Against The Rules
1. To follow The Rules, you must resolutely ignore the obvious truth: it is not your duty to follow anyone’s arbitrary rules. If it were, you would never ride a bicycle in the first place. You would be a gym slave, or a couch potato, or a golf nut.
2. But if you want to be treated like a golfer, then you’ll fully embrace the second rule of The Rules: cycling is one big clubhouse and, as such, there must be a dress code, or chaos shall reign. Sock length, correct usage of caps and the positioning of eyewear – these things are the equivalent of designating which ties are acceptable in the bar area. And by obsessing over sartorial details, you’re attempting to obviate the most marvelous aspect of cyclists’ appearance: their inherent, proud, glorious daftness. What other pastime would allow you to routinely adopt the aesthetic of a superhero (Zabriskie), a mod (Wiggins), a human-sized sex toy (Cipo) or a tweedy fop, all without violent repercussions? Ridicule, to paraphrase a wiser man than myself, truly is nothing to be scared of in the realm of the bicycle.
3. Another man who is also much wiser than me recently opined: “Lists move in when love moves out.” And so it is with The Rules. For its adherents, the pure joy of riding has dissolved to such an extent that you need a rule to remind yourself of that long-forgotten pleasure (it’s entry number six, if you’re looking to somehow reclaim that feeling). You have become a librarian of the soul, observing an empty superstition that cultivating the correct tan lines or avoiding frame-mounted pumps will somehow make things better. It won’t. The magic is over. The romance has gone. But hey – there’s always golf, fellas!
4. If you need to go on the internet to learn the guidelines for courteous, safe cycling, then you don’t ride with a club. You are alone. Of all the rules of The Rules, this one is the most tragic.
5. Alpha males do not need to read a list telling them it is vitally important to own bicycles more expensive than their car, or that they’re a “badass” for riding in inclement weather. They do these sorts of things instinctively, because alpha males are creatures of action, biologically programmed to thump their chests. Of all the rules of The Rules, this is the most comedic: you will never be an alpha male, but you must try your absolute hardest to be a facsimile of one. Even though the real silverbacks are genetically predisposed to not give a toss about you.
6. Similarly, you may not be a sexist berk, but the rules of The Rules demand that you snigger at a story about Sean Kelly valuing his wife less than his car or his bike, even though he may not have said the words attributed to him in rule 11. Oh, and there’s beer. Apparently beer is a key component of your identity as a man. True, there is also an admirable rule advising men not to get all antsy if they are overtaken by a woman. But only two mentions of female cyclists among 91 entries? We’re back in the metaphorical clubhouse again!
7. “Hey,” the Ruleistas might say, “lighten up, dude! The Rules are funny!” A sensible response is to direct them to the photograph at the top of this post. Seriously, is anything in The Rules as funny as that guy breaking them? And if you can’t be funnier than the thing you’re mocking then, surely, you have failed.