Three Glorious Days, Two Fun-Filled Nights

11.9.2007 | 5:02 am

Fall Moab 2008 begins today. Right now, in fact. I’m picking up some of the core team, we’re meeting at Racer’s, and then we’re off to begin one of the most important weekends of the year.

Incidentally, Fall Moab 2008 isn’t in Moab this year. It’s in St. George, Utah. And of course, the 2008 is fiscal 2008, because we’re all highly-paid knowledge workers who think in terms of fiscal calendars, not the silly little things layfolk like you keep on your walls.

Also, we’re camping this year. Brad just bought some property right on Gooseberry Mesa. Yeah, seriously, he did.

Some day, there will be yurts on this land, and you’ll be able to rent overnight space on what is often called the best mountain biking trail in America.

For now, though, we’re straight-up camping.

Secret Weapon
As I have mentioned many times, I don’t like to camp. But the truth is, I like almost everything about camping. I like to eat camp food. I like campfires. I like talking with my friends while sitting around a campfire and eating camp food.

But there’s one thing that ruins the camping experience for me, every single time: I can’t sleep.

This year, however, things will be different. This year, I have stolen some of my wife’s Ambien.

So I will sleep just fine. And — I have tested this — Ambien doesn’t seem to give me a sluggish feeling that would ruin biking for the next day.

Better camping through science. I can’t wait.

The Plan
We’re going to ride Gem trail tomorrow. Then Gooseberry on Saturday. Then Little Creek Mesa on Sunday.

That order may not be correct. The truth is, I’m just kind of a hanger-on for these trips. I go where the group’s going. I love it that way.

When I come back Sunday night, there are some things that are certain:

  • I will have at least some scrapes, cuts, and bruises. All of us will.
  • I will be tired and stinky.
  • I will have pictures, video, and stories to tell.
  • I will be happy. And malodorous.

Have a great weekend, folks. I know I will.

PS: Be sure to sign yourself up for the One-Week “Get A Grip” Weight Loss, where you can win some awesome Ergon grips. The competition begins this Monday!


Wherein I Get Downright Aggressive About Selling Out

11.8.2007 | 10:06 am

A Note from Fatty: It occurs to me that I am not accused of selling out very often enough. This is clearly an indicator that I need to step up my efforts, or I’m never going to be able to sell this blog for millions of dollars, or even hire some lackey (Dug, probably) to write my entries for me while I spend more time in with my true passion and life’s work: mashed potatoes.

To rectify this problem, I have written the following letter to Travis Ott, Brand Manager of Fisher and Lemond Bikes. I will be interested in his response, which — with his permission — I will publish.

If you can think of other companies and people I should send letters to, please let me know in the comments section.

Another Note from Fatty: Don’t forget to sign up for next week’s weight-loss competition.

Dear Mr. Ott,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Elden Nelson, better known by my very famous and important blog, The Fat Cyclist ( It would be inaccurate of me to say that millions of people come to my site each day, but it would also be inaccurate to say that mere hundreds visit my site each day. Let us then agree upon “thousands upon thousands” as the number of people who visit my site each day, and speak of it no more.

Unless you want to see charts and stuff. Oh yes, I have charts.

I am also a big fan — and owner — of the very bike brands you represent. I have owned a Paragon (the old 26″ kind) and a Sugar, and currently own a Paragon 29er, a Rig, and a Fillmore.

It’s almost like we were made for each other, Travis.

But this letter is not simply an introduction and pronouncement of loyalty and love, Travis (I hope it’s OK for me to call you Travis). Oh no. It is so much more than that. It is also, to be precise, a proposal.

Wait. Don’t walk away. I am not asking for sponsorship, nor for something as crass as advertising. For one thing, I’m far too slow to be sponsored, and I am far too proud a man to beg for advertising.

No, what I propose, Travis, is a partnership. An equitable trade where no money is exchanged, but where we both benefit. Hopefully in a non-traceable manner, so I don’t have to report it on my income tax returns.

