The problem with being a beloved internet superstar celebrity such as myself — apart from the many other problems that typically plague the incredibly wealthy, handsome, and famous — is that I have gotten to know other beloved internet celebrities.
I know, that doesn’t sound like a problem. But let me explain. I’ll try to be brief, but you and I both know that I’ll fail.
And as we’ve gotten to know each other, all three of these bloggers have helped me raise huge amounts of money for LiveStrong in the fight against cancer. Jill raffled off a super-sweet camera. Bike Snob raffled off a trip to ride with him. And Pioneer Woman raffled off a whole truckload of photography equipment and software.
As you probably know, I’m an attention whore I really like to win awards. And the “Best Sports” Bloggie is especially important to me, cuz if I win that this year, that makes three times, which would make me the first person to reach “hall of fame” status for that category.
But against friends? Well, the idea of that isn’t nearly as appealing, and for a while I considered just not even asking for your vote.
But then I considered: on a bike, do I race if a friend is in the race? Of course I do. And if I beat that friend, is our friendship damaged? Of course not, unless I really rub it in and blog about it and perhaps have a T-shirt made saying “I Kicked Dug’s Butt in Our 1:1 Challenge.”
Which I of course would never do. I think.
Similarly, if a friend beats me in a race, am I upset? Well of course I am, and you can bet that I’m going to cry as soon as I get to the privacy of my own bedroom. But at least publicly I’m going to punch him (or her) in the arm and say, in an affected British accent, “Good show old boy. Pip pip.”
My Instructions to You
So here’s what I would like you to do. Go to the Bloggies voting page, and vote. I’d really, really like to win the “Best Sports” category, so if you like my blog, vote for me there.
I’d also like to win the “Best Writing” and “Blog of the Year” categories, but against the heavy hitters there, don’t think that I realistically have a shot. But still, why not vote for the little (5′7″ and shrinking) guy?
Or, if you’re a big fan of one of my friends in any of those categories, please vote for them.
PS: For those of you who linked in here via the Bloggies page, here are a few posts from Susan’s and my battle with Cancer:
A Note from Fatty:Team Fatty member Michael Schechter (who comments as “Kamala”) has an outstanding article about him in in The Stranger.Read it!
If you ride a bike, there’s a good chance you have a lot of water bottles. Where, originally, you had a few that took up a corner of a shelf, you’ve now got that shelf completely filled, and are spilling out onto a second. Little by little — event by event — you’ve collected enough bottles that you now could go on two-bottle rides every day for a month without washing a single bottle.
I am not recommending you do that, by the way. I was being hypothetical and stuff.
The problem with having so many bottles is: most of these bottles are terrible. After a few washes, the valves don’t work right, turning them into dribble glasses. Furthermore, thanks to a bylaw passed more than 20 years ago by the powerful Bicycle Water Bottle Manufacturers’ Conglomerate (BWBMC), any bottle with a screw-top lid made by one manufacturer must be threaded differently than the bottle/lid combination of every other manufacturer, so that while all your lids and bottles look like they’d work together, in reality they will not.
There is a separate BWBMC statute that encourages all bottle manufacturers to slightly change their bottle / threading methodology on a bi-annual basis, so that your 2005 bottles will not work with your 2006 bottles.
Then, of course, there’s the whole “top-of-drawer” (AKA “Last in, first out”) thing: no matter how many bottles you own, the one you most recently used is likely to be the one you use again next time.
The practical upshot is: there’s a good chance you’ve got a few bottles that you really use a lot, and a ridiculous number of bottles you will never use at all. Ever.
Today, I will help you solve this important and urgent (that’s Quad 1, folks, and is not to be taken lightly) problem, by showing you several excellent ways you can modify your water bottles for alternative uses around the home.
Oh, and also there’s a contest with a topically-relevant prize at the end of the post. Don’t you dare scroll down to see what it is, though.
That would be cheating.
