Cyclist Etiquette Made Snarky

05.17.2005 | 6:56 pm

Before I start jabbering on about my how I think cyclists should behave whilst on their cycles, I have a question. If anyone at all has an answer to this, please tell me:

What, apart from cooked yams, smells like cooked yams?

No, this is not a riddle. It’s an honest I-don’t-know-the-answer question. And the reason I ask is: Every day, as I ride my bike to work (Microsoft Redmond campus, in case you don’t know), I turn off East Lake Sammamish Parkway toward Marymoor Park, riding through a small warehouse-style business district. Part way through — every single day — I am hit by the strong smell of cooking yams. Is it really possible that there is a yam-cooking factory in one of these warehouses? Or does the smell come from something completely non-yam-related, that only happens to smell like yams? For example, is it possible that in one of these warehouse-ish buildings they’re making chemical weapons or shoe soles, and a certain stage in the manufacture of said weapons/shoe soles gives off a pleasant cooked yam smell?

Or is it possible that two separate companies, making their two separate products, give off two separate smells, the confluence of which is the cooked yam smell I experience?

I am flummoxed.

Also, I find myself giggling every time I type "cooked yams." There I go again.

Please allow me to demonstrate my ability to prattle on about nothing at all

Interesting non-fat/non-cyclist-related tidbit. Somehow, yesterday, my brain got the definition of "fungibles" screwed up. I was treating it as if "fungible" was a term food scientists used to measure a food’s mouth-feel. E.g., Burger King’s french fries score higher on the fungible index than McDonald’s, due to the way they’re double-fried and injected with lard.

Turns out, though, "fungible" is a word for an object that can be used like money — to barter with for example. E.g., chickens used to be fungible.

So, as I wrap up this little anecdote — which is turning out to be considerably longer than I originally anticipated — I have some questions and an observation:

  • "Fungible" is fun to say (even more fun than "cooked yams"). Really, it’s a shame it has such an obscure use. If the definition of fungible were "an object crucial to enabling or enhancing the fun quotient of a specified activity," I think you’d be hearing "fungible" in everyday conversation. E.g., "Don’t forget to bring Doritos and a frisbee to the picnic, Joe. But leave your banjo at home. It’s not fungible."
  • How did I manage to get "fungible" to mean "qualitative measure of mouth-feel in food research" in my brain? I’m not just going senile, I’m going nuts.
  • Is there a word for "qualitative measure of mouth-feel" that’s used in food research? I’d like to know. Also, how can I get started in the field of food research? I’d like to bring the "cake shake" (see previous post) to market.

OK, now on to the cycling etiquette bit.

Whether you’re on a bike for a quick ride or for 100 miles, you’re eventually bound to pass — or be passed by — another cyclist. I, of course, am the right person to give advice on how to handle those encounters.

  • If you pass an unaware cyclist: When passing another cyclist, there’s a good chance she does not know you are behind her. If you say "Hi" as you go by, you may startle her, prompting her to fall off her bike (I have in fact actually caused a bike accident this way). If you ring your bell, you may startle her similarly. If you ride by without saying anything, you will be thought of as inexplicably rude. What should you do? Yell "TRACK!" and blow by as impressively as possible.
  • If you encounter a cyclist coming from the opposite direction: Cyclists are required by law to aknowledge one another, primarily to express solidarity and a shared love of the sport. You don’t have long, but try to convey, with a simple gesture, "Hey, we’re both on bikes and are therefore morally superior to the people currently in cars." But you’ve got to be casual about it. If you are riding in an upright position (mountain bike, cruiser), it’s fine to lift your hand and wave. If you are on a road bike and have your hands on the hoods, lift the fingers of your left hand, without removing the hand from the hoods. If you are in the drops, a simple bob of the head will suffice.
  • If you encounter a cyclist on a recumbent bicycle, in either direction: Spurn him. Do not aknowledge, and do not return aknowledgment if offered. Recumbent cycles are nothing more than a desperate plea for attention, and by aknowledging him, you become an enabler. Above all, do not express appreciation/admiration/interest in the recumbent cycle.
  • If you pass someone during a race: Do not say, "How’s it going?" because the honest answer the person you’re passing would have to give is, "Not as well as I previously thought." Instead, say, "Looking strong, dude," because it makes you sound generous, while at the same time implying that if your vanquished foe is looking strong, you are looking even stronger. It’s all about psychology.
  • If you are passed during a race: Don’t give an excuse belittling your opponent’s accomplishment (e.g., "My spleen hurts."). Instead, say, "Rock on, dude." It makes you sound like a good sport, not to mention a hep cat.

