You know how there are certain rides you don’t do very often, because they’re really, really long, and they’re really, really hard work? You probably don’t do that ride more than once or twice a year because you know it’s going to take up most of the day, and any part of the day it doesn’t take up it may as well take up, because you’re going to be good for nothing but laying on the couch for the rest of the day. Even so, doing that ride at least once a year is something you really look forward to, because it’s epic. It tests you, and then it rewards you for taking the test.
The Nebo Loop — 110+ miles, with a climb and descent of Mount Nebo as the centerpiece — is that kind of ride. And it’s what Kenny, Linde, BotchedExperiment and I rode last Saturday.
It was a perfect day for an epic road ride. The morning started out cool — but not cold — and rapidly became warm, without ever getting really hot. And — for me at least — it was one of those days where everything about both my bike and body felt right. I just felt great the whole day. I’m not sure why, but the Nebo Loop seems to do that to me practically every time I ride it. It’s just an incredibly epic, inspiring ride.
Originally, I planned to give you a play-by-play of the day, and — even as I was riding — I started taking note of events as they happened.
And then I noticed something: I was enjoying certain things maybe a little too much. Which is to say, I was taking far too much pleasure in some silly stuff, some vain stuff, and — in a couple of cases — some downright mean stuff.
And so, I herewith present my Seven Guilty Pleasures of Last Saturday’s Ride.
Guilty Pleasure 1: Singing Out Loud
I should preface this by clearly stating: I have a remarkably poor singing voice. I do not believe that anyone in the whole world enjoys hearing me sing, with the possible exception of my daughters, who seem to like having me sing for them at bedtime.
And they may just be humoring me.
So anyway, I tend to save my singing for private moments, and even then I don’t sing really loud for fear of the likelihood that the moment isn’t as private as I’d hoped.
But when you’re blasting down a mountain on a roadbike at 45 miles per hour, things are different. The wind whips my voice away so nobody can hear, letting me sing my lungs out with impunity.
So as I flew down the Nebo Loop, I sang loud and proud (mostly I was singing 30 Seconds to Mars’ ”All Attack,” just in case you were wondering).
One of the times I belted out the chorus, I passed a cyclist in the other direction. He seemed startled, leading me to think my “you can’t hear someone singing if he’s going 40+ mph” theory might have some holes. But I don’t want to find out. Hey, everyone’s got to have a place to rock, even those of us who have been barred for life from karaoke bars and church choirs.
Guilty Pleasure 2: Shouting at Cows and Deer
Whenever I see a deer on the road — or anywhere near it — I yell, “venison!” at the top of my lungs. The deer should consider this both a warning for the moment and a statement of intent if I ever see that deer again. Cuz I like venison.
I don’t shout words at cows standing in the road, though. I figure they’re used to that; they sure don’t seem to react to my yelling, “pot roast!” at them. So I do a bandito-style rallying cry, trilling my tongue while yelling in as high a voice as I can go: “Brrrrrrrr-eeeee-HA!”
That usually gets ‘em to move out of the way. Though not always.
There are almost always cattle on the road when you descend the Nebo Loop. You’re carving a hairpin at 25 miles per hour and straighten up just in time to see a cow looking at you from the center of the road, disinterested. The bandito trill usually does the job.
I admit to being disappointed at not encountering any cattle on the road last Saturday.
Guilty Pleasure 3: Eating for Cheap with Wild Abandon
This may come as a shock to some of you, but I love to eat. I just love it. And my superpower is the ability to eat huge quantities, practically anytime. I would be a marvelous sumo wrestler, if it weren’t for the embarrassingly immodest outfits. And the need to be good at wrestling.
One of the great things about riding the Nebo Loop is that after climbing and descending this monster-sized mountain, you’re in the tiny town of Nephi, which has a Wendy’s (for you non-US types, that’s a hamburger franchise that’s one step above McDonalds).
Last Saturday, Dan and Kenny forgot to bring money; I had brought $20. So the question was, could all three of us eat our fill, keeping the total under $20?
