Both Sides of the Windshield

08.26.2005 | 8:45 am

About a month ago, I wrote a little something called “An Open Letter to the Passenger in the Green SUV Who Screamed as He Went By Yesterday.” Basically, it was my reaction to some guy who — as a prank — screamed at me from his car as he went by. This post clicked with a lot of riders, and it still gets comments from time to time, most of them from people sharing similar experiences, as well as outrage that someone would do something so dangerous.

Yesterday, though, I got a different kind of comment on that post:

I live in Colorado and every weekend (when the weather is nice) there are cyclists EVERYWHERE!!!! The area I live in has only two-lane roads and NONE of the cyclists are going anywhere near the speed limit much less the speed of traffic. They do not follow the traffic laws, they do not ride near the side of the road, and they do not even move over to the side of the road when there is a line of cars behind them. However, they do weave in and out of cars waiting at stop signals, they do impede the flow of traffic, they do cause drivers to tale unnecessary and sometimes dangerous ‘evasive action’ just to get past them, in short they’re RUDE… I don’t condone any violence or retaliatory action… but please, please FIND A F$%*@ING trail or a bike path and get the hell out of my way.   — Becky, August 25, 9:53 AM

My initial reaction was to completely tear Becky apart, line by line. It would be easy; Becky leaves herself wide open. I mean, calling cyclists “RUDE” right before you say “FIND A F$%*@ING trail or a bike path and get the hell out of my way” is one of the most beautiful examples of irony I have ever seen.

OK, I guess I still intend to bust Becky’s chops a little. But that’s not all I’m going to do. I’m also going to acknowledge that she has some valid points, and try to see both sides of the story. I’m going to do my best to look through both sides of the windshield.

What Becky (and Other People in Cars) Needs to Understand About Cyclists
Becky might not be such a strong candidate for anger management counseling if she considered the following:

  • You’ll see things differently if you try riding a bike. Most cyclists have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in drivers’ heads, because most cyclists are drivers sometimes. The reverse isn’t true, however. Becky, your perspective might change a little bit if you got out of your car and onto a bike. You might notice different things about the road. You might perceive speed differently. You might even find that cars break laws and endanger cyclists as often as (or maybe more often than) cyclists break laws and endanger cars.
  • Some people act stupidly, whether in a car or on a bike. The people who do stupid things on bikes — and yes, Becky, I know they’re out there, because I’ve seen them too — also do stupid things when they’re in cars. Or when they’re at work. Or whatever. Some people are just stupid. Don’t go applying the specific to the general, OK, Becky? Saying no cyclist obeys traffic laws because some idiot nearly got himself killed by shooting out in front of you is like me saying all SUVs are populated by teenage homicidal idiots because one tried to startle me into the guardrail. Or like me saying all pickups are populated by homicidal cowboys because a few have tried to swipe me with their side mirrors. Or like me saying that all cars are populated by homicidal drunk idiots because a couple have thrown beer bottles in front of my bike as they go by.
  • Sometimes we have a good reason for being out in the road instead of hugging the side. It’s possible — make that probable — there’s glass or scattered nails on the edge of the road. You can’t see all the crud from your car, but it’s there.
  • Cyclists have a right to be on the road. We have a legal right to be there, and moreover, it’s the right place for us to be from a common sense point of view. If a road cyclist gets on a bike path, he’s a danger to pedestrians and cyclists on cruiser bikes — we’re just going too fast for foot and slow bike traffic. Try to stop thinking of cyclists as being on “your” road. We’re all paying taxes.
  • We are afraid you aren’t looking for us, and that you’ll kill us. My friend dug has been hit twice by people in cars who weren’t looking. I’ve known two cyclists who have been killed by people in cars who weren’t looking. So, some cyclists have adopted the tactic of riding right in the middle of the road, where you can’t miss them. You may be inconvenienced, but you won’t sideswipe and kill someone. Isn’t that nice?
  • We’re not causing you to take “unnecessary and sometimes dangerous evasive action.” If it’s unnecessary, it’s optional. You’re doing it because you want to. Guess what: your unnecessary evasive action you’re blaming on the cyclist is really just you being a poor driver. Sorry about that.

