A Note from Fatty: I have Very Important News today, but first I want to call attention to the fact that my friends at Twin Six are having their Four Day October Sale. 2009 T-shirts are just $16. 2008 T-shirts are $6.00. 2009 jerseys are down to $45, and 2008 Jerseys are just $35. And that’s not all!
Twin Six is also launching nearly all of the T-shirts from their 2010 collection, and putting most of them up at just $20. The others they’re calling PROTO’s, which are just $12. These are 100% perfectly great and brand new fresh-off-the-printer t-shirts. The reason they’re marked down to $12 is because of small changes Twin Six is making to them — graphic placement, slight color revision, etc. Absolutely perfect otherwise.
The sale ends at midnight Central Standard Time on Friday, October 10/9. Take a few minutes to dig around.
ST. LOUIS (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France champion, announced today that he is now 90% of the way to the completion point of becoming a huge nerd.
“Yesterday, when I tweeted my new partnership with Michelob Ultra, I crossed a major Huge Nerd milestone: 90%,” said the surprisingly geeky cycling great. “Only 10% more to go, and my transformation will be complete.”
“While some may not immediately grasp the nerdliness of this announcement,” continued Armstrong, “once you get a feel for exactly what the Michelob Ultra line consists of, you’ll totally see exactly how dweeby I can be.”
According to the Michelob Ultra site’s Product Info page, Michelob Ultra (which Michelob always all-caps, but this news release will not, because THAT’S VERY ANNOYING) in addition to a lager and amber, contains three dorky, fruity drinks. They are described on the product site as follows:
- Michelob ULTRA Lime Cactus: A fruit-infused light pilsner with natural lime flavor and a floral essence derived from the cactus.
- Michelob ULTRA Pomegranate Raspberry: A pilsner with a berry aroma, raspberry flavor, and a hint of pomegranate.
- Michelob ULTRA Tuscan Orange Grapefruit: A pilsner with fresh juicy orange notes and a slight pink-grapefruit finish.
“Yes,” said Armstrong, “I really am acting as the product spokesman for beverages with ‘juicy orange notes, floral essences, and hints of pomegranate.”
Armstrong then executed a snorting laugh, hiked his pants up high above his waist — the cuffs now well above his ankles — and pulled out his Blackberry, at which poinnt he Tweeted, “Just did a snorty laugh and hiked my pants high above my waist.”
Trend Toward Nerditude
“With the Ultra announcement, I have increased my nerditude quotient by 30%,” said the increasingly geeky cycling legend. “My first big move in this direction was of course when I began Tweeting pretty much everything I do.“
“That, however, only brought me to 15%. A mere taste of the nerdvana I hope to obtain. My next — and I think most inspired — move toward absolute geektasticness was to secure cycling sponsorship from RadioShack.”
RadioShack, it should be noted, has won the award for “Nerdiest Store in America” every year since 1921, and does a brisk business in DIY robot kits, radio-controlled cars, and strobe lights.
“The RadioShack sponsorship was huge,” continued Armstrong, “bringing me all the way up to 60% on the Alfred E Neuman Nerditude Appearance Scale (AENNAS).
“But,” said the well-known advocate for cancer research, his voice growing serious, “I knew I could be more nerdly still. And that’s why I’ve chosen to back some of the dopiest-sounding drinks I’ve ever heard of in my life.”
“And I’m not done yet,” said the racing icon, his eyes flashing. “Nor will I be, until I am 100% nerdly.”
At this point of the announcement, Armstrong revealed a poster showing the following image:
“As you can see, I am a visionary nerd,” said the visibly-proud Armstrong. “In addition to my recent partnerships with Michelob Ultra and RadioShack — by the way, I’m very pleased to announce the upcoming TRS-80 Model 2010, which will be released in concert with the 2010 Tour de France — I am leveraging my existing partnerships to help increase my goofiness.”
“Oakley, for example,” will soon be releasing the following new glasses:”
“We’re still working out the details,” said Armstrong, “but in addition to the high-quality optics for which Oakley is known, there will be Oakley-branded tape holding the frame together. We are tentatively calling the material this ultra-low-weight, high-strength material this tape is made of ‘Electrotapium.”
“I am also proud to announce that I am working with Nike to create a new line of off-the-bike wear, consisting entirely of wicking polyester pants, designed to wrinkle, ride up high around the crotch, and just barely graze the top of your shoe when you stand still, showing generous flashes of sock when you walk.”
