03.15.2010 | 1:13 pm

There are many, many things I love about road biking. I love how smooth and fast it is. I love how you can start right from your front door. I love how you are going slow enough that you can see what’s going on around you, but fast enough that you still get somewhere. I love how elegant a road bike looks. I love the way a road bike feels when you stand up and rock it in a climb. I love how a road bike feels as you lean into a sweeping downhill turn. I love how you can make decisions about your ride as the ride progresses — make it longer, shorter, climbier or flatter — whatever suits you, thanks to the fact that someone has kindly laid pavement all over the place.

And I could go on. See, I wasn’t kidding when I said “many” twice in the above paragraph.

Of all the truly wonderful things about road biking, however, one thing surpasses them all:

The convenience store.

Truly, the modern convenience store is a marvel of nature, ideally adapted for the road cyclist, and in particular for the road cyclist who’s been riding for several hours and has a $10.00 bill in his (or, to be sure, her) jersey pocket.

Convenience stores are, simply, the best thing about road cycling.

And if you don’t agree with me, try riding — as The Runner and I did about a week ago as we pre-rode the St. George Ironman road course — about seventy miles into a headwind, with another several hours of riding left to go, when you find yourself confronted by a convenience store.

At that moment, I guarantee you will find yourself in agreement with me, as you should have been all along.

The Remarkable Thing About Convenience Stores

Consider this for a moment: You have been on your bike for hours, and you are hungry. And thirsty. For some reason, you cannot get the image of a Fat Boy ice cream sandwich out of your mind. And the thought of a Mountain Dew is lodged in there pretty well, too. And so is a Churro. And Twizzlers (or Red Vines — let’s not argue).

You stop at a convenience store, and — really, this is just magical — you can convert a small piece of paper into all of these things. It boggles my mind, frankly, that someone would give me all this food, for which I would gladly trade my bike, my helmet, my shoes and my glasses, in exchange for a little piece of paper.

A piece of paper becomes a delicious ice cream sandwich. Seriously. It’s like I’m some kind of genius ice-cream-obsessed alchemist or something.

Or, if you’re all high-techy and stuff, you can swipe a card with magnetic strip in exchange for the same kind of thing. In which case you are literally getting something for nothing.

Cornucopia of Goodness

The simple fact that a negligibly light piece of paper can be converted into a vast amount of food is enough to treat convenience stores as a modern miracle. But there’s more.

Specifically, the variety is incredible. At one recent convenience store stop — in Veyo, Utah, during the aforementioned death march against a headwind — I purchased and ate a large cup full of serve-yourself soft-serve ice cream, during which I demonstrated my ability to stack ice cream very high indeed. And then I had a soft pretzel. And a hot dog.

And while I did not have a package of Fig Newtons, nor a plate of nachos, nor a monstrous Snickers bar, nor a Haagen-Dasz bar, I could have. And nearly did. And maybe would have, but people were starting to stare.

Really, the variety of ways I could satisfy my hunger — a hunger understood only by cyclists who have been running on empty for hours — was practically endless.

I am not ashamed to say that — so great was my gratitude for all these good things, neatly arranged in rows and along the self-serve counter at the wall — that I nearly climbed over the counter to hug the clerk.

But he did not look like the kind of person who wanted or needed a hug, so I stuck with profusely thanking him for letting me buy the double-armload of food. “Thank you, sir,” I said, my eyes misting over with joy, “for stocking your store so thoroughly and so well. Furthermore, thank you for being willing to part with this food. You can be confident that I will use it well and enjoy all of it.”

Since this convenience store is the first one in many miles along a very popular cycling route, I’m guessing this was not the first time this clerk has been thanked in this way.


If there were just one convenience store in the world, cyclists would travel from every continent, just to plan a ride that had that convenience store on the route.

Although, come to think of it, you’d need a different name for this hypothetical sole convenience store, since for the vast majority of the universe, it would be very inconvenient.

“Inconvenient store,” maybe? Not very catchy, I’m afraid.

My point, though, is that convenience stores are convenient. They’re all over the place. Unless you’re starting and staying on a wilderness road, you will almost certainly pass a convenience store as you ride by.

Which, I believe, is the most compelling proof there is that progress is good.

