03.28.2006 | 12:23 am

Last weekend, my wife and I went house hunting. By the time we had looked at the tenth house, they all looked the same to me. I had stopped thinking about where I was, what the house looked like, whether it was a practical arrangement for our family, which kid would stay in what room, and had in general stopped doing anything but responding with affirmations of whatever my wife said. It turns out that you can pretend to be engaged in whatever someone else is doing simply by saying, whenever it’s clear that it’s your turn to talk, one of the following:

  • “Totally.”
  • “That’s exactly right.”
  • “Hmm. That’s a good question. What do you think?” (This is a good one when it’s clear you’ve been asked for your opinion on something but you really don’t have any idea what’s going on.)

While we wandered, a number of thoughts went through my mind. They include the following:

  • If you’ve got a massive dog with a massive incontinence problem, you shouldn’t even try to sell your house until you’ve replaced all the carpet in the house. All the Sharper Image De-Ionizing De-Stinkifiers in the world aren’t going to be sufficient, the open windows just acknowledge the stench without making me think there’s any hope for eliminating it (“Honey, let’s buy this house! And when we do, let’s always leave all the windows open!”), and the cinnamon-scented candles just make the place smell like cinnamony dog pee.
  • If you want to sell your home, go away while I wander around in your house. If you’re watching over my shoulder, I don’t feel like I can be nosy. And if I don’t feel like I can be nosy, I’m just going to make polite noises and get out as fast as I can.
  • My new bike commute is going to be epic. I’m going to be riding 50 miles and doing 4000 feet of climbing every single day, just by going to work and back. Too bad (for everyone else) my new job doesn’t have showers onsite.
  • Money becomes meaningless when you talk about large enough quantities of it.

Wrapping My Head around Money

Here’s my theory: when you start talking about so much money that you can no longer imagine how big a pile of one-dollar-bills totaling that amount would be, the quantity starts being meaningless. How big would a pile of 100,000 one dollar bills be? Would it fill a 10-foot-square room up to my knees, hips, or chest? I don’t know.

And that’s why buying a house seems so strange. When I negotiate on price, I have no real idea whether the house is, objectively, a good value. All I know is I’m going to offer $15,000 less than the asking price, because I know everyone asks for more than they expect.

Is any house worth the amount of money I’m about to borrow for one? I don’t know. I can’t imagine the pile. But I do know that I’ve developed a nice little headache in the left half of my head while thinking about it.

And I’m hyperventilating, too.

I thought about bikes while house hunting, too. Specifically, I thought about how strange it was to be saying things like, “This house is only $5,000 more than the last house we looked at,” when I know for sure that there’s no way in the world anyone would say I just spent “only” $5000 on a bike, even though I’d enjoy a $5000 bike a lot more than whatever difference $5000 counts for between two houses.

With all that said, here’s the one we’re probably going to get:

Please note the best features of the house:

  • three car garage
  • custom-built epic commute

My wife, however, contends that the best thing about it is the beautiful granite countertops.



PS: My son is very happy to announce that he has created a new minigame. Try it at:


Quashing Rumors

03.23.2006 | 8:48 pm

I am, as I have mentioned a time or two, an increasingly famous blogger. To tell the truth (and I always tell, the truth, for I am famous in part because of my forthrightness), sometimes this fame can be wearying. For example, when people begin spreading insidious, often hurtful rumors about me, I sometimes ask myself, “Fat Cyclist (I always refer to myself as ‘Fat Cyclist,’ even in my most private thoughts), is it all worth it? Are the vast quantities of money, the public adoration, the high-profile speaking engagements, and free yogurt samples sent via FedEx really worth the contemptible falsehoods my jealous enemies propogate?”

“I don’t know, Fat Cyclist,” I answer to myself. “Sometimes, it does seem too heavy a burden to bear.”

“Pish-posh, Fat Cyclist!” my third self bracingly answers to my other two selves, in an English accent (for some unknown reason). “Do not let the naysayers, the snide liars, the riff-raff, nor, in short, anyone else who disagrees with you, bring you down!”

“Did you just use six commas in that sentence?” my first self asks my third self, astounded.

“Yes! And later I shall split an infinitive!” my third self answers. “But no matter! The point which I am so emphatically making is that you should not allow yourself to be defeated by these rumours! Rather, you should expose them for what they are—lies!—and refute them with vigor and vim! Pip pip!”

“Okay, but after that we’re going to find a good psychiatrist, OK, Fat Cyclist?” asks my reasonable second self.