The answer? Yes. Easily. Everyone just had to order items from the dollar menu. I don’t think any of us ordered more than $4.00 worth of food (I got two chicken sandwiches). In fact, we had plenty of money to each get a Frosty Float. Highly recommended when you’re in the middle of a giant ride, it’s hot outside, and you want a kratillion calories.
This is exactly the kind of food I avoid on a day-to-day basis. But when you’re on an epic ride, all diets are off.
I should note that Linde did not eat anything at Wendy’s. This may be read as foreshadowing.
Guilty Pleasure 4: Giving Smug, Useless Advice
After eating at Wendy’s, I was full and a little bit sleepy. I made an appeal to the other riders: let’s ride nice and easy for a few minutes while we digest.
Shortly thenafter, Linde rode to the front and took the biggest monster pull I have ever seen anyone take in my life. He pulled us at 25mph — no headwind — for probably 15-20 minutes.
And this was after we had already put in 60 miles that day, including ~7000 feet of climbing.
I looked at Kenny and Dan, trying to see if they were as amazed as I was. Linde was either going to singlehandedly pull us all the way back home, or he was going to implode spectacularly.
Linde exploded spectacularly. He faded. He cramped. He suffered.
So I offered advice. Advice like, “Maybe you should have had a Frosty, man. Those things are delicious.” And, “Hey, maybe you should eat this Honey Stinger Peanut Butta Bar. They’re delicious. Oh, the thought of that makes you want to hurl? Sorry, dude.” And, “Try to pedal circles. It’s more efficient.”
I tell you, there’s nothing like a good cycling bonk to add excitement and drama to a ride, provided you’re not the one bonking. It gives you a chance to relay all your cycling wisdom, knowing full well that the person you are informing is too woozy to successfully punch you.
Guilty Pleasure 5: Fooling Myself Into Thinking I Can Hang With Kenny
While I love pretty much everything about the Nebo Loop, the whole reason we do the ride is for the climb. It’s twenty miles long, with 6000 feet of climbing — which means it’s consistently challenging but only rarely is it brutally steep.
As you know, I’ve been working hard on losing weight and getting strong. Saturday, I wanted to see whether I was now fast enough that I could ride with Kenny.
And you know what? I did. I rode with Kenny the whole way from the base of Nebo to the summit. Side by side. He never dropped me.
Of course, a part of me fully realizes that if he had wanted to shell me, he could have. I was right at the edge of my red zone; he was in his all-day cruisin’ groove.
But still: I hung with Kenny for a twenty mile climb. And nobody can take that away from me.
Guilty Pleasure 6: Being in a Group of Four People Wearing the Fat Cyclist Jersey, Without My Having Had to Say, “Hey, Wear My Jersey, OK?”
All four of us were wearing the Fat Cyclist jersey on this ride, and I didn’t even have to call ahead and offer bribes. Whenever I was in the back of the paceline, seeing us lined up, I’d think, “Hey! I have a really cool jersey!”
I also love thinking about what people must have thought, seeing a group of four cyclists — all wearing jerseys that say “Fat Cyclist” — summit a 6000-foot climb. Or lined up for Frosties at Wendy’s.
Guilty Pleasure 7: Knowing My Friends Who Missed This Ride Would Be Eating Their Hearts Out
110 miles, guys. Beautiful climb. Screaming descent. Perfect weather. Frosty Floats. This ride had it all. I hope you had fun doing whatever it was you did instead.
PS: The Twin Six guys tell me they’ve been kept really busy with all the jersey, t-shirt, and sock orders. Thanks to everyone who’s made a purchase. I appreciate it! Of course, the pink jerseys won’t be shipping ’til the end of this month (or so), and the t-shirts and socks should be arriving within the next couple weeks, so expect your orders to arrive as they become available.
PPS: Thanks to everyone who picked up their fatcyclist.com email account. And a big thanks to Banjo Brothers for putting up the very cool Messenger Bag (Fat Cyclist Edition!) as a prize. I’ll choose a winner and announce it Wednesday.
You know, it occurs to me that “Fat Cyclist” stopped being about me a long time ago. Sure, I still write the main blog entries, but the community that’s grown up around this site far outstrips the original purpose of the blog.
Which is to say: I am not the Fat Cyclist. We are the Fat Cyclist.
