Self-Importantly, I Agree to an Interview

04.24.2006 | 5:41 pm

Several months ago, the good folks at Dahon loaned me a Flo to review. I liked it so much that I have so far accidentally forgotten to ever return it (and plan to continue to accidentally fail to return it). Their (incredibly patient) marketing guy, Christopher Hess, tried to recoup something out of the terrible mistake they made (sending me the bike in the first place) by asking me to do an interview for their newsletter.
Celebrity that I am, I said "Yes, as long as you clear all the questions with my agent." Quickly, I had to decide: should I ask my wife to pretend to be my agent, or should I just do my Jimmy Stewart impression and hope that fools him?
I went with the Jimmy Stewart impression.
"Weeaaahhhll," I drawled, "So you wanna talk with the Fat Cyclist, doya?" I asked Christopher.
Christopher, I suspect, was not taken in. But he agreed to my demands, and we proceeded to do the interview. It was, as you’d expect, pure gold.
Ten Questions: Dahon Interviews the Fat Cyclist

1. Thanks for your time Elden. Tell us a bit about yourself and your Fat Cyclist blog?

Okay. About a year ago, I did an epic mountain bike ride — the White Rim Trail, near Moab, Utah — and just barely survived it, what with the 40 pounds of blubber I had managed to acquire during the previous couple years. Sooo, I thought, “Hey, while I try to whip my sorry butt back into shape, how about I embarrass myself by writing about the whole thing?

At first, I mostly just wrote about my weight loss efforts and riding, but soon I ran out of things to say. I mean, think about it: how many different ways can you say, “I screwed up my diet again, but still really really really love riding my bike?” So to add a little variety, I started doing some bike satire, the occasional contest, and stories about biking.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up a good-sized audience (about 4,000 people per day), with some terrific commenters — I expect a good portion of the Fat Cyclist readership comes by to read the conversation that happens after my initial post.

2. Could you tell us a little bit about how long you have been commuting and what sort of bike(s) you ride?

I started bike commuting when I moved out to Washington and started working for Microsoft. Before that, I had never worked more than a mile from my home — and usually worked in my home. So having any commute at all was sort of a new thing for me.

My bike stable:

  • Ibis Ti Road: I’ve had this road bike for nine years. Titanium becomes more beautiful the longer you have it. I will never part with this bike.
  • Dahon Flo: I initially got this bike to review, but fell in love with it and decided to keep it. It’s not just a great bike for traveling; it’s a great mountain bike for tight, twisty, technical trails. The fact that you can pack it up and take it with you is a great bonus, but I’d love this bike even if it didn’t fit in a suitcase.
  • Gary Fisher Paragon: My first 29”-wheeled mountain bike. I’m still getting used to the way it feels, but love the way it hooks up in the loose stuff.
  • Bianchi Pista: I bought this for track racing; it turns out that I love it for fixed-gear road riding, too.

3. You live in a beautiful part of the world, with all the trimmings western cities seem to provide in terms of being ‘car-friendly’. What influenced your decision to start cycling to work?

I started bike commuting for a couple reasons. First, I was trying to multi-task: I didn’t have time for a “real” bike ride, and figured I could get in some kind of workout by biking to and from work each day. Second, the streets in the area around Microsoft are phenomenally congested. The number of cars trying to get to the main campus in the morning cannot be expressed with conventional mathematics. Bikes get to ignore all this traffic. I sometimes amuse myself by counting the number of cars I pass as I bike to work. Often, the number is greater than 200.


4. And just how long is your commute each way?

Well, eleven miles if I go the shortest way possible. But on nice days, the route somehow manages to wind up being closer to 20 miles.

I just started a new job in Utah, though, where the house I’m buying is about 20 miles from work…with a big mountain pass in between. I can hardly wait to start making that commute daily. Seriously.

5. How is the Flo treating you? There is quite varied terrain where you live, so how does the Flo handle its mountain bike duties?

The Flo is the best-handling mountain bike I have ever ridden. I mean, a steel, Joe-Murray-designed hardtail: what’s not to love? Well, actually, I don’t love the seatpost / saddle combo that came with the bike, but that’s nitpicking. You guys hit a home run (or the cricket equivalent thereof) with this bike.