Like most people, the first thing I think of when considering ways in which a water bottle might be adapted to other purposes is musical instrument.
The first thing I tried was as easy as it was effective. A handful of coins in a couple of unmodified water bottles makes for an awesome set of ad-hoc maracas. Before long, I was dancing and maraca-ing up a storm.
I actually took video of this. I really did. And then I watched it this morning and realized something: I apparently do have limits as to what I will show on this blog.
Besides, the maracas idea is a little too easy. That’s not really modifying your bottles; that’s just adding some change.
So I made a horn. Sort of. Kind of a foghorn, really. Or, to be honest, a long cylinder that makes it easy to imitate the old Ricola commercials.
It sounds like this:
You want one now, don’t you? Of course you do. And I’d give you the instructions, but…um…I think the picture pretty much tells you everything you need to know.
Turn a Water Bottle Into an Extremely Versatile Container
“Yes, yes, Fatty,” I hear you impatiently saying, “musical instruments are all well and good. But what if I want to repurpose my water bottles for a more utilitarian purpose?”
I understand completely. And that is why, after considerable thought and effort, I have come up with this innovation:
Yes, it’s a toothbrush holder! But it’s so much more. Behold:
It’s an office supplies holder!
I know your head is already reeling from these two incredible ideas, but I am now going to blow your mind with the versatility of this design. You can — and should — use this water bottle adaptation for a wide variety of things, including:
Dinner cups. You may want to advise your guests to be a little bit careful when they touch their lips to their cup’s rims. Those rims can be a little ragged.
Nail holder. If you have a lot of nails that need holding, this may well become your very best friend. Which would be both convenient and kind of sad.
Liquid soap dispenser: Fill this up with liquid soap and put it by the sink. People can dispense by tipping the dispenser and letting gravity do its thing. Soap dispenser pumps are for sissies.
Bucket for drawing water from a very small well. I don’t think this one needs any explanation.
Really, I could go on. The possibilities are as endless as our ever-growing need to contain things that have a diameter smaller than a racquetball and a total volume of less than 20 fluid ounces.
It’s become very common and popular to wear latex bands showing your support for a cause. So common and so popular, in fact, that I would go so far as to say that it has become passe. When, for example, was the last time you asked someone what their orange-colored latex band stood for? When was the last time you even noticed someone was even wearing one of those bands.
Well. I have the solution.
Instead of wearing a latex band supporting a cause, just cut a ring out of a water bottle and put it on your wrist. Like so:
Here I am, showing my support — with both wrists — of Trek’s “1 World 2 Wheels” project. From the look on my face, you can tell that I am extremely serious about my support. And also that I don’t have a lot of fashion sense. And also that it’s been about a week since I last shaved my head. And also that I have droopy Deputy Dog eyes.
But your water bottles can be used for more than simple clothing adornment. They can also be adapted into really excellent forearm guards:
Not only do these make you look and feel like some sort of gladiator-superhero hybrid, they’re excellent for defending you against thrown objects, as long as those objects are not thrown very hard and aren’t sharp.
Festively Advanced Techniques
Really, everything that came before was just fluff. I’d apologize for wasting your time, but I think that if you’ll be candid with yourself you kind of knew what you were getting yourself into when you came to the site.
What I really wanted to show you was how you can make a really awesome and beautiful art object from a bottle.
Step 1. Get a bottle (Hi Sportgenic! Thanks for selling ads on my site, making me rich beyond my wildest dreams!).
Step 2. Cut almost all the way around the bottle many times, leaving the same area uncut on each ring.
Step 3. Bend into a beautiful circle. Secure with zip ties.
I know a few infidels among you are asking, “Why?” To which I answer, cryptically, “Art is its own reason.”
Also, you could use it as a Christmas tree ornament, or make a bouquet by making several of them and using spokes for stems. Men, your wives will love it if you do that. And I’m sure your masterpiece will find a place of honor in your home.
