Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack = Tres Awesome

12.4.2006 | 9:51 pm

I have the most overfunctioning alarm clock in the whole world. It does all of the following things, none of which am I making up.

  • It uses the atomic clock radio signal to get the time. I guess there’s an atomic clock somewhere (Boulder, CO, right?) and — as a public service provided by someone who thinks it’s very, very important for us to all keep our timepieces synchronized — the to-the-nanosecond-accurate time is broadcast via radio. My alarm clock uses this radio signal to tell what time it is. It’s very confidence-inspiring.
  • It knows both the inside and outside temperature. My clock came with a remote thermometer that can broadcast back to the clock. I have this thermometer taped to a fence in the backyard.
  • It projects the time and outside temperature onto the ceiling. The reason I actually bought this clock is because I like to know what time it is when I wake up in the middle of the night, without having to squint my near-sighted eyes. This clock projects the (accurate to one nanosecond) time and (nowhere near as accurate but close enough to give you a decent idea) outside temperature in 8″-tall letters onto the ceiling right above my head, where I can see them, no matter how bleary and unfocused my eyes are in the middle of the night.

I do not tell you this because I want you to envy my clock or to laugh at my geekiness (though I’m perfectly OK with you doing either). I tell you this because I am long-winded and needed a way to eventually get to the fact that lately, the numbers on my ceiling tell me it is between 5 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit when I wake up in the morning.

No way am I going to ride my bike to work in that kind of cold. In fact, for the first time ever, when I was riding the rollers yesterday (I’d be riding them again right now but am sitting in the SLC airport waiting for my flight to Newark) in the garage, I had to stop, get off the bike, and go put on a long sleeve jersey.

I repeat, it’s cold enough outside that I had to wear a long sleeve jersey while riding in the garage.

I furthermore repeat that I am not going to ride my bike to work in that kind of cold.

And, preemptively, I would like to congratulate those of you who bike commute in weather every bit as cold as — nay, much, much colder than! — this, and who are about to admonish me with righteous (because I would never call you “smug”), derisive comments. I shall read your comments and advice with both alacrity and slack-jawed awe. Please do not forget to offer advice on how it’s not that bad if I’d just layer properly

But I still won’t bike to work in this kind of cold. Sorry.

That said, I can hardly wait ’til the weather warms up just a little bit — enough for me to bike to work again — because I’ve got a really cool new pack to carry all my stuff to work in.

Oh, don’t try to tell me that when you get something new you don’t get excited to try it out for the first time. Buncha cynics, all of you.

Oh, by the way, I’m now in a plane and it’s evidently safe for me to use my portable electronics. And since the idea of watching the in-flight movie (some documentary about a girls’ high school basketball tournament, which leads me to ask: is Delta so strapped for cash that it can now only afford documentaries for in-flight movies? What’s next? Old Masterpiece Theatre episodes?). And since I evidently don’t get WiFi as part of this flight, I’ll post this when I get to my sister’s house in Brooklyn.

You know what I’d rather watch than a basketball documentary? Well, practically anything. But what I’d rather watch specifically is the GPS, weather, and map info they’re currently showing on the screens (while they spool up the DVD, I assume). Hey, we’re over Flaming Gorge National Park right now! I have many fond memories of rafting the rapids in Flaming Gorge.

Only 1760 miles to go!

OK, I will now get to the main point of today’s entry. I’d better; I’m down to 1/2 a battery charge, and then I’ll have to amuse myself with watching Season 2 of Northern Exposure (I ripped the DVD onto my iPod).

Wow. I seem completely unable to stop myself from rambling today.

Focus, Fatty! Focus!

There are many, many good things about being the Fat Cyclist. (I’m tempted to list them here, since rambling tangents seem to be the order of the day. But I’m going to show some self restraint and try to stay on point, at least for a moment.) Of all these good things, though, getting cool free stuff is the only thing that makes me do a little dance of ebullience. This dance varies both in length and intensity, depending on how cool the free thing is. For example, a water bottle that also happens to be a gel flask will result in a barely perceptible dance.

An ultra-cool new backpack carefully and thoughtfully crafted to address a need I actually have however, will bring on a dance that lasts hours.

For all you know, I may be dancing right this very moment. It’s also possible that the Air Marshall on this flight has just given me a final warning to sit down and shut up. I may very well choose to comply with this request.

