Anatomy of a Photo: Rules Pioneer

As surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, if you ride a bicycle you can bet your ass against an apple that you are going to get a flat. Not if, but when. Death and taxes, and all that.

This could be Pierre or Antonio or Jean-Michel, most likely a name that rolls off the tongue with the same ease he rolled his dead tubular from the rim. The strokes of the pump as powerful and smooth as the strokes of his guns, as precise and clean as his socks, skin tanned and polished like the shoes on his feet, tough like the gloves on his hands.

This is an ambassador of Looking Fantastic; he would never contemplate turning his steed upside down, and surely this moment was an instigator of Rule #49. And you know that the shredded tub laying there will soon be wrapped around the shoulders in full Rule #77 compliance prior to resuming to Lay Down The V.

Pierre, Antonio, whatever be your name, we salute you for pioneering the Art of Awesome and being Compliant as Fuck in those tough days of yore.

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119 Replies to “Anatomy of a Photo: Rules Pioneer”

  1. God I love this site. Where else could anyone find such an amazing photograph which is critiqued and analysed from so many viewpoints (even a more than educated estimation of the aspect ratio). Add to this inspiring, evocative, off the cuff essays about living and cycling in Belgium. Tomorrow, I will ride – whatever.

  2. The one I have is the Prs-21 – same as the one in the picture.  There is a less expensive version of it that retails for $249 – the Prs-20.  I think the main difference between those two is the weight of the uniT – the 21 is light enough that you might throw it in the car with you to take To a race.

    The less expensive models arent quite as robust and are designed to grab the bike by the seat post or the top tube.

  3. @johnthughes ,


    Thanks lads, that’s what this site is all about. Let us have it, the full dose. I love stories of people finding their real home in another country. Especially Belgium.

  4. @Deakus

    I’ve got the PRS-20 and love it.  I use it for everything from slight adjustments, routine cleaning and maintenance to complete builds.  In my opinion its about as rock solid as it gets short of bolting something to the floor.  Its not terribly light (I’ve never used the PRS-21 to compare), but I wouldn’t have a problem tossing it in the back of a vehicle to take to a race if that’s something you need it it do.  The only downside to this type of stand is that you need to remove either the front or rear wheel to mount it so you can’t do brake adjustments on both wheels without swapping one out for the other, but that’s really a very minor quibble.  The other advantage the PRS-21 would have over the -20 is that since its aluminum it won’t rust if you hose your bike off on it.  That said, I’ve had mine for 3 years and there’s no rust on it.

  5. @James

    @TBONE I think to use CO2 bottles is soft. A good pump (I like Lezyne and quality, useability and style) is far more practical. When your mate, who lacks V has his second puncture and has no more CO2, what will you charge for the use of your pump? 1 coffee or 2?

    I bill out in lap dances, not coffees.

  6. @Deakus I’ve had the PCS-9 for 5 or 6 years. The 10 looks like an updated version. Every cyclist should have a workstand. It makes working on the bike pretty straightforward but the 9 does clamp the seat post or top tube.  Not ideal on the paint as it can leave faint scuff marks and I’m reluctant to clamp a carbon or light alu frame tightly but you can work away on the front wheel and brakes. It folds away small enough but is quite heavy. I like the look of this PRS-21 though. Smaller lighter and probably a little more stable especially for BB fettling.

  7. @kixsand

    PRS-20 weighs 20 lbs.

    PRS-21 weighs 12 lbs.

    Im probably not overly concerned about weight, it will be at home 99.9% of the time.  Price will probably decide between these two.  I want to avoid clamping the bike at all….even CF seat tube….

    thanks for all the thoughts though….

  8. @kixsand i have the heavy version and use it for everything.  tubulars hang to dry on it as well.  every now and again i get bothered about having to take a wheel off, usually front for simplcities sake, but well worth the quid, dollars, yen, won, pesos

  9. @Rob

    costly piece of gear, rather, to just Rule #5 & 9 and get used to enjoying the weather. I know it was just 135km, and was still a balmy 18 degrees, but I’ve never enjoyed such a ride in such weather so thoroughly. Next weekend I’ll be trying this and fully expect to meet the man with the hammer.

