Home Court Advantage

10.24.2005 | 8:49 pm

Jake and I have been on several of the same rides this year. We were both at the Leadville 100. We both rode the Zoo. We both did the Issaquah Alps. Until last Saturday, though, we hadn’t ridden together.

Saturday, Jake took me out on a cyclist’s tour of Seattle. I started from my house, arrived at our meet-up spot (a coffee shop, as is required by law in Seattle), and told him that since he knew the area much better than I do, he was in charge of the ride. "Wherever you like," I said. "I’m not fast, but I can ride pretty much all day without tiring."

Famous last words.


Control is Power

I’m about to say several nasty things about Jake, so I should problably make it clear up front: Jake took me on a great ride. You see, I usually head off into the country on my road rides, because it’s impossible for me to get lost if the road never turns. Jake, however, knows Seattle inside and out, and so we took off toward the ocean.

So now, after having lived in the area for 1.5 years, I can finally say that I’ve ridden my bike from my home (Sammamish) to the waterfront. We rode along bike trails at Elliot Bay, we rode by the stadium where fans were gathering for the Huskies / USC game, we rode on Mercer Island, we rode by Queen Anne, we rode through numerous parks, up and down short, steep windy hills.

And for the first twenty-five miles or so, I was fine. In fact, I can’t remember having such a nice ride in a long time. The weather was good, Jake’s a great guy to talk with, we ride at the same pace, and I was seeing stuff I hadn’t seen before.

Then, at about mile 25, we were headed along what I thought was going to be a nice, long, gentle downhill…when Jake took a right turn ahead of me and started climbing.

Man, I just wasn’t ready for that.

I’m no complainer, though, nosirree. I shifted down and started churning up, just wondering to myself, "aren’t we headed away from home now?"

Jake, meanwhile, happily spun along.

Then, a few minutes later, he did it again. And then again. He kept turning uphill whenever he could. "He’s messing with me," I thought, as I dropped into my granny and struggled to stay with him. But what could I do? This was his ride. And I had, after all, billed myself as the "Ride All Day, Never Get Tired" guy.

So I smiled, told Jake what a great ride it was (because it was in fact a great ride — it was me who wasn’t so great), and drafted behind him whenever I could.


Exploit the Advantage

This is not the first time the Home Court Advantage riding technique has been used against me, either. For some reason, knowing the course is an important part of how strong I’m going to be throughout the ride. 142 miles on desert doubletrack on a mountain bike over the course of 18 hours? Done it, and could do it again. Three hours on moderately hilly roads in Seattle, Washington? Totally wiped me out.

I’ve observed this effect on other people, too. In particular, I once took Rocky out mountain biking at my old favorite trail in Utah: Frank. He had ridden Frank before, and so knew what to expect; Rocky had no trouble at all staying with — or often, riding ahead of — me. When I switched things up on him, though, by turning onto a 4.3 mile brutal uphill climb called Squaw Peak (a long paved climb that leads to an exquisitely intense technical downhill), Rocky discombobulated. He hadn’t factored the Squaw climb in. I had used the bait-and-switch, combined with the Home Court Advantage, to soundly defeat a cyclist several notches my superior.

It’s a technique I plan to use again. Preferably, on Jake.


Today’s weight: 163.2


PS: I’m double-plus-happy to have the Banjo Brothers along as a sponsor of the Fat Cyclist. What does it mean to be a sponsor of the Fat Cyclist? Nobody seems to know, but we do know that it will involve me giving away a cool Banjo Brothers Seat Bag (you know, the tiny little pouch that fits under your bike seat) for each of the next few Wednesdays, at least.

PPS: Thanks for the Nalgene water bottle, Rocky. For the first time ever, I finally have a water bottle that tastes like nothing. Fits great in the bottle cage, too.

PPPS: Sometime yesterday afternoon, this blog crossed the 500,000 page view threshold. Huzzah!


  1. Comment by agreenmouther | 10.24.2005 | 9:06 pm

    There is definitely a home-court advantage. At the same time, it’s always fun to discover new rides and scenery. I just try to do it with someone who is either slower than me, noncompetitive, or painfully socially awkward so I don’t feel bad about holding them up. At least I’m keeping them company..

