12.29.2005 | 8:30 pm

It is known far and wide that I make the best mashed potatoes in the entire world, as well as the best banana cream pie. My chili is perhaps the best in the world, too, especially when matched with the fry bread I make. When I choose to, I am fully capable of demonstrating an unmatched ability to grill and dress a burger.

And now it’s winter, when I traditionally let my guard down and make all this food. It’s when I demonstrate that I could quite probably run a comfort-food restaurant. People love me this time of year.

And I have grown fat again. I am amazed how little time it took. No, just kidding. This happens each year. I’m just pretending to be amazed.

It stops now, though. It has to.


The Fat Cyclist 2006 Event Itinerary

2006 is going to be my biggest, best cycling season ever. I need to be in shape for it. No, “in shape” doesn’t cover it. I need to be in the best shape of my life. Here’s why.

  • Kokopelli Trail Ride (May 13): My first big event of the year is also the biggest thing I’ve ever planned. An unsupported, 142-mile ride means I need to be light and strong, much earlier in the season than I’ve ever been. My target weight for this ride is 158. I will do almost all my training for this ride on the road, since it is not an especially technical ride. My primary goal is to finish this race at all. My stretch goal is to finish it before midnight (21 hours).
  • Cascade Creampuff (June 26): Three laps, each about 33 miles long. Each lap, you climb for around 6000 feet. Then, just as your legs are about to give out from the climb, you get to go down 15 miles of twisty, technical singletrack. I’ve done this race once before; after one lap, I was completely cooked. It’s the only race I’ve ever given serious consideration to quitting. In fact, I did quit this race, several times. I just never said it at a place where it would be official. My target weight for this ride is 155. I will train for this ride both on the road and on trail. You can lose lots of time on this one by being a poor technician. My primary goal is to finish this in under 13 hours. My stretch goal is to finish it in under 12.
  • Leadville Trail 100 (August 12): This is the big one. This will be the tenth time I’ve done this race. I will be 40 years old. I would really, really, really like to finish in less than nine hours and get that big ol’ coveted belt buckle. My target weight for this ride is 150. I will train mostly on the road for this ride, focusing on sustained climbs.
  • Track (Weekly races throughout the season): My goal here is just to compete and get to a point where I don’t embarrass myself. Since I’ve never done this before, I have no idea what else I should shoot for.

How I Will Get There

Getting down to the weight — and getting the strength — I need to be competitive isn’t at all mysterious. I know how to do it. It’s just a matter of commitment.

  • Diet: I know what works for me. I go with a high-carb diet, but keep most of the carbs in the form of fruits and vegetables as possible. Apples, bananas, carrots, brown rice. And don’t eat after dinner.
  • Exercise: For now, I will just do base miles — keep up the bike commute, but go the long way (18 miles each way) instead of the short way (11 miles each way). Once there’s more light, I’ll be swapping in early-morning long efforts and hilly rides.

The Contest Will Be Back

I stopped doing the daily weigh-in and the weekly weight goal contest a few months ago. I believe I started putting weight on at exactly that moment. So that will be coming back, beginning February 1. I am giving myself until then to lose as much weight as possible in private, without the humiliation of the public daily weigh-in.

It is my fondest hope that I will be able to lose enough weight between now and then that nobody will be able to guess how much I actually have gained in the past few months.


The Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Giveaway Question

OK, so now you know what my biking goals are for 2006. An extremely cool Banjo Brothers biking duffel bag — it’s got special pockets for your helmet, your shoes, everything — goes to the commenter with the most intriguing / entertaining / honest / otherwise compelling 2006 goals and plan.

This contest will, by the way, go through Monday, January 1 — so you’ve got plenty of time to think about it.


PS: Happy new year!



12.27.2005 | 5:22 pm

For me, biking is a sport of obsession. I’m obsessed with my weight. I’m obsessed with equipment. I obsess over favorite roads and trails. I obsess over important events and races. It’s a sickness.

I do not wish to be healed.

I love when some new aspect of cycling takes hold of me, makes me start thinking about it constantly. I love mulling over whatever has gripped me, turning it over and over in my mind, seeing every angle of it, trying to solve it. How could I ride a trail faster or better? How should I prepare for an event? How can I get down to 150 lbs?


I Am Rational And Pragmatic

Some obsessions take hold slowly. Last week, Brad sent an email out to a group of people saying that he’s interested in riding something I hadn’t even heard of until this point: The Kokopelli Trail Race. I looked at the description of the race — a completely self-supported ride of the 142-mile Kokopelli Trail in one day — and deleted the email message without replying.