So here’s the backpack. It is cavernous. The outside is super-tough ballistic nylon. It’s bombproof to the extent that if you fall off your bike, you should make every reasonable effort to land on the backpack.

The inside liner is a heavy-duty, rubberized vinyl, held in with velcro. So if you spill stuff (say a Gu explodes) in the pack, cleaning it will be a simple matter of pulling out the liner and hosing it out.

You can also see a pocket with a velcro strap and a zippered pocket, both of which are big enough to hold your wallet, phone, keys, and any other stuff you might want to be able to get to without digging around.

Inside The Pack
Ok, now let’s take a look at how much space you’ve got in this pack. In the picture below, you can see I’ve got my work computer — a good-sized laptop with a 15.5″ screen, not a miniature jobby — and a complete change of clothes: jeans, shirt, socks. I’ve got room for plenty more stuff, but the pack doesn’t feel huge when you’re wearing it. That’s the beauty of the simple design with this pack: by not dividing it into a bunch of weird compartments, the pack is able to hold a lot more, and a lot more easily.

The way you close the pack is another example of the brilliant simplicity of its design. You roll the top closed like you would a paper bag in a sack lunch (The vinyl and nylon are pre-creased to make it roll naturally in the right way). Then snap a buckle over the roll, and snap the main flap over the whole works, giving you a very secure and weatherproof pack for commuting.  

The Banjo Brothers did a nice job of helping you stay visible on the road, too. They put a two dapper, reflective stripes down the back, and a little strap for you to clip your flashing LED onto (it’s on the bottom right, though my picture doesn’t show it well).

Note that you’ve also got a good-sized side pocket. The Banjo Brothers designed it to hold a U-lock or your cable lock. Nice. (I won’t be using that pocket for a lock, though — I keep my bike in my office. My plan is to use that pocket to hold a couple water bottles, allowing me to commute with my fixie more often this summer.)

Straps and the Back
The part of the pack that goes against your back are a cushy mesh (probably not the technical term). I’m guessing these are to help wick away all the sweat from your back, though I wouldn’t know if these work because — as I believe I’ve mentioned — it is way too cold for me to go biking outside right now.

The pack fits very comfortably, and has long adjustable straps. I can imagine that this pack might be too large for someone smaller than 5′0″, but I can’t imagine it being too small to fit even a really big person. It fits me — 5′8″ — just fine.

The shoulder straps are comfortably wide and padded, and there’s a chest strap that holds them together, so even when you’re rowing your handlebars on a hard uphill, you won’t have to worry about the pack sliding off your shoulders. It’s got an (easily removable) waist strap, too, letting you go totally nuts with the “secure fit” thing.

Wrapping Up
This is a great pack on its own merits, but the price — $80 — makes it deal-a-rific. So, is this a positive review? Yeah, I guess you could say it’s a positive review.

Nice work, Banjo Brothers!

PS: How stoked do you think James — the winner of one of these very packs from last week’s contest – is now? I’m going to guess that he’s quite stoked indeed.


Finally, I Have Figured Out How to Lose Weight Permanently

12.4.2006 | 11:52 am

A Note from Fatty: Congratulations to James for being random; he’s the winner of the triple-awesome Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack! James, email me and I’ll hook you up.

If you were to hang around with me for a couple days, you would wonder how it’s possible I could ever be a fat cyclist (and to be clear: I am rapidly becoming fat again, what with the daily high temperature being just above the point at which oxygen liquefies). In the morning, I have a bowl of high-fiber cereal, usually with either fat-free milk or fat-free yogurt.

Often, I have fruit with breakfast.

For lunch, I eat pasta, more often than not. And by “pasta,” I mean pasta I have cooked at home and brought to work. I have a little sauce on the pasta, and a couple large spoonsful of cottage cheese. But I rarely have meat with the pasta, and never any cheese.

Often, during the day I will have a snack: fruit, more often than not.

For dinner, I eat a reasonable dinner.

The Danger Hours
And yet, I gain weight. This is due to the nightly transformation — usually around 10pm — I make after the kids have gone to bed. This is the couple of hours during which my wife and I aren’t taking care of kids or work. This is the time when I read the news, read comments on my blog, read a book, and maybe watch something on TV.