Something for Nothing

And now I come to the part where I have to shamefacedly admit something. At this particular convenience store on this particular day, I actually had no cash at all, nor a card. I was bumming off The Runner, who had thoughtfully brought $20 — enough money to let me buy a second serving of soft-serve. Which I did.

But even if The Runner had chosen not to spot me the money I needed to indulge my most remarkable superpower — the ability to eat vast quantities, all the time — the convenience store would still have been a boon.

Sure, I wouldn’t have been able to have ice cream or a churro. And that would have been very sad indeed. But convenience stores carry a number of free items that can help the cash-strapped cyclist in need of calories.

Take, for instance, water. And sugar, and a number of lemon wedges — all free, when combined into your water bottle. Shake vigorously. Congratulations, you’ve just made a nice little hobo sports drink.

Need more calories? I have two words for you: Mayonnaise packets. They’re as plentiful as they are delicious. The mayo is delicous, I mean. The packets themselves are pretty difficult to swallow. Did you know, in fact, that ounce for ounce, mayonnaise has more calories than any energy gel in existence? Plus, mayo is free. And it goes great with mustard and is delicous on just about any kind of sandwich.

And there’s more. Need sodium? Pickle relish is free. Thirsty? Water’s free.

Need to use the bathroom? Yep, free.

Which makes me want to ask: Convenience stores, why are you so generous and good?


  1. Comment by John | 03.15.2010 | 1:27 pm

    No way – 1st??

  2. Comment by dug | 03.15.2010 | 1:30 pm

    it beats the old days when we had to carry dubloons around. remember those days? we needed bigger and stronger pockets in those days.

  3. Comment by Clancy | 03.15.2010 | 1:31 pm

    Mayo!? Euhhhh. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little…

  4. Comment by Spiff | 03.15.2010 | 1:33 pm

    Wait, those little green pieces of paper can be exchanged for goods and services? Alert the press!

  5. Comment by MattC | 03.15.2010 | 1:37 pm

    Was wondering where you were today…if you forgot to ’spring forward or something Fatty. Your comments on mayo and relish remind me of a Soprano’s episode way back…lost in the woods, find an abandoned van w/a fast food bag…ketchup and relish…eat the ketchup and “chase it with the relislh”…MMMMM! (NOT!) I guess my road rides are too rural…no conveninece (or inconvenience) stores to be found…strictly BYOF&D (Bring Your Own Food & Drink…or in some cases Bum Your Own Food & Drink).

    I like it when you go into a bike store and with just a quick swipe of a small piece of plastic you can come away with a sweet new ride! Now THAT’S something for nothing! What a world we live in!

  6. Comment by Ryan in the Rock | 03.15.2010 | 1:46 pm

    It is obvious you don’t ride in the south much, because you left off the most important gift of the convenience store….FREE AC. Walking into a nice cool convenient store after 40 miles in the heat and humidity is truly a heavenly gift.

  7. Comment by Dave | 03.15.2010 | 1:53 pm

    You know that Ketchuppackets provide both a caoloriuc and a sodium punch. Plus if you droiblle it down your shirt you look tough, whereas if the mayo or relish gets away, it’s just yucky.

  8. Comment by Dave | 03.15.2010 | 1:54 pm

    Allow me to fix my mistakes

    You know that Ketchup packets provide both a caloric and a sodium punch. Plus if you driblle it down your shirt you look tough, whereas if the mayo or relish gets away, it’s just yucky.

  9. Comment by mateo | 03.15.2010 | 1:57 pm

    I’m sure your post was interesting, self-depreciating, and enlightening, but I have no idea as the sexy woman in nothing but a (skimpy) bra and (see thru) panties is posted to the right…now where do I find this game “Evony”, and is she there….?

  10. Comment by aspiring cyclist | 03.15.2010 | 2:03 pm

    Mateo: LOL! So much for a “family friendly” website, eh? Fatty, here’s hoping you find an advertisement with a man in something skimpy to distract us ladies from your self-deprecating posts…

  11. Comment by Denise | 03.15.2010 | 2:09 pm

    Marriage must agree with you, Fatty – today’s post was positively buoyant!

