Important Questions

01.25.2006 | 8:23 pm

As I’m biking along, idle questions often pop into my head. Usually, the question is just interesting enough that I’ll consider it for about ten seconds before moving on, distracted by the next shiny object.

For example, I’ve often looked down at the shoulder of the road I’m riding on and noticed a lone rivet-ish looking object punched into the pavement. That is, it’s a doughnut-shaped metal disc that’s been pressed into the asphalt, with a nail driven through the center. What is that “road rivet” (as I call them) for? It’s not securing anything down, is it? It’s way too small to be structural, right? Maybe it’s a marker for something?

And then I lose interest and forget about it.

Yesterday, though, I actually found out what those road rivets are for. As I rode along, there were a couple of surveyors at the side of the road — one holding a pole, another several yards down the roadlooking through the eyepiece and taking measurements. I looked at the base of the pole, and — sure enough — it was seated in one of those road rivets, minus the nail that’s usually driven there.


Important Questions

This made me think: there are many other questions that frequently occur to me while I’m riding. Sometimes I have a pretty good idea of the answer, but still like to ask because I’m a rhetorical blowhard. Other times, I genuinely don’t have an answer.

Such as:

  • Why do people toss their cigarette butts on the road? My working theory is that smokers think that the cigarette butts are so small that they don’t count. This is, of course, stupid. Perhaps they think the cigarette butts are biodegradable? Maybe, but I think it takes a while, as in a decade or so.
  • Who’s tossing trash these days? I don’t know anyone who throws their bottles or McDonalds bags out on the side of the road, yet the trash is still there. Didn’t those guys see that “Crying Indian” commercial back in the 70’s?
  • What are all those bungie cords doing on the ground? It’s a scientific fact: you can’t ride a bike more than 15 miles without seeing at least one bungie cord on the side of the road. My working theory is that these bungie cords disembungified en route. This isn’t a particularly innovative theory, but it is worrying, because I use bungie cords all the time. When will it be my turn to disembungify?
  • If someone passes me and says “How’s it going?” as they blow by, what is the likelihood they really want to know how it’s going? Am I within my rights, if I manage to catch her wheel, hang on for a minute, and successfully attack and drop her, to answer as I go by, “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?”
  • Which is better, road biking or mountain biking? Any time I’m on the road, I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite. Any time I’m on the dirt, I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite.
  • How fat do I look? As people drive by in their cars, do they say to themselves, “Wow, that cyclist certainly has a paunch?” Or are my bib shorts doing their job (ie, compressing and containing said paunch)? From time to time, I look down, trying to see what my gut looks like, but it’s hard to tell. I know for sure it doesn’t look as bad to me as when I see photos of me on my bike. Yeeuch.
  • How far I can ride between breaths? Occasionally I take a deep breath and then see how far I can ride before I have to inhale again. I have no reason for doing this other than curiosity. When riding this way, I always go fast, but I wonder: could I go farther by exerting very little effort and trying to not burn oxygen so fast?
  • What percentage of people in cars are envious? Whenever I’m driving and see someone on a bike, I get a twinge of envy. I’ve got to assume other cyclists are the same way. So, for every 100 cars that pass me (or, during rush hour, that I pass), how many wish they were riding their bike instead?

The Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Giveaway Question

This week, you’ve got a choice. Either ask a question that’s occurred to you on your bike, or answer one of the questions I’ve asked.

What can you win? A cool seat bag.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 01.25.2006 | 8:48 pm

    Those "road rivets" are actually an integral part of our nation’s extensive interstate system. They are strategically placed along the way to keep the roads from slipping away. The surveryors will tell you otherwise, but the rivets actually perform the same function as does the elastic on you fitted bedsheets at home. On a much larger scale.

  2. Comment by tayfuryagci | 01.25.2006 | 8:50 pm

    most of the times I ride I do not think of anything except the "should I downshift/upshift" or "the possible hazards of this road are as following: 1-… 2-…" questions and other times all I think of is this: "How fat do I look?". According to the bathroom scale and the comments I occasionally get from car-riding-doofuses the answer is : "Very."my answer: I look very fat on a bike.

  3. Comment by Unknown | 01.25.2006 | 9:13 pm

    it’s a little known fact that cycling causes (yes, causes) a relativistic world view. To wit: when you are on a road bike on a road, it’s the best. True. When you are are on a mountain bike on a mountain, it’s the best. True. Both are true. impossible, you say?!? You can’t have two "bests," you say? Not so, since the energy expended and the simple joy produced by propelling a perfectly-designed two-wheeled machine with your lungs, heart, and gams create this vortex of perfection in which your particular experience on your particular ride on that particular bike is "the best." Last night, for instance, it was 24 degrees with a 25 mph wind (making for some godawful windchill that I refused to learn before going out) here in Minnesota, and I was riding studded knobby tires on occasionally icy pavement for an hour. At one point, I mused on how different riding will be on the same roads in a mere matter of months, and then realized that I didn’t actually wish it were June yet, since my ride last night was–you got it–the best.

