I Have a Confession to Make. OK, Make that Confessions.

05.21.2010 | 6:09 am

For some reason, confessions are on my mind today. And as a result, I have a confession to make.

Okay, several confessions.

This isn’t easy for me, so I appreciate your patience as I try to clear my conscience.

Confession 1: I have commented using a pseudonym. One of the things I’ve always been proud of with this blog is the open commenting system I have. I of course understand that since my comment system is totally open, it’s a snap to impersonate somebody. And I have done that myself on at least two different occasions that I can remember. Both times were to call attention to what I considered a clever inside joke that nobody had noticed, saying that my reference was very funny.

I should note, however, that most every single blogger in the world does this. And in fact, it’s my understanding that all of Jill Homer’s comments are written by Jill Homer herself. So in comparison, I’m squeaky clean, bogus-comment-wise.

Confession 2: I have plagiarized Dave Barry. I used to love Dave Barry’s column. One of his signature phrases is “…and I am not making this up….” I have written that exact phrase in my blog probably a dozen times, and each time I do I am consciously plagiarizing Dave Barry.

But my problem is hardly even worth mentioning if you compare me to practically every person who has ever lived, each of whom plagiarizes Seinfeld twenty or thirty times per day. In fact, I’m practically a saint in comparison, when you think about that “and I am not making this up” is a fairly generic, non-comedic preface to the actual comedic phrase that will follow. Saying, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” or “No soup for you,” however, steals the entire comic parcel.

And anyone who knows Dug knows that he has never actually constructed an original sentence in his life; every single thing he ever writes is a reference to something else.

Shame on all of you!

Confession 3: Even though I’ve said I’ll never do another Ironman, I can’t help but thinking about doing another Ironman. It’s true; I’ve thought several times about what would happen if I actually trained for the run. I think I could finish an hour faster. And if I started the race at 150 pounds instead of 163, I would have finished both the run and bike courses faster.

But if you think I’m bad, you should hear The Runner. She — and I would like to remind you that she was the one who originally said that we would never do the Ironman ever again — has already started thinking about the next triathlon she wants to do, and has even hinted that maybe sometime this autumn we ought to go try swimming again.

Confession 5: I drink chocolate milk straight from the jug. I tell my kids that it is absolutely forbidden for them to drink straight from the jug, but when nobody is around, I do it all the time. And not just because I’m lazy, either. I do it because I like it. I like lifting the big ol’ gallon container of chocolate milk to my lips and chugging, knowing that I can drink and drink and drink, and there’s still very little chance that I’ll finish off the container I’m drinking from.

And it feels manly to drink from the jug, too.

But if you think I’m disgusting, you should have seen this dog — named Fred — a friend of mine had when I was a kid. He totally licked his balls.

I mean the dog did, not the kid.

Confession 6: I deleted confession 4 because it was too personal and embarrassing. But you know what? I hear — and I am not making this up — that Bike Snob NYC deletes personal details from his blog all the time.

PS: Feel free to use the comments section today to confess something, but only on the condition that you then go on to blame others for doing the same and / or worse.

PPS: Is there anyone else who thinks that the “Trust But Verify” blog ought to have a few new updates, in light of recent events?

PPPS: The contest to support the Breakaway from Cancer initiative and win a jersey or an Amgen Tour of California merchandise pack is still going on. We’ve raised just about $2000 so far. Read here for details, and go here to donate.


Ode to Phil and Paul

05.20.2010 | 11:11 am

I’ve been watching the Amgen Tour of California, and just realized something: my favorite part is listening to Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen narrate it. I swear, every time a stage begins and they start talking, I get the “Christmas is here” feeling.

So I’ve been trying to figure out why. Is it that I’ve got a lot of good memories tied up with watching the Tour de France, and they’ve always (as far as I’m concerned) been the soundtrack to that race? Or is it that they actually make the race into something more than a race? That they take what is otherwise just a large group of anonymized people turning small circles with their legs, and turn it into a dramatic story with interesting characters?

Probably both, really. Plus I really like their voices. And I’m amazed at how they can continue to talk for hours and hours, day after day, and stay interesting — even when the race is not (and let’s face it, long flat stages that make you incredibly glad you have a DVR aren’t all that interesting, even to hardcore fans).

There’s more, too. No matter what happens, they handle it. Need to announce that the next show is about competitive fish cleaning? They do it. Need to talk about a race that they can’t see and have no information on, due to rain keeping the cameras off? No problem.

