of irreparably harming the career of one of my favorite riders by doing something “stupid”.

The ride was incredibly mellow, and Tyler was the perfect host, rotating through the group to make sure he spent some quality time chatting with everyone. We chatted about this and that. Before long, he asked, “What’s Rule #1, Rule #5, and Rule #10?”, reading them from my bibs.  I explained, he chuckled, and the conversation carried on. As a segue from Rule #5, the topic of his second place finish with a broken wrist in the Tour came up; I mentioned something about that being “impressive”.  He mentioned something about “not wanting to quit” and “just not thinking about it”. I don’t know, I didn’t really understand what he was talking about.

Eventually the topic of Nordic skiing came up – it turns out he also raced the Nordic boards until he turned to cycling, and still skis today. I mentioned that as a Nordic skier, when I switched to road racing, my first thought was, “FUCK.  This is hard.” He laughed and said, “That’s funny because when I switched to cycling, my first thought was, “This is way easier than skiing”.

I suppose that’s why he’s the one racing on a ProTour team, not me. But that’s little more than a hypothesis – there could be other reasons, too. Like talent and hard work. But like I said, those are guesses.

Tyler kept rotating through the group, making sure to talk to everyone, but spent a lot of time riding with the same kid I’d seen him talking to earlier, when I first signed in.  The kid was on a tiny little road bike, unafraid of anything and anyone, bumping shoulders with the rest of us.  Every time I caught a whisper of his conversations with Farrar, it was to the theme of, “So, how old where you when you…”, and “So what do you think I should work on next?” He was eating up everything Tyler would tell him, and Tyler was taking great care to share everything he thought might help the little whipper. Class.

As for my central anxiety, throughout it all, no one openly berated me for riding without fenders. In fact, I was pleased to see many other riders were riding similarly naked bikes. We rolled back into the meeting place and everyone dismounted.  More pictures were taken with Farrar, more stories were exchanged. I couldn’t resist the temptation to have my picture taken as well, and I asked a goateed young dude who rode in a Spinal Tap t-shirt and floppy spandex shorts to take a shot using my phone.  He happily agreed but as he did so took care to say, “Sure, take the picture now that you look way cooler covered in mud from the ride because you didn’t use fenders like you’re supposed to.”

So there it was, the inevitable.

Before I could rattle off my retort, filled with a comprehensive account of his Rule violations, our Professional Hero and Host responded simply, “Hey, I didn’t have them either. Maybe I’ll put ‘em on when it starts raining more.”

The ride was filled with people who were willing to go out on a ride to support USA Cycling and spend time with one of the nicest guys in the Pro Peloton. Rule Violations were rife; but each and every one of these riders came out on a cold, wet, dreary day to ride bikes. On the other hand, Tyler Farrar did not violate a single Rule that I noticed.  Here is a Pro who is (was?) unaware of The Rules, but at the same time does not violate them. Because Tyler Farrar, whether consciously aware of it, lives La Vie Velominatus.

An amazing bike racer, an incredibly nice and approachable guy, and a Velominatus.  My kinda guy. I rode away a bigger fan of Tyler Farrar than I already was.

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// Look Pro // Nostalgia // Racing // The Rules

  1. @mcsqueak
    I hear you. My Santini bibs do a pretty good job as a man-girdle. Castelli ones, on the other hand, seem to have borrowed from push-up bra technology, lifting and thrusting out a pot that is not in any need of such acentuation.

  2. @mcsqueak

    @G’phant

    Apply Rule V liberally to all gut protuberances. (Ron, did I use that word correctly?)

  3. Ah, shit…I open my big mouth (fingers) and now I’m the grammar cop dick. Damn. I guess I deserved that, sgt.

    As for the man-girdle, how much does it suck to pull on some zip-top, high rise knickers after a summer in lower cut bibs and realize you are at your winter weight and it’s just the start of fall? Ouch.

    The skinny mangut sure sucks, but I guess it is better than having a fat ass to plop on your PRO saddle; at least you can (try) to just ride in the drops all fall/winter and hide it! Hard to hide that big wide-load arse on your narrow little saddle.

  4. @mcsqueak

    You mean like Wonder Bibs?

