The Rule #5 Talk

Rik van Looy, The Emperor, proving that Steel is Real

Have a look around to see who you find occupying your immediate vicinity. Presently, I am surrounded by a pleasant-seeming bunch. Some are even going so far as to appear happy or at least not displeased; all of them are pale and none of them fit. My attention is drawn, however, to a a portly mustached gentleman who strode into the hotel lobby with an enormous degree of self confidence and who as such feels justified in wearing an ill-fitting t-shirt bearing a phrase which asserts that real men wear orange. While I have no reason to disagree with the assertion, I assume he is optimistic that through wearing said t-shirt, he will be mistaken for a “real man” and is not in fact attempting to disprove the point through contrast.

I’m not picking on this gent not because I’m harboring any sense of ill-will towards him, nor for the fact that he strode into the hotel lobby carrying a twelve pack of Yuengling Black and Tan. I’m picking on him mostly because I have come to understand that “real men” are capable of crushing things like soda cans and their opponents’ Will to Live, while from the looks of it, the only thing he’s crushed lately was a ham sandwich whose remnants I’m fairly certain I spotted on the front of his bright orange t-shirt.

Surprisingly, our Orange Hero isn’t even the most disappointing case in the room I’m occupying. The guy in the camouflage, knee-long shorts and flip-flops is an example at least two degrees worse; if he harbors hopes of blending in to anything – most of all foliage – I suggest he spend some time outside to brew himself up a tan that goes beyond TV Translucent (I’m not sure what the pantone value is for that). He should also try lifting his computer some time, to build muscle mass, rather than wheeling it about in a trolly. But worst of all by a considerable gap is the skinny-fat chap with carefully disheveled hair who is presently chastising the bartender – who is serving free drinks to hotel patrons – for not having his preferred brand of vodka on hand. If this guy took half the time he spent worrying about his hair and invested it in not worrying about his free drink, he’d be three-quarters less of a douche. (My dad would call this guy a zacht gekookt ei, or soft-boiled egg.)

All this to say that as a society we have, by and large, become soft. While I want to be careful not to paint too broadly with that brush as no one is to say what hardships people have been through, on balance we seem to expect to take more and to be asked to give less in return. Our ancestors worked harder than we did, in worse conditions, for less reward but found satisfaction in a job well done and an honest day’s work. Yet today, we are overly dependent on t-shirts to send a message about who we are rather than our actions. We fill our conversations with sentiments of entitlement and rights, when in fact we are entitled to nothing and we have the right only to the things we find within ourselves.

As Cyclists, however easy our lives may be, the bicycle brings us some degree of hardship and struggle. For many of us, our easy lives are what draw us to the bicycle in pursuit of a harder life. This is, of course, in stark contrast that to the riders who came before us, the legion of Fausto Coppi, Rik van Looy, and even the comparatively well-off Eddy Merckx who chose the bicycle as a means of escape from a harder life into an easier one. But nevertheless, it sets us appart. The lessons the bicycle teaches us can be applied to the rest of our lives, and may be used to guide the uninitiated.

Our pets go untrained because we are too busy, distracted, or stressed out to show them the discipline they crave. Our children scream as our dependence on secondary care blurs the boundary between parent and friend. Society’s BMI is pushed ever upward as our appetite for a meal grows inversely with our willingness to exercise. By and large, our dependence on the material is fueled by the immaterial.

No child is too young, no adult too old. This is the time to Obey the Rules, Lead by Example, and Guide the Uninitiated. But most of all, this is the time for us to set an example and have The Talk. The Rule #5 Talk. And remember what Will Fotheringham refers to as Rule #5.b: Eddy Never Complained.


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492 Replies to “The Rule #5 Talk”

  1. @frank

    A strong case could be made for Rabottini giving us the Rule #5 moment of the year (so far). After 150+km away, to latch on to J-Rod like that and still win the stage (Roddie doesn’t seem to have gifted the stage, either, definitely kept putting in the digs up to the end.)

    Turn on the sound and listen for the Italian commentator’s head to pop in excitement at the end. David Harmon’s head also almost popped.

    Can’t get over the 15 finish and (6:10) “Grandissimo!” and (6:26) “Fuck-face!” “Fuck-face!”

  2. @frank
    & @oli

    The MWD’s name is really Oli! The APs put on a show Saturday, and I thought the timing was ironic. Oli (the dog) is a patrol/drug dog and he would just as soon bite the shit out of someone than ask questions. I’ve been around some MWDs, and this dog is the tits. He has a fan card from the 10th Spec Sec Grp (like a baseball card) and it says he like bullying his handler as well. Hmmmm, maybe not so different after all.

  3. @Blah
    Thing is, my brain thinks I can still go that fast, so I am genuinely surprised when people come past.
    Ahhhh getting older. So much fun.

    Know how you feel. I tells my self – “SHUT UP LEGS!”