  4. Comment by barry1021 | 01.25.2006 | 9:15 pm

    Rocky i did not know that!! Does that mean that if I pull a series of them up, that particular road will "snap up and over" to the next one, engulfing everything in between, just like my bedsheet when I unsuccessfully attempt to put it on??Anyway, great philosophical blog today FC. My answers1. Because they don’t want to dirty their ashtrays, which always strikes me as odd when one considers what they are doing to their LUNGS!2. The kids making the mess do not remember the 70’s let alone the "Crying Indian". Sorry kids, its true, its you.3. I can mathematically prove they are actually all mine. I regularly buy stacks of bungees, yet never have any.4. Have you heard that radio commercial where its what you say vs. what you are really thinking when you receive a lousy gift? In this case, when the person is passing you, they are really saying "Hah, I am a better rider than you are", and when you drop her, you are saying "The f__k you are"!!5. It’s road. Really.6. Well you nailed this one, FC. I have a photo of me on the bike from last year’s Tour De Georgia trip (OK I have lost 15 elbees since then) which I have written upon "A little more time on the bike and less time at the fridge, fat boy"! I should look at it more often. When I ride though, I think I look like Lance, not like Shamu.7. Hmmmm. I have spent so much time learning to BREATHE RIGHT on the bike i have never considered NOT breathing. Must be a mountain bike thing.8. Not enough!

  5. Comment by Unknown | 01.25.2006 | 9:18 pm

    Oh, this is an easy one to answer. . . "How fat do I look" fits very nicely into the same category of questions like, "How pro do I look." Both can be answered quite easily while riding past street-level storefront and office windows. I have never been able to control the completely vain need to crouch low in the drops, shift up a gear or three and hammer past a long block of windows while spending the whole time looking at myself go past and trying to gauge just how good I look. Then there is always an intersection to adjust my position and look again down the next block. Works great, unless you don’t see that new concrete barrier installed for construction purposes and end up sailing through the air sans bike. But that never happened. . .

  6. Comment by Kelly | 01.25.2006 | 9:19 pm

    There are pictures of me running, playing, jumping…just about anything. On a bike? NO WAY. What is it about sitting on that seat that makes me feel like a cow? I dunno. But… mmmmmoooooooooooooKelly

  7. Comment by Unknown | 01.25.2006 | 9:30 pm

    2 thoughts on today’s ebtry:I used to think that if I breathed less when I ran, I burned more fat, when I breathed hard, nor carbs.Does that make sense ? Have to ask Dr. Ferrari at my next training session.Also, I don’t know about you, but I always slow down when approaching riders when I’m in my car. Out of courtesy, asfety, and mostly to check out thier gear and kit. So one day as I slow up and pass a couple of young ladies riding a nice LeMond and a carbon Trek, one screams "Pervert!!!", and the other sprays my car w/ Gatorade. Nice.Boz

  8. Comment by Unknown | 01.25.2006 | 9:31 pm

    Those bungie cords are actually an integral weapon in the motorist’s war on cyclist’s.I’ve always referred to them as kamikazeegies. Remember, the war is ongoing. Whenever you are a passed by a station wagon or one of those ridiculous pick-up trucks with the teeny-tiny beds and you see a four-wheeler, dresser, mattress, or television set hanging on for dear life – BE CAREFUL! You are one moment away from being grappled by a rogue kamikazeegie. Occasionally, one hears of a particularly vicious version of the kamikazeegie in which one hook remains attached to the vehicle and the other hook implants itself into the cheek of passing cyclist. This particular kamikazeegie is often referred to as the Fishline because of it’s ability to drag a grown man by his cheek for several hundred feet.

  9. Comment by Unknown | 01.25.2006 | 9:33 pm

    Nice spelling on my comments. I’m really not that bad normally.Boz

  10. Comment by Unknown | 01.25.2006 | 9:35 pm

    The most vexing question that occurs to me when I’m on my bike is, "What do I think about when I’m riding my bike?" I mean, it’s pretty obvious what I think about when I’m thinking that question. But for the vast majority of my cycling time I’ve got no memory of what has gone through my head. As soon as the question occurs to me I try to recall what I was thinking about in the immediate past. I draw a blank. Soon I forget the question, only to have it re-enter my brain a bit later. Then I find that I’ve got no idea what I was thinking about in the in-between time. Do I think of anything at all? Have I mastered some spiritual state and achieved bliss without even knowing it? Do my friends and family answer phone calls that caller ID says are from my cell phone, only to find Tyler Durden talking to them? I have no idea. Please someone tell me I’m not alone in this.

