“Cooked Yams” Mystery Solved

07.6.2005 | 11:45 pm

Last Friday I was riding home from work when I hooked up with another cyclist who was headed in the same direction. Of course, we were obligated to pretend to chat nonchalantly while gradually turning up the pace. It was a classic non-race race.
As we turned out of Marymoor Park, I caught the familiar smell of Cooked Yams. I asked the guy I was riding with — Steve Somethingoranother — if he knew what that smell was, and where it came from. Frankly, though, I didn’t have much hope.
"Oh, there’s a brewery in one of those buildings," Steve said, matter-of-factly. "That’s the smell of barley and hops."
Well, whaddayaknow. A brewery, right by a velodrome, a stones-throw from a beautiful lake. All on my commute.
I still say it smells like cooked yams, though.
How to Enjoy Watching the Tour de France
I’ve got this TdF thing nailed now. The trick is knowing which version of the stage to watch, and how much of each stage to watch. Two simple tricks have made it possible for me to enjoy it to a much greater degree than I did last year.


1. Record the early, live version, then watch it later. This is critical for a few reasons:

  • Less Al. OLN tries to make it sound like the Extended Primetime Coverage version of each stage is the one to watch, but they’re just being evil. The live version has Al Trautwig (the least-knowledgable commentator on the planet) only at the beginning and end of the stage. In the Extended Primetime version, he’s all over the place.
  • Fast Forward. You can scan past the commercials. Since OLN is a third-tier network, they have to put what few commercials they get in super-heavy rotation. Watching a taped version lets you scan past these quickly.

2. Let the viewing suit the stage.

  • Time Trial / Team Time Trial: Scan quickly until you get to the racers who matter. Stop every minute or so and listen to the commentators to make sure you haven’t missed a major upset (incredibly fast / slow time, a wreck, etc). Once you get to the major players, stop scanning and enjoy.
  • Flat / Sprinter’s Stage: Here’s what happens: An early breakaway fails quickly. Another seems like it might make it. Then the peloton catches the breakaway 10 – 5 Km from the finish line. The sprinters battle it out. There’s a crash toward the end of the stage. In other words, scan very aggressively through the stage, stopping every couple of minutes to see how the breakaway is doing. If they seem to have a prayer of succeeding or if they’re riders you care about, watch it in real time. Otherwise watch the last 10Km in real time.
  • Mountain Stage: Watch every last second of the stage in real-time. Watch the good parts twice. Savor. Mmmmmm. I luvvvvs  the mountain stages.
I wish I could see my calves.
I think we can take it as given that all cyclists are very vain about their legs. That’s why we shave them. (Well, actually, I don’t shave mine right now, because I’m still a Fat Cyclist. I have told myself I will not shave my legs until I reach 164 lbs, because I think I can at that point say I am no longer fat.) And cyclists know that one of the ways you can gauge the attack-ability of the cyclist ahead of you is by the size and cut of his calves.
The problem is, you can’t see your own calves when you’re biking. So you can’t tell whether you look dangerous or doofy. And I know, because I’ve tried numerous times to check my calves while riding. And I’ve got the scars to prove it.
Yes, here at the Fat Cyclist blog, we subscribe to the following credo: "Embarassingly honest proclamation / celebration of one’s own personality flaws is the highest form of humor." It’s not a catchy credo, but you’ve got to admit it is fairly descriptive.
Today’s Weight: 173.0. I can eat 3 brats and untold quantities of chips and dip, and still only gain a pound? Show me to the smorgasbord!


  1. Comment by Unknown | 07.7.2005 | 2:02 am

    i look at my calves all the time whilst riding. i love my calves. they’re my second favorite part of my body. i like them better than cheese.al trautwig is made of cheese. and not the good kind.

  2. Comment by kris | 07.7.2005 | 1:01 pm

    We must have read the same TdF-DVR manual. It’s a little known fact that Al Trautwig’s voice is the equivalent of a dog whistle to cyclists everywhere. The DVR can help alleviate that pain.

  3. Comment by duane | 07.7.2005 | 5:44 pm

    In the spirit of honoring our credo, I humbly submit:At one point, when I was a much fitter man than I am now, I contemplated setting up a video camera behind my bike while I rode my rollers – just so I could see my calves. It was when I used to shave my legs. I still think about it sometimes – but now I’m afraid of what I might see.

  4. Comment by Unknown | 07.7.2005 | 6:25 pm

    i have decided i will always shave my legs. even fat, they always look better shaved. and not fat, but fit, they look fantastic. in fact, i get a little uncomfortable sometimes. i think it moved.


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