    I just moved, and am starting to plan out my bike routes – I’ll have to scope out the nearby conveniance stores and plan my route around them!

  12. Comment by Philly Jen | 03.15.2010 | 2:13 pm

    Ah, Fatty returns to his Muse: It’s mayonnaise! No, it’s chamois butter! It’s floor wax! No, it’s a dessert topping!


  13. Comment by Adventure Monkey | 03.15.2010 | 2:19 pm

    It’s amazing the things I crave when I make to a convenience on the verge of a bonk. Pickle, myoplex drink, red bull, turkey and cheese, 3 Snickers for $2 – yes I will have all of that. No I don’t need a bag.

  14. Comment by Tall Biker | 03.15.2010 | 2:26 pm

    On the topic of inconvenient convenience stores, my college had one with horrible hours (not open friday through sunday afternoon) and it always stopped restocking weeks before finals. We called it the “In-con.”

  15. Comment by rokrider | 03.15.2010 | 2:28 pm

    I definitely think this could add a whole new dimension to the Grand Tours. Do away with the feed stations and just let the peloton hit the convenience stores along the way.

  16. Comment by Todd Royal | 03.15.2010 | 2:46 pm

    Of all the Fattys in the world, you’re the Fattiest.

  17. Comment by bikemike | 03.15.2010 | 2:52 pm

    ham and cheese and a coke…salt and sugar. maybe throw a krispy kreme donut in for good measure, good to go.

  18. Comment by JenF | 03.15.2010 | 2:58 pm

    Sometimes there’s a convenience store on a wilderness road. Those are really special! Once we made breakfast in a “wilderness convenience store”. Donuts, cookies, coffee, score!

  19. Comment by Claire | 03.15.2010 | 3:04 pm

    Red Vines…only twizzler lovers don’t want to argue because they know they are inferior.

  20. Comment by Kathleen Lisson | 03.15.2010 | 3:14 pm

    Hmmm… a sugar packet and a salt packet in the water bottle for the ultimate hobo sports drink.

  21. Comment by KanyonKris | 03.15.2010 | 3:20 pm

    dug – with this economy you may go back to those dubloons.

  22. Comment by KanyonKris | 03.15.2010 | 3:21 pm

    Convenience stores help me stay calorie neutral.

  23. Comment by Beth | 03.15.2010 | 3:32 pm

    ick; may I never be hungry enough to steal a mayo pack for sustinance

  24. Comment by T Foster | 03.15.2010 | 3:36 pm

    Am I the only one that also appreciates the fact that I also get to regroup with those that have dropped me?

  25. Comment by MattC | 03.15.2010 | 3:44 pm

    I’m thinking it would have to be the mother of all bonk’s for me to eat mayo packets. I’m pretty sure I’d have been eying road kills before I get to that point. Maybe the squished squirrel would be good WTIH said mayo and relish?? And if it was hot out, then you’d get the added bonus of it being partially cooked (or fully cooked, depending on where you live).

  26. Comment by Brian | 03.15.2010 | 3:46 pm

    All true, but watch out for the hungry cyclist’s nemesis: the lottery ticket buyer. The last time I stopped in a convenience store, I was forced to wait for two whole minutes while some guy bought a bunch of instant lottery tickets and then redeemed the winners for even more lottery tickets. Now, two minutes might not seem like much, but when you’ve got a bottle of chocolate milk and a bag of Cheetos that you desperately want down your gullet, not in your sweaty hands, that’s a long time to wait.

  27. Comment by judi | 03.15.2010 | 4:55 pm

    i love stopping on a long ride to chow on some junk. though i don’t eat like that. dude, i feel for the runner when you guys get home. i can’t imagine what you do to the toilet.

  28. Comment by Larry | 03.15.2010 | 5:06 pm

    Don’t forget that they also sell the world’s first true “energy” drink: Beer.

  29. Comment by M | 03.15.2010 | 5:08 pm

    Nice post.

  30. Comment by Jeff | 03.15.2010 | 5:10 pm

    Mmmmm, maaayoooo! I think I just added a new bonk food to the list.

    Those little sleeves of nuts are awesome too, but stay away from the raw almonds. Raw almonds from the health food store, good. Raw almonds that have been hanging on the rack for months (years?) in a convenience store = food poisoning. Learned that the hard way.

