How to Name a Bike Trail

04.22.2009 | 1:14 pm

A Note from Fatty: Today’s your very last day to enter the cleverly-named “Fight Cancer, meet Bike Snob NYC” contest, wherein you can fly to New York, meet my Evil Twin, Bike Snob NYC, and find out for yourself that he is actually eight feet tall, is covered with a thick coat of bright red fur (he dyes it; his natural fur color is light brown), has a goiter the size of a tangerine, and has a peculiarly-shaped bone structure protruding from his forehead that whistles shrilly when he reaches 18mph.

No wonder he values his privacy so highly.

Read details here, or go donate here. I’ll announce the winners tomorrow.

Another Note from Fatty: If you’ve been considering joining Team Fatty but just couldn’t deal with the $50 sign-up fee, today’s your lucky day, because there’s a one-day-only sale on registration going on right this very second. Simply click the city you want to sign up with – Austin, Seattle, San Jose, or Philly – and then from that page click the Join our Team link. Use “SPIRIT09″ as your discount code when you register and you’ll get $15 off the registration fee. Join us today and help us help the Lance Armstrong Foundation fight cancer.

And here’s something to consider: I am currently working out the details to start a weekly prize giveaway — but it will be strictly for members of Team Fatty. More info on this soon, but let’s just say that I’m going to do what I can to give Team Fatty members extra-good reasons to work hard on raising money to fight cancer.

Oh, and if you’ve got something so cool you think people would compete for a chance to win it, email me.

Yet Another Note from Fatty: Philly Jen — the Team Fatty Co-Captain for Philadelphia — has begun a FattyCast for Team Fatty. It’s a terrific way to learn about and get tips on raising money for Team Fatty members…or for people who are interested in joining Team Fatty. You’ll find the first installment of the FattyCast here. As a bonus, unlike most podcasts, Jen has an honest-to-goodness great voice

Still Yet Another Note from Fatty: I have created a new forum for Team Fatty members for the different cities to chat, and for the team co-captains to start talking about any special Team Fatty activities we’ll be having before the event. I highly recommend checking it out. It should be a good place for you to meet your teammates. You’ll find the forum at That seems like a reasonable URL, doesn’t it?

1-day sale on joining the livestrong challenge. which makes it a good day to join team fatty

OK, Seriously, This is The Last Note from Fatty: I currently don’t have a team Co-Captain for San Jose and I need one. If you live in that area, have experience with leading teams, and are willing to take on the bulk of the Team Fatty San Jose-leading responsibilities, email me. Thanks!

How to Name a Bike Trail

I’ve mentioned before how much I love Draper City for building and maintaining Corner Canyon. Well, I’ve got another reason now. Jamie P, one of the guys I sometimes ride with, started going to the City Council meetings and then proposed a new trail in Corner Canyon: a trail built to be a twisty, cross-country, bikes-only, narrow, downhill-specific slice of heaven.

And Draper totally went for it.

Everyone I know who rides is so excited that many of us plan to actually help build it. Yes, I know that seems crazy, but it’s true.

So yesterday, when Jamie sent out an email asking for ideas on what to name this trail, the response was as overwhelming as it was tragic. As it turns out, very few of us know the rules for properly naming a trail. And I do not exempt myself from this sad group, for my own suggestions (including “B#,” a clever in-joke programmers will find mildly amusing and nobody else will get at all) were perhaps among the worst.

So I thought. And I considered. And I came up with what I can now confidently assert are the definitive and authoritative “Do’s and Don’ts” of bike trail naming.

These rules are as follows:

