03.31.2007 | 11:00 pm

A Note From Fatty: I had planned to leave my “new and improved design” I rolled out Friday as a nice weekend-long April Fool’s joke, while some friends and I went out on a well-deserved, post-end-of-quarter mountain biking trip to Utah.

And then this happened (I know, I know. I’m giving away the ending before I even get to the beginning):


Sorry about the poor quality of the photo — it was taken in the hospital by a stranger, using my phone’s camera.

Anyway, I’m back to the real Fat Cyclist design, so you won’t think today’s post is part of my April Fool’s joke. If, however, you want to see that design, I made a screenshot of it here.

Big Surprise
Normally I wouldn’t post on a Sunday, but some stories simply can’t wait to be told. This is one of them. Though, to be honest, I’d just as soon not have this one to tell. 

As I’ve mentioned ad nauseam lately, this has been an intense month. I haven’t had a lot of time to train, and I’ve had practically no time to go out on a fun mountain bike ride.

So imagine — if you can — how flabbergasted I was when, at 5:15 Friday afternoon, Dug stopped by my office.

“Get in the car,” Dug said. “We’re going to Moab.”

“Yeah, right,” I replied, sagely (hey, I hadn’t had time to prepare a clever comeback).

“Just follow me,” Dug said.

Humoring him, I walked out to his car. There, on Dug’s bike rack, was my Rig. So was Kenny’s Rig. So — on sundry vehicles in the parking lot –  was BotchedExperiment’s (brand-spanking-new, never-been-ridden) Rig. So was Rick S’s (not his real name) Rig. So was Dug’s Surly (a 29″ SS) and Brad’s WaltWorks (a 29″ SS).

Rick M had planned to come, I was told, but he had an important meeting crop up at the last moment.

It occurs to me: everyone in my group of riding buddies now rides 29″ single speeds. I wonder if there’s something to that whole 29″ SS thing?


OK, back to the story.

I admit to being confounded. I had not gotten clearance for a trip. I had not put my gear together for a trip. And yet, here I was, evidently on the cusp of going on a trip.

“Whhh?” I asked.

“We’ve cleared it with your wife,” said Botched. “In fact, she packed for you.”

I looked. Helmet, camelback, bottles, shoes, shorts, socks, jerseys, Shot Bloks, lights (charged!), comfy post-ride clothes. Everything I needed. My wife had done a good job.

“Let’s go,” Kenny said. “You can call your wife and thank her while we drive.”

So I did. And it turns out that I had in fact been tricked into a Moab trip.

Not a bad trick, if you ask me.

Night Ride
I firmly believe that there are certain things every person should do at least once in their lifetime.

Furthermore, I believe that there are certain things every person should do a maximum of once in their lifetime.

I contend that the Slickrock Trail at night belongs in the second category.

Regardless, by the time we got to Moab, everyone was excited to ride.

So we did.

And it was a blast. Moves looked weird and otherworldly — and, frankly, kind of spooky. A light setup throws big shadows on normally-easy ledges, making it seem like you’re about to drop into an abyss.

You want to know what real fear and uncertainty feels like? Try this: Drop down into an essentially vertical halfpipe in the dead of night, using nothing but a helmet-mounted light to see where you’re going. It’s impossible to see both the drop and the rise at the other end at the same time. You get to either know where you are, or where you’re going. Not both.

I Should Never, Ever, Ever Show Off
The first time I did the Slickrock halfpipe this way, it took me minutes to work up the courage to drop in.

Before long, though, I had gotten comfortable. I was dropping in with a little hop, and was hitting the lip at top of the other end at speed, so I could catch air.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Chain Reaction
The strange thing about doing a ride where you do a move, wait for your turn, do another move, and then rest again is that since your lungs never get taxed, you don’t notice your legs are getting tired.

At least, that’s the excuse (actually, the first of many) I’m currently using for what happened next.

Dug, Kenny, and Botched were all on the far side of the halfpipe, waiting for me, Brad, and Rick S to come across one last time, then we were going to move on to the next move. It was my turn to drop in.

I zoomed down, then noticed as I got to the bottom that I was a little to the right of the white “do not cross” line. No big deal; everyone crosses that line from time to time. It’s just a little bit steeper on the way up.

