Transcending the Rules: Group Ride with T-Bone

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.

[dmalbum path=”/ Galleries/[email protected]/T-Bone/”/]

Related Posts

58 Replies to “Transcending the Rules: Group Ride with T-Bone”

  1. As a fender fanatic (however I don’t point out and scold riders in a group who fail to ride with fenders, nor bother pointing out the many reasons they should do so in the future) I applaud you for not taking fenders to this ride.

  2. Nice work Frank. Quite coincidentally a few of my riding buddies went on a bunch ride in the pissing rain with a certain rider who has won stages in all three GTs. Lessons the boys learned – i) when its wet, pack a change of clothes for post-ride photo opps, and ii) do not stand next to skinny pros when you are currently too fat to climb.

    So I see your Farrar and raise you a Gerrans.

  3. Nice pic w/T-Bone. Begs a question, though…should Rule #39 be amended to require that eyewear inserted into the helmet be done so upside down? I never see pros with eyewear inserted any way other than that. And, obviously, frank would get a pass on breaking the (revised) rule…

  4. @

    I dunno. Putting the glasses in upside-down is a much more awkward motion. With right-side-up (is this the Butter Battle Book for Velominati?), you can easily get your glasses on/off and into/out of your helmet with one hand. Plus, upside-down doesn’t work well with my current helmet/glasses combo.

  5. Nice article, Frank. And, though T-Bone may shade you in many areas (proximity to peaking, likelihood of wining a Grand Tour stage next year, that kind of thing), you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that there is one area he clearly lags -you get to rock the V-kit while he gets to suffer the Argyle.

  6. Great article, Frank.

    I think glasses can go into the helmet either way, and even upside down, those white and orange Radars Tyler’s sporting would be a great complement to the V-Kit.

  7. For fuck’s sake Frank, suck in the gut! T-Bone can’t even get his arm around that thing.

    Maybe a line of loose-fit V-jerseys and baggy shorts are in order…

  8. When you mount your glasses upside down, the decurved ear pieces fit more securely into a helmet that will often be tilted toward the road. Just as importantly, the curved tops of the glasses aligns more elegantly with the curves of the helmet when inserted upside down.

  9. Jesus, Frank – the money shot comes along, and you can’t keep your eyes open (or was that the grimace of pain from sucking it all in?). Great article though… I particularly liked the due care and attention that a) Tyler paid to the 11 year old kid, and b) you paid to the ‘non-zero probability’ opportunity to do a pro cyclist harm (again).

    Begs two questions, though: 1) Did Tyler approve of the rules, and will he be visiting your site? and 2) is he going to stop doing those awful TV commercials about his photo-sensitive eyewear?

  10. More affirmation that Tyler and Team Argyle are a cool group of peeps. Sounds like fun. Looks like he was riding his rain bike and what’s up with that stack height? Rule violation? Hard to tell from the pic. And although I do like the Argyle kit, G’phant is right, the V-kit takes the cake.

  11. @Marcus @Frank

    I’ll have to fold. I’m only holding a Burke Swindlehurst.

    Burke S. 4th from left, Cyclops 5th from left.

    I had pretty much the same kind of experience with my ride with a pro. Burke was super nice. Since I suggested a safer route with less traffic out of town Burke says “Lead the way” and then he spent a lot of time chatting with me at the front. He then trickled back through the group and talked with everyone. It’s a funny thing riding with a pro – obviously you don’t want to crash him so you are nervous but it seems to give your legs a burst of inspiration too. I did a personal best up the climb in the picture that day and even re-passed a skinny little Utah racer kid that I had been marking all the way up the hill.

  12. Nice read! Jeez, Frank, Tyler isn’t short but you make him look miniature. Good on ya for taking Bike #1 and not running fenders. It’s way more important to look pro in front of a pro than keep your bike/you/those behind you clean. Good choice.

    Awesome photo with Simon Gerrans. Jeez, he’s a little bloke! I’m even a bit taller than him, which means I need to start cheering for this wee dynamo!

    One note: since we have a lot of Rules around here, can I call on a grammar rule violation I see more and more these days? I hate the transitive use of grow. “Grow the program…” This seems to be something more and more corporate types utter. “We need to grow our business.” They mean expand, while “grow” typically refers to raising or cultivating. “I’m going to grow a sweet mustache this winter to impress my Velominhottie.” This drives me crazy! I read and hear this more and more and it bugs me. I think I’ll have to make this my grammar rule V. Or, maybe the misspelling of grammer should be rule V?

    Anyway, this is a cycling site, not an English grammar site. Sorry for the aside and not a personal attack, Frank. Just something I thought I’d point out, as the article was about Rules compliance.

    Maybe AmeriDutchmen transcend the rules;)

  13. Erm… Frank, them glasses in your helmet, they’re not upside down. You’re violating a rule while next to a pro who isn’t. Oh dear.

  14. @ Cyclops – that photo is awesome! The one on the right (your left) really fills out her top well.

    I have a very similar one with two Quantas flight attendants on the ground in Tasmania. It was the most female attention I’d gotten in months!