Oh, and you can also spiral-cut a bottle to make a Water Bottle Slinky:
The kids think this is the coolest thing I have ever made. Ever. Though my 16-year-old seemed a little bit concerned.
“What,” he asked, “made you think you should cut a water bottle into a slinky?”
I confess I did not have an answer prepared.
But What About the Lids?
As you make your life more and more wonderful each day by implementing the techniques shown here, you will no doubt begin to notice a new problem:
What should you do with all the lids?
And I must confess, I am stumped. The lids are a conundrum. I have tried making them into goggles. Dreidels. Earmuffs.
Disasters, each and every time.
I am at a loss.
Win a Michael Rasmussen-Signed Water Bottle!
And this is where you come in. In the comments area, describe — or better yet, include a photo — of how you would repurpose your water bottle lids. Ideas for water bottle repurposing are also acceptable submissions, because I have a generous nature and a heart of gold.
The winner, chosen by me, will get this:
Yes, that’s right. A Michael Rasmussen-signed Rabobank water bottle. For real. From back in the halcyon days of 2007. Here’s another pic, so you can admire the signature more completely:
I cannot think of a more awesome collector’s item than this, and I am trying really hard.
Her purpose was simple: scout out the Ironman course, so she’d have a good idea of what she was in for this May.
My purpose was even simpler: to offer support, advice, commentary, and witty banter. And also to see if I could keep up.
The plan was to ride one lap of the loop part of the bike course (45 miles) on Saturday, then run a lap of the marathon course (a 13-mile out-and-back you do twice) the next day.
Along the way, I discovered something incredible: it would be easy to do an Ironman. I could do one right now, in fact.
I will explain.
Day 1: The Ride
We did not pre-swim the swim part of the Ironman, mainly because elevation gain and water density seem to be pretty consistent across reservoirs throughout the area (though I understand the water gets heavier when you get into Nevada).
Regardless, I think I could swim two miles easily. For one thing, anytime I get tired, I would just switch to the sidestroke, which I can do indefinitely. Or at least I could do it indefinitely the last time I tried it, which was — admittedly — about 28 years ago.
And then there’s always the backstroke, which you don’t even have to technically be conscious to do.
Sure, I may not be the first out of the water, but I’d get out. And then just consider what an awesome morale booster it would be for me to have all those people to pass once I got on the bike.
So, anyways, The Runner and I planned to ride one lap of the two-lap course on Saturday: 45 miles, which is not a big deal (the remaining miles for the bike course are made up of getting from the swim staging area to the loop, and then getting from the loop to the run staging area).
Here we are, about to begin the ride.
Seriously, could we be any more matchy-matchy? The answer to that question is, “Yes, if Fatty were to procure a Bento box.”
Which will never happen. Ever.
Back to my description of the ride. Oh, I haven’t started describing it yet? Ok, I’ll start now.
It’s an easy bike course, ideal for an Ironman. You may be waiting for a punchline here, but there isn’t one. Except for in one place (which I’ll describe in a moment), all the climbing is extremely mild — hardly noticeable, in fact. So while you do around 2500 feet of climbing per lap, you only notice it in one place.
That one place comes about 2/3 of the way through the loop, and even that climb isn’t too big of a deal: it’s 320 feet of climbing in 0.8 miles. We cruised up it without difficulty.
“That will probably be harder on the second lap,” I observed, as we got to the top.
“I think we should find out how much harder,” replied the Runner.
Yes, she was proposing changing the length of the ride — doubling it — partway through. To me this seemed like a breach of etiquette, but I agreed without argument, for the following reasons:
St. George is a magical place in the Winter. It’s a mere four-hour drive from Alpine, where I live, yet it is sunny and warm pretty much year round. This was the first time in well more than a month that I had been on my road bike, and I was so happy to be riding again.
We had only been riding for thirty miles or so and I hadn’t really gotten my fill.