  2. Comment by Sarah | 10.24.2005 | 9:41 pm

    Hi! I enjoy reading your blog, so thought I should comment. My dad owns a bike store in South Dakota, so I grew up in the business. I ride a fair bit in the summer, but it is cold here in Iowa now and I am oh so lazy. Just wondering what kind of nalgene you got, I’m in the market for a new water bottle :) Thanks for the daily entertainment/inspiration, keep up the good work.

  3. Comment by Unknown | 10.24.2005 | 9:59 pm

    if the nalgene bottle rocky sent you is what i think it is, you have several reasons this bottle cannot be used while riding, not including the fact that any equipment used by or recommended by rocky has a tendency to self-destruct:1. nalgene bottles are not for cycling. they are for hiking (not, as i’ve been appropriately reminded, for hooking to the belt, but for in the pack, carried in the hand, or sometimes, hooked to a loop on the outside of a pack), camping, or backcountry skiing. so unless you are cycling around a campfire, or intend to ski down when you reach the top, no nalgene bottle.2. the taste of the water bottle, or whatever was last in the water bottle, is part of the fabric of cycling, the warp and woof, the essence of it all. you are allowed to try to intoduce new flavors, or to erradicate old flavors, but you are not allowed to go flavorless.3. they cannot be squeezed. squozed. mushed. squeezing the water bottle means you can tilt your head to the side, rather than straight back. watch a paceline next time. tilting the head to the side instead of straight back is the mark of an experienced cyclist. if you are not experienced, you can at least act like you are (but not with a nalgene bottle).4. nalgene bottles won’t stay in the cage. one speed bump, one bunny hop, one set of railroad tracks, and it’s gone. which, in this case, would be a good thing.5. carrying a nalgene bottle on a bike will mark you as a fred. nobody wants to be a fred. not even you.

  4. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 10.24.2005 | 10:09 pm

    The home court advantage can be great fun, even without punishing your visitor by taking them up every ‘widowmaker’ climb. My personal favourite is the ‘false-flat monologue’. It takes great conversational skill and an intimate knowledge of your intended route. Just carry on the regular friendly conversation, but pick a subject that will force the other person to want to speek at length (their new car/bike/baby/job can work well). Their monologue must start just as you hit the bottom of a gentle but lengthy incline. Not enough to change gears or get out of the seat. Just enough to suck their lungs inside out as they continue to talk.I hope this helps everyone hurt your best friend next time they visit for a ride.P.S. the word ‘favourite’ is not spelt incorrectly, we have lots of spare letters out here in the colonies and we dispose of them in some rather strange places throughout the dictionary.

  5. Comment by a | 10.24.2005 | 10:16 pm

    Is this the nalgene bottle you got: http://www.nalgene-outdoor.com/store/subcategory.asp?categorysubcategorycode=16?LDPE,Round,ATBYou can rely on the NALGENE All-Terrain Bottle wherever you go. It’s great for carbohydrate/energy beverages, easy to use, and simple to clean. Your ATB fits standard bicycle cages Except the 32oz. That does not fit in any cages., waist pack and backpack pockets. The hinged Lexan mud-cap keeps the drinking spout clean, and the slim profile and textured grip give you firm handling in virtually all conditions. The wide neck opening easily accommodates ice cubes for chilled drinks, and the neck configuration works with most major water purifiers and filters.Made with LDPESturdy and reliableEconomicalFlexibleDishwasher Safe (top rack only)Withstands temperatures from -100ºC (-148ºF) to 80ºC (176ºF)Recommended for:Liquids They look like they will fit in the cage, and they can be squeezed. However, if they are not the hard plastic like the ones dug is talking about how do they not eventually absorb the taste of the last beverage?