But I digress.

I propose the following terms for our partnership:

What I Will Do For You

  • Editorial Mentions Galore: I will find an absurd number of reasons to talk about your bikes. I will praise them in an intelligent, yet slavish manner.
  • Your Ad Here: I will place an ad of your choice in a prominent spot on my blog. Your sales will go through the roof and you will be praised as a genius.
  • Enforcement: Any time I pass a cyclist not on a Gary Fisher bike when I pass, I will scoff at and otherwise belittle that rider. If the rider I pass is both male andsmaller than I am, I will then push him over.
  • Photography: I will post lots of pictures of my very sexy bikes. Furthermore, I will post these pictures with my good-looking friends by them, so as to not sour the experience for my readers.

What You Will Do For Me

  • SuperflyThe Obvious: I desperately want a Gary Fisher Superfly. I promise you that your web traffic to your Superfly page has surged dramatically, by my mere mention of the bike. Imagine — if you can — the crazy amounts of attention I will slather on this bike once I own one. Give me a Superfly and I’m yours forever.
  • Something for My Readers: In addition to being a famous and important blogger (some would say the most famous and most important, but I prefer to not quibble), I am also generous. I would like you to provide an assortment of hats, helmets, parts, and other bicycle-related goodness to give to my readers as contest giveaways. You should also consider giving away a bike, because that would make people’s eyes bug out at what a great company you are. But don’t give my readers as nice of a bike as you’re giving me.
  • Punch Brent Hulme Hard on the Arm: The next time you see Brent Hulme (the Fisher / Lemond rep for this region), you will punch him hard on the arm and say, “That’s from Fatty.” I include this item, incidentally, for you to negotiate away, so you can feel like you came out the winner in this exchange.
  • An Interview with Gary: I want to have a Q&A session with Gary Fisher, for publication in this blog. Or, if you like, it can be with another person, but he has to at least pretend to be Gary.

I think I have made a compelling case, Travis. I look forward to our partnership, as I’m sure you do as well.

Kind Regards,

The Fat Cyclist

Get a Grip

11.7.2007 | 12:15 pm

This time of year is custom made for people like me to erase any fitness we’ve fought so hard for since early Spring.

First, there’s the lead-up to Halloween, which most people don’t realize is even worse than Halloween. Why? Because, as a considerate consumer, I feel it is my duty to go and buy all the trick-or-treat candy a couple weeks before Halloween, just to be prepared. And since I want to be popular with the kids, I buy the good stuff. No Jolly Ranchers, man. I give away Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and KitKat bars.

And then, of course, I eat all the candy before Halloween arrives, so I have to buy more candy the night before Halloween. And, sometimes, again on Halloween night.

Yes, I have a problem. You think I was being glib when named my blog “Fat Cyclist?” Ha.

Strangely, my children don’t have the same candy compulsion I have. After Halloween, they’re perfectly content to eat a couple pieces of candy per day. This, as far as I am concerned, is un-American behavior. So — always a patriot — I help them out by eating their candy for them.

Usually, my children stand back, horrified.

And of course it’s cooler weather, which makes me want to melt butter and cheese over everything I eat, including breakfast cereal.

And then there’s Thanksgiving, followed rapidly by Christmas and New Years. By the time this triple-whammy of holidays rolls around, I usually have given up. By January second, I’m starting over from scratch.

But this year, I’m going to do something different.

And you are too.

Get a Grip on Your Diet, Get Some Cool Grips
What I need, basically, is to jumpstart my diet. I need to stop slowly gaining weight by doing something drastic to get back on the right track.

And the way I’m going to do this is by having a contest.

The six people who lose the most weight next week — Starting the morning of Monday, November 12 and going to the same time the following Monday, November 19, will get to choose a set of Ergon GP1s, GC2s, or GR2s. (Thanks to Jeff Kerkove and Ergon for volunteering the prizes.)

