How to Pay for Your Bike Stuff

04.20.2007 | 11:58 am

When I want to buy something bike-related, I simply go to the bike shop and buy it. Doesn’t matter whether I need it or merely want it. I just buy it.

I can do this because I am a manly man, and as such have complete control of the family finances. My purchase decisions are made with confidence and authority, and are never questioned.

Nor are my choices ever ridiculed.

At all.

I’m that masterful.

Sadly, most of the rest of you are not as dominant as I am, so you must resort to cajoling, subterfuge, and other mealy-mouthed in order to support your biking habit.


As long as you’re going to be so desperately sad about the way you purchase your bike gear, you may as well at least improve your technique, so you can beg, lie and steal with some style.

I’ll do my best to help, though — since I never, ever, ever have to resort to such underhanded techniques — I find the entire business intensely distasteful.

How to Beg
Begging is the correct technique technique to use when you believe your case for making a purchase is strong — your bike is old, your shorts are nearly worn out, your helmet is unbearably stinky — but you do not really, when it comes right down to it, have the money in the budget to cover the expense. What you are looking for, here, is a reprioritization of fund allocation. You are looking for, in essence, agreement that it is more important for you to buy a new headset than to buy new shoes for your children.

The best way to achieve this aim is to beg without seeming to beg. Follow these steps:

  1. Identify the non-essential item(s) currently in the budget which you want to replace with your very-essential bike-related item. The items’ prices must be approximately equivalent.
  2. Make a good case. Approach your significant other with an explanation of how you’ve been thinking it might be a financially sound move to hold off on purchasing the currently-in-budget item. “You know, dear,” you might say. “If we buy shoes for Junior this month, that means he’s going to wear out / grow out of these new shoes one month sooner. Suppose we waited an additional month. It’s been a mild winter and the holes in his shoes aren’t that bad. It’s not like it’d kill him to curl his toes under in order to fit in those shoes for one more month, either.”
  3. Look at both sides of the story. Once you’ve made your case, make the opposing case as well, but make it poorly. “On the other hand, maybe we should go ahead and buy those shoes for him now. I’m sure he won’t become a selfish, snobby kid just because we’re constantly buying him new clothes before he’s had a chance to wear in what he’s already got. Hey, in fact, he’s asking for a Playstation 3. Maybe we should look into buying it for him.”
  4. Avoid Direct Association. Once you have made your point, do not immediately say some boneheaded thing like, “Oh good, now with that extra money I’m going to buy new titanium axles for my pedals.” Wait 36 hours, and then say, “I’ve been needing [note: never say 'wanting'] new pedals for about nine months now, and it looks like there’s finally room in the budget. I’m going to go buy those today.” Note the presumptive close, and further note that there is no easy-out provided for your significant other (e.g., some mealy-mouthed phrase like “if it’s all right with you” tacked on to the end of the sentence) for your significant other. If s/he wants to shut you down, make her/him initiate it.
  5. Don’t be a spaz. When this works, you may be so amazed that you’ll be inclined to start falling all over yourself with expressions of gratitude and promises of future favors. Don’t do this. If you do, your significant other will realize that s/he has been hornswoggled and will reverse her/his decision, and game is over.

How to Beg Abjectly
Sometimes, what you want may be really silly, and you know it is. You may want a fourth road bike, for example. Or a Power Tap, in spite of the fact that the reality of what you need to do to improve performance is startlingly obvious (i.e., lose eighty pounds). Or perhaps you want to buy a pair of Assos shorts, just to find out if they really will give you a Luxury Body (please let me know how that turns out). 

In cases like this, the best thing you can do is beg in the classic sense of the word. Take your sweetheart by both hands (this is required), look her deep in the eyes (I’m saying “her” because I really can’t even picture a woman begging like this), and lay it all out on the line. “Sweetheart,” you should say, “I have no rational reason why I should get a Power Tap. I don’t need one. I’m not even sure what they’re useful for. And yet, I want one. Desperately. I can’t sleep. I can’t concentrate at work. Please, indulge me.”

This will work, but only once every nine years, so choose your item of abject beg-worthiness wisely.

Also, don’t tell anyone about your abject begging episode, because it will creep them out.

How to use the Turnabout Technique
If you live with a selfish person — or someone whom you suspect could become selfish given the proper stimuli — the simplest and most direct way to get what you want is to offer an exchange. “Hey, you know how you’ve been admiring that new Toyota Sequoia? I bought one for you today. Oh, and I also bought myself a new set of Magura disc brakes for my singlespeed.”

Note that with this tactic, you must spend noticeably more on the “turnabout” item than you did on yourself.

Also note that this tactic will quickly drive you into the poorhouse, since you must always plan on spending more than twice the cost of the item you want, every time you want to buy something.

