Be a Human Guinnea Pig, Win Cool Prizes

01.16.2007 | 7:04 am

You know, a couple days ago I upgraded my Internet hosting package — for the second time. Which means buying server space for this blog is now costing me about $40 per month. Which, I can promise you, is more than I am making from those Google ads nobody seems to want to click.

I should also point out that when negotiating ads for my blog, instead of asking for money to run on my blogs, I instead asked for schwag I could give to my readers.

And, of course, there’s all the time I put into this blog. The writing. The fretting about writing. The taking of abusive comments about my writing.

I give, and I give, and I give. And do I ask for anything in return?

Well, yes. Now that I’ve got you thoroughly guilted-up, I am asking you for something in return.

I’m asking you to volunteer to participate in my son’s science project on the effects of caffeine on heart rate.

First, Let Me Engage Your Self-Interest
Since I’m fully aware that most of you are guilt-proof, let me point out that by participating in this contest, you’ll automatically be entered in a random drawing to win one of three very cool prizes:

  • A Fat Cyclist Jersey: any size (when available) ($60 value)
  • Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 ($100 value)
  • Handmade Bike Chain bracelet (either men’s or women’s style, any size), designed by Susan Nelson ($75 value)

Not bad, eh?

What The Science Project is About
The thing is, you’ll probably find that this experiment very interesting. You will probably, in fact, be as interested in the results as my son is. His question is, how much does a couple cans of caffeinated soda affect your heart rate?

A lot? A little? None at all?

(Special Note to biochemists and armchair know-it-alls: please keep your “I already know the answer to this” wisdom to yourselves. Thanks.)

Participating is easy. All you need to do is get to your resting heart rate, drink a couple cans of caffeinated diet soda, and then check your heart rate every fifteen minutes for an hour.

So just think. You’ll get to sit on a couch and watch a movie completely guilt-free, knowing that you’re helping a very smart kid do great on his science project.

Plus, you’ll be earning valuable Fat Cyclist brownie points (not redeemable for actual brownies; sorry).

Plus you might win some very cool stuff.

You can get all the details at my son’s science project website: click here.

Time is of the Essence
My son needs to start collecting and analyzing data right away. So, please don’t put this off. Be a guinnea pig this very evening. Or tomorrow, if you must. But by all means, please finish it by Saturday, no matter what — that’s the last day he can accept data.

Cancel other appointments if you must.

You owe me. You know you do. Help with this, and I’ll call it even.


  1. Comment by Caloi-Rider | 01.16.2007 | 7:10 am

    You mean I get to drink a Red Bull in the name of science?!!! Oh boy!
    I’m in.

  2. Comment by neil | 01.16.2007 | 7:34 am

    Soda? I wont touch the stuff, but I do go through a few cups o’coffee each day-Does that count?

  3. Comment by fatty | 01.16.2007 | 7:59 am

    neil – you can use one cup of coffee in place of the 2 sodas. that’s an equivalent amount of caffeine.

  4. Comment by Lisa B | 01.16.2007 | 8:14 am

    Any difference in RHR for men vs. women doesn’t matter for his study?

  5. Comment by Boz | 01.16.2007 | 8:47 am

    I just did this project for my daughter, along with tread mill tests – will these results be ok, or do you want a fresh test ?

  6. Comment by Argentius | 01.16.2007 | 8:58 am

    I’ll do it if you like.

    I wonder if it will change the results that I drink a LOT of coffee. I will drink my 1 cup of coffee for the experiment and abstain for 4 hours before it, but every morning I drink 2-3 cups, another 2-3 in the evening, and if I’m up late I’ll have gods-only-know-how much.

  7. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 01.16.2007 | 9:24 am

    A nice co-incidence: I’ve pulled 4 all-nighters since last Wednesday and approximately 72% of the calories in my diet have come from caffeine. Pills, powders, drinks; I’ve tried it all this week. Do you have any idea how few calories caffeine has? My current heart rate is approximately 326 BPM with some fairly seriously trembling hands. If I’m going to participate, I think I should detox for a couple days first.

