White Elephant Gift

12.7.2007 | 10:16 am

I couldn’t sleep at all last night. Susan and I had an appointment with the oncologist today, where we’d learn what Susan’s next steps, treatment-wise, are. Would she have to start chemo right away? Or does she get to take a break? It all hinged on the pathology report from the bone sample from Susan’s operation last week.

The thing is, based on the pathology report — which I had BotchedExperiment help me interpret — I just couldn’t see how the pathology report had any useful information at all. So I called the doctor’s receptionist this morning and told her to make sure the doctor looked at the report before Susan and I went to all the work of getting her in and out of a car; we didn’t want to make the trip if there was no point.

The receptionist said she’d call back if we didn’t need to come over.

I didn’t hear back, so we drove over. The receptionist looked surprised and told me to check my voice mail.

Sure enough, sometime between when I called the doctor’s office and when we got to the the doctor’s office, the receptionist had left a message saying we didn’t need to bother coming over today.

So we’ll find out what the next steps are in a few weeks — maybe sometime shortly after Christmas.

Meanwhile, Susan seems to be doing well. She’s getting around on her crutches and giving herself twice-daily shots in the stomach. As is her wont, she wants to do everything herself. She’s a tough woman.

Non-Cycling Related
Today is my company Christmas party. Yes, already. Every year, as part of the party, we do a white elephant gift exchange. This year, I wrapped the present myself:


See, duct tape is good for everything.

If you promise not to tell anyone, I’ll tell you what’s in the box. Promise? OK.

  • 50 Chinese finger traps
  • 25 Silly Putty Eggs
  • 250 super balls, assorted sizes and colors
  • 50 miniature yo-yos
  • 25 whoopee cushions
  • 50 assorted plastic animals that, when squeezed, bug their eyes out
  • 1 tube of vegemite

See what I mean about being an awesome gift-giver?


An Open Letter to Delta 7 Sports, Maker of the Arantix Mountain Bike

12.5.2007 | 11:03 pm

Dear Delta 7,

I am so excited about your incredible innovation: The Arantix Mountain Bike, featuring IsoTruss technology! I will post a picture below, so that everyone who reads this open letter can have their minds as thoroughly and completely blown as mine:


Yes, it’s true: your bike frame is teeny tiny threads of carbon fiber and kevlar, making tubes that are mostly air.

Awesome. Hey, let’s take a closer look at that frame, shall we?


I swear, all of us cyclists who really like our bike tubes to double as cheese graters are just going to flip over this thing, Delta 7. And it’s so elegant-looking, too! If I don’t miss my guess, that top-tube is no thicker than my thigh. And the downtube is quite possibly thinner than my waist!

Anyway, Delta 7, I just wanted to write you a letter describing all the ways I think your bike is really cool. You should feel free to use any of these ideas in your marketing material.

Reason 1: Price!
Delta 7, some people might find the $12,000 you’re asking for a complete bike somewhat exorbitant. Well, that’s just because they’re not used to the amount of money one must expect to spend on an extremely well-made bike. For example, one could expect to pay $3300 for a Gary Fisher SuperFly, another top-end carbon fiber bike.

Which means, I guess, for the cost of your bike I could buy three SuperFlys and still have enough money left over for a Rig or two. So I guess that didn’t make my point very well.

OK, then, how about we compare the Arantix to the Orbea Alma. Now there’s a high-end, custom-made, expensive carbon hardtail…which, now that I look at the specs on the website, tops out at around $4600. Which means I could buy one and still have enough money to buy an Orca. And an Opal, for days when the Orca’s in the shop.

But I’m sure, Delta 7, that most any cyclist, like me, would much rather have an Arantix than two or three top-of-the-line bikes from any other manufacturer.

Reason 2: Awesome Parts!
As you no doubt know, Delta 7, I could buy the Arantix frame all by its sad, lonely self for a paltry $7,000. But why would I do that when I could spend another $5000 on:

  • Fox F100 RLC fork
  • Shimano XTR drivetrain and wheels
  • 2 Crank Brothers Ti Egg Beaters pedals
  • RaceFace Next SL carbon fiber handlebar
  • 2 LizardSkins Lock-On grips
  • L.H. Thomson Masterpiece handlebar stem and seatpost
  • Chris King NoThreadSet headset
  • Selle Italiá Kit Carbonio saddle
  • complete LizardSkins Arantix frame skinset

Now, some people might call that spec pedestrian, and some might call the price for that spec “price gouging” or “completely insane.” But those people clearly don’t have any idea of how much a “complete LizardSkins Arantix frame skinset” costs. I mean, think about it for a second. That frame — you know, the one I’m going to pay $7000 for — is full of holes, so I’d darn well better cover it up with a big ol’ condom, so nobody can see it. And making a frame condom can’t be cheap.