    @ Marko
    You’re right! My mistake. Look at me, pointing out word choice mistakes and there I go fucking it up. I actually wish I could cultivate a mustache, but I have the facial hair of a teenage boy. Damn.

  15. nice one frank, style and class.

    I agree on the bike choice, had you taken fenders, part of you would have been happy about it, another part of you would have been gnawing as you talked to T-bone.

  16. Frank, very nice article! Very cool experience that you got to donate to a good cause and ride with a pro.

    Regarding a few things that you mentioned, and that I learned from the “chat” with Tyler that I went to here in Portland yesterday:

    1. I bet he was spending a lot of time with that kid because it reminded him of himself when he was young and he wanted to make sure he was properly encouraged. He said that he started riding very young, and before he had his drivers license his parents were driving him all over Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to compete in races every weekend. He mentioned he was winning Cat 1/2 races when he was a teenager.

    2. He said that the the Tour of Flanders is his favorite ride, but also the hardest for him and he almost quit after the two crashes he had in quick succession. It was really interesting to hear a pro talk about “quitting”, because we’ve all had rides hard enough to makes us want to be done for the day, but at least for me I have a hard time imaging a pro having those feelings, since they train so much for what they do.

    3. He talked about the head-butting, and said he thought removing Mark Renshaw from the tour for it was an appropriate response, especially because it caused other riders to come off their lines and create a bad situation.

    4. He very briefly discussed doping. He said that Garmin-Transitions, and the new Germin-Cervelo team are drug-free, and that the Garmin team’s 5th place overall in the world status shows that a team that is committed to being drug-free can still win. He said that while all the press around doping can cause negative images, he believes it is better to be out in the open about it than to sweep it under the rug like it’s not an issue (NFL, baseball to some extent).

    Overall, he seems like a pretty nice, down to earth guy.

  17. @Durishin, @michael, @Adam
    What are you guys on about with a Rule for which way to put your eye wear in your helmet? It depends on your helmet, eyewear, and preference for which way to put them in. It does appear to be common to put them in upside down, but right side up is perfectly secure, more easily accomplished, mo’ bettah, and also condoned by the Grimplette.

  18. @Brett

    For fuck’s sake Frank, suck in the gut! T-Bone can’t even get his arm around that thing.
    Maybe a line of loose-fit V-jerseys and baggy shorts are in order…

    That train has sailed; nothing can contain that thing. I’m thinking a Velominati Muumuu.

  19. @Frank

    Great write up. Awesome story. Damn, if I’d known about this event, I would have been there.

    Being the dad of an 11 year old cyclist – very cool of Tyler spending some riding time with the young rider. My son would have gotten a huge kick out of that as well.

  20. @Ron
    Interesting dissertation on “Grow”. I have various similar pet peeves such as people saying “jump off of” rather than “jump off” or mixing tense and saying “there is several ways of doing this” rather than “there are several ways of doing this”.

    But grow seems to be defined appropriately for it’s use in the place of develop:

    • turn: pass into a condition gradually, take on a specific property or attribute; become; “The weather turned nasty”; “She grew angry”
    • become larger, greater, or bigger; expand or gain; “The problem grew too large for me”; “Her business grew fast”
    • increase in size by natural process; “Corn doesn’t grow here”; “In these forests, mushrooms grow under the trees”; “her hair doesn’t grow much anymore”
    • cause to grow or develop; “He grows vegetables in his backyard”
    • mature: develop and reach maturity; undergo maturation; “He matured fast”; “The child grew fast”
    • originate: come into existence; take on form or shape; “A new religious movement originated in that country”; “a love that sprang up from friendship”; “the idea for the book grew out of a short story”; “An interesting phenomenon uprose”
    • cultivate by growing, often involving improvements by means of agricultural techniques; “The Bordeaux region produces great red wines”; “They produce good ham in Parma”; “We grow wheat here”; “We raise hogs here”
    • come to have or undergo a change of (physical features and attributes); “He grew a beard”; “The patient developed abdominal pains”; “I got funny spots all over my body”; “Well-developed breasts”
    • develop: grow emotionally or mature; “The child developed beautifully in her new kindergarten”; “When he spent a summer at camp, the boy grew noticeably and no longer showed some of his old adolescent behavior”
    • become attached by or as if by the process of growth; “The tree trunks had grown together”

    • GROW is a peer support and mutual aid organization for recovery from, and prevention of, serious mental illness. GROW was founded in Sydney, Australia in 1957 by Father Cornelius B. …

    • “Grow” is the third single from alternative rock band Kubb’s debut album, Mother. The album was released in late 2005 and the single was released on February 6, 2006. It became the group’s first Top 20 hit, peaking at #18 in the UK Singles Chart. …

    • To become bigger; To appear or sprout; To cause something to become bigger, especially cultivate plants; To assume a condition or quality

    • grown – adult: (of animals) fully developed; “an adult animal”; “a grown woman”

    • growing – growth: (biology) the process of an individual organism growing organically; a purely biological unfolding of events involved in an organism changing gradually from a simple to a more complex level; “he proposed an indicator of osseous development in children”

    So, it begs the question, how would you have rephrased the statement?