  8. Comment by Rob | 01.16.2007 | 9:42 am

    So let me get this straight…I need to go 4 hours without drinking a coke?

    Is there some OTHER way to participate in the project?

  9. Comment by fatty | 01.16.2007 | 10:26 am

    lisa – he’s a 5th grader. i think it’s ok for him to ignore gender differences for the time being. i’ll take your input under advisement in the event that he does a similar experiment as a high school senior.

    boz – if you didn’t do a treadmill test until an hour after you took the caffeinated soda, we’ll take your results. weird that your daughter did such a similar experiment.

    rob – i know it’s tough, man. do it for science.

    botched – you make me miss school so little.

    argentius – i really look forward to seeing your results. maybe it’s time you admit you have a problem, by the way.

  10. Comment by BIKEMIKE | 01.16.2007 | 10:45 am

    sorry fatty, gotta work all week and saturday. i KNOW all of my co-workers don’t want to be around me all hopped up on caffine. God, they don’t want to be around me normally. me and caffine gots a real bad history.
    anyway just some encouragement, you’re doing a great dad thing and i hope the experiment goes well for your son. rock on.

  11. Comment by Jennifer | 01.16.2007 | 11:19 am


    I teach high school science and we are doing our science fair projects right now. I just wanted to comment that you need to be sure that you have clearance from his teacher. I assume you do, but I know I would not be allowed let one of my students do this project without getting each their human participants to sign a waiver form, since they are experimenting on themselves with a drug, under the science fair international guidelines. I suspect people are not going to be so hard core at the elementary level and that everything is fine, but I thought you should know in case your son is planning on winning the science fair. We would not be allowed to send on his project at the high school level without the human testing forms, found at

    Hard to believe I am teacher and not a lawyer! I can talk about assos now if you like.

  12. Comment by Melvin | 01.16.2007 | 11:50 am

    would love to help. no heart rate monitor though. any simple novel ways?

  13. Comment by tigermouth | 01.16.2007 | 12:01 pm

    Didn’t your son do a similar experiment last year? Something about trying to catch a pencil before and after drinking coffee?

    Has your son considered controlling for the effects of sugar in the soda?

    I’d like to help, but I don’t drink soda, and my wife (the TCM practitioner) has proscribed caffeine for at least as long as my calf injury persists.

  14. Comment by DOM | 01.16.2007 | 12:06 pm

    You had me at sit on the couch. I’ll try to talk my wife into contributing in the name of science. May I suggest any other B7 participants use regular not diet and maybe a 7-11 Big Gulp serving. While there, please you may as well get a donut or 4.

  15. Comment by barry1021 | 01.16.2007 | 12:11 pm

    I am in. I will do it in the AM tomorrow. Have your son call me about 5 am east coast time to remind me. Oh all right!!! I will print out the info, sheesh!
    BTW according to MSFT Word spellcheck, guinea has one “n”. Also I did not understand that part about abusive comments about your writing that you wrote.


  16. Comment by fatty | 01.16.2007 | 12:55 pm

    jennifer – yep, his experiment has been reviewed through each of 3 drafts with his teacher.

    melvin – you can check your heart rate the old fashioned way: count the beats on your wrist for fifteen seconds, then multiply by 4. That’s your bpm. thanks for helping!

    tigermouth – last year he did an experiment on reaction time (catch a yardstick and measure how far it had fallen), but it had nothing to do w/ caffeine or any other drug — it had to do w/ who was faster, adults or kids, male or female. he’s controlling for effects of sugar by requiring non-sugared sodas, and he’s limiting which sodas are OK to use by going w/ ones that have approx the same amt of caffeine.

    dom – hey, don’t go trying to mess up protocol. ‘course, i’m perfectly happy to have everyone eat a big plate of nachos while they’re sitting there. thanks for participating!

    barry – thanks for participating. and for the spell check. just kidding about thanking you for the spell check.

  17. Comment by MTB W | 01.16.2007 | 1:33 pm

    DOM – thanks for the advice. I will certainly make it a big gulp and eat 4 donuts while I am doing the test (Man, I am hungry. It’s been at least an hour and half since lunchtime). . . . Wait, that’s a trick, isn’t it!

