I Am Still Working On My Entry in the “Win the Eddy Merckx Experience” Contest

02.3.2009 | 11:54 pm

I’m reluctant to post this entry, because I don’t want to tip my hand. But the fact is I’m at an impasse and figure that the likelihood of somebody winning this thing because they stole my idea(s) is worth the risk, because I need some advice.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the contest in the current issue of Bicycling Magazine, of course:


Now, I have to say that I found the headline distracting:


The “Eddy Merckx Experience?” This makes me think that the PR firm that wrote the ad copy for this contest has Eddy confused with Jimmy Hendrix. Which is perfectly understandable, unless you know even a tiny little bit about either of them.

Still. Win an Eddy Merckx bike? I’m all over that. So what do I have to do? Well, the ad copy says I need to do this:


I don’t mind telling you that I panicked a little when I saw that I only have 50 words to describe “how riding a bike bearing Eddy’s name and inspired by his legend will empower [me] to channel ‘The Cannibal’s’ greatness and achieve [my] most ambitious cycling goals.” I mean, they’re only giving me 50 words to write an essay that has a subject matter of 27 words.


Being an ambitious-yet-thorough sort, I didn’t want to merely use the ad copy as my guide for my entry. Instead, I chose to be certain I completely understood what I was being asked to do, by carefully reading the rules.

My panic increased.

It turns out that a complete reading of the rules gives an even more daunting picture of what I need to do in those 50 words:

The essay should tell us, in 50 words or less, what cycling-specific ambitions or goals riding an Eddy Merckx brand bicycle will help empower the entrant to achieve and how the entrant will benefit from the signature features and technology of an Eddy Merckx brand bicycle. The winner will be judged by the following criteria: (1) detailed and creative description of an entrant?s cycling goal, (2) description of specific features and technologies offered in an Eddy Merckx brand bicycle that will enable an entrant to make the most of his/her physical talent, (3) description of how Eddy Merckx?s personal success as a professional bicycle racer will inspire or motivate entrant to achieve their goals when they ride a bicycle bearing Eddy Merckx?s name, (4) organization and development of the ideas expressed, with clean and appropriate examples to support them, and (5) consistency in the use of language, variety in sentence structure and range of vocabulary, use of proper grammar, spelling and punctuation.

That’s 162 words, telling me that in my 50 words I need to do each of the following:

  • Talk about my cycling ambitions and goals.
  • Talk about how the bike will help me achieve those goals.
  • Be detailed (!!!) and creative in my description of these ambitions, goals and my accelerated achievement of said goals on aforementioned bike.
  • Describe the features / technologies of the bike that will assist in the bike’s facilitation of my achievement of my ambitions and goals.
  • Discuss, presumably in some detail, how the legend of Eddy Merckx ties into all this.
  • Develop all of the above fully, and with good organization.
  • No naughty jokes.
  • Don’t stray off-topic in my 50-word essay.
  • Be clever and original in my use of language.
  • Demonstrate that I own a thesaurus.
  • Use commas, periods, nouns and verbs where they’re supposed to be used.
  • Run the whole thing through the spell-checker before I fire it off.

I’ve got to say that upon completing my review of this to-do-in-50-words list I briefly blacked out. Then woke up sobbing.

Eventually, though — my jaw set, my visage grim, my nostrils flared — I got to work. I am not happy with my work — yet — but here are my attempts thus far.

The Checklist Approach

My first attempts at writing this essay centered around simply trying to satisfy the requirements set forth in the rules. A representative sample of my 50-word essay using this technique follows:

My cycling ambitions and goals are many-fold (not “manifold,” which is a completely different word with a distinctly different meaning, and would severely alter the meaning of this sentence). First, I would like to win a bike race in my lifetime. Any bike race. I’m not particular about which race, or even about having to sandbag down to a slower category (if there is one) to do it. I just want to be able to say, “I have won a race.” An Eddy Merckx bike would help me achieve this goal by intimidating my competition, hopefully to the extent that they would soil themselves and hence be unable to queue up at the start line. And then I would win.

My second — and more pressing — ambition is to look sassy on a bike. I have purchased several jerseys and bib shorts and a special very aerodynamic-looking helmet that all go very well with the color scheme of the Eddy Merckx bike featured in this contest. If I win the contest, I intend to take this course to its natural conclusion and buy socks and shoes that go with the bike. And then I will look sassy indeed.

My third ambition is to figure out why anybody would ever eat bleu cheese. It smells terrible, looks awful, and tastes nasty. What is it other people find appealing about this nasty substance? I must know. I confess, however, that I do not know how an Eddy Merckx bicycle would help me solve this riddle.