Need to announce that, due to the very important necessity of Versus wanting to show a lengthy NHL promo, followed by a hockey game, they won’t be showing the final three minutes of a breakaway comprised of three podium favorites? They do it with grace, reflecting none of the rage I was experiencing as I, dumbstruck, watched the screen go black with under three Km to go.

In fact, if Phil and Paul had commentated the hockey game, I might’ve even stuck around to watch.

Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind if Phil and Paul commentated a lot of things. For example, it would have been really helpful if they had been around to commentate The Phantom of the Opera when I saw that last December:

Phil: Yes, the heroine is still singing. She’s got quite a set of lungs, that one. She’s quite sad, you can see that, and I can’t blame her. After all, she’s got to contend with a crazy, scarred man who until recently was her singing coach but is now pursuing her and is killing her co-workers left and right.

Paul: And that’s not all, Phil. You can see she’s in a cemetery now — a very sad place indeed — and thanks to some important visual cues we saw earlier, I think it’s very likely we’ll see a violent encounter involving swordplay any second now.

Phil: Right you are, Paul, it looks like that fight has begun now. The phantom seems to be the superior swordsman, and the duke looks like he’s been caught off-guard. Oh, but he’s recovered nicely and is counterattacking! This could be a fight for the ages.

Paul: And I don’t think we should discount the fact that the Phantom is seriously unstable. It’s hard to engage in a strategic and tactical swordfight at the top level when you’re a raving lunatic…

Phil: But a handsome lunatic to be sure.

Paul: No question, the ladies seem to like the mask, though a professional fencer I’ve talked to made the excellent point that this mask is going to seriously affect the Phantom’s peripheral vision.

Phil: A handicap that’s just became evident now as the Phantom is down! That’s right, the Phantom has made a serious miscalculation and is now at the Duke of Wellington’s — I’m not sure that’s the right name, we’ll get back to that in a moment — mercy!

Paul: And with that, we’ll take a break. Don’t go away.

See, I understand the opera better already, and that’s just by imagining what Phil and Paul would say.

Honestly, there’s no pro I’ll be sadder to see leave racing than when Phil and Paul — hopefully not for a long while yet — retire.

Fight Cancer, Win a Jersey Autographed by Lance, George, or Levi

05.18.2010 | 10:53 am

I’m just a few short days from flying to Los Angeles, where I will get to ride in the Team RadioShack car, following some very lucky pro as he tries to ride 21 miles very, very fast.

I could just sit in the car during the ride, taking it all in, doing my best to remember it all so I can write a lucid, interesting, and perhaps even clever blog post about what it’s like to ride in a team car during a time trial.

I could, but I won’t. Because if I did that, I would completely miss the opportunity to do the following:

  • At a key moment during the race, I’ll ask the driver to stop swerving so much. “I think I’m going to hurl,” I’ll say.
  • Bring a pillow, “Just in case I get bored.”
  • Point out interesting landmarks along the way, and maybe ask if we can stop so I can take pictures.
  • Ask, several times, “Are we there yet? I really need to pee.”
  • Ask the team mechanic if he’d mind adjusting the trim on my rear derailleur.
  • Bring Funyuns, eat them noisily, ask if anyone would like some.
  • Ask if I can have a turn driving.
  • Tell the driver I know a shortcut that can get us there faster.

Furthermore, I plan to wrest (what other blogs use the word “wrest,” by the way? None, that’s what. This blog is freaking educational) control of the radio from the driver and do the following:

  • Holler the lyrics to the Macarena song, very loudly.
  • Tell the cyclist that it’s OK to slow down. “Not everyone can win every day. Maybe it’s time you give someone else a turn. Feel free to just phone in your ride today,” I’ll say.
  • Say, “Big Ben, this here is Rubber Duck. What’s your 20?” And then I’ll make the squelching noise CB radios made when you released the “Talk” button.
  • Yell upcoming turn instructions to the rider, but constantly confuse left and right. “Slight left — I mean right — bend up ahead in twenty — I mean thirty five — yards, I mean 3.5 kilometers. No, right! RIGHT! TURN AROUND!”

I suspect that right this minute, everyone on the team is fighting for the privilege of being the one to have me be behind them.

Fight Cancer, Win a Jersey Autographed by Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, or George Hincapie, and a Whole Bunch More Cool Stuff

One of the things I like about the Amgen Tour of California is the close association with the Breakaway from Cancer initiative. Breakaway from Cancer, in case you aren’t familiar with it, is a terrific source of information and tools for people who are battling cancer.