Do Not…

  • Use more than 3 syllables. This is not because I am lazy. This is because I am practical. If a bike trail has more than three syllables, I will not be able to curse it properly when I am climbing, because I will have to take a breath in the middle of the trail’s name. For example, if the trail is named “Revolution Revelations” (eight syllables), I will pass out if I try to say it during a climb. Also, it takes me about thirty seconds to type, and about nine minutes to text. Hence, I would simply call the trail “RR,” which wouldn’t be too bad of a name, except for the fact that it sounds like the way Mork laughed.
  • Call it something you cannot picture yourself saying to your grandma, or spouse, children, or ecclesiastical authorities. I just cannot imagine myself telling Susan, “Hey, I’m going to head out and ride the Dirty Mistress. I’ll see you in a couple hours.”
  • Use trendy slang. The thing about trendy slang is that it either falls out of use, or it becomes cliche. And also, it sounds painful when middle-aged white guys say anything ending with “izzle.”
  • Name it with presumption, so that it is unlikely to meet expectations. If you name your trail “The Terminator” but winds up being more like The Sarah Connor Chronicles, well, that’s a bit of a letdown, isn’t it?
  • Make it sound horrible, dangerous and no fun. Trails should not be named “Scab Picker,” nor should they be called “The Disemboweler” or “Twenty Foot Drop Into a Pit with Sharp Iron Spikes at the Bottom.” This is a different kind of presumption — that your trail is unrideable — and it’s even less cool than the first kind. The exception to this rule, of course, is if the trail actually does have a twenty foot drop into a pit with sharp iron spikes at the bottom.
  • Use puns. As you know, puns are the lowest form of humor. So don’t name your trail “ReCYCLER.” Or “CYCLone” or “Spin Cycle.” If you do, I will be forced to call the trail by an alternate name. You know how people say, “No pun intended?” What other form of humor is usually followed by a disclaimer / apology?
  • Use alliteration. Alliteration is lucky it’s a rhetorical device, not a form of humor. Because if it were a form of humor, it might be even lower than puns. So don’t name your trail “Seriously Sick Singletrack.” Remember: alliteration is an absolutely abhorrent avenue for assigning an appellation.
  • End the name of the trail with “Trail.” Of course it’s a trail.
  • Name the trail after current events, a song, a band, or other transitory pop cultural puffery. What if someone had named a trail after the BeeGees? Think about that before you go naming your trail after a Metallica song. Or whatever it is kids listen to these days.
  • Name it after drugs. Or sex. Yes, yes, this trail is as addictive as crack. And it’s better than sex. Got it. But that gag is used. As in, used up.


  • Be non-comedically obscure. What does “Goldbar Rim” mean? I have no idea. How about “Amasa Back?” Nope, still no idea. And “Kokopelli Trail?” Well, that violates the “Don’t end the name of the trail with ‘Trail’” rule, but I still don’t know what it means. And yet, these are all great trails with names I remember. This highlights a key point in trail naming: A trail’s awesomeness stems from the trail itself. The name will take on awesomeness in time, so don’t get in its way with kitsch.
  • Be descriptive. Slickrock Trail is the best known trail in the world, and it has a simple, descriptive name. Timpooneke Trail is just named after the mountain it’s on. The Ridge Trail network is a network of trails on a common mountain ridge. I can see, right now, that my “Don’t end your trail name with ‘Trail’” rule is not holding up very well.
  • Be thematically random. If you think about naming all of your trails before you begin naming any of them, then you can choose a theme. For example, I recommend “Famous magicians and psychics” as a trail theme. Houdini, Krespin, Hennings, and Copperfield all make terrific trail names. The names of the characters on Gilligan’s Isle is another fine trail-naming theme that has so far been sadly neglected.
  • Use a first name, but one that was popular with people 60 – 70 years ago. This is by far the best way to name trails. And, fortunately, there’s a handly list already made. Dolores, for example, is a terrific trail name. As is Wanda. In fact, I would love nothing better than to say, “I’m going riding on a trail called Wanda.” Marvin, Floyd, Ethel, and Lester: all terrific trail names. In fact, if I were to run for office, I would use as my platform a promise that all trails would be named after popular names of the ’30s.

Oh, who am I kidding? This is all just sour grapes. In truth, I’m just disappointed that nobody suggested naming this new trail “Fatty.”


  1. Comment by buckythedonkey | 04.22.2009 | 1:27 pm

    Happy Earth Day, Fatty.

    In the LAF newsletter you said:
    “I really wish there were LIVESTRONG Challenge events in Europe and Australia, because I think we could make a pretty good showing there”

    So do I! Before that happens, can we please have a Rest of the World section in the new forum for those of us that just don’t fit?


    Done. – FC

  2. Comment by Rantwick | 04.22.2009 | 1:42 pm

    Hey, I was just harrassing the comment board on BSNYC and Jen’s contest (with a nudge from snob) had hit 5K when I left…

    Keep up the good work, Fatty and teams Fatty. You all impress me to no end.


  3. Comment by The Incredible Woody | 04.22.2009 | 1:44 pm

    I have to say I was disappointed that it wasn’t named Fatty, too. That’s what I thought you were leading up to.

