I've heard once: if a person offers you a gift and you don't accept it - it remains the property of the other person. And it's the same with criticism. And thus, if you engage yourself into a discussion you most likely end up in a fight over the colour of your bar tape.
Assuming that you are not the only one hating the rules try not to get into the discussions. You can use some responses to the comments on your gear (socks, bike, etc.), I've sorted them out from the least offensive:
- if it goes about the socks and such, go "laundry day, sorry, I'll do my best to match them next time"
- remarks on how old/outdated your equipment is can be replied with "gets me going but I'd be glad to try yours if you say it's that great. I know what to upgrade."
- general remarks can be replied with "don't worry, next time I'll go slower so I stay behind you and don't fall into your field of sight"
Whatever you say, don't engage into further discussion. Simply don't and stand your ground - you're there for the ride and not for the looks.
This will most likely introduce a split in your group to those who blindly follow Velominati rules and those who, like you, want to enjoy the ride. Only the time will tell if the division remains or dissolves.
Of course some basic rules apply concerning safety and correct gear (road bike).
And worst case scenario is that you become the only outsider. In such case this group wasn't meant for you.