Not that I’m calling you fat. And not that I’m proposing some sort of borg-like collective. Or any other kind of collective. Look, all I’m saying is that fatcyclist.com is a lot cooler with all the readers, commenters, jersey-wearers, and ads-for-schwag partners than it would be if it were just me posting my daily nonsense. Basically, you’re as much a part of this as I am.
So you may as well have an email address that makes it official, right?
Oh, and I think I’ll give something cool away as part of this, too.
And by “cool,” I mean really, really, really cool. As in, “I can’t believe I’m not keeping this for myself” cool.
Here’s Whatcha Gotta Do
Luckily for both you and me, it doesn’t cost anything to get a nice, big, fat two gigabyte Fat Cyclist email account. That’s because I’m using the ad-supported Windows Live Custom Domains service. Which should mean nothing to you other than it’s free and it looks like Hotmail (and the new Hotmail looks pretty darn good, if I say so myself).
So, think of a really clever email address you want for your fatcyclist.com account and then:
Click here to sign up
Once you’ve signed up, you can check and send email anytime just by signing in at either:
Either way, you may want to bookmark that address, so you can email people using your fatcyclist.com alter ego whenever the mood strikes.
Why I Will Move to Minneapolis if I Ever Leave Utah
For the past little while, I’ve been all about these awesome jerseys Twin Six has made / is making. As you may — or may not — know, Twin Six is headquartered in Minneapolis. You know who else is headquartered in Minneapolis, though? The fabulous Banjo Brothers, that’s who.
Yes, the very same company that started sponsoring and advertising with me before anyone else had even heard of me.
Every single one of you who has gotten a Twin Six jersey from me has also received — free — a cool Banjo Brothers Pocket Messenger Bag.
Well, guess what I got in the mail from the Banjo Brothers recently: several custom Fat Cyclist-branded Super Size (2000 cubic inches!) Messenger Bags and Commuter Backpacks, all to give away.
Yes, that’s right. The Banjo Brothers stitched the Fat Cyclist logo right onto a bunch of their top-of-the-line bags and sent them to me to give to my readers (The top three scorers in the Banjo Brothers’ Big Bad Bulky Biker Bodyfat contest will be awarded these, too — more incentive to work hard these last two months!).
What is it about Minneapolis that makes the entrepeneurs there so cool? I demand to know. Anyway, the Banjo Brothers rock, and deserve your business in a big way. Tell your bike store they should carry Banjo Brothers bags. Maybe in a display case right beside the big ol’ rack of Twin Six jerseys.
How the Contest Works
I’m going to give away one of these awesomely large messenger bags to whoever creates the coolest fatcyclist.com email address for herself / himself.
Yeah, that’s right, all you have to do to enter the contest is create a fatcyclist.com email account for yourself. I have a magical page from which I can see the names of all email addresses created, but I think you should post your chosen email address in the comments area here anyway, so everyone can admire the cool name you’ve given yourself, and then send you a congratulatory email to your fatcyclist.com email address from their fatcyclist.com email address.
It’ll be as much fun as having secret decoder rings, I promise.
Oh, and as you all know, I’m kind of a prude, so I’ll delete — without notice or explanation — any rude, obscene, or otherwise lame email addresses created. That’s my way.
Oh, and I already took firstname.lastname@example.org so you can forget about snagging that name.
PS to One Particular Reader: Hey, Australian guy who ordered a jersey and then sent an email letting me know you’re moving to Vietnam (!!!): I can’t find your new address anywhere. Email it to me again, wouldja? Sorry I’m a dope.
My sister Kellene is staying at my house for a week, cleaning, cooking, chatting, and just generally making things awesome.
Yes, this is the same Kellene who had the most horrific mountain bike wreck I’ve ever heard of.
Well, Kellene loves mountain biking as much as I do. Like me, she loves to go on biking trips with her friends. Like me, she likes to get photos of the trips.
Not too different, right?
So a couple nights ago, Kellene turned on her computer and showed me some photos from her recent trips.
As it turns out, we’re considerably different.
Just for comparison’s sake, here are a few photos I have taken while out riding with my friends. First, here’s one of my best pictures ever: BotchedExperiment jumping a crevice.
