Road cycling is rather legendary for its rules, and when we say rules, we’re talking about the Velominati Rules. Now, these rules range in seriousness, and adherence to them varies, but they are a common point of reference for how to ride a bike as professionally as possible. However, are these rules applicable to triathletes on bikes? Some are, such as Rule #3: Guide the uninitiated; Rule #10: It never gets easier, you just get faster; and Rule #19: Introduce yourself. However, at least ten of the rules can be comfortably ignored by triathletes, as follows:
Rule #7: Tan lines should be cultivated and kept razor sharp.
This might be applicable if you are only ever in cycling kit, however as triathletes we do need to spend time in our trisuits (remember, nothing new on race day!) Many trisuits are sleeveless, and the legs tend to be a bit shorter than on cycling bibs, so tanlines can quickly multiply. Many women also race in bathing suit style kits particularly for short-course, draft legal. So, don’t worry about a spectrum of tan lines, just be happy you’re getting lots of time outdoors.
Rule #27: Shorts and socks should be not too long and not too short.
Socks? Why would you ride with socks? More seriously though, many of us do ride sockless to speed transitions, or wear short socks for added comfort on the run. Also, many will wear calf sleeves or long compression socks. So, essentially all sock-related rules are out the window and wear what is most practical for your training/racing.
Rule #29: No saddle bags.
Well sure, unless you’re riding far and then running after. As opposed to road cyclists who go for a minimalist aesthetic on the bike, triathletes are practically bikepackers. This might mean, in addition to a saddle bag, a bento box, a frame-based storage option, and both out-front and behind the saddle fluid storage. Pack as much as you need to go long and have the fuel to run after.
Rule #34: Mountain bike shoes and pedals have their place…on a mountain bike.
Triathlon specific shoes have a number of advantages, including weight, aerodynamics, venting, water clearance, and easy foot entry/exit. However, this is an expensive sport, so just ride with what you have. And, if you are planning on running out to the bike mount and back from the dismount, mountain bike shoes actually have the best traction. So, again, do what is practical and affordable.
Rule #42: A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
I don’t think I need to explain why we can ignore this rule.
Rule #61: Like your guns, saddles should be smooth and hard.
I agree that saddles should be firm, as noted in this article on bike seats, too soft a saddle leads to increased contact and potential chaffing. However, smooth isn’t necessarily the ideal for all riders. Some triathletes find that they creep around on the saddle too much during a race-pace effort, and prefer a bit of friction on the saddle to maintain their position. Now, none of us are as nuts as time trial world champion Tony Martin who put grip tape on his seat (warning, nasty photos in link), but perhaps a little Fizik Extra Grip is sufficient.
Rule #70: The purpose of competing is to win.
Nope. Unless you’re Daniella Ryf, Lionel Sanders, or the like, winning would be a nice bonus, but is probably not the purpose. Fitness, health, mental health, camraderie, challenging oneself, sharing a hobby with loved ones, etc. There are lots of reasons to be a triathlete without ever worrying about winning.
Rule #74: Small computers only. Heart rate monitors are bulky and superfluous.
Data can absolutely assist both with training smart, and with racing within your limits. A heart rate monitor is such a tool, in addition to other tools like cadence sensors or power meters. They may be superfluous in that they are not required, but if you afford it, absolutely add these tools to your toolkit. I promise that on a hard effort the last thing you will feel is your heart rate monitor…you’re lucky if you can feel anything over the lactic acid.
Rule #90: Never Get Out of the Big Ring.
This is great advice for how to blow up spectacularly on a hilly race. Rather, aim to hold a cadence of 80-95 regardless of whether you are going uphill, downhill, on a flat, or into the wind. This means using the full range of your gearing. Climbing hills on the big ring at a cadence of 65 will put you into a definite deficit from which you may not recover.
Rule #91: No Food On Training Rides Under Four Hours.
So the above comment about food storage. Muscles need fuel to fire. Yes, there is place for some fasting or calorie-limited training as part of a planned training regime. However, for the most part you want to be able to get the most out of your training session by finishing strong, which means fuelling smart. Taking nutrition on your training rides will help you understand your own needs, and train your stomach to handle the demands of digestion while your heart rate is high.
So, ignore the rules and have fun, train smart, and wear whatever you need to.