Yes, that’s right: we’re all going to compete against each other to see who can lose the most in one week. And the six who lose the most win these sweet grips, which retail for $30 - $50.

How to Enter
It’s too easy to start a diet and then quit, because you’ve got no skin in the game. So this contest has an entry fee. Specifically, if you want to play, you’ve first got to make a $10 (or more if you like) donation to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Then, when they email you the receipt, forward it along (feel free to delete any personal info) to me (, along with your starting weight this Monday (November 12). 

Then, the following Monday (November 19), email me your finishing weight.


I’ll then list how much we cumulatively lost in the blog, who the winners are, and how much we raised for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

So, you’ll be getting your diet on track, you’ll be participating in a friendly competition, you’ll be contributing to a good cause, and you’ll possibly be winning some extremely cool grips.

Oh, by the way: I intend to defeat all of you.

The Rules
You can use any diet you want, but you should be honest about how you weigh yourself. For example, if you drink a ton of water before you weigh yourself the first time, then get go on a two hour ride without drinking any water before you do your final weigh-in, that’s cheating. And you know it.

So: make your weigh-ins be at the same time of the day, under identical circumstances. For example, both my weigh-ins will be first thing in the morning, before I exercise or eat or drink anything. So any weight loss should be honest weight loss.

Also, don’t be dumb. If you’re dumb, you’re out of the contest. For example, if you starve yourself and have to go to the hospital because you swooned, that’s dumb.

My Plan
Just so you know, I intend to use The Stunt Dietâ„¢ as my method to lose weight. This will be the second time I will do The Stunt Dietâ„¢, however, and I have modified it to be even stranger than before. Specifically:

  • Monday: Nothing but Muesli. As much as I can stand.
  • Tuesday: Nothing but yogurt. As much as I want / can stand. I hope to break my old record of twenty.
  • Wednesday: Nothing but pasta with marinara sauce. As much as I can stand.
  • Thursday: Nothing but fruit. Emphasis on bananas and grapefruit. As much as I can stand.
  • Friday: Nothing but pasta with marinara sauce, again, because I’ve run out of ideas. And because I really love pasta and never get sick of it.
  • Saturday: Nothing but protein shakes. As much as I can stand.
  • Sunday: Nothing but chicken. As much as I can stand.

Also, every day I will drink at least a half-gallon of water.

My weight loss prediction: six pounds.

Are You In?
So, do you think you can beat me with your diet? Or, better yet, is there anyone in the whole world – aside from me, of course — brave enough to try the Stunt Dietâ„¢ with me?

Well, who’s in?

Innovations for Safer Cycling

11.6.2007 | 7:13 am

A Note from Fatty: I’m on the road on work-related business for a few days (yesterday, today and tomorrow). I tell you this for two reasons. First, so you know why I didn’t post yesterday. Second, so you will get a glimpse into my work life and what an important person I am.

Also, I want you to know that I have a new contest coming up. There will be lots of prizes, and none of the prizes are trivial. However, the contest will be strange and will, furthermore, require some effort on your part. In order to keep people from half-heartedly (or no-heartedly) competing, I am considering an entry fee, in the form of a donation to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Yes, I realize I have not told you the nature of the contest yet. But I will tomorrow. And I think you’re going to want to participate.

Finally — and very importantly (because, as I have noted above, I am a very important person) — I have a new article at You can read a preview below, or you can go read the whole article by clicking here.

Innovations for Safer Cycling
Consider the modern automobile. It is a wonder of safety-conscious engineering. Air bags. Anti-lock brakes. Crumple zones. Run-flat tires. Really, it takes considerable ingenuity and a can-do attitude to get yourself seriously injured in a car anymore.

And then there is the bicycle.

During the same 50 years when cars have gained enough sophisticated equipment to protect its passengers from even the most boneheaded of mistakes, the cyclist’s protective equipment innovations number exactly one: a helmet.

