How to Introduce Yourself to Other Cyclists

06.15.2010 | 12:14 pm

201006151033.jpg As a beloved, Bloggie hall-of-fame-winning, and very influential blogger, it is now very rare for me to go riding without being accosted by other cyclists. Many of them (you) simply want a signed 8 x 10 photograph, and for that purpose I now always ride wearing a Camelbak HAWG filled with an assortment of photos of me in different outfits and poses.

For efficiency’s sake, I have even pre-autographed a number of these photographs for common names. If, for example, your name is “Barbara,” (currently #4 in the US), I will be able to give you your pre-inscribed photograph (“Barbara! You’re awesome. Ride hard and keep reading the blog. XOXO – Fatty”) with practically no delay at all.

You think you’ll get the same treatment from Bike Snob NYC? No, you will not. In fact, he’s likely to punch you in the throat. Or push you down. Depends on how foul a mood he’s in, really.

Why do I do this? Because I am all about service, that’s why.

Sometimes, however — and this is as surprising to me as it is to you — I will encounter another cyclist who neither recognizes nor approaches me. At those times, it falls to me to talk to them, in order for me to share the important insights I am invariably experiencing.

I am certain you are interested in what I say, and in what circumstances, so that you can emulate me.

Your Saddle is Too Low

Something I have noticed about every cyclist that has been riding for more than six months is that they have become truly expert in bike fit. Of course, it irritates me no end when these cyclists try to instruct me on how I should position my saddle, how long of a stem I should be using and so forth, because I truly am a bike fit expert.

And of course I love to share this expertise. I am a sharing person, after all.

I like to start out with a friendly greeting. “Hi there, great day for a ride, isn’t it?” I will ask. This puts us on common ground (we agree that it is in fact a good day for a ride), establishes that I am interested in their opinion, and intimates that I am very observant (I have noticed the suitability of the weather for cycling).

Once my lucky patient (I think of everyone I help as a patient, and think of myself as a kindly doctor) has agreed that the weather is in fact good for riding, I follow up with, “I’ll bet your knees hurt, don’t they?”

Stunned by my perspicacity, my patient will usually agree. Unless, of course, their knees don’t hurt. In which case they will reveal, “No, not really.”

Undaunted, I will then reply, “Trust me (and how could they not trust me?), they will soon.” And then I will tell them that they need to raise their seat the correct amount, which I am able to discern simply by looking at them. This is easier than you think, believe it or not. Use the below guide to help you help others:

  • If their legs never achieve an obtuse angle, they probably should raise their seatpost about 2″ (that’s 5.08 x 10^-5 kilometers for those of you who prefer metric units).
  • If they have to shift their buttocks to reach the bottom of each downstroke, they should probably lower their saddle about 2″ (see above for the metric equivalent).
  • If their knees keep hitting their chin, it may be time to consider a larger frame.

I believe this pretty much covers all the possibilities.

And the great thing about this technique is that I don’t need to be on a bike to use it. I have found it equally effective when shouted from a car.

I Want You to Know About the Awesome Ride I Am Doing

When mountain biking, I am often not actually on my bike. To the casual onlooker, it may seem like this is because I am pushing my bike up the hill, but the truth is, I am simply going at a slow enough pace to allow others to catch up with me, so I can tell them about the magnificent mountain bike ride upon which I have embarked. By knowing this, the person I am talking to can aspire to — someday — attempt a similar ride.

I like to begin by feigning interest (after, of course, I have cemented our relationship by commenting about the weather): “Hey, what kind of ride are you doing today?”

Naturally, this appears to show my interest in the other person’s ride, but in reality it is setting them up to reciprocate my question.

“Oh, I’m just exploring a little bit today,” I’ll reply off-handedly. “I started by climbing up Grove, connected that up to the Great Western to get to the top of Timpooneke. I rode that for a while, and now i’m riding to the top of the Alpine Loop. From there, I think I’ll take Ridge to South Fork Deer Creek, back up to the summit, then along Ridge to Mud, down Tibble, and then probably back home.

“Or I might add a little something to it if I have the time. Just depends.”

I especially like that last part — that it’s my available time that’s the limiting factor, not the fact that this ride would leave me completely cooked.

Note: I only use this technique when I am on a very long, impressive ride. And am pretty sure the other person is not. And I always be sure to say the route fast enough to make the other person’s head spin, and too fast for them to comprehend it.