This extra steepness, combined with the accumulated fatigue in my legs from having done this move — and the others before it — probably half a dozen times meant that by the time I pulled up behind and to the right of dug, I was going verrry sloooowwwwly.

And then I couldn’t get out of my pedals. The sand had jammed my cleats in solid.

I started rolling backward, back down the halfpipe.

I admit it: I panicked.

Flailing, I grabbed out, and managed to snag Dug’s jersey just long enough to knock him off balance (but not long enough to stop me from continuing my fall down the halfpipe). As Dug toppled, his front wheel hit Kenny’s back wheel hard enough that Kenny went over. Kenny, in turn, collided with BotchedExperiment.

Now everyone’s in motion. Excellent.

Gathering reverse momentum, I finally got the bright idea of grabbing brake. The result of this was suboptimal — my bike became a lever, my back wheel the fulcrum. I fell over backward, twisting around as I landed on the sandstone on my back, face, and shoulder, the left side of my helmet bouncing off the sandstone floor (time for a new helmet!), with the effect of cheese-grating off a piece of my ear.

Still clipped in, naturally.

And the fun had just begun. During the next half-second or so, the following events took place:

Dug managed a stutter-step before he went over, giving him enough time to tangle up with his bike and stretch out his hands to catch his fall.

Note to people who think it’s a good idea to stretch out your hands to catch your fall when you’re falling seven feet or more: it’s not.

Dug’s right wrist snapped on impact. Good news: not a compound fracture. Bad news (for me): Dug’s left elbow — carrying plenty of both weight and force — chose my ribcage as a good landing spot.

The doctor in Moab says I have cracked two ribs. The doctor closer to home says I have cracked only one, but my sternum is severely bruised. Not much to do about it either way. You know what’s a strange sensation? Being painfully aware of each and every single breath you take. I find myself trying to ration them out. (“Am I blacking out right now? No? Well then, I think I’ll hold off taking that next breath for another three seconds.”)

The Chain Reaction Continues
Kenny, meanwhile, fell sideways, landing on his left hip and shoulder. If Kenny didn’t have Osteoporosis, he’d probably have walked away from that fall with some scrapes and bruises instead of a hip fracture.

And then there was BotchedExperiment.

Nobody knows exactly how he managed this, but while everyone else got knocked down and busted up by my stupid move, Botched managed to pivot his front wheel forward and ride out of the mess.

Well, that’s not precisely accurate. I should say, he rode over the mess, because that’s what he did. Yes, Botched Experiment rode over Kenny’s right leg, Dug’s right forearm (just above the break in the wrist), and right over my right shoulder.

In Botched’s defense, it’s not like he planned it out, and it’s not like he could see where he was going — Botched’s lights were off (conserving power) when this happened.

Eventually, we came to a rest.

I should admit here that I am relating most of this story second-hand. The conk on my noggin gave me a concussion (would’ve been much worse if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet) and I don’t remember the fall or what happened afterward.

From what my friends (you’re still my friends, right?) say, though, there were three distinct kinds of sounds after this crash:

  • Yelling: Kenny was simply yelling in agony. Dug, however, was furious. Screaming every obscenity he could think of (which is a lot), Dug alternated between expressing his pain and his assessment of me as a human being and rider. I gather that I was found wanting in both respects.
  • Evaluating: Perhaps the strangest thing — according to everyone except Botched — about this whole experience is that while everyone was still lying in a bloody, broken heap, BotchedExperiment started giving a dry evaluation of what had happened, along with practical tips on how to avoid such an event in the future. Evidently, I should not have flailed, and the rest of the riders should have had their bikes pointed in such a way that they had a clear line in the event of an emergency. Excellent advice, Botched, but your timing was questionable.
  • Laughing: At the other side of the halfpipe, watching the whole thing, was Rick S and Brad. I’m pretty sure that Rick S had whipped out his phone and started dialing 911 while the sound of Kenny’s hip cracking was still echoing across the sandstone dunes. Brad, on the other hand, was laughing his head off. When asked at the hospital whether he would have laughed had he known the wreck were so serious, Brad said, “Oh, I could see how bad it was; my light was on. But you’ve got to admit, that was pretty freaking funny. I’m mostly just beating myself up for not having a camcorder rolling at the time.”