I figured, after all, Brad was joking when he sent that message. I mean, a couple months ago, when I talked about bonking, Brad’s and Rocky’s experiences on the Kokopelli Trail were two of the three stories I used to describe what an ultimate, pull-out-all-the-stops bonk looked like. So for Brad to suggest doing this course at all — leave alone as an unsupported race — seemed a little wacky.

Other people did reply, though, saying this race looks like an interesting challenge. So I fired off a reality-check email to straighten them out:

Out of like a million attempts, we’ve completed this ride once. And that was with support meeting us in at the following places:

  • Base of Beaver Mesa climb
  • Fisher Valley
  • Dewey Bridge
  • Westwater Ranger Station Underpass
  • Rabbit Valley

Remember: even with the support–carrying only the water we needed to get us to the next meet-up spot, we started at 4 am, and finished at 11pm.

Doing this ride totally unsupported means you’d have to carry your lights all day, along with clothes for both cold and hot riding. And of course, a full day’s worth of food and water. How much water is that? and how do you carry that much?

Man, that drop into and climb out of the canyon before Troybuilt in the dark, when you’re exhausted, was hard. Most of us were so tired we crashed once or twice on the downhill. And we were so wiped out we got lost in the climb out. We all agreed we never wanted to do that again.

And what about bonking, the way Brad did between Dewey Bridge and Rabbit Valley? What if you do that on this race, but there’s no sag wagon to pick you up, Brad? What do you do? Die?

I figured that would bring everyone to their senses.

Instead, it made me start thinking about what the solutions are to the problems I had identified.

And when I say “thinking about,” I of course mean “thinking, increasingly often, until it consumed all my waking thoughts.”

I was no longer thinking of it as an interesting problem. I was picturing my setup, my gear, my effort, and my strategy. And I was asking my wife about whether I could fly out to Utah in mid-May.


I Am Neither Rational Nor Pragmatic

I don’t have much in the way of endurance cycling boasting rights, but I do have one pretty impressive credential: I have never DNF’d (for you non-racing types, that’s short for “Did Not Finish,” and it’s what officials write by your race number when you quit a race. “DNF” can be used as both a noun and a verb). My attitude stays level even when I’m suffering, and I’m able to push through bonks and keep going.

So, yeah, I think I could do the Kokopelli Trail Race. Here are some of the thoughts now constantly swirling around in my head:

  • What would be my goal? Finish before midnight.
  • How could I save on gear? Find a friend who would make a pact with me to ride together. Then divvy up redundant gear. We could share a water filter. We could share a pump. We could share light. We could share a phone (for just in case.). I’ll need to check with the race organizer as to whether this violates the "self supported" mandate.
  • How would I avoid mistakes? Everyone gets punchy after riding for long enough. I know that my brain stops working well after 18 hours or so on the trail. Having someone along to double-check decisions is probably a good idea, though I’m not sure that two addle-brained riders are better than one.

That’s just the start of it. If I’m going to do this ride, I’ll need to be in extraordinary shape by the beginning of May. Which means I need to start training seriously now. The side-benefit of this is it would leave me good and fit for the Cascade Creampuff (Kenny, Chucky and I are hoping to get in), and — of course — for the Leadville 100.

See, I’ve got it all figured out. What could go wrong?

I mean, besides everything?

The Way of the Mountain Turtle

12.26.2005 | 6:19 pm

Last week, Rocky asked me why I like endurance biking. My answer’s pretty complex. I like planning for a big ride. I like being with my friends during a big ride. I like being in the middle of nowhere. I like that I seem to be able to suffer with style during a big ride.
But the biggest reason is: I like to tell stories about the ride afterward.
And in the same way I like to tell stories about an endurance ride, I like reading others’ stories, especially about rides I’d like to do if I had the time (or ability).
Kent Peterson, who works at Sammamish Valley Cycle, has written just such a story: "The Way of the Mountain Turtle: Single-speeding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race." It’s a long race, and Kent’s gone to a lot of effort to tell the story thoroughly — it’s about 25 pages long.
If you’ve got a little extra time during the holiday and are in the mood for a great story by a great guy, I think this may be just what you’re looking for.

