East Maui Pavé

Beyond The Rules

Beyond The Rules

by / / 80 posts

Rules! Hear me fools: The Rules mark the beginning of the path to enlightenment, not the end. There are higher planes, expanding dimensions. Beyond the color of your bar tape exists a man, a mountain, and a bike. This is where the world begins.

Keeper Jim wrote this, reporting on his utilitarian climb of Mount Ventoux. He posts less than the rest of us, so he has less chances to sound foolish, so we consider him the wise one. He is. And he probably took a semester of philosophy as an undergraduate and reads real non-cycling books.

Jim’s words have been ringing in my ears. For better or for worse, Velominati is known for The Rules. A book publisher didn’t offer us a book contract on the collective wit of our far ranging, foul mouthed, unmoderated discussions of posts, no, it was The Rules, thanks. What started as an effort to whip a bit of discipline into the unruly hoards, is now heading toward 100 Rules. That’s a lot of Rules.

Thankfully, to alleviate some of the pressure for full compliance, some genius introduced the masturbation principle: if you are going to do it (breaking a Rule) no need to go online with the information and really, don’t send a selfie to your riding buddies either. These photos certainly don’t need to end up in your parents AOL account.

My late night stoned philosophical discussions earned me zero college credits. I know nothing about philosophy but in the great Velominati tradition, that shall not deter me from lecturing others about it.

Enlightenment, if you are open to it, can be found on the bike. It’s not found online, not even on Velominati. The word enlightenment has 1001 personal definitions. I believe if you can put your enlightenment into words, you are not enlightened. A word is a clumsy cudgel for such things. It is like real music, it’s power is so abstract, so deeply visceral, attempts to describe music in words only detract.

Get on a bike and ride, without ear-buds, without worry. Immerse in the physical work of climbing, descending, cornering, rolling across the landscape. Somehow, as Jim says, there can enlightenment there. Free your mind. One’s eyes can take in the beauty on this earth, breathe the air, smell it, hear it. Feel the sun, hear the insects, already, too many words. Climb Ventoux or ride your usual loop. For me, if that does not put me on the path to enlightenment, I don’t want it. Rebirth, heaven, hell, I can’t use them; they do not exist for me. A bike ride that gets me out of my skin, where my oxygenated brain takes in the world unfiltered, and leaves me changed, if only for a few moments, that I can use.

If The Rules get you on a bike more, then The Rules are useful. It’s all about the Ride, not The Rules.

 

// The Rules

  1. Nailed it, @Gianni.

    For the last couple of months as I’ve bashed my way down singletrack on the 29er I hand-built.  After living on road bikes for the past 30 years, this new path of sliding over rocks and roots has been an interesting experience.  I look forward to using those skills to descend even more quickly down the mountain roads this year.

    I keep the rules in mind as I put on my kit, only to have it covered by baggies and (gasp) hydration packs.  But the rules always apply to the bike – maintained, clean, silent.  But none more important than Rule #55.

  2. How did I not notice until now that there is a fuckin’ rainbow in the picture?  Must be that PotBrownie Clifbar I had for dessert.

  3. The main photo killed… I drove it last week stuck in car with my family wishing all the while I had my bike. The total roundabout ride is not just taking in the infamous “Road to Hana,” where you can overnight, but then follow with this incredible pave section that winds through jungle then along the waterfront  the howling wind and green remind of Scotland beneath a rising volcano on undulating roads with balmy 75 degree weather. After the pave was a surprise of new pavement, smooth as silk. I’ve ridden Haleakala, and to Hana, but am anxious to go back and ride the pave all the way to up country. Maui, who knew?

  4. Love your work @Gianni.  Transcending the rules should be the aim.

  5. Spot on @Gianni, great article. Rule compliance is meaningless unless you’re out there whether your pushing yourself further into the cave or just basking in the joy of being out on your bike. @withoutanyhills, totally agree about Rule #6, for me it’s the most important of all rules.

  6. @xyxax

    This would be better if I were high.

    I meant my comment, not the article.

  7. Mouth hugs.  Good effing grief.

  8. @The Pressure

    @Gianni And just what criterion do you use to arrive at looking ‘fantastic’? “We follow rules or people die!”

    I’m not saying don’t follow the Rules, just don’t let them become the limiting factor for your riding. I only violate two Rules, and I don’t care, at all.

  9. @xyxax

    Preach brother. The Buddha, and apparently Bruce Lee, said something like words are ” just the finger pointing at the moon.” Don’t mistake the finger for the moon.

    This would be better if I were high.