  11. Comment by A Dawn Tinsley | 01.25.2006 | 9:35 pm

    My mind is a perpetual question machine….1. "Do I look as fat as I feel? Am I getting fatter as I ride?" – That is on a permanent loop in my head when on a bicycle. It gets more urgent as I face a hill.2. "Oh crap, how do I unclip my feet?!" – A scary question to ask myself that maybe I should have asked before I started riding around since I don’t know how to trackstand.3. "Who picks up the road kill?" – Is there some sort of crew that picks up the crispy squirrel bodies and the splattered racoons or do they just lie there until they are run over so much that they become dust in the wind?4. "Where the heck do all these shoes come from???!" I see everywhere…around electrical wires, just a single shoe on the ground. A shoe in a gutter…Is it really that easy to lose your shoes? I have never lost a shoe…5. GRAPHIC WARNING: "Where am I going to be when my diarrhea comes back?" – Like the commerical asks, Adawn, biking and poo go hand in hand. If I go on a long, strenuous trip, it is inevitable that at some point things will…loosen up in a dramatic fashion. The question is will I be near a McDonalds where I can run in and fix the problem, or will I be in open plains in Wyoming with a group of 20 people to witness my agony. I’m not shy, but at least a bush still would have been nice…

  12. Comment by Unknown | 01.25.2006 | 9:50 pm

    how come i can pee 30 seconds before theride leaves the parking lot and i have to peeagain 5 minutes down the road? huh? how come?i also ask myself , whilst riding, why is there air?after asking this question i’m instantly remindedthat i’m very grateful that there appears to enoughto get me back’s the simple things.

  13. Comment by craig | 01.25.2006 | 10:17 pm

    The proper term is ‘unbunged’

  14. Comment by Unknown | 01.25.2006 | 10:36 pm

    I usually wonder where all the stuff is that the bungees were holding in place. The bungees presumably came off the racks of cars and trucks. So, whatever they were holding in place should also be on the side of the road. Where is it?Another question that I am pondering now, but never crossed my mind while on the bike: Is the crying indian Cheif Seattle?

  15. Comment by Donald | 01.25.2006 | 11:21 pm

    The cigarette butts come from peeps who dont wanna have the nasty thing in the car after they smoke them, or in some newer cars have no ash trays. Trash magicaly appers. The bungies probaly coming off trunk mounted bikes. As for the "hows it going", smoke em, drop em. I perfer MTB since every road bike i have ever had gets destroyed by cars. My fatness level is high since on one ride a couple of joggers going the other way said" keep it up i can do it" without knowing i dropped the rest of the group half a mile back. I only hold my breath while in the water or having a dream about drowning or the one time i rode into a muddy stream the was 6 feet deep. I think the only people envying me cant physicaly ride my bike or a jelous of my smoothness. i think, maybe, i hope.

  16. Comment by Unknown | 01.25.2006 | 11:23 pm

    when i’m riding a bike, i imagine killing it on a spin bike. when i’m on a spin bike, i imagine killing it on an actual bike.when i’m running, i imagine just killing myself.

  17. Comment by Peter | 01.25.2006 | 11:31 pm

    Why do young guys in V8 cars feel the need to really accelerate past me? Is it because I’m going so fast on my push bike that they feel the need to bury me so that I don’t try and race them? Or are they trying to impress me with their fast car?

  18. Comment by Unknown | 01.25.2006 | 11:39 pm

    On long rides I don’t even think, let alone ask questions. Sometimes I sing.

  19. Comment by Lola | 01.25.2006 | 11:56 pm

    I can’t answer your question of who’s dropping the trash these days, but I do know who’s picking it up. That would be young, vulnerable college freshmen, just abandoned by family and left in a world of complete strangers, randomly grouped like cattle and put on buses. While some of these poor souls are taken to nice, air conditioned nursing homes for their volunteer work, some of us *coughmecough* are taken to the busy streets of the nearby city, to pick up alongside the roads. I can now truthfully say that I understand exactly what is going through those poor little animals minds right before they get hit by a car. And by the way, AdawnTinsley, I believe it is Vdot that picks up the dead animals.Lola

  20. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 12:06 am

    How long can I hold my breath while riding?That is a very good question that I answered yesterday while riding home from work. My commute takes me past a small farm and right next to the road are pigs. Pigs stink. So, I found by reason more of neccessity than curiosity it’s a good 30 seconds. The pig farm comes at the end of the bike path and onto a city street and am just coming up to speed by the time I get to the pigs so I am traveling about 16mph before I have to hold my breath. Normally all I need is a few pedal strokes to get past the stink of pig. But last night the temperature dropped and spread the stink out over a much larger area and required me to ride about 3 times the distance required to get out of the pig zone. 16mph for 30 seconds is about .13 miles. It felt like a long time without breathing. I tried a couple of test breaths but was assaulted before I could gain any benefit. I about blew up when I was able to breath again literally gasping for breath.I really dislike pigs. Funny I didn’t relate the two incidents while eating my ham sandwich for lunch

  21. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 12:28 am

    When i was younger and fast, I thought about heart rate, and interval length, and beating those poor schmucks from NorCal, who thought they were God’s gift to road cycling, but really weren’t (except for a few like Neel, Mount, and LeMond…genuflections all around).Now that I am older and riding with a truer sense of freedom, I think about dinner.

