Looking Around

06.10.2008 | 2:42 pm

Before I get to the main part of today’s post, I have a couple items of business to discuss. Please read them carefully. If you want to.

When Will Jerseys Be Available Again?
Like many of you, I was caught completely off-guard by how quickly the 2008 Fat Cyclist Jerseys sold out: all 500 disappeared in less than 24 hours. I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people on when jerseys will be available again.

Because I’m not a big ol’ company, I can’t muscle my way to the front of the jersey manufacturing line (and Twin Six can’t either). So it’s not as simple as just re-ordering.

So the short answer is: we’ll have jerseys available again in early November (plenty of time for giving as Christmas gifts, hint hint).

But I don’t want to happen with this batch of jerseys what happened with the last batch. If you want to get a jersey, I want you to be able to get one.

So here’s what we’re gonna do.

  • July 8: I’ll unveil the new 2009 jersey design and colors. That’s right, it will be a new design. Twin Six and I are working on it right now. There will be elements you recognize, along with some surprises. I’m excited to show it off.
  • July 14 – 20: You’ll be able to pre-order your jerseys, ensuring that you get the size / color / gender combination you want.
  • Early November: Your jersey will be shipped to you.

And while it’s too early to say right now, it’s possible there’ll be more than jerseys and socks this time. Shorts? Armwarmers? A shell? An enormous bratwurst-shaped helmet? It’s hard to say at this point, but we’re looking at lots of possibilities. Feel free to weigh in with what you’d like to see, Fat Cyclist clothing-wise, this year.

Don’t Miss This Ad
I know that some of you use ad blockers and some of you read this blog using RSS readers, so I’m going to go ahead and call out what those of you who do see my blog ads can see for yourselves: I’ve now got LiveStrong Challenge ads running.

Take a moment to visit the site and see where the events are, how they help, and maybe consider supporting them yourselves. As I’ve mentioned before, the Lance Armstrong Foundation has been very helpful to Susan and me, and I’m always excited to see readers — ClydeSteve and MikeRoadie, among others — working so hard to raise money for this crucial cause.

And, if you’d be so inclined, why don’t you go and click here to support MikeRoadie as he works to raise $30,000 (wow) to fight cancer this year.

Looking Around
A couple days ago, I was alone, riding Hogg’s Hollow (Hogg South to Jacob’s Ladder to Ghost to Clark to Hogg South, for any interested local riders). It’s a ride I’ve done before dozens of times, to the point that if I plug into an iPod and have stuff on my mind, the entire ride can go by without me noticing my surroundings.

But this time, about halfway through the ride, I did the opposite.

Having just finished the climb, ready to do the descent, I looked down into Utah Valley. And it struck me: In all the years of riding I’ve done, I’ve never just sat down by myself in the middle of a ride and looked around.

So that’s what I did. I sat down on a rock and just enjoyed the view. At first, I looked down into the valley. Then I pivoted around and looked at the mountain. Then I stopped looking so far away and just looked at the trees, scrub oak, and trail.

It is all so beautiful.

With all that’s going on in my family’s life, I kind of expected to start thinking about my troubles, but I didn’t. Being swamped by the massive gorgeousness of the mountain took my mind off me. Instead, I just looked. Not having deep, sublime insights, just looking. There’s a lot to see. A lot more to see than I realized.

I’m not sure how long I sat there, just enjoying the beauty that a mountain bike can deliver so quickly and easily. Yeah, I think “easily” is the right word, because even though the climb was anything but easy, the fact is I was alone on a beautiful mountain after only an hour of work. Relatively speaking, that’s pretty easy.

It occurs to me now that this is really one of the primary virtues of the mountain bike: it can take you to some incredible spots, fast enough that you can do it without packing for a trip, but slow enough that you can enjoy the view along the way.

My problem has always been that I’m inclined to keep moving — I’m wasting ride time if I’m not in motion.

I now realize that’s just stupid.

From now on — not every ride, but definitely not rarely, either — I’m taking the time to see where my mountain bike has taken me.


The Gambler

06.9.2008 | 5:11 pm

For the past several weeks, I’ve been considering writing a post about how great the tubeless setup (I’m using traditional rims, the Stan’s NoTubes system, and Geax Saguaros) on my mountain bike has been working out. After all, I had not had a single MTB flat in more than a year.

Each time I thought about writing that post, though, I backed away. That would be inviting a flat, and no mistake.