6. What do you think are the benefits of more enviro friendly transport solutions and less cars in urban centres?

Actually, I think there will shortly be more and more cars in urban centres (you British are so adorable the way you spell!) — it’s just that they won’t be going anywhere, what with gasoline and gold costing the same amount per ounce. Cars will come to be regarded as exciting obstacles cyclists can use in trials maneuvers and in urban mountain biking, which I believe will be the next big thing.


7. So… any ideas on how to fix the world?

I recommend first loosening it up with a judicious squirt of WD-40, then take after it with a 5mm hex wrench and a 15mm box wrench. Between those two tools, you can fix just about anything. If you find you’re in over your head, though, you should take it (the world, I mean — not your head) to a good mechanic and tell him it broke while you were “just riding along.”


8. Aside from commuting, what other riding do you enjoy?

I love both road riding and mountain biking. My favorite thing, though, is heading out on a big ol’ all-day mountain biking adventure with my friends. At least, that’s my favorite kind of biking when I’m not actually out on an all-day adventure with my friends. When I’m out on such a ride, my favorite kind of biking is a quick ride to the El Azteca Taco Stand.


9. Has the regular commute helped your other riding, your overall fitness?

I’m pretty sure it has. I’ve still got plenty of blubber to work off, but after biking to work all through the winter, I’m entering this season without that terrible soreness I get after my first long ride of the year. So that’s worth something, I figure.


10. And finally, the Dahon Photo Competition is underway. A lot of people are talking about which bike they would build if they won. Whats your dream Dahon?

I’ve already got it, man. That Flo is sweet as pie.


Though I wouldn’t turn down an Allegro, either. My new job has me on the road a bunch, you see, and some of the places I go to have better road riding than mountain biking….


  1. Comment by Zed | 04.24.2006 | 6:04 pm

    So does that mean they’re going to let you keep the bike? I’m sure a Fat Cyclist Leadville review aboard a Dahon Flo wouldn’t hurt their publicity, eh?
    Let ‘em know that my current bike reviewing schedule is open if they need someone to do some trail tests on anything …

  2. Comment by jim | 04.24.2006 | 6:11 pm

    Great…now fatty is going to have a big head to go with his gut.  As if it wasn’t enough to have 4000 hits per day on this site…he now has requests for interviews.
    After I get over my jealousy, I might have to find the publication this interview appears in.

  3. Comment by barry1021 | 04.24.2006 | 6:16 pm

    FC-some thoughts on your interview:
    " I expect a good portion of the Fat Cyclist readership comes by to read the conversation that happens after my initial post."
    Uh, actually, it’s everyone FC.
    "I love both road riding and mountain biking"
    Liar Liar, mountain bike pants on fire.
    "I sometimes amuse myself by counting the number of cars I pass as I bike to work. Often, the number is greater than 200."
    Yes and giving them the finger as you passed was the reason you were run out of Seattle.
    "about 20 miles from work…with a big mountain pass in between. I can hardly wait to start making that commute daily. Seriously."
    You will be in the car by Thursday, using alpost anything as an excuse ("wild possums everywhere, very dangerous, who knew?")
    "The Flo is the best-handling mountain bike I have ever ridden"
    I mean really FC, you would suck up to a beaver for a piece of bark. It’s embarassing.
    "(you British are so adorable the way you spell!)"
    See BigMike, we Americans are much more understanding about the funny English spoken elsewhere. Of course you can also chalk this up to more major FC suck up. 

  4. Comment by Unknown | 04.24.2006 | 6:36 pm

    I rode your commute yesterday and it took me 1:30 minutes to get from Midvale to American Fork. It should be a bit faster going from AF/Alpine to Midvale, because the climb isn’t nearly as difficult going that way.
    P.S. " My favorite thing, though, is heading out on a big ol’ all-day mountain biking adventure with my friends," during which they tease you about being a corporate shill, etc.
    P.P.S Did you suggest they re-name the Flo to the Flo-Ho (Do remind them how easily you can be bought) as per dug’s suggestion?