Black Budget
This is the most underhanded of all possible methods of purchasing bike-related gear: buy it with money that your significant other doesn’t know you have.

In order to purchase items from the Black Budget, first you must create a means to acquire money without your significant other’s knowledge, such as:

  • Lunch money: Don’t eat lunch. Save your money. In cash.
  • Cook the books: When purchasing groceries, always ask for cash back. Report your grocery spend as if the cash back were part of the grocery spend.
  • Donate blood plasma. You can make a secret $20 a week doing this. I know a guy who actually did this. I won’t give away who it was, but his first initial is D. You know, as in “Dug.”

You must also have a place to secretly store this money. An envelope at work. A bank account at a different institution than where you normally bank (be certain that the monthly statements are sent to your email address, not to your physical address).

You must be careful when purchasing items with the Black Budget. Put simply, you must never purchase something obvious. For example, you cannot purchase a new bike with the Black Budget unless you already have so many bikes that there is no way your significant other will be able to tell you’ve added one to the collection. If you buy a new helmet with the Black Budget, buy one the same color as your old helmet.

Bike shoes are a safe Black Budget buy, because all bike shoes look the same to non-bike people.

All of this, frankly, is deplorable. You should never do any of this. Ever. At all.

I certainly don’t.

PS: Today’s weight: 160.8. Stressed out = stalled out.


Please Hold.

04.18.2007 | 12:01 pm

I’ve got the first 2.5 paragraphs written for what would normally be a very funny post — in fact, it’s one of those posts that would normally pretty much write itself.

But right now I’m in a little bit of a personal holding pattern and am completely unable to concentrate.

I know, I know. It doesn’t seem like writing this blog should require much in the way of powers of concentration. But I don’t have much concentration power available in the first place.

In short, today I’m useless, blogwise (and otherwise, for that matter).

I’ll explain soon. Meanwhile, if you’ve got any positive karma to spare, I’d take it.

PS: Bob sent me a link to a great video: Tour de Horse.

PPS: Today’s weight: 160.2

Group Ride

04.15.2007 | 9:51 pm

I love going on big group road rides. And last Saturday I was supposed to get in a five-hour ride — as mandated by Coach Lofgran — so a group road ride seemed like just the ticket.

With one slight difference, that is: I didn’t go with a group.

And you know what? It turns out that a group ride of one can be exactly the right number sometimes.

Start Time and Place
The original reason I had for not calling anyone or going to the bike shop for the weekly organized ride was that I had no idea what time I’d actually be available to ride on Saturday.

Amazingly, however, the start time for my solo group ride was at exactly the same moment I got the go-ahead to go out. 9:47, I believe. Equally wonderful was the way that every single one of us were ready to go at the same time. No dawdlers finishing a last-moment tuneup. No impatient Type-A’s jumping down my throat for not being ready to roll right when he was.

Better yet, everyone was accommodating enough to start the ride from my house. Nice! 

The Course
With most group rides, choosing the is usually a difficult and complex series of negotiations. Is it long enough to challenge the hardcore riders, but with bailout points for those who need to get home earlier? Is there enough climbing? Or is half the group’s idea of the right amount of climbing a little too much for the other half of the group?

My group was considerably more relaxed about the course we’d be riding. I suggested, “Hey, let’s see how high we can go up on the Alpine Loop before we hit snow, come back down, and then decide what we want to do from there.”

You’ll find this hard to believe, but everyone I was riding with thought that was a fantastic idea.

The Pace
I’ve got a fairly major family crisis simmering right now, and one of the things I wanted to do on this group ride was push this problem out of my head for a while. As I started the climb up American Fork Canyon, it occurred to me that a really good way to do this might be to shift into a high gear, stand up, and crank away as hard as I could until my head was filled with nothing but the sound of my legs yelling at me to cut it out.

The group obliged and joined me, which was really great of them, considering that they all knew we were only twenty minutes into a five hour ride.

Of course, within twenty minutes I was totally blown, but everyone else in the group was, too. We all thought it was now a good idea to shift into our granny gears and just survive the rest of the climb.

A Perfect Place
Once we got past the gate that stops cars from going on the Alpine Loop road in the Winter, there started being a lot of scree — along with some good-sized boulders in the middle of the road. These were easy to thread around, though I realized that the traditional group race down this part of the mountain was out of the question with all this junk in the road.

Once we turned around and got back onto the part of the road that’s maintained during the Winter, though, I had an epiphany: The section of road between the Tibble Fork turnoff and the mouth of American Fork Canyon is perfect for road biking.

