Bike Gear I Love

06.10.2005 | 1:05 am

Since my friend Dug Anderson convinced me to sell my sports car and buy a mountain bike about ten years ago, I have owned and sold 8 different bikes, some of them costing more than $5000. I’ve owned and discarded untold quantities of bike clothes — in fact, I still have 4 dresser drawers full of bike clothes. I’ve tried numerous kinds of pedals (Ritcheys, Speedplays, Crank Bros, Time), lots of different racks, and all kinds of on-the-go food.

I have been, in short, a good little consumer.

Most of that stuff is either gone or in storage now. There are exceptions, though: Things that have lasted a long time, or have been so good and useful that I’m happy to replace them when they have worn out. Here are a few of those things.

  • My Ibis Ti Road. Already mentioned this in a previous post, but to my eyes, this titanium beauty just keeps getting better and better. Someday maybe I’ll replace the scratched decals, or maybe I won’t. $4000 for this bike was a bargain.
  • My Shimano Road Shoes. My road bike shoes actually pre-date my Ibis Ti Road bike — I got them when I bought my first road bike, which means I’ve been using the same road bike shoes for 9 years. And it’s not like I’ve been really kind to them or only worn them occasionally. And while the red mesh has faded to a rosy pink (not so manly), the shoes are still just fine. Comfortable, functional, durable.
  • Specialized Armadillo Road Tires. Ask anyone who rides a road bike: you’ve got to pump up the tires pretty much every ride to keep them at >100psi, and you’ve got to plan on fairly frequent flats. But with the Armadillo tires, I’m not having to put air in the tires more often than once per week, and I haven’t had a flat all season. I don’t even swerve around glass anymore; I just ride through it, knowing that my tires aren’t going to get punctured. The Armadillos definitely have their downside — they have terrible road feel — but I’m willing to put up with that.
  • My Melanzana jersey. Matt Chester gave me a bunch of hand-me-down jerseys when he moved from Salida, including a pullover T-shirt style jersey made by Melanzana. I don’t know why he gave it up (I think he got too skinny for it), but it’s my favorite jersey ever. This year when I go to Leadville, I plan to bring some extra money for spending at the Melanzana store.
  • RLX bib shorts. I don’t like baggy shorts on a bike, and I don’t like the way regular bike shorts bind around my waist (because I’m fat). I’ve done countless endurance rides in these bib shorts, and love the way RLX bib shorts keep my stomach from jiggling too much. From what I hear, RLX is defunct, so I’ll have to look elsewhere next time I want to buy bib shorts.
  • Oakley Racing Jackets. I wear prescription glasses for driving and biking. For years and years I couldn’t find prescription glasses that worked for mountain biking and road biking. But these do. Get the frame from Oakley, discard the lenses they come with, and have your local Optometrist put in transition prescription lenses, in the lightest, most shatterproof material they’ve got. Voila, you’ve got biking glasses that adapt for the light conditions, don’t fog, and are super-light. Also, incredibly expensive.
  • Giro Atmos Helmet. This thing was stupid expensive, and I’m embarassed to have purchased it. That said, it’s soooo light and comfortable. A few times I’ve reached up to check and make sure that I’m actually wearing a helmet.
  • My Brian Head 100 Jerseys. During the summer, it looks like I wear the same jersey every day. That’s because I have 4 identical "Brian Head 100" jerseys, which you get for completing the Brian Head 100. They’re comfortable, they fit, and they’re no uglier than any other bright-blue-and-orange jersey.
  • My wedding ring. About 5 anniversaries ago, my wife surprised me with a plain titanium band as a replacement for my original wedding ring — a polished white gold band with diamonds. "Now I know you better," she said. "This is more your style." You know what? The more this thing gets scratched and scuffed, the better it looks. A perfect present.

You know what’s interesting? No electronic gadgets made my list. Considering how much I love my toys, that’s a surprise.

Today’s weight: 178.4



10 Down, 20 to Go

06.7.2005 | 7:08 pm

As of this morning, I’ve lost a third of the weight I’m hoping to shed by the time I race the Leadville 100 this August 13 (I started at 188.8, I want to get down to 158). So, what’s changed in ten pounds?

