I Am SO ANGRY At Outside Magazine

06.17.2010 | 10:15 am

201006171012.jpg A Note from Fatty: Today is the last day you can enter to win the SyCip hand-built bike, tricked out with Shimano and PRO components. Read here for details on the bike, then click here to donate for a chance at the bike.

I’m so angry right now I can hardly see straight. Well, the truth is I have a lazy left eye so the “not seeing straight” part is pretty normal for me.

But — trust me — I’m pretty darned angry.

And I’m not the only one. Lance is mad too. Which is us is angrier? It’s hard to say.

I better back up and explain.

As many of you know, Lance Armstrong and I are now pretty tight. We hang out together, share training successes and failures, give each other parenting advice, exchange recipes, and are on the same World of Warcraft guild (his handle is “MelloWarlord;” mine is “FatPaladin”).

And so — like Lance — I was outraged when I saw the upcoming cover of Outside Magazine:


No, Lance was not outraged because the hairstylist made his hair look like he was photographed while hanging upside down. Nor was he angry that they chose the one photograph out of the whole sitting where he was looking menacingly intense, instead of showing his usual congenial, toothy grin.

He wasn’t even angry — well, OK, he was kind of angry, but not red-faced and seething — at the “Major Shrinkage!” headline right there beside him.


He was angry for the exact same reason I am angry. And that reason is: Outside Magazine photoshopped “38. BFD.” onto his T-shirt.

Note: For those of you who aren’t familiar with the “BFD” acronym, it stands for “Bidirectional Forwarding Detection,” which is a network protocol used to detect faults between two forwarding engines connected by a link — a very peculiar thing to put on a t-shirt, I think you’ll agree!

Lance was so angry, he actually tweeted:


Wow. That’s angry. I, for one, hardly ever get so angry that I start talking in light grey rectangles. But Lance — he and I have agreed during one of the many, many times we’ve hung out together — has a greater capacity for anger than I.

Which is not to say that I am not angry.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why — apart from indignation on Lance’s behalf — I am angry. What stake do I have in this egregious example of Photoshopping a plain t-shirt?

Well, the only way I can explain is by showing you the original photograph — the comp Outside emailed to Lance and me, saying they were just going to make a “couple of minor changes” before going to final.


For one thing, it is not easy to get Lance Armstrong to wear your t-shirt in public. At least, not for most people.

And for another, I totally paid Lance $20 to wear that shirt for the cover, and Lance says he’s already spent it and it wasn’t his fault that Outside Photoshopped it out anyway.

I’m so angry, I could just tweet .


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.

How to Repair Your Brand New Bike

06.14.2010 | 11:30 am

A “We Won!” Note from Fatty: Congratulations to Team Fatty-Seattle on winning both the Team Champion and Team Time Trial awards! This means our team raised more money ($71,398 as of this moment) than any other team, and that our fifth-ranked fundraiser raised more money than any other team’s fifth-ranked fundraiser.

Extra-huge kudos go to Team Fatty-Seattle co-captain “ClydeSteve” Steven Peterson, who raised $15,735 while still finding time to manage the team. ClydeSteve, thanks for working so hard and consistently in this fight. You’re an inspiration.

A “Don’t Forget to Join the Fight and (Hopefully) Win a Bike” Note from Fatty: With the Seattle LiveStrong Challenge in the bag, let’s turn our sights toward San Jose. The contest for the SyCip hand-built bike, tricked out with Shimano and PRO components, is still going strong. Read here for details on the bike, then click here to donate for a chance at the bike. The contest ends this Thursday, so donate now!

The FattyFly SS Is Go

I’m very happy to report that my FattyFly SS (which I affectionately refer to as the “FFSS”) has been built. I’m even happier to report that the FFSS weighs in at 17.6 pounds (or, for those of you who use metric measurements, 1.257 stone).

I of course wanted to get out on a ride on this bike as soon as possible, which I did on June 10. Brad met me at the saddle on Corner Canyon, where he pointed out that I have waaaay crossed the line of excessive color coordination, then graciously took this photo of me and FFSS:


Six pounds (0.428 stone),” Brad kept saying. “That’s how much less your singlespeed weighs than mine.

Of course, I have around 12 pounds of blubber that Brad doesn’t have, which explains why he still kicked my butt on all the climbs.

Enough Rain Already

And then it started to rain. Not during the ride, but afterward. And for pretty much every moment since. It’s been unseasonably cold and rainy here in Utah County, making mountain bike rides few and far between.