What Cyclists Need to Understand about Becky (and Other People in Cars)
I believe every cyclist already knows the following, so this is mostly just a reminder. And I should be clear: I don’t think the below list is true of every driver. In fact, it’s not true of most drivers. But you’ve got to assume it’s true of every driver anyway, because you never know which car is being driven by Becky.

  • People in cars remember every stupid thing they have ever seen a cyclist do, then assume every cyclist does that all the time. Becky here has clearly seen some cyclists do some stupid, illegal things, and now — right or wrong — she’s got it in her head that all cyclists do illegal things all the time. So, those of you doing stupid, illegal things: cut it out. You’re building up road rage in people like Becky, and they aren’t really careful about who they vent their anger at. And I’ll take it one step further: those of us who have friends who take stupid, illegal risks while riding need to tell them to cut it out; they’re souring the automotive world on bikes (That’s big talk for me; I have a couple riding friends who I’d need to lecture; so far I never have).
  • People in cars are bugged when cyclists ride right on the line of the shoulder. And rightly so. I see this all the time when I’m driving — cyclists have a nice wide shoulder, but they ride right on the line. If you can get over, do.
  • People in cars think you’re much wider than you actually are. They think they can’t pass you, even if they can. Signal them forward to let them know they have room.
  • People in cars expect you to adhere to laws much more closely than they do themselves. Cars roll stop signs all the time, but they resent bikes doing it. And they hate seeing bikes worm their way through traffic — it reminds them that they’re just sitting there, and that the $45 they just spent on gasoline is just floating up into the atmosphere, not actually moving them anywhere.
  • People in cars look where they’re used to looking for things they’re used to looking at. Cyclists aren’t where they expect, aren’t what they expect, and aren’t going at a rate they expect. If you haven’t made eye contact, assume you have not been seen. Seriously.
  • People in cars aren’t enjoying the ride like you are. They’re in a hurry. They resent being delayed even for a few seconds. If you can get out of the way and let them pass, do.
  • People in cars convert their worry about being in an accident into anger. Lots of people in cars have had near misses with cyclists. That scares them — most of them don’t want to kill us, after all — and then that fright turns into anger.

OK, I see my attempt to be even-handed about Becky’s post wound up a little bit lopsided. Maybe I should have just said, “Hey, we’ve all got to do our best to get along. You chill out, and I’ll do my best to be safe and legal.”

Maybe you’d like to try your hand at replying to Becky yourself.


I am…Captain Haphazard!

08.25.2005 | 5:10 pm

It’s easy for me to focus on the scale and use that as the metric for how I’m progressing — or failing to progress. The thing is, though, losing weight is only part of the equation. I also need to train better.

I’ve known for a long time that the best way for me to accomplish both these things is for me to hire a trainer. Someone who will give me a regimented diet. Someone who will plan out my training — how far to ride on which days, what kind of rides to go on, what kind of effort to expend, and so forth.

I know all this, and yet I never hire a trainer.

Wait, I should restate that: I know all this, and that’s why I never hire a trainer.


I Embrace My Inner-Randomness

The truth is, I love the haphazard nature of my training. When I go out riding, I like to go out on the ride that sounds like the most fun at the moment. Some days that’s a flat ride, some days it’s full of hills. Some days I go at my "all-day" pace, some days I go as hard as I can until I completely blow up.

Some days I ride on a road bike, some days I’m on a mountain bike. Whatever I feel like. I have never burned out on biking in more than ten years, because I’m always doing what I want to do.

It’s haphazard, but cumulatively, it at least sorta-kinda works. I get in a lot of miles. I push myself. I get better at cycling, and I burn a lot of calories.

I love the loose nature of my diet, too. The "avoid bad habits" diet (copyright Fat Cyclist Enterprises, all rights reserved) diet lets me go to restaurants, it lets me eat carbs, it lets me eat whatever I want. I just don’t eat stupid amounts of it, I don’t eat late at night, and I make sure I eat a lot of raw fruit (mostly apples) during the day.


Are What I Want and What I Like Mutually Exclusive?