Either that, or you’re thinking I won’t mind paying a little bit more than full retail for each individual part in that build, in spite of the fact that I’m buying it as part of a complete bike.

And you know what, Delta 7? You’re absolutely right! I’m perfectly happy to pay as much for your parts kit as I would for a complete, handmade, Titanium mountain bike from Seven Cycles.

Reason 3: Weight!
With all those triangle-shaped holes in the Arantix’s tubing, I’d expect this to be one light frame. And I’d be right! That frame, in fact, ways just 2.75 pounds, which is really, really light.

And you know what? It doesn’t bother me a bit that pretty much every carbon fiber MTB frame ways that about that much, and quite a few weigh less.

I’ve got a great marketing slogan for you, Delta 7:

Arantix: Pretty light is light enough

Feel free to put that in your brochures.

Reason 4: Hours and Hours and Hours of Fun!
As the owner of a $12,000 bike, I am not going to want to ever have it look anything but pristine. However, I must be honest with you, Delta 7: as the owner of a $12,000 bike, there is no way I am going to hide it with a LizardSkin condom. I want people to see how wealthy I am when I ride.

So you know what I’m looking forward to doing, Delta 7? Riding my Arantix in the mud, and then cleaning it. I figure that in order to keep it looking good, I will need approximately two soft-bristle toothbrushes and 497 Q-tips per cleaning session.

And a quart of Windex.

And about nine hours.

But you know what, Delta 7? It’s going to be totally worth it, because I’m sure that by putting that much work into it, the completely visible interior of my bike’s tubes will never get dusty or grody.

Reason 5. Hyper-Portable
Of course, I’ve been keeping my favorite thing about the Arantix for second-to-last. You see, when I first saw the Arantix and found out that the weave of the tubes doesn’t make it any lighter, I was confused. Sure, I saw your site copy talking about how strong it is, but the truth is, I only need it to be strong enough to hold me, not me plus a satchel full of anvils, or a human pyramid.

“Hmmm,” went my reasoning. “The bike’s not lighter, but it is bulkier-looking, incredibly expensive, and almost certainly an all-day job to clean. Where’s the benefit?”

And that’s when I realized: the IsoTruss strength argument is a red herring. The real reason the Arantix has that wild shape is because it must secretly work just like the Hoberman Sphere!


The resemblance is compelling, isn’t it?

Yes, I posit that just like the Hoberman Sphere, the triangles in Arantix are hinged, so the whole frame folds down to fit neatly in my pocket. I’m guessing the spokes on the wheels have a locking, telescoping mechanism, so they fold down to practically nothing. I’ll bet the whole bike fits in a briefcase by the time it finishes, right? Like in the Jetsons opening montage.

That is going to be so cool.

Delta 7, this is a major selling point. I know that so far you haven’t mentioned it in any of your marketing material and just want it to be one of those cool little surprises that will make the new purchaser extra-glad he bought the bike, but I think this is significant enough that you should hammer it as a big selling point.

Or, if it doesn’t do that Hoberman Sphere thing, maybe you could defray some of the outrageous sticker shock of this bike by doing a “buy one, get two free” promotion.

Reason 6: Rideability!
Um, actually, I haven’t been able to find any independent reports on how the Arantix rides. But at $12,000, it’s got to be good. Right? Just give me your assurance this $12,000 bike — your company’s first bike design ever — rides close to as well as a Specialized Rockhopper, and we’re all set.

Congratulations on a compelling innovation in cycling, Delta 7! I can hardly wait to meet someone actually riding one of your bikes.

Or at least see it mounted on the back of his H2.

Kind Regards,

The Fat Cyclist

PS: Thanks to the GeekCyclist, who yesterday emailed me and said, “Hey, you should write something about that new IsoTruss bike.” So I did. I didn’t realize I take requests, but evidently I’m happy to!