Rumor 1: The Fat Cyclist is Actually Bob Roll

I acknowledge the eerie similarities between Bob Roll and myself: we either have been or are overweight. We both love cycling. We both occupy the very small “funny cycling guy” niche. We are both courted nonstop by cycling publications and television programming, due to our widespread name recognition and popular appeal. I offer, however, the following tautology which I believe proves conclusively that I am not Bob Roll:

1. Bob Roll has sat beside Al Trautwig.

2. Al Trautwig is still alive.


I am not Bob Roll.


Rumor 2: The Fat Cyclist is Not Really All That Fat

Many people have tried to discredit me by asserting that I am not all that fat. To which I respond, “Am too.”

To which these petty obstructionists counter, “Are not.”

So let me make it perfectly clear, this one last time:

  • I weigh more than I want to.
  • I weigh more than I should if I am going to be a successful endurance racer.
  • I really like calling myself “Fat Cyclist,” in part because it inoculates me against defeat. When people outride me, where’s the glory in being faster than a fat cyclist? But when I can outride someone—hey, it happens—it doubles my glory and their humiliation.


Rumor 3: The Fat Cyclist is Not Writing Very Often Right Now Because He Has Run Out of Things To Say

No, I’m just trying to close down my old job, sell my house, start a new job, buy a new house, and otherwise relocate. Hey, at least this time the wife doesn’t have cancer, and the twins are out of diapers. This is easy!


Rumor 4: The Fat Cyclist Blog is Now Outsourced to a Blog-Writing Vendor Based in India

That is laughable. I would never outsource my blog to India. Especially when I can get a much better deal at one of those blog sweatshops they’ve got set up in the Philippines.


Rumor 5: The Fat Cyclist Has Not Weighed Himself in More Than Three Weeks and Has Now Reached a Point Where He is Terrified of What He Might Find

OK, I admit I haven’t weighed myself in a while because the scale’s in a box in the garage somewhere, and I’m only occasionally getting out on a ride. But I don’t think I’m gaining any weight. On an unrelated note, though, I need to buy a new clothes drier. The current one seems to be running too hot and is shrinking all my clothes.

How to Search for a New House

03.21.2006 | 3:49 pm

So, our house went on the market last Saturday, with a nice little open house at 1:00pm. I can’t tell you what it was like, because we got as far away from it as possible. Evidently, having the owners skulk around watching over everyone’s shoulders and looking for signs of interest isn’t the best way to make people feel comfortable.

Who knew?

Anyway, our clever strategy of having one of maybe three houses in this price range in this town with a lawn and lotsa trees seems to have paid off. We got a good offer before the end of the day and are now doing the dance of house selling. It’s a very complicated dance which I will not detail in this blog for two reasons:

  • It’s very complicated.
  • It’s very boring.

Let’s Go Shopping

So now we’re officially in the market to buy a house. My wife is being kind of silly about the things she wants. For example, she’d like to have a house that’s near good schools. She’d like to have a house that has enough bedrooms for all the children. She’d like to have a house that has room to store all the junk we’ve collected in nearly 19 years of marriage (just did the math; it wasn’t as easy as you might expect, because it required me remembering what year we got married). She’d like to have a house that’s reasonably close to things like grocery stores.


I, on the other hand, am much more pragmatic. Here is what I am looking for in our new house:

  • Room for my stuff: I want a three car garage. I have this dream for the third car part: in the back is a workbench where I keep my tools. Then, in front of that, I have a bike rack—just like the kind you see in public places. That bike rack is full of my bikes. I don’t have to hang them up to get them out of the way of anything, because standing there right in the middle of the floor is right where they belong. Along the wall will be rows of shelves with room for all my helmets, camelbaks, tubes, lube, shoes, bike clothes, gel, and other stuff. This third car garage will be my favorite part of the house.
  • Commute distance and topography: I’d like the house to be between 15 and 20 miles from my job. Ideally, my house will be at the top of a long hill—I’m thinking a multiple-mile climb here—so I can start the day with a nice downhill, and end the day with an intense climb. Yes, such places do in fact exist in the area I’m looking at.
  • Location: I want my house to be close to—or better yet, on—one of my favorite mountain bike rides. It can be on Hog’s Hollow, or it can be on Grove, or it can be on Frank, or it can be on Hope. I admit to having a preference that it be on either Hog’s Hollow or Grove, since I’ve already lived near Frank once, and wouldn’t mind a change.
  • Location: I want my house to be close to the Alpine Loop, so I can hop on my bike and do what I consider the greatest road ride in the world whenever I feel like it.
  • Location: Actually, I don’t have anything to go in this third “location” bullet. But I created it anyway, in order to do the “location, location, location” joke. Wasn’t it funny?

This Friday, my wife and I are flying out to Utah to spend a weekend looking at houses. It’ll be fun to watch the real estate agent try to resolve my reasonable wants with my wife’s crazy-headed notions.