I Am Considering Killing You for Your Food

This may come as a surprise to you, but there are times when I get hungry on the trail. Hungry enough, even, that I eat all my food and wish for more.

When that happens, I am always very happy to meet a fellow cyclist.

“How’s your ride going?” I ask, weakly.

I do not listen to the response.

“Yeah, I’ve been out for a pretty long ride,” I say, regardless of whether I have been asked how my ride is progressing. “I sure wish I had unnndndngngghh.”

I should point out that as I say “unnndndngngghh,” I let my knees buckle, and use the nearest tree to keep myself from falling over entirely.

“No, I’m fine,” I reply, in answer to the inevitable question of whether I’m OK. “Just a little hungry, I guess.” Of course, I’ll protest when offered food, but never for too long.

And I want to point out that I’m not exactly taking something for nothing, because I almost always offer a high-value item in return.

An autographed picture of me, for example.


  1. Comment by nrob | 06.15.2010 | 12:24 pm

    My name is Nanci—please have an autographed picture ready for the day I am anxiously waiting to see you out on the road–either south suncrest climb or af canyon. Great day to ride today!

  2. Comment by Mike Roadie | 06.15.2010 | 12:28 pm

    Thank goodness my name is Mike…..there must be plenty of those pics available!!!!

  3. Comment by Loving the Bike | 06.15.2010 | 12:38 pm

    Keep bringing it Fatty….good stuff once again.


  4. Comment by Janine | 06.15.2010 | 12:50 pm

    Ha ha! Thanks for the tips. I’m not very good at intros. Please have a photo ready for me as I live in your area and might run over you some day. You can sign it, “Janine, stop riding your brakes on the downhills!”

  5. Comment by MattC | 06.15.2010 | 12:53 pm

    Just think how many more names you could carry if you cut the pic size down to 3×5! Or better yet, create your own line of trading cards! All your fav poses, different bikes…ride stats…I bet BSNY doesn’t have HIS own line of trading cards! Nor Pioneer Woman! Just think of the opportunities! MUCH better than a business card when you travel! And you’d never need to carry food or tools again, cuz you’d be trading your autographed cards for whatever you need from the peasants you encounter! It’s like money only better!

  6. Comment by Erik | 06.15.2010 | 12:53 pm

    It’s Erik, with a K, no C. I’ll pick mine up in Leadville, look for the LIVESTRONG Booth.

  7. Comment by Jim | 06.15.2010 | 1:09 pm

    Pre-autographed photos are nice, but I like to hand out Tofurkeys to people who recognize me. I’ve actually only ever had to hand out one because every time I hand it out they throw it back at me. Which sounds bad but it keeps the cost down.

  8. Comment by kyle. | 06.15.2010 | 1:16 pm

    how is it that my name is directly behind melvin and alfred?
    i’m never going to get a pre-autographed picture…

  9. Comment by Lyndon | 06.15.2010 | 1:32 pm

    You just produced the written equivalent of a sub 20 minute 10 mile TT! Fine form, Elden.

    p.s. I dare say my name is not on your pre-printed list.

  10. Comment by Ginger-Schminger | 06.15.2010 | 1:37 pm

    My name is Ginger (works for Virginia as well…kill 2 birds with one stone!). You can always ask me why I insist on wearing my mtb shoes when I ride my road bike. Why you ask? Well, it’s because I hate and despise trying to walk in road shoes. Oh yeah, and I’m too cheap to buy 2 different pairs. Ya gotta love those West Texas girls. ;)

  11. Comment by KanyonKris | 06.15.2010 | 1:46 pm

    A delightful slice of humor.

    I best be sure to carry food when I ride with you, or it might cost me a finger.

  12. Comment by bubbaseadog | 06.15.2010 | 2:06 pm

    my name is leave blank i gotta hand it to you you started this and ended it with autographed photos not bad proving once again what gos around comes back around you the man fatty

  13. Comment by rich | 06.15.2010 | 2:25 pm

    Seeing as I ride in Nor Cal I’m sure I’ll never run into you and have the opportunity to get my own signed picture, I’ve just printed out the one you posted and wrote my name on it in magic marker….that’s not some sort of copyright infringement thing is it?