  • Reduced Squish Factor: My legs don’t hit my stomach ’til about 3/4 of the way on my upstroke. That’s a nice change. I figure by the time I get into the 160’s I’ll be done with the squish factor altogether, which I would think should improve my riding dramatically.
  • I’m now in the awkward "between" stage, clothes-wise. I have three sets of clothes: my "thin" clothes, which I purchased back when I weighed < 160lbs; my "fat" clothes, which I purchased back when I weighed 160-170lbs, and my "steroids" clothes, which I purchased last December-January, when my weight went up to and beyond 180. (I’ll explain the steroids tomorrow, but I promise you it’s not about doping this time.) The "steroids" clothes are a little too baggy, but the "fat" clothes are a little too tight. The "thin" clothes remain safely in a box.
  • Climbing improvement: I’m resorting to the granny gear less and less often in the two climbs I do as part of my daily commute.
  • Pride over what used to be an embarassment: I find myself proud of the fact that I am now in the 170’s, a fact which would have mortified me two years ago. I expect that once I get into the 160’s, I’ll be positively bursting with pleasure that I’m so light — even though I’ll still be unable to fit into my "thin" pants.

Today’s Weight: 178.8

Next Up: Why the Fat Cyclist took steroids

Results of the First Weekly Fat Cyclist Weigh-in Sweepstakes

06.6.2005 | 5:34 pm

I know, I know, you want to know whether you can have $25. First, though, you have to read my pithy anecdote of the day.

You know you’re a Fat Cyclist when…

The last mile or so in my commute to work is always the hardest. It’s a mile stretch of uphill on a bikepath, parallelling the 520 freeway (thanks, Redmond, for the bikepath!). Even if I see no cyclists on the rest of the commute, I always see at least a couple on this stretch — either passing me, or me passing them. And I don’t know about anyone else, but whenever I see someone up ahead on an uphill, I can’t help but try to catch and pass. You can take the ability to compete out of the Fat Cyclist, but you can’t take away his (um, my) competitiveness.

Anyway, today I started up the hill feeling pretty good. I shifted up a couple of gears, stood up, and started climbing at a good pace.

And that’s when I saw my prey — a very fit-looking cyclist, about 50 yards ahead, comfortably spinning a high cadence in a low gear. I put my head down and got ready to suffer. I dropped down one gear, sat down, and brought my cadence up as high as it would go. I knew from experience that this would hurt, but wanted to fly by this guy. He seemed to sense I was there and picked up the pace.

I went up a gear, ignored the pain, caught and passed this guy. I tried to sound casual, saying "How’s it going?" as I dropped him.

I must admit, though, that my victory would have felt more substantial if he weren’t riding a mountain bike and pulling a Burley trailer with a 2-year-old in it.

Clearly, I still have some work to do.

It’s not just a blog, it’s a game show.

So — by the skin of my teeth — I managed to keep my weight under my "backslide" number. I weighed in at 179.8 this morning. So now that $25 goes into the Fat Cyclist piggy bank, along with another $25 for next week’s weigh-in. If, by then (6/13), my weight is >= 177.4 pounds (ie, if I haven’t lost 2.5 pounds a week from now), the first person to call me out on it by posting a comment (including email address), gets a $50 gift certificate. And if I magically hit next Monday’s weigh-in goal, the prize goes up to $75. And so on.

Yes, that’s right, my Monday weigh-in is now a weekly opportunity for you to have some of my fabulous, untold wealth. What other blog has this kind of drama and excitement?

Today’s Weight: 179.8

I’d Like to Humiliate Myself and Give You Some Money, OK?

06.3.2005 | 5:29 pm

Faithful "Fat Cyclist" readers will have noticed a pattern to my weight loss. Every week I lose a few pounds. Then, over the weekend I put those pounds on again.

Well, not this weekend.

I’m going to do my darndest to avoid backsliding. And here’s my incentive:

If, on Monday, I weigh 180.0 pounds or more, I will give a $25 gift certificate to the first person who calls me out on it.

All you’ve got to do is, on Monday, check my weigh-in on my blog. If it’s >= 180, post a comment with your email address. I’ll send you the gift certificate.

This will become a weekly contest.