  22. Comment by Bryan | 01.26.2006 | 12:39 am

    OK, this is probably a little too geeky… but I often wonder what the place I’m riding at looks like on Windows Live (Virtual Earth) aerial view (or Google Maps satellite view). I don’t know why… it’s not like I need a satellite image, I am actually there!You’d think I’d be smart enough to actually start looking at Virtual Earth BEFORE my rides!

  23. Comment by Valerie | 01.26.2006 | 12:40 am

    The question that burns in my mind most often is:Did that loogie actually hit the side of the road, or is it hanging off my right shoulder?

  24. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 12:44 am

    the thing I wonder most is , you know that phone or cable company van that blows by you at 65 mph ? are they really going to work that hard when they get there ?

  25. Comment by barry1021 | 01.26.2006 | 12:49 am

    Boy, I hope the Big Guy lets us vote again this week. Lots of great questions (Valerie, I used to ask that question, now I just don’t care, I figure someone will say something if its an issue), and the POWER is intoxicating.

  26. Comment by Claire | 01.26.2006 | 1:16 am

    What WAS that guy thinking that blew by me with a boat trailer attached to his car? Oh right….he probably didn’t see me!

  27. Comment by Robert | 01.26.2006 | 1:29 am

    Every once in a while when im riding, or even when im in the car of that matter, I see ribbons of videotape on the side of the road. Whats on the tape, and who throws it out. It would probably turn out that i wouldnt want to see whats on it anwa, but ive always been interested.Rob

  28. Comment by Ryan Schmid | 01.26.2006 | 2:19 am

    "When will the feeling come back?"No seriously, my first group road ride was 60ish miles around Lake WA. At mile 25 I started going ‘numb!’ I’d never done this before, so I thought all cyclist experienced this…that it was part of the gig.That said, it’s a touchy subject, so I kept quite. Three days later, I asked my cycling budies if they experienced this same phenomenon. The look on their faced told me a difinitive NO.No worries, once 8 days had gone by I had regained feeling and all systems have been a go since.If you’re curious why…I’d always excercised wearing a jock strap….

  29. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 2:27 am

    I don’t ask myself questions when I ride. It’s a zen time. I think. Or I don’t think at all and let wisdom come to me. Consequently, I have all the answers. Here they are. Rocky is right for once, in his assessment of the rivets. They hold down the road. But he only tells half the story. The other half is… FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T TOUCH THE BUNGEE CORDS! They are there to hold the other rivets in place. If you ever touch a roadside bungee, terrible things will happen, things worse than all the roads slipping off the continent. We’re talking disturbances in the space time continuum here. Do not eff with the bungees. People toss their cigarette butts into the road because the NASA program to fire them into the sun is way behind schedule, and way over budget, and the plan to store them in Nevada (hey, that’s what the sand is for!) fell through when somebody realized you could build brothels near Vegas, and instead of the house screwing you, you could screw the house. Who’s tossing trash? The FBI, mainly. Sometimes various shadowy Department of Defense activities and a couple Japanese guys who never heard that WWII ended will toss your trash, but it’s generally the FBI. I’d burn my old chamois’es, if I was you. If somebody blows by you on a bike and says "how’s it going?" it’s a word code. You are supposed to give the countersign, and if you do, they will give you the secret of how to get thin easily, how to get your compact pump to stick on one of those smooth stems on a 700cc tire after a flat, and how to hammer like the dickens in general. I know the countersign, but nobody has ever passed me yet so I haven’t been able to try it and thus can’t tell you how well it works. Nobody ever wonders whether MTB or roadie-ing is better, except for true roadies. Only a dick would ask a question like that to begin with. By definition, merely asking that would make one a true roadie. And only a dick would come to the necessary conclusion, road riding is much, much better. Any MTB’er who even asked that question would immediately get fat, forfeit the ability to grow cool facial hair, and lose most of his hair up top in spontaneous combustion, and… oh, sorry, Fatty. As for how fat you look, when you the twin suns of Tattooine into a Banjo Micro Wedge can stuff Luke, then know the truth you will. [/Yoda voice]. Until then, if you insist on stuffing yourself into those tight Pearl Izumis, you might want to try to find the answer to your next question, which was how long you can suck in your gut and hold your breath while riding. The answer to that is, "right up until your first serious head injury." When your head smacks the pavement and splatters like an overripe tomato, you will involuntarily draw a quick breath before dying. All people in cars are envious. Of better looking people in cars. Of better looking cars. Of people pulling into or out of nicer houses. Of other people’s hotter spouses / S.O.’s, cuter kids or nicer dogs. But not of you.There. I hope that saves you some time on your next ride.

