Perfectly Good Excuses

03.8.2010 | 6:39 am

In one hour and ten minutes, I will post whatever it is I’m about to write. Then I’ll read it online and make a couple edits: usually adding a parenthetical joke or two, usually adding a few paragraph breaks.

Then I’ll get on my bike and ride to work.

The truth is, at this moment I’d prefer to drive to work. It’s cold, dark, and raining outside, and it’d be nice to just say, “forget it, I’m driving” today.

But I’m going to ride, because I don’t have a Perfectly Good Excuse for not.

The Importance of Excuses

Really, I’m a little bit embarrassed that I don’t have a good excuse for not riding today. In the past, I’ve generally been able to come up with something that sounds pretty convincing whenever I needed it.

Why do I need an excuse at all? A couple reasons:

  • Others: I’m noticing, as winter progresses, that an increasing number of people at work are asking me whether I biked in each day. (I’m beginning to suspect that an office pool has been started on when I’ll stop.) If I don’t ride in, I need to have a reason why I drove, or they’ll think I’ve given up. Somehow, if I give these people a good, compelling explanation of why I didn’t bike that day, I expect I’ll still get credit for being a cyclist. Now that I articulate that thought, I realize how completely boneheaded it is.
  • Myself: More than convincing others that I’d be biking if — darn it! — I didn’t have this Perfectly Good Excuse I cooked up, I need to convince myself. This allows me to be a slacker without being a quitter.

The Anatomy of a Good Excuse

So, in order to avoid the dilemma I find myself today — riding into work when I feel more like hibernating than exercising — I need to replenish my stock of Perfectly Good Excuses.

This is not as easy as it seems, because an excuse is nothing but an excuse unless it meets the rigorous entrance criteria necessary to become a Perfectly Good Excuse. These are:

  • It must be unique: An excuse that you have used within the past several days is no good. If you use the same excuse frequently or two days in a row, people will think you are just too lazy to fix the problem.
  • It must seem to have caught you unawares: The excuse needs to be something that came out of left field. If you knew it was coming, you could have probably planned for it and found a way to ride in anyway.
  • It must be convincing: The excuse must be good enough that the person you are using the excuse on agrees: he or she would also not ride into work under those circumstances.
  • You must sorta-kinda even believe it yourself: This is the tough one. If you know that your excuse is an outright fabrication, you’re not going to have much luck making yourself believe it’s true. You need to have a component of truth (no matter how small) in your excuse.

Perfectly Good Excuses Under Consideration

In order to avoid finding myself in today’s dilemma — biking into work when I really just want to go back to bed — I am currently developing a new stockpile of Perfectly Good Excuses. They are:

  • General Achiness / Approaching Illness: I don’t ever feel great first thing in the morning. In fact, if I went strictly by how I feel about the world in general when I first get up, I could probably make a case for calling in sick on any given day. The thing is, though, I know that this “blugh” feeling (a medical term) passes on its own within about five minutes, and I’m not very good at nursing it into a sense of impending illness. Plus, there’s the problem of my theory that when you feel sick, a ride is more likely to cure it than make it worse.
  • Can’t Find My Helmet / Shoes: This is actually a really good one; there’s no way I’m going biking without my bike shoes or helmet. And with the forgetfulness that seems to be accompanying middle age, this is an easy one to pull off, too. It just takes a little planning. If I put my helmet or shoes down anywhere besides the space I have reserved for them in the garage, I will not be able to locate them the next time I want them.
  • Broken Bike or Part: As long as you’ve got only one bike, this one’s bulletproof. It’s been a long time since I have had no serviceable bikes, though.
  • Need My Car: This is a good one — if you’ve got to go pick someone up at the airport during the day, there’s nothing you can really do about it; you’ve got to drive in. The problem is, these excuses generally don’t coincide with days I don’t feel like biking. In fact, they seem to most often happen on days that a ride sounds really, really good.
  • Rest Day to Avoid Overtraining: Oh, this is a fine one indeed. Not only does it give you a reason to skip riding that day, it carries an implied boast: “I skipped riding today because I am so fit it’s dangerous.” (Interesting note: did you know that “overtraining” is something that only very few pro-level athletes are even capable of? 99% of the people in the world couldn’t overtrain even if it was their fondest desire.)
  • Weather: Since most people won’t ride their bikes if it even looks like it might rain, you can almost always use the weather as an excuse. The problem is, the weather is a slippery slope. If you use it as an excuse today when it’s drizzling, you’ll wind up using it tomorrow when it’s raining again. Soon, the season’s over, and all that’s happened is you’ve become an expert on rain. (It’s entirely possible I’m fixating on rain for some reason. I wonder what that reason could be.)


