When it comes to Rule Compliance, we have at our disposal three viable options. The first is to Obey the Rules. That one is pretty straight-forward because we wrote them down for you and also went to the great length of writing a book on the subject, partly as a public service to those suffering from insomnia. But The Rules are full of apparent contradictions and paradoxes, so you will have to do some thinking, justifying, rationalizing and flailing about like you’re swinging a stick at a piÃ±ata or something. All equally. But if you’re willing to do that, you can be Rule Compliant. Oh, and you should ride your bike a lot and not be a giant sissy as often as you can manage.
The second option is to be an ultra stud/studette who is so comprehensively badass that no one gives two shits about The Rules or anything else except trying to figure out ways to make you notice them so they can tell their friends or take a selfie of you doing something else in the background and them grinning away like they accomplished something just by standing close to you. And in case you’re wondering, you’re not that badass. Not even close. So don’t even think about it. Except if you happen to be Eddy Merckx, Roger de Vlaeminck, Freddy Maertens, Bernard Hinault, Greg LeMond, or Jan Ullrich. Or a handful of dead guys like Coppi, Bobet, or Pantani but being dead is probably a Rule violation in itself. So this option is out, for most of us anyway.
That leaves the third option, which is found via the Masturbation Principle, assuming you’re not squaring up with Option 1 or Option 2. Its kind of like what I assume Catholic confession is about, except you don’t have to confess anything to anyone; instead you do whatever you like while pretending like you don’t and just hope no one sees you. And definitely don’t brag about it unless you’re in Las Vegas, in which case you’re just being creepy.
Option 1: Don’t be a sissy, ride lots, and do whatever you need to be compliant.
Option 2: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.
Option 3: Do your best and shut your pie hole about your violations.
But let’s go back to Option 2 for a minute. This is really where the subtlety in the whole mess is found; this is the gray space that I love so much. Rule Transcension is the True Way; The Rules are there to help us find our way along the path to transcension, but they lie at the beginning of it, not the end. The Apostles who helped forge The Rules knew nothing of them, of course; it was just The Way of Things. And most of the Pros who are Rule Compliant today are so without being aware that they even exist; just as the Apostles were, they are Rule Compliant because they are doing as those who before them did and recognize that ours is a civilized sport.
But it begs the question. Which current rider is most Rule Compliant? Who is the hardest and Looks most Fantastic?
Fabian Cancellara and David Millar are way up there, to start. They Look Fantastic enough both on and off the bike to each have featured in the Men’s Style-centric website, Mr. Porter. They look the business on the bike and, Fabian more so than David, deliver the goods when it comes down to the business of winning a race while still Looking Fantastic, today’s performance on the cobbles notwithstanding.
Marianne Vos and Lizzie Armitstead sit at the top of the list as well, the apparently irresistible temptation to wear white shorts notwithstanding. There have also been some flirtations with excessively long socks in the ladie’s bunch just as with the blokes, but these two stand proud among an impressively Rule-Compliant women’s peloton.
But if I had to name the most Rule Compliant rider in the peloton today, it has to be Big Tom Boonen. The man was poured out of pure V and cut with Rule #43. And just try to tell me you don’t want his legs.