  30. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 3:04 am

    I try to calculate my odds of colliding with a deer. I have had four extremely close calls in the last year. So it seems that the likelihood is greater than I might have thought. And we all know Bob of Bob’s Top 5 has proven it to be a possibility. I then wonder if the antlers would actually break the skin and/or impale me, and if the deer could run with me and my bike stuck on his antlers. Then I wonder what passersby would think of a chubby bike guy flailing grotesquely whilst still on his bike harpooned by a deer running wildly through the brush at the side of the road. And how long it will take for the smushed raccoon to no longer be a speed bump in the road, and how long before you can’t tell it was ever there (it’s been eight months so far) and how long it will be before it stops stinking.That makes me hold my breath and I then begin wondering how long that can go on, until the world starts closing in around me and I realize that there are no tunnels on this road, and the fact that I am entering one can’t be anything other than oxygen deprivation, which is not a good thing. And then the voice in my head kicks in and it says stuff like:"My legs hurt. That Al Maviva is such a smart arse. I can’t wait to beat him in the B5 thingy. Geez that car cut it close. Why do they do that? Where are my rocks? Why don’t I keep them where I can get at them more easily? I wonder if I could throw one that far? What would I do if actually hit a car with a rock? Would they run me over, or would they just keep driving?"And then I am usually at work or at home.

  31. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 4:25 am

    Am I going to puke?

  32. Comment by Big Guy on a Bicycle | 01.26.2006 | 5:18 am

    How is it that I, at 6′02", always end up directly behind the super-thin 5′04" guy/gal in the club ride paceline?And why is everyone always fighting to be the one on my wheel? Nevermind, I think I know that one. I think it has something to do with why they call me "The Human Billboard".

  33. Comment by Big Guy on a Bicycle | 01.26.2006 | 5:24 am

    Oh, and I was a surveyor during summers while in college. I must have hammered in 50 bajillion of those temporary benchmarks (aka "Road Rivets"). I don’t know how well they hold down the asphalt, but they’ll hold down a leather work glove pretty good if you catch the edge of it with the nail.

  34. Comment by John | 01.26.2006 | 5:26 am

    Oh, gawd. What the hell was that when it was alive? Did it stink that bad while it was still breathing?

  35. Comment by rex | 01.26.2006 | 6:13 am

    Where do all those "hair scrunchies" come from? You can’t go 100 feet without seeing one on the trail/road/ parking lot…Do they escape on their own to grow up and become bungee cords or do I have it backwards and they’re the dried up remains of bungee cords like dried out worm jerky on a bike frame?

  36. Comment by Bryn | 01.26.2006 | 7:56 am

    The one thing you all need to think about when you ride is simple. If you can think about something, your not riding hard enough to make yourself stop thinking about anything. But seriously, the harder you ride, the less you remember of other stuff, like people in trucks who try to hit you or just bad drivers in general. On today’s ride i had one main thought with a number of possibilties. It was whether or not that guy who flew around me on a road under repair – a) Knew if he’d come extremely close to hitting the cement median strip and had planned for it.b) Hated cyclists and just wanted to get around me and freaked out when he saw the madian strip he was about to hitc) What would have happened to that guy who flew around me if he had of hit that cement median strip in his really low set card) If he had of hit that median strip, would he – i) Have been embarassed ii) Still thought he was really cool because he got around me anyway and the fact that he crashed his car was irrelevant

  37. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 10:26 am

    Number 1 question that pops into my head, as I commute through London each day, is"How did HE/SHE pass their driving test?"I’m at a loss as to the answer though.

  38. Comment by Loes | 01.26.2006 | 11:21 am

    When I turn around, will I have less head winds?

  39. Comment by Ralph | 01.26.2006 | 2:09 pm

    What percentage of people in cars are envious?The number who yell at you times two. It’s a simply calculation. People yell at me when I riding. As they blow past in their cars, they shout words, apparently under the misapprehension that I can understand them. I figure I get to decide what they’re saying. It may have sounded like "Get off the road you moron!" but it was really obviously, "I wish I was riding a cool bike just like you. You are my hero!" Why times two? Because I like to think that for each expressive idiot out there, there is at least one polite cyclist who is stuck is in car at the moment and wishes her or she were on the bike instead but who is obviously way too polite to shout at me about it.

  40. Comment by Sue | 01.26.2006 | 2:34 pm

    When I’m riding on the road, I sometimes find myself playing a type of license plate name. I try to calculate the total number of combinations possible for various license plates.The thing is, I’m REALLY bad at math, so it takes a lot of concentration.Example: In Utah we have 3 letters and 3 numbers on the plates. Each letter can have 26 possibilities and each number can have 10 possibilities, therefore, the total number of combinations of unique license plates is 10^3 x 26^3 .Once I’ve figured that out, I substitute other characters. So instead of 3 numbers and 3 letters, what if there were 1 shape, 2 numbers, and 3 letters and the total number of shapes was 5 (triangle, square, etc.)?BotchedP.S. When I mountain bike, I ask myself why I ever ride on the road.

  41. Comment by TIMOTHY | 01.26.2006 | 2:47 pm

    I think the most common questions that occur to me while riding are:1. How does a person lose 1 shoe or their underwear while driving on the highway? I have yet to get passed by a car and see a single shoe or pair of underwear suddenly fly out the window, and yet, they seem to be all over the side the road, as if this were a common event.2. Is that dog chained up/fenced in? Is it coming after me? Will I be able to out sprint it going up this hill and/or into a 20 mph headwind?

