A Bicycle Built for Two

08.31.2007 | 6:57 am

A Note from Fatty: I’m not ready to declare a winner of the Ergon BD1 yet. There are so many entries, and many of them are pretty long. To give all entries a fair shake, I need time to read. I will post a winner Tuesday (Monday’s a holiday and I’m taking the day off).

New Bike Smell
Yesterday, I picked up my new bike from Racer’s Cycle Service and took my first ride.

No, wait. Scratch that. That should read, “We picked up our new bike from Racer’s Cycle Service and took our first ride.”

I’m just not used to having a bicycle be “we” thing, you know? Anyway, check it out:

I love the retro-cruiser look with the mustard fade and the little flame detail:

Handlebars a mile wide:

A Green Line tandem cruiser. How cool is that? (Answer: very, very cool)

Early Observations
Mostly, buying the tandem was a selfish act. I want to spend more time doing outdoor stuff with my kids, but biking’s about the only outdoor thing I’m good at. Since my boys haven’t otherwise showed much of an interest in riding their bikes, I figure maybe I could get them jumpstarted with a tandem. You know, give them the feel for riding a bike, while I do most of the work.

Here’s what I’ve discovered so far, based on one ride with my 11-year-old:

  • People see tandems: The jury’s still out on why, but I’ve noticed that people definitely notice and look at the tandems a lot more than they watch other bikes. I’ve got two theories for why: there’s the possible “recumbent” effect — any unusual (i.e., bizarre) bike is going to get noticed. And then there’s my preferred theory, the “Wow, I’ve never seen a tandem cruiser before, that’s totally awesome!” effect.
  • The saddles are enormous: I mean, take a look at this thing. It just feels wrong to be sitting on something this gigantic. All part of the experience, though.

  • I have never sat so upright on a bike before: The swoop-back handlebars and seat combine to leave you entirely upright on this bike. I expect that for casual riders, this is really great. I feel silly and keep expecting someone to start playing the theme music to The Flying Nun.
  • This suckah’s heavy: I haven’t weighed it, but I’d guess this bike weighs 65 pounds. It turns out that if you buy a tandem for less than $500, it’s not going to have all the lightest, high-zoot parts. Go figure.
  • I’ve got to cool it with the cadence: I’ve been training myself to pedal a nice fast cadence, and I kept forgetting myself when out riding. And since the cranks have to turn together on the tandem, this meant my 11-year-old kept having his legs spun around much, much faster than he wanted.
  • So far, the bike’s a success: My 11-year-old wants to go out on another, longer ride on the tandem this weekend. So, oddly, this by-far-the-cheapest-one-I-own bike may wind up being the most valuable bike in the stable.

Bikes: An Exception to the Law of Diminishing Returns?
As I rode with my son on the tandem, I kept coming back to the thought of how cheap this bike is compared to my other bikes. I mean, it is seriously 1/3 the cost of my next-cheapest bike (the Rig). And this tandem’s a good bike — it seems well-built, and it’s definitely fun to ride.

So have I been wasting my money spending many multiples of this cost on bikes?

No, I don’t think so. I love all my bikes, and feel they’re all good deals. They’re just for different things — riding with kids, riding on the road, racing on the dirt, ruining my knees.

All different parts of the biking experience, all really great. All with different price tags, but all worth every penny of it and more.


Where Would You Go? What Would You Carry?

08.28.2007 | 9:35 pm

Yesterday, I got a very, very cool box from Jeff Kerkove and the folks at Ergon. An Ergon BD1 Team Edition backpack. Check it out:

And you know what’s even cooler? Jeff gave me another one to give away to a Fat Cyclist reader.

Before I explain how, though, first I want to make you drool over the pack a little bit.

CycloGeek’s Delight
The first thing I noticed about the BD1 is that it stands up by itself. That’s because it’s got a (very light) plastic frame for the back, shoulders, and hip belt. That, combined with the BD1’s major claim to fame — a ball joint that isolates the pack from jostling of your shoulders, reducing the jostling effect when you’re standing and climbing — keeps the pack off your back.

It took me exactly six seconds of wearing this pack to realize I would have killed to have this pack when riding the Kokopelli Trail Race a few months ago (and in fact, I did contact Jeff about getting one of these before the race, but they weren’t available yet).