    I also thought B# was clever but I thought you were aiming it toward the musicians in the bunch. You know, Be Sharp so you won’t fall off the cliff edge…

  4. Comment by Julia | 04.22.2009 | 1:59 pm

    Hey Fatty –

    Did I miss some crucial information etc… on the ride to no where? When will it be? I am eagerly waiting the opportunity to ride around my block 400 times.

    Registration opens tomorrow. I’ll post all about it! – FC

  5. Comment by dug | 04.22.2009 | 2:01 pm


  6. Comment by dug | 04.22.2009 | 2:02 pm

    oh, and to be clear, NOT “frank’s.” it’s not Frank’s trail. never was. never will be. the trail is simply “frank.”

    and don’t go there. yeah, YOU know where.

  7. Comment by Anonymous | 04.22.2009 | 2:11 pm

    how about jamie p. that way you can curse him and the trail at the same time. kind’ve a two for one dealio.

    ‘course, that does present the problem of….”where you goin’”? “i’m goin’ to ride jamie p.”…nevermind.

  8. Comment by bikemike | 04.22.2009 | 2:11 pm

    yeah, anonymous above, is me.

  9. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.22.2009 | 2:18 pm

    so, let me get this straight – you can’t tell the fam you are going to go ride the Dirty Mistress, I got that part. Agreed. But it IS OK with Wanda?!?

    What about Bob?

  10. Comment by Andrew | 04.22.2009 | 2:27 pm

    If I was going to build parallel trails I’d name them Ginger and Mary Anne. Ginger would be smoother, and a little easier, and Mary Anne would be a little more technical.

    So, Ginger or Mary Anne?

  11. Comment by jilrubia | 04.22.2009 | 2:39 pm

    Right off the names from the 30’s list:

    Rex Hollow
    Roscoe…something, trail?
    Wilburn Point (really no pun intended! It’s #378!!)
    Hollis…something else

    Female names don’t work for this, unless you’re Wanda.
    Naming things I have no stake in is FUN! Good Luck.

  12. Comment by WKRP | 04.22.2009 | 3:17 pm

    Still like Booger

  13. Comment by axel in texas | 04.22.2009 | 3:20 pm

    one of the best trails I have ridden has one of the worst names: south boundary trail (Angel Fire – Taos, NM). Usually the name ‘boundary’ implies that it follows a boundary regardless of contours and is therefore no fun. Not true here…

    one of the better names around here
    Fat Chuck’s Demise. (it is descriptive and only makes it sound no fun for cyclists that are fatter than Fat Chuck…)

  14. Comment by Jonas | 04.22.2009 | 3:28 pm

    I prefer first and last names:

    Burnhardt Burnthistle
    Templeton Thapeltrat
    Beaselton Kumwinckle
    Clementine Dimplethipy
    Foster Mackeldoo
    Zachamore Hooberry
    Ghoulsby Scroggins
    Mortimor Fapp
    Ebenezor Yackbane

    Hat tip to SNL.
    Jasper Quaselpoot
    Peabody Tittlecut

  15. Comment by MOCougFan | 04.22.2009 | 3:32 pm

    Gotta go with El Diablo. Just sounds cool.

  16. Comment by chtrich | 04.22.2009 | 3:35 pm

    A singletrack trail couldn’t be named Fatty. Skinny would be more appropraite.
    A double wide trail could be named Fatty though. Maybe next time.

  17. Comment by Hilslug | 04.22.2009 | 3:54 pm

    In my profession as a land use planner, my colleagues and I joke that new real estate developments are named after whatever was destroyed to build it. (Think about it when you look at the names of subdivisions, it works! e.g. Hawk’s Landing, Pleasant Glen, Fox Hollow, etc.) I haven’t the faintest idea what to call something that is nature-like. That’s foreign to me.

  18. Comment by Lucky Cyclist | 04.22.2009 | 3:56 pm

    I always thought whoever built it got to name it. That’s why there are no trails named after me.

  19. Comment by KanyonKris | 04.22.2009 | 4:04 pm

    Dolores? Is a certain Seinfeld episode ringing any bells? Then again, maybe anatomical names would make good trail names: Uvula anyone?

  20. Comment by StevieB | 04.22.2009 | 4:13 pm

    My favourite trail is known locally (ok – to me and my nephew) as “Nutcracker alley”, ever since he had the kind of accident that no bloke likes to have, much less one at his very, er, sensitive age.