So, during the Amgen Tour of California, I’m working with Amgen to help raise some money for this initiative. By donating, you have a chance of winning one of the following:

  • One of 2 jerseys autographed by Lance Armstrong
  • A jersey autographed by George Hincapie
  • A jersey autographed by Levi Leipheimer
  • One of 3 Amgen Tour of California merchandise packs, each of which includes an ATOC leader jersey, a pair of Oakley sunglasses, an ATOC t-shirt, an ATOC bag, and a pair of ATOC socks.

How do you win? Simple. Go to the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer donation page and make a donation. For every $5 you donate, you’ll automatically get a chance when we do a drawing for the prizes listed above.

This contest goes until the end of the Tour, Sunday, May 23. Winners will be notified by email on Monday, May 24, and announced on this blog once they have confirmed.

It’s a great cause with some very cool prizes. Go donate now.

PS: Thanks to Dug for pretty much all the funny parts today.

Comfort Rides

05.17.2010 | 11:51 am

I love it when someone takes me out on a new ride — whether it be a trail or road route close to home, or somewhere far out of town. Adding a new place to be on my bike is always great.

That said, I think there’s a good reason why, 95% (oh yes, I totally keep track my new v. old ride ratio; don’t you?) of my rides are on the same trails and roads I’ve ridden and known for years.

The fact is, the more I know a route, the more I love it.

Why? Well, the first reason is because the better I know a route, the better I am at riding it. I have a sense of how to mete out my effort. I know when I need to conserve energy on a climb because it ends in a false flat, and when to let it all hang out. I know the best, cleanest lines. I know what’s around the next corner without ever seeing it.

But the real reason I love the rides close to home is because they’re piled high with memories.

Let’s Talk

Yesterday afternoon, The Runner and I got out our mountain bikes. I admit I was giddy, because it was the first day the whole year I felt like I could wear a sleeveless jersey.

Not that I’m giddy about the prospect of sleeveless jerseys in general, mind you, but I was giddy about finally — it’s been a long winter — having a day when wearing a sleeveless jersey wasn’t an act of defiance.

“Should I bring an iPod, or are we going to be talking during this ride?” The Runner asked.

It’s a fair question. While I’m normally pretty talkative (though nowhere near as talkative as you might suspect from reading this blog), when I’m riding I often stop talking; I get absorbed in the ride.

“Leave the iPod at home,” I hazarded, not really sure I’d be able to back up that promise of being a good conversationalist.

Turns out I didn’t need to worry. I talked pretty much nonstop during the ride, just narrating things that had happened on the same route over the course of years and years of riding.

A First

As we climbed up Hog Hollow — a long, moderate dirt road that becomes narrower, steeper and more technical as you go up, I recalled that this was the first “away” mountain bike trail I had ever been on. By which I mean, up until then, the only trail I had ridden was Lower Frank, near my house in Orem.

Dug had persuaded me to come try out something different — go out to Hog Hollow, climb it, and then drop down the other side to the Sliding Rock.

Back then, none of the Corner Canyon stuff existed. In fact, back then, the whole Suncrest subdivision where Dug now lives didn’t exist, either.

I don’t remember the descent, in any case. All I remember from that ride is the climb. At the time, it just seemed impossibly steep and unbearably long. And ridiculously technical. I recall telling Dug that I needed to stop and take a break three times on that two-mile climb.

It’s strange, I thought, how your perceptions change. Now I think of the Hog Hollow climb as nothing more than a convenient on-ramp to get to the real attraction: Corner Canyon Park. It’s a good warmup, but hardly taxing, even on a single speed.

But it’s still a good memory of branching out for the first time, along with the feeling of triumph when I reached the saddle.

I could have also told The Runner about the many times the group of us would race to the top of Hog Hollow, and how I never tried to hang with the group — I was too slow. Or I could have told her about the time Jeremy filled Dug’s innertube with water for one of those races.

Another First

Being at the top of Hog Hollow really only means you get a short break before more climbing to Jacob’s Ladder.

As we get to the top of Jacob’s Ladder, I start thinking about another first — my first descent down Jacob’s Ladder.

Now, Jacob’s Ladder is about 3 parts jutting rock, 4 parts packed earth, 2 parts erosion gutters, and 6 parts pea-sized gravel. All on a sharply descending, often off-camber fin.

Yeah, it’s kind of technical. Nowadays, I love the descent. Even though I’ve crashed hard on it, I know that (almost) every time, I can fly down. The thrill’s worth the risk. (Except when it isn’t, of course.)

But it hasn’t always been that way. I remember the first time I rode Jacob’s Ladder, I was with a group of riding buddies, and as they disappeared off the front and I looked at the rocky ledges and loose sandy gravel in front of me, that I had a long walk in front of me.