Here’s why:

  • Grade: The road is just steep enough that you can — and should — get into your biggest gear and pedal as hard as you can. It is not so steep, however, that you will spin out in your biggest gear.
  • Twists and Turns: The road is constantly twisting gently — just enough to keep you leaning slightly through the banks, but not enough that you ever need to touch your brakes.
  • The View: American Fork Canyon is beautiful. Always. And while you don’t have time to look at the details as you descend (you had plenty of time for that during the climb), you still get this impression of a green and granite blur out of your peripheral vision.

I was thinking about how much I love this descent and how much it felt like flying and what a joy it was to be on a bike when I briefly saw Dug, riding up the mountain in the other direction. For a second, I felt a little bit bad for him — unlike me, he wasn’t riding with a group — and thought about turning around and riding up with him. By the time I completed that thought, though, I was another half mile down the road and would never have caught him if I had turned around.

Note: Later that day, Dug sent me this text message: “I saw you coming down AF canyon. You had a goofy grin on. Were you telling yourself jokes?”

I betcha anything, though, that Dug had an identical goofy grin when it was his turn to fly down the canyon.

Coming out of American Fork Canyon, my group now had to decide where it wanted to take the ride. I suggested that we head up and over Suncrest, then ride along Wasatch Blvd. That’s a ride with lots of rolling and climbing, and has been a personal favorite lately.

Now — for the first time since the ride began — however, there was dissent in the group. “You go over Suncrest several times per week,” I said. “Let’s go South for a change.”

“How about something simple, like a ride out to Cedar Fort and back?” I suggested. I had to admit, the idea had merit. It was a nice, direct ride on a road with a wide shoulder and a consistent-but-moderate climb.

And just like that, we agreed.

Decision and Reversal
When riding with a group, I usually don’t bring an iPod. For this ride, though, I did. The nice thing about riding with an iPod is that you can listen to it when you feel like rocking out, and turn it off when you feel like thinking.

It’s almost like you have choice in the matter.

As far as I know, the road out to Cedar Fort goes on forever. However, I have always turned around at one of two points: at the Cedar Fort gas station (the only store at Cedar Fort) or at Camp Lloyd, where the road loses its nice wide shoulder.

The group argued about which we should turn around at today. Finally, we decided on the gas station.

Then, however, a strange thing happened. I got to the gas station, turned around, and then changed my mind. I felt like continuing on for a few more minutes. So I turned around and continued on to where the road loses its shoulder. And you know what? Not a single person in the group complained about the way I overrode the plan like that.

Although, to be honest, I think I might have heard someone grumble about how stupid we looked riding in a circle on the highway.

By now I had been out 3:15. I knew that my ride back should take about 1:15, which would give me a nice 4:30 ride.

Except I didn’t account for the headwind. Or for the fact that I was pretty well cooked. So by the time I pulled into my garage, I had been out for about 4:50.

I would have got home sooner, but none of those bastards I was riding with would take a turn pulling.

Ullrich Bikes “Disappointed, Baffled” by Lackluster First Year Sales

04.10.2007 | 3:30 pm

Karlsruhe, Germany (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – Reporting to anxious investors at the first annual shareholders’ meeting for Jan Ullrich Bicycles, LLC, Tobias Steinhauser — co-developer of the Jan Ullrich signature bike line — looked worried.

“I do not want to beat around the bush,” said Steinhauser. “I am sad to say that our first-year earnings of our bicycle company have not been as brisk as we would have liked. We have picked up very little market share, and as of this moment our sales are actually declining precipitously.”

Almost as if choreographed, several hands simultaneously shot into the air.

“Why is this so?” asked one dignified-looking gentleman. “Didn’t you get press in CyclingNews for the launch of this bike line?”

 ”Yes, yes we did. And the bikes were received extremely positively,” said Steinhauser, staring hard at the podium.

“Did you not tell us last year,” piped in a woman in a sensible business suit, “that you would be launching the Jan Ullrich Bicycle line just before the Tour de France, when interest in Ullrich would be very high?”

“Yes, we did that too, just as we promised,” said Steinhauser, squirming slightly.

“Well, isn’t Jan a winner of the Tour de France?” asked a lad of no more than eleven, wearing cycling knickers and a junior-league cycling jersey.

“Of course he is, and he has taken second many times as well. There is no more famous cyclist in all of Germany,” replied Steinhauser, reddening a little.

“Well,” said several shareholders, in unison, “Why is the Jan Ullrich Bicycle line doing so poorly?”

“I don’t know,” said Steinhauser, dejectedly. “I just don’t get it.”

No Easy Answers
Interviewed after the devastating investor meeting, Steinhauser tried to make his case for the Jan Ullrich Bicycle line.