But that’s only the most obvious of the features on this pack.

Every pack lets you adjust straps for your girth; the Ergon packs let you adjust the shoulder strap anchor up or down a couple inches, giving you a lot of fit customization ability.

There’s a built-in rain cover for the pack — just pull it out of its little pouch and stretch it over the main pack, keeping everything dry.

And of course there’s all the stuff you’d expect: a place for a camelbak bladder and everything you need to route the tube, lots of pockets and zippers, and a compression strap to keep everything snug.

It’s a very cool pack — you can tell the guys at Ergon did some serious thinking about what it’s like to ride a mountain bike all day (or for multiple days). I can’t wait to take this thing out on an epic ride.

Win One for Yourself
These packs just barely came out. They’re still very hard to get. And so I’m even more excited to give one away than I usually would be.

But this is a serious pack. I don’t want to just give it away to someone who’s not going to use it. So here’s how the contest works: Post a comment here telling me where you’d go riding with this pack, and what you’d put in it for your ride.

This Friday, I’ll choose a winner based on who I think has the most exciting, practical, frequent, or otherwise interesting plan for this pack.

And then I’ll hold you to it. I’ll expect a story from the winner, with pictures.

Good luck!

Eat a Lot of Goats: The Video Game

08.27.2007 | 9:11 pm

You know what’s cool? It’s cool to see your kids get really, really good at something.

You know what’s even cooler? When your kids surpass you at something. For example, a few years ago, my son — ten years old at the time — and I started learning Macromedia Flash together. He is now way, way beyond anything I can do with it.

So I recently asked him to do another cartoon for the blog. He, however, was more interested in writing an arcade-style game, using some of the elements from his previous cartoons for the site.

So here it is: Eat a Lot of Goats, starring Bob and me. You can play as either of us.

Need help on how to play? OK, here are the instructions, which my son was kind enough to write.


  • Eat as many goats as you can
  • Don’t lose all of your health!


  • Don’t stay in the explosions caused by the dangerously ugly jersey, or you’ll lose health.
  • Eating said jersey would cause instant death, so avoid that at all costs.
  • Moving offscreen will cause a deer to bounce you back onscreen, and you will lose health.


  • Left arrow key: move left
  • Right arrow key: move right
  • Down arrow key: use tongue to eat goats directly in front of you.


  • Hold down both arrow keys at once to stop quickly.
  • Goats disappear after a while, but you won’t be penalized; another one will just fall elsewhere to replace it.
  • The fresher the goat is, the more points you get for eating it.
  • You can pick multiple goats with one press of the down key if they’re clumped together.
  • Don’t try to eat a goat if a jersey’s too close to it!
  • The closer you are to the center of an explosion, the more damage you take.

PS: Feel free to post your high score in the comments. So far mine’s not worth mentioning.

PPS: Contest tomorrow, with an extra-cool prize: a highly-coveted and hard-to-obtain Ergon BD1 bike backpack!

I Am Much, Much, Faster Than Kenny

08.26.2007 | 8:48 pm

Friday afternoon, Kenny left me a voicemail, saying he was going to do a long ride Saturday morning. By the time Friday night rolled around, though, I could tell that a long ride just wasn’t in the cards. Knowing that Kenny always keeps his mobile phone with him and not wanting to call so late at night, I sent him a text message:

I’m out for a long ride, but am thinking of an 8am Tibble. What’s your plan?

Kenny texted back:

I’ll be in surgery.

I replied, sagely:


He texted:

I broke my hip

At this point, I figured a phone call was warranted.

The Wreck
So here’s what I learned — part from Kenny, who sounded slurry but coherent, and part from Kenny’s wife, who sounded resigned to the likelihood that this kind of thing is going to happen over and over and over.

Kenny was alone, riding “Frank to Crank” — a steep, technical climb with a steep, technical descent, which happens to be close to Kenny’s house and is one of his favorite training rides. On the downhill, his hands sweaty, he lost his grip and crashed, busting his hip (and, incidentally, cracking his helmet).