How to Freak People Out on Christmas

12.25.2005 | 1:45 am

My gift to you on this holiday is explicit directions on how to make people think you are insane.
Today, you will very likely hear the phrase, "Merry Christmas." Whenever someone greets you in this manner, take them literally: Start acting merry.
This is not as simple as it may at first seem. When’s the last time you saw someone actually being "merry" (which is defined in as: "Full of high-spirited gaiety; jolly")?
OK, you’ve had a minute to think about it, and you’re not having much luck, are you? Well, I’ll remind you. Never in your whole entire life, that’s the last time you saw someone being "merry."
So, my proposal: When someone says, "Merry Christmas," take their advice to heart. This, I’m afraid, means you will immediately need to:
  • Prance.
  • Chortle.
  • Laugh from your belly.
  • Be jolly, if you’re able to picture what "jolly" even means.

Furthermore, do all of the above the entire day. After all, you have been told to be "merry" not just for the next five minutes, but for the duration of Christmas.

This will not be easy. It will wear you out. You will likely alienate friends and family.
Do it anyway.
People will ask what your problem is. Do not explain. Just give them a big hug, step back, look them up and down (with a twinkle in your eye, a goofy smile on your face), put your hands on your hips, throw your head back, and laugh. Laugh merrily.
If you manage to not be incarcerated by mid-afternoon, please: leave a comment and let me know how your day went. I really want to know.
Have a merry Christmas. If you dare.

No One Rides Alone

12.22.2005 | 9:38 pm

I know some people who will not ride unless they have company. I am not one of those people. I like riding with another person or with a small group (or even, occasionally, a large group), but I’m also happy to go riding by myself.

And yet, I never ride alone. There’s always that stupid voice in my head, right there with me, providing a narrative, giving advice, and making remarks about my riding ability.

Frankly, I don’t care for him much.


Meet the Voice in My Head

Oh, he (yeah, he’s male) doesn’t talk all the time. In fact, sometimes he’ll go for long stretches without saying a word. And the times he chooses to talk actually says a lot about him. It’s always when I’m right at my limit. I could use some encouragement. And so that’s when he says things like,

  • “So. This is all you’ve got, is it?”
  • “Any time you’d like to step it up, feel free.”
  • “Come on. Go. Seriously, it’s time for you to stop holding back.”

And, sometimes, he doesn’t say anything at all. He just laughs. Man, I hate it when he does that.


No Comfort, No Help

As near as I can tell, the voice in my head lives to motivate me exclusively through the medium of sarcasm and derision. Why is this the case? I mean, this is just a voice in my head. It’s me, talking to me. Why can’t I say nice things to myself?

For example, I’d love to hear me say to myself:

  • “Hey, you’re headed for a personal best. Keep up the good work!”
  • “Don’t worry about fading. You’ve done your best.”
  • “You can do it! I have complete confidence in you!”

Come to think of it, never mind. That guy sounds like a motivational speaker. I think I prefer the sarcastic, snide guy.


Maybe It’s Just One Guy?

I did extensive research for today’s post, consisting of instant messaging with my friend Dug for a few minutes. First off, I should point out that it’s not easy to broach this topic. Asking a guy if he hears voices in his head is similar to accusing that guy of being insane.

Dug said that of course he heard a voice when he’s riding hard. As near as I could tell, it’s the same guy I hear. Condescending, disappointed, and curious as to why you’re even bothering if this is all you’ve got.

I developed the theory that perhaps everyone has the same voice. That there’s just one snarky, ethereal guy, wandering the earth and whispering mean-spirited remarks into our ears. A disappointed, snide, and sarcastically amused spirit guide for cyclists, if you will.


Or Maybe It’s Not

Then, because I am an extremely intrepid journalistic type who always wants to get my facts straight, I conducted even more research, this time in the form of an instant message conversation with my brother-in-law/friend Rocky.

It turns out that Rocky has got a voice, too. But it’s a way different voice. His voice tells him, in a matter-of-fact way, to cut it out. “This is stupid. You are not getting paid for this. And this in not fun,” it says to him.

And when Rocky really dials it up, a completely new voice barges in. This one doesn’t even talk. It just belts out a primal yell.

I’m pretty sure my inner voice has never yellled. Maybe that’s why Rocky makes all the technical moves, and I clip out at the first sign of danger.


Final Report

Based on my exhaustive research, I make the following assertions about cyclists and inner voices:

  • All cyclists hear voices when they ride hard.
  • The type of voice you hear corresponds to the type of rider you are.
  • None of the voices are friendly.
  • We are therefore all either equally sane, or equally insane.

I am of course, interested to know what kind of voice you hear, what it says, and under what conditions.

Also, I’d like to know if mine is the only one that speaks with an outrageous French accent.

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