How to be Popular, Part I: What To Carry

01.15.2008 | 4:01 pm

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.

Be Prepared
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:

  • Water
  • 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
  • Thermometer
  • Cell phone
  • Tweezers
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Any other painkillers you can dig up
  • Antacid
  • 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
  • Matches
  • Gasoline (1 qt)
  • Portable welding torch and goggles
  • headset wrench
  • Bearing cup press
  • Pliers
  • Lasagna
  • Pedal wrench
  • Hacksaw
  • Cyanide tablets
  • Tire levers
  • Utility knife
  • Batarang
  • 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.

Bring Snacks
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.


  1. Comment by Stomper | 01.15.2008 | 11:10 pm

    I may not be popular – but I’m 1st to post!

    Karl aka Stomper

  2. Comment by Little1 | 01.16.2008 | 12:27 am

    Why roast chicken… i saw a much better dish on the list – LASAGNE! all cyclists know you must load carb’s and lots of cheese to balance, in fact this could have actually been a bit higher on the list after all who really needs to take water or other superfluous items?

  3. Comment by 3rd_to_post | 01.16.2008 | 12:34 am

    Funny thing about your posts Fatty. I am left both happier and hungrier. Thanks for the former.

  4. Comment by | 01.16.2008 | 1:37 am

    I knew you were a thin charlatan trading as a fat cyclist after those fab christmas family snaps. Now I know how you pack all that lycra out to maintain your eponymous moniker! Fair play to the not-so-fat-but-very-popular cyclist.

  5. Comment by Mike Roadie | 01.16.2008 | 4:11 am

    Very small rocks……and lead

  6. Comment by Dave | 01.16.2008 | 5:23 am

    Well it’s a good thing I own two of these. Only thing I have to figure out is how to mount them onto my rig. ;-)

  7. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 01.16.2008 | 5:32 am

    Clever stuff looking forward to part 2 as that is usually my weak spot.

  8. Comment by System6 | 01.16.2008 | 5:38 am

    Funny, but the food you listed above was only a SMALL SAMPLE of what you said you ate the other night while spinning a century on the rollers.

    Some thoughts:

    How can you eat that much while spinning and not blow?

    How can you eat that much between 830pm and 330am and not blow?

    And when you said you were exhausted afterward and that was good, because it was time to go to bed, what kind of life do you live wherei 330 am is ‘time to go to bed’? Most of us had our bedtimes moved up a scoash upon being expelled from college into the real world, which you don’t seem to have joined yet.

    On your list of things to bring on a ride, you omitted some critical items, from my experience:

    Kleenexes (2-3 full boxes), because you never know when you’re going to come across a kid;

    Vaseline – don’t snicker too much – to coat your cold, exposed parts (it’s like liquid hoodie!); and don’t get me started about the story of three cyclists in a car with a jar of it. That’s a crude story and only partially true;

    Air pump, for some other hapless schmuck who forgot his, of course;

    Trainer stand, which some roadies bring along to show that we warm up just like the pros, instead of actually riding the bike;

    Extra bike clothes for frigid, almost frigid, cold, not quite warm, warm enough, and hot weather;

    A cooler full of assorted drinks for you and those letches in your club who never bring their own refreshments;

    Cell phone with 911 on speed dial;

    Pre-moistened handywipes, for obvious reasons;

    Instruction manual for changing flat tire — some other guys might need it;

    Oh, and a bike.

  9. Comment by Al Maviva | 01.16.2008 | 5:55 am

    Fatty: “What to bring on a ride. . . [exhaustive list that would break the back of a camel on Steroids] and, of course, a spare kitchen sink. Oh yeah, and an oxy-acetylane torch, because you never know when you’ll break your frame on a ride. Oh yeah, and a defibrilattor, just in case, and a….

    Me: Patch kit,a twenty, and a Clif bar. Skip the Clif bar if the ride is under 3 hours or if you need to lose weight.

    Fatty: typical mountain biker.

    Me: typical roadie.

  10. Comment by Al Maviva | 01.16.2008 | 5:57 am

    One other things. Fatty is right. He is popular. Roadies… we’re not popular. The rumors are true. Not only do we hate each other, but most of us pretty much hate ourselves too. It’s okay… we kinda like that. Why do you think we ride alone so much of the time? Yes, that’s right… we’re bullies, and spend the whole time picking on ourselves. Sure, it’s lame… but at least we aren’t riding bikes with big backpacks and ocy-acetylane torches towed behind.