Yes, it’s 2007 and the best we’ve got to protect ourselves is a half-dome of styrofoam. Except that anymore, the half dome of styrofoam is mostly full of holes.

Gee, doesn’t that make you feel downright invincible?

Toward  improving the chances of surviving the mean streets — or singletrack, for that matter — on a bicycle, I have invented the following equipment to make riding a bike a safer, saner experience.

New Bike Computer Functions
Here’s an interesting fact that I just made up: Your bike computer has more computing power than a 1983 Cray Supercomputer. And yet, all it does is gauge your speed, distance, pitch, latitude, cadence, wattage, longitude, total feet climbed, and average rate of ascent, and your heart rate. What a slacker.

With a little programming and nine new wireless sensors, your bike computer could be made to do so much more. By sensing the humidity, road surface conditions, the amount of alcohol on your breath, tire air pressure, sudden fluctuations in your heart rate, and the angle of your bike to the ground, your bike can tell if you’re about to fall over sideways, whether due to sliding out or simply falling asleep.

When your bike computer notices a slight problem, it simply beeps a gentle reminder. If it notices that you’re wobbling considerably due to what it considers probable drunk cycling, it delivers an incapacitating electric shock to your hands via the handlebars and sdials the police.

If it notices you’ve actually fallen down, the bike computer should phone an ambulance. Unfortunately, however, I have so far been unable to get this feature to work. Every time my bike falls over, the extra mass from all the sensors, batteries, and computing equipment causes the bike to crash extremely hard to the ground, thereby crushing the bike computer into several small pieces.

Yes, I realize that is ironic. Shut up.

Click here to continue reading “Innovations for Safer Cycling” at

PS: BikeRadar now has RSS feeds. A few of you commented about that a while back, so I thought I’d call it to your attention. Even though I am a very important, busy person on a busy, important business trip.

Phases of a Relationship

11.2.2007 | 3:02 am

One of the most gratifying experiences human beings can have in a lifetime is a deep, abiding relationship. You never know when such a relationship might begin, and it’s not always easy to tell whether you’ve come across a relationship that’s got enough staying power to last a lifetime, or merely a few days.

Once found, though, there’s no denying: it’s worth it. As the two of you learn more about each other, discovering depth and quirks you would never have suspected when you first met, you can’t help but say to yourself, “This is what gives my life joy and meaning. This relationship, truly, is sublime.”

I am talking about, of course, the relationship between a cyclist and mountain bike trail.

First Date
Does the relationship between trail and rider spring to life fully formed? Do you know every waterbar, every spur, every ledge drop the first time you ride a trail?

No, of course you don’t. You wouldn’t want to even if you could, because that would take away the joy of early courtship, the rapturous early days of mutual discovery.

And that would be sad indeed.

So when you first hear about a trail, take it slow. Don’t just rush to the top of the trail in a car and bomb down it. Shuttling a trail is like introducing yourself to a beautiful woman by grabbing her butt. Sure, it’s been done — all too often, really — but you can bet that the trail will not respect you for it.

No, instead find out about the trail. Ask friends what it’s like, what it’s best qualities are. What days are best to ride it? What you should wear — baggies or lycra? Should you bring bottles, or is a Camelbak in order? This is your only chance to make a first impression with the trail, so make it a good one.

Next, introduce yourself to the trail by riding the whole thing. Preferably, do the uphill first. Acknowledge the trail’s fine characteristics, but don’t be too effusive. Excessive flattery sounds false, and the trail can tell the difference between honest appreciation and a tacky come-on.

Second Date
Oh, the heady moments after the first ride on a new mountain bike trail! In your euphoria, you will want to tell all your friends about it — about the trail’s clever switchbacks, its teasing false summits, its rambunctiously fast and daring descent.

Can you sleep the night after such a ride? No! All you can think about is riding that trail again (if only it will have you). Sleep is kilometers — nay, miles! — away.