Seattle, you know I love you, but you can have your weather back.

Looking at the forecast for the weekend (rain, followed by more rain, followed by thunderstorms), The Runner and I agreed: we needed to get out of town. Moab would have been nice, except for one problem:


How about St. George? high of 83 with only a slight chance of rain? Sold.

So Saturday afternoon — after successfully marrying off The Runner’s eldest son (whom I have not yet nicknamed in this blog and so shall heretofore be referred to as “Travis”), The Runner and I headed out to St. George, where we’d meet up with Kenny and Heather for a day in the sun.

201006141118.jpg Ride 1

The original plan was for us to get in a good long mountain bike ride, since all four of us are going to be racing in Leadville in a couple months. Kenny proposed a Hurricane Rim / Gem / Goolds (sp?) loop, which should take about five hours, and which sounded great.

There was just one problem, which we heard about when we stopped at the bike shop where Dave Nice works: it had been raining in St. George, too, and part of the trail we wanted to ride would be a sloppy mess.

So Dave volunteered to take us out to and be our tour guide at Rockville Bench, a twisty mix of desert singletrack and slickrock.

Which made a fantastic place for me to show off my Dicky’s Death March jersey, which I obtained from the super-secret T6 Dark section of Twin Six’s site, and which I am pleased to say makes me look both handsome and slim:

(photo by Dave Nice)

I wear this jersey whenever I want to seem as cool as Rich Dillen. Which is to say, almost always.

Did I love riding in the warm sun? Yes I did. Did I love my new bike? Yes I did.

Ride 2

After dropping Dave back off at the shop, we headed out for another ride — this time on Hurricane Rim.

The first part of this all-desert singletrack ride is climby, with some steep, technical switchbacks that are not easy at all to do on a singlespeed.

I say that, of course, as a pre-excuse for what comes next. Namely, that I fell as I tried to grind up one of those switchbacks.

Just fell over on my side. Graceful as a sack of spuds.

After falling, I quickly executed my standard post-fall procedure:

  1. Look around to see who saw me fall, so I can adapt my hilarious excuse / explanation to their particular sense of humor (I’m a full-service excuse maker). In this case, it was just Kenny, and he’s already heard my best stuff, so there was no point in saying anything but “Ow.” Which I did, and with conviction.
  2. Extricate myself from the bike. This was not that easy, since the foot that was still clipped in was under the bike, and the bike was uphill from me. So I utilized the “thrash around like a landed fish” technique of getting away from the bike.
  3. Get up and continue riding.

It was step 3 that was a problem; there was something wrong with my bike. Here, take a look at this photo and tell me if you can see what is amiss:


If your answer was “white grips on mountain bikes get dirty very quickly,” you are correct, but that’s not really the problem I was thinking of.

The problem I was thinking of is that my front brake mount had snapped. Broken.

Kenny and I then made a brilliant field repair:


(photo by Heather Gilbert)

Really, the only thing wrong with this repair was . . . it didn’t work. Specifically, the brake stayed in place as long as you didn’t touch the brake lever.

So I strapped the brake lever to the downtube instead, figuring that the front brake is redundant anyways.

Situations In Which a Front Brake is Not Redundant

And for the climbs, I was just fine without a front brake. In fact, I’d go so far to say that when you’re climbing, applying the brake feels counterproductive.

And when you are going in a straight line downhill at a moderate pace? Having nothing but a back brake is plenty.

But imagine — just imagine — you’re heading fast downhill into a hairpin turn. First, you reach for your front brake, as is your habit. For the fiftieth time that day, you quickly realize there’s nothing to grab there. So you apply the back brake, which is fine.

And you keep going.

For the first time ever, you realize there’s quite a bit of truth in that axiom about 70% of your stopping power being in your front brake, what with you slowing down at roughly 30% the rate you usually do.

“Oh look, there’s the apex of the hairpin,” you say to yourself, as you slide right by it.

(Note to Hurricane trail maintenance people: sorry I left skid marks going right through pretty much all of your hairpin turns yesterday.)

Looking Forward

The thing is, even a (very expensive) repair is worth its cost when you get to spend a day in the sun riding your mountain bike, when you would have otherwise been trapped indoors in the rain.