    A lot of things were better when we were high. That’s good, either Bruce Lee or The Buddha said that, awesome either way.  God stop me from posting the video of Bruce Lee lighting matches with his nunchucks. OK, I won’t, but how about ping-pong?

  10. @veloasia

    The main photo killed… I drove it last week stuck in car with my family wishing all the while I had my bike. The total roundabout ride is not just taking in the infamous “Road to Hana,” where you can overnight, but then follow with this incredible pave section that winds through jungle then along the waterfront the howling wind and green remind of Scotland beneath a rising volcano on undulating roads with balmy 75 degree weather. After the pave was a surprise of new pavement, smooth as silk. I’ve ridden Haleakala, and to Hana, but am anxious to go back and ride the pave all the way to up country. Maui, who knew?

    I put that photo up to commemorate the near disappearance of the pavé out there. The county is out there this week grinding it down and putting down some smooth asphalt. Sniff…@mauibike and I may be the only cyclists here who are unhappy about it.  @mauibike was saying he could open up a ten minute gap on riders who didn’t know how to get across the pavé. They would slow down and hang on too firmly while he would get on it and fly on his tubular tires.

    But yes, I’m glad you have seen that route. Pure magic.

  11. @PeakInTwoYears

    Why I love this place.

    The fine nuance of the discourse. The zen-like ability to hold apparently contrary things in balance. The swearing.

    Very early on, when Frank invited the other keepers to write things for the site, I asked him about swearing. Fuck yeah, he said, don’t hold back, say what you like. Bless him. He is wise too.

  12. @Gianni – Love the picture, I have ridden that stretch dry can only imagine what it is like wet!  Heading back down their next week to continue down the path to enlightenment, maybe see you out on the roads!

  13. @Gianni

    But looking fantastic on a bike is all I have, believe me. I can’t crush people but I can try to look as sharp as possible when being dropped.

    My friend, you’ve just boiled my whole being down to two sentences.

  14. @Gianni So be it…The Masturbation principle.

  15. @Gianni

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Why I love this place.

    The fine nuance of the discourse. The zen-like ability to hold apparently contrary things in balance. The swearing.

    Very early on, when Frank invited the other keepers to write things for the site, I asked him about swearing. Fuck yeah, he said, don’t hold back, say what you like. Bless him. He is wise too.

    Last month I was lucky enough to take in A Christmas Story at the local theatre, big screen and 35 mm, lots of fun. Very cool experience and particularly love this line from Ralphie:

    “My father worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium, a master.”

  16. @Ron

    @Gianni

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Why I love this place.

    The fine nuance of the discourse. The zen-like ability to hold apparently contrary things in balance. The swearing.

    Very early on, when Frank invited the other keepers to write things for the site, I asked him about swearing. Fuck yeah, he said, don’t hold back, say what you like. Bless him. He is wise too.

    Last month I was lucky enough to take in A Christmas Story at the local theatre, big screen and 35 mm, lots of fun. Very cool experience and particularly love this line from Ralphie:

    “My father worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium, a master.”

    Have always loved that movie and that line.

  17. You want a masterclass in swearing? Type ” Best of Malcolm Tucker” into youtube. Warning: NSFW or if you have kids around.

  18. @Gianni

    @Optimiste

    Gianni, I like how you think. I’m not sure what that says about either of us.

    It says you are doomed.

    Quite so.  I’m good with that.

  19. Gianni, thanks for another great article!  This article, and the responses to it, were a nice antidote to the  craptacular end to my day at work.  I enjoy this community for the exact same reasons as mentioned above by PeakInTwoYears.  ChrisO’s response had me literally laughing out loud.  And your article on EMPS, and the responses, were another stellar example of the entertainment value of Velominati.  But the redeeming value of The Rules is that they are a means to an end, not the end on their own.  The bottom line is getting out on your bike and enjoying the ride… in style!

    VLVV

  20. @HigherGround

    A-Merckx bro!

  21. Thanks Gianni,  timely reminder to go easy on the Kool-Aid.  Love the photo too.

  22. @Gianni

    Wow, that video…

  23. Well that didn’t go how I wanted it to.

  24. @Bryan Petersen this isn`t an interpretation I subscribe to. They are not just rules. They are the path. Riding the path towards enlightenment. I am a natural rebel and I question all rules, THE rules stand up to questions. Possibly my favourite Rule #37 because it has the least explanation. Contemplating these contradictions is part of my path.

  25. Well said…

  26. @ChrissyOne

    Jesus, what was that? I believe I heard Wally Shawn and Ed Aisner under all that make up and bad teef. Funny though.