The Eddy Merckx bike is really crucial to my achieving my objectives, because — unlike other bikes — it is a lightweight carbon fiber road bike with racing geometry and high end components. This is totally unique in the world of cycling.

To conclude, I would like to describe how once, Eddy Merckx appeared to me in a dream. He told me that if I ever wanted to win a race, I must be certain that as few people as humanly possible start that race. He told me that I must have confidence. He told me I must look sassy. He told me his bike was exactly what I needed to do all these things. In my dream, Eddy was eating bleu cheese.

Curse you, bleu cheese, for spoiling what was otherwise a very awesome and topical dream!

This is, of course, a perfectly wonderful essay and would almost certainly win, except it’s 392 words long. I tried the trick of hyphenating every word in each sentence, but I knew that the judges would see through this ruse.

Disappointed, I tried another approach.

Appeal to Authority

As many of you know, Eddy Merckx isn’t actively involved in Eddy Merckx bicycles. However, I’m sure his opinion still holds considerable sway with whoever judges this contest.

So I contemplated how I could use these two facts to my advantage. And that’s when it came to me: I’d do a photographic essay, showing how Eddy has already endorsed me as the winner. Behold:


Really, no additional text is necessary, as far as I was concerned. The judges would see that Eddy is my close personal friend and that he has already selected me as the winner. Really, there’s nothing left to do but collect my bike.

And then the rules went and spoiled my party.

Entry Material/Entry cannot contain the image or likeness of or reference in any identifiable way (for example, by first and last name, or by any part of a name that is identifiable) any person other than the entrant, including, but not limited to, any depictions of celebrities, unless a signed release from such person(s) is submitted to Sponsors along with the Entry Material/Entry.

Man, those guys thought of everything.

So I’ve got an email out to Eddy asking for his OK on using this photo, but he hasn’t replied yet. I’m sure he’ll be cool with me using it, but as a plan B I got to working on a fallback plan.

Just Lie

I’m probably the only person this has occurred to, but while the rules are really explicit about what the essay must contain, it doesn’t say (and believe me, I have checked) that the contents of the essay have to be true. So here’s my next attempt.

I am a committed Cat 2 cyclist with dreams of moving into Cat 1 this year. I win more often than not, and when I train, it is always watching an Eddy Merckx video — I am the only person I know who rates “A Sunday in Hell” as his favorite movie of all time.

I want an Eddy Merckx bike because my current bike is a piece of crap. It weighs 24 pounds, which causes me all kinds of difficulty in climbing stages. Eddy Merckx bikes, on the other hand, are the pinnacle of beauty, reliability, and power.

Even more importantly, though, would be the fact that as I ride my Eddy Merckx bike, I will feel like The Cannibal is urging me on, reminding me with every turn of the cranks of what he has accomplished…and what I can accomplish, if I will not break.

I want an Eddy Merckx bike so I can make him proud, if only in my own mind.

This is, of course, pure hogwash. Plus, it’s more than three times as long as is allowed, which gives you an idea of how impossibly brief my actual entry is going to have to be.

You see why I’m discouraged? You see why I’m asking for your advice? This essay contest is difficult. Perhaps it’s even impossible.

But I won’t give up.

Because I know, in my heart of hearts, that The Cannibal wouldn’t.


  1. Comment by Erine | 02.4.2009 | 12:35 am

    You should win for this post alone… don’t you think you could just say something to the effect of “I should win the Eddy Merckx Experience because I am http://www.fatcyclist.com“? I’m pretty sure that isn’t explicitly banned by the rules, either. Sure, you could flower it up a bit more with the remaining 39 words, but why bother?

    It makes sense to me, but what the hay do I know? It’s darn near 2 am, I’m in the midst of a bout insomnia of epic proportion, and I can’t stop listening to Richard Marx. Help me.

  2. Comment by Octave Lapize | 02.4.2009 | 12:51 am

    Mentioning “A Sunday In Hell” could be a risky strategy. The Cannibal is a big loser in that one.

  3. Comment by Di | 02.4.2009 | 1:53 am

    Let me help you reduce the number of words. ;-) You have one too many “I’s” in this line.

    “Even more importantly, though, would be the fact that I as I ride my Eddy Merckx bike,…”

  4. Comment by Mike Roadie | 02.4.2009 | 3:51 am

    See if you can fit “Eddam Urrix” in there……..

  5. Comment by Linda | 02.4.2009 | 5:50 am

    It takes a lot to make me actually laugh out loud while reading. But I did actually laugh out loud while reading this. Just send the link to this blog in and that ought to win it for you.