PPS: Delta 7 is a local company, so I expect to be beaten to death very soon. The police will, no doubt, be able to find my killers, due to the highly unique markings left all over my broken body by the club. “The weapon can be only one of two things,” Detective McNulty will say. “A cheesegrater, or an Arantix downtube!”

PPPS: If there’s someone out there who has plunked down their $1000 in order to get into the Arantix queue, I’d love you to send me an email explaining why you want this bike so badly that you’re happy to spend $1000 to get in a line to buy a $12,000 bike you’ve never test-ridden (unless you have test-ridden it, in which case your ride should be a huge part of your rebuttal). I will publish your response without revision. My only condition is, you must also reveal what kind of car you drive.

The Third Annual “Christmas Gifts Cyclists Will Actually Like and Use” List

12.4.2007 | 10:57 am

In addition to my many other excellent qualities (such as, um,  posting morose, self-pitying blog entries like yesterday’s), I am an excellent giver of gifts. Seriously, I really am. I’m known for giving people gifts they don’t expect, but quickly come to find useful. I am, for example, directly responsible for why most of my sisters now carry a Leatherman Micra on their keychains. And for why my Dad always has a GPS with him when he goes hunting. And for why my Mom uses a headset whenever she talks on the phone. And for why Susan now carries her iPhone with her everywhere she goes, even when she’s not expecting a call (I could write a very convincing article on why everyone who has to take a lot of pills and shots and spend a lot of time with IVs in them should have an iPhone).

My technique for giving great gifts is really very simple. I use the following patented three-step process, which means that if you use it, you must pay me a nickel in royalties. Yes, only a nickel. I am not greedy; I just want acknowledgement of my ingenuity.

  1. I identify interests the Gift Recipient (GR) and I have in common.
  2. I think about things that I either have or really wish I had in the vein of that interest.
  3. I buy one of those things for the GR.

Yes, it’s simple. Yes, you should have thought of it yourself. But you didn’t. And that’s why you must now send me a nickel.

Using this brilliant (and, I remind you, patented) technique, I have come up with my ingenious Third Annual “Christmas Gifts Cyclists Will Actually Like and Use” List.

The List
Before I get started, let’s take a moment to consider: This really is the third year I’ve done a Christmas Gift List for Cyclists. I recommend checking out the 2005 list and — especially — the 2006 list, which has a lot of great suggestions, many of which came from Friends of Fatty.

In fact, it was due to the 2006 list that I found out about Twin Six, and I daresay that’s worked out well.

That said, you may find that some of what I say this year contradicts what I’ve said other years. Which is not really very inconsistent of me, since I do that all the time. Hey, I’m not here to design unassailable logical constructs; I’m here to tell you what to buy for Christmas.

Note that I’m going out of my way to either leave off items that have been in previous lists, unless I’ve got a compelling new reason why you should consider this item as a gift.