Now here’s Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) climbing a sandy ledge.
And here’s Bob, wiping out on that sandy ledge.
And here’s a group photo.
As you can see, we’re very close.
OK, now let’s take a look at some of Kellene’s pictures. Here’s a nice posed shot in Moab.
And here’s another nice posed shot in Moab. Kellene’s the one on the left, by the way. Debbie — the one on the right — went to high school the same time I did. I was captain of the speech team (yes, really); she was cute and popular. It’s safe to say that we didn’t run in the same circles. Kinda weird that she and my sister are best friends now and that we all dig biking.
Or at least, I assume we all dig biking. So far I haven’t seen any evidence of actual bicycles being ridden by actual people in these photos.
Oh, and here’s another nice pose. Can you tell which of these women is ~60 years old?
Oh, look: there’s actually a bike in this next shot. Oh, never mind. It’s just a prop.
And here’s a nice posed shot from a trip to Vail they took. If I were to propose to my riding friends that we do a similar shot, I would have my teeth kicked in. And rightly so.
I know you’re going to find this hard to believe, but here’s another posed shot.
Holy smokes. Do these girls even bring bikes on these trips?
Oh, this is nice. They’re rescuing someone’s truck. Try to imagine this scenario, if you can. You’re a guy and your fancy-pants 4-wheeler is stuck. A bunch of women come by on bikes and ask you if they can take some pictures of them acting like they’re pulling your truck up. What do you say?
Well, if it’s my sister who asks, you say “yes.” Nobody can refuse her. It’s her super power.
Hey, how about another nice posed shot?
“You know what would be cool?” I can imagine my sister saying. “It would be cool if we took all our bikes and hung them up on this dead tree and took pictures of us sitting around it.”
We’re from the same family. Only three years separating us (Kellene’s the first child, I’m the second). Same enjoyment of hanging out with a close group of friends. Same love of riding.
Totally. Different. Bike trips.
Some Jersey-Related Notes from Fatty: First, congratulations to “Rexinsea,” who guessed that I had spent $1462.50 on postage for the jerseys. This guess was only $8.65 off the actual total ($1453.85). Nice work! Rexinsea, email me your address and the size of jersey you want.
Next, several of you have asked if all the original jersey orders have been shipped. They have. I sent out all the US-bound jerseys a week ago (except for a few new orders and size exchanges, which I shipped yesterday); they should all arrive within the next couple days. I shipped all international orders Monday. They should arrive about two weeks from now.
And finally, I wanted to thank those of you who have bought a jersey (original or pink), t-shirt, or socks, have sent in cards, comments or email, or have posted encouraging things on your own blogs. In particular, today I see that Shelley, an American expat living in Rome, is asking her readers to help out. I tell you what: bad stuff happens to good people, but that’s when you find out how good people can really be (Another example: someone just anonymously hired and paid for a cleaning service to come to our house every week, magically making our lives much, much easier in an instant). Thanks, people.
What is an Instant?
Today I want to detail seven perfect instants most cyclists have experienced. But first, you’ve got to understand what I mean by “instant.” An instant is an incredibly brief moment. So while your first Springtime ride in buff, tacky alpine singletrack was almost certainly perfect, it was not a perfect instant. Perfect ride, probably. Perfect memory, certainly. But not a perfect instant.
A perfect instant is a moment that hits you suddenly and often unexpectedly. It’s there and then it’s over. And if you don’t think about it, you may lose it.
I don’t know why I’m flogging this description so shrilly. Sorry.
Seven Perfect Instants
Unlike the Seven Perfect Foods and Seven Perfect Climbing Songs, I am more than happy to admit the possibility that seven is perhaps too small a number for the quantity of perfect instants that can happen on a bike. In fact, the number of perfect biking instants may not be finite. By all means, list your own.
Here, though, are my seven:
- A Perfect Carve: You’re flying down a nice, straight downhill, rolling at a fast-but-not-freaky 35mph. You’ve got to make a left turn, but you don’t have to stop — you’ve got the right of way. You could hit the brakes, but instead you bring the inside pedal up and just lean for all you’ve got. Your bike tracks smoothly, Your tires grip fine, and you exit the corner as fast as — feels like faster than — you went into it. Tell me you aren’t grinning. You know why you can’t tell me you aren’t grinning? Because you are grinning, that’s why.