  1. Comment by skippy | 03.8.2010 | 7:32 am

    1/Would canvassing your elected government officials to Help Paralympic Games get shown on TV count!
    2/Got caught up in Paris-nizza broadcast on eurosport count as this is where your mate Levi is at present?
    3/Tried to help poor old Skippy get a better following to get his 2010 project more sponsors, show them the blog, perhaps that will count for something!
    4/don’t blame the changed marital status, wading through all the congratulations will not work!

    Hope the honeymoon & celebrations went well , now i an off on the bike for a couple after spending the morning on the touring skis.

  2. Comment by TimD | 03.8.2010 | 7:38 am

    I could have used the broken bike excuse this morning when my singlespeed rear sproket undid itself, stripping the threads and jamming the chain. Instead, I walked the mile and a quarter home, swapped bikes, lights, tools, butties etc and rode in anyway.

  3. Comment by martinsillo | 03.8.2010 | 7:50 am

    My excuse today was: “I forgot to put my GOOD commute gear on the drier”….definitely not a good one! hehehe

    I can do Tuesdays to Fridays easily, but Mondays OMG! I don’t know what is it, but they are not easy to me!

  4. Comment by Drdave | 03.8.2010 | 8:01 am

    I can’t get past listening to myself, where I start calling myself “fatty”, lazy, slothy and anything other derogatory phrase I can think up.

  5. Comment by NoTrail | 03.8.2010 | 8:14 am

    My only excuse today was that I woke up late. Sad, isn’t it.

  6. Comment by fult23 | 03.8.2010 | 8:45 am

    Have to say congratulations! Hope the party and the honeymoon went well. I have been catching your blog for a little over a year now, but I believe this is my first time leaving a comment. I felt so compelled because I just started my own blog (thank you for the inspiration,, and one of my first posts was about similar excuses. Please check it out if you get the chance. Keep up the good work (like I need to tell that to a Hall of Fame blogger)and thank you.

  7. Comment by George | 03.8.2010 | 9:05 am

    Nice post :) I know I use the rain far too much as an excuse not to cycle to work! Not sure I’ve ever considered “overtraining” as a way of avoiding getting out the bike!

  8. Comment by Weiland | 03.8.2010 | 9:18 am

    I’ve used this one back in High School to get out of tardies:

    “I ran out of Total and had to eat 12 bowels of Grapenuts.”

    The beauty is it also sets you up for leaving early as well if you play your cards right.

  9. Comment by MattC | 03.8.2010 | 9:38 am

    I’ve noticed that the ‘Perfectly Good Excuse’ is a tangible thing, and what it consists of varies widely according to where you live/ride. Up in the Seattle area, using rain (or impending rain) as a PGE is probably quite lame, being as it rains like 325 days (or more) a year. But here in the CA Central Coast, any forecast where it might even be REMOTELY possible for ANY dampness on the roads is typically a very good excuse (for me). Down here, wind is my own PGE. We get wind like Seattle gets rain.

    However, I usually seem to fail miserably your item #4 in your ‘anatomy of a good excuse’, as I know deep down inside that no matter what I come up with, it is still just a LAME excuse. On rainy days when I think nobody in their right minds would ride, I see at least one madman (or madwoman) who is wiping my pathetic attempt at an excuse right off the map. I HATE those people….yet at the same time I bow to them. There seems to be some who don’t need PGE’s, cuz they don’t ever use them. The true stallions of cycling. I however am NOT one of them.

  10. Comment by Clydesteve | 03.8.2010 | 9:45 am

    Don’t be a weiner. Just go ride almost all the time. Then when you flake out, just say “I flaked out and didn’t ride.”

  11. Comment by roan | 03.8.2010 | 10:05 am

    AH, aghhhh moving boulders with a pry bar yesterday, tweaked my back (true) & my arms (never excerise them except directional). Called into work EARLY left message about back. Will go riding later in the day, will make the back feel better, work won’t.

  12. Comment by FatPedro | 03.8.2010 | 10:06 am

    1. Adopt a black cat
    2. On “those days” have the kids put the cat out just before you ride out the garage
    3. See black cat crossing path on the way out
    4. Immediately proclaim that fate prevents you from riding today
    5. Hop in the car, turn up the music, pick up an Egg McMuffin, and enjoy your day!