Now, however, I’m going to have to re-evaluate my superstition. Evidently you don’t even have to mention your good luck in avoiding flats to jinx yourself. All you’ve got to do is think about it in order to get one.

Just thinking about it’s enough.

As you’ve no doubt guessed, today when I was on a ride — coming down the South side of Hogg’s Hollow — it happened. I hit a big rock good and solid. My 20psi front tire (yes, I really have been riding at 20psi on my MTB, and quite happily so) was no match for it. I pinched open a nice 1/8″ cut, and the air immediately began hissing out.

When you’re riding with tires that use sealant, that hissing is your cue to get really religious, really fast. Because if you pray to Alfonzo, patron saint of liquid latex and inflated rubber devices, fervently enough, there’s a decent chance that the sealant will…well…seal. And then you can ride off triumphantly, knowing that where others would have been stopped cold by such a nasty puncture, you can feel free to merrily continue on your merry way.

This time, however, I would not be merry. No, not merry. Quite the contrary.

The Gamble
The hissing didn’t stop until there was no air in the tires. I rolled to a stop, confronted with a monumental decision:

Would the tire seal up if I put some more air in it and spun the tire around for a minute?

This question was monumental for the following reason: I had only one CO2 cartridge.

You see where I’m going with this? Here were my options, and potential consequences:

  • Put in a tube. This, of course, was the safe approach. It would almost certainly work. But it would take time. And it would make a mess, in the form of a gooey, latex-soaked rimstrip I’d have to stow in my jersey pocket, not to mention all that surplus liquid latex sloshing around in the tire. Yuck.
  • Put air in the tire and hope it seals. If it seals, I win! I get to continue on, blithely and somewhat smugly. But if it doesn’t seal, I’m super-screwed, because then I’m out of CO2, I’m four miles from home, I don’t have a phone with me, and I need to be home in an hour to take Susan to radiation.

So of course I put air in the tire, hoping it would seal. Because I am an idiot, that’s why.

Of course, it didn’t seal. Or rather: of course it didn’t seal.

Two miles of downhill hike-a-biking later (I bummed a ride for the final two miles, allowing me to avoid the acute embarrassment of walking my bike on paved roads), I’ve learned my lesson. No more gambling for me.

Unless I feel like I might win, of course.

PS: As I was walking my bike down the trail, two different riders passed me. I made eye contact and fully expected the traditional “Need any help?” question. Both times, the guys just rode on. No help offered. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that.


06.6.2008 | 9:58 am

A couple days ago, I was riding my road bike down Suncrest, flying at 45-50mph.

Tight tuck. Arms and legs tensed and pulled in close. Eyes in narrow slits. Tears streaming sideways. Teeth bared.

And that is when a bug smacked into my teeth. Full force. I’m pretty sure it exploded on impact.

And so I did exactly what I’ve done a million times before, and which I’m sure you have done just as many times when a bug flies into your mouth while you’re cycling: I began hacking and spitting, desperate to get the insect — or, more accurately, insect parts — out of my mouth. Stat.

And then…well, then…something horrible, yet fascinating happened. Something unexpected. Something I have yet to come to terms with. A realization I still am trying to find ways to deny:

That bug did not taste half-bad.

Yes, you read that right.

That insect that slammed into my teeth, exploding into a million little raw atom-sized bug parts, left a pleasant, nutty aftertaste.

You cannot know how much this distresses me.

I mean: I like the taste of bugs? Raw bugs?! That’s not possible, is it?

Except, evidently it is.

So I’m confronted with a host of questions, each equally disturbing.

  • What kind of bug was it? Or do I really want to know? Because if I find out, would I dare try another one?
  • Do I like the taste of all bugs? Or do I just like the one kind? It seems likely that if one kind of bug is delicious, others are too. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.
  • Have I missing out on something really wonderful my whole life by not being an eater of bugs?
  • Should I, from this point forward, ride with my mouth open, and crunch thoughtfully and appreciatively on whatever snack happens to find its way into my mouth?

Of course, there’s considerable upside to this, potentially. I mean, with as many bugs as I smack into in an average ride, I could easily stop bringing energy food with me on rides. Think of all the money I’d save. And I’m sure my friends wouldn’t be grossed out at all.

I am horrified, even as I am intrigued.

Please excuse me while I go brush my teeth and floss. For the thousandth time this week.