  5. Comment by Jsun | 04.24.2006 | 7:04 pm

    I believe the cricket equivalent to a Homerun is called a SIX.  Sheesh talk about a slow game.  Its okay for the fans to fall asleep at the game, which could last for days, with time out for tea, of course. (rant stopped early on account of irrelevance)
    That looks like a really great interview.  When I want information about solving the world’s problems or at least on urban transportation issues, my first thought is to ask some self-centered blogger about his personally unfounded opinions.  :)  I find it helps me to form my own opinions which are always the same as whatever FC says his opinions are. 
    I didn’t know that so many people were reading these comments. Maybe I could start a sub-blog, where I just blog in other blog comment spaces. 

  6. Comment by Unknown | 04.24.2006 | 7:14 pm

    not really.
    just kidding.
    i’m sorry. (hangs head, kicks dirt)

  7. Comment by Robert | 04.24.2006 | 7:23 pm

    For what it’s worth, Elden tells me how much he loves the Flo whenever we ride together. Fatty may be a sycophant, but he’s telling the truth.
    One thing he didn’t mention in the interview is that he broke the shifter a few rides ago, so he wrapped it around the handlebar and never shifts out of the middle ring. That’s another reason he doesn’t want to send the bike back.

  8. Comment by Andrew | 04.24.2006 | 7:55 pm

    This has got to be some violation of journalist ethics, to accept an expensive bike so you will say nice things about it in print.
    Or is the term "journalistic ethics" an oxymoron?
    Or, as a blogger, are you really a journalist at all?
    Shouldn’t you have to stop blogging for 60 days prior to any national election? Some of your commentors are either right-wing fanatics or left-wing crazies.
    And how many comments does one have to fire at you before you give away a Banjo Brothers bag?
    I’d like to know.

  9. Comment by barry1021 | 04.24.2006 | 7:55 pm

    Of COURSE he tells you how great the bike is Bob, we said FC was a self-serving suck-up, we never said he was stupid. If he tells his fellow riders the truth, he knows he will get called on it here. He would wear four inch women’s heels if he got them for free, and tell you that its the best workout for his quads that he ever had. We are his meal ticket, his pathway to a third garage stall full of FREE STUFF, some of which, no doubt, he will stamp with his FC logo and distribute to his pathetic minions. All 4000 of us.

  10. Comment by Unknown | 04.24.2006 | 8:18 pm

    Um, okay, maybe I missed something here.  But since when to manufacturers interview putative critics/writers about the manufacturer’s product?  Is the next issue of Car & Driver going to consist of Enzon Ferrari III, Lee Iacoca Jr., and Michael Ford XVIIX interviewing C&D editor Csaba Csere* on what he thinks about their products?
    I mean, it totally works when Martha Stewart, the Editor of Martha Stewart Living Magazine, has Martha Stewart (a writer for Martha Stewart Living Magazine) review some K-Mart Martha Stewart Living Brand products (which Martha simply loves) for Martha Stewart Living Magazine. 
    But other than the fat thighs, jail time, and a delightful cake recipe or two, Elden has nothing in common with Martha Stewart, so I don’t see how it could possibly work here. 
    *Yes, Csaba Csere is an automotive writer.  His name is pronounced "chubba cheddar."  Show of hands – who thinks that would make a great name for a bratwurst-compatible nacho cheese topping marketed to Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers fans? 

  11. Comment by Ariane | 04.24.2006 | 9:37 pm

    Wait… Fatty’s been to the slammer? I’ve been away a while, but sheesh, I figured you’d all get along all right in the mean time, hahaha.

    Score on the keeping the bike. Tell ‘em, if they have any extras hanging around, that I can provide a nice home for one here in Nisky.

  12. Comment by Ariane | 04.24.2006 | 10:27 pm


    Al, not that Chubba Cheddar is not an entirely appropriate name, because it would be perfectly suited, but are you suggesting that a product ought to exist in which a Bratwurst sausage is… dipped in nacho cheese…?


  13. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 04.24.2006 | 11:19 pm

    Barry – Don’t you think it’s a bit strange that the entire English speaking world spells differently than the USA.  I think it’s cute how Americans have torn the language to pieces and called it their own.
    And again Barry, 4 inch heels are a calf workout, not a quad workout.

  14. Comment by Unknown | 04.25.2006 | 1:25 am

    Toad, good to see you back.
    Fact is, not only should a product exist in which bratwurst is dipped in melted nacho cheese, but I’m not sure I’d want to live in a world where such a product did not exist. 
    If loving salty ground meat products dipped in melted processed cheese is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. 
    Now quick, somebody pass me a Sheboygan brat, while I wipe this tear from my face.  No, no, Toad.  You didn’t make me sad.  It’s just a little acid indigestion.  It’ll pass.   