“It is my contention that these two products, when released later this year, will easily boost my goober factor by the 10% I need,” asserted Armstrong.
“This,” concluded the father of four, “will enable me to embarrass my children as thoroughly as any other father in America.”
Nobody Armstrong has ever met was available for comment.
It started to snow — just a little — while I was out on a ride yesterday, which is not a big deal unless you’re a sissy.
Which I am, but that’s not the point of today’s post, so let’s just keep moving, OK? Thanks.
I returned from my ride to two worried little girls. The idea of dad riding out in the snow was very troubling to them. And the worry didn’t stop even after I let them know that I was reasonably certain I would keep all my fingers and toes.
By the time I had cleaned up, Katie had designed a solution the problem. She presented me with her invention:
As you can see, it’s me, on a bike, happy and comfortable in spite of the fact that it is cloudy and snowing (it’s so bad outside that even the (partially obscured) sun is sad). The primary virtues of this bike are as obvious as they are practical:
- Heater vent: Clearly labeled, it is blowing nicely at me. I like the way that Katie has thoughtfully placed it behind, rather than in front or overhead. This way, it’s not likely to dry out my eyes or leave me feeling uncomfortably hot in front.
- Roomy, Weathertight Enclosure: As evidenced by the drawing, not a single snowflake is getting through. That’s remarkable, but not as remarkable as the fact that the whole contraption is large enough for me to get up and walk around in. I needn’t worry about sudden attacks of claustrophobia in this!
- Easy Access: The windshield doubles as a front door to get in. Multipurpose functionality like this cuts down on weight, and that’s going to be important when I use this thing for my next TT to the top of the Alpine Loop.
- Two-Wheel Drive: Once the snow begins falling in earnest, I’m going to be really glad that the chain goes to both the front and rear wheel, making it possible for me to get out of deep snow and over icy patches. Frankly, I didn’t expect this kind of functionality in a first-pass drawing from a seven-year-old.
All that’s well and good, but here at the Fat Cyclist household, I expect a certain level of excellence from my children. And in several key areas, Katie’s invention falls short.
- Moose Antlers Are Heavy: It’s evident that in lieu of normal handlebars, Katie has elected to have me steer using moose antlers. Have you ever tried lifting those things?
- The Seat is Too Low: I can see why she has the seat in a low position like that: to enable the weight savings that come with a low ceiling. But as is readily evident in her drawing, I am not going to be able to get optimal leg extension with the saddle where it is. Furthermore, if I were to raise the saddle, my head would bump against the ceiling. “You know my axle-to-saddle measurement is 74.5cm,” I said. “Everyone in this house does. Don’t go trying to cheat on your designs and build me a snow bike that won’t accommodate that saddle height.”
- The Wheels are Too Small: I can see that Katie opted to go with 22″ wheels. She knows good and well that I don’t have a single tube that size, and that it’s almost impossible to find good, lightweight rims in that diameter. “Go look in the garage,” I admonished her. “Do you see any 22″ wheels out there? No? Why do you think that is? That’s right, because it’s not a common wheel size. Now go back to the drawing board and re-do this with 700c — or at least 650c — wheels.
- No Shifting Mechanism: I appreciate the fact that Katie acknowledges my current fascination with single speeds, but this is ridiculous. There is no way I am going to get that thing up and over a mountain pass with the current gearing. And if I don’t miss my guess — and as an internationally beloved and award-winning internet cycling blogger celebrity I rarely do — she’s set this thing up as a fixie. Not only is that impractical, it’s downright pompous.
I of course gave my daughter all of this constructive feedback and sent her on her way, pleased with my parenting skills, and confident that her next drawing will be better thought out.
I find myself at a strange nexus of circumstances, rendered all the more strange by the fact that I don’t know what “nexus” even means.
Consider, if you will, the following.
Item One: I am in remarkably good shape. I have thumped my chest and gone on and on about this recently, but the thing is: when you’re in really good shape as rarely as I am, it’s a conversational topic you find reason to bring up pretty darned frequently.
This isn’t just me feeling strong on the bike, either. In the past couple weeks, I’ve posted strong TT times on the Alpine Loop climb, Clark’s Trail in Corner Canyon (yeah, I’ve talked about both of those before), and — just a few days ago — on the North Suncrest road climb.
I’m at the point where I think it’s entirely possible that at the 24 Hours of Moab this weekend, I’ll be able to race without being a huge liability to my team.
That’s a new sensation, I’ll tell you.