  6. Comment by a | 10.24.2005 | 10:19 pm

    Here is the link that works: http://www.nalgene-outdoor.com/store/subcategory.asp?categorysubcategorycode=16

  7. Comment by Unknown | 10.24.2005 | 10:35 pm

    okay, i followed the link nikared gave us. it looks like these bottles are kind of like normal water bottles, and will fit the cage and not come flying out.so the only downside to these new nalgene bottles? they are the stupidest looking bottles i’ve ever seen. one of them has a picture of a smiling, waving bear wearing a backpack. and to add insult to injury, they have those ridiculous top flip covers, very useful if you ride in kansas in cow pastures.fatty, if you come to moab with this bottle, i will throw it in the colorado river. if rocky comes with one, i will have brad throw rocky in the colorado river.

  8. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 10.24.2005 | 10:57 pm

    nikared – That was almost evangelical. Do you work for nalgene? Or did one of their bottles save you from the jaws certain death?

  9. Comment by Unknown | 10.24.2005 | 11:14 pm

    A note, or two:1) You have used the home court advantage on me once or twice–okay, I have developed a negative conditioned physical response to "hey, let’s go for an easy ride." I hate you for it.2) I was never a superior rider to anyone, including my 12 year old daughter, but I guess in the interest of making for a good and sound blog entry, one must embellish a smidge.3) dug is: a) never going to leave me alone about that damned handlebar, even though I learned my lesson and have only used Easton products ever since b) starting an early campaign to wedge into the psychological cracks in my missing kidney- weakened psyche, embracing fully the reputation he has earned as an insensitive cad, and getting an early trash talking whack at "fresh meat" before the trash talking feeding frenzy at fallmoab’05, about which I am a skosh nervous c) jealous that he was not mentioned in Fatty’s blog as one having been thoughtful enough to send out a lovely new, "i can’t taste that crappy stuff i drank yesterday" nalgene anything bottle d) a sad little man4) I dissed "The System®" despite Bob’s warnings to with no response. He must be saving up.Thanks to the Fatty for being kind to a slow, fat guy with numerous diminished capacities (not including sleep and eating). It makes for an interesting read, anyways.

  10. Comment by agreenmouther | 10.25.2005 | 12:11 am

    dug- could not agree more on the nalgenes. keep saving your friends from themselves.

  11. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 1:26 am

    Yeah, WTF is up with those Nalgene bottles and the funky graphics? Is that the official water bottle of Kids Who Ride Hanna Barbera Banana Seat Cruiser Bikes (TM)? Dear God, man. It’s not even as good as a stupid Grateful Dead "Bearly Movin!" bear, which I could almost see wearing, were I a patchouli stinkin’ Deadhead with white person dreadlocks, hemp bicycle shorts with a hemp chamois (and Assos Hemp Butt’r) and unshaven legs. (Obviously I’d be a girly Deadhead biker in that ensemble but you get the idea). BTW, I employed some of the trash talk suggestions, and got the best trashtalk/backhanded compliment ever yesterday. At the start of a really tough, 45 mile hill ride w/t my club, I talked up my physical fatness. "Jeebus, look at the hill profile. I thought this supposed to be the "D" microbrewery tour ride. I hope somebody’s got a defibrillator." With about 42 miles in the can, this resulted in the following, um, sort of compliment: "You climb pretty good for a fat guy." That’s up there with "Gee, for a fat girl, you sure don’t sweat much when you dance." Yeehaw, I managed to hang with the #2 group out of four. Which is a rockstar like performance, if the standard of comparison involves John Lennon, Janis Joplin, or Jimi Hendrix. The average rider in my group bought their Serottas using social security checks, several had visible scar "zippers" on their chests when they lowered their jersey zippers, and the slower groups were comprised of 3’s (wheelchairs, noncompetetive division); and 4s (gurneys, and double amputees on those 4 wheeled skateboard things that look like a mechanic’s roller). Well, either the trashtalk worked to slow my "competitors" (sure it was a gentle club ride… bwah ha ha); or perhaps I was so angry at myself for being such a rude prick to myself, that I vowed "I’ll show me!" and outrode myself. But no matter how galling that alleged compliment was, and no matter how bad the hills killed me, at least I don’t ride with a Nalgene Bottle with a ridiculous non trademarked bear on it.