  11. Comment by cheapie | 01.16.2008 | 6:05 am

    al’s right. one of my happiest days on the road was when i realized that i had transitioned from being the rider in the group being pissed that the 1/2 fast ride was being led at a much higher pace than was advertised to being to the rider looking down on the people struggling at the back and whining about the same thing i had gotten ticked about the year before.

    that would never happen in the woods.

  12. Comment by TIMK | 01.16.2008 | 6:12 am

    I tried the whole prepared meal thing and found that it was nice and all, but I needed more respect.

    I recommend getting yourself a proper BOB Yak trailer to haul a Lodge Hibachi Grill and cooking steaks for your fellow cyclist. You will of course wish to substitute a nice red wine for that malty beverage in your camelbak.

  13. Comment by Boz | 01.16.2008 | 6:13 am

    Here’s what you need to carry all that stuff and more – – Doug (not dug) is a full time bike commuter and uses this as his truck.

  14. Comment by TIMK | 01.16.2008 | 6:15 am

    Oh and take Al’s advice on bringing the oxy-acetylane torch, you can use it to do a nice creme brulee when you realize that pie is for commoners.

  15. Comment by TIMK | 01.16.2008 | 6:19 am

    @Boz, are you talking about something along the lines the Surly Big Dummy?

  16. Comment by Boz | 01.16.2008 | 6:59 am

    TIMK- it’s a conversion kit called Xtracycle – go thru Doug’s arcives for more info – he converted an older Rockhopper to the “blue truck” and cronicles the work on his blog. He also rides a Pugsley and Crosscheck. Very good guy, writer, photographer, and always willing to give advice.

  17. Comment by fatty | 01.16.2008 | 7:05 am

    al – that was my list for road rides. my mtb list is considerably more extensive.

    timk – i’ve never tried bringing a grill. that’s an excellent idea, which i will invite one of my coriders to implement posthaste.

  18. Comment by leroy | 01.16.2008 | 7:19 am

    Shoot, all we need to carry in NYC is a debit card. You can buy all that other stuff at just about any street corner deli.

    And you don’t even need the Metro Card for the subway if you’re willing to spring for a cab home.

  19. Comment by Donald | 01.16.2008 | 8:00 am

    WOW– I’m excited to start packing. But what are your thoughts on a compact espresso machine? I could demonstrate my barista talents in the countryside… and serve my cycling buddies a quick caffeine hit? It really is the way to finish off a nice meal.

  20. Comment by bikemike | 01.16.2008 | 8:12 am

    pie, pie, me oh my, i love pie.

  21. Comment by Bitter (formerly known as Lissee) | 01.16.2008 | 8:28 am

    I’m thinking that a nice strawberry tart would we even better than a pie. :) Mmmmm, cream filling, strawberries, and crispy flacky crust. Nothin better than that except perhaps quiche. (Which you probably wouldn’t go well with the roast pheasant.

  22. Comment by jess4bess | 01.16.2008 | 8:30 am

    I’ve been lurking for quite some time, but this is the Best Post Evah. Maybe it’s just because my family is full of Boy Scouts. Or people who like to be prepared to pull emergency practical jokes at any time. Or maybe it’s because I was looking for a good excuse for the 100 pounds of gear I pulled as a bike tourist. That’s probably it.

    Do you have an essay on how to start being a mountain biker after being a road bike tourist? I’m sick of cars, but I still want to see the world.

  23. Comment by Lifesgreat | 01.16.2008 | 9:24 am

    Velveeta is easier to carry and can be used for some simple repairs. :)

  24. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.16.2008 | 9:49 am

    I assume the cyanide is to end how you feel physically after hauling all that stuff, yet being underappreciated, because you never thought of bringing the Hibachi?

    Or is it for the picnic weasels?

  25. Comment by je | 01.16.2008 | 9:52 am

    Did you mention “start a blog”

    Nothing attracts friends like being a blogger.

  26. Comment by Cliff | 01.16.2008 | 9:58 am

    I didn’t realize that there were actually two Boy Scout mottos. I thought the motto was “Be Prepared to Set Everything On Fire.”

  27. Comment by Jodi | 01.16.2008 | 10:03 am

    I like you. You make me laugh and cough. Maybe that’s just the pneumonia talking. Always popular, ever since you were debate team captain. This incarnation is slightly less geek-y, though. One day I’m a be like you.