This, of course, only covers how to handle other cyclists. I will cover how to handle pedestrians and motor vehicles another time. Maybe.

Next up: The history of the fat cyclist’s dieting techniques

Today’s weight: 183.4


  1. Comment by Jodi | 05.17.2005 | 7:25 pm

    While running this morning, I thought about you and realized that even though you feel you are a fat cyclist, you would likely, nay, certainly be able to ride circles around my non-fat (or slightly less fat) self. So, though you are my sibling I am glad you’re not my rival because you would be the winner. Rock on, dude. You are the most fungible person I know.

  2. Comment by Unknown | 05.18.2005 | 6:30 am

    looking good

  3. Comment by Robert | 05.18.2005 | 3:14 pm

    No, no, no. You left too much out, and you have too much wrong. Here’s an example: if I wear a bike outfit and go out on my road bike, roadies always acknowledge me. But if I hop on my touring bike with shorts and a t-shirt, most roadies ignore me. You left out status. You left out crowded traffic. You left out groups of riders. Rewrite.Also, recumbent bikes are cool. Have you ever ridden one?

  4. Comment by Robert | 05.18.2005 | 3:14 pm

    By the way, dug’s comments on hilarious.

  5. Comment by Robert | 05.18.2005 | 3:15 pm

    on = are

  6. Comment by Unknown | 05.18.2005 | 3:57 pm

    Okay, let me get this straight. Your ride past some industrial-strength warehouse that’s probably manufacturing battery acid, and you detect the aroma of COOKED YAMS! Then you drift off into a potentially interesting semantic detour, and you end up asking about synonym for MOUTH FEEL (which, I believe, is in fact the very term that food industry insiders use).Next, taking a stab at self-depricating commentary, you label yourself NUTS. Do I detect a pattern? "Yams," "mouth-feel," "nuts"… Are you obsessing about food, both consciously and unconsciously? (I guess that "yes" is the correct answer.)My solution: stuff yourself with good fats. Advocados, olive oil, almonds, salmon. This will signal your body that you’re not in starvation mode, make you feel full and satiated, slow down your digestion, and let your body begin metaboliizing your fat stores. Yes, it’s counterinituive to eat more fat in order to lose more fat. But give it a shot. It might work as least as well as your current method. (And I didn’t even sleep in a Holiday Inn last night. )

  7. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 05.18.2005 | 5:27 pm

    Mmmmm. Avocadoes. I’m going to start an all-guacamole diet today.Fritos are OK in this diet, right?

  8. Comment by Al Valvano | 05.21.2005 | 12:03 am

    Is it bagels? There’s a bagel shop back there and they cook in the early morn’…

  9. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 05.22.2005 | 2:28 pm

    A bagel shop? I’ve wondered that myself. I’d have expected bagels to smell more like bread and less like cooked yams, tho.

  10. Comment by Rufus | 08.10.2005 | 4:37 pm

    Any chance you’re riding past Mac and Jack’s brewery? It’s in an industrial looking area and would surely produce some aromas.

  11. Comment by Wendy | 03.10.2006 | 8:43 pm

    See, now that’s why we call you guys "up-tight uprights" 
    That you would "spurn" the ‘bent rider just for being differnt?  No wonder you feel you actually have to give RULES on how to say hello to fellow riders.  Not all of us recumbent riders are looking for attention – some of us like to be comfortable, look around at the scenery we pass and say hello to folks however we want.  Be they fat or not


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