If, of course, I weigh < 180 on Monday, well, I expect embarassingly supportive comments from every single one of you scoundrels hoping to make a quick buck off me.

Today’s Weight: 179.0

What Have We Learned?

06.2.2005 | 5:59 pm

I’m going to take a little walk down memory lane, but first, a couple quick observations from my ride to work today:

  • Slugs and worms: Can there really be this many of them under the ground all the time? And after two solid days of rain, have they all come up to the surface and onto the road? I’m trying to dodge them — really, I am — but there are so many. And some of those slugs are big (not as big as the banana slugs you’ve got to dodge in Oregon, but still…).
  • One day makes a difference: Having taken yesterday off, I felt incredibly good on today’s ride in, so I took the long route. I noticed I was climbing in a higher gear than usual, too. And it wasn’t to prove a point, either. Huzzah!
  • I love my road bike: This month marks the 8 Year Anniversary for me and my Ibis Ti Road bike. Let’s have a moment of silence for Ibis, which did some beautiful work in its heyday.

8 Years of the Leadville 100

Every year about this time, I start obsessing about the Leadville Trail 100, a 100-mile mountain bike race in Leadville, CO. I’ve done it eight years straight — this August will be the ninth — and it’s stopped being so much a race as an annual tradition/ritual/vacation/family-and-friends-reunion. As the race gets closer, expect me to talk about this race more and more often. For now, here’s a little context of how I’ve done at this race in the past eight attempts, and what I’ve learned:

  • 1997 (Year 1): Finish Time: 10:35. I learned I could complete the race. I also learned that I am very susceptible to cheering crowds, even if I don’t deserve the cheers. I fall in love with the race.
  • 1998 (Year 2): Finish Time: 11:27. I learned that finishing with friends is cooler than finishing fast. My friend Dug Anderson waited for me at the last aid station, then convinced me to wait for Bob. Then Dug and Bob both waited for me after I did a massive endo on a fast downhill in the final 15 miles of the race. Finishing together — slow, tired, and bleeding — with Dug and Bob is one of the standout memories of my life.
  • 1999 (Year 3): Finish Time: 9:13. I learned that if I train like a madman, lose a lot of weight, and then put everything I’ve got into this race, I can almost break the nine hour mark. But not quite.
  • 2000 (Year 4): Finish Time: 9:17. I learned that ignoring threatening clouds may not be such a great idea. Lightning and torrential rain scared and froze those of us on Pole Line pass nearly to death. I had no rain jacket with me, having ignored my wife’s suggestion to carry one at the final aid station.
  • 2001 (Year 5): Finish Time: 9:30. I learned…um…I learned…well, whaddaya know. I can’t remember anything at all from the race this year. It looks like I’ve started a slow-down trend, though, doesn’t it?
  • 2002 (Year 6): Finish Time: 10:20. I learned the "non-contributing weight" axiom of the Leadville 100: Every non-contributing pound you carry costs you five minutes. I was riding a full suspension bike, had gained some weight, and had not trained like I should. Also, I took a 20 minute nap at the final aid station. Refreshing!
  • 2003 (Year 7): Finish Time: 9:20. I learned that one can drink only so much Gatorade. About 3/4 of the way through the race I got nauseous and started barfing anytime I tried to eat or drink anything. I blame the Gatorade, probably without reason. If I hadn’t gotten sick toward the end of the race, this might’ve been the year I got that sub-9 I’ve wanted at Leadville forever.
  • 2004 (Year 8): Finish Time: 10:56. I learned that just finishing can be a victory. This was while my life was pretty much completely insane and I had not trained at all. So last year I went to Leadville just to have fun and see my friends. And you know what? It was a great ride/race. I talked with a lot of people who — like me — just wanted to finish. The support and cameraderie at the back of the pack is much stronger than at the front. These racers are the heart of mountain biking.
  • 2005 (Year 9): Finish Time: ???. What will I learn this year? I dunno, but I can hardly wait to go back to Leadville, my favorite town in the world to relax, ride my bike, and catch up with like-minded cyclists.

Today’s Weight: 178.8

Next up: Tomorrow, I will reveal how you can win valuable prizes from the Fat Cyclist. No, I am not kidding.

« Previous Page« Previous Entries     Next Entries »Next Page »