    LOL <—See?

  6. Comment by Andrea | 02.4.2009 | 6:11 am

    I was too distracted by their inappropriate use of apostrophes to even read the post. I’ll have to put it out of my mind now and try again.

  7. Comment by Jeff | 02.4.2009 | 6:48 am

    You could talk about riding downhill on your singlespeed and comparing it to an Eddy Merckx bike…which would be faster???

  8. Comment by MikeonHisBike | 02.4.2009 | 7:21 am

    50 words or less, how is that humanly possible? You should go with the picture.


  9. Comment by buckythedonkey | 02.4.2009 | 7:36 am

    You’d be hard pushed to squeeze more than 50 words into a Limerick.

    There was a fine chap from Utah,
    whose bike was to heavy by far.
    Said to Eddie in jest,
    “let me win your contest!”.
    So he did and he’s faster. Huzzah!

    31 words. Pah! Easy.

  10. Comment by Big Boned | 02.4.2009 | 7:41 am

    My advice? Delete everything you wrote and begin with “I dream of ripping the legs off my competition and leaving them weeping at the side of the road, like Eddy did.” That leaves you with 28 words to describe how simply pathetic you are and how the only way to accomplish your goal is by use of this “dream machine”. My domestique duty is done here, time for the big dog to take over.
    Let me know when you get the bike.
    Big Boned

  11. Comment by Shawn | 02.4.2009 | 7:42 am

    You weren’t supposed to tell anybody about this! Hopefully they’ll see how hard it is and won’t bother entering. I need all the help I can get!

  12. Comment by MOCougFan | 02.4.2009 | 8:07 am

    I absolutely know your going to win this. I’ve followed you for a couple of years now. You win everything. Dang I’m jealous.

    Congrats brother.

  13. Comment by Jenni | 02.4.2009 | 8:12 am

    Absolutely wonderfully funny. Wow. This might be my favorite post of all time.

  14. Comment by Tashva | 02.4.2009 | 8:16 am

    I was going to leave a clever comment, but everyone who had already left one is far more clever.

    I like putting your blog name/title in a limerick. That solves all of your problems…

  15. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 02.4.2009 | 8:19 am

    That last one’s a winner for sure.

    Except the 164 word count and the fact that you violated the “famous person” rule by using Eddy’s full name five times and his nickname once. I can help you fix both of those problems and move your credible tome towards complete compliance with the rules.

    Delete all reference to Eddy Merckx and Cannibals. That’s 11 words right there; you’re down to 153 words instantly.

    You’re welcome.

  16. Comment by k-berg | 02.4.2009 | 8:20 am

    I hate bleu cheese too, perfectly good way to ruin hot wings

  17. Comment by cyclostu | 02.4.2009 | 8:41 am

    You should figure out a way to put in your entry that Merckx won all of his races on heavy, non-aero steel bikes with 10 speeds (total that is, not just on the rear wheel) and that winning a bike that would be like nothing what he ever competed on would help you channel the true spirit of the Cannibal. I’m sure that would provide the fine people in the Eddy Merckx marketing department with all kinds of great ideas and would undoubtedly endear you to the judges. Just a thought.

  18. Comment by TomE | 02.4.2009 | 9:13 am

    Fatty….you have it already written and don’t know it. Look at the last few sentences of your post….rework a few words and presto – you win!!

    “This essay contest is difficult. Perhaps it’s even impossible.

    But I won’t give up.

    Because I know, in my heart of hearts, that The Cannibal wouldn’t.”

  19. Comment by CoworkerAlex | 02.4.2009 | 9:30 am

    What- you’re not really Cat 2? That’s what Fatty’s been telling everyone here in the office for like 2 years…

  20. Comment by Randoboy | 02.4.2009 | 9:31 am

    Eddie epitomized brevity, and not just because he was on the race course for fewer minutes than his competitors (we call that “winning”). He improved upon Moser’s “Ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike” advice, titrating it down to “Ride lots.” If Tom Clancy had an editor like that, I’d still read his books.

    Channel Eddie. Be brief. Verb noun. Repeat 25 times.

  21. Comment by Aaron | 02.4.2009 | 9:54 am

    I love bleu cheese.

  22. Comment by David | 02.4.2009 | 9:54 am

    Yep…lying was your best bet. Just don’t be so damn longwinded about it. ;)

  23. Comment by dug | 02.4.2009 | 10:02 am

    remember how james t kirk beat the Kobayashi Maru?

    do that.