While I like the "Do Whatever Sounds Good" approach to training, I also really want to get under the nine-hour mark at the Leadville 100 next year. It will be my tenth try and I’ve never finished under nine hours before, so I’ve got to admit to myself that when I train my way, I come up short.

I expect a trainer would change everything about my training. I’d need to ride certain amounts, at a certain level. I’d need to do intervals. I’d need to do "rest day rides," where I wouldn’t be allowed to chase after the guy up the road. And I’d probably have a completely different diet.

I’d probably really improve with a trainer. Maybe I’d even hit my race goals. I think, though, that in the middle of all this routine I’d stop having fun.

So this year, I’ll try to be smarter about my training. I’ll do more hills, I’ll keep doing the long flat rides, I’ll let my muscles recover. I’ll be light. But I plan on doing it haphazardly.

Maybe there are trainers out there who specialize in flibbertigibbets like me. Trainers who can show me how to keep doing the rides I want to do, but just do them better. In which case, Ms. I-like-to-train-completely-random-people, by all means contact me.

But I’m not willing to give up the fun. I’m just not.


Today’s Weight: 165.0 lbs.

Whaddaya Mean I’m Not Fat?

08.24.2005 | 2:38 pm

When I started this blog, I was 40 pounds overweight. The point of this blog wasn’t for me to be fat. It was for me to lose the fat. Look at my first picture in the "Before…During…" photo album: 181lbs. For a guy who used to be a competitive bike racer, that’s fat.
Now I’m down to 165, because the blog is doing what it’s supposed to — ie, publicly shaming me into keeping my weight loss goals. And the fact that I offer a weekly bounty if I miss my week’s goal just keeps my feet that much closer to the fire.


And now, on with today’s real  story: Lance Armstrong is coming out of retirement….

Scoop! Lance Armstrong Comes Out of Retirement!

08.24.2005 | 2:05 pm

Friends, Family, Sheryl Crow Heave Collective Sigh of Relief

Austin, TX, (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – Less than six weeks after winning what was presumably the final race of his career, Lance Armstrong today announced in a hastily-called media conference that he is coming out of retirement.

Said the rumpled, unshaven seven-time Tour de France champion, "Uh, I guess I’ll be racing the Tour de France next year." Then, after pausing for a few seconds while exchanging glances with Sheryl Crow, Armstrong continued, "I’ll also be racing the Giro d’Italia." Another five silent seconds elapsed, after which Armstrong finished, "And the Vuelta Espana."

Armstrong concluded the media conference abruptly by saying, "No questions. I have to go ride my bike now."


Crow Gives the Go-Ahead

Rock star Sheryl Crow,  fiance to Armstrong, explained his decision. "He’s racing again because I was going to completely lose my mind if he didn’t get out of the house and do something. I swear, if he isn’t at Home Depot buying new power tools or downstairs playing Halo — I haven’t yet told him Halo 2 has come out — he’s catching up on seven years’ worth of television. Yesterday, he watched the entire second season of 24. You know how long that took? All  day and night."

Crow took a deep breath and continued, "Back when he was preparing for the Tour, Lance and I used to talk about how great it would be when he was retired and he’d have time to do nothing but relax. I had no idea he meant that so literally."

At this moment, Crow stopped and took three deep breaths before continuing, "So, yeah, he’s going to start racing again."


But Wait! There’s More!

Click here to read the entirety of this satire piece at


How Not to Buy a Bike

08.23.2005 | 6:38 pm

Recently, my friend Rick put up an ad on a local online marketplace to sell his Bianchi EV2 — The "Pantani Special," we all call it. Evidently, Rick’s thinking about an Orbea. As you might expect, the jokers who want to "buy" expensive merchandise using a phony cashier’s check or money order came out of the woodwork.

They shouldn’t have.

Rick’s got a wicked sense of humor. He’s played practical jokes that people involved still talk about ten years later; the dopes sending their form letters never stood a chance.