I swear, Brad just doesn’t have any sense of propriety.

So, after Lifeflight came and took us to the hospital (two trips were required, which they said was fairly unusual) and I had become relatively cogent again (evidently, I kept asking what had happened and where we were for about ninety minutes), I went and talked with Kenny and Dug in their hospital rooms.

Surprisingly, they were both very nice about what I had done to them.

“You know, I knew it was just a matter of time,” said Kenny, pointing to his hip. “I was getting kind of burned out on the whole cycling thing anyway. I needed a break. I’ll be back next season.”

“I didn’t really want to ride Leadville anyway,” said Dug. “This is as good an ‘out’ as any, I guess. In fact, I see this as a good thing. Since I won’t be able to ride this season, I’ll be able to spend more time with my heroic wife, as well as with my toilet, which I love more than life itself.”

OK, I may be exaggerating about the part about what Dug said…and the part about what Kenny said. But the rest of it — well, you just can’t make that kind of thing up.

Except I just did.

PS: Props to my wife for the seriously good work on the bruise-and-cut makeup.


New Blog Name and Design!

03.30.2007 | 11:19 pm

I admit, I am still a little broken up about losing the Bloggies. A designer friend of mine told me that in addition to my poor writing, my garish site design probably had something to do with it.

So I’ve done a little research and soul-searching, and have come up with a new design — and a new name for my blog.

I can taste next year’s Bloggies award already! (It tastes like chicken, unsuprisingly.)

So, If the B7 Ended Today, How Many People Would Fatty Owe a Jersey?

03.30.2007 | 1:39 pm

A Note from Fatty: Today’s post — which comes to you on the last day of this quarter, after which I expect to be able to breathe a little more freely for at least a little while — is written by frequent commenter and B7 competitor MSK, who has done a fabulous job crunching the numbers and figuring out who’s who in the B7. Read on below to get a good idea of MSK’s analysis of who’s likely to do well in the competition, as well as MSK’s psychic interpretations of what these competitors are like.

The Magnificent Seven
What I have attempted to do is give these 7 leaders a face, a personality based on what I know of them beyond the veil of anonymity that the web gives.

For instance, I imagine Al Maviva as a cross between a gorilla and Arnold Schwarzenegger (circa 1973), maybe with a little paunch, perched on a ridiculously small track bike in a velodrome with a cigar in his mouth and a single malt (maybe ice, certainly no water) in his malevolent fist.

The Leader: C
The current leader, the man to beat, is the simply named “C.” What does it stand for? Charlie, perhaps Charles or Chuck? Anyway, he is a 5’6” 30 yr old male from the Fan Francisco area.

Not much to go on other than he is kicking our butts.

I imagine Calvin like a whippet / greyhound (the dog, not the bus) except for instead of nipping at our heels, he’s streaking ahead of us, back arched, legs pumping.

Fatty has nobody but himself to blame on this one. He accepted a relatively low weight loss goal and may be (literally) paying the price.

But at a BMI of 22 currently, Cletus may not be able to lose much more weight – so really it’s all down to his uphill TT.

Caedmon has a nice stable of bikes: a Trek 5000, Cervelo One, Klein Pulse, and a Specialized Allez. Did you see the old Cervelo in there? We may have a closet triathlete on our hands – for shame.

Weight Loss Score: 92
Time Trial Score: 4
Starting Weight: 150
Weight Loss Goal: 15
Current Weight: 136.2
First Time Trial: 17:40
Current Time Trial: 16:53

45-year-old male. Tigermouth has already dropped to a low BMI — around the 22 range — from big changes in his diet and is now slap dab in the middle of a healthy range.

Tiger (his friends call him Tiger, or at least I bet they do) has a bit of a niggling calf injury that may affect the TT. He doesn’t look too fat in the photos (looked like he was pushing out the gut a bit) and unfortunately has a bit of a farmers / cyclist tan with the quads to match. So when he is healthy watch out for the TT.