But now I’ve got to figure out what to do with this broke brake. I am considering the following options:

  • Call Racer’s and tell him what happened. This is the obvious solution, and will result in him ordering me a new brake body, which will cost approximately “a lot.”
  • Call Racer’s and tell him it was a JRA break. “So I was just braking, and — *snap*! — the brake mount just pops off. This was obviously a lemon, Racer. See if you can warranty it.” The beauty of this excuse, of course, is that Racer will never have heard it before.
  • Repair it myself. You know, I think I could epoxy the mount back together. And then maybe I could use some superglue to reinforce it. And then some duct tape, just to be sure. A couple rivets wouldn’t hurt either. Then I’ll wrap the whole thing in velcro.

Oh, and I’d love to have your repair suggestions as well.

PS: Obligatory group photo!


Fight Cancer, Win a Hand-Built Bike by SyCip, Fully Tricked-Out With Shimano and PRO

06.10.2010 | 8:29 am

Wow. Today’s headline is really long, isn’t it? That may have to do with today’s contest being so jam-packed with awesomeness that it’s hard to fit into a nice, concise headline.

The crazy thing is, as long as it is, the headline is still leaving some really amazing stuff out, including the ability to get a Shimano group you can’t even buy yet.

So let me lay out exactly what you can win in the contest that we’re starting right this second.

You Get to Choose the Bike

201006100720.jpg Imagine owning a bike that fits you perfectly, because it was made specifically for you – to fit the look you want, your body and your riding style, based on measurements and discussions you had with the builder.

And now go one step further and imagine that you have to choose whether to have a classic steel road bike or a classic cruiser hand-built for you.

SyCip (pronounced “see-sip”) Designs has been designing and building custom bikes like this since 1992. Each bike they build is customized for the lucky person who buys it.

Or, in this case, wins it.

For this contest, the winner gets to choose between a SyCip Custom Classic Roadster and a SyCip Custom Java Boy or Java Girl.

Go to the SyCip Flickr page to check out a lot of their bikes, but here’s a few pictures to whet your appetite. Check out a couple shots of the Roadster:


and here’s another one:


But suppose you’re looking for something for getting around town. For cruising, or maybe commuting. Or maybe — just maybe — for riding around for fun. Well, the Java Boy or Java Girl ought to fit your needs pretty darn nicely.


One top tube? Two? Curved up? Curved down? It’s your bike, so it’s your call.


Yeah, I think your SyCip custom-designed and hand-built bike is going to make the word “awesome” feel sad and inadequate.

The Bike Will Be Outrageously Outfitted with Shimano and PRO Components

Let’s not forget, the frame is only half of your custom bike equation. Since Team Fatty is Shimano-Powered, you can bet that your bike is going to be tricked out beyond belief with Shimano and PRO components.

If you go with the Roadster, your bike will come equipped with a complete set of Dura-Ace 7900 components, wheels, and pedals. And that’s just the beginning. Your Roadster will also be equipped with your choice of PRO handlebars, stems, posts, and accessories.


Yeah, my head’s spinning too. With jealousy.

But suppose you want the Java Boy or Java Girl? Well, Shimano’s got you covered for that, too. Covered, that is, with the yet-to-be-released Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal group.


The Alfine group highlights with a wide-range 11-speed internal hub, disc brakes, and a list of other jaw-dropping bike technology.

The Bike Will Be Hand-Painted By Spectrum Powder Works

Regardless of which bike you choose, it’s going to look the way you want it to, because one of the artists at Spectrum Powder Works is going to talk with you about colors you like and details you’d like to have on your bike, and then make your frame more beautiful than you would have ever imagined possible.

How You Can Win

Whichever bike you get is going to be simply too cool for words. You will try to use words to describe how cool your bike is, and you will be unable to. But that’s OK, because riding the bike is more fun than describing it.

In other words, I think this is a contest you might want to enter. But to do that, you’re going to need to do a little cancer fighting with me. Here are the ways you can donate.

  • By Raising Money at Your OWN Team Fatty LiveStrong Challenge Page: If you’re a member of Team Fatty, now’s a great time to donate money to your own LiveStrong Challenge, as well as to get others to donate to it. For every $5 you have raised in your LiveStrong Challenge by Midnight, June 17, you get another chance at the bike of your choice. And if you haven’t joined Team Fatty yet, click on one of the links below to join in the city of your choice:

  • By Donating at my Seattle LiveStrong Challenge Page: For every $5 you donate at my LiveStrong Challenge page between now and Midnight of June 17, you get another row on my spreadsheet. That DOES NOT mean that if you want to donate $50, you’ve got to do ten $5.00 donations. I’m awesome at Excel and will be able to give you the correct number of chances automatically, based on how much you donate. Click here to donate now .