  18. Comment by Al Maviva | 01.16.2007 | 1:33 pm

    Hey, just a warning folks. Do not, under any circumstances, let Dick Pound hear about your participation in this little doping experiment. Otherwise, you’ll be peeing in a cups and tiny bottles for the rest of your riding career, a horrible fate and scarring experience.

    Unless you’re Howard Hughes*, of course, in which case it’s merely an enjoyable pastime, and something to do in between growing foot-long fingernails and suffering ranting paranoid delusions during occasional episodes of morphine withdrawal.

    *Or Greg Lemond. I hear he pees in bottles for drug tests all the time, just to prove he never doped. Ever. Never. You hear me Lance? Never! Never! Never! Not even aspirin when he got shot hunting. Never took it. Cheaters. Filthy people. Filthy bike racers. Dirty. Awful. Offal. Wapner at 5:00… They’re all cheaters, all of them…

    Come to think of it, maybe the Howard Hughes / Greg Lemond comparison isn’t so nutty or very funny.

  19. Comment by Mike | 01.16.2007 | 2:07 pm

    No problems, I’ll experiment on myself tonight. With the temperature being around 100 degrees here in Melbourne (106 yesterday) a couple of cokes will go down very nicely.

  20. Comment by the weak link | 01.16.2007 | 2:13 pm

    I just drank my two Cokes and man am I jittery. My heart’s really going fast. OMG, according to the heart monitor I’m going intoijsa jkfd m

  21. Comment by fatty | 01.16.2007 | 3:10 pm

    weak link: the experiment requires you to drink! don’t snort, drink!

  22. Comment by barry1021 | 01.16.2007 | 4:02 pm

    They don’t call him Weak Link for nothin’


  23. Comment by alee | 01.16.2007 | 4:27 pm

    I can’t believe nobody else has seen the obvious truth: THERE IS NO EXPERIMENT!!!
    Fatty is just trying to suck us into bad habits. Drink Coke = get no sleep = stay up late and snack = gain weight = ride slower = Fatty wins all bets.
    Next week one of his kids will probably be doing an “experiment” about eating a quart of ice cream and bowel movements.

  24. Comment by spin echo | 01.16.2007 | 5:17 pm

    botched – i have a similar diet – one part caffeine, one part sugar and one part salt….

    jennifer – my god, what is the world coming to when you need irb approval for a science project?!

    fatty – i suspect my heart rate will go down after having the caffeine, as the nasty caffeine withdrawal headache goes away

  25. Comment by Born4Lycra | 01.16.2007 | 5:54 pm

    You beauty a real reason to use my Polar F5 heart rate monitor what I just bought myself on after xmas special price as a reward for just being a real good bloke. Do you need age, weight and any other info? OOps just checked the form ignore this line.
    I’m in! Do we have a name for son of FC just christian name as I assume surname is Cyclist.
    I’ve just got home from going up in the local hills to watch stage 1 of the TDU go by. Not bad 45 minutes to get their 50 minute wait about 45 seconds of bike action and 25 minutes back home. So was it worth it? You bet plus we got the bonus of an idiot flying out onto the road in front of the peloton only to be comprehensively tackled by a bike cop – the idiot his bike and political message were all over the fence and out the way in a matter of seconds – absolutely magnificent police work.

  26. Comment by JET(not a nickname) | 01.16.2007 | 8:09 pm

    See, stuff like this is why I got into the scientific field. Bad habits are encouraged and are beneficial in the long run. All B7 participants should also try there own variations of this experiment, such as adding a whole pizza to go with the 2 sodas, or a bakers dozen of donuts as well. You’re thinking of those now aren’t you? Mmmm…donuts.

  27. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 01.16.2007 | 9:06 pm

    Is there an inverse experiment available for those who are permanently in a highly caffeinated state? Something like – check your heart rate as you take your last swallow then stay off the juice for 2 hours and check your pulse again every 15 minutes for as long as you can maintain fine motor skills.