Tigermouth scares me a bit – I imagine him having the whole tiger face and a head band with one of those rising suns on it, he has the whole martial arts, zen thing going on – but then he does like the red socks and the patriots so can’t be too bright and thus not much of a threat.

Weight Loss Score: 91
Time Trial Score: -2
Starting Weight: 178
Weight Loss Goal: 23
Current Weight: 157
First Time Trial: 11:40
Current Time Trial: 11:57

In my humble opinion, these two may have come out of their respective blocks too fast and will be interesting to see if they can keep the weight off and improve the TTs.

An indeterminately aged male from far northern California, his avatar is the tricycle-riding chimp in a red suit and I just can’t get that out of my head for him.

Monkeyweb made a great wager with the lobster – mmmm lobster.

With a current BMI of 29.7, Monkeyweb certainly has the potential to keep losing the weight and get 110 pts there. Also anyone who can barf at the top of their TT is a serious contender.

Monkeyweb is also into the grapefruit in a big way, and that stuff is like magic — never underestimate the power of the grapefruit.

Definitely one to watch – smart money’s on the monkey.

Weight Loss Score: 74
Time Trial Score: 14
Starting Weight: 213.2
Weight Loss Goal: 28.2
Current Weight: 192.2
First Time Trial: 15:58
Current Time Trial: 13:43

The man who needs no introduction.

Handsome, debonair, generous to a fault, altruistic, loved by women, respected by men with a rare comedic talent that surpasses all others (I could go on but his writing gets a bit difficult to read towards the end of the list).

So the bare bones: forty something [40.75, for what it's worth - Fatty] male, height indeterminate [5'8" - Fatty], somewhere in Utah. At his current weight (161) his ideal height is approx 5”11 [Thanks a lot -Fatty]. If he drops to 5”1” he is bordering on obese and if he climbs to 6’6”is at risk of becoming dangerously skinny [I'll be sure to watch my height. Thanks. -Fatty]

Fatty’s seemingly brutal (again uphill) tt is what will really win him this challenge. The coaching and the cold hard cash at stake will keep his motivation up, too.

Having seen photos of Fatty it’s difficult to imagine him as anything else other than Fatty. The image I have in my head of him is from random reviewer when he reviewed his hair – well worth the read.

The sardonic arch of the eyebrow, the sarcastic, smug, smirk – it’s a wonder he doesn’t get beaten up more often. [More often than what, exactly? -Fatty]

Weight Loss Score: 59
Time Trial Score: 16
Starting Weight: 179.8
Weight Loss Goal: 31.8
Current Weight: 161
First Time Trial: 19:15
Current Time Trial: 16:14

Lisa b
Finally some xx representation. Seattleite, age and height indeterminate. I imagine Lisa is one of those always up, energetic outdoorsy people, longish curly maybe red hair (like a wee springer spaniel jumping playfully about my feet). Even to think of her energy makes me feel dull and lethargic

Coming off a big weight loss in 2006, Lisab leapt into the contenders with a 15lb loss in February. Her hubby rides, but coming off an injury – once he is back in the saddle watch for Lisa’s TT to drop considerably.

Weight Loss Score: 60
Time Trial Score: 10
Starting Weight: 162.6
Weight Loss Goal: 17.6
Current Weight: 152
First Time Trial: 10:16
Current Time Trial: 9:15

What can be said of this man that hasn’t already been said? – well plenty actually. Late 30s male, tall bordering on “really just too tall”, from the frozen wastes of Canada (thus an international representation). His intellect and strength of character are only matched by his humility and striking good looks.

I see myself like “Jack Reacher.” In case you are not familiar with this literary icon let me educate. “Reacher is a giant of a man, standing 6′5″ (1.96m) tall and weighing between 220-250 pounds.” “His lazy lopsided grin. His tousled hair. His arms, so long they gave him a greyhound’s grace even though he was built like the side of a house. His eyes, cold icy blue like the Arctic. His hands, giant battered mitts that bunched into fists the size of footballs.”

Others, however, fail to see the resemblance.

TT is a big disappointment for me currently, but once the spring hits and my seasonal affective depression clears up I will be a serious contender – mark my words (are you all shaking with fear out there?).