“These are handmade, Italian bicycles. They are beautiful to look at, lighter than air, and designed with the input of one of the winningest, most experienced pro cyclists in the history of the sport. I honestly cannot understand why anyone would not want to ride a Jan Ullrich bike.”

Asked for an explanation of why, from his perspective, so few bikes have been sold since they have been made available to the public, Steinhauser seemed puzzled. “That’s exactly the question I have been asking myself, endlessly. You have no idea how much sleep I have lost over that precise question.”

“Did we overprice the frames? Our focus groups say that for a bike of this quality, we did not.”

“Do we not have enough name recognition? That is ridiculous; everyone knows who Jan is — that’s one of the reasons we went with his name on the bike line.”

“Maybe we should have offered complete bicycles instead of just the frame / fork combination,” mused Steinhauser. “That’s really the only thing I can think of.”

Trying to stay upbeat, Steinhauser went on, “Well, that’s all water under the bridge. We’ll learn from our mistakes, and redouble our marketing and PR efforts.”

Concluded Steinhauser, “Hopefully this next year will be a better one for Jan Ullrich Bicycles.”

2007 Tour De France Winner Stripped of Title

04.6.2007 | 5:35 am

PARIS, FRANCE (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – Three agencies integral to the sport of professional cycling held a joint press conference today, in order to make a number of important announcements regarding the 2007 Tour de France.

“First and foremost,” said Patrice Clerc, President of Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the promoter of the Tour de France), “I want to be the first to congratulate whoever wins the 2007 Tour de France. You are truly a great champion, and ASO thanks you for making our business possible. While we do not yet know who will win the Tour, I feel it is vital we acknowledge that person as the pinnacle of strength, conditioning, and personal sacrifice he undoubtedly must be.”

“Next,” continued Clerc, “I’d like to take this opportunity to accuse the aforementioned winner of using unscrupulous and nefarious methods to obtain this prize, and hereby accuse him — whoever he is — of doping.”

An Open and Shut Case
Dick Pound, Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA), was on hand to elaborate.

“When was the last time we had a Grand Tour winner who was not eventually accused and — at least in the court of public opinion –convicted of doping?”

Continued Pound, “Our problem, in the past, was one of timing. We keep waiting until after someone has won a grand tour to make insinuations. By then, the public has gotten behind the rider and we’ve got a public relations nightmare on our hands.”

“Really, it’s very simple,” said the Chairman of WADA. “Follow my logic, if you please. Every single rider at the Tour de France is a superior athlete. If one person is able to beat all these other people, that person must be doing something the others aren’t doing. However, everybody knows that every single one of these athletes is doing every legitimate thing he can to be the best racer he can be. And since every racer is doing every allowable thing, but only one person can win, the person who wins must be doing something that is not allowed.”

“And what is not allowed?” asked Mr. Pound. “Doping is not allowed, that’s what.”

Concluded the Chairman of WADA, “I think it’s time we stop beating around the bush and be direct about this: If you win the Tour de France, you are a doper. Pure and simple. So while I admire the future winner of the Tour de France, I have nothing but contempt for the unethical way in which you will go about winning.”

New Features in this Year’s Tour
Pat McQuaid, President of the International Cycling Union (UCI) announced that in conjunction with this preemptive dismissal of the winner of the TdF, several useful and interesting new features will be added to the race.

“In addition to having the team car following the race leader,” said McQuaid, “we will now have a police car, just in case he tries to make a break for it. We will also have GPS-based location transmitters sewn right into the yellow jersey.”

“The award ceremony will have some new drama, as well,” said McQuaid. “In addition to the stuffed lion and the yellow jersey, the holder of the maillot jaune will be handed a pair of ceremonial handcuffs by myself and Mr. Pound, and then we will slap him.”

“The final ceremony will be even better,” concluded the UCI President.. “In addition to the traditional pomp and prizes, we will also have law enforcement personnel, a judge and prosecuting attorneys on hand to serve notice of arrest, a search warrant, and in fact begin the arraignment proceedings. It will be spectacular.”

Racers React
“I suddenly don’t feel so well,” said Ivan Basso, following the press conference. “Also, I have a pain in my knee and my goiter’s acting up. I intend to race still, but frankly don’t see my prospects as all that good.”

“My back is killing me,” commented Alexandre Vinokourov.

“I feel a general sense of malaise,” noted Iban Mayo, though nobody asked.

Final Word
Concluding the presentation, Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, said, “I’d like to make a couple of final points. First, I’m afraid that once we strip the outright winner of the Tour de France of his title, the second place winner will be promoted to the winning spot and is thus a doper as well. And so on and so on, until we’ve had our fun.” 

“Second,” concluded the race Director, “All of this is null and void in the event of a Frenchman winning the Tour.”

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