  28. Comment by Beast Mom | 01.16.2007 | 9:56 pm

    Hey FC,
    I’m still waiting for my prize from the MSN Spaces Opinions request last year.

    I don’t know if I can bring myself to pour a bunch of caffeine into my system if the prize delivery system is flawed… ;)

    -Beast Mom

  29. Comment by buckythedonkey | 01.17.2007 | 2:15 am

    $60 for a FC jersey? Bah! Clearly not Assos, you cheapskate!

  30. Comment by Big Boned | 01.17.2007 | 4:58 am

    Man. Only thing I remember having to get a signature for in school was “Health” class. You kidding me? A medical waiver for someone to drink a coke?
    Of course, I went in the Paleozoic era when kids actually got grades, teachers could be fired, and not EVERYONE won.
    Sheesh…I think I’m OFFICIALLY old!

  31. Comment by Weean | 01.17.2007 | 5:16 am

    What, no diet Irn Bru?!
    (just ‘cos it’s not legal in the states, sheesh!)

    Count me out!

  32. Comment by Weean | 01.17.2007 | 5:26 am

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to come across so harshly.

    Seriously, I wish your son every success- it’s not his fault he hasn’t been introduced to the wonders of Irn Bru!

  33. Comment by Caloi-Rider | 01.17.2007 | 7:44 am

    I had an Irn Bru once …
    Fatty, I have a question. I grabbed a 20 oz Mt Dew this morning (instead of a 24). Can you still count my results if I munch down a caffeinated Clif Bar at the same time (Peanut Toffee flavor)???

  34. Comment by Boz | 01.17.2007 | 8:13 am

    Fatty – the reason we ended up w/ simular projects is that Mrs Boz works on hearts for a living – operates the chest spreader, holds the beating heart while the surgeon works on it – so it was a natural for a science fair project , the effects of stimulants on the heart . Walking and running on the tread mill, caffine while exercising. After looking at your son’s project, I’ll need to do it, as the controls are differnet. Works into my Saturday morning perfectly.

  35. Comment by dkirkavitch | 01.17.2007 | 9:24 am

    Hey Fatty,
    All of this talk and no data, kind of reminds me of work.
    Okay here’s the deal. I had an extra hour this morning and did the experiment. A ten oz strong brew of french roast.
    My interpretation of resting heart rate has always been first thing before getting out of bed. I’ll give both that and just before consuming my java.

    RHR in bed: 42 bpm
    RHR before coffee:46
    15 minutes post consumption:46
    30 minutes: 50
    45 minutes: 50
    60 minutes: 47

    Hope this helps the budding scientist. Now for some more coffee. I know I can hit 55!

  36. Comment by LMouse | 01.17.2007 | 10:10 am

    Truly a definitive work, and an impressive addition to his CV. Will he publish? He should if he intends to achieve tenure.

  37. Comment by DHallaway | 01.17.2007 | 1:43 pm

    I’m happy to help, it’s great of you to offer us as subjects… er participates in this experiment! I wish him good luck, especially with this group of lab mice.
    (I hope he is also considering a control group!! Maybe none FC reading, non-cyclist…)

  38. Comment by Scott R | 01.17.2007 | 5:46 pm

    Is there a site where the lovely Susan displays her wares? Jewelry people, I’m talking about jewelry. My wife is always interested in new jewelry.

  39. Comment by Greg | 01.18.2007 | 3:43 am

    I can’t believe this is 5th grade…is your son going to Harvard Medical School?

    I’ll be watching out to see if it get published in the Lancet.

    Jennifer actually has a good point, all medical tests need to pass through an ethics committee no matter how trivial. But stuff it…I’d probably die if I DIDN’T have a caffeinated drink over a 4 hour period.

    OK I’ll do this experiment tomorrow…all for science. Will collect on Polar HR monitor.

    Greg Au
    Sydney Australia

  40. Comment by DHallaway | 01.18.2007 | 4:48 am

    OH Fatty, I think you may want to look at this.