    @Rob If I read their website it looks like you are doing la roche en ardennes…..and the Col D’Haussire! For me, not someone who has been a climber(until recently). My first try up it, during the La Chouffe Classic, left me broken, bonked, shamed, and sadly walking.

    Profile here

    I trained very hard this spring with only one thing in mind, riding the “small” circuit(74km) of the La Chouffe without stopping on a hill or walking. I managed to do what I set out, albeit slowly, and also missed a turn and rode the 106km. Both times, broken and triumphant, were awesome.

    You are going to have a great time on that ride. Even with possible visits from the Man with the Hammer.

  10. @PT  There is always some grass nearby upon which I lay my steed, compelte with CF pedals. If not, and it’s the front, the bike will stand happily on the fork tips (beware the tipping over), if the rear, that’s when riding buddies come into play to hold her up. If all that fails, lay her down, but put said blankie not under the seat, but under the CF pedal.

  11. @Gianni Fold over? They did not fold over the pedals as they have a steel shank in the sole. I still have my vintage Detto Pietros (not vintage when I used them in the 70s). Leather uppers and lowers. Light, comfortable, and an awesome appearance, but tough to maintain, particularly after a rain.

  12. @Rob




    After moving to Belgium, I was informed that a mini-pump is considered superior to CO2 on the basis that if one is serious about one’s ride, then one needs a way to maintain a high heart rate while changing a flat. Of course that was translated roughly from Vlaams to English by a third party(I am only just yet learning the mother-tongue). It was a rough translation to my understanding, but I was told it was “close enough” by a smirking hardman in the rain.

    Do keep us informed on the conversion to a Belgian life. Vlaams seems like a tough one to pick up. Keep us posted with more “smirking hardman” anecdotes.

    The language is both easy(Lots of words that are the same or very similar) and hard(words and sounds that don’t exist in US english; ‘d’s that sound like ‘t’s, ‘b’s that sound like ‘p’s, ‘t’s that sound like ‘c’s except for “sometimes”)…and it is a challenge. Necessary though. Everyone in my club can speak english…except when we are riding, then it is all Vlaams. To be honest, I have been here for 2.5 years and am just now working on the language with any seriousness(I am a bit ashamed about that). As for conversion….I have been sold since my arrival here. I love the US, but I am not coming back permanently if I have any choice. I plan to live and die in Belgium. Cycling is such a different thing here(possibly an obvious statement). From the worst of it; solo canal work in a headwind that will strip every layer of ego you didn’t know you had; but still awesome. To the best of it; a house in the Ardennes for a week, riding the roads around Houffalize, La Roche-en-Ardennes, and up to Signal Botrange and Baraque Michelle. Or still amazing, if not less majestic, just the Wednesday night ride with the club, tucked into a peloton of 30 riders, just one of 3-5 groups from my club(a small one) out on the canals with many many other clubs, as if it were some kind of giant stage race involving the whole country. Winter is a whole other story….still filled with cycling. Never have I looked outside on a sunday morning just above freezing and thought “Just 30 more minutes and its time meet the group and go ride, I can’t wait!”, but here….here it is like a drug. I have headed out into the worst of weather, and not once ever regretted it after. For me a long ride was 50 miles, and 100 miles was a mystery to worry about. Here, there is no trepidation. Ride with the club to the sea and back with a pasta lunch in between(230km)? Sure! The LvdK(Lady van de Kempen) says “Lets just ride to Malmedey(from Antwerp) and back this weekend. It’s just 190km each way. And we get to ride up and over the highest point in Belgium[admitedly not saying much]. We can stay at the youth hostel and drink the local beers.” and I reply “Of course, lets go!”. I am not sure why I just wrote all this. I guess I should have just wrote “I’ll do my best to report back any quotes I can.” I’ll try to keep it more terse next time.