  12. Comment by Cathy | 10.25.2005 | 1:30 am

    What happened to her? A Mom in America

  13. Comment by Ariane | 10.25.2005 | 2:00 am

    There’s so no way that’s a bear. Look at ‘is li’l wagging tail, the droopy face, the floppy ears. That’s some kind of dog… maybe a Saint-Bernard/Beagle mix. And some one seems to have given this dog ‘ludes; his eyes tell the whole story. Anyway.Hey, hope this isn’t a tender subject, but what happened to Afghanistantastic? She’s not even on the Best of What’s our Story page… It’s like the blog never existed…

  14. Comment by Cathy | 10.25.2005 | 2:22 am

    Please tell her that I said, God bless and that I’m doing all I can for her!A Mom in America

  15. Comment by Lindsay | 10.25.2005 | 2:46 am

    Wow! You’re looking fantastic. Keep up the good work!!

  16. Comment by Kristina M. | 10.25.2005 | 3:56 am

    What happened to your sis (AF Capt) I haven’t been able to get into her blog either and I was so excited to check it everyday. If you can get word to her please tell her I am still praying for her and all the troopsKris

  17. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 4:26 am

    Geez…a water bottle drawing so much fire? First, Fatty’s new bottle has no waving bear. Second, it is a normal color of blue. Third, it has the normal water bottle top like, well, a normal water bottle. Fourth, it is made to fit snugly in a standard water bottle cage.Water bottles are a sensitive issue ’round these parts, huh? Maybe Fatty will start a new trend and everybody will want one of these nalgene bottles.So it’s muay thai that will throw me into the Colorado River? I just need to know how to defend. Will running away screaming like a girl help?

  18. Comment by Carolynn | 10.25.2005 | 4:26 am

    With that kind of readership, shouldn’t you be getting money??????

  19. Comment by Daniel | 10.25.2005 | 4:32 am

    Water bottles and Hannibal Lecter-ish riding partners, oh joy.What *I’d* like to hear is the story of how the men in black suits and Ray Bans turned up in your sister’s room in Afghanistan and confiscated her laptop over the weekend.Because now, you see, I’ll have to go to all the effort of finding *another* mole in the USAF to give me all the goss about sexist COs and political border issues. My Mossad controller is getting impatient.

  20. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 5:07 am

    Okay…now I get it. I went to the link that nikared provided to get a look at the nalgene bottles there. If Fatty showed up with one of those bottles, I would throw him in the Colorado River myself. If I gave him a bottle like that, Brad should throw me in the river with him. Better yet, he and I should throw ourselves in the river for toting that thing around. Those are for geeks, pansies, and retards. Try this link… http://www.rei.com/product/47604331.htm?Fatty is a trendsetter–he has a certain cache. People wanna be like him–just not fat. He would never use a "fred" bottle like the one with the waving dog/bear/critter. Okay…he might LIKE the bottle with the waving bear/dog thing as he’s kind of nerdy. But I have to defend myself here. Afterall, I sent him the stupid bottle. The above link is not the exact bottle (the one he has is made for cycling) and not all REIs carry it. It is the same color as the one pictured in the link, and my guess is that once dug sees Fatty’s new bottle, he’ll want one, too despite the warp and woof (?) of traditional crappy plastic bottles. Maybe Fatty should shoot a photo to show folks just how chic his new bottle is, and in the procees, save himself some ridicule and a cold Autumn dunking in the Colorado.

  21. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 5:09 am

    BTW…the chic nalgene bottles from REI come in, count them, four colors: red, blue, green, and yellow.

  22. Comment by AO | 10.25.2005 | 6:02 am

    Okay, I went to the link Rocky provided and my first thought was dug’s 1st entry on the topic, particularly points 3 & 4. Those bottles can’t be squeezed, and b/c they are hard plastic will likely not stay in the cage. Plus, who wants to pull the bottle out of the cage and then ride no-hands whilst unscrewing the cap?Of course, if the optional GSI Sip It Lid were used then there would be no need to squeeze the bottle. However, with Fatty’s propensity for falling over, the bottle will be empty before the ride really begins… What would be nice though is if Assos would put belt loops on their bibs then you could hook that bottle right there on your waist!

  23. Comment by Daniel | 10.25.2005 | 6:13 am

    Yes. Assos should make Luxury Bottles.