  24. Comment by db | 02.4.2009 | 10:02 am

    But I won’t give up.

    Because I know, in my heart of hearts, that The Cannibal wouldn’t.

    No, he wouldn’t. HIS essay would be two words:

    Lo distruggerò.

    (Babelfish: “I will destroy you.”)

    Maybe that should be yours…

  25. Comment by Clydesteve | 02.4.2009 | 10:19 am

    what Linda said. Just link this post. I was having inspirational flashes as I read, but you already covered all of them by the time I finished. (Take your helmet off the flashes you are covering, now – so it does not burn.)

    This post reallt cracked me up. Perhaps you could recruit Dr Lammler – he kind of has a way with words; a fresh approach with the Engrish language, if you will.

  26. Comment by gwboivie | 02.4.2009 | 10:20 am

    Here you go fatty, 50 words:

    I am a cyclist with dreams of moving into Cat 1 this year.
    I want an Eddy Merckx bike which is the pinnacle of reliability to help me with climbing.
    I will feel like “The Cannibal” is reminding me of what I can accomplish, as long as I don’t break.

  27. Comment by Clydesteve | 02.4.2009 | 10:21 am

    woah! dugs advice is spot on.

  28. Comment by KanyonKris | 02.4.2009 | 10:30 am

    “Winning the Eddy Merckx EMX-3 will make me fast enough to finally catch another cyclist so I can subdue and consume him/her. Thus fulfilling my dream of becoming an actual cannibal.”

    Now THAT’s a winning entry!

    Arizonans, what did you do to offend Bicycling Magazine? In the rules you are barred from the contest – along with residents of Guam, Puerto Rico and all other U.S. Territories and Possessions. I think you’ve just been dissed.

    Sorry youngsters (aka generally riders who could use a better bike), you must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

    We can obviously conclude that Bicycling is run by fascist bigots.

  29. Comment by bikemike | 02.4.2009 | 10:30 am

    “I really love your bikes”. (x10)

  30. Comment by Susie | 02.4.2009 | 10:30 am

    I’d go with the limerick…Huzzah!

  31. Comment by Glenn | 02.4.2009 | 10:54 am

    Try a Haiku. I once won a contest with one, and they have very few words.


  32. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 02.4.2009 | 11:03 am

    Explain in your first 50 words that they must have left off a zero and you know they meant for it to be 500 words. Then, as a courtesy mind you, include your 392 word composition so they can go ahead and declare you the winner and not have to restart the contest.

  33. Comment by wishiwasmerckx | 02.4.2009 | 11:33 am

    Someone once bet Hemingway that he could not compose a novel comprised of just six words. Hemingway won that bet, and he considered it among his best work ever. His masterpiece? “For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.”

    Channeling Hemingway, here is my entry:

    Eddy Merckx bike = Craigslist cash bonanza.”

    Six words and a winner.

  34. Comment by Clydesteve | 02.4.2009 | 12:00 pm

    KanyouKris – The Arizonians failed to join Team Fat Cyclist: Fighting for Susan, San Jose chapter.

    So, they can’t play. Except for the ones who joined the Seattle or Austin teams.

  35. Comment by Mike Morton | 02.4.2009 | 12:25 pm

    how about a Haiku?

    Lactic acid burn
    The cannibal drives me to win
    I now feel no pain

    yeah, I like that. I am often impressed with my Haiku ability.

  36. Comment by Mike Morton | 02.4.2009 | 12:27 pm

    whoops, too many syllables in line 2

    Lactic acid burn
    Cannibal drives me to win
    I now feel no pain


  37. Comment by fatty | 02.4.2009 | 12:28 pm

    and now, for my own amusement, the photo of eddy and me is an exciting animated 3-d* gif!

    *where the 3 dimensions are height, width, and time

  38. Comment by Mary | 02.4.2009 | 12:43 pm

    Oh, come on; they couldn’t possibly believe your claims here. After all – doesn’t EVERYBODY love “A Sunday in Hell” over all other movies?? :)

    Well, except “Running on the Sun.” If Eddy Merckx had been a runner, he would definitely be in this movie – excellent motivation. Maybe watching it while you work on your contest entry will help with paring down to 50 excellent words.

  39. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 02.4.2009 | 12:48 pm

    I see through this ruse! Eddy Merckx Bikes is saving loads of cash. Instead of spending the money on an ad agency they are looking to lure legions of loyal fans to create a new slogan (I couldn’t think of an “l” word that meant slogan)

    my entry:
    I have a luxury body; flawless, awe inspiring. What bike can convey me? What bike can withstand me? What bike is worth the spalm on my shorts! Merckx. I ride. I WIN. Yippee-ki-yeaaah!