“Please, please, please,” you pray to St. Eddie, who watches over cyclists. “Let that trail like me as much as I like it.”

And then — at last! — the moment of the second ride arrives. Sometimes, alas, this second ride reveals flaws you didn’t notice in the rush of the first ride. Perhaps the trail is usually crowded, and you were just lucky the first time you rode it. Perhaps it is not as technically challenging as you remember from your first ride; it’s one of those master-it-and-move-on trails.

Perhaps it turns out that the trail is infested with mosquitoes, ticks, and angry, mutant wolverines, some of which appear rabid.

Hey, it happens.

More often, though, the second ride is your opportunity to notice exquisite, charming details you didn’t notice during the first ride, because you were taking in the big picture. “This trail has three distinct kinds of terrain!” you might find yourself exclaiming excitedly. “All in one ride! How is that even possible?”

“And here is a sidetrail that takes me on a quick downhill jaunt over roots and ledges, and through four switchbacks, before rejoining the main trail. I can’t decide which way is better, they’re both so good!”

You may find your emotions welling up, getting the best of you. In which case: pull yourself together, man. Trails don’t like blubbering pansies.

At the end of the ride, if you find yourself astounded to note that you somehow — impossible as you would have thought it just one day ago — like this trail even better now, well, you’re on the way to a long-term relationship.

Going Steady
Before long, you find yourself telling all and sundry that this trail is the best trail in the world. You can’t help yourself. And when it’s time to ride, you don’t even think about where to go ride. It’s a foregone conclusion. Why would you ride anywhere else?

The more you ride this trail, the better you get to know it. Now totally comfortable with the main features of the ride, you begin to explore different lines. Maybe try blasting up a difficult pitch in a harder gear, or perhaps seeing if you can ride the entire trail without ever putting your foot down.

You begin to notice even subtle things about the trail. You can tell the difference between how it rides in Summer and Autumn. You come up with names for certain moves on the trail — in-jokes that have meaning only you and the trail would ever understand.

Eventually, you stop calling the trail by its proper name. In your head, at at least, it’s “my trail.”

Ol’ Ball and Chain
Then, one day after riding your trail, you realize: you just did the entire ride without noticing a single thing. Your mind was elsewhere the entire time.

And don’t think the trail couldn’t tell, buster.

Soon, you’re wondering if maybe you’ve outgrown this trail. If maybe you’ve seen all it has to offer.

And then, one day, a riding buddy tells you about a trail that’s just been cut. It’s still a little rough and the line’s definitely evolving, but it has real potential.

You go ride it — you know, just to see what’s out there — and suddenly you’re no longer interested in “your trail.” All you can think about is this latest piece of singletrack. You don’t even feel guilty, because hey, it’s just a trail, right?

You heartless bastard.

Months go by, during which you rarely — if ever — ride your trail. You make feeble excuses (“It’s out of my way” or “It’s Winter and covered with three feet of snow”) for not riding out on what used to be your favorite trail. Oh, sure, from time to time you run into each other and you halfheartedly promise yourself you’re going to go riding there sometime really soon. But you never do, do you?

Until one day.

For some reason, you wake up with your old favorite trail fresh in your mind — you’ve been dreaming about it. Your dream has brought it all back to you: the intensity of the climb, the rush of the descent, the joy of a perfectly realized series of switchbacks.

How could you have been such a fool?

You rush back to your trail — for you now realize that this is truly the best trail in the world — and you ride it again.

And it’s just as you remember. It’s like you’ve never been apart. It’s perfect.

But some day, as you’re bombing the descent and a heretofore unseen exposed root end expertly threads your front wheel’s spokes and brings your front end to an immediate halt, launching you up and over as if your bike were a trebuchet, and your body flies twenty feet toward a welcoming boulder field, you will finally understand the gravity of your sin.

Sure, the trail was willing to take you back. But you were a fool to think you had been forgiven.

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