  27. Beyond the rules… reverence for the film Lone Survivor

  28. @Gianni

    @ChrissyOne

    Jesus, what was that? I believe I heard Wally Shawn and Ed Aisner under all that make up and bad teef. Funny though.

    There’s a clip I was looking for but couldn’t find, where Quark has a dream where he’s talking to the Ferengi that created the Rules of Acquisition, in which he’s told that the rules are more like guidelines rather than immutable laws, and to not take them so bloody seriously. Apropos here, I think.

  29. @wiscot

    You want a masterclass in swearing? Type ” Best of Malcolm Tucker” into youtube. Warning: NSFW or if you have kids around.

    Malcom is very good at it.

    I saw Slash’s Snakepit open up for AC/DC several years back. That year they only played a handful of their own songs and focussed on lots of GnR covers (WHICH WAS AWESOME).

    My impression after they left the stage was that the lead singer was selected purely on his ability to swear more in one measure than Axl Rose.

    My band in college used to play this song (Mr. Brownstone), by the way, and it was one of the hardest covers to get right. For massive drug addicts, they could string a lot of different parts together in completely unpredictable ways. And they could swing like nobody’s business. Not to mention that the main riff only sounds right when you have the two guitars playing it the way Izzy and Slash played them. If you play it alone, it sounds like you’re trying to wank a grasshopper.

  30. @ChrissyOne

    This would also work. Except the thing we seem to be missing here is that you should FUCKING OBEY THE RULES.

  31. @frank

    @ChrissyOne

    This would also work. Except the thing we seem to be missing here is that you should FUCKING OBEY THE RULES.

    Still working on that. I’ve been off the mountain bike long enough that my knuckles hardly drag on the ground at all any more, so I’ll be losing that helmet visor any minute now…

  32. @Gianni

    Thanks…or bite me, depending on your comment. It’s fun to hit the post button then go out for a few hours on the bike then see what sort of shiet storm I’ve conjured up. Straying off the reservation is what I do. I was lucky enough (and old enough) to have my teens completely formed by the Vietnam war, the Draft, and the 60s-70s fun. So too many Rules and conformity make me wary.

    But looking fantastic on a bike is all I have, believe me. I can’t crush people but I can try to look as sharp as possible when being dropped.

    I too have this problem !

    and in the very enlightened words of Ricky Bobby ” THAT just happened !”

  33. @frank

    @ChrissyOne

    This would also work. Except the thing we seem to be missing here is that you should FUCKING OBEY THE RULES.

    would this site exist without this mantra?

  34. This piece has really helped me get my head around a few things. As a relatively new Cyclist, and an even newer follower of the way of the Velominati, I have been pondering many of the rules that don’t make sense to me. To help me in this quest, I have occasionally posted on this site, searching for guidance.  And I have (even more occasionally) found it.

    True story: I asked a question about Rule #58 recently. How can I both follow this rule AND get the new gruppo I want when it is only affordable (for me, at least) online? The following advice came (I’ve forgotten from whom, but I will look it up in a minute): ask your LBS if they can at least try to match the online price. I did, and they did, and now I am both a better Cyclist and a better person, too. And my relationship with my LBS has taken a big step forward, too. Thank you, Rule #58.

    But here is another true story: I asked a question about Rule #60. My valves are rattling against the rim – what am I to do? Someone directed me to a Reverence piece extolling the virtues of electrical insulation tape as an antidote. I reflected on this at length and eventually concluded that this is just dumb. Why use something (electrical tape) to do a job imperfectly when something else (a washer nut) has been designed expressly for this purpose? The premise of Rule #60 – that the washer nut is a useless piece of kit – is flawed. I choose to disregard this Rule, and flagrantly so. Anyone can see my washer nuts in place, keeping my valves nice and tight against my rims. If anyone asks, I will tell them that Rule #60 sucks (or half-sucks, at least – valve caps really ARE stupid).

    Stupid or not, the Rule has however served its purpose. It has made me think about the kind of Cyclist I want to be. And it turns out that the answer is one whose concentration on a tough hill is not disturbed by (a) the sound of an unsecured valve tinkling against the edge of the rim or (b) who resorts to winding skanky bits of electrical tape around my valves, waiting for them to unravel,  gather dust and other crud, and generally detract from the beauty of my bike, and the clarity of my mind.

    So I think Gianni is on to something here – something revolutionary, in fact. There is a fundamental spiritual schism between Rule #1 and Rule #6, which points to two different routes to enlightenment. There are those who choose to strictly follow all the rules all the time, and those who see them as a means – an important, but not inviolable, means – towards the ultimate end of Cycling nirvana.