  4. @brett

    I was comparing MC5 to Rage… I was stating that it’s like comparing The Prophet (who is not me, but thanks!) to COTHO.

    And if you want to make calls as to who the real Prophet in music is/was, I’d say it would be this man…

    More proof that all the best musicians in the world come from Seattle. This guy wandered by the VMH yesterday afternoon (in the rain, no less).

    Don’t tell me you can’t see the promise this guy has. We’ll all know his name in about a year.

  5. @frank



    Seems to me the last true album that I can think of was The Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Each song is so much better when heard as part of the album vs when they are heard on their own.

    +1 Pumpkins. Was living in Chicago back in those days. Song from that album playing as I type on the Nano (oops).

    Hellyeah!! I was in Minneapolis and they played First Ave all the time, so great. The last time I saw them was on Mellon Collie at the target center and they had the Frogs drummy because Jimmy Chamberlin was in rehab. (Chamberlin, hands down, best drummer of the modern era. Maybe ever if you don’t count Bonzo.) One of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Tales of a Scorched earth was frenetic, Billy knocked his mike stand over and it was laying between the monitors on stage, sticking up and he had to kind of crouch down and screetch into it. Awesome.

    And I always loved how they played Bulled with Butterfly Wings live – without that “the world is a vampire” line spoken like it is on the record, but in a full-on Corgan scream and then about 50% faster than on the album. Solid gold.

    Too bad their new stuff isn’t any good, though G.L.O.W. and SuperChrist are good tracks.

    Not quite the same, but close:

    Love you Frank, but Billy is an arrogant fucking asshole. Are the Pumpkins brilliant? Sure. But when I saw them during Siamese Dream i wish I hadn’t. They were perfect live, but there wasn’t enough room in the venue for Billy’s enormous ego.
    And somewhere here you mentioned you were glad that no one had mentioned Neil Pert as the best drummer ever. Agreed. Technically perfect. But I’m surprised no one brought up the musical worlds equivalent of Pharmy: Lars Ulrich. I have a love/ hate relationship with Metallica the same as Leman and Pharmstrong. They blew me away, then turned into asshats.
    While in no way do I condone drug and alcohol abuse, when I saw “Some kind of Monster”, I was bummed that they had all gone soft.
    They kicked ass here (I saw them in Seatown and a couple nights late in PDX on this tour).

  6. @frank

    “But worst of all by a considerable gap is the skinny-fat chap”

    I’m saddened by this comment.

  7. Bit of an intro.. new poster here (“Hi Newby”).. look at my profile it will tell you all you need to know.. older than you but stronger than you MAY be at my age when you get there.  Into cycling beginning 1971-1972 or so.  Not a racer – got gassed out on my first training ride where it was go hard or / and throw up.. but stayed in the sport.  Have my battle scars – broken ribs… one centimeter short of a broken collarbone, enough road rash to give me freckles which I already had… and enough scars that I tell the ladies (really my wife) that I was in a bar fight.     I’ve shared the rules with my friends and they start to quibble over some of the “fashion” rules (black shorts)… and I tell them that they just don’t F’ng get it…  Now don’t get me wrong… Lon Haldeman broke all of the fashion rules but that don’t matter when  you lap the whole field after riding 100 miles to the start line in your knee high tube socks… He gets my vote.

    Anyway, thought I’d share something from another forum I follow… one devoted to old bike technology which shall be unnamed but is reminiscent of the first name of a great comedian whose last name is Newhart…  Quote:

    “I don’t like cloth tape because it gets sticky, dirty and it frays…”… Seeing the picture of Rik Van Looy… I just say Rule #5 mate… HTFU

    respectfully submitted to the assembled masses

    Dennis W. Johnson, CenCal, USA

  8. This article as I am reading it now may have been posted near a year ago but it brings some very valid points. I feel as a society we have lost our way. This sense of entiltlement people provide a diarrhetic diatribe about has been brought on by the fucking civil libertarian twatwaffles that run around looking for what they next lay their soft ass kid gloves on and protect. There is nothing wrong with wanting a peacful society buy most people could do with a decent serving of concrete in their bottles with mummies teets on it and get the fuck over themselves. We live in a time of never ending consumerism and materialistic requirements to state who and what we should be instead of being and letting ones actions speak louder than the words that no one really gives a FF about what is spouted as repititious verbatim. Rule V should be practioned by the masses on a regular basis

  9. @Skinnyphat


    “But worst of all by a considerable gap is the skinny-fat chap”

    I’m saddened by this comment.

    this has been sadly overlooked, well played!

  10. @Sayba2th you’ll do well here, I can only echo your sentiments after hearing a radio campaign to train young kids out of ‘holding your breath’ contests in pools after a kid drowned out here in Aus after blacking out under water.

    While I sympathise with the poor parents, how in Merckx’s name do you expect to train teenage boys to not try to make a competition out of every thing they do with their mates…it’s what we do!!!