  41. Comment by spin echo | 01.18.2007 | 6:15 am

    Just did this — oddly, my heart rate was highest right after i drank the caffeinated beverage — i wonder if that has something to do with the fact that it was coffee (hot!) and I basically chugged it.


  42. Comment by art | 01.18.2007 | 6:40 am

    Straight out of bed resting is about 53bpm, but I started the test a little while after walking up the hill to my office.
    0:00 – 68bpm
    0:15 – 72bpm
    0:30 – 72bpm
    0:45 – 68bpm
    1:00 – 66bpm

  43. Comment by Vegas | 01.18.2007 | 9:00 am

    All in the name of science right?
    0:00- 51
    0:15- 53
    0:30- 54
    0:45- 51
    1:00- 50

    Scott R.- Good question. Can Mrs. Fatty’s, (no disrespect intended), jewelry be admired on-line anywhere?

  44. Comment by Scott R | 01.18.2007 | 10:20 am

    In bed rate: 41
    pre – 61
    0:00 – 65
    0:15 – 61
    0:30 – 55
    0:45 – 56
    1:00 – 53

    Over entire time frame the HR monitor gave a max: 70, min: 51, excluding the 84 when I had to get up and unload the coffee.

    I guess I need to drink more coffee.

  45. Comment by Ben | 01.18.2007 | 10:30 am

    I did this for you fatty (well, your son anyway). I think I drink too much caffeine as it barely had any effect on my HR and I actually felt more relaxed after the soda intake…

  46. Comment by TeeBone | 01.18.2007 | 12:46 pm

    Beverages: (2) Diet Cokes

    0:00 – 52bpm
    0:15 – 51bpm
    0:30 – 52bpm
    0:45 – 53bpm
    1:00 – 51bpm

    Parked my butt in the Lay-z-boy, rested for 15 minutes prior to starting the experiment, drank the sodas, read my Mountain Bikers Training Bible for an hour, recorded the final measurement, ran like heck to the bathroom to process said beverages. I risked kidney damage in order to keep the experiment as clean as possible. Your welcome!

    Thanks for the sofa time!

  47. Comment by rexinsea | 01.18.2007 | 1:00 pm

    I completed this today while I was in one of “those” conference calls. The results should be on your son’s site. I must say the worst was having to limit myself to just one cup of coffee between 8-9 this morning. Well and also sitting out the last 15 minutes while I really wanted to get up to go to the restroom.

    Good luck to your son let us know when the data is posted.

  48. Comment by Greg Au | 01.18.2007 | 5:02 pm

    Resting HR at work 46
    15″ – 47
    30″ – data point missed, busy doing tax return
    45″ – 46
    60″ – 47

  49. Comment by ant | 01.19.2007 | 8:34 am

    What? No placebo for a control group?

  50. Comment by MTB W | 01.19.2007 | 10:40 am

    I did the test but think I may do it again tomorrow since my data seems flawed compared to others. I got up, drove to work, sat still for 20 minutes to get my heart rate down and then started. While my HR went up in first 15 minutes, then it went down and actually went below starting HR for 45 and 60 minutes.

    0 – 70
    15 – 74
    30 – 70
    45 – 67
    60 – 66

    Does this mean my starting HR was off (very possible) , that I am a freak of nature (very likely) or that I crashed after the caffeine injection?

    FC, should I record the results or do a do over?

  51. Comment by jitensha jake | 01.20.2007 | 12:23 pm

    My results are on your son’s web page.

    But since there was no comment section, noting a couple things here –

    1. I’ve been ill for the past week. I think that’s messed with my metabolism, heart rate, response to caffeine, etc. so the results may or may not be useful. [footnote: it has given me a jump start on the B7 challenge however]

    2. As something of a coffee addict, I suspect I’ve developed a tolerance to caffeine. On the other hand, I’ve been ill for the past week (see #1) and my intake has been down, so I think I’m experiencing withdrawal. Not sure what the net effect is.

    3. One of the readings seemed aberrational, but results is results. Unless that is, in fact, the anticipated effect of caffeine, I assume the protocol can deal with outlying data.

    4. Will your son publish his results for us to see?


    jitensha jake


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.