  24. Comment by AO | 10.25.2005 | 6:13 am

    Yeah, I should be finishing my accounting case that is due in a few short hours, but I really want to get to the bottom of this. Is this the bottle: http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?storeId=8000&catalogId=40000008000&productId=47947565&parent_category_rn=5760748Maybe to settle this whole mess you should just post a picture of the frickin’ bottle and be done with it.

  25. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 6:36 am

    THAT is the actual bottle, but with the optional traditional pull top. Nope, it can’t be squeezed, so that part of the "warp and woof" of traditional bottles cannot be part of the Nalgene Experience®. But isn’t a little warp and woof trade-off worth not drinking from a bottle that has live spores that taste like turnips in it?

  26. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 6:41 am

    oops…that one got away from me. Afterall, gravity does still push water through an open bottle spout, even if one is using dug’s Sideways Slurp®. You just might not get the greedy gulp you otherwise might. But then you might not get Giardia Poisoning, either.

  27. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 10:54 am

    Rocky, Dan is absolutely correct. You need an Assos Watre Bottel (TM). Because the worse you ride and drink, the the more your guzzling ability is fragile. The more you watre bottels to sustain and protect your body when drinking while riding your bicycle.These moments are precious. Don’t spoil them by spillage (pronounced "spill-ahhh-juh"). Assos. For luxury water.**Only $199.99 from fine retailers near you. Email Al_Maviva@NOSPAMexcite.com for further details.

  28. Comment by Cathy | 10.25.2005 | 12:23 pm

    Thank you for your post! I greatly appreciate it and am glad she is in good spirits! (And yes, you should have picked a different handle…try typing that one first thing in the morning every day! lol) You know, every time you get into a blog, it’s not just about stories, it’s about sharing someone’s life with them. I miss her already, but am glad she is well! Thank you again!God bless you and all your family!A Mom in America

  29. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 10.25.2005 | 12:35 pm

    Al – there’s nothing wrong with Assos that can’t be overcome with a platinum card and complete ignorance of ergonomics and style.

  30. Comment by Amber | 10.25.2005 | 1:29 pm

    Yet another great blog! I have it on good authority you were a former "Student Reviewer." I wanted to personally thank you and your former co-workers for Testimony Bingo; it has gotten me through many a boring meeting.

  31. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 2:27 pm

    Hey, nice ride commentary. I ride with Jake as much as I can (partly because he’s my brother-in-law, but that was just a means of introduction), but since he’s on one side of the state, and I’m on the other in Spokane, we don’t get to ride as often as we’d like. If you’d like me to work my home court advantage on Jake, just haul yourselves over hear and I’ll show you both some rides. Not as hilly as Seattle, most of the time anyway. Come on over and ride the eastern side of the state, if you dare.

  32. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 2:52 pm

    rockhead ™, from bartleby:warp and woof: the essential foundation or base of any structure or organization; from weaving, in which the warp—the threads that run lengthwise—and the woof—the threads that run across—make up the fabric: “The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are the warp and woof of the American nation.”and what’s wrong with turnips?

  33. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 4:26 pm

    Thank you for the history lesson uncle dug, and for the enlightenment…apparently the warp and woof of my literary exposure is flawed…

  34. Comment by Naveed | 10.25.2005 | 6:27 pm

    You might want to reconsider the Nalgene water bottles. The Lexan plastic they use can be a health risk. You can read more at http://www.mercola.com/2004/apr/7/nalgene_water.htm.

  35. Comment by Jenna | 10.25.2005 | 9:09 pm

    i’m a lurker, i’ll be honest, i stop by your page every couple of weeks, and i don’t think i have ever left a comment. but, I got really excited by the fact that you live in Sammamish! I went to Trinity Lutheran College, right on the border line between the ‘quah and Sammamish. ok, thought i would share, i am better now!peace!

  36. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 10.25.2005 | 9:27 pm

    WARP and WOOF. My head is about to explode. What ever happened to WARP and WEFT?

  37. Comment by Unknown | 10.25.2005 | 9:45 pm

    woof and weft are synonyms, not sure which came first. course, woof has other useful meanings and uses too. just ask my dog.


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.