  21. @Collin

    Also, T-Bone definitely has the Toad Head happening. You should point him to your previous article Frank.

    Yeah, I was gonna call him out on it, but let it slide. I also was going to take some video and have him to say that I needed to bed the pace back down cuz I was drilling it so hard and he couldn’t hold my wheel.

    All things that should have been, but weren’t.


    Looks like he was riding his rain bike and what’s up with that stack height? Rule violation?

    The picture makes it look a bit high, but it’s within the tolerances of Rule #45. Although we all know how much we like to see a zero-stack. Now that he and I are best friends, I’ll talk to him about it.

  22. frank:

    Looks like he was riding his rain bike and what’s up with that stack height? Rule violation?

    The picture makes it look a bit high, but it’s within the tolerances of Rule #45. Although we all know how much we like to see a zero-stack. Now that he and I are best friends, I’ll talk to him about it.

    At least his was rocking white handlebar tape. Also, I asked him what he likes to ride when he’s not on his team bike, he said he only rides his team sponsored bikes. I was a bit bummed by that, but I’m sure it’s a bit like Jordan only being seen in Nike shoes… if it’s what you’re paid to rep, you can’t be seen on something else.

    I really wanted to hear about his favorite old ride he still keeps in his garage and sneaks out for a spin on, but he was sticking to the team line on only riding their bikes.

  23. Brett:
    For fuck’s sake Frank, suck in the gut! T-Bone can’t even get his arm around that thing.
    Maybe a line of loose-fit V-jerseys and baggy shorts are in order…

    That’s Corn-fed?? I thought it was the 9-year-old Frank was talking about. And that’s why I gave him a pass.

  24. @Ron
    Grow up.

    I didn’t know you were in Portland, I am too. I didn’t go last night for a number of reasons, but I did almost go because they were giving a Garmin 500 as a door prize, a rule violator for sure, but possibly free.

  25. Of course his team bikes are nothing to sneeze at. Any one else enter the cyclingnews reader poll for Millar’s Felt F1 SL? I know I did. It’d fit me well and I could use another bike. Plus it’s the only way in hell i’d go with Di2.

    I suppose on some level it’s hard for riders to get completely excited about the bikes they ride as it’s work and they ride what they’re given. Or at least different from most of us who scrimp, save, hem, haw, and ogle over a bike or piece of gear and then spend countless hours cleaning and staring at it in our living rooms while we think about living the dream after our meager 4000k summers. That said, if I were Tyler, I’d be stoked about riding Cervelos next year. I reckon he’ll be roulin on the R5 for a lot of the season. Anybody heard if they’re sticking with Shimano?

  26. @michael

    Yeah, I’m in good ‘ol PDX. Great town to be a cyclist in, all things considered. The “conversation” was pretty cool, it was a hosted by a local journalist who asked all sorts of questions, and would throw it to the audience every so often so they could ask questions as well. I wanted to win the Garmin 500 as well, and since I already own one I was just going to sell it on flea-bay and then buy a new saddle…


    Oh no doubt, I’m a Felt fanboy so I think their bikes are sweet. I understand a lot of them race on AR/F-series bikes and train on their Z-series.

    He did say he was excited to get on his new Cervelo, and that he is getting his new bikes so he can start training on them in a month.

    Personally, I’d like to know the background dealings on why Felt decided not to re-up their sponsorship for another year, which they had an option of doing.

  27. @Brett @frank

    Another solution would be to offer a V-Kit bibs in a style where the stomach-covering portion goes higher. Some (all?) Castelli bibs seem to be cut low in the stomach area compared to some other brands. I myself suffer from the curse of skinny white man’s belly and I enjoy a bib that offers more “support” in that area, as it were.

  28. Frank, I’m by no means a grammar scholar. I usually have my faults in this domain pointed out by those more skilled than myself. I think I might be guilty of saying, “jump off of”…Damnit. I’ll work on it!

    I have had those more knowledgeable in this area tell me that using grow transitively is incorrect. But, I just dug this up –

    The OED’s first record the sense of “To cause to increase, to enlarge” is from 1481, though the OED labels this use as obsolete. So it’s not modern after all. It’s archaic.

    The growing synonymous with raise, cultivate, nurture – the OED’s first record of this use is from 1774.

    Maybe you are just “old school” and not technically incorrect. I wasn’t trying to be a dick. More along the lines of constructive criticism, but now I’m not sure the criticism is exactly correct.

    Either way, enough grammar talk. This is still a fine article and a cool report on riding with Farrar. Plus, a look inside the mind of a Velominatus who ponders The Rules with utmost passion. I need to go get on my bike and cultivate the V, as the winter weather is fast approaching. Sorry for the topic derailment.

  29. @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.

  30. 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.

  31. Cyclops :
    @MarkoToo bad all the Velominati couldn’t get a Cervelo team deal and we could all ride R5″²s
    R5 = Rule #5

    I’d rather eat my own faeces…

  32. 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…

  33. 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?)

  34. @

    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.”

  35. @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.

  36. 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.

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

  38. @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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.