Late for Nowhere

From life in Southeast Asia to backyard adventures in Kodiak, Alaska

Brief book review: “The Rules” by Velominati

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The Rules 3

This book is squarely aimed at cyclists, and more specifically road cyclists, and even more specifically serious road cyclists with an interest in the Eurocentric history and traditions of the sport. It can also be an instructional read for the partners of those who fit the above criteria: for example, those hapless spouses who can’t understand why their significant other would opt to spend their Saturday cycling in the rain rather than enduring a six-hour shopping spree at the local Ikea.

Some of the 95 rules are practical (“Maintain and respect your machine”, “Be self-sufficient”, “Train properly”), while others are jokey or downright inane (“Tan lines should be cultivated and kept razor sharp”, “Espresso or macchiato only”, “Always be Casually Deliberate”). Still others serve as a reminder that bicycle racing is the toughest sport on the planet: “It never gets easier, you just go faster”; “If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period”; and the most hallowed decree of all, “Harden the fuck up”. Many of these rules are illustrated with archival photos, personal accounts of past rides from the authors, and inspirational anecdotes about cycling legends like Eddy Merckx, Sean Kelly and Greg LeMond.

“The Rules” are presented as a humorous “bible” that combines concepts from Christianity, Eastern philosophy and secret societies to create a tongue-in-cheek “religion” of cycling. Unfortunately, the less-than-hilarious writers aren’t quite up to the task they have set for themselves: The idea of cycling as a secret religious order is not tremendously clever to begin with, and the conceit – Eddy Merckx as The Prophet, Mount Velomis as the mythical peak within which The Rules were forged, the Cognoscenti as a sub-sect of fundamentalists within the secret society, etc – grows old pretty quickly.

Still, the book does provide enough insight about bicycle racing culture and history to outweigh the annoyance factor, and in the end there’s not much that comes across as offensively unfunny – although if I ever hear someone actually utter the idiotic word “Velomihottie” to describe a significant other who is also a cyclist, I will not hesitate to slap them upside the head to set them straight.

The Rules 1

Written by latefornowhere

July 10, 2014 at 11:09 am

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