The contest ends Thursday, June 17 at Midnight, MDT. At that point I will choose a winner at random from my spreadsheet, using random.org to pick the lucky person. I will then fire off an email to the winner. Once I get acknowledgement, I’ll announce it on my blog, and you can begin the agonizing process of picking out which bike you want, how you want it customized, what you want the paint job to look like, and so forth.

Sweet, sweet agony.

By the way, since the Seattle Challenge is next week, I highly recommend those of you on Team Fatty-Seattle work your hearts out raising money for this contest.

Why This Matters

I hope you win this contest. I really, really do. But the fact is, what really matters in this contest — like all the contests we do here — is that we’re doing something in the fight against cancer.

And the truth is, this fight is going to be personal — in one way or another — for every single person, at some point in your life. You’ll either have cancer, or someone you care about will. It’s that widespread. And it’s that awful.

This is a chance for you to do something to fight back, while simultaneously getting a chance at winning an unbearably cool, custom-designed, hand-built, hand-painted, tricked-out bike.

At the very worst, your donation will have done something for someone’s fight against cancer. And it may just have won you a bike in the process.

Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

So. Go sign up and raise money on your own Team Fatty LiveStrong Challenge page now, or go donate at mine.

Thanks, and good luck!

A Meditation On A New Bike While Waiting for the UPS Guy to Arrive

06.8.2010 | 8:56 am

201006080741.jpg It’s just a bike. I know that. And I know that, eventually, I will put it in the garage with the other bikes. I will ride it without a second thought, without even considering how it looks. Eventually, I will let it get dirtier and dirtier, until I have to clean it more out of necessity — i.e., the wheels no longer turn and the bike is carrying an extra seven pounds of dirt — than out of a need to make it look new.

Eventually, it will be just another bike to me, one of several I love.

But not today.

Today, this is my new bike. Or, more accurately, today this will be my new bike. As soon as the UPS guy gets here. Which should be any time now.

You know what would be really awesome, UPS? If your trucks had GPS tracking and that information was tied to both my package tracking number and a maps application, so I could see exactly how close my new frame is to being delivered.

There you go: awesome new feature using inexpensive, readily-available technologies, that would differentiate you in a big way from the competition. No charge.

201006080750.jpg One moment while I reload the Tracking Information page again. Even though I know there will be no more information on it until my frame is actually delivered.

Still out for delivery.

Which I of course already knew.

New Bike Love

Obviously, I’m all atwitter for my new FattyFly SingleSpeed (my custom-painted Gary Fisher Superfly SS). But this isn’t the first time I’ve had that “can’t wait, can’t think about anything else” feeling when getting a new bike.

I had it when I got my first real mountain bike (Specialized Stumpjumper M2, for those of you who remember when Metal Matrix — aluminum mixed with pottery — was going to be the next big thing in bike material). I had it for months when I waited for my Ibis Bow Ti. I had it when I got my Orbea Orca with Shimano Di2 (note to self: post an extended review of what I think about this bike in the very near future).

OK, I’ve had this feeling every single time I’ve gotten a new bike. And I’ll bet that you have too. It’s the feeling of possibility. Of the expectation of having something you love be — somehow — just that much better.

It’s like Christmas on steroids. But without the unfortunate positive result the next time you have an out-of-competition blood test.

When The Frame Arrives

So here’s what I’m going to do when the frame arrives. Which will be, I’m certain, very very soon.

  1. I will unbox it, lick it, and take a picture of me with it.
  2. I will email the picture to The Runner.
  3. I will post the picture here.
  4. I will drive down to Racer’s, where I will beg him to drop everything he’s doing and build me a bike.
  5. I will go back to work, even though I really really really want to sit and watch Racer build my bike. As it turns out, I currently have a lot of work to do at my day job.
  6. I will text Racer every 30 minutes or so, asking him, “How’s it coming along?” I am sure that this will not be annoying at all, and will not slow him down.
  7. I will go and pick up my bike, photograph it, and post it here.
  8. I will stare at it for a while.
  9. I will ride it.

The Build

Let’s take just a moment and consider my plans for the FFSS build. Why? Because it makes me giddy, that’s why.

So, um, it’s going to be a pretty nice bike.

If the UPS guy ever gets here.

UPDATE: The UPS guy came by! . . . and dropped off a completely unrelated box. So now I’m waiting / hoping / praying for the afternoon delivery. Sigh. . . .

UPDATE 2: The frame has arrived!


Off to Racer’s…

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