Item Two: This has been a remarkable riding season. A really wet spring led to excellent trails and dense green foliage throughout the summer. And now we’re getting the big autumn payoff: all those leaves are turning colors now:
And when those leaves fall on tacky, packed forest singletrack — well — there’s nothing in mountain biking that is quite like it.
It’s like riding on a carpet. A red and yellow, short nap pile carpet.
Item three: It has begun to rain here. Often and a lot. It stands to reason that because items one and two have put me in excellent position to really enjoy being on my bike that…the weather has suddenly gone straight to hell.
Now, if I were Jill Homer, I’d be relieved. “Oh, good,” I would think to myself. “Finally, the good weather is behind me. Now I can start enjoying my bike again.”
But I’m not Jill Homer. In addition to other (more obvious) ways, I could tell this recently as I shot down the Alpine Loop on my road bike. The wind bit into me enough that I could feel my reaction time slowing. Rather than relish the refreshing feeling of hypothermia onset, as Jill would, I found a spot in the sun, stopped, and hugged myself — whimpering — until the shaking subsided and rational thought returned. During this time, I said to myself, repeatedly, “I will never ever ever ever do the Iditarod. Ever.”
I’ve lived in Finland. I’ve lived in Seattle. I know cold. I know rain. I don’t like to ride in either.
Which leads us — at long last — to today’s topic: What is my winter fitness plan?
My Winter Fitness Plan
My fitness plan for this winter is to gain as much weight as possible, in record time. I intend to do this using the following time-tested techniques:
1. Begin new exercise program. Or, as some less-enlightened people might say, “Begin exercising less.” I intend to do this through the medium of fooling myself. When it’s rainy (or windy, or snowy) in the morning, I will say to myself, “I’ll catch a ride later, when it clears up.” Then, if it doesn’t clear up, I have an ironclad excuse for not riding. If, on the other hand, it does clear up, it won’t matter anyway, because by the time the afternoon rolls around, my day is locked down.
It’s a brilliant strategy, and has worked for me hundreds of times. I have no reason to believe it will not work for me this year.
There will be times, however, when exercise is unavoidable. For these times, I will tell myself that:
- Winter is the time for me to put in long, slow miles. Sadly, I don’t have time for the “long” part. But slow, yes. That I can do.
- It’s been a while. I shouldn’t overdo it. I don’t want to strain something, after all. I should just kind of work back up to a good fitness level. Today will be the first step down that path. Just like the one time I exercised the previous week was.
- There’s plenty of time. Once winter begins, spring seems like forever away. This is because spring actually is forever away. Until, suddenly, it isn’t. Weird how that happens.
2. Begin new diet. I prefer the term “new diet” to the lmore demeaning (and, fine, accurate) description known as “eating more food, eating worse food, and eating more often.”
What I have noticed over the course of many winters is that, once there are more dark hours than light hours in a day, my body knows that it’s time to hibernate. Where before all I wanted to eat are apples, carrots and egg whites, suddenly I find myself wanting to hijack a Frito-Lay truck.
Worse yet, I generally want to use the Hostess truck I’ve hijacked earlier in the day to execute that (second) hijacking.
3. Begin using the scale judiciously. As autumn progresses toward winter, I intend to use the scale less and less often. You see, the bathroom scale is a very close relative to the mechanism used to kill (or not) Schrödinger’s cat. To wit, until I actually step on the bathroom scale and measure myself, I have not technically gained any measurable weight.
Trouser tightness notwithstanding.
I have high confidence in this plan, and am happy to say that I am well on my way toward executing it. It has been three days since I’ve been on a bike, and I’m feeling soft and lazy, and am considering my second nap of the day doing a good job of tapering for my race this weekend.
I have started getting a lot of terrific stuff in the mail. For example, yesterday I got a very exclusive offer to try out Domino’s new Pasta Bread Bowl at a Very Special Price.
You can bet I’ll take them up on that soon. Real soon.
I also get a lot of bike-related stuff in the mail — and I don’t mean just a new Colorado Cyclist catalogue every couple days. I get genuine, actual bike-related things. That people could theoretically buy and stuff.
Here’s how the process generally plays out, in eleven easy steps.
- Someone — either a person from the vendor company or from their fancy-pants PR firm — emails me, telling me they’re a big fan of the blog (“Well, how could you not be?” I ask myself in bemusement), and that they have something they’d like to send me to try out.
- I reply, saying, “Sure, send it on over!” and give them my address, while crossing my fingers that I have not just made some identity thief’s job really really easy.