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    Great articl...') #2 /nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati/wp-includes/plugin.php(213): call_user_func_array('dm_replace_imag...', Array) #3 /nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati/wp-includes/comment-template.php(852): apply_filters('comment_text', 'Great article.....', Object(stdClass), Array) #4 /nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati/wp-content/themes/velominati/functions.php(966): comment_text() #5 [internal function]: custom_comment(Object(stdClass), Array, 1) #6 /nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati/wp-includes/comment-template.php(1810): call_user_func('custom_comment', Object(stdClass), Array, 1) #7 [internal function]: Walker_Comment->start_el('?display_element(Object(stdClass), Array, 1, 0, Array, '?Rules #9 and #5 and there is no moaning or complaining from me or my pedalwan (he did gingerly ask if he should call his VMH for a pick up after my second crash, one look set him straight)…the point being this ride was not Enlightened, it was actually a ridiculous and we all know what that feels like…

  36. @afroturk – you really need to apply the masturbation principle  to your rule violations. The Principle of Silence and Rule #65 must be adhered to. You tried to apply the rule and in doing so found you were contravening another. Glad your pursuit of Rule #58 worked for you though and it really goes to show how applying the rules does help us and our LBS.

    VLVV

  37. @gianni…one of your best. Do we sometimes miss the forest by staring at the trees? [I’m only on my second espresso of the morning, so bear with me] If the rules were end to themselves, then I would ride for the sake of the rules – and not for the sake of the ride. The rules seem to me to be a bridge that connects me to the soul of cycling. I mostly ride and train solo due to my work schedule, but the rules connect me in spirit to other cyclists. How is it that we can fly across the country [or the world for that matter], meet up with fellow cyclists over a pre-ride espresso, and hit the road in tune with each other? The only explanation is the rules. On the other hand, when I see flagrant ignorance or disregard for the rules it’s entirely bloody likely that these people are unsafe on the road. I’d rather ride into the wind alone than share a paceline with them.

    In my estimation the spirit of the hardmen of the Peloton is what makes cycling great. Compliance to the rules is how we enter into that spirit. I can train my arse off, but one thing I know: if my kit and tan lines are sharp, my bike turned-out like the Goddess she is, and my jersey pockets full…it’s the difference between a good day and a great day. I’d even venture to speculate that I climb better. I shit ye not.

  38. As they say rules are there to be broken. But they frown upon criminals. Living and riding buy they rules puts you in a very exclusive league of riders. Those who appreciate the rules and livebuy it  for the very  essence and meaning of its existence.

    Live,ride and always obey the rules.

  39. @Deakus the harder the fall the better the ride

  40. Life has many parallels. A very wise man once spoke about the path to enlightenment “in riddles and parables so as to lead gradually to the hidden reality that can truly be discovered only through discipleship.” For me the Rules have been more about prediction than proscription. As I slowly learn and practice the discipline, following the example of my fellow Velominati, I discover that, layer by layer, I cast aside my childish ways and find myself following a rule that only months before didn’t make any sense to me. Therefore, I can only assume that someday, I too, will shed my compact chainrings and ride with a slammed stem.

  41. @afroturk

    But here is another true story: I asked a question about Rule #60. My valves are rattling against the rim – what am I to do? Someone directed me to a Reverence piece extolling the virtues of electrical insulation tape as an antidote. I reflected on this at length and eventually concluded that this is just dumb. Why use something (electrical tape) to do a job imperfectly when something else (a washer nut) has been designed expressly for this purpose? The premise of Rule #60 – that the washer nut is a useless piece of kit – is flawed. I choose to disregard this Rule, and flagrantly so. Anyone can see my washer nuts in place, keeping my valves nice and tight against my rims. If anyone asks, I will tell them that Rule #60 sucks (or half-sucks, at least – valve caps really ARE stupid).

    Stupid or not, the Rule has however served its purpose. It has made me think about the kind of Cyclist I want to be. And it turns out that the answer is one whose concentration on a tough hill is not disturbed by (a) the sound of an unsecured valve tinkling against the edge of the rim or (b) who resorts to winding skanky bits of electrical tape around my valves, waiting for them to unravel, gather dust and other crud, and generally detract from the beauty of my bike, and the clarity of my mind.

    So I think Gianni is on to something here – something revolutionary, in fact. There is a fundamental spiritual schism between Rule #1 and Rule #6, which points to two different routes to enlightenment. There are those who choose to strictly follow all the rules all the time, and those who see them as a means – an important, but not inviolable, means – towards the ultimate end of Cycling nirvana.