  11. @Mikael Liddy

    Thanks brah I myself am a no nonsense kinda guy. I my friend am an Aussie as well, I haven’t heard that campaign as well I guess I gave the radio away after repititious playlists and BS convo. I prefer my music library with my own insightful yet entertaining self comentary. But I guess it comes down to instilling common sense into them at every op.

    I have a 12 year old son who has aspergers and I try to impart the wisdom of if it sounds or feels dumb then it usually is and to make like the Beatles and let it be. I am happy to let others who it want more go right ahead and have it. I am only about competing with myself these days and if it means I hand others their ass’ on a plate to them as collateral damage then so be it all part of laying down The V.

    I know what you mean about the competition side of things as I am very competitive myself but the near misses over the years has taught me to know when to hold em and know when to fold em.

  12. And what’s with my fellow commuters? I passed no fewer than three today on my way out of Amsterdam, all riding decent bikes and sporting backpacks just like I was, and none of them even tried to grab my wheel. It was a windy day and so there was some drafting as well as camaraderie to be had (I didn’t care about cooperation although I would have welcomed it all the same, to say nothing about competition), but three times in a row there was nothing. This behavior probably violated another rule (I have the book on pre-order), but it certainly brought to mind Rule #5.

  13. New to The V and could not be more pleased to find you all.  @frank – great article – really speaks to the Bike and the Ride and why I have become obsessed with them in the last decade.  Discovered cycling late in life (now 60); and find the rides to be the purest form of effort and reward.  Stress – nope; confidence – yep; desire – yep.  I will never accomplish everything that I would like on the Bike, but climbing in the California hills and pacing up and down the Coast are simple (and at times painful) pleasures that clear the mind.  Others who expect to receive their reward by whining (or whinging, if you prefer) can never hope to achieve the sense of accomplishment or achievement of those who have burned their thighs on the climb.  And they will never, ever pass that sense of personal responsibility and community along to the next generation – it is a very sad commentary – one that I put in the far recesses of my mind while climbing through the Redwoods or rolling along the beach straining to be just a little faster.  Rule #5 will set you free.

  14. At age 52, I am back on a bike for the first time in over 30 years and rolling on some classic steel. Encouraged to find the V and found myself in a state of excitement to discover the rules still apply.

    Excellent article frank…consider me a fan!

  15. @IceAce

    At age 52, I am back on a bike for the first time in over 30 years and rolling on some classic steel. Encouraged to find The V and found myself in a state of excitement to discover the rules still apply.

    Excellent article frank…consider me a fan!


    At 62 yo, I too am back on the bike, bored with walking, running.  Friends discuss Rule #9, #7, #5?  I had no clue.  Now I ride harder, faster, and more often.  No matter the weather or how I feel, fore it all gets better, on the bike.

  16. This article is precisely why I find my self riding alone more and more —-and more —–and more——and then even more —–shit are you kidding me?  No — clearly you are not —-maybe the message here is keep a set of horse blinders on when you walk through a hotel lobby —- or maybe all the time?  — or maybe just go get on the stinking BIKE —- alone!!!!!   Geeeez effing Louise————–you must suffer everywhere you go !!!!!!!  Get  a grip or is it —hell forbid **********************************rule #5!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. @Duntov

    This article is precisely why I find my self riding alone more and more “”-and more “”-and more””””and then even more “”-shit are you kidding me? No “” clearly you are not “”-maybe the message here is keep a set of horse blinders on when you walk through a hotel lobby “”- or maybe all the time? “” or maybe just go get on the stinking BIKE “”- alone!!!!! Geeeez effing Louise””””””””-you must suffer everywhere you go !!!!!!! Get a grip or is it “”hell forbid **********************************rule #5!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That’s precisely why I ride.

  18. They complained just as much then as we do now. I don’t we’ve changed

  19. @Mirko No I hadn’t but thanks for sharing – awesome and scary to see someone like Degenkolb sprinting in that way.

  20. @ChrisO It is. Just imagine how awesome live coverage of sprints could be. I hope someone has sent this to Cookson.

  21. One thing that irks me well beyond the point of a pet peeve is that Sense of Entitlement that’s sweeping the nation.

    Life should be:

    Do you think you deserve a certain win/raise/promotion/love in your life? Then you better go out and get it.

    Do you have a certain/win/raise/promotion/love in your life? You better believe it’s because you deserve it.

  22. I have to say that I have always thought of Rule #5 as something you tell yourself and something you say to others to remind them to say it to themselves. To arrogantly think it is to say buck your shit up is wrong. How do you know where someones at in their journey? You can’t mark how hard someone is only they can tell themselves and only they can say they need to be harder. I constantly say to my self to harden up but never presume I am harder than anyone else. I am on hand to support anf help others on their journey but also look to others to help me. It always surprises me to find those that are hard on a bike are rubbish in otherbareas of their life! Rule #5 is a great way to live your own life but never presume to tell others that they are not!

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