- Enough time elapses (i.e., more than seven minutes) that I forget we ever had an email exchange.
- A package arrives, generally via USPS.
- The package sits in the mailbox for a week or more, because we’ve all been trained to know that with the advent of e-mail, nothing good comes by USPS. Just bills and junk mail.
- Eventually the mail carrier leaves an angry note taped to my mailbox saying that no more stuff fits in it. Once, I left a response, saying, “Then stop putting those newspaper-sized grocery store ads in my mailbox.” The conversation ended there. And yes, he continues to put the grocery store ads in my mailbox, and I continue to not pick up USPS mail more than a couple times a month.
- I get the mail and — yay! — spy a package.
- I tear the package open and don a puzzled look. What is this? Where did it come from? Is it delicious? Is it poisonous? Both? (I’m always really sad when something’s both delicious and poisonous — I’m looking at you, antifreeze).
- I wake up from a sound sleep two nights later, suddenly remembering the email conversation I had with the vendor / PR guy.
- I try the product out, and find that I don’t like it enough to talk about here, and that I furthermore don’t hate it enough to talk about here. “Reasonably OK” doesn’t make for hilarious blogginess that people have come to love and expect here at Fat Cyclist.
- Eventually, I get follow-up email from the vendor or PR person, but by then I’ve forgotten them and their product again.
So there you have it: the magic formula for how to get me to talk about stuff you send me: be really good, or suck in an interesting way.
Today, I am going to talk about two things that are really good.
Cutter Tech Knickerbockers
Here’s how I can tell what my favorite clothing items are: they never get folded and put away. Which is to say, I generally wear them straight out of the dryer.
With this metric — or the metric of the fact that I wear them constantly — Cutter’s Tech Knickerbockers are definitely my favorite shorts, on the bike (in cool weather) or off.
You know, I just never get over how remarkably handsome I am.
(Side Note: I want to point out that the Tom Selleck “Movember” T-shirt I’m wearing here is to let you know that Team Fatty will definitely be celebrating Movember. Start planning your moustache ideas now. Oh, and also that I meant to be pointing at Tom’s moustache with my left hand, but seem to be unable to flex and point accurately at the same time.)
For one thing, the Cutters are comfortable — the material is stretchy and doesn’t bind anywhere. For another, they’re tough as nails. For a third, the articulated knees make them look and feel great when you’re on the bike. Though, to be truthful, this same articulation makes those knees kind of pooch out when you’re off the bike and standing around.
They’ve got pockets everywhere, in sizes for pretty much everything. And while the video on the catalog page at their site describes what each pocket is for (and gives you much more technical information than I’m going to about what these shorts are made of), I just generally put whatever I need to hold into whatever pocket will hold it.
During the Spring, I wore these on two mountain bike rides out of every three. They were terrific at being water — and mud — repellent, and they showed they were tough. The crotch didn’t wear out, and there are no visible scuffs from when I turfed it.
For the Summer, it was too hot to wear these for the kind of riding I’ve been doing, but I wore them off the bike nearly every day. They’re just that comfortable.
And now that Autumn is here, I’m planning to put these back into active service on the bike.
These are pricey pants — $149. I probably wouldn’t have bought them before I had known how much I would like them. That just seems like too much money. Now that I’m into my third season of wearing and loving these shorts, I’d say $149 is a bargain.
Oh, and Cutter is a SLC-based company. I love it when local boys make good.
Grease Monkey Wipes
I always keep an industrial-sized container of baby wipes in my truck; they’re perfect for doing a quick cleanup after a lunch bike ride. Ride, clean up, get dressed, get back to meetings. The perfect crime.
And now, since getting Grease Monkey Wipes, I keep a few of these in my truck, too.
Really, they’re just like baby wipes, except they’re made for degreasing. And if you’ve had to work on your bike during your lunch ride, they can be the difference between looking like an auto mechanic and a white-collar softie when you get back to work.
And the good thing is, these really work. Allow me to demonstrate.
Step 1: Oh noes, I seem to have grabbed a greasy, dirty bike chain.
Step 2: Get out the Grease Monkey Wipe and scrub for about 15 seconds (scrubbing not shown because I only have two hands and have to use one of them to take the picture).
Step 3: Gee, my hand is clean again. And smells lemony-fresh!
One of these wipes takes me from greasy to presentable. And, as noted above, they smell lemony.
And they’re not half bad for removing the rookie mark from your calf, either.
PS: Expect a review of something that sucked in an interesting way sometime really really soon.
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