  42. Comment by TIMOTHY | 01.26.2006 | 2:55 pm

    chris – you gave me the answer to both our questions. You asked: "I usually wonder where all the stuff is that the bungees were holding in place. The bungees presumably came off the racks of cars and trucks. So, whatever they were holding in place should also be on the side of the road. Where is it?"Clearly, those bungees were preventing people’s shoes and underwear from flying off.

  43. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 3:09 pm

    On a particularly cold morning last week, I asked myself, "At what temperature does eye juice freeze?" I pondered this for a good solid ten minutes, and upon arriving to work had extended IM conversations with my cycling friends about this.Blinking obviously helps relubricate the eye, so it was summized that it probably wouldn’t ever be an issue for any earthly possible temperature so long as you stayed alive and blinking. But I’m not convinced. It must be possible for your eyes to dry up – evidenced by the eye drop market. So, combine dry eyes with extreme cold – could your eye’s freeze?I pledged to attempt to keep my eyes open for as long as possible on the ride home to see if they would freeze. This turned out to be pretty dangerous because I was concentrating so hard on keeping my eyes open that I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was going. Still, I think I managed to keep my blinking to a bare minimum over the course of 2 miles and my eyes did no freeze.In total I’ve now spent well over three hours thinking, discussing, and writing about this. I love my bicycle.

  44. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 4:38 pm

    Riding home last night i realized I do have a persistant question:Why is riding fixed so darn much fun?

  45. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 5:37 pm

    When I happen to be at the front of the group while passing the "rabid dog’s house", sometimes I wonder how funny it would be to slow down enough that the guy at the end gets caught… I mean, he’s wiped anyway since he just came off the front.

  46. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 5:49 pm

    Don’t worry about the paunch.The paunch can be a sign of huge lung capacity. Take a look at some side shots of Miguel Indurain or even Lance. The paunch you see is the diaphram in full extension. When a motorist goes by and sees it they might be thinking… ‘That guy has the huge lung capacity of grand tour cyclist". Maybe you should think about the odds of that happening.

  47. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 6:15 pm

    Well, this one’s not mine, but I was riding with a couple of strangers last weekend, and what they think about is apparently being attacked by mountain lions. Apparently, one of them saw a TV show about some guy who got attacked on his bike, and the mountain lion (or maybe it was a cougar, or something), which can apparently run at like 40 miles an hour slammed into some guy on a road bike*, and grabbed the guy’s head in its jaws. Apparently, some guy then drove up in a car and honked like crazy. The cougar (or maybe bobcat?) didn’t release the other guy. The guy then got out of his car and tried to pull the bobcat (or whatever) off the guy. That didn’t work, either. He then went back to his car, got out a tire iron, and started whaling on the cat, which finally let go. So these guys spent every stop of the entire two-hour ride discussing what they would do if they got attacked by a mountain lion. And each time, they came up with some new wrinkle, like spraying the thing with their water bottle, or whether at 40mph you could get the bike in between you and the cougar, and so on. What was I thinking? Well, at the beginning of the ride, when we were heading up hill, I was thinking "hey, this is no problem, I can hang with these guys." The second half, as we were going down hill, it was, "are these guys nuts? Holy moly, did I just clear that? Ohhhhh, nooooooo…….." *Thus answering that question. Who’s gonna believe a bobcat could get up to 40 mph on that technical trail we just rode? Especially without a Horst link in back and hydraulic disks all around.

  48. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 6:24 pm

    A question that came to my mind last summer when I was out to long without food and hit the dreaded WALL a.k.a. bonk! I was ripping downhill breathing heavy (just climbed the hill) and I ended up swallowing a particuarly large bug… (at least it felt like the size of my fist however reports from others said it was small) a question came to mind how much protein and carbs are in those bug???One other question that every so often is how far can I coast before I fall over???Rich

  49. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 6:57 pm

    This is a two part comment.(1) To answer Derek’s question about what the temperature is when eye juice freezes, I can tell you. Well, I can tell you when it freezes enough in your eyelashes that your eyes freeze shut anyway. That happens at about -30F (that’s while I was walking, without any eye protection). Obviously, wind chill might make the freezing process happen sooner. That was also a question I’d wondered about and then I got it answered in Montana. A related question I still think about – "what is the temperature when it’s officially cold (not chilly, not cool, but bone-rattling cold)?" Obviously this depends on the climate you are normally used to (ie, a Floridian would say something that someone in Minnesota would laugh at). Back when I could seriously consider this (when I lived in Montana), I decided it was whatever temperature it was that when you stepped outside your snot instantly froze on your first breath. At least if we thought it was cold then, we could always turn on The Weather Channel and laugh at the people in Fairbanks!(2) The question I’ve been asking myself lately is "why did I wait so long to buy a new mountain bike?" I just got a new bike and moved the now 15 year old mountain bike to full time commuting duty. I’ve only come up with one answer (and it’s not "money") – I think it’s all the memories that are integrally tied to the old bike. The first ride ever in Moab. The classic "death rides" done in Montana. Riding down to the coffee shop with my wife the first time on our new bike path that leaves almost right from our backyard. When it warms up a bit more, I’ll take the new one bike out for some real rides. The old one? It’ll still get use commuting and as my "camping bike" when we head out for a weekend of leg-powered camping.