  14. Comment by Greg @ Greg Rides Trails | 06.15.2010 | 2:36 pm

    Easily the best “How To” posts I’ve read this week.

  15. Comment by randy | 06.15.2010 | 3:22 pm

    Love the picture. Why did you use a stand in? That guy looks dorky.

  16. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 06.15.2010 | 3:38 pm

    Show of hands… how many had to look up “perspicacity”? I did! The how to guide is educational in more ways than one!

  17. Comment by Chris | 06.15.2010 | 3:51 pm

    Please sign it “To Jesus, Get Well Soon. Hope the burns don’t adversely affect your football career.”

  18. Comment by stuckinmypedals | 06.15.2010 | 6:09 pm

    Please sign mine “Love, Stanley Tucci”.

  19. Comment by oilcanracer | 06.15.2010 | 6:29 pm

    dear fatty,

    i suggest getting a book on eatable plants, reading my blog(as i occasionally include eatable local plants)or get in on some of my rides.
    there are many many plants on our trails that can be nutritious and somewhat palatable here on the wasatch.

  20. Comment by Haven (KT) | 06.15.2010 | 6:29 pm

    Ginger, me too about the shoes!! :)

    And Fatty: it’s with a K, then ends in EN, not IN or any of those other stupid combos. E. N. Remember that.

    Wow, I’m ranked 194th for female names in the US. Woot!

  21. Comment by Paul (AR) | 06.15.2010 | 8:33 pm

    Somehow I get the feeling you run into a few characters who can’t stop yammering about their super long all day ride or provide an overwelming amount of advice about your bike fit. All the while you are thinking “don’t you know what a famous blogger I am?”

    If they won’t stop just pull out a sharpie and autograph their jersey and ride away.

  22. Comment by Cardiac Kid | 06.16.2010 | 6:16 am

    Wasn’t there a fairy tale about a stranger offering gifts such as advice and cookies or signed 8×10 glossy photos?

  23. Comment by Bee | 06.16.2010 | 7:08 am

    Ow. I’m recovering from surgery. I don’t think I can read this blog right now because it’s making me laugh harder than the narcotics can make me sleep off the pain.
    And I’m encountering a side effect I often notice when reading: this bizarre urge to acquire a new bike and take up mountain biking, even as my shiny jet fighter road bike hangs in my living room for easy access. You are ruining me!

    Thankfully, I at least still have a brother in law who is even bike crazier than me. Whew.

    Have you considered just using first initials? Lots of folks just call me “B”, making it easy for you to carry duplicates, have one ready for ANYONE including Quince and Xavier, and give everyone you meet a nickname, thus further endearing yourself. “Hey, there, Q, nice to see ya!” Also solving the problem of having to remember multiple syllables.

    You’re welcome! :-)

  24. Comment by Robert | 06.16.2010 | 8:16 am

    Hi fatty! Bad day uhm? So, your saddle is at least 2″ too low, your knees hurt, I can see you’re starving to death and you ain’t Doctor Phil either. And besides all that: you’re way too fat!

    And now give me the f*ck*ng autographed photo…! ;-)

  25. Comment by stanleytucci | 06.16.2010 | 8:36 am

    I’m tired of all the requsts for my photo signed with “Love, Fatty”.

  26. Comment by Lisa | 06.16.2010 | 9:26 am

    You need to promote yourself to fancy trading cards, printed on water-resistant material and pre-sign them…

  27. Comment by leroy | 06.16.2010 | 9:34 am

    Well now, this is odd.

    I just checked my autographed copy of BSNYC’s book.

    He signed someone else’s name.

    At least I think it’s someone else’s name. His handwriting is pretty shaky.

    It seems to say “Haldol 10mgs”. Wonder if that’s a graffiti tag.

    But now that I think of it, I had asked him for a suggestion to help my riding.

  28. Comment by Paul Guyot | 06.16.2010 | 10:15 am

    Check your email.

