Crash Etiquette for Complete Idiots

03.14.2006 | 9:44 pm

A few days ago, Bob and I rode the Crop Circles / Mr. DNA / Tapeworm trail system. It was raining lightly (yes, even though it was spring in Seattle), so the roots, rocks, and wooden stunts were slippery.

Early in the ride, we came to a seesaw. This one was taller and shorter than the seesaw I had ridden the last time we had been in the area, the board was narrower, and it was made of smooth wood. Also, the approach was downhill and around a bend.

I admit it: I was scared.

I approached the seesaw too slowly. By the time I was about halfway up, my front wheel was wobbling. I nearly stalled out, and my front wheel rolled off the right side of the seesaw.

This, as you may expect, was not a desirable situation.

From a height of probably five feet, I fell over the front of my bike. Ordinarily, I’d put my hands out to catch my fall, but this time I didn’t. I pulled my arms in toward my chest, and landed in a nice forward roll, finishing in a sitting position, astounded that I was not hurt even a tiny bit. I sat for a moment, stunned at my good fortune.

Bob shouted, as I sat there, dropped his bike, and ran over. “Are you OK?” he asked.

I admitted that to my amazement, I was just fine.

Bob then started laughing, recounting how the fall looked from his perspective, describing the contributing factors to my crash, and how surprised he was that I hadn’t snapped a wrist on that fall.

It was at this moment that I realized the reason I really like riding with Bob. He knows proper crash etiquette.


And Then There’s Brad

Bob’s behavior stands in marked contrast to how another friend of mine reacted after I crashed. Let’s just call him “Brad” (because his name is in fact actually Brad). He and I were riding a goat trail coming down from Jacob’s Ladder, which is part of the Hog’s Hollow network. I had never ridden this descent before, and so was surprised when it suddenly terminated with a three foot dropoff onto a dirt road. I flipped over my handlebars and landed on my back. It hurt. A lot.

Brad, naturally, took this opportunity to immediately begin laughing his head off. Without asking if I was OK. Without saying, “Sorry I didn’t warn you about how this trail ends.” Without any clue that several years later, I’d be tearing him a new one in the most public way I could imagine.


Proper Crash Etiquette

So, let this be a lesson to you. If you don’t follow the rules of Crash Etiquette, you may someday reap the consequences (Have I mentioned that this is the same Brad who bailed on his last lap when we were racing the 24 Hours of Moab as a 2-person team, and then didn’t even stick around to see me finish when I did his lap for him? Yep, he just packed up his gear and went home while I was on the course.).

Luckily, the rules of Crash Etiquette are quite simple. Most anyone can follow this simple five-step procedure:

  1. At the moment of impact, express astonishment and dismay.  The best possible noise you can make when another person crashes is the noise you imagine yourself making if you were to have that selfsame crash. But an audible gasp or “Whoah!” will do fine.
  2. Immediately check to see if the crasher is OK. Saying “Are you OK?” is the correct way to do this. If a pool of blood or a compound fracture is evident, you should still ask the question.
  3. Recount the incident. While the crasher is collecting his or her wits, describe the accident, in as dramatic fashion as you possibly can. This will help the crasher feel like the pain is worth it. Anything for a good story.
  4. Once the crasher stands up, you are allowed to laugh. But not before then. And if the crasher is crying, you are not allowed to laugh. However, you are allowed to pretend the crasher is not crying, awkwardly avoiding looking at the crasher’s face.
  5. Speculate. Spend a few minutes describing the root causes for the crash. Slippery rock, mossy root, off-camber trail, and scree are all excellent reasons.

Most of you will learn this procedure quickly and will have no trouble with this important process.

Brad, you may want to print it and tape it to your bike.


PS: Obviously I’m not writing as regularly as I usually do. This doesn’t mean I’m getting ready to abandon this blog. I’m just really busy trying to get my house ready to sell, wrapping up my old job, getting ready for my new job, and so forth. I’ll write as often as I can, and hope to get back to a regular schedule really really soon now.


How to Root for the Right People in the 2006 Tour de France

03.9.2006 | 11:11 pm

With only 113 days until the start of the 2006 Tour de France — that’s less than a third of a year! — American interest in pro cycling has reached a fever pitch. Family, friends, coworkers, casual acquaintances and complete strangers are likely to accost anyone riding a bicycle, demanding to know: With Lance Armstrong out of the picture, who will win the 2006 Tour de France?