  5. Cyclops :
    @MarkoToo bad all the Velominati couldn’t get a Cervelo team deal and we could all ride R5′s
    R5 = Rule #5

    I’d rather eat my own faeces…

  6. Maybe not his fault, but there is a Rule #14 violation. And the argyle should make that a double fail. Has anyone hinted at the Garmin-Cervelo get-up for next year? I haven’t seen. Hoping some of the Cervelo style rubs off on Garmin…

  7. Brett:
    I’d rather eat my own faeces…

    PFFFTTT! Now that’s funny. And the King’s English spelling makes it even more so!

    Nothing against Cervelos per se, and I’d certainly rather have an R5 than a Madone or a Roubaix, but I gotta say my tastes run more towards the boutique (Formigli V- Team bikes, anyone?)

  8. Cyclops:
    @mcsqueak
    You mean like Wonder Bibs?

    Yes, aka the “wonder bib”. Or Spanx for cyclists.

  9. @mcsqueak @Cyclops
    Master Grump will be having apoplexy about now.

  10. @Brett

    Brett :

    Cyclops :@MarkoToo bad all the Velominati couldn’t get a Cervelo team deal and we could all ride R5′sR5 = Rule #5

    I’d rather eat my own faeces…

    Is your name Shooter McGavan?

  11. @
    Steampunk

    I got to see the Cervelo Test Team skinsuits up close at the ToC time trial this year. It was the most beautiful piece of cycling clothing I’ve ever seen. They looked like sharkskin. The way the light caught them was art. I’m positive you gain 3kph to your speed just from the air molecules saying, “Shit, that kit is so beautiful I’m not going to blow in your face nearly as hard as I am these other chaps.”

  12. @Marcus

    Nohhh…

  13. @Collin

    I’m positive you gain 3kph to your speed just from the air molecules saying, “Shit, that kit is so beautiful I’m not going to blow in your face nearly as hard as I am these other chaps.”

    Before those skin suits, they needed the race helicopters to do that for them.

  14. How you put your sunglasses in your helmet is dictated by the shade/helmet combo. Some sunnies go in better upside down, some rightside up. I don’t think this can/should be a Rule.

    I’d rather my glasses stay in my helmet than having them just look PRO. A scratched pair of lenses is definitely not PRO.

  15. I think the only reason frank keeps his glasses upright is because Schleck does.

  16. @michael

    I think the only reason frank keeps his glasses upright is because Schleck does.

    It’s a big part of it, but it’s mostly just because it’s easier to put them up, take them down. If they’re going up for a while, they go in upside down. It’s also less stable without a cap under the helmet when they’re right side up, so that plays a factor as well.

    But yeah, the Grimplette plays a major role in it.

  17. You all need to just get old and go blind like me. My shades are prescription so they NEVER go in the helmet. I should have listened to me mum’s warnings about going blind if I didn’t stop what I was doing.

  18. I saw Tyler 2 times at the Milano-Sanremo and all the times his presence was not unnoticed.
    Somehow sprinters usuaaly are full of elegance (Djamolidine Abdoujaparov is an exception).

    I

  19. I also saw the fella twice this year.. once, snapped by my velomihottie, on the Bola del mundo looking a little tired behind the douch man..

    and 24 hours giving the very same man a good beating with the pain stick in the final stage of the Vuelta… good work fella

  20. Many thanks to Tyler for the ride and his support for USA Cycling. A good time was had by all. I especially liked how Tyler signed the frames of the two kids. Thanks, Frank, for the enjoyable writeup.

  21. It takes balls to post a pic of your self with your eyes closed. well done.

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  23. Buggered if I’m putting my shade handles over the straps.  It’s somewhat less than PRO to fling expensive Oakleys on the ground when you whip teh stupid esky lid off at teh end of a ride, and I ALWAYS forget I’m wearing shades.

    Amusingly, before the Radars, I had some Von Zippers that used to fall off my face a lot.  The last time they fell off, they took a Schleckanical route through the drive-train and under the rear tyre.  Much the like The Joker’s plans for Batman that never came to fruiition, they were utterly mangled.  I would cry if I did that to the Radars.

    But then, I am a moving violation.

  24. Hi there, thee whole thing is going perfectly here and ofcourse very one is sharinng facts,
    that’s really fine, keep up writing.

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