A hot chick on a bike had just suggested we ride more.
We discovered, finishing the first lap, why this course really is ideal for an Ironman — the loop ends with a fifteen mile rolling descent. A perfect opportunity to recover, eat, and get rehydrated before the marathon.
I explained this to The Runner, who nodded at my sage advice with an air of a patient parent listening to a toddler explain why it’s a good idea to keep your shoes tied. Yes, it’s all true, but the likelihood of new information being presented is, shall we say, poor.
At the beginning of the second lap, I noticed something had changed. Specifically, I had changed. Instead of easily keeping up with The Runner, I found that I was gradually being dropped by her.
This was not cool.
Quickly, I corrected the situation. Not by going faster, but by coming up with reasons why I was going slower. These reasons consisted of:
The jacket I had put on at the beginning of the second lap was billowing out, causing excessive wind resistance.
The jacket was also making me too warm, but I could not shed it because I had gotten rid of my jersey and vest at the beginning of the lap, meaning I had on only a base layer under the jacket, and it is very form-fitting. Perhaps a little too form fitting. As in, it makes me look like a paunchy mime on a bike. Which is terrifying, believe me.
I had done most of the pulling on the first lap, so was entitled to be tired on the second lap. In reality, this is completely false; I had done no pulling whatsoever on the first lap. But I made a calculated wager that The Runner would see this assertion for what it was — a desperate ploy to protect my fragile ego — and would let it go. Which she did.
I made each of these points out loud. Most of them I made more than once. Except I didn’t say that I look like a paunchy mime on a bike.
As expected, the one difficult climb on the course was considerably more difficult the second time around. I believe it may also have been both steeper and longer, which was both unexpected and unwelcome.
Still, I loved the fact that even though I haven’t been riding much during the Winter, I can hop on my bike and ride a hundred miles without really killing myself.
A fact which I celebrated that evening by eating my weight in steak fajitas, then collapsing onto my bed by 8:00pm and falling asleep immediately.
Day 2: The Run
The next day we did a lap of the St. George Ironman marathon course. This is, by the way, a very peculiar course. It sends you out 6.5 miles, then has you retrace your route back to the beginning. And then you repeat yourself.
So you cross each point in the course four times.
Furthermore, it seems that the race organizers must have come up just a little bit short on distance when they made this course, because they have you turn right onto one street — a cul-de-sac — and run around it.
Meaning, naturally, that you will cross any given point in that cul-de-sac eight times during the course of the marathon. Which I believe qualifies you to apply for residency in St. George.
Luckily for me, this course is almost entirely up and down. You run up a giant hill for 3.5 miles, then you run down the other side for three miles. Then you turn around and run up (and then down) again. Rinse and repeat.
Since I have already established that I am no good at running on the flats, this suited me just fine. It made it possible for me to at least sorta-kinda hang with The Runner.
As we got close to the finish of running our 13.5 miles (we made a couple of wrong turns and added a little distance to the run, and The Runner wouldn’t agree to letting me stop at exactly 13 miles and having her come and get me with the car), I observed, “Wow, that final big climb is going to be a lotharder the second time you do it.”
Then I immediately followed up with, “And I am absolutely not going to find out how much harder.”
We finished the run — I am happy to say that I did not need to stop or walk even once, and am (so far) uninjured — after which we bookended the matchy-matchiness of the weekend with this photo:
Following this, we went to a restaurant where I ate my weight in hamburger, followed by eating my volume in french fries.
Yes, I know the physics of doing this are problematic. But this is my superpower, and superpowers trump physics, as you should already know.
Wherein I Reasonably Assert That I Could Do All Of This And A Lot More In One Day
The thing is, at no point during either of these days did I think to myself, “I’m toast. I’ve gotta quit.”
Nope, not even once.
I think, therefore, that it stands to reason that I could have ridden 26 more miles than I did. And that I could have turned around and done the run again. And that I could have done the swim thing, too.