    On the bright side, everyone else assumed that the reason he talked in a higher register for a few days was down to the old hormones…

  21. Comment by MikeonhisBike | 04.22.2009 | 4:13 pm

    Maybe it’s wrong but I really like “Spin Cycle”

  22. Comment by Mike Roadie | 04.22.2009 | 4:18 pm


    Fatty-izzle Trail gets my vo-tizzle for shizzle.

    Go Team Austin!!!


  23. Comment by Renee in Seattle | 04.22.2009 | 5:28 pm

    Twisty? Downhill specific?

    “Dorothy’s House”

    referencing the twister in the W of O.
    or just

    “The Tornado”

  24. Comment by RachelGio | 04.22.2009 | 5:35 pm

    one of our better areas out here is called Fantasy Island…

  25. Comment by M | 04.22.2009 | 5:45 pm

    Phone Home

  26. Comment by fremont mike | 04.22.2009 | 6:04 pm

    How about Angry Mike?
    When I was just starting out my “friends” took me on a very technical trail where I crashed 5 times. I was pissed and said I would never ride that trail again. Thus it came to pass that this previously unnamed UCT, (Undefined Cow Trail) became the Angry Mike

  27. Comment by Linda | 04.22.2009 | 6:55 pm

    It is not letting me use spirit09 or SPIRIT09 as a discount code.

  28. Comment by bubbaseadog | 04.22.2009 | 7:00 pm

    i like the red ryder trail or bubbaseadogs trail. but you could go with the fatman trail that story has been around for years..or the urban legend trail.winsusan go lance

  29. Comment by Jeff | 04.22.2009 | 7:33 pm

    So…no “note from fatty” about the century of nowhere?

  30. Comment by Weiland | 04.22.2009 | 10:42 pm

    Since Donut Falls is already taken how about Elden Falls

  31. Comment by Shiny Flu | 04.23.2009 | 4:28 am

    One of my favourite tracks and names is “That Damn Track” which goes past a small pond/dam.

    Maybe if it’s twisty and downhill… Lombard Street?

  32. Comment by Bjorn 4Lycra | 04.23.2009 | 4:37 am

    Not sure why but I like “Jamie’s Dance” named after Jamie and it requires the rider to dance on the pedals.

    Can anybody help I can’t find Boom Boom anywhere but on You Tube – it’s my new favourite song!

  33. Comment by Chris | 04.23.2009 | 7:24 am

    This exercise is like trying to name a baby before you even have sex. Build the trail ride a few hunderd time then come up with a good name.

  34. Comment by Dan O | 04.23.2009 | 7:56 am

    Don’t end it in the word “fun” as in Moore Fun.

    Whoever the heck Moore is, his idea of fun is twisted!

    Life is good


  35. Comment by (California ) Matt | 04.23.2009 | 7:58 am

    Agree with Chris…it’s impossible to give a GREAT name to a trail until you’ve ridden it. Once you do, something will spring to mind.

    I can’t get to the FattyCast from’s blocked. Crap…I need help…I SUCK at fundraising. I’ve hit the wall and need ideas. I will try from home tonight (if I remember…I like to do most of my surfing at work).

  36. Comment by Rick S. | 04.23.2009 | 8:43 am

    The new trail should be called “Aspartame”. It’s as sweet as it is addictive.

  37. Comment by Ashton | 04.23.2009 | 8:49 am

    Hey, I love Sarah Connor Chronicles…..

  38. Comment by dougg | 04.23.2009 | 10:54 am

    We have trails named after movies “The green mile” Forest Bump, Blazing saddles, The fast and furious, ect ect…

  39. Comment by Brent I. | 04.23.2009 | 12:49 pm

    I really hope this isn’t taking a turn into negative town, however, doesn’t naming the trail “Fatty” kind of violate the second bullet? It may have the same effect as heading out to ride the Dirty Mistress.

  40. Comment by The D | 04.23.2009 | 4:07 pm

    Dirty Mistress = name of my rain bike.

  41. Comment by Amy | 04.24.2009 | 3:49 pm

    I can’t believe no one mentioned this. I think an EXCELLENT trail name would be “Go Susan!”

  42. Comment by Amy | 04.24.2009 | 3:50 pm

    Did I say go? I meant “win.”

  43. Comment by Miles Archer | 04.27.2009 | 10:33 pm

    Dolores has the advantage of meaning pain in spanish.


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