  28. Comment by Lucas | 01.16.2008 | 10:54 am

    The funniest part of the post Fatty…
    Don’t worry about gravy, that would just be too much!

    I am very disappointed. Gravy would have been the best part!

  29. Comment by fatty | 01.16.2008 | 11:02 am

    lucas – i’m right with you, but gravy is for after the ride.

  30. Comment by blinddrew | 01.16.2008 | 11:07 am

    Am i the only one who doesn’t understand what you mean by Aerosol cheese? Is this a side effect of being on the wrong side of the pond?

  31. Comment by Denise | 01.16.2008 | 11:42 am

    blinddrew, it may well be……it is cheese in a spray can like whipped cream can be purchased….. I didn’t grocery shop while visiting your side of the pond all those years ago so I don’t know if this helps or not…..

  32. Comment by fatty | 01.16.2008 | 11:42 am

    blinddrew – i’m pleased to inform you that here in the US, you can buy a cheese-like product that is dispensed from an aerosol can. I believe it’s called “Cheez Wiz.” Kids love it on crackers.

  33. Comment by jacquie phelan | 01.16.2008 | 12:05 pm

    charlie and I laught ourselves sick on this….thank you Chris Hill for reminding me to check in on this blog (maybe I’ll do an rss, yeah…).
    I really DO bring a thermos with painfully hot black Scottish tea, walker’s shortbread, and melmac teacups, cuz nothing says ‘frivolous’ like a proper tea-party deeeeeep in the woods.
    Charlie has a ‘desert tripping list’ that resembles yr list of essentials…and it DOES include an oxy-acetylene torch, a D-10 tractor, “shit, shingle”…I’m surprised nobody thinks: condoms…
    Fatty you are a writing wonder. I fully intend to plagiarize in such a way it will seem tribute-y and not actionable…

  34. Comment by Alaskan Dave Down Under | 01.16.2008 | 12:14 pm

    And that aerosol cheese stuff is ohhhhhh sooooo healthy and great for any athlete (even cyclists!) :)

  35. Comment by Boz | 01.16.2008 | 12:40 pm

    I think we all forgot the obvious – a big sack of $100.00 bills. There is no friend like a boughten freind.

  36. Comment by System6 | 01.16.2008 | 12:48 pm

    While we’re on the subject of food…

    Once upon a time in a marriage far far away, a cyclist friend of mine had his mother visiting from out of town, and his wife – notably not a reknowned cook – began hours of effort to cook a meal she hoped would please and impress.

    Dear old mom went leaving for a walk, returning just as the meal was being served.

    As the dishes sparkled and the food was scooped onto plates, in walked mother pronouncing that she wasn’t very hungry anymore because she’d just had the most marvelous Tuna Sandwich she’d ever tasted — and she’d bought it at the gas station mini-mart, no less.

    Is the point of the story -
    a) good food is where you find it…

    b) what kind of trailer park was cyclist raised in, anyway? or,

    c) wife may be doing the cooking, but mom’s doing the carving…

  37. Comment by Anonymous | 01.16.2008 | 12:51 pm

    It’s called “Easy Cheese”. Nabisco makes it.

  38. Comment by MonsieurM | 01.16.2008 | 12:51 pm

    Fatty, I hope you’re planning to extend your list to include a specific novel. Yes, the one that’s about 80% done right now and that we’re all anxiously waiting to read. It’s important to have a good novel on the bike because it helps to pass the loooong wait when you arrive first at the top of a climb (you do arrive first, right?) and have to wait for all the friends brought to you by your immense popularity (or the promise of pie).

  39. Comment by Kellene | 01.16.2008 | 1:21 pm

    Oh Eldie boy,
    You have always been popular! Maybe you should demonstrate what a popular debate team captain turned cyclist would look like. Your long haired mullet was always a magnet for popularity!
    We are so thankful we have such an amazing and popular person in our family to call brother!

  40. Comment by Don ( | 01.16.2008 | 1:46 pm

    Kellene: Pictures? C’mon, you GOTTA have some!
    Fatty: I love the list man. Cyanide… heh

  41. Comment by Al Maviva | 01.16.2008 | 2:35 pm

    Fatty – that *is* my list for an MTB ride.

