I hopped onto the website for The Rules of cycling as described by a less-than-merry bunch of riders who go by the scribe Velominati. There is plenty of good and wise advice on the site for anyone seeking to slot into the world of cycling without being considered a douche, a Fred or a hopeless hipster.
Yet there’s always room for breaking The Rules as mapped out by any sort of religious authority. And if you don’t think cycling is a religion, then you don’t know any real cyclists.
I know quite a few, and the best riders I know do indeed adhere to some version of The Rules because they’ve been 1) cycling a long time and 2) simply know better than to wear a road riding bike helmet with the visor still installed.
I made that mistake the first time I showed up for a ride with real cyclists. I also still had the reflectors on my wheels. But I’d just purchased the Felt 4C road bike and new helmet and Specialized cycling shoes, so I was an admitted rookie.
That day I hung on for dear life and came home tired and gratified to be initiated. Then I removed the reflectors from my wheels and took the visor off my helmet and the rest has been a matter of close observation and learning to shave my legs without any risk of razor burn.
But I’ve been a rule-breaker in so many other ways in life that my adherence to the canon of cycling has in fact encouraged me to reach outside The Rules and invent my own set of standards. This has included involvement in the sport of triathlon, which is described in unforgiving terms by the Velominati:
Rule #42: If it’s preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run, it is not called a bike race, it is called duathlon or a triathlon. Neither of which is a bike race. Also keep in mind that one should only swim in order to prevent drowning, and should only run if being chased. And even then, one should only run fast enough to prevent capture.
Well, I was frankly screwed in this category from the get-go. After all, I came to the sport of cycling from a long career as a runner. I was a good runner. I freaking won races. Lots of them. So I’ll not apologize for that history under any circumstances.
I also learned to race bikes… once I got a decent one. Lots of criterium races. Hard riding at top end while learning to draft and figuring out how to catch back on if you get dropped. You ride like an SOB and hope you can catch a wheel.
The more I rode, the harder I trained. That’s one of the tarsnakes of cycling, it never gets easier. I was a man who loved his work. That included a day going out into the rain on the bike. That’s not an easy thing to do, to walk from your warm house and pedal into driving rain is at first shocking. Then you realize it’s so fun you keep going.
That’s the same attitude I bring to triathlon and duathlon. I do it because it’s hard. Swimming has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn in life. And I don’t pussy-foot on the bike or the run either.
I do know enough not to bring a triathlon bike to a road group ride. That would be dumb. But I’ve also watched pro cyclists race their time trial bikes and there is no difference between the bike I’ve set up for tris and the bikes raced in the Tour or other time trials.
So sure, I’m breaking The Rules in some respects. But I’ll break them as hard as I can, and Harden the Fuck Up along the way.