Here are a few of the e-mail exchanges:


Buyer #1: Doroth Blake Is So Interested in Rick’s Goods

Here’s Doroth Blake’s obviously non-form (ha) letter. You can tell she spent a lot of time making sure Rick believed she was speaking directly to him:

    am so interested in your goods hope there are in goods condition, please kindly reply me if you are willing to sell for me and my mode of payment is money order .
phone number ………………..
fax number………..
willing to here from you to conclude the transaction

I for one don’t see a problem. Do you? I have no idea why Rick sent the following reply:


Doroth Blake. Are you sure your name not good Blake Doroth? That making more good cents to me. You are so interested in my goods. This is good. It is good when you are interested in my goods. I can sell my goods to you for a good price of $1,400 and save you good $50–this is equally good. I am so happy to receive good cash from you when you can send me and I can send my goods. Please put a nice wrapper around my good pile of cash and label them "Good Cash for a Good Boy for His Good Bike," and send them to me. 

I am so happy to wait for it,

Good buy

Buyer #2: Mr. Paul Wants a {Bike}

You know, if you’re not even willing to delete the placeholder brackets, your heart’s not really in the scam, is it? Here’s Mr. Paul Crane’s purchase offer:

Greetings to you, My name is Mr Paul, i saw your {Bianchi EV2 Aluminum 2001, 53cm, Record $1450} placed on advert, and it suits what i have been looking for since a very long time,based on the description i have decided to  buy it from you, i’ll also like to know your last asking price and to see the pics also. I am presently not in the country, i am in UK on a business trip,So i will like to ask you if you accept to be payed with  via us Certifier Money Order? If that is accepted by you, kindly mail me back with details:
Best Regard
Mr Paul Crane

I think we can all take a lesson from the courtesy and poetry Rick shows in his reply.

Great Mr. Crane–we have a deal. I know you have been looking for this bike for a very long time. I know this will be your best bike. In fact, I will reduce the price to $1,350. I will accept payment in cash ($100 dollar bills). I know you will come back to the US from a business trip to the UK. When you come back, you can bring me the cash and I will give you super Bianchi, which is the greatest bike in all the land. I shall be proud Mr. Paul Crane. By the way, I have a friend named Paul and a friend named Crane but neither of these friends has a Bianchi. Therefore, neither of these two will enjoy the sensations of riding the best. You will. The water is cool and warm. It is refreshing and sometimes delicious. A Bianchi can ride and when it will be paid in cash it will fly without boundaries or limitations.

Mr. Woody P. Ecker 

Buyers #3 – 20: What are the Odds?

The world’s a funny place. Almost anything can happen. Rick has received, so far, about 20 of these very similar offers. I, for one, believe they’re all genuine. Rick does, too. But that leaves him with a real stickler. Which of these fabulous offers should he go with? With the wisdom of Solomon, Rick sent the following e-mail to everyone:

Hello Bernard, James, Lyone, Mary, Micky, Mr Crane, and ninos,

You will not believe this. I am surprised because you all have very similar offers for my goods. Below are the emails I received from all of you with the same offer–like I said, I can’t believe my eyes! I can’t believe that you are geographically separated but your emails are so similar! How can this be? I remain surprised! So surprised that you all use Yahoo too. Yahoo is a very good email program and you know it.

As a solution, I have set the price for my goods at $7,432. I am very excited because this amount will enable me to purchase an even better replacement bike and also purchase a five-year supply of tubes, handlebar tape, high-end lubrication, and a neon bike flag. I am surprised and excited. The first person to deliver cash - US Dolla Dolla bills y’all may claim the goods. Cashier Cheque will not claim the goods because I do not have access to a bank that will cash your cashier cheque. So figure out a way to get me $7,432 in US Dollars.

Please work together as a team to determine who will receive my goods. I am surprised and excited to learn which of you will claim my goods.

As a side note, I like all of your signatures very much. I especially like the kind words included by your email providers. My favorite one is from Mary. Mary’s says, Tired of Spam? I know this is a joke because Spam is super delicious and nutritious. I have many friends who eat much Spam. Hey, have you seen the Spam website: Thanks Mary–perhaps you will get my goods for your clever signature! Perhaps you can bookmark



Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare: Rick rules.


Today’s weight: 166.0 lbs.


Bonus Claim of Fat Cyclist Fraud: Eric Gunnerson, whose name I sometimes drop when I want people to think I’m smart, has a Fat Cyclist consipacy theory.

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