This is, in short, the time when I am sitting down in very near proximity to both the pantry and fridge. This is the time when I can eat absentmindedly, eating an entire bowl of cereal without being aware that I ate anything at all. Then eating another bowl of cereal because I’m a little disappointed in myself for not paying proper attention to the first bowl and feel like I should make amends.

After that, I’m tired of sweet stuff; what I really need now is something salty. Something wrapped in a tortilla. With cheese.

By the time I’m done with my improvisational burrito antics, I’m completely sure that I’ve blown my diet for the day. It’s at this point that this theory I’ve developed comes into play. The theory is that you can only gain a certain amount of weight per day, because your body can only absorb so much. Once you’ve crossed that threshold, nothing else you eat counts; your body’s just going to discard it. So you may as well enjoy yourself tonight. Get a fresh start tomorrow.

Feel free to try that theory out yourself. You may discover — as I have — that it doesn’t seem to hold much water during the day, but makes perfect sense when you’re feeling guilty and need an excuse — any excuse — to convince yourself that you haven’t, in fact, gained four pounds in one day.

I am pretty sure, in short, I gain all my weight during the final two hours before bed every night.

What I Need
Having identified the problem, I have come up with a great solution.

I need to hire a Diet Enforcer. I need someone to follow me around and grab food away from me for the final two hours before bedtime every night — the time when my willpower is low and I feel like I’ve earned a treat. Ideally, this person will block my entry to the kitchen altogether, but must not be afraid to tackle me and reach into my mouth and extract whatever s/he finds.

This job, I think is evident, is not for the squeamish, nor for the faint of heart. Nor for the timid.

Also, it’s not for the kind of person who actually expects to be paid.

Job qualifications include:

  • Must be stronger than I am: I don’t mean physically stronger — I’m not much for violence. I mean mentally stronger. Because I guarantee I will try to wear you down.
  • Must be wily. I will do my darnedest to outwit you.
  • Must not be hungry. I will try to co-op you by offering you food. If you’re eating, you can’t very well deny me, can you?
  • Must not be looking for a friend. I will certainly tell you how lame you are, probably on a daily basis. Make that hourly. This must not bother you.

Apply now! I’m sure this position will fill fast.

Please Try this at Home

12.1.2006 | 2:19 pm

I’m a little overwhelmed at the number of responses I got (66, so far) to my questions yesterday on whether I should do a Fat Cyclist jersey.

Apparently, I should.

Before I go into my planned next steps, please let me say this: thank you.

The fact that there are a couple thousand of you out there visiting my site each day means a bunch to me. That quite a few of you seem interested in actually owning up to that fact publicly is simultaneously startling, disturbing, and remarkably gratifying.

So again, thank you.

The Jersey Design
Now, those of you who’d like to try designing a jersey, please email me a sketch — it doesn’t have to be fancy — of how you’d like it to look.

You  can either design the jersey using my existing logo, create a new one (which I would then adopt as my site logo), or something in between.

If I like your design, I’ll ask you to refine your idea, and will then put the designs to a vote (unless I’m overwhelmed by the awesomeness of a particular design, in which case I will make an executive decision and the matter will end there). 

Your Company Logos
If your company wants its logo on the Fat Cyclist jersey, please email me with information about your company, how much they are willing to contribute, and what (size and position of their logo) they would expect in return.

If You Want a Jersey…
Stay tuned. I’ll have more information on how to order a Fat Cyclist jersey before long.

Homework Assignment
OK, now with that out of the way, I would like you to try the following and report back with your results:

  1. Find your heart rate monitor.
  2. Get on your bike.
  3. Ride at a nice, moderate pace for ten minutes.
  4. Shift up, but maintain the same cadence and ride for another two minutes.
  5. Repeat step 4 until you are at your absolute limit.
  6. Stand up and sprint for ten seconds. Note your heart rate.
  7. Leave a comment telling me what your heart rate was at the end of that exercise.

Mine was 193. I swear, I used to be able to hit 204. I’m getting old.

So why am I suddenly interested in maximum heart rates? Well, because I just got myself a coach: Robert Lofgran. He’s got me wearing an HRM, doing actual specific workouts, and is helping me reverse more than a decade of bad training and eating habits.

You see, I’d really like to win at least one race sometime in my lifetime. Is that so much to ask?

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