Some so-called cycling experts say that it’s an open field this year, that several strong contenders have the capability of emerging victorious.

These people are fools.

There are right people and wrong people to root for in the Tour de France, and good reasons and bad reasons to root for them. To help you avoid embarrassment by saying the wrong thing, I hereby present a guide on what to say about whom in this year’s Tour:


Jan Ullrich

Ullrich’s chances have never been better to win the Tour (except for 1997, when he actually did win the Tour; his chances of winning that Tour are 100%). For Ullrich, however, it’s not so much a matter of whether he will win the Tour, as that he deserves to win the Tour.

Considering what Ullrich’s put up with for the past seven years, everyone else in the peloton ought to get together and agree to always stay twenty feet behind Jan. And while I fully understand that he and I are actually nothing at all alike physically, he does at least tend to gain weight during the off season. His success gives hope to fat cyclists all around the world.


Ivan Basso

While I want Ullrich to win the Tour, my money’s on Basso. In fact, there are only three things I can think of that would prevent him from winning this year’s Tour.

  1. He completely fries himself while riding the Giro. Although, if he wins the Giro, I hereby give myself the option of instantly switching allegiance to Basso, because I would love to root for someone to win two grand tours in a year. Sorry, Jan.
  2. The team director, Bjarne Riis, reins Basso in, telling him that the Tour is a team effort, and that everyone is getting sick and tired of always riding in support of him, as if they weren’t all professional cyclists. All he ever does is take, take, take. This year, he can ride in support of Bobby Julich. Heaven knows Bobby’s waited long enough for a turn.
  3. Basso decides to ride a respectful 20 feet behind Jan, as agreed upon by the rest of the peloton.

Alexander Vinokourov

Of course, Vinokourov will not win the Tour. However, every cycling fan — regardless of how strongly they idolize any other cyclist — must stand at the ready to cheer for Vinokourov as he makes one of his crazy, wrong-headed attacks. Most of them make no sense and go nowhere, and that’s why I love him. Here’s how I imagine Vinokourov decides whether to attack at a given moment: “Hey, there’s a guy about 100 feet ahead of me. I wonder if I could catch him. Well, my legs feel pretty good. GO!


Floyd Landis

I understand that Floyd won a tour in California recently, though I cannot find photographs or news in the US press that corroborate this allegation, so I’m going to reserve judgment. If in fact there actually was a tour, and if in fact Floyd won that tour, that’s great news for Floyd. Combine this with the fact that he is currently in the lead in Paris-Nice, and you’ve got clear and convincing proof that Floyd is peaking waaaay too early in the season. Floyd, I’ve got two words for you: Iban Mayo.

Oh, OK. That wasn’t very generous of me. How about a trade, Floyd: I will root for you to get on the Tour de France podium, but only on the condition that you promise to shave that goatee. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.


George Hincapie

Last year, George Hincapie startled the cycling world by winning a climbing Tour stage. This led to speculation that he will lead Team Discovery in the Tour de France this year. If this is the case, I have two observations I would like to make:

  • George is a great guy, and I wish him nothing but the best.
  • A fluke stage win is the absolute thinnest foundation for selecting a team leader I have ever heard of.

Levi Leipheimer

You know, Levi is such a quiet and unassuming rider, it’s hard to root for him. In fact, I keep forgetting he’s there at all. Perhaps he could use that to his advantage. He could just keep his head down and let people forget he’s there, and then quietly ride on ahead of the pack.

Imagine the consternation of Ivan Basso as he steps up to the top spot on the podium in Paris, only to find it occupied. “Who are you?” Ivan asks.
“I’m Levi Leipheimer,” Levi says, quietly. “I won nine stages and the overall GC race by eighteen minutes.”


Tyler Hamilton

OK, he’s not eligible to race this year. Fine. I can accept that. But next year, watch and see what happens when a guy who has made a career of being the nicest guy in the peloton comes back to the game with pariah status and a chip on his shoulder. I am looking forward to watching Tyler tear the legs off anyone within a city block. And everyone will be snide about it and call him a doper, and that will just make him race faster and meaner.

Tyler will win the Tour next year. By a lot.


Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde is an outstanding young rider with incredible potential, and I would strongly recommend rooting for him, except for one thing. His team’s name is “Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears,” for crying out loud. I have no idea how to even pronounce that, and there’s no chance whatsoever that I would successfully spell it. In fact, it is my understanding that everyone on the team is required to wear extra-large jerseys, just to make room for the team logo.