  1. A bike. In 2005, I argued you should not buy a cyclist a bike. This was because really awesome bikes are too expensive to be gifts for most of us, plus most cyclists have a very specific idea of what bike they want, and the chances of you buying that bike are — let’s face it — poor. However, my line of reasoning assumed you wanted your gift to be a surprise. When you think about it, though, which do you think most cyclists would rather have: a surprise, or the bike they’ve been lusting after? So, do this: gather all the cyclist’s friends and family together and agree that instead of each of you buying individual presents, you’re going to band together and buy the one thing the GR really, truly wants (or some portion thereof, if the GR has expensive taste). Trust me, the surprise that you’ve organized everyone around buying the GR’s fondest desire will far outweigh any possible surprise of a lesser gift.
  2. A floor pump, even if the GR already has a floor pump. File this under “Things I’m listing specifically in the hopes that someone will pay attention to and buy for me.” Most cyclists have a good floor pump, but they’re constantly having to move it from the car to the garage and back again. I would love to have one floor pump to keep in the garage, and one that lives in my truck. That way, I have one fewer things to keep in mind when I’m loading up to go on a ride from a trailhead I have to drive to. And you know what? If I had a third floor pump, I’d still be happy, because then I’d have a pump I could keep by the rollers in the exercise room. And if I got a fourth floor pump, well, I can’t think of a good use for a fourth floor pump, but I haven’t really put my mind to it yet. To choose a good floor pump, just go to your local bike shop and tell them you want to see the floor pump they use in the shop. If it works, you know it can stand up to whatever your GR can dish out.
  3. A really, really good pair of bib shorts. Until this Summer, I had never owned a pair of expensive, top-quality bib shorts. Thanks to a nice bonus at work, I treated myself with a pair of DeMarchis. They are wonderful. But I think most cyclists hesitate to spend so much money on shorts. It seems self-indulgent, wasteful. So do it for them. Spend the $150 -  $200 a great pair of bib shorts costs on the GR. They’ll say, “You shouldn’t have,” but deep down, they’ll be incredibly excited to find out if there’s really a difference. And then they’ll be excited that there is in fact a difference. And you’ll get to be pleased by the fact that the shorts you bought are the ones the GR always picks for race day. Brands to consider: Castelli, Descente, DeMarchi. Those are quality brands that aren’t on the wrong side of the law of diminishing returns.
  4. A really nice helmet. Here’s a trick to surprise and delight your cycling GR. Find out what size and brand of helmet they wear, then buy a new helmet — same size, same brand — but top of the line. Most cyclists need a new helmet every couple years, so even if the GR doesn’t need one right now, s/he will soon enough, and then s/he’ll have a really sexy one, courtesy of you.
  5. A Microflate Nano and a bunch of CO2 cartridges. I’ve been a fan of the Genuine Innovations’ Microflate for a long time. It’s tiny, it’s cheap, and it has no moving parts, so it’s really unlikely to break. Buy one of these and a box of 16g threaded CO2 cartridges (a box of 30 cartridges costs only $40 at Gas Depot), for your GR, and s/he’ll have what she needs to take care of flats — whether on a mountain or road bike –  for years and years and years.
  6. A sexy jersey. I wish I could sell you a Fat Cyclist jersey for Christmas, but they’re all sold out (don’t worry, there’ll be a 2008 Fat Cyclist jersey). But Twin Six does have a buncha other great jerseys for sale. My favorite’s the Cross. I own one, and that black and red is very sexy. I need to lose weight so I can fit in it again (I’m not even close to size Medium right now).
  7. Fat Cyclist T-Shirts, Socks, and Water Bottles. Hey, you didn’t expect me to not plug my own gear, did you? I’ve now got orange water bottles, pink water bottles, t-shirts, and socks for sale. All at Twin Six. All priced to sell. Whatever that means.
  8. Coaching. You don’t need a huge amount of money or vast quantities of free time to get faster. Robert Lofgran coached me last year, and it made a huge difference.

Your Turn
This, I know, is not a big list. It’s a good list, but it’s not by any means a complete list.

What I’d like you to do is, in the Comments section, say what cycling-related item you’re hoping someone will give you for Christmas. Together, we’ll create a list you can confidently either use to purchase gifts, or to send others to when they want to buy something for you.

Either way, you each owe me a nickel.

Home Again

12.3.2007 | 9:31 am

As of last night, Susan’s back home again. I’m so glad to have her back.

We’re now finding, though, that our house isn’t exactly designed to accommodate someone who’s just had hip replacement surgery. So Susan’s now trying to figure out stuff you and I take for granted. Getting into bed, getting out of bed, finding a position in bed that isn’t wildly painful. Sitting on the toilet without putting weight on the 16″-long incision. Getting back up off the toilet.

And don’t even get me started on what it’s like for her to get into a car. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for having driven to the hospital yesterday in my truck instead of the comparatively low-riding minivan. In my defense, I didn’t think she’d be coming home yesterday, or I would have brought the van.

Since this is a family blog, I won’t go into what taking one narcotic or another every three hours does to her digestion.

And good luck getting her to eat.

I realize this will be worth it, and soon. But right now, it’s pretty rough. It’s difficult to watch Susan hurt so much, so constantly, in so many ways.

As for myself, I haven’t been on a bike in more than a week, and have been eating out more than in. Draw your own conclusions how that’s affecting me.

Wednesday-ish, we’ll get the pathology report from bone sample they took during the surgery, and that determines our course of action going forward — more chemo, or do we get to live like normal people for a while? I seriously doubt I’m going to have a second’s peace until we know the answer to this question.

So, um, thanks for reading my extremely funny cycling comedy blog. I’m sure hilarious, aren’t I?

PS: Something lighter tomorrow. I promise.

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