Weight Loss Score: 69
Time Trial Score: -1
Starting Weight: 237.4
Weight Loss Goal: 27.400000000000002
Current Weight: 218.4
First Time Trial: 11:07
Current Time Trial: 11:11

Fat Frank
Fat Frank is 58 yo male from Texas. He had not been on a bike in 5 yrs and is burning it up on the TT. 40% improvement. Wow.

I see Fat Frank standing by the barbeque or perhaps a smoker, short cropped salt and pepper hair, tongs swallowed up in his meaty grasp, beads of perspiration on his furrowed brow – maybe an old tattoo from the navy on his hairy forearms.

Frank is a man’s man, you would never be without a cold beer at Frank’s place - I wish I was there now, on the deck, warm sun on my face, aromas drifting over from the bbq, gnawing on a succulent rib .

If we ever get big Frank off the meat and eating some fruit and vegetables we all may as well pack up our bags as he will wipe the board with us.

Weight Loss Score: 25
Time Trial Score: 40
Starting Weight: 290
Weight Loss Goal: 60
Current Weight: 275
First Time Trial: 21:15
Current Time Trial: 12:40

Final Counsel
I have a feeling this battle will be won or lost on the TTs– you heard it here first (unless someone already said that).

PS: Today’s weight (161.4).

PPS: B7 competitors: It’s time for you to do your April weigh in and TT. Try to get it done by next weekend.

The Seven Perfect Foods

03.29.2007 | 10:20 am

A couple months ago, I posted about how pleased I was to have successfully resisted one of the seven perfect foods. In response, hundreds — nay, thousands! — of you have commented, emailed, and confronted me outright, all with one question: “What are the other perfect foods?”


To anyone who has ever dreamt of food, to anyone who has ever made a peanut putter, M&M, and chocolate syrup burrito, to anyone who has ever tasted my seven-layer dip, that question is as outrageous as it is spurious. As trite as it is insulting. As antithetical to the whole Fat Cyclist credo as Assos chamois creme on Performance-branded cycling shorts.

In short, I thumb my nose at you.

And yet, I am not without compassion (for those of you who have trouble tracking double negatives, that means I am compassionate. Glad I could help.). Here, then, are the seven perfect foods.

Is the genius of the M&M that it has a candy shell that crushes perfectly when I am in a crushing mood, but melts elegantly when I want my chocolate soft? Or is the genius in the tiny hint of peanut in the chocolate. I say it is both!

There are those of you who are at this moment wondering whether it is the plain or peanut M&Ms that are perfect. To which I answer: they are equally perfect, and yet — somehow — even more perfect when mixed together.

“How can two separate items be individually perfect, and yet more perfect together,” you ask? “Is perfection not an absolute,” you ask? Good questions, valid questions.

And yet I hold my ground. Perfection is not rational, after all.

It is, however, delicious.

Note: Almond M&Ms, Peanut Butter M&Ms, etc. are all well and good, but are not really M&Ms. They’re poseurs — mere brand extensions — riding on the coattails of the real M&Ms.

Peanut Butter
Consider peanut butter for a moment. Is it sweet or salty? It is both! Is it smooth or crunchy? It is both! Is it delicious when spread on bread with honey? Yes! Is it wonderful with grape or strawberry jam? Of course! Is it wonderful with bananas and mayonnaise? Yes, a thousand times yes! And I don’t care if you don’t dare try it. Your loss. Fool.

And what if you use peanut butter as a dip with Oreos or Fritos? Brilliant. As an ingredient in a milkshake? Awesome. As a way to get gum out of your daughters hair? Once again, success!

Peanut butter, I love you.

The Avocado
I have spent hours contemplating the avocado. How can a tree, using nothing but dirt, water, and sunlight, produce a fruit that is almost pure fat? How can the skin of that fruit be just tough enough to protect the soft buttery goodness within, yet yielding enough to allow you to test its ripeness with a simple finger press?

How is it possible that the avocodo has such a mellow, understated flavor that is nevertheless so compelling? How could it be so wonderful when mashed and mixed with a little salsa, yet be equally delightful when cut up and eaten on an open-faced turkey/tomato/avocado sandwich?

How? I demand to know!

I hereby submit the avocado as proof of the existence of God.

