Mister Helpful Directions Person

03.19.2009 | 9:33 am

A Note from Fatty: The Lance Armstrong Foundation is following up on the video I talked about yesterday by asking everyone to tell their “What would YOU say to cancer?” stories on video. Take a short 15-30 second video, upload to YouTube and tag it “LIVESTRONG + Cancer + Sucks.” They will mark their favorites and post them in the LiveStrong blog in the “Supporter Videos” section.

It feels like Spring is here, and just a little (very little, if you look at the date) early. Shorts and short sleeve weather is so wonderful after a long weather of riding on the rollers. It’s warm enough, in fact, that yesterday afternoon after work I headed over to Corner Canyon to get on the dirt and see how much of the trail is open.

Judging by the number of people on the trail, I was not the only one glad to get outside and on the dirt. And a lot of the folks were there for their first time — or at least the first time in a long time.

Luckily for them, I was out there, ready to lend my expert assistance to anyone who needed to know anything at all about the trail system.

Why? Because I love stopping and talking with cyclists and talking about the trail. For I am . . . Mister Helpful Directions Person!

The Unfortunate Anti-Superpower of Mister Helpful Directions Person

As an eager and friendly superhero, I — Mister Helpful Directions Person — actively seek out cyclists (and hikers, and even people who hail from Equestria) who are stopped on the trail, looking this way and that. “Aha!” I think to myself. “A cyclist (or hiker, or Citizen of Equestria) in probable need of information! I shall stop and see if I can lend assistance!”

As a careful and friendly superhero, however, I do not want to offend, nor to give out unwanted, unnecessary advice. So first, I stop and chat.

“Isn’t it great to get outside and ride after a long winter?” I ask. I am not surprised, of course, to find that most everyone agrees that it is in fact good to get out on one’s bike. Very few — okay, nobody — have replied with a rude comment like, “Actually I hate riding and am out here only because I have done evil and must be punished.”

“Isn’t this trail network incredible?” is my follow-up question. This, you see, is my clever way of letting the other person that I do, in fact, know this trail system like the back of my hand. How else would I be able to assess its incredibleness?

Some simply agree that it is, in fact, remarkable to have miles and miles of excellent singletrack tucked right into what is otherwise a residential area.

Others, to my delight, pick up on my subtle hint and ask, “So where does this trail lead to?”

And that is all the permission I need to explain:

“Well, follow this trail for…I don’t know, between half a mile and two miles. Then there will be a really hard climb, or at least it’s really hard if you’re on a singlespeed and out of shape. Umm, there’s a couple of stream crossings you should be aware of before you get to the next intersection, which you will go right through.

“Wait, hold on. I was thinking of a different trail there for a minute. There aren’t actually any stream crossings you have to worry about, and you do have to turn at that intersection, except there are a couple forks in the trail before that intersection where I think you follow the main trail.”

And that intersection’s actually a fork. I think there’s a fiberglass trail marker there, or at least there was two years ago. I think someone stole it last year. It doesn’t matter though, because you’re just going through that intersection. I mean you’re turning left.”

Even as I talk, I realize: I am giving terrible directions. The look on my hapless direction recipient’s face confirms this, big time. His eyes glass over. He nods, but it’s clear he’s stopped listening and is now just waiting for me to stop talking so he can go figure out the trail for himself.

The Real Mister Helpful Directions Person

I give terrible directions because when I’m riding — or doing anything else for that matter — I don’t think about stuff in such a way that lends itself to good directions. My thought process runs more along the lines of, “Hey, a stream! Look, there’s an interesting bug. I wonder what it’s called? This trail is fun. My legs hurt. I’m not doing a very good job of turning even circles. There’s an intersection, I wonder what would happen if I turned left instead of going right? Hey, a stream!”

You see my problem?

Dug, on the other hand, has an actual genuine superpower: His head has a GPS and a to-scale topographical map of the Intermountain West inside his head.

I believe this was caused by a freak accident involving Dug, a tourniquet, a broom closet, an electrical storm, a nearly-empty bottle of hand lotion, and a personal computer. There was also a cheese grater nearby, but I remain unconvinced of its relevance.

The fact remains: once Dug has been on a trail, he can give precise and perfect directions. Furthermore, he somehow knows how trails connect together, what the exact distances are from one point to the next, and recalls landmarks exactly.

