35 Minutes in Hell

01.7.2006 | 12:48 am

Yesterday morning, I woke up to the sound of rain. No matter. I dressed to ride to work anyway. I stepped into the garage and heard the sound of rain more clearly. That’s OK. I checked the tires’ pressure and lubed the chain (I’ve been using Dumonde Tech with good results for wet weather riding), put on my bike shoes and helmet, and opened the garage door.

Then I closed the garage door, took off my helmet and shoes, hung up the bike, and drove to work. It was raining that hard.

If I hadn’t given myself a big ol’ passel of races I want to do well at this year, that would be the end of the story. But I’m serious about losing weight and gaining fitness this year, so I promised myself I would ride the rollers that evening.


Nice Setup

Back when I lived in Utah, I had gone to some lengths to set up an entertainment system for riding on rollers, with…um…mixed results. How times have changed. Last night I just took my big ol’ notebook computer — which comes complete with a 17” wide-screen monitor and a DVD drive — into the garage, set it up on top of a box, put down my rollers, and got down my fixie. I was ready to go.


35 Minutes in Hell

For my riding entertainment, I had selected A Sunday in Hell, a DVD about the 1976 Paris-Roubaix race, pitting Merckx against Moser, among others. The cover copy on the case said it was “arguably the best film ever made about professional cycling.”

“Moser against Merckx? Paris-Roubaix? Best cycling film ever made? Well, that should be a terrific film to get my blood pumping as I ride my rollers,” I thought.

Except it wasn’t.

Here are some of my observations about this film, or at least as much as I’ve seen of it so far:

  • The film spends more than 20 minutes before it finally gets the race going
  • The film gives waaay too much time to the early portion of the race, which is just a run-up to the pavé sections.
  • The jerseys back then were much more attractive than the jerseys of today. Simple, bold colors with stitched lettering.
  • The film is in love with the atmosphere surrounding the race, which is fine if you’re interested in watching old French women sitting on a blanket in the countryside, playing cards as they wait for the racers to come by.
  • The film is in love with the organization of the race, and spends plenty of time making you watch people hang signs, and watching racers sign in, and making you watch the race entourage go by long after the racers have passed, meaning you get to hear the bored-sounding announcer say things like, “And there’s the press cars…and there’s the doctor’s car…and there’s some more press cars…and there’s the sweep wagon, so called because it sweeps up bicyclists which have retired from the race.”

After 35 minutes of this, I couldn’t take any more. I expected the biking equivalent of a kung-fu movie, and instead got the biking equivalent of a BBC documentary.

Maybe A Sunday in Hell is a good film for cyclists to watch. But it’s certainly not a good film to watch while biking.

So what will I watch next time I ride my rollers? The 2003 Tour de France, of course — which I contend is really the most exciting bike race film ever. And since I’ve got the 12-hour DVD set, I’m all ready for lots of good roller sessions.

Or at least as good as a roller session can be, anyway.


Winner of the Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Giveaway

When I wrote yesterday’s entry, I was thinking of lots of lies cyclists tell. As I read through the comments, though, I realized that we’re much, much worse than I thought. We have serious honesty issues.

I had to go with Jimserotta’s entry, though, for a couple reasons. They were all lies I’ve either actually heard or have said, and for the sheer volume of these cycling lies:

Athletic cycling is awesome, really. Meet me at my place 7:30 Saturday and I’ll take you for a little spin and show you the technique. You’ll love it. We’ll just twiddle along for a while and maybe do some small hills to kind of get you used to what it’s like to climb correctly.

We’ll probably only ride for an hour or so. The pace will be conversational and you will really enjoy this. It’s not like what you think to ride a bike like the racers do. Oh, another guy I know is gonna be there too. He’s kind of a serious cyclist but he is reasonable and he’ll go at our pace. We’ll just go easy and air out the old lungs. You’ll be fine.

We might have to make a couple of small adjustments to your bike so it fits you better. It’s really cool that you are getting into the sport like this. I’m sure that the bike you got on deal will work well; there’s no need to drop big bucks on a really nice bike until you are sure you want to.

Oh, remember to not wear any underwear under your cycling shorts and please don’t tuck your t-shirt into your shorts either. I’ll explain on the ride. Bring a little something to eat, like a banana or some grapes or something……

Congratulations, Jim! e-mail me with your address and which size of seat bag you want.