    If you use made up words – do they count towards your total? I’m thinking specifically of “Corpubookka wifflemarfin”

  40. Comment by Bikefrog | 02.4.2009 | 1:15 pm


  41. Comment by blinddrew | 02.4.2009 | 1:18 pm

    you mean Corpubookka & wifflemarfin aren’t real words? What? Grrr, i’ll get my dad for that one…

  42. Comment by jen | 02.4.2009 | 1:50 pm

    Blue cheese rules! try it on a burrito!

  43. Comment by Joe | 02.4.2009 | 2:32 pm

    Just write a small statement about what a loser you are, then bullet point all the positives of having this killer bike.

    Like a presentation to the board you know. Flashy terms and words, but not too long. don’t want them to fall asleep.

  44. Comment by Charisa | 02.4.2009 | 2:44 pm

    I have to go try to write 50 words to win that bike!!! :) I think based on your blog entry alone they should give it to you!

  45. Comment by Lizzylou | 02.4.2009 | 5:14 pm


    A good friend of mine works for the company that is operating the contest (being the company that publishes the magazine). If you could hook me up with some free swag, I’ll ask her to talk to the contest judges.

  46. Comment by Triflefat | 02.4.2009 | 7:44 pm


    You were right to abandon the picture.

    While it is very spiffy now you’ve added that vital 3rd dimension, you overlook the fact that Eddie was there when it was taken.

    With your shallow attempt to trade your recent Chipotle schwag with him, the picture has you offering him something back in September that you didn’t get till February.

    Anyone who can do that has a time machine and has no need for a bicycle, of whatever description.

  47. Comment by danielle | 02.4.2009 | 9:19 pm

    Perhaps you should enter your essay in haiku form. Less than 50 words and very um… deep?

  48. Comment by danielle | 02.4.2009 | 9:21 pm

    damn. I thought the haiku idea was mine and mine alone.

  49. Comment by system7 | 02.4.2009 | 10:02 pm

    Ever had blue cheese on a hamburger. For god’s sake, don’t make that mistake. The word repulsive comes to mind and the taste of said burger comes just about up to my esophagus, thinking about it.

    That being said, you might want to explore the cross-border biases and prejudices that are rampant throughout Western Europe (cause it’s not like we have any of that junk in the good ol’ US of A, right?), in your bid for that Merkxx bike.

    See, the Belgians feud a lot, verbally, anyway, with with their Benelux (which means, literally, “toss three nebulous county-sized countries in a Cuisinart, press puree”) neighbors, but at the end of the day, they clearly hate each other less than they each hate their neighbors to the south, in that state-sized country called France.

    Anyway, where was I?


    So the appeal for this bike should be:

    “When you award me this most magnificent bicycle I will be able to conquer, in the name of Belgium, the Tour de France. Sitting astride its saddle, the malliot juane will be kept safe from the USA and France, and, to show my worthiness, I commit to pack up my family and move us to the Belgium, where my wife and I will immerse myself in Belgian culture by living on the dole.”

  50. Comment by Aaron | 02.4.2009 | 10:06 pm

    Your 3D gif has a whole “Southpark” feel to it.

  51. Comment by Nina in Ohio | 02.5.2009 | 7:59 am

    You could write something like this with your much more humorous twist to it… Good Luck!

    I want my own Eddy Merckx Experience. I need a bike that’ll cannibalize the rest so I’m in the lead – and only “The Cannibal’s” bike will do. The aeronautical design of this one-piece carbon frame is guaranteed to put this Fat Cycling Eddy-wannabe at the front of the pack.

  52. Comment by specq | 02.5.2009 | 9:08 am

    It’s a logical extension of Eddy’s famous advice:

    Don’t buy upgrades, ride (free) upgrades (up grades).

    Better plan = better results.

  53. Comment by Julie | 02.5.2009 | 1:02 pm

    “Two goals. First, I want to win a race. The sight of the bike will intimidate the competition. That’ll help. So will its outstanding performance. Second, I want to look sassy on a bike. With this bike, plus my color-coordinated gear, I will.”

  54. Comment by Pip | 04.11.2009 | 6:50 pm

    Channel James Joyce and use stream of consciousness…at east that would take away the grammar issues. What about:
    Eddy was a fast bad ass. Make me one too

  55. Pingback by Clear but not credible « Leadership Without Excuses | 03.21.2010 | 9:16 pm

    [...] Undaunted, the Fat Cyclist gave it his best shot. [...]


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.