Strictly Forbidden

03.17.2006 | 10:49 pm

I, the Fat Cyclist, hereby forbid the entire cycling universe from uttering the following phrases.  

  • “Nice weather for a ride” (uttered before a ride when the weather looks good): Look, you’re jinxing all of us by saying that. You’re inviting bad weather. Also, we’re all outside together, and we’ve all independently observed the niceness of the weather. It doesn’t need to be said. The fact that you’re saying “Nice weather” when the weather is obviously nice indicates that you’re the kind of person who can’t stand to not have someone talking. Or maybe you’re the kind of person who likes to always find positive things to say. Either way, I’m not sure I want to ride with you.
  • “Nice weather for a ride” (uttered when the weather is terrible): The pretentiousness of this statement makes me want to scream. Either you want me to believe that you really think the weather — which clearly sucks — is nice and that you are therefore a hearty soul who is unaffected by such trivial things as freezing rain and icy wind, or you want me to join you in your cliché little bout of sardonic humor. Either way, I’m not buying. In short, please: don’t talk about the weather unless you have something unique and interesting to say about it. And since the weather tends to repeat itself and has been observed by zillions since the beginning of time, my guess is the likelihood of your having a unique, interesting observation regarding said weather is poor.
  • “Sorry I’m so slow.” You’re riding with a group, so someone’s bound to lag a little. That’s fine. That’s expected. But then the slow guy has to go and make a self-validation ploy by apologizing for his slowness, in the hopes that everyone else will say, “No, you’re doing fine! You’re as fast as the rest of us, practically!” Well, guess what: while we may be saying those words, what we’re actually thinking is, “I’m just glad that I’m not the one off the back today.” From now on, anytime anyone says, “Sorry I’m so slow” to me, I’m going to look him in the eye and say, “I forgive you, for I have a generous heart.”
  • “I haven’t had a flat the whole season.” You know, by saying that, you’ve alerted all the nails, broken glass, goatheads and vipers with very sharp teeth to your whereabouts. They’re going to find you.
  • “This road/trail/course sucks.” No, it doesn’t suck. No road, trail, or course is objectively bad. Given the right bike and the right riding attitude, I believe just about anywhere can be fun on a bike. You’re just having a bad day. Quit complaining.
  • “This course used to be great, back before….” Yes, gramps, those were the good ol’ days. Maybe it’s time for you wind up this ride and get on home; there might be teenagers trespassing on your lawn.
  • “I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it on that ride. If I’m more than ten minutes late, go on without me.” No, how about this instead: Show up for the ride on time. Or if you can’t make it, let us know beforehand. Or if you’re saying this as a mealy-mouthed way of saying you’re not going on the ride without actually coming out and saying that you’re not going on the ride, try this instead: say you’re not going on the ride.

Variants of these phrases shall also not be tolerated. Any infractions will result in the immediate, non-negotiable issuance of a demerit.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


PS: My house goes on the market tomorrow; I’ve been racing around all week getting it just so for the open house this weekend. Can you tell I’m wound a little tight?

Help Me Collect Data for My Son’s Science Project, Get Free Stuff

03.15.2006 | 3:55 pm

I’ve got a favor to ask. Or, more accurately, as my 10-year-old son’s research assistant, I have a favor to ask. He’s working on a science project on reaction times, and he needs more data.

So I’m asking you to conduct a little experiment and send me the results. It’s easy, and it’s super-fun. Oh, yes. Super-duper-fun.

I worry that I may be overselling the “fun” aspect of this. Perhaps I should also emphasize that today’s Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Giveaway is based on participation in this experiment. Specifically, I’ll be selecting (at random) a winner from the people who send in information. The more people you collect info on, the greater your chances of winning.


How Fast Are You?

Here’s what you need:

  • A ruler
  • A table and chair
  • A helper

Here’s what you do:

  1. Sit with your forearm on the surface of the table, with your writing hand extending over the edge.
  2. Have your helper position the ruler with the zero end between, but not touching, your thumb and fingers.
  3. Have your helper release the ruler without warning.
  4. As soon as the ruler is released, catch it as quickly as possible between your thumb and fingers.
  5. Repeat the process, noting your best effort of the two.
  6. Send me—either as a comment or as email—the following:

·         Your age (it’s OK to just note “adult” for adults)

·         Your gender

·         Your best distance (rounded to the centimeter or half-inch)

Then do this same test on every single person you know, and send me their information, too. Make it an obsession. And while you’re at it, be sure to do this test on plenty of females. Looking at the results my son’s collected so far, I can see he’s shy around the ladies.

In the interest of full disclosure, I caught the ruler at 5 inches. That makes me faster than most, but not the fastest. The triathlete down the street beat me. Grrrr.

Thank you for your cooperation, and for your indulgence as I hijack my blog in the interest of my son’s grades.

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