Craving Normalcy

06.5.2008 | 12:00 pm

As we drive to her radiation treatments, Susan often looks out the window and says something like, “Look at all those people out there, living normal lives. They’re going to work, going to grocery stores, and driving their own cars. They don’t have any idea how great that is.” She finishes with her main point: “I wish I could be normal.”

I think I see what she means, from a couple of perspectives.

First, I share in Susan’s sense of the surreal. Last night I was doing the math, and realized it’s been about seven years since Susan and I have lived a “normal” life, when you consider that since the end of the first trimester of the twins’ pregnancy, it’s been one thing after another.

Normal, to us, sounds pretty darned exotic.

Second, it’s hard to picture how — with all we’ve got going on — anyone could be doing normal things, probably not even thinking about how good normal feels.

But then, this morning, it occurred to me: this is a filtered and constricted way of looking at things. While I’ve been thinking about all the normal things we miss, I’ve simultaneously still been taking for granted a lot of the really great normal things that we have.

So, today, here is a list of normal things. The ones Susan and I have, I am making an effort to not take them for granted today. The ones we don’t have, I’d like you to take a moment and appreciate having them yourself.

Normal Things We Miss

  • Easy sleep. For a while, sleep eluded Susan altogether. Now she sleeps pretty well, but that’s primarily due to a powerful cocktail of drugs I give her every night. I, on the other hand, have the ability to sleep at a moment’s notice and for any period of time. I no longer take the pleasure of nodding off for granted.
  • Automatic actions. Try this sometime: describe to someone how to tie a shoelace. Not easy, is it? And yet, you can probably do this — along with other sophisticated motions you’ve done thousands of times in your life — without giving them more than the briefest of thoughts. When Susan lost the ability to do these automatic, reflexive actions, I realized how difficult they are, and how many of these actions I perform in a normal day: fastening a seatbelt, rising from a chair, swinging a leg over a bike. We do some intricate stuff without ever thinking about it. Next time you tie your shoe, think about how nice it is to be able to do so. I know that Susan was certainly grateful when that ability came back to her after weeks of radiation.
  • Walking. Everybody, at some point in their life, winds up off their feet for a while. I don’t think I need to go into how much it makes you appreciate being able to easily get around.
  • Energy. The next time you do a little errand and then have energy to go do another one, relish it.

Normal Things We Have That I Am Trying to Not Take for Granted

  • A good job. When most people say they have a good job, they mean that they’re not in danger of being fired, and they can tolerate coming into work. I, on the other hand, have an honest-to-goodness good job. And furthermore, it’s at a good company, which has recently made considerable changes to its policy to not merely accommodate my situation, but to go a step further and help out.
  • Great kids. All four of my kids are healthy, with no special diet restrictions, allergies, or physical challenges. All four of them are gifted in some way: the oldest in computers and math, the second in all academics, and the girls in art. And all four have a strong ethical grounding — Susan’s most important gift to them.
  • Good friends. I look around at most men my age, and they don’t really have many — if any — close friends. I have the core team, which has shown itself to be much, much more than a group of riding buddies. Further, I have the enormous group of friends that make up the readership of this blog.
  • A good marriage. The only thing worse than something like this happening to Susan and me after twenty years of a good marriage is the realization of how awful it would be if we had not had a good marriage.
  • A good hobby. Everyone talks about their hobbies and what they do for fun. Cycling, though, is much more than a hobby for me. It’s a giant reset button. I can be having the worst day ever; after ninety minutes on a bike, I’ve got my balance back and am ready to take care of my wife, my kids, and anything else that comes my way.

This is just a start. What “normal” things are you going to take a moment to appreciate today?

Early Birthday Present From My Sister (and You)

06.3.2008 | 12:27 pm

My sister Jodi arrived from Brooklyn (courtesy of frequent flyer points donated by a Fat Cyclist reader) last night, here to help take care of the family for several days.

Jodi brought a DVD with her — an early birthday present for me. It’s a DVD she — with the help of her husband — secretly put together, after evidently communicating with dozens of you, getting you to send in your photos and well-wishes for Susan.

Both Susan and I thought it was one of the most incredibly thoughtful gifts ever made, and I wanted to share it. So I ripped it and uploaded it onto YouTube this morning. Watch:

Whether you’re one of the people who sent in a photo, one of the people who has sent an email or left a comment, one of the people who has made a donation or bought a jersey or t-shirt, or one of the people who reads anonymously: Thank you. Your support helps both of us.

« Previous Page« Previous Entries     Next Entries »Next Page »