  29. Comment by skippy | 06.16.2010 | 10:55 am

    During Tours i tend to get requests for photos so i ask them to send $10 to their National Paralympic Committee before agreeing to their photo shot as we ride along.
    Any of you out there not followed through yet should do it immediately, as trusted you so it would be your countryman who misses out on the trip to London 2012 Paralympics.
    “Georgethecyclist” suggested wristbands but Livestrong does that and i carry a few spares for the Handbikers i come across as they storm up Alp d’Huez, yes even there they are to be found cranking away! 2006 I saw a handbiker on Alp d ‘Huez towing his wheelchair , couldn’t stop to talk to him as the racers were trying to race through the fans crowding the roadsides hardly leaving room for the TV m/cycles.
    Usually ask people to lower thier saddle so as to avoid back strain for them and stop giving me Seasickness as they roll from side to side!

  30. Comment by Daisy | 06.16.2010 | 10:58 am

    Fatty, I ride with my coworker on our lunch breaks. He is married and I am not. But when we meet hot (as in sexy, not as in temperature… Although they may be hot in temperature as well… I don’t know for sure) guys on the trail, they assume that we are riding together as a couple. So they pass me by without a second glance, even though I’m wearing a pink bike skirt and sparkles on my helmet. It’s disheartening. Clearly gifted at the art of trail introductions… how would you suggest I handle this situation?

  31. Comment by Steve the BigRide | 06.16.2010 | 11:01 am

    I often wonder (at least once a week reading your blogs) if your arms are in proportion to your legs. My guess is that they are about 6″ long than the norm. That way it’s easier to pat yourself on the back. hahahahahaha
    Keep up the great work

  32. Comment by Steve the BigRide | 06.16.2010 | 11:38 am

    Daisy – How about a special jersey –
    “I’m single track and single”
    The reason a guy has passed you is because it would be creepy for him to ride up stare at your bum for too long. Trust me – he’s looked, twice!!

  33. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 06.16.2010 | 1:20 pm

    Melissa is the #30 most common female name in the US, so it may not have made your short list. But if you’d keep just one “Melissa” or “Missy” photo available for me, that’d be awesome!

    Thanks, Fatty!

  34. Comment by Heidi | 06.16.2010 | 2:24 pm

    Hey, no pictures from Seattle?

  35. Comment by ugh | 06.16.2010 | 3:09 pm

    Ugh, you’re insufferable.

  36. Comment by Gomez | 06.16.2010 | 6:32 pm

    Please sign mine as follows:

    “Dear Lance,
    I know you appreciate all of the professional help I provided. I feel like your victories are mine as well.

    Dr. Lammler”

  37. Comment by Spiff | 06.16.2010 | 6:57 pm

    Check it out, Fatty – your FattyFly SS just got more unique (if that’s possible). Trek ate GF (see here). If you’d had to wait a few months longer, there’d have been a big “TREK” on the downtube!

  38. Comment by Clydesteve | 06.16.2010 | 8:18 pm

    That fan photo would be perfect if accesorized with a jaunty silk scarf!

  39. Comment by Hamish | 06.17.2010 | 3:06 am

    I read your last heading as “I Am Considering Killing You for Food”. I thought you had turned cannibal. This wouldn’t have been a total surprise.

  40. Comment by Steve | 06.17.2010 | 7:24 am


    As always, you impress the heck out of me.

    For my own genuine efforts to educate the generally ignorant cycling populous regarding correct saddle height, road etiquette, and other cycle-tech subjects I seem to be the only one who knows about, I have been rewarded instead with being beaten by bicycle pumps and squirted with sticky energy drinks.

    Can I possibly borrow some of your pre-autographed 8×10’s?

    Cannonball Costanzo

  41. Comment by Paul (AR) | 06.17.2010 | 8:11 am

    I failed to mention that the photo is great – move over Brad Pitt. How about a short cape and a fan blowing your luxurious hair and the cape in the next shot? Take the pic straddling your bike at the top of a magnificient climb.

  42. Pingback by Shared Biking Lover’s Items – June 17, 2010 | BikeLife.TV | 06.17.2010 | 2:01 pm

    [...] How to Introduce Yourself to Other Cyclists [...]

  43. Comment by FixedFred | 06.21.2010 | 11:13 pm

    Fatty, You’re either an evil genius, or one arrogant bastard. In both cases, I want to count you as a friend. (That should tell you all you’ll ever need to know about me.)
    -Fixed Fred

  44. Comment by bewert | 06.23.2010 | 4:45 pm

    The food one is hilarious. On one of our Alta-Midway-Guardsman-Brighton-Alta rides I ate half of the bean dip at a wedding reception redo at the top of Guardsman. Saved my life.


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