And I took my time about it, too. Muttering the whole way, angry at them for showing me a trail that — eventually — I would come to love.

A Third First

A drop down Ghost Falls brought us to Clark’s, one of Corner Canyon’s main arteries. My first time up that trail was also the first time I had ever ridden a single speed. I remember Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) happily chatted (meaning that he wasn’t working hard at all on the climb) the whole way up, talking about how much he loved single speeding and how this was a perfect trail for it and wasn’t it awesome the way you had to stand and rock the bike for big chunks of the climb?

Or at least I think that’s what he was saying. I had a hard time understanding everything he said, what with the sound of blood pounding in my ears.

Meanwhile, I was wondering if Rick would be offended if I vomited on him. I certainly hoped so.

A Stunning Epiphany

And here’s the thing: just about every section of every road or trail I normally ride is like this for me now: I’ve got an anecdote for pretty much every little bit of everywhere I ride.

Which means, I suppose, I’m becoming (have become) that old guy on the group ride. You know, the one who’s always going on and on about the good ol’ days.

I shall now punch myself in the throat.

My Life Has Officially Become Surreal

05.13.2010 | 10:38 am

A Final 100-Miles-of-Nowhere Note from Fatty: Thank you again to everyone who sent in your 100 Miles of Nowhere Race Reports. I posted several of them, and read all of them. And I have a few observations to make now:

  1. My readers are more interesting than I am. You all took a silly idea — ride 100 miles on my rollers, by myself, in the dead of night, to show that I am bullheaded — and have turned it into an awesome event in interesting places, raising money for an important cause, and having fun in the process. I love the way you have taken this incredibly dull thing and made it rock.
  2. My readers have great support. I noticed that many, many of the stories had two important components: a person who did the actual riding, and family members who supported, awarded, promoted, and rode with the rider. I found it incredibly touching to see that so many of you have families who are willing to get behind your endeavors — no matter how twisted they might seem.
  3. This is definitely going to be an annual Spring tradition. Until I read your writeups, I was thinking that I ought to move this event to the dead of winter, when going nowhere for 100 miles on rollers wouldn’t seem so criminal. Now, however, I see that the 100 Miles of Nowhere is becoming a primarily outdoors event, and I like it. So we’re going to keep it in May.
  4. You people inspire me. My own 100 Miles of Nowhere was a bland affair compared to most of the reports I got — me, The Runner, and The IT Guy spinning in the basement, watching Season 2 of Dexter. Staring at the screen and watching the miles tick over. Next year, I’m going to step up my game.
  5. You people motivate me. Reading your reports and feeding on your enthusiasm has made me want to work harder in the fight against cancer. Watch for more on this very very soon.

I’m (Not) Too Sexy for My Shirt

From time to time, I talk about being a beloved, award winning, hall-of-fame superstar blogging celebrity. But we all know that I’m being ironic, right? Because after all, Internet fame is not like real fame.

And cycling blog fame is not even like Internet fame.

So I’m maybe step-famous, twice removed.

But some strange stuff is going to be happening to me in the next couple of weeks. First off, tomorrow night I am going to be in a fashion show. As a model.

For crying out loud.

Specifically, I will be one of the models at the Cycle and Style Show at the Gallivan Center in SLC, tomorrow night. I will model a couple of different bike outfits, and apparently a couple of different bikes.

I’ll be photographed and everything.

I’m trying to generate some enthusiasm for my catwalk debut, but the reality is I’m mostly experiencing pure dread. My dread stems from the following:

  • I am middle-aged.
  • I am paunchy.
  • I have no modeling experience at all.
  • I am not what you would call “good looking” by model standards. Or by any other standards. I am short, my face works asymmetrically, and my eyes are droopy. In short, I am not good looking.

So this should be a lot of fun for me. I’ll report on my experience Monday. Probably with photos.

Unless, of course, my humiliation is severe enough that I choose to instead change my name and move to Australia.

I Am Going to California

Thanks to FatCyclist.com readers, Team RadioShack, and Johan Bruyneel, I’ll be flying to California next weekend to ride with Johan during the Tour of California TT on Saturday.

It’s been five months, and I’m still having a hard time wrapping my mind around that fact.

What’s really cool, though, is that Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer initiative is so closely tied to the Tour of California. They’re doing some great things in supporting those who are affected by cancer, and I’m looking forward to learning more and helping them in their quest.

And you may want to check back here next week to see a kinda cool (cough cough) way you might want to join me. (Hint: “Kinda cool” is a little bit of a severe understatement.)

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