- Certainty of Success: When trying a technical mountain biking move, I have had to suspend the “three tries” rule, oh, krazillions of times. Friends are usually good about letting me wear myself out trying the same move, over and over and over, ’til I eventually give up. But then, once in a while, everything lines up just right. Right as I get to the crux of the move, I somehow know I’m going to clean it. I don’t know how or why I know it, but I do know it. That moment of clarity — that I’ve somehow done it right and will shortly be celebrating at the top of the move — is the very essence of a perfect instant.
- Disaster Averted: Have you ever brought too much heat into an exposed corner, panicked, locked up your brakes, and then — just as you were about to plummet to your certain demise — managed to ease up on the brakes just enough to get your wheels to start turning again? You stop skidding and roll out of the corner, safe, with the rubber side down. The adrenaline kicks in. You are alive! And, evidently, invincible.
- Disaster Converted: One moment I will never ever forget is the time I was bombing down the Powerline trail in the Leadville 100. The trail is riddled with erosion trenches, and I managed to drop my front wheel into one of them. Of course, the front of the bike stopped immediately, and the endo that should have immediately followed should have planted my face firmly into the ground. Instead, unbelievably (but believe it anyway, OK?), I managed to click out of my pedals as the bike flipped over, stepped over the handlebar, and landed on my feet, coming to a shuffle-stop. My bike slid to a stop just a foot or two behind me. I picked it up and continued on, no more than a couple seconds lost. No damage to me, no damage to my bike. Perfect.
- New Cleats: You know how your mountain biking cleats — especially Eggbeaters and Time ATAC cleats — wear down over the course of the season, until they’re nothing more than unrecognizable blobs of brass? It happens so gradually that you don’t even really notice the increased pedal-to-shoe sloppiness until it’s pretty much too late. But then, when you finally replace your cleats and step into your pedals the first time, it’s like you’ve just bought a brand new bike. That solid click tells you you’re locked in solid and ready for anything.
- Last Summit: Nobody’s making me do tough climbs. I’m seeking them out. I’ve got what’s coming to me. But still, every time I reach the top of a hard climb, the relief that 1) it’s over and 2) I made it is just about enough to bring tears to my eyes. Except I’m far too manly to ever actually cry.
- Not Empty After All: You’ve been chasing someone in your group. You’ve been doing fine, staying right with him, but now you know it: you’re completely blown. Then, just as you’re about to sag and let him go, you notice that he’s dropping his pace — he’s cooked, too. Knowing this, you stand up and power by him. Turns out you’ve got a little bit more in you than you thought.
Some Jersey-Related Notes from Fatty: Before I launch into my self-absorbed essay today, I want to mention a few jersey-related items, OK?
- Thanks to everyone who’s bought themselves either a pink jersey or one of the originals. If you haven’t gotten one or the other yet, they’re still available over at Twin Six. A lot of you were asking when various sizes for the original jersey were going to be available again, and now’s your chance: every size but XXXL (already sold out of those, need to make sure we order more of that size next time) is available, in-stock, and ready to ship. And, of course, be sure to check out the orange socks, pink socks, and t-shirts.
- A lot of people have asked where in the world the jerseys are going. Well, they’re scattered throughout the world. Lots of them in the US, of course, but you’ll also find them in the UK, Japan, Ireland, France, Germany, Canada, Malta, the Virgin Islands, New Zealand, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark (yes, every Scandinavian country is represented!) and — by far more than anywhere else besides the US — Australia.
- Guess how much I’ve spent on postage so far? No, seriously, guess. I’ll give the person with the closest guess (in case of a tie, the person who posts first wins) a jersey (limited to sizes I’ve got on-hand, which is everything but XXL and XXXL). One guess per person, OK?