You should hear him give directions to strangers encountered on the trail. “Go two hundred forty yards, during which time you will pass eighteen coniferous trees on the right side, not including saplings. Once you pass a boulder — it looks like a giant potato, has moss growing on the south side, and has a radius of fifty-four inches at its widest point, you can’t miss it — an intersection gives you the options of going to either of the following: Persimmon’s Doom on the left, Shimmy-Jimmy Doo-Whop on the right, or continue straight to intersect with Cashmere Nightmare in one-point-three miles.

Yes, we have oddly-named trails around here. But that’s not my point. My point is that when people get directions from Dug, they often abandon their previous route, asking if Dug will be their leader from that point forward.

Unfortunately, Dug is mean-spirited and spiteful, and hence as likely to answer with a chop to the solar plexus and spin-kick to the nose as a “sure, come ride with us.”

Which, of course, is why I always carry an extensive first-aid kit, which I waste no time in using.

Unfortunately, I am almost exactly as good at administering first aid as I am at giving directions.

PS: UPS has some really good news for me today: my Superfly Singlespeed — which I have been nonstop obsessing over since last August — has arrived at SLC Bicycle Co. LiveBlog of the unboxing and build begins tomorrow (Friday) at 10:30am MDT.

I’m so excited.


  1. Comment by hp | 03.19.2009 | 9:56 am

    Fatty, I give directions just like you do!
    I believe Dug received his super powers, in part, from his exposure to the evil, filthy fridge from his office.

  2. Comment by Matt | 03.19.2009 | 10:00 am

    Another rip-roaring hilarious post today Fatty!

    I’m still working on my ‘all hands’ corporate email (awaiting permission to send said email) soliciting donations to my ’soon to be created’ LiveStrong Challenge page for the San Jose event. And your post yesterday was brilliant btw!

    Glad you were finally able to get outside and ride…I guess I take it for granted here in CA that we can ride year round (though I personally don’t ride if it’s raining, or still wet from previous rain, or too windy, or too chilly…hmmmm…guess I’m quite spoiled! A true FAIR WEATHER RIDER!)

  3. Comment by bikemike | 03.19.2009 | 10:35 am

    i get lost going to the bathroom.

  4. Comment by Bob | 03.19.2009 | 10:55 am

    Let me be the fist to say, I hope that Superfly frame doesn’t break.

    Sorry, you’re too late. By a lot. – FC

  5. Comment by Springtown Spin | 03.19.2009 | 11:09 am

    Hey! I thought you and some of your readers might like to know about a bike rally going on – the 2nd Annual Springtown Spin. The Springtown Spin is an annual fundraiser benefitting Tarrant County Youth Collaboration, a nonprofit organization that works to eliminate child abuse and neglect due to social isolation.

    This year’s rally will be held on October 24 in Springtown, Texas. You can read more about it at springtownspin.blogspot.com or our website, http://www.tcyc4kids.org. See you there!

  6. Comment by Ka_Jun | 03.19.2009 | 11:18 am

    You too?!?! I’ve got a wheelset inbound for delivery today. Watching it in realtime.

  7. Comment by MikeonHisBike | 03.19.2009 | 11:40 am

    I’m rotten at directions too. If it involves more than one turn I’m sure to get lost. That’s why it’s good to have friends like Dug or a GPS. Whichever comes first.


  8. Comment by Di | 03.19.2009 | 12:38 pm

    Your thought process is classic. I don’t usually notice bugs, though. Usually, it’s squirrels who rush across the trail. One actually brushed up against my front tire, one time. I like to call them the “suicidal squirrels.” Nuts.

  9. Comment by Kala | 03.19.2009 | 12:40 pm

    hahaha, Fatty you always make me laugh. I’m sometimes a good direction giver & sometimes not. Eh, you win some, you lose some… right?

  10. Comment by Mike Roadie | 03.19.2009 | 12:56 pm

    Enjoy that bike!!!!

    Why didn’t my post from yesterday ever show up???


    For some reason it got sent to the spam folder. Just rescued it. – FC

  11. Comment by The Incredible Woody | 03.19.2009 | 1:30 pm

    I was involved in the same sort of freak accident as Dug but mine did not involve a tourniquet and therefore, my directional superpower is limited to roads.

  12. Comment by dug | 03.19.2009 | 1:31 pm

    i have some other directions for you. start by grasping the bottom of your head . . .

  13. Comment by Julian | 03.19.2009 | 1:33 pm

    So does SLC Bike rent out roadie bikes as well? My wife and I might be up in July and I wanna crank miles while there, I love SLC’s bike lanes and riding there. You are in such a more bike-friendly place than I am (DFW)

  14. Comment by dug | 03.19.2009 | 1:47 pm

    julian, they do rent road bikes.

    do you need directions to the shop?