    For a road ride, I leave the flat wallet at home and carry only a patch kit w/t a microflate with the small cannister, and a single twenty dollar bill, since my normal pimp roll would create an unsightly rectangular 8mm bulge in my back right pocket. I’ve considered cutting down on the use of handlebar tape, chamois cream and arm hair as well, since that stuff seems superfluous. Plus do you know how much faster I’d be climbing if I just shaved my wookie arms?

  42. Comment by Mbonkers | 01.16.2008 | 2:52 pm

    tee hee, he said “wookie”

  43. Comment by Anonymous | 01.16.2008 | 3:07 pm

    Jacquie Phelan? THE Jacquie Phelan?

    Fatty, a cycling goddess just commented in your blog. Show some respect.

  44. Comment by axel | 01.16.2008 | 3:08 pm

    how come paris hilton does not have to do all that and is still more popular than you? 99% of riders would prefer to mountain bike with Paris around the trails of Malibu, only 1% voted for riding the rollers with Fatty.

  45. Comment by Primal | 01.16.2008 | 3:45 pm

    100 miles on rollers. Fatty you need to head over to Brisbane. I only hop on the trainer if it rains… this doesn’t happen too often so we get to ride 365 days a year on the road. Only pity is the other road users that don’t give enough room for cyclists. Check out

  46. Comment by Judi | 01.16.2008 | 4:06 pm

    Fatty – thanks for a great post but why do I feel hungry when I read your posts?

    Also – My b/f will not shut up about the emotion rollers and wants some very badly after he read your blog. It’s getting on my nerves! We just bought a very nice trainer but all he talks about is emotion….

  47. Comment by Jill | 01.16.2008 | 5:27 pm

    Beautiful list. Who says you can’t buy friends?

  48. Comment by LanterneRouge | 01.16.2008 | 5:49 pm

    Remember, gps is for wimps. Carry a globe because when you’re lost 75 miles from home you’ll want to have a “big picture” solution at hand.

  49. Comment by bikemike | 01.16.2008 | 5:56 pm

    cheez whiz is also used to seal tires in case of puncture.

  50. Comment by Rokrider | 01.16.2008 | 5:58 pm

    I’ve always found that it is not necessary to carry both aerosol cheese and CO2 cartridges. One can of “easy-cheese” can easily seal and fill at least 3 flats.

  51. Comment by Dobovedo | 01.16.2008 | 7:19 pm

    OMG, I haven’t laughed so hard reading ANYBODY’S blog… ever! The list of things to bring had me rolling and I nearly wet myself when I got to “Cheese (aerosol).

    One of my all-tme favorite movie lines is: “Did you bring me my Cheez Whiz, boy?”

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  53. Comment by blinddrew | 01.17.2008 | 1:59 am

    Cheez Whiz huh? here was me assuming that this was some kind of metaphor…
    Maybe i need to have a root around the supermarket next time i’m there and see if we do stock this amazing invention. If only because i’ve just switched to tubeless tyres…

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  55. Comment by Grump | 01.17.2008 | 7:14 am

    After reading your mirthful musings, I’ve decided that you can never become a true ARP. An ARP never wants to be popular. He is satisfied with crushing other people’s dreams. An ARP will never carry more than he can use himself. (no slice of pizza in his jersey pocket for his fellow traveler)

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  57. Comment by Kevin | 01.17.2008 | 11:53 am

    I agree w/Lucas. The gravy is essential. Ditch the ranch dressing, replace it with the gravy. Since it’s in a water bottle, you can choose to use it as a dressing on the chicken/potatoes, or as a beverage.

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  61. Comment by ShaneJones | 03.4.2008 | 9:56 pm

    The “nasty tasting” part is pretty damn funny. I like the quotations.

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  66. Comment by Ms. Popularity | 03.2.2009 | 7:07 pm

    You left one thing off the list,… (the only thing left on God’s earth) a portable TV, if you do not have a portable TV to watch soap opra’s then you are so not popular. BUT I HAVE TO SAY… you are pretty damn funny. You could invest in a comedy show.

  67. Comment by Rupert | 08.10.2009 | 1:15 pm

    Now I see why mountain bikers are so fond of enormous camelbacks with jackets and stuff flapping on the outside…

  68. Comment by Krashr | 08.31.2009 | 4:11 pm

    Oh, so you want to be popular huh? Well that’s cool but I want to be popular as well and this is how I plan to do it.


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