  15. Comment by uncadan8 | 04.25.2006 | 10:44 am

    mmm…bratwurst and cheese! One of the former contributors to my waistline.

  16. Comment by Unknown | 04.25.2006 | 12:14 pm

    Good job, FC. Starting an international incident on spelling. Another publicity ploy. You’re always thinking.
    BTW, I like my brats w/ kraut and spicy brown mustard, the way God intended. But cheese does sound good

  17. Comment by barry1021 | 04.25.2006 | 1:15 pm

    Aye, Big Mike thou art correckt, four inch heels wouldst be moare proper for conditioning of thy calves, not thy quads, mould upon my brain theare must be. Tell us, kind sir, is it from direct experience dost thou speake, and if true, surely a picture to illuminate the heathen speakers of fair English you would thusly indulge?

  18. Comment by uncadan8 | 04.25.2006 | 2:33 pm

    Boz – Just fix it the way you like it and THEN dip it in cheese! I’m going to have to see if the cafeteria has brats today.
    B21 – Have you seen BIg Mike’s calves and quads? I don’t know about the four-inch heel training, but he’s doing something right…even if he does spell funny.

  19. Comment by Unknown | 04.25.2006 | 2:49 pm

    What is and what should (have) never be(een):
    "That’s just not good enough."
    P.S. You may export rock n roll bands from the OLDE country, but please keep your spelling.

  20. Comment by Juliet | 04.25.2006 | 4:39 pm

    4000 hits? you don’t say.  How come there are only 5 or 6 commenters? Perhaps these guys are playing a grand punk on the FC and logging on to your site 800 times a day? – O.K. that’s probably ridiculous.
    About the Dahon bike – thank you for writing to me personally when I asked you about it (given your celebrety and all – I feel blessed). I have however been unable to find one for purchase online  – Dahon doesn’t seem to sell directly to online customers and I don’t live in the US so cannot walk into a bike store to buy one.  I even tried to buy one in Toronto – no dice. 
    Perhaps I’m not supposed to buy one and Dahon will ‘lend’ me one too?  Hmmm…..

  21. Comment by Jsun | 04.25.2006 | 5:30 pm

    I was feeling a little guilty for teasin’ FC, but after reading a few more comments, I am not the only one.  Besides, if I can’t pick on someone I don’t know via the web, who can I pick on.  So, back to the fun.
    Come on Fatty, get off your cheese and brat filled butt and write a detailed report, with pictures, about your White Rim in a Day.  Or was that this weekend coming up?  No matter, make something up about how it may go.  Or, as I mentioned earlier, I may have to create my own blog within your comment section, filling it up with ramblings about my own fat-cycling-arse.

  22. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 04.25.2006 | 10:03 pm

    Barry – My calves, my calves, 4 inches heels are the best.
    Thou art doubtless wonderstruck with myne depth of literary perception.  I hath entered wedlock with a persen embattled with the task of training future generations in the mother tongue.  ‘Tis a heady task indeed, made all the more difficult by the distortions and blasphemy spewing forth from the box in the corner.
    Simpsons – the new cultural norm.

  23. Comment by barry1021 | 04.25.2006 | 10:21 pm

     BigMike–Aye. Laddie, Tis an impressive pair you got there now, no doubt. You be rightly proud of them, showing them off as you are.
    "I hath entered wedlock with a persen embattled with the task of training future generations in the mother tongue.  ‘Tis a heady task indeed, made all the more difficult by the distortions and blasphemy spewing forth from the box in the corner."
    Not to mention what be spewin’ forth from what be attached to them calves, we reckon too, eh? <g>

  24. Comment by nick | 04.26.2006 | 2:54 am

    Why, of all words, is phonetic spelt with a ph?

  25. Comment by Jane | 04.26.2006 | 5:10 am

    What a witty site you have! I do not know if I am smart enough to keep up, but I will try if you’ll let me back in. I have a bike, and I do use it – but you lost me with some of the jargon. I suppose I will be able to learn if I read more, right? Toodles, Jane


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