Cross-Training For Cyclists

11.26.2007 | 8:53 am

A Note from Fatty: I’ve got a new story up on today. You can read the preview below, or skip right to the whole article by clicking here.

Cross training suggestsionAs the days get shorter and – oddly enough – nights get longer this time of year, we cyclists have a big dilemma: how do we stay sharp through the winter, without burning out?

The answer? Simple: Cross-training. For those of you who aren’t familiar with cross-training, allow me to explain. Cross-training is defined as, “Performing an activity you really hate, in the hope that it will make you better at an activity you really like, even though you’re pretty sure you’d become better at the activity you like by simply doing that activity.”

What cross-training activities should you do, then? Well, that depends entirely upon what kind of biking skills you want to improve.
Here are some suggestions.

Track Cyclists
Want to be a faster, more competitive racer at the local velodrome next season? Then you need to cross-train with an eye toward the unique characteristics of your sport.

  • Take up running, track style. Running can help you maintain your aerobic base, but if you’re a track cyclist, you should absolutely not just strap on some shoes and hit the open road. No, if you do that you’ll soon realize that it’s a big, beautiful world out there with a lot to see and a lot of places to go. If you get a taste for going places, the track will lose its appeal forever. Instead, get a nice treadmill, and run on that. This has the two-fold appeal of making sure you get plenty of exercise without seeing anything, and punishing you severely (i.e., making you crash and look like a fool) if you coast for even a millisecond.
  • Head out to the amusement park. Spend lots of time at the local carnival or amusement park. Focus on rides like the carousel, ferris wheel, and tilt-a-whirl/waltzer. If you ever want to be a competitive trackie, you need to build up an extreme tolerance for going round and round and round in a circle.

Cyclocross is a mixed discipline, combining elements of multiple sports. To maximize your suitability for this event, try the following as your cross training events:

  • Learn to Riverdance. The hopping, skipping, high-kicking intensity of this style of dance is perfectly matched to the skills necessary to dismount your bike hit the ground running, jump over a barrier, and then remount.
  • Change careers. To really get into the mindset of cyclocross, you need to be able to switch from riding to running to portaging to jumping and back to riding, over and over with no notice whatsoever. And you need to be able to do it often. To improve your ability to switch tasks like this, find a new job, working for an indecisive, neurotic micromanager. You’ll find that the urgency of his orders combined with the incessant changing of those orders, feels exactly the same as cyclocross, except it goes on all day, five days per week. You’ll have no problem finding a job working for a manager of this sort, since they always seem to have openings in their teams.

Click here to continue reading “Cross-Training for Cyclists” at


Morning After

11.23.2007 | 9:00 am

I’m still on vacation, but wanted to talk about four items, briefly:

  1. How I feel after a day of doing nothing but cooking and eating.
  2. Why you might want to check out the Twin Six site today.
  3. The winners of the Ergon Get a Grip Contest.
  4. A gratuitous tease.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Post-Thanksgiving Self-Evaluation
The mashed potatoes, turkey, rolls, and banana cream parfait were all big successes. I ably demonstrated my superpower by eating thrice my body weight.

I then demonstrated my second superpower (for I have, in fact, many powers) by taking a nice little nap.

I then went back to my primary superpower by eating my fill again, even though I was — paradoxically, I guess — already full.

Today, my skin feels tighter and my clothes do too. My fingers are hard to bend. Has earth’s gravity increased overnight?

Black Friday Sale at Twin Six
The Twin Six guys are having a one-day sale today. Jerseys for $45. T-shirts for $12, Wool socks for $9.

Plus they’ve just posted a ton of new stuff (four new limited-edition jackets, eight more t-shirts, two new hats).

Check out today and get your Christmas shopping done (whether for someone else or for yourself) early. And without having to wait in a checkout line, for crying out loud.

The Winners of the Ergon “Get a Grip” One-Week Weight Loss Challenge
OK, this morning I finally got out my spreadsheet and did the necessary math, so I could announce the winners of the “Get a Grip” Weight Loss Challenge, with awesome prizes brought to you by Ergon.

Here’s who won, and how much weight they each lost:

Who Weight Lost (lbs)
Mike D. 10

Craig W.


Warran W.


Cycling Phun


Michael S.