  31. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 03.15.2010 | 5:33 pm

    Either I’ve been cycling in the wilderness or not going on long enough rides – convenience stores are sorely lacking in the Berkeley foothills and the coastal roads of Half Moon Bay. Clearly, I’m missing out!

  32. Comment by Mike Roadie | 03.15.2010 | 5:57 pm

    Convenience stores are like the Country Club for cyclists. I stopped at one along a fairly empty stretch of oceanside roadway and had a delicious ice cream sandwich. Delicious, but not thirst quenching!

    Also, not all mayo packets are created equal….some taste better than others (the mayo, not the packets)!

  33. Comment by Miles Archer | 03.15.2010 | 5:59 pm

    Eew, straight mayo on a ride. This would not agree with me in the slightest.

  34. Comment by ringcycles | 03.15.2010 | 6:30 pm

    Ah, mayo packets: belgian sports gels. I knew you had a flahute in you somewhere. On a cold drizzley spring training ride, you can just take the baked potato out of your center back pocket, and top it with a free mayo packet. Good to go for another 70 miles.

  35. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 03.15.2010 | 6:40 pm

    I got a buddy that swears by the pepperoni stick recovery snack. Works great for him, but dropped me like a round rock – oooof. Maybe I can return the favor with the Mayo ?

  36. Comment by Greg @ Greg Rides Trails | 03.15.2010 | 6:42 pm

    MMM, convenience stores! Even during a good mountain bike ride, the thought of a trip to the convenience store on my drive back is what gets me through the ride!

    And if I owned a road bike, I can totally see myself stopping about every 5 miles to “refuel.” Thanks for the hilarious post!

  37. Comment by Jason | 03.15.2010 | 6:43 pm

    You nailed it right on the head. Where I ride is almost solely based on where the next convenience store is. Oh, and, if that convenience store is to convenient for other to steal my bike.

    I know the store clerk is just being polite however I love when I grab a red bull, vitamin water, water, crackers, and a cliff bar and the clerk asks if I would like a bag. I just smile and say no thank you, I have to consume what I can’t carry in my jersey.

    Thanks for the great read…keep’em coming!

  38. Comment by bubba seadog | 03.15.2010 | 7:26 pm

    i dont work there but nobody has said it so i will oh thank heaven for 7/11

  39. Comment by roan | 03.15.2010 | 7:38 pm

    I usually carry my own sustenance but there is a special convenience store I frequent on my daily commute routes of either of 38 or 69 mile selection going home. With a tip of the helmet to both Brian & Ryan on the Rock…AC is my #1. On the west side of the mtns in the Pacific NW any day over 80 is HOT. One day a high of 50 the next day 88 a body has a difficult time adjusting. On day one of our 2 day summer I picked up a 5 gal. bucket to sit on under the AC. The owner came over to ask if I was buying anything. “Just the usual”, I said handing him a buck for Lotto. “Still don’t have that dream ride, HUH ?” he replied. I think in 8 years the most I spent there was $3 for a triple shot grande Mocha, outside it was 14 degrees and dark. He still loves me though, “Missed you yesterday”. True sustenance in its purest form.

  40. Comment by Andy R | 03.15.2010 | 8:22 pm

    Fatty- you’ve finally come full circle. Here in upstate NY we have Stewarts- literally everywhere. Just stopped at one on my roadie ride yesterday for a Reeses FastBreak and a bottle of Gatorade. And, in the fall, we have farms selling apple cider donuts. Amen.

  41. Comment by Betsy | 03.15.2010 | 8:36 pm

    Mayo also makes your hair shinny……..sorry Eldon, forgot you don’t have any hair!
    I like Wasabi almonds, cherry pepsi.

  42. Comment by Di | 03.15.2010 | 8:42 pm

    This is funny. I’m planning for the day when I stop by the convenience store on a hot day to enjoy a Coca Cola before making that journey down the final stretch(es) of road to get home.

  43. Comment by Kerri | 03.15.2010 | 9:23 pm

    My husband is also training for IM St. George and has pre-ridden the bike route. He said that although the convenience store of which you speak is definitely a God-send, it was the Starbucks at the bottom that was his saviour (since his ride occurred in rainy, windy and cold weather).