  50. Comment by Kevin | 01.26.2006 | 7:29 pm

    How many pedal strokes are in a mile? 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…Oh look…Shiny!

  51. Comment by Karen | 01.26.2006 | 7:36 pm

    1. Why don’t they make exercise bras that really work without feeling like a medieval torture device? I bet that you have pondered that one more than once, Mr. Fatcyclist…..don’t lie. 2. Why do only guys on bikes stop and ask me if I need help if I am broken down at the side of the road and no women do? Not that I prefer women over men (wow, there is no way to say that such that it doesn’t sound a bit naughty)….but if I see someone changing a flat or working on their bike, I always make sure they have what they need….

  52. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 8:23 pm

    Hmmm, envy. Isn’t that, like, a sin or something? Let me think about who might have envied me on my rides to work this week. Let’s see, the guy in the big white who honked at because I cost him 2 seconds in getting to the intersectioin? Probably not him. The person who passed me on a campus road when I’m doing the 15 mph speed limit? Probably not her. The two guys who asked me if I was okay after I slid in an icy corner, tearing my tights and ending up with road rash. Doubt it. The school bus driver who squeezed me in the corner? Nah, not him. My colleague who honks every time she sees me, usually from behind so I jump out of my skin? (still haven’t told her it’s not a good thing.) Nope, she’s just being nice. Wait, I know, the person getting the speeding ticket. Bet my bike looks pretty good to them.

  53. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 01.26.2006 | 8:25 pm

    Aren’t I lucky that the people who are stupid enough to throw things at me from moving vehicles are so stupid they can’t do the vector equations necessary to achieve a direct hit.

  54. Comment by Unknown | 01.26.2006 | 9:20 pm

    First, I think it should be fairly obvious what all those bungie cords were holding down: all those bottles and MacDonald’s bags that you claim no one throws away on purpose.I often ponder the meaning of various codes painted on the road. Here in California (don’t know about other states), you often see the letters "USA" painted on some random patch of road. I used to assume that a patriotic individual had become so overwhelmed by patriotic fervor that he had pulled the car over, fished out a can of spray paint and proclaimed his zeal for all to see. Then, one day, I rode with a friend who worked for Pacific Gas and Electric. It turns out USA stands for "underground service access." I like my theory better.I’ll also sometimes see the letters "TNT" marking the corners of some of my favorite routes. I learned that these course markings were made by folks with the Leukemia Society Team in Training for their large group training rides. My internal (and oxygen deprived) copyeditor kept wondering why these letters were chosen, since they’re not technically an acronym for Team in Training. Then I realized what the acronym for Team in Training actually is, and I understood why they had chosen a faux acronym.

  55. Comment by Nanget | 01.26.2006 | 10:14 pm

    Road riding is better.

  56. Comment by Conejita | 01.26.2006 | 10:34 pm

    For those of you who didnt know, bungee cords are actually mammals from the phylum stretchidious huukimus. They are mostly bred in captivity but a few small tribes of these rare and exotic creatures can be found in the wild. Their diet consists mainly of discarded cigarette butts and empty McDonalds bags which explains their abundance near road sides and outside redneck taverns.In recent years, the plight of the bungee cords has been a sad one. Forced into slave labor, the bungee cords are used to hold down furniture and loose objects in the back of truck beds. They are often stretched beyond their capacity, causing damage to their delicate, yet elastic spine. Because of this, bungee cord death is on the rise and their numbers in the wild are dwindeling. For more information on the plight of this rare and noble creature, please contact your local bungee cord preservation society.

  57. Comment by Jill | 01.26.2006 | 11:16 pm

    Q: If I picked up every bolt I saw strewn along the road, how big of a collection could I amass? Wait … did that 18-wheeler going by just throw another one? How many bolts would an 18-wheeler have to throw before the whole rig just came down on itself? What if that happened as it was passing me? What if the enitre fleet of trucks barelling down American highways are just one thrown bolt away from taking me and everything else in their path to that big boltless road in the sky? Oh, look, free bungee!