Lance Armstrong

You don’t really think he’s retired for good, do you? You’re so adorable.

My Mistake

03.8.2006 | 9:23 pm

In yesterday’s post, I promised to be funny today. So here’s something funny:


Q. What’s the most naive thing in the world?

A. A dad, who, because he is staying home with his four-year-old twins for the day while his wife goes to the hospital for some tests, thinks he will have a time to write.


And those tests? All negative. Which is to say, negative news is good news.

I hereby declare myself relieved.

One Down.

03.7.2006 | 7:00 pm

Yesterday I accepted a new job, which means I’ll be leaving my old job. Which means I’ll be moving back to Utah.

Last night I also got a good night’s sleep — the first I’ve had in about four days. I swear, I can deal with just about any amount of stress if I’ve got a reasonable level of sleep.

And if I’ve had a good night’s sleep and a good burrito for lunch, I’m basically invincible. Increasingly fat, but invincible.


The Reasons

There are a lot of factors behind this change, but I’m just going to list the ones that are Fat Cyclist-relevant:

  • El Azteca: There is nothing in the world quite like their Chicken Chipotle burrito.
  • Tibble Fork: I missed riding it last year. I don’t want to go another year without riding that incredible, painful trail at least once a week.
  • Lone Star Taqueria: Best fish tacos I’ve ever had.
  • The Alpine Loop: The most beautiful, punishing ride you can do in 2:08 (on a really good day).
  • Mi Ranchito: Stay simple at this place: Chicken enchiladas.
  • Hog Hollow, Frank, Squaw Peak / Hope Campground, South Fork, Grove Canyon, Joy, Mud Springs, etc. Is there a better place in the world to live and ride than in Utah County, Utah? Well, maybe one could make an argument for Grand Junction, CO. Maybe there are other places. But I miss riding my home trails.
  • The Core Team: It’ll be great to ride with Dug, Brad, Rick, and Kenny again. All I’ve got to do is get Bob to come back to UT and get Rocky to move to UT and the core team will be complete. Maybe I can get Nick to move to UT too.
  • Moab: It’s a three hour drive away.
  • Gooseberry: Really, no one state has any business having this much great mountain biking, but there you go.
  • Botched: OK, I’ll be honest. This is the real reason I’m coming back. I want to ride with Botched.

One to Go.

So now we get to start selling the house, looking for a house, and convincing the kids how much fun it will be to leave all their friends and one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the world.

And then there’s one other thing — maybe — which I’ll find more about sometime soon.


Tomorrow I Will Be Funny.

No, really. I will. I’ll be hilarious.

Please Stand By for a Moment While I Make a Couple Big Life-Affecting Changes

03.6.2006 | 3:55 pm

Believe it or not, people (by which I mean “more than one person, though not many more”) who are considering writing a blog of their own have asked me for tips on how to make their blog successful.

I always offer the same three pieces of advice:

  1. Don’t blog about blogging. Writing about the consternation you are experiencing because you have nothing to say is an excellent exercise, which you should then immediately delete without showing to anyone, ever.
  2. Be about something. If your blog is about your entire life, it will probably be interesting to your family and closest friends (I’m being generous by including your closest friends in this list), and nobody else.
  3. Write often. Don’t make people come back and read the same thing over and over. I mean, really.

I present this list because today’s post breaks all three of these rules. I’m blogging about my blog. I’m not writing about biking, nor my fatness. And I’ve been irresponsibly flaky in my post frequency for the past several weeks.

What I’m doing, in short, is making a long-winded excuse for the fact that I’m really preoccupied with two big ol’ scary things in my life right now. One is a decision I need to make, the other is something I have no control over and just need to wait for more information.

It’s hard to be comical, punctual, and on-message when stuff like this is happening.

And of course I’m being vague here. I’m sorry for the coyness. I will likely be able to talk about one of these two things tomorrow. I’m not sure about the other one. Probably end-of-week for it.

Things will be back to normal soon. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself, while taking deep breaths into a brown paper bag.


PS: I forgot to check my weight today.

PPS: Does anyone know why people used to take deep breaths into a brown paper bag as a treatment for panic? Did it work? Why is this practice no longer in widespread use? Did you use a search engine to find your answer? Is it fair to say that all quests for knowledge now start with a search engine query? Will someone please just knock me out with a hammer, blackjack, or other blunt object, please?

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