The Burrito
It’s a simple idea, really. Wrap the most delicious meat, cheese, sour cream, guacamole (oh, rapturous guacamole!), black beans (or — if you must — refried beans, though I don’t personally see the point in refried beans) in a tortilla.

You’d think that something so simple would be easy to execute. And yet, I could neve find a really good burrito within fifty miles of the Microsoft campus.

And people ask why I moved.

It’s pasta! It’s meat and / or cheese! It’s two taste treats in one, is what it is.

I should be clear here. For both the Burrito and Ravioli, inclusion in the “Perfect Foods” list implies that these foods are perfect when well executed. Chef Boyardee doesn’t count.

Unless you’ve just come back from a five-hour ride. Then Chef Boyardee does just fine, thanks.

I don’t even know where to start with the potato. Bake it, fry it, mash it, au gratin (whatever that means) it, hash-brown it. Is there anything the potato can’t do?

No. I answer my question myself, in case someone out there doesn’t realize it’s rhetorical. There is nothing the potato cannot do.

And, amazingly, no matter what you do to it, it’s even better if you put ketchup on it.

The other foods in this list are all perfect. That’s why they’re on this list. Duh.

That said, the grapefruit surpasses them all, for it is the antidote to all fat-making foods. Oh, and it cures illness and aging, too. Eat one every day and you will never die.

I have a question though: how come I can’t ever find good grapefruit after March 15?

I Welcome Your Response
There you have it. The seven perfect foods. I welcome your acknowledgment of the wisdom of this list. If you have quibbles, feel free to voice them, although I fully intend to ridicule anyone who disagrees with me.

PS: Today’s weight: 162.8

Gaining Streak

03.28.2007 | 8:12 am

If I had a switch, I’d be whipping myself with it right now.

You see, the company where I work has us set objectives at the beginning of each quarter. Your effectiveness as an employee is measured by whether you deliver on those objectives.

In my particular case, the objectives I’ve been laying out have all pointed toward one big fat deliverable at the end of my first year here.

That big fat deliverable is due to go live this Saturday.

As you might suppose (based on how often I’m getting friends to substitute for me here), I’m a little busy. A little stressed.

So, yesterday afternoon, after giving a presentation to the company of what my job is about and how it’s going to turn everyone’s lives upside down next Monday, I felt a little relieved. I felt a little entitled to treating myself.

And that’s when the HR director opened the big box of chocolate-fudge brownies with mint chocolate frosting.

Suffice it to say that I showed everyone in the company what I am capable of when I really apply myself to a task.

Or, if you want me to be a little less vague, how about this: I ate between five and eight brownies.

Some people fled the room in horror. Those who remained will have nightmares for the rest of their lives.

Then, when I got home, I went into full-on junkfood inhalation mode. Swedish fish (my favorite non-chocolate candy) by the handsful. Miniature marshmallows (which I don’t even particularly care for). Pop tarts. There was more, but my memory’s a little hazy.

In short, I was a nutritional train wreck.

I’m paying for it today: 164.2 pounds. Which means I’m now looking at a high likelihood of having a net gain in weight for the month of March, a slower time on my TT, and an awesome opportunity for my B7 competitors to leave me in the dust.

Re-Finding the Rhythm
From January to the beginning of March, I was the model dieter / exerciser. I had this losing streak (i.e., losing weight, not being more and more of a loser) going, and getting big results.

Then there was the two week trip.

When I got back, I made some noise about how well I managed to keep the weight off. Even as I did that, though, part of me knew that I was not in the clear. Not even close.

You see, once you break a diet streak, starting a new streak is exponentially more difficult. So far, I have not been able to do it. Every day I start with good intentions, and by the time I get halfway through the day, I’ve blown it. Yesterday wasn’t my first failure, just my most spectacular.

But now I’ve got new motivation. I’m talking with Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) about doing the Kokopelli Trail Race, a 142-mile self-supported mountain bike race on the Kokopelli Trail, together. Dug’s toying with the idea. Kenny will be doing it for sure.

I would not want to do this race in anything but the best shape I can possibly be in.

The race is May 19. That is not a lot of time.

So today, I plan to re-start my losing streak. This time, I’m hoping it’ll take.

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