Kenny doesn’t really remember the instance or the details of how it happened or what hit first. He was riding, and then he was slamming into the ground. No real transition in between. Chances are you’ve had a similar crash of your own at some point, where you don’t have a really great explanation of what happened. Eventually you construct what you remember beforehand and what your injuries look like into a likely scenario, and you tell people about that theory as if it were an actual memory. If you tell it enough, it even starts to seem like that’s the way it happened.

I’m rambling. Back to Kenny’s story.

After his wipeout, Kenny sat / laid for ten minutes or so, the pain so bad that he couldn’t move; his hurt leg shaking uncontrollably. Then he used his bike as a crutch to get down off the mountain.

Except for the parts he rode.

Yes, for crying out loud, he actually rode part of the way down. And in fact, he had a second crash as he came down the mountain. See, with his hip so injured, he couldn’t twist his foot enough to get out of his pedals.

He didn’t call LifeFlight or an ambulance because he’s still feeling the financial sting of the bill for the ambulance trip he took from Squaw Peak a month ago. $1200 bucks. Sheesh. Instead, he called his wife when he was about a mile from home. Told her that he wasn’t sure how he’d get off his bike once he got home. Sure enough, she had to lay the bike down for him so he could step over it.

And then they were off to the hospital.

At the Hospital
At the emergency room, Kenny got to sit in a wheelchair in the emergency room for a good long time, shaking with the intensity of the pain.

By 10pm, they had taken care of Kenny, though he was still in the emergency room, drugged up and waiting to be assigned his own room in the hospital.

Saturday morning, he went into getting surgery, where they put three screws into his right his hip.

Just as a point of reference, while Kenny was in surgery, Gary — my across-the-street neighbor — and I went and rode Hog Hollow. It was such a nice day and such a perfect ride that we capped it off by riding the Sliding Rock: a natural waterslide:

Anyway, I went to the hospital after Kenny was out of surgery. I tried to get him to tell his story on video, but frankly, he was too drugged up. I did get a picture of him with his balloon, though (please note that the smiley face has been modified to have the same kind of soul patch as Kenny’s):

What’s Next
Kenny’s going to be on crutches for three weeks or more. Knowing him, he’ll be on a bike before he’s off crutches.

To tell the truth, I’m probably as bummed out about this as I can be without it happening to me. Kenny’s a great friend and riding’s an incredibly important part of his life. In fact he has — completely seriously — said that for him biking is a spiritual thing for him.

So for him to not be able to ride for a while — especially during what he and I have agreed many times is the best part of the year for riding — is a little bit heartbreaking.

That said, we have a firm commitment from Kenny that he’ll be recovered and riding for Fall Moab this year. And since I have now written this down for him, it’s an actual goal, not a wish (that’s a little Steven Covey humor for you).

Silver Lining
This of course sucks for Kenny, but I think it represents a significant opportunity for the rest of us to surpass him, for the time being, in both biking speed and endurance.

I guess we’d better enjoy it while it lasts.

Cover Girl

08.24.2007 | 5:01 am

What’s the biking equivalent of being in a tiny little indy rock band and waking up one morning to find that you’re on the cover of Rolling Stone?

This is:

And inside (click for larger image):

Thanks, Bicycling Magazine. This means a lot to me, to Susan, and to the guys at Twin Six.

To tell the truth, I’m not precisely sure how this happened. I know that the guys at Twin Six sent a press release telling cycling publications about the pink “WIN” jersey, and that Bicycling Magazine replied asking for one, saying they might cover it. But neither Twin Six nor I had any idea that “cover it” meant they were actually going to put it on the cover.

You should have heard Ryan at Twin Six and me on the phone yesterday (yes, we both found out the way other Bicycling subscribers do — by getting our copies in the mail). We were giggling and saying “no way!” and stuff.

I believe it is safe to say that we were giddy.

PS: I’m going to email a nice “thank you” to Bicycling Magazine. If you’d like to let them know you think it’s pretty darn cool of them to feature the pink “WIN” jersey, send them email at bicycling@rodale.com. If you do email them, please do me a favor and don’t make it a “Thanks for the photo but you should have given the jersey more print coverage to go along with it” email. The amount of coverage they gave us is way, way beyond anything I ever expected and I for sure don’t want any backhanded compliments being sent their way. You cool with that? I thought so.

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