Besides, I’m pretty sure that the swim is around the edge of the reservoir, so I think I could probably just wade it. And I am an excellent wader.
And I don’t think it’s such a big stretch to think that I could do all of that back-to-back, without resting for 12 hours between each event. I just did all that sleeping last weekend because I was drowsy.
I went to St. George thinking that it would be an excellent wake-up call, demonstrating that I needed to get myself together.
Instead, I discovered that an Ironman is no big deal, and I could do one right now, if I felt like it.
It’s been quite a weekend. For one thing, The Runner and I went to St. George to pre-ride the bike course and pre-run the marathon course for her upcoming Ironman.
That is a story worth telling, and I plan to, tomorrow.
Today, however, I want to talk about something that was waiting for us in St. George when we arrived (yes, I had the Twin Six guys overnight a couple of them to my hotel): our new Fat Cyclist Wool Trainers. Check it out:
Don’t think of this as a jersey. It’s a warm, soft, fairly thick, and incredibly comfortable sweater.
Here are a couple of detail images:
The logo is like an embroidered patch, chain-stitched on.
The “Win” text is stitched directly onto the trainer.
I love mine, and have basically been wearing it everywhere and all the time since I got it Friday night. Sure, that’s only two days, but I think the pattern will hold.
Also, I’m pretty sure it’s casual enough to wear when you ride to a coffee shop, though I’m not much of one for hanging out at coffee shops. If you get one and find yourself wearing it at a coffee shop, please let me know how that worked out.
It’s also formal enough to wear to the next showing of the Phantom of the Opera. Which I highly recommend (I highly recommend wearing the sweater I mean, not going to Phantom of the Opera).
Here’s The Runner and me, in a very full parking lot across the street from the Ironman marathon staging area, shortly after pre-running the course:
By the way, I took a couple of photos of us, and found — to my amazement — that when combined they make an awesome animation of us dancing (presumably to “Buddy Holly”).
I call it “The Dance of the Disappearing and Reolocating Sunglasses.”
You know why we’re so happy in these photos? Well, I’d say we have different reasons. Such as:
She now has a good understanding of both the riding and running course for the Ironman, and has very high confidence that she’ll be able to complete the race.
She has been on a nice, relaxing, easy-distance (13 miles or so) run, which is an excellent warmup for the weight-lifting routine she’ll do later that afternoon, followed by 90 minutes of yoga.
She is wearing an attractive and comfortable sweater.
I am still alive, even though I’ve just run yet another half-marathon that has left me so exhausted that I must hang on to The Runner to remain upright.
I am wearing a comfortable and attractive sweater.
I am about to eat my weight in hamburger and french fries.
Not so different, really.
How to Get a Fat Cyclist Trainer
The Fat Cyclist Trainers are in stock and ready to ship now. They are sized so you should order them in the same size you’d order a Twin Six jersey. In the photo above, I’m wearing a Medium one; The Runner is wearing a Small.
You should know, however, that Twin Six ordered a very small number of these — around 100 or so (and I’ve already got two of them). And when they’re gone, they’re gone. So if you’d like one, you should probably order it now.
PS: For those of you who have last year’s Fat Cyclist Woolie pullover jersey (and for those of you who don’t, too), some comparisons might be helpful:
The old Woolie was a pullover, the new Trainer is a full-zip.
The old Woolie had 3 pockets in the back, the new trainer has no pockets at all.
The old Woolie is a much thinner knit than the new Trainer. The Woolie felt like a nice long-sleeved jersey; the Trainer feels like a warm, comfortable lightweight sweater.
You really should order the Trainer in the same size you order Twin Six jerseys. A Medium Twin Six jersey fits me snugly; a Medium Trainer fits me comfortably and loosely over a shirt.
Winter Solstice is passed. So, theoretically, the days are getting longer. There’s more sunlight each day, which — in my head anyway — means that it won’t be long ’til I’m doing early morning rides. And late afternoon rides. And glorious, glorious long weekend rides.
