Beyond The Rules

East Maui Pavé
East Maui Pavé

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.

 

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80 Replies to “Beyond The Rules”

  1. @Gianni: exactly. As Buddha said “it is better to travel well than to arrive”.

  2. What the fuck? I feel like Ricky Bobby learning from his Dad that he was actually high when he taught him “if you’re not first, you’re last”

    My whole world just collapsed and now some asshole with a fanny pack, beard, and headphones is just as much of a cyclist as I am? No. Fuck that.

  3. Well said Gianni! The apostle speaks many words and these say more than can be spoken. Truly sums up how each ride should and can feel if you free your mind.

  4. @eightzero

    Spot on. A-Fucking-Merckx!

    Great piece.

    And a big +1 A-Fucking-Merckx from me.  The Rules bring us together as brethren. Our rides free us through our pleasure and suffering. Thanks for this Gianni!

  5. Gianni, you might not know about philosophy but you are a goddamn feelossofer anyhow.

  6. @livingminimal

    What the fuck? I feel like Ricky Bobby learning from his Dad that he was actually high when he taught him “if you’re not first, you’re last”

    My whole world just collapsed and now some asshole with a fanny pack, beard, and headphones is just as much of a cyclist as I am? No. Fuck that.

    Let’s not get carried away here.  There’s a very sound message in there somewhere and it’s not interpreted through extremes!!

  7. ( Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding voice )

    “There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m here (Velominati), because you think I should be here daily. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime by breaking The Rules. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. I still can. That kid’s long gone, and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that. Rule-habilitated? It’s (not) a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit.”

    “Rule-habilitated? Well, now let me see. You know, you should have an idea what that means!”

  8. @livingminimal

    I hear you,

    but everyone takes a different path to enlightenment.  Just be thankful that your path doesn’t include the miserable burden of a fanny pack.  The horror.

  9. @sparky33

    @livingminimal

    I hear you,

    but everyone takes a different path to enlightenment. Just be thankful that your path doesn’t include the miserable burden of a fanny pack. The horror.

    Seriously. Or hairy legs. Or squeaky chains. Or dirty bar tape. Or mismatched tires. Or misaligned tire labels. Or – heaven forbid – being a giant pussy.

  10. @ChrisO

    Sometime, somewhere, I imagine Frank doing this to you Gianni…

    It would appear Gianni has been at the Velominati equivalent of the Off-Leash Dog Park for too long. tine to reinforce his training!

    Gianni! Sit! Stay! No more mouth-hugs! We don’t know what those mean!

  11. I am certainly not as worthy as Gianni, Brett or Frank, yet I feel that enlightenment is only achieved through adherence to the Rules when riding and freeing the mind.  What the hell good is a Marine without adherence to his training? – he will end up dead.  Only through belief in and the practice of the Rules will the Ride take on the other worldly quality of Enlightment.  Those who fail to realize this are simply riding a bike.  Those who remember are cyclists.

  12. This brings to mind Rule #6. If you feel clear of conscience that you have tried to follow the rules, or are on the path to full adherence, then perhaps your ride will be more fulfilling. And praise be to the masturbation principle!

  13. Ahem…

    Of course one should not let the rules interfere with the ride to enlightenment.

    On the other hand, I cannot imagine peddling into nirvana being a dick and not looking fabulous.  The path is to transcendence is difficult enough without also being a hairy legged douche bag along the way.

  14. Rules are just that people. Rules.

    We use rules, laws, etc to uphold higher principles and fairness. We obey traffic light rules so that we all get fair use of the road to get to places (safely). I fully support The Rules, but I’ll use a saddle bag (roll-up seat bag) any day if it’ll help me carry everything I need to carry for a good long ride. The greater principle here is upholding the beauty of riding a bicycle, albeit with some style and panache (at least in my own mind)!

    Bon velo.

  15. Fuckin’ WORD! Gianni. Nice one!

    Cycling is goddamn awesome because you can’t fucking fake it. You can glam & ham it up as much as you want on-the-line, but guess what? Who is going to get you home when you can’t feel your hands, your shades are fogged, and your legs Plead the Fifth on the Vth?

    Following entails some overanalysis sometimes (100?!) but those with the true spirit of The V at their backs realize this…is just a start. Gotta see beyond those drips on the brim of your cap.

  16. ‘Cenzo, you are my brother, and I love you. But mismatched splash bartape? I can’t give you a full arm-around-the-shoulder hug.

    And so it is. You can break all the Rules you want in your own world, and not tell us about it, as Gianni points out. But, when you go to sleep at night, you know you’ve sinned. And, you only have yourself to blame.

  17. @Bryan Petersen

    Rules are just that people. Rules.

    We use rules, laws, etc to uphold higher principles and fairness. We obey traffic light rules so that we all get fair use of the road to get to places (safely). I fully support The Rules, but I’ll use a saddle bag (roll-up seat bag) any day if it’ll help me carry everything I need to carry for a good long ride. The greater principle here is upholding the beauty of riding a bicycle, albeit with some style and panache (at least in my own mind)!

    Bon velo.

    @brypeter

    @Bryan Petersen

    Perhaps rule number one should simply be: Ride your bike!

    The the other rules will fall into place or out over time.

    Hmmm. You’re responding to yourself. That’ll be interesting…………

  18. 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.

  19. Why I love this place.

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

  20. @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.

    Ah yes —- I can relate (the old enough part for sure–touch older actually )—However,  I did crush a pack of Boy Scouts last Saturday —- but then again I was trying to make it home before dark and get into the Cabernet Sauv stash (Yeah yeah —- I cleaned up the bike first so no rule # whatever it is crap from anyone!!!—)——–

    Regards

    Duntov(Bill)

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

  22. Great stuff @Gianni. My teens also in the 60s-70s and feel fortunate for that.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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?

  27. 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.

  28. @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.

  29. @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?

  30. @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.

  31. @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.

  32. @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!

  33. @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.

  34. @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.”

  35. @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.

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

  37. 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

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