  44. Comment by Clydesteve | 03.15.2010 | 9:36 pm

    Fatty, you didn’t even get to the Jo-Jos tater wedges with Ranch, bean burritos, roasted chicken, and Hostess fruit pies. Mmmm, pies.

  45. Comment by Sasha | 03.15.2010 | 10:46 pm

    So, did the Runner get photos of this Roman-like feasting? :)

  46. Comment by Sasha | 03.15.2010 | 10:49 pm

    Also, our roads are still covered in snow but it was so glorious today that I took one of the three dogs for a hike up on the mountain near our home. It was absolutely, positively beautiful and glorious. Best thing about Daylight Savings and living in Alaska? It’s 8:49 and it’s still twilight. Ah yes! Spring will be here soon. Can’t wait to take the bike out! Tired of riding in the gym though thanks to studded tires, I have been riding the mtn bike on the roads to exercise the dogs.

  47. Comment by Matthew | 03.16.2010 | 12:58 am

    Mayo? Not sure I could stomach that one. Relish? Right on! I can eat that right out of the jar. Ketchup? I suppose I could handle that out of the packet. But mayo? That one is big EEEEWWWW on my radar.

    Note to Runner: watch out for that Fatty; he be sneaky.

    Seriously, Fatty, I concur with all your observations about road bikes and roadie cycling. It be my life. Love it!

  48. Comment by Jenn | 03.16.2010 | 1:13 am

    The riding here in Germany is outstanding, but this post made me a little homesick for American junk food (and convenience in general). At home, there was a gas station that made its own doughnuts, which I realize sounds like a concept for a comedy (or horror?) flick, but…..oh….BEST doughnuts EVER.

  49. Comment by Lucky | 03.16.2010 | 3:56 am

    I’m sitting here and I can’t believe that, I can’t believe that [sic] I’ve never sucked back a mayo packet when bonked and broke.

    This two fold disbelief has left me with a hankering to know mayonnaise, in it’s life giving capacity.

  50. Comment by Constantin | 03.16.2010 | 4:32 am

    But what about when you don’t have a 10$ paper in your pocket….?
    I’ve been there and it’s not nice. I was passing convenience stores, bakeries and my mouth was watering in vain.
    Eventually I found some apple trees along the road and I made a long halt there.

    Now I always carry some food with me in my longer rides.


  51. Comment by Greg | 03.16.2010 | 5:58 am

    @ constantin
    Mayo packets, mayo packets….

  52. Comment by jayci | 03.16.2010 | 6:54 am

    HIlarious post!!! I confess that I was horrified to read you were remarrying so quickly. You definitely deserve to be selfish for a turn and no doubt the Runner is wonderful – but my heart broke for your beautiful kids. The thought that they might not get the time and attention they need made me kinda sick to my stomach and I decided I would take a break from this blog for awhile (and ya I know you don’t post everything but every post is the Runner and this triathlon). But I have to say I’m glad I read today because this post was hilarious – especially the first few sections. Some of your finest writing. (back to lurking now)

    It’s interesting you should post a comment to me today, Jayci, because I was just about to speculate on YOUR parenting skills and life choices. But then I decided not to, because as it turns out, I don’t know all the facts and don’t know much about your day-to-day life. I’m comfortable with that decision. – FC

  53. Comment by dc | 03.16.2010 | 7:08 am

    Hobo soup – take said free water and heat in free microwave. Add free ketchup packets.

    Tomato. Frickin. Soup!

  54. Comment by NYCCarlos | 03.16.2010 | 9:14 am

    I have 1 thing to say:

    WAWA is the greatest convenient store on the planet. Anyone who disagrees… well… they just haven’t been in a Wawa before.

  55. Comment by markg | 03.16.2010 | 9:18 am

    The convenience store provides relief in a pinch, but a bakery is a destination. It lures you out of bed on a cold Saturday morning, with dreams of a sticky bun, bear claw, or almond croissant, washed down with strong, hot coffee or double espresso. The bakery must be at least 20 miles into the ride. A 60+ mile ride rates two. Bakeries are the rest stops of the gods.