And, theoretically, it won’t be long ’til “suiting up” consists of bibshorts, socks, and a jersey.
Theoretically. But what my head thinks and what my heart knows are two different things.
In my heart, this winter feels like it is going on forever. And I am starting to show some very serious symptoms of Winter Bike Absence Disorder (Winter BAD).
Denial and Substitution
The first — and perhaps most alarming — symptom of Winter BAD is acting like you don’t have it at all. In my case, this has been most painfully evident in some alarming new behavior I have begun to exhibit.
“I don’t feel as cold when I run as when I ride during the winter,” I tell myself. “And I can’t ride my mountain bike on the trails close to where I live and work anyway.”
“Besides, when the shoulder of the road isn’t covered with ice, it’s covered with sand, salt and debris. That’s not good for riding,” I continue to persuade myself.
“And with running, I get being out in the cold over with a lot more quickly. An hour or two and I am done,” I say, now nearly at the point of believing what I am telling myself.
“Besides, it’s good to get off the bike for a season, so I don’t burn out,” I conclude. “And running will improve my bone density, so they don’t spontaneously crumble into powder, the way Kenny’s do,” I conclude again, but for real this time.
You know what denial by substitution like this is? It’s a cry for help, that’s what it is. How come nobody’s staged an intervention, that’s what I’d like to know.
Jealousy and Self-Justification
Every so often, in spite of the fact that it’s brutally, evil-ly cold out there, I see someone on a road bike. Bundled up with so many layers that they have a hard time bending their legs enough to turn the cranks.
And then I have a bizarre bi-fold reaction: jealousy of that person for getting on his bike and riding, regardless of the conditions. This is liberally mixed with self-justification: “Look how cold and miserable that guy looks. Why get on a bike when you know for sure you’re going to suffer and hate the whole ride, thinking — from the moment you get on the bike — about when you can get off the bike?”
You know what really makes me miss Summer, though? Photos. A couple days ago, I was just browsing through some pictures I took last Summer and Fall, and I came across this:
Any local will instantly recognize this as Corner Canyon, an incredible singletrack network I can get to riding right from my house.
During the Summertime, anyway.
So I kept looking, and came across this:
That’s Pole Line Pass, and there’s mile upon mile of singletrack just like it. You can ride for hours and hours.
During the Summer, anyway.
Now completely dejected, I went over to pics from my SingleFly photoshoot, taken at the top of Frank:
You know what I miss? I miss the color green.
Feeling all melancholy, I walked out to my garage and patted my bikes. “Don’t worry,” I cooed. “We’ll get through this. Spring’s not that far away.”
I wonder if they heard the desperation in my voice.
Involuntary Shudders, Gag Reflex
But don’t worry, I’m still getting on a bike. It’s just that it’s on the rollers.
No, that’s not true. I just totally lied. I haven’t been on the rollers in more than a week. You see, I’ve developed a new symptom: a Pavlovian gag reflex, combined with general heebie-jeebies, whenever I see rollers.
I suit up, planning to do some roller intervals to keep my power high. Then I walk up to the rollers, calm as you please.
Which is when I start to shudder. And taste bile in the back of my throat. Instinctively, I know that if I don’t look away and get into a different room, pronto, I am going to have a largish mess to clean up.
I think this is a cumulative symptom, based on the crazy amount of time I spent on the rollers last winter. Now that I think of it, it seems probable that for any given human, there is a maximum amount of time that human can spend on rollers in a lifetime without doing serious permanent psychic damage.
If this is true (and since you are reading it on the Internet, it must be true), I believe I am either nearing or have reached that threshold.
I cannot believe that I am the only person suffering from Winter BAD. And frankly, I am concerned that as winter progresses, so shall my symptoms. What do I have to look forward to next? Snowshoeing? Simulated sun in tanning salons? Still more running?