    Another convert here, 3.5 years long in the most beautiful world of cycling as well. I recently bought a house in Ottignies just outside of Brussels having had enough of the city and I’m so glad I did. The 30km, 400m elevation commute that I try to sneak in 2-3 times a week is absolute heaven. Even better when I can sneak out of Brussels through rolling flemish countryside (Leefdaal/Vossem) to add another couple hundred meters of elevation and double the length of the ride. In just two months of doing this I no longer shy away from the 16% maximum gradients, but instead put my head down, spinning my way to the top, fully aware that my day will not get better than this moment. I feel a certain sense of pride being on a Flemish Compact (53/39) but must admit to running a 12-30 rear necessitated by a recent trip to the Stelvio, Gavia, and other hallowed climbs in the Italian/Swiss Alps. I hope one day I can be worthy of this country so full of 60+ year old men who can climb those same 16% grades on a 53/25 and still make it look smooth.

    I’ve been recently trying to add distance, muscle, and lose weight (down to 72.8kg) in an effort to take this cultural conversion a bit more seriously. This last weekend I did a tour of Wallonia exploring some of the Ravel network (thousands of kilometers of rail conversion paved trails) and the Canal paths between Ottignies-Nivelles-Charleroi and back home. It involved 135km with 20km head winds, constant heavy rain, and 3 flats but even in this my new home country was quite loving and gentle with me. She gave me the three flats in the very beginning of the ride, when it hadn’t started raining yet, and while I could still taste the pre ride espresso, enjoy the company of some grazing cattle, and watch the sunrise come up over the predawn valley. Anyone who commutes in Belgium knows not to complain when flats occur with such fortitude, lest they anger the cycling gods on their commute in less favorable conditions. Even the later headwind and rain was just the country gently reminding me as to the nature of Belgian cycling. We have had 2 months of perfect weather, and it was time to be reminded that winter is already on its way. I struggled to stay dry this past winter as I cycled no matter what the weather. When I asked a flemish hardman for his advice on the topic his response was not some secret and costly piece of gear, rather, to just Rule #5 & 9 and get used to enjoying the weather. I know it was just 135km, and was still a balmy 18 degrees, but I’ve never enjoyed such a ride in such weather so thoroughly. Next weekend I’ll be trying this and fully expect to meet the man with the hammer.

    I am American, Texan even, and miss my family and occasionally my country and language, but I too can’t ever see going back. I’ve got the house, found my fiancée/VMH, have a second family now, speak more French each month, am just hours away from motoring heaven in Germany, and while the Alps might have the true claim on cycling heaven, Belgium is certainly the front yard. The only thing left to do is cycle more, enjoy, and be polite and brush up on my Vlaams.


    Yeah, thats all very well and good, but what sort of message does that send to the children ?

    The “children” being me, and “me” being very envious of whats described in both these fine posts.

    Enjoy and we shall live vicariously through your eyes.

  13. @Puffy

    Thanks man.  It honestly doesn’t make much sense to me ( and I’ve been riding a long time) but I’ll give it a shot next time.  Mahalo.



  14. Has anyone had the issue of the glue on finishing tape melting in the heat? last time I had #1 in my truck this happened. I reapplied new finishing tape(3M) but it still looks a bit like shit. on the plus side I think our 100+ degree days are done for(fingers crossed)

  15. @RedRanger If only it would get that hot hear, but then we Brits would then moan that our roads had melted and our railways stopped functioning. So perhaps its for the best.

  16. @johnthughes

    Sadly I won’t be doing the ride this weekend.  This morning I lovingly washed my bike in preparation after done a very short ride last night.  Was even going to swap out the bottom bracket as I had a bit of an ugly creak last night each time I stood to climb.  Unfortunately I discovered something ugly, and it wasn’t a dirty bottom bracket.

    Apparently last weekend’s loving, gentle introduction to the changing seasons was instead a funeral wake with the rain falling at the demise of my first real race bike :( Please excuse the emoticon. Rather upset right now as the bike budget has been depleted with the house purchase and so I will have to search for a budget aluminum replacement so I can finish through the season. 

    Guess I should be glad that it didn’t happen on the Stelvio…….

    [dmalbum: path=”/”/]

  17. I feel like this belongs here. Wafles & Dinges pamphlet from one of their food trucks.

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