Karl N.


Jason J.


Brandon H.


Rich R.


Altogether, the 44 of us who participated lost 144 pounds. Not a bad week!

Congratulations to the winners, who will be getting email from me with how to get their prize.

Gratuitous Tease
In three minutes, I am having a phone conversation with someone. At this moment, I cannot tell you who it is, or what it’s about. Probably, I never will. If I ever can, however, I will. And it would / will make your jaw drop.


11.21.2007 | 9:31 am

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving in the US. It’s a good day to enumerate and express what you’re grateful for. So, in no particular order, I am grateful for…

  • Mountain bikes. For about twelve years now, I’ve had one hobby. Or obsession. Whatever. I think about mountain biking every single day. When I am happy, mountain biking makes me happier. When I am sad, mountain biking helps me work out my problem. When I am angry, mountain biking gives me perspective. Mountain biking makes me strong. Mountain biking has taught me that I am not entirely without athletic ability. Mountain biking has taken me places that are less than ten miles away from where I live, but may as well be thousands.
  • Road bikes. I like road bikes, but not as much as mountain bikes. Except for when I’m on a road bike, at which point I like road bikes better. How is this possible? I do not know. It is quite a mystery. I intend to investigate further.
  • Hydraulic disc brakes. Using only two fingers’ worth of effort — and not even hard effort at that — I can completely negate the combined forces of gravity, my weight, and my momentum. How is this even possible? Is it dark magic?
  • 29″ wheels. I don’t crash nearly as often as I used to. Those big wheels like to roll over stuff, instead of getting stuck in it.
  • The core team. I’ve got a big group of friends. They’re very lucky to have me.
  • People who read what I write. Some people write for themselves. I am not one of those people. I don’t write anything unless I expect somebody’s going to read it and tell me they like it. Call me vain, call me an attention whore. This blog is an extremely important part of my life, but it wouldn’t be if you didn’t take the time to read it. Thanks.
  • Mashed Potatoes and Banana Cream Parfait. Thanksgiving gives me permission to make the two most comfortable comfort foods in the whole comfort universe: my mashed potatoes and banana cream parfait. You should make them too, and then you’ll be thankful that I gave you these recipes.
  • A good job. I’ve got a good, interesting job. I work with smart, kind-hearted people. My boss is exacting, yet understanding and appreciative. I’m in the catbird seat, employment-wise.
  • Family. Susan’s family and my family have really stepped up to the plate to help us out while we fight Susan’s cancer. They’ve reworked their schedules as necessary and have pitched in as if it were no inconvenience at all.
  • Neighbors. We live in a small — five houses — cul de sac. The people in this little neighborhood have taken over our carpool responsibilities, given Susan rides to countless doctor appointments, taken care of our kids, and been great friends to us.
  • A Cycling Industry That’s Ridiculously Easy to Make Fun of. Thanks WADA and UCI. Thanks, professional cyclists. Thanks, crazy guy who proposed the Tour of America.
  • Twin Six. A year ago, I had never heard of them, nor they of me. Now — while I still have never met them in person — they have designed and produced two incredible jerseys (one of which appeared on the cover of Bicycling Magazine), a t-shirt, and two different socks for me. Together, we have raised enough money that Susan’s medical expenses aren’t a burden on my family, and have donated thousands of dollars to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
  • Lance Armstrong Foundation. I don’t care much anymore about Lance’s cycling accomplishments, and I for sure don’t care about his personal life. His foundation does a tremendous amount of good for a tremendous number of people. He turned a near-fatal disease into a life’s mission, and has succeeded wildly. He is a true hero for that.
  • Singlespeeds. I love singlespeed mountain biking for all the reasons I love mountain biking, and then some. I especially love my WaltWorks. Thanks, Walt.
  • The Mary Bar. Since I’ve started riding with this bar, the numbness I get in my right hand during a long ride has practically vanished. It’s a wacky-looking bar, but I’m going to put it on every MTB I own from now on.
  • The iPod Shuffle. For $80, you can have a clip-on music player that will hold more music and play longer than pretty much any ride requires.
  • 4 really great kids. All four of my kids are healthy, smart, funny, and kind. I’m a lucky dad.
  • Alpine, Utah. There might be better places in the world to be a mountain and road cyclist, but I doubt it.
  • Sleep. I had a good night’s sleep last night. First one in about five days. At this moment, I’m very thankful for sleep.
  • Steel-Cut Oats. I’ve always liked oatmeal, but I’ve only recently discovered steel-cut oats. Somehow — even though they’re the same thing, just processed differently — they’re twice as good. Chewy instead of pasty. I only wish they didn’t take so long to prepare.
  • The means and expertise to fight cancer. I’ve griped a lot about doctors recently, but apart from one particular instance, we really have had great medical care. I’m thankful science has advanced far enough that we can at least fight back cancer for now, and am very thankful for the people who are doing everything they can to find a cure in the future.
  • Tibble Fork. I really love that trail. Really, really love it.
  • Susan. Susan and I married 3.5 months after we met. We’ve now been married 19 years. I stumbled into a great marriage, and I’m very, very thankful for that.