    Afro, you are opening a can of worms by publicly admitting to what you think of as a minor infraction. The devil is in the details and if I was in the pace line there would be many things that I’d grade you down on, before getting to the washer nut. BUT, if by chance you did not send out those subtle signals that are not listed in the Rules and the washer nut was the only infraction, then you’d be written off. Sorry, perhaps when you have done a few more “inviolable” miles you will see the light.

    Yes this sounds hard but since the day about 35 years ago I was told this, then unwritten Rule, I’ve never heard a tinkle from my valve stems.  I can only think you have gone down some path that is wrong and you should correct the mistake not look for a bad solution – good luck – I have no answers.

    Gianni’s brilliant encapsulation of  why a bike is more than just a tool but a means to higher planes does not imply not obeying the Rules. No like learning to pedal a 360 stroke one has to learn  all the quadrants and then forget them, to put them together in a seamless unencumbered thing of power and beauty. What I mean is if you get out on the bike and do not know what you are doing it is one kind of ride but if you go out initiated and prepared then it becomes something so different and other worldly that the uninitiated ride, while enjoyable, even beautiful, pales and is what a child experiences compared to the adult full blown XXX ride.

    I salute your well meaning enthusiasm, as I and all of us were the same before being shown the light. Bike riding is NOT intuitive! The problem is that unless you are shown or ask you will never get the why. Pedal stroke, seat height, cleat position, following a wheel, riding a line, all need explaining in the beginning and I see riders of  huge miles doing some absolutely dumb stuff because nobody ever took them aside and explained why yes you can ride like that but if you do it this way you will be more comfortable, safer, happier.

    Rant over, go ride!

  42. Amen, Brother Rob–so be it.

  43. @freddy

    Life has many parallels. A very wise man once spoke about the path to enlightenment “in riddles and parables so as to lead gradually to the hidden reality that can truly be discovered only through discipleship.” For me the Rules have been more about prediction than proscription. As I slowly learn and practice the discipline, following the example of my fellow Velominati, I discover that, layer by layer, I cast aside my childish ways and find myself following a rule that only months before didn’t make any sense to me. Therefore, I can only assume that someday, I too, will shed my compact chainrings and ride with a slammed stem.

    My sentiments exactly.  With every passing day and each new ride, the Rules become more important, clearer and strangely intuitive. Now for that chainring……………HTFU

  44. @Gianni

    But looking fantastic on a bike is all I have, believe me. I can’t crush people but I can try to look as sharp as possible when being dropped.

    If one gets dropped but looks fantastic, did you really get dropped at all?  Things to ponder.

    @afroturk

    But here is another true story: I asked a question about Rule #60. My valves are rattling against the rim – what am I to do? Someone directed me to a Reverence piece extolling the virtues of electrical insulation tape as an antidote. I reflected on this at length and eventually concluded that this is just dumb. Why use something (electrical tape) to do a job imperfectly when something else (a washer nut) has been designed expressly for this purpose? The premise of Rule #60 – that the washer nut is a useless piece of kit – is flawed. I choose to disregard this Rule, and flagrantly so. Anyone can see my washer nuts in place, keeping my valves nice and tight against my rims. If anyone asks, I will tell them that Rule #60 sucks (or half-sucks, at least – valve caps really ARE stupid).

    Electrical tape, when wound correctly and tightly looks very tidy, and can be color matched to the bike.  Further, those little valve nuts often are a detriment.  When tightened enough such that they don’t move, they apply a pulling force on the tube and restrict one of its axes of movement.  Eventually, I’ve found this causes tube failure right at the base of the valve.  Go with thinly applied electrical tape in an appropriate color.

  45. Not sure where to put this, but it seemed important. Who knew this about @steampunk?

  46. @EricW If one gets dropped but looks fantastic, did you really get dropped at all? Things to ponder.

    Ooooh, now that’s a very good question indeed! If one encounters another rider whose habillement resembles a bag’o washin’ but blessed with superior guns (on the day, of course), can it be considered being “dropped” if one chooses to retreat a respectful distance to negate any association with said sartorial shambles? In short, it’s not being dropped, it’s a conscious tactical move to assert specific dominance in a highly important element of cycling. Namely, looking fantastic.

  47. @wiscot

    @EricW If one gets dropped but looks fantastic, did you really get dropped at all? Things to ponder.

    Ooooh, now that’s a very good question indeed! If one encounters another rider whose habillement resembles a bag’o washin’ but blessed with superior guns (on the day, of course), can it be considered being “dropped” if one chooses to retreat a respectful distance to negate any association with said sartorial shambles? In short, it’s not being dropped, it’s a conscious tactical move to assert specific dominance in a highly important element of cycling. Namely, looking fantastic.

    Or Training Properly.

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