- If you’re in the B7 and you’re doing better than I am, tell me what size of jersey you’ll want if you win. I want to make sure that anyone who beats me in the Banjo Brothers Big Bad Bulky Biker Bodyfat challenge will have a jersey in their size waiting for them. Not that I intend to let anyone win, but I at least have to be open to the possibility. Click here to read the thread and post what size you’ll want. (Oh, and if you’re losing, get ready to pay up, sucka. I ain’t letting anyone off the hook.)
What I Think About When On Long Rides
I recently went on and on and on about my experience riding the Kokopelli Trail in one day. One thing I didn’t talk about, however, was that there were long, long stretches of trail where there’s nothing to do but pedal. Nobody to talk to, no turns to make, no wildlife to dodge.
Ostensibly, this is why you do this kind of ride in the first place. It’s a chance to be truly introspective. Your body is busy, but your mind is not — a perfect chance to think, ponder, contemplate, and otherwise find out what’s actually inside your head.
So, then, what is it that occupies my mind when I have a chance to go deep inside myself? What is the substance of my sublime insight?
The answer would surprise you, I’m sure, except I gave it away in the headline to today’s post (stupid of me, really, since I’ve been building and building and building as if you didn’t already know where I’m headed).
I think about my shins.
But First, A Word About My Quads
I don’t start my contemplation at my shins, though. No sirree. I start with my quads. I do this because — even though I am riding through landscape with beauty so vast and exquisite that it should make a grown man weep — when I’m on a long ride, I tend to keep my head down. And when I do that, well, there they are: my quads. Moving up and down and up and down, endlessly.
A couple of observations about my quads:
- My quads are well-muscled. Thirteen years of cycling have yielded a very nice set of quads. They’re both large and well-defined. I would not go so far as to say that my quads are the peak of perfection, but if you were to pick 100 people off the street at random, demand they show you their quads, and then objectively compare them to my quads, you would probably get arrested. But you would also find out that my quads are nicer than 98 of those other random sets of quads.
- My legs now do the cycling motion without my thinking about it. Years of riding have yielded a not-half-bad pedaling motion. I no longer have to consciously do an upstroke; it’s just there. I no longer have to think about riding close to my limit without going over it. My legs know where that point is. And in fact, if I start thinking about the pedaling motion, that’s when I get into trouble. I start pedaling squares. I start pushing myself into the red zone. I smack my knee into my nose and then fall over sideways. That’s embarrassing.
- My quads are nicely tanned. The four-inch area from where my shorts end to my knees is a nice, golden brown. And why not? That area sees a lot of sunlight.
And that, you see, is where I start thinking about my shins.
My Shins Are Stupid
After adoring my quads for a moment, my attention drifts downward and I can’t help — no matter how hard I try — but look at my shins.
My shins, I am ashamed to say, are as pale as they were in February. They’re bumpy and scarred.
They are, in short, ugly.
There’s not much I can do about the bumpiness of my shins. And I’m even twistedly proud of all the scars. Those scars are story-telling opportunities (some of these stories are true, and some of them are interesting).
But I wish they’d darken up a bit.
The problem is, they’re always in the shade. My broad and well-muscled back prevents any sunlight whatsoever from getting to my shins. Plants die from lack of sunlight when I ride by. It’s that bad.
True story: Having thought about my shins for some time, when it came time to apply sunscreen during the KTR, I applied it everywhere except my shins. I wanted to see if I would get sunburned shins after riding with them unprotected in the sunlight for fifteen hours.
The result? Not only did they not get sunburned, but my shins didn’t even get a little bit of color. They stayed pasty white, as, I’m afraid, they will stay forever.
It’s a shame. A tragedy, really.
A Cry for Help
I confess: I look at other riders’ shins. Based on my observations, it seems that I am the only cyclist with pale shins.
The world is so unfair.
I ask: how can I bring my shin color up to snuff? Must I sit in the sun? Go to a tanning salon? Tattoo the entirety of my shins light brown?
I’m desperate here, people. Help me.
PS: Evidently, Team Shannifer — the team I asked you to vote for to be sponsored by Race Face for the Trans Alp challenge — actually won. (Click here, then click “The Teams” to see the results.) Furthermore, they evidently won by only a narrow margin at the very end of the contest, which is when I asked you to vote for them. I think it’s clear that we were the deciding factor in their victory, and they now owe us. Big time.
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