  56. Comment by Thomas | 03.16.2010 | 9:37 am

    Is it just me, or are others paranoid about abandoning their beloved machines to go in these wonderful establishments? I have visions of some redneck tossing it in the back of his pickup truck in about 4 seconds and driving away (even though I’m sure a redneck would have no use for the bike and probably little appreciation for what it might fetch on eBay). Would it be improper etiquette to roll my bike in the store with me?

  57. Comment by dug | 03.16.2010 | 9:48 am

    jayci, it’s kind of like Bo Catlett says in Get Shorty (paraphrased):

    “you don’t know him. you only think you do.”

  58. Comment by Nic Grillo | 03.16.2010 | 10:08 am


    Riders have long known about the merits of the convenience store. And whoever figured out that a cycling team should be sponsored by one should be regarded as a genius. However, since cycling has gotten all high tech with all this Karbon Fibray stuff, the desire for nice computers and gadgets has led teams to seek sponsorships from “high tech” convenience stores:


  59. Comment by svandiver | 03.16.2010 | 10:45 am

    What a thoughtless comment. If I were you I wouldn’t even lurk anymore. Just give us all a break from you.

    Great article today. I smiled several times during it. I would have thought I would have starved, on such an adventure, without money but you proved me wrong.

    Keep up the good work and I hope for great things for you and the Runner. You owe her money thought, remember that!!:):)

  60. Comment by GenghisKhan | 03.16.2010 | 10:47 am

    And, what’s great about the “convenience store” is that if you break it down, “con-ven-ience store” you get “convenience store” and it makes even that much more sense, eh?

    Happy Spring Trails to all!

  61. Comment by Franky | 03.16.2010 | 12:00 pm

    I 2nd NYCcarlos opinion about Wawa. Best thing since the invention of the currywurst!

    Almost as good as their variety are the looks I get when I clack-clack into the store in my lycra outfit :)

  62. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » I Have a Prepared Statement I Would Like to Make | 03.16.2010 | 12:00 pm

    [...] « Convenience [...]

  63. Comment by Greg B | 03.16.2010 | 12:18 pm

    Do you use a bike lock when you go into the store?

  64. Comment by centurion | 03.16.2010 | 12:41 pm

    I’d like to see you snatch some condiments form a convenience store around here with out buying anything else. Better have a steel chamios.

  65. Comment by Nick | 03.16.2010 | 12:46 pm

    @rokrider I loved the image of a neutral convenience store zone. Who needs intermediate sprint points? Just limit the number of hot dogs under the lamps and watch the Pros sprint their guts out to be the first there. I also like the idea of a teammate stuffing his jersey with churros to distribute as opposed to bottles.

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  69. Comment by SactoDave | 03.17.2010 | 1:19 pm

    Chris Horner has got to have a post doctoral degree in Convenience Store!

    Nice post Fatty!

  70. Pingback by Glamorous Herve Leger Dress-Michelle | 03.17.2010 | 7:57 pm

    [...] Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Convenience [...]

  71. Comment by kylieonwheels | 03.17.2010 | 8:04 pm

    Paper money? Oh how I love our plastic money here in Australia. Straight in the pocket, quick wave in the breeze or wipe on the shorts before you hand it over, and you’re done. Sounds like American convenience stores are a cut above ours though. All I reckon I could pick up at one of those is maybe a dose of salmonella. Bakeries are the milestones of my riding!

  72. Comment by Tyson Bailey | 03.17.2010 | 8:46 pm

    loved the post

  73. Comment by Weaky6 | 03.18.2010 | 8:46 am

    HOW dare you comment about my parenting in this blog!! Oh wait. You don’t know a damn thing about me. Humph…..alright then. Anyways, thanks for telling us exactly what “The Runner” ate at the store without actually telling us. a package of Fig Newtons, a plate of nachos, a monstrous Snickers bar, a Haagen-Dasz bar. We can read between the lines for goodness sakes. You go girl!

  74. Comment by Nurit | 03.22.2010 | 6:40 am

    Glasses USA is giving you 25% off on glasses! Just go to their website and type in this coupon code:

  75. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Register Now for the 3rd Annual 100 Miles of Nowhere | 03.22.2010 | 11:55 am

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