Nice Legs, Kid

MSN Spaces has been nice enough to include content and pictures from my blog as part of a brochure they’re producing, and last night I had an envelope waiting at home for me with a copy of that brochure. As you can see, there are lots of pictures from my blog on the cover page of this brochure:


I wouldn’t mention this, though, except for one thing. If you take a closer look at the top right corner, two of the panels in the montage form a verrrry interesting effect:

Hey, that kid has some serious quads.

Oh, by the way, I was lying when I said that I wouldn’t have mentioned being in the brochure if it weren’t for that panel. I still would have found a way, because it gratifies my extraordinary vanity. Although I am beginning to wish I would have had the foresight to call this blog “The Handsome Cyclist.” As it stands, I get to live with the large text on the inside front cover of the brochure:

“Dave is an aspiring actor, Tom is a struggling father, Bill is a mad dad, Siobhan is a perfectionist, Kevin has a wife with leukemia, Ian is building a dome home, Susan helps injured kittens, Kenny is a quadriplegic, and Elden is a fat cyclist. (emphasis mine)

Or, in other words, “Here are a bunch of people nobly facing difficult circumstances, as well as one fat guy on a bike.”




  1. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 01.7.2006 | 1:30 am

    This is not to mention that disconnect between upper and lower arms!

  2. Comment by Lindsey | 01.7.2006 | 2:08 am

    That rain yesterday was stupid. I rode 55 miles in it, and I was ready to be done after about 20.Also agreed that A Sunday In Hell is not ideal trainer material. It is, however, fantastic to watch after a long, hard ride. I have all of Jorgen Leth’s cycling documentaries and a few years ago, when I was training for the Creampuff, my Saturday schedule was:Wake upDrink coffee & eat a bagel & cream cheeseRide for 6-8 hoursCome home, pop a Jorgen Leth documentary in the DVD player, turn it on, collapse on the couch, and fall asleep.Excellent recovery material. You can wake up, surrounded in the ambience of the smoky, oddly-well-dressed Europe of the 70s, and fall right back asleep, guilt-free.

  3. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 01.7.2006 | 2:28 am

    Riding rollers is supposed to be torture. It should be done with nothing more than the voices in your head. Even using a fan is bordering on being soft.I knew as soon as I read Jim’s entry that was game over for the rest of us. And I’ve used or heard that entire passage as well.Don’t worry about your emotional scars from the text, MSN will need to sponsor that kid’s therapy for the next half dozen decades.

  4. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 01.7.2006 | 2:33 am

    Oh yeah, if you have to entertain yourself to quiet the voices, Breaking Away is fantastic. Especially the race scenes towards the end.

  5. Comment by Unknown | 01.7.2006 | 5:21 am

    "Arguably the greatest bicycling movie ever made." Fatty, I posses special knowledge of arcane facts. One of the arcane facts is that "arguably" is a legal term of art, freighted with significance like Lance Armstrong is freighted with doping rumors. If opposing counsel used the term in my presence, I’d charge money to translate it, but because I like you and this service isn’t worth much, I’ll provide the translation for free. arguably, adv., not at all; not really; colorably; maybe; probably not but I’m really hopeful you slept throught he other guy’s argument; ahhh, who am I kidding, outlook not good. Usage: "Arguably, Rafael Palmeiro was telling the truth when he said that he hadn’t knowingly used steroids."If I stand up and say "your honor, in the case of Us vs. Them, the Court arguably said something that means my client wins," the judge hears "Hey, I got nothin’ here. Help a brother out." When I saw that movie advertised in the back of Velo News as being "arguably the best film ever made about professional cycling," I knew for a fact that it was weak like coffee in a Kansas diner, and to be avoided at all costs.

  6. Comment by Kelly | 01.7.2006 | 6:28 am

    I, too, was going to mention "Breaking Away" – a cult classic, in my opinion. Oh, poor Elden. They even saved your description for the end, where it will be remembered most. Don’t fret. We in Blogland love you just the way you are.That was NOT a lie for yesterday’s entry either.Kelly

  7. Comment by tayfuryagci | 01.7.2006 | 8:13 am

    oh the humanity! a fat cyclist!snigger sniggerhey isn’t fatty the one who’s considering signing up this year for a gazillion different endurance races and finishing leadvilee 100 under 9 hours?