  58. Comment by Jsun | 01.26.2006 | 11:37 pm

    FC-These are all very good questions, but you are not really breaking any new ground since they have also crossed my mind, and I am not Mensa material. You probably have enough answers from the blog readership (wow, a readership, never been on one of those ships before) so I will just add my question/cycling connundrum to the bottom of your list.oops couldn’t resist…Q- Why do people toss their cigarette butts on the road?A- They are actually trying to get them to stay in the air, its a smoker’s question (how much air time can this butt get??)Q- Who’s tossing trash these days? A- bloggers (oh I though it read- talking trash)Q- What are all those bungie cords doing on the ground?A- and do they stretch before they ‘workout’Q- If someone passes me and says “How’s it going?” as they blow by, what is the likelihood they really want to know how it’s going? A- I am not sure anybody really cares how you feel or what you have to say,Q- Which is better, road biking or mountain biking? A- better for what? swimming? chewing the fat? (and where does that saying come from?)Q- How fat do I look? A- like above question – does someone really want to hear the answerQ- How far I can ride between breaths? A- actually, I haven’t thought about this one before, but I am usually wondering if I will ever get my breath backQ- What percentage of people in cars are envious? A- not sure, I take the bus a lotthe Q- that plagues me the most comes from feeding my cycling addiction by reading the internet. I am now constantly wondering what everyone else will think of me,- my riding, my bike, my components, my answers to threads and blogs. Like, What if I meet up with the FC at the LT100? Should I have shaved my legs? gone with SRAM parts? what if he interviews me this time, will I be breathless? Anyway, I was never this competitive with people that I don’t know and that are really only in my head, so your blog and other biking sites now fill up my time on and off the bike. boy do I need to a real life or something…

  59. Comment by bob | 01.26.2006 | 11:46 pm

    so questions, questions, questionsthe following pop into my head with the most alarming frequency – and particularly when starting a climb (albeit even the most gentle) or into a headwind (ditto)1. is my front brake rubbing?2. is my back brake rubbing?3. does my real wheel have a flat?what else, i ask you, could explain a. the feeling that i am cycling through treacleb. the screaming in my quadsc. the burning in my lungsd. the faint, yet familiar, coppery taste of blood in the back of my throatwhile this may sound a tad paranoid i take scant comfort in the fact that i for one will never ride 200km of l’alpe d’huez with a brake rubbing

  60. Comment by Unknown | 01.27.2006 | 12:42 am

    ummm…. forty-two?

  61. Comment by Unknown | 01.27.2006 | 1:16 am

    As to who throws things along side the road, my question is not "everyday trash," the answer there is idiots, but rather who is that drives some sort of a pickup truck or other large capacity vehical filled with tires, old toilets, and other sundry household items and leaves them in the otherwise unspoiled ravine miles from anywhere.  Is it just one idiot or is it a series of idiots?  Or is it Arlo or someone who wishes to be Arlo, or whatall? And why is it always a toilet and tires?  Is there some connection?  While driving back from  the store after obtaining  a new toilet and some new tires they, or he, or she, decided to save an extra trip to dump and fling?  Or while driving to the dump they, or he, or she sees a tire and following the Arlo line of least resistance fling instead of gathering?
    yrs quizzically

  62. Comment by joan | 01.27.2006 | 2:37 am

    The only cycling-related question that pops into my head while on the bike is "does that guy think he’s better than me?"  The answer to this query is usually affirmative – and often proven very quickly thereafter.  For whatever reason, most of the questions that become burningly important on a ride are on a much more existential level.  For example:1. If most car accidents happen withinn 5 miles of home, why not move 10 miles away?2. If bread always lands butter-side down and cats always land on their feet, what happens when you tie a piece of bread butter side up to a cat’s back?and of course… 3. What the hell happened to all my bungees and rivets?

  63. Comment by Unknown | 01.27.2006 | 5:24 am

    Trash just happens. But worse than regular trash, is when you see a blown tube laying on the side of the road. My first thought usually is…Jerk, Then my second thought is ohh crap I probably road through the same crap. psssssssssssssssssssss.

  64. Comment by Unknown | 01.27.2006 | 10:34 am

    Apart from the questions which are prompted by this blog (Am I a bike snob?  What is a Luxury Body?  Does my knee position make me look like a circus bear?) I have noticed recently that an alarming number of cyclists are riding bikes which are way too small for them.  And I don’t mean a-couple-of-inches-too-much-stem-showing too small - these guys are just wannabee pros.  No, I mean knees-up-round-the-ears-too-small.  And the questions this poses are:  Are all these bikes stolen?  Why else would anyone ride something so obviously wrong for them?  And what happened to all the bike thieves whose haul was too big for them?
    Mike, London UK      

  65. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 01.27.2006 | 4:47 pm

    The most intense thought I’ve ever had on a bike was "Oh c%#p, I think I’m gonna die!" around some of the extremely courteous motorists here in the midwest!

  66. Comment by TIMOTHY | 01.27.2006 | 6:01 pm

    People toss ciggarette butts out of their car windows for one simple reason (I have given this much thought because it is one of my pet peeves!):  smokers (in general) are inherently self-centered and have a hard time thinking beyond the cigarette that’s in their nicotine-stained fingertips.  They just care more about themselves and their addiction than they do about anything or anyone else.  They don’t think about the long term consequences to their own health, the consequences that their second-hand smoke has to the health of others and they certainly don’t think about what happens to their nasty cigarette butts when they toss it out the window.  I have had burning cigarettes bounce off the hood and windshield of my car.  Luckily (for me as well as for the the smoker…) I haven’t been hit by one while riding…yet…

  67. Comment by Unknown | 03.10.2006 | 9:30 pm

    http://www.wall32.comYOUR WEB PAGE**!!Yellow Text Click For Open The Pictures!!**(nice spaces and pics!!!)


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