    Works for me, except I don’t have a cat, garage, or car :-(

  13. Comment by Rob | 03.8.2010 | 10:22 am

    Um…I happend to know you lived in the Pacific NW. And if rain (or chance of rain) was your excuse for not riding while living there, you would have ridden 14 times a year. Total.

  14. Comment by darrell | 03.8.2010 | 11:29 am

    Tell everyone that you had to drop the kids off at school so you had to take the car. This will appeal to the females at work showing once again that you are a good parent.

    Tell a select few male co-workers that you have prostateitis and you could not physically sit on the seat to bike to work. Even though you are a little young this will elicit sympthy from every person who has one :-)

    Walk around with a limp and keep the leg elevated when not walking. You can tell everyone you think that you damaged a miniscus and that it hurts to do repetitive motions, so you took it easy for a day or so to see if it heals before you go to see a doctor.

    In any event you have commuted in to work with 4 wheels and only you will know that you really leaked out because of the rain/cold/tired or whatever excuse you did not want to ride this morning.

    Just make sure that The Runner does not hear about the the last two or you might actually find yourself in a doctors office seeking unwanted medical intervention.

    Please use these excuses at as needed. Your payment for the use of these great excuses is that you can donate to team fatty in my name. This way even if you are being slothful you can still do some good for the day. Enjoy…..

  15. Comment by Randy | 03.8.2010 | 12:18 pm

    You drove to work out of sympathy for your brethren and sisteren in PA, NJ and NY who have suffered through their snowiest Winter in recorded history, and that your carbon emissions might warm things up for them out there

  16. Comment by The Chort | 03.8.2010 | 12:34 pm

    Carbon emissions are working Randy. 53 degrees today in Poughkeepsie, NY.

  17. Comment by MattC | 03.8.2010 | 1:01 pm

    Wow Darrell…those are pretty good excuses! You are obviously a seasoned PRO in this regard…my hat’s off to you. Though for my own excuses, I prefer a much simpler approach, cuz I’d never remember yours (or I’d get all them confused with each other and telegraph that it is just an excuse). I’m more of keep it simple….’my bike is broke’ kind’a guy. Apparently my bike is broke a LOT…especially in Dec, Jan and Feb. And sometimes in Nov and March too. Oh…and April..definatly April. And October. That’s about it…other than those times, I’m a ridin’ madman!

  18. Comment by Bicycle Bill | 03.8.2010 | 1:35 pm

    While it’s impossible for most of us to overtrain, we can still overdo it. Just say, “I overdid it yesterday, so I’m taking a rest day.”

    The beauty of it is that you don’t have to say what it is that you overdid; let ‘em make their own assumptions/draw their own conclusions.


  19. Comment by Colorado Herbie | 03.8.2010 | 3:14 pm

    Get a puppy! We have a new puppy right now so I have to go home at noon and let him out.

  20. Comment by MattC | 03.8.2010 | 3:32 pm

    I find that it’s physically impossible for me to to ‘overtrain’, becasue for that to be so would insinuate that at some point in time I was actually IN training.

    Well, maybe there is this…the new training program that a bunch of us are currently doing…the one to NOT do an Ironman. That kind of intensive training is pretty hard to overdo I’ve found out…unless I were to start getting bedsores (couchsores?).

  21. Comment by MrDaveyGie | 03.8.2010 | 5:33 pm

    Too funny!!! I can relate, Once, or umm maybe twice on a scheduled long ride, that turned into a high wind, and/or icy, unsually low energy ride, I thought about a letting the air out of my tire and calling for ride and saying my patch failed.

  22. Comment by MikeL | 03.8.2010 | 5:59 pm

    How about ” I did not feel like riding “. It does not matter what the weather is or our physical condition or mental status. There are just days like that. Just do not use it too many days in a row.

  23. Comment by Zed | 03.8.2010 | 7:42 pm

    Basedowian or addisonian overtraining?

  24. Comment by Fuzzy | 03.9.2010 | 6:24 am

    Fatty, forget the excuses. You Sir are a cycling and blogging leg end (or should that be legend?). You, like me, should be on the receiving end of those incredulous stares from your co workers on your arrival at the office, after riding in through the worst weather imaginable-

    Torrential downpour? Ha! I laugh in the face of torrential downpours. It is only water!

    Driving snow? Ha! (See above but insert frozen in front of water).

    Howling gales/ Tornados? Ha! Wind is a cyclist’s enemy but I laugh in the face of the enemy.

    We Sir are MAD and have a reputation to uphold.

    Carry On!

    Luv ‘n Stuff,

    Fuzzy from tjhe UK.


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