  8. Comment by Siobhan | 01.7.2006 | 8:23 am

    Fat Cyclist. It’s a paradox. Or, a play on words. Hot is the new phat.Love,The Perfectionist.

  9. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 01.7.2006 | 8:59 am

    shivtástic – you better check, I think phat is the new hot. Maybe you were standing on your head when you read that issue of People, or more likely People mixed up their verbs again and have completely confused an entire generation.

  10. Comment by Scott | 01.7.2006 | 9:15 am

    Hiya,Great blog, I’ve been a subscriber since Eric G and Raymond C linked to you. :)Hey, I’m here in New Zealand, but I have a friend in Seattle, and she’s about to come to NZ do some cycling around the country soon. She’s a novice, and I’ve told her one of the best things she could do would be to get some shoes. I was wondering if you could suggest a great cycling store with a good range of shoes and clothing for her? Preferably in the city and not the suburbs.Thanks in advance for your help, and keep up the outstanding writing. :)

  11. Comment by tayfuryagci | 01.7.2006 | 10:12 am

    big mike’s daym rite phatt’s the new chic!

  12. Comment by craig | 01.7.2006 | 2:54 pm

    the kids calves are pretty puny though

  13. Comment by Unknown | 01.7.2006 | 3:35 pm

    I have enjoyed reading your blog and find it interesting. I appreciate your sharing. I struggle with weight when not biking. My friend and I decided yesterday that I have a committed relationship with food and my thin, tight and toned friend has an affair.I have an affair with exercise and she has a committed relationship. Happy New Year Resolutionist! ;)

  14. Comment by Sue | 01.7.2006 | 5:44 pm

    The juxtapositions of both the descriptions and the photo’s are FANTASTIC.BotchedP.S. Is it too late for me to win another bag? I prefer to ride alone. It’s easier for me to get into "the zone" that way.

  15. Comment by bradley | 01.7.2006 | 7:42 pm

    I had to creat a new msn account. What’s up with that all you MSer’s? Now I forgot what I was going to say. Oh, wait. Yeah. I woke up several times through the past few nights, heard the rain pattering on the roof, through the ceiling of course, and when it work up and got out of bed, rain was still falling and pattering on the roof and splattering in the street. But I rode! I got wet, my feet did anyway since I wanted to keep the booties dry for the longer ride home (it’s only 20 minutes to work). It was raining so much, I didn’t need to wash my bike off at work, because the rain washed it off along the way. Plus, water and a little road grime make for an excellent short term lubricant, don’t they? :) So, rather than 35 minutes in hell, I had just 20 minutes in the rain, and an hour or so in the wind and wet on the way home. From Spokane,

  16. Comment by Siobhan | 01.8.2006 | 5:36 am

    Nah, just ask any self-disrespecting, angst-ridden teenager. Phat is so 2001. Hott (double t) is so now, man.Even as I read my words, my fake American accent shines through. I suck.

  17. Comment by tayfuryagci | 01.8.2006 | 11:52 pm


  18. Comment by Carolynn | 01.9.2006 | 5:08 am

    that cover msn will use is greaqt, especially of the twins and Sherlock H. Oh yes, also of the legs and the bikers. Send in the upper right corner to Leno, he loves to show stuff like that.That Michael Rasmussen guy looks as if he is in the last stages of fatal anorexia. It is not a fun way to die. Ask the Carpenter family (the singers of a generation or 3 ago.) That is scary. Ok, so it is not really the winner of some jersey? Well, then he is the poster child for a refugee camp and is equally pathetic.

  19. Comment by Unknown | 01.9.2006 | 5:35 am

    You woke up to the sound of rain. No kidding. I’m a couple of hours north of Seattle. 22 straight days of rain according to today’s paper. And rain forecast for the rest of the week.

  20. Comment by tayfuryagci | 01.9.2006 | 7:21 am

    maybe not 22 consecutive days of rainhere but there has been mud on the ground for more than a month! without a brake! I’m sizk of cleaning mud from the vicinity of the BB!!!

  21. Comment by Unknown | 01.9.2006 | 5:35 pm

    That should be the new ‘luxury body’ for Assos. Looks a bit more like a real cyclist (youthful, pale, skinny and awesome legs).


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