As you are no doubt aware, I am — in addition to being almost ridiculously handsome and athletic — quite popular. It may be safe to say, indeed, that I have the second most popular blog in the (fiercely competitive and rapidly expanding) “Cycling Lifestyle & Satire” niche of the blogosphere. (I am currently 2.1% less popular than Bike Snob NYC, in large part due to the negative TV spot about me he ran last week in Iowa and New Hampshire.)
What will no doubt astound you, however, is that my extraordinary popularity in the world of blogging is only half the story. For, you see, I am popular in the real world, too. People will often call, email, text, or instant-message me, asking if I would like to go on a bike ride with them.
If I am not otherwise engaged and am reasonably confident they will not ambush me with demands for yet another autograph or requests for money, I’ll sometimes have my assistant arrange a riding appointment.
The Secrets of My Success
I know, I know: you are confounded by — and not just a little jealous of –my extraordinary popularity. And — inevitably, I suppose — you no doubt are no wondering, “Fatty, is it possible for me to be popular, too?”
The simple answer is, “No, you will never be as popular as I am. Stop trying; you’re only setting yourself up for failure.”
But that does not mean you cannot be popular. At least somewhat popular, anyway.
Today I will share with you my secrets.
As you likely know, the Boy Scout Motto is, “Try to set everything on fire.”
Oh, I’m sorry, that’s the secret motto — the one you’re not supposed to know about, but by which Boy Scouts really live. The other motto — the one they want you to know about – is “Be prepared.”
Luckily, the bicycle is a lightweight, relatively simple machine. You only need to bring a few things with you on a ride to be adequately prepared to take care of your nutritional, health, and mechanical needs. Specifically:
- Energy bar
- Water filter
- Chlorine tablets to treat microbial agents or make a pond safe to swim in.
- Sterile dressing
- Latex gloves to keep blood and gore from other people’s gross injuries off you. Or to keep the grease from their chains off your clean hands. Or for many other purposes which will become evident as they arise.
- Antibiotic ointment
- Burn ointment (in case you come across a Boy Scout)
- Adhesive Bandages
- Duct tape
- Cell phone
- Any other painkillers you can dig up
- Laxative (in case you need to pull an emergency practical joke)
- Chain Lube
- Anti-seize compound
- Hex wrench set
- CO2 cartridges (10)
- CO2 valve
- 26″ and 29″ tubes — two of each
- Bottom bracket tool
- Bike cleaning brush set
- Crank pullers (both square spindle and spline types)
- Cable cutter
- Assos Chamois Creme (When only the very best will do for your spalming needs)
- Chain tool
- Cheese (aerosol)
- Digital scale, to resolve heated discussions about which bike is lightest
- Spoke tool
- Freewheel remover
- Extra spokes
- Extra derailleur
- Gasoline (1 qt)
- Portable welding torch and goggles
- headset wrench
- Bearing cup press
- Pedal wrench
- Cyanide tablets
- Tire levers
- Utility knife
- More duct tape, because one roll might not be enough
- $20 to buy a ride home
I may have left a few things out, but you get the idea.
As important as it is to have these things for your own use is the inclination to also loan it out, without complaint or condition. Even if it leaves you without. Once, for example, I gave Kenny a trailside bone marrow transplant, because his bones had become dangerously brittle that afternoon. I did not ask him to return the marrow. Rather, I offhandedly said, “Forget it. There’s more where that came from.”
Kenny has since mentioned that if some of his other friends were as generous as I, maybe he wouldn’t have broken his hip.
Most cyclists bring something to eat and drink for the ride. But energy bars and Accelerade are not what I’d call sumptuous fare.
They are, on the other hand, what I would call “nasty-tasting.”
Imagine the surge in your popularity when you, at a stop in the ride, bring a small red-and-white checked tablecloth out of your Camelbak, followed by napkins and salt and pepper shakers.
I guarantee, your riding buddies’ surprise will be matched only by their delight.
But you’re just getting started.
Next, remove a roasted chicken (or, if you really want to be fancy, a pheasant) and a ziploc bag full of salad. One of your water bottles will now be revealed to contain ranch dressing.
Tip: Ranch dressing goes bad in just a couple hours, so be sure you brought those first aid supplies I mentioned earlier in that list.
Of course, your friends will think this is extraordinary, but you’ve only just begun. Next, you will reveal that your Camelbak bladder is actually full of a delicious malt beverage, which you will be happy to distribute.
After which, perhaps you break out the mashed potatoes. Don’t worry about gravy, though. That’s going too far.
After the main course, your guests will certain be expecting dessert. I recommend pie, because everyone likes pie.
I leave it to you to figure out how to carry the pie, but I will give you this hint: a few inexpensive bungie cords combined with the holes in your helmet give you carrying capacity well beyond what most people would expect.
Now, I know a few of you are thinking, “Fatty, that sounds like an awful lot of work.”
To which I say, “That’s fine. Some people aren’t really cut out to be popular. Enjoy your solitude.”
Bring a Good Camera
What cyclist doesn’t want to be filmed and / or photographed? Unfortunately, few of us ever bring anything but a simple point-and-shoot camera with us.
You can — and should! — go the extra mile by bringing a high quality SLR camera, an assortment of lenses, a good flash, a couple of reflecting umbrellas, and a tripod.
And since cycling is, after all, an active activity, be sure to bring a good hi-def camera with you. And not one of those cheesy camcorders, either — your filmwork will look hopelessly shaky and unprofessional unless you use a good shoulder-mounted camera.
And for the love of all that’s good in the world, don’t forget to bring enough batteries.
Is That All?
Right now I can picture you, flush with excitement. “Now I know how to be a popular cyclist!” you say, your voice welling with joy.
No, you don’t.
So far, you only know the first part of how to be a popular cyclist — the things you should carry. Tomorrow, I will give you guidance on how to behave if you want to be a popular cyclist.
“And then will I be a popular cyclist?” you ask, your voice trembling with hope and dread.
Yes. Yes, you will be popular.
But not as popular as I am.