  15. Comment by Rob | 03.19.2009 | 2:00 pm

    Elden….sounds like we share the same affliction….ADHLAS. Attention Deficit…Hey Look, A Squirrel.

    Glad your enjoying early spring too. Super nice here in Vermont.

  16. Comment by Jim | 03.19.2009 | 2:12 pm

    I too am a Mister Helpful(?)Directions Person. I sent a couple of friends off exploring trails near the CO-UT border. Supplied with one of my custom, highly detailed, hand drawn maps and accompanying verbal waypoints they were assured that this would become their most favorite ride – ever. That was Monday…….
    I’m pretty sure they made it home, but I’ve yet to hear the glowing reviews.

  17. Comment by Banger | 03.19.2009 | 2:24 pm

    Other riders on a trail! Normally we just go around the skiers and try not to get run over by the mushers. The idea of encountering cyclists I don’t know on a trail never quite occured to me. They probably would not yell at me like the skiers do since I am rutting up their snow. Sadly I think spring is still two months or so away here. It is still hitting -20F at night.

  18. Comment by Tim D | 03.19.2009 | 2:47 pm

    My friend Simon has a similar ability to Dug. Drop him in the wilderness with a map and within seconds he will have worked out his exact position and devised an interesting route home. However, stick him on a street corner, with street names, roadsigns etc and he will invariably go the wrong way.

  19. Comment by Big Boned | 03.19.2009 | 3:36 pm

    I don’t believe we’ve ever met and Simon isn’t my name…Oh – maybe you were talking about someone with traits similar to my own – sorry!

  20. Comment by Aaron | 03.19.2009 | 6:30 pm

    I suck at directions. Don’t ask me, cuz I don’t know.
    Also, I got word that MY Superfly SS will be in next week! Woohoo!

  21. Comment by sansauto | 03.19.2009 | 6:38 pm

    I once got lost on the courage classic (3 days, 3 mountain passes in the Cascades in Washington). They nailed arrows to poles instead of the traditional paint on the roadway. Anyway, I forgot what color arrows I was supposed to follow and ended up leading about a dozen people to garage sale in the middle of nowhere. I pretended to shop for until everyone who had followed me turned around.

  22. Comment by Anne Isom | 03.19.2009 | 7:01 pm


    I saw this game today, and thought of your son!!


    He’s probably already seen it, but its so cool I didn’t want him to miss it!

    Anne (Laura)

    wow, that IS a cool game, and you’re right about it being like something my son would make (in five or ten years). thanks for the link! – FC

  23. Comment by WheelDancer | 03.19.2009 | 7:34 pm

    My brain works much like yours Fatty so I generally, hey what’s that on my screen, I think I have some of those cleaner packets around here somewhere, OK sweetie, I’ll let him out, now what was I doing, oh so I don’t generally give directions except under duress and, oh there’s that cleaner pack, that will help, oh look the wastebasket is full, I’ll just empty that quick, oh can’t forget the contract for the meeting tomorrow…..

  24. Comment by VA Biker | 03.19.2009 | 7:50 pm

    Very funny post.

    “Citizen of Equestria”, indeed. ‘Tis a foreign kind of place/activity vs. riding a bike, for sure. (Written from someone who just doesn’t quite trust horses…)

  25. Comment by Jay | 03.19.2009 | 10:03 pm

    If I were lost on a trail anywhere, I would want to be with Dug. But I guess if I was with him then I wouldn’t be lost.

  26. Comment by Rocky | 03.19.2009 | 10:30 pm

    Moss only grows on the the north side so dugs directions would be strangely wrong, and I seem to recall dug not being able to find the singletrack as an exit on Gold Bar Rim.

  27. Comment by Flatoutjim | 03.20.2009 | 4:14 am

    Dear Mister Helpful Directions Person

    I need you help. I need to know the quickest way to the beer store.

    Can I please have Dug’s cell number?

  28. Comment by Kathleen | 03.20.2009 | 10:31 am

    I am a Citizen of Equestria! Although I’ve never been addressed as such and my life is poorer for it.

    LOVE this post…funny Fatty makes me smile.

  29. Comment by Jenni Laurita | 03.20.2009 | 10:39 am

    My husband, Matt, possesses this same superpower. I call him MattQuest.

  30. Comment by Philly Jen | 03.20.2009 | 11:40 am

    “Cashmere Nightmare”? ROFL, that’s definitely going to be my next knitting project, in shades of Persimmon Doom.

    (Or maybe my next emo cover band, I haven’t decided yet.)


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