Happy Thanksgiving!

WADA Needs a Hero

11.19.2007 | 6:35 pm

Two Notes from Fatty: First, I’m going to have to beg for an extra day to do the math on who won the “Get a Grip” contest. Thank you in advance for cutting me the necessary quantity of slack.

Next, I’ve got a new article posted at I want to point out that BikeRadar has been doing something incredibly cool with my articles for the last couple of installments: creating custom illustrations, instead of just going to the ol’ stock art well. You can read a teaser below, or jump to the whole article by clicking here.

WADA Needs a HeroIn the nick of time, a hero arose.
Early this week, John Fahey was selected by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Foundation board to replace Dick Pound as its president. He managed to snag this plum job through the extremely savvy technique of being the only person the board had available to choose from.

Frankly, that seems just a little lazy of WADA. Couldn’t they have asked around a bit? Maybe put an ad in the paper or something like that?

No, of course that wouldn’t have worked. I mean, think about it. Ideally, this president needs to do the impossible: eliminate doping while restoring the public’s confidence in  the reputation of both professional cycling and WADA itself.

The fact is, the president of WADA needs to be more than just a mere mortal. This job requires a person with — let’s face it — super powers. And I’m afraid that, unless “Former Finance Minister for Australia” is just his mild-mannered alter-ego, John Fahey just doesn’t qualify.

Any of the following people, on the other hand, would have done nicely:

Wonder Woman: Let’s start with the most obvious candidate. Wonder Woman’s magic golden lasso forces whoever she’s lassoing to tell the truth. This would stop doping cold. Instead of endless blood and urine controls, you could just have Wonder Woman randomly lassoing racers at the start line and asking, “Have you ever doped?”

Not only would this be incredibly effective, it would be awesome pre-race entertainment.

Click here to continue reading “WADA Needs a Hero” at

PS: What hero / villain would you choose as the next leader of WADA? Please post your choice in the comments section of my article at BikeRadar.


11.19.2007 | 7:41 am

So the “Get A Grip” One Week Weight Loss Challenge — brought to you by Ergon –is over, and…well, I did terrible.

I lost a grand total of 1.8 pounds. Which is a good week, weight-loss-wise, but certainly nothing that’s going to win any contests.

I blame my sister Kellene. She came over on Thursday, and started cooking food. So during the second half of the Get a Grip Challenge, I put back on almost all of the weight I took off during the first half of the week.

“Well, you shouldn’t blame Kellene,” I expect you’re saying. “She didn’t force you to eat anything.”

The fallacy in that argument, of course, is the assumption that I have any willpower at all regarding good food. Especially this time of year, and especially if there are cookies involved (and there were most assuredly cookies involved).

And also, you don’t know about Kellene’s super power: she can make anyone do anything. For example, we went riding Saturday morning. As usual, I brought my cameral. Here’s us, taking a picture I’m perfectly happy with:


Then after that, Kellene said, “Now, let’s do one of us jumping, with no bikes around.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I said. “There’s no way in the world you could ever get me to do that.”


OK, I like this picture (click to see a larger version). I’m not sure whether Kellene jumped too late or I jumped too early, but it looks like I’m sitting on a giant, invisible sofa.

I also like the expression on Kellene’s face.

PS: Everyone who entered the “Get a Grip” contest, be sure to send me your results, so I can announce the winners tomorrow.

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