Jacobs Ladder, Ghost Falls

07.20.2010 | 11:41 am

There are times when you and the mountain bike simply don’t get along at all. When every time you stand up to pedal, your rear wheel spins out. When every uphill switchback is too tight and steep and you stall out right at the apex. When every downhill switchback has you sliding out off the trail or into an endo.

And then there are the other times.

You’re going fast, downhill. A series of rocky ledges that have practically broken you in half on other days present no problem at all. Why haven’t you seen this perfect line before? A dip into a loose, off-camber ravine usually means coming to a near stop. Today it means nothing. The laws of physics are for other people.

Over a bulging cluster of rocks. Usually your teeth rattle and you listen for the sound of a pinch flat. Today you float over it like it’s pavement. You hit the ravine and flip from slide to slide as you rocket down. The consequences of sliding out — scrapes and blood and bruises at the very least — don’t play across the back of your mind. And it’s not like you’ve just successfully turned off the projector either. It’s like there was never a projector there in the first place.

Just past the first switchback — which you ride high on the berm, bringing plenty of speed into the straight — there’s a little launch. Usually you feel just the slightest moment of lift-off. Today it feels like seconds. You land, pedaling. No correction necessary. This is exactly where you want to be.

There’s a tree just to the left of the trail, just slightly before the trail itself angles left. On another day, you’d give it wide berth — at least a couple inches. Today you practically graze the tree as you go by. You’re not tempting fate; this is simply the right line. The way the trail is supposed to take you.

Another switchback. It’s loose, dusty. Without thinking about why it works, you countersteer as your back wheel slides around and then hooks up exactly where it should. Sure, you shouldn’t skid when you’re mountain biking. But sometimes it just happens.

And only rarely does it feel so perfect.

There are short uphills, but they mean nothing, because whatever momentum doesn’t come from the downhill prior is easily supplied by standing up and pedaling hard for fifteen seconds.

The burn feels good.

When you get to the bottom you laugh. A little shaky, a little stunned at the perfection you just experienced.

A good day on a good trail feels like you know how to fly.


Podium! My Tour de Donut Race Report

07.19.2010 | 10:36 am

A Note from Fatty: Before I get to today’s main post, I would like to let you know about something very, very important: Today is the last day you can pre-order your 2011 Fat Cyclist gear.

Order by Midnight Central Time (that’s 10:00PM for you folks on the West coast). So I’m going to do a quick recap of what’s out there.

This is the design that started it all, updated in some very subtle ways to suit the Team Fatty mission. Check out the Check out the men’s jersey front:


And the women’s jersey back:


Other standout items include — for the first time ever — a long-sleeved thermal jersey (men’s and women’s), a tech T for runners and cyclists who want a more casual look (and don’t need zippers and pockets), and a very affordable hoodie (men’s and women’s).

Want more details? Go to my description of all the stuff here. Ready to order? Go to the Fat Cyclist page on the Twin Six site here.

Tour de Donut Race Report

The Runner and I do not compete against each other. When we ride, we ride together. When we run, we run together. When we finished the Ironman, we finished it together.

But the 2010 Utah Tour de Donut was an exception. Sort of.

It started the evening before the race, as we talked about our dreams and aspirations for the event. “I don’t intend to ride fast, and I intend to stop eating donuts before I get seriously ill,” I said.

Yes, I am a dreamer.

“My only plan,” replied The Runner, “is to eat as many donuts as you.”

“That,” I replied confidently, “is ridiculous. Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know my super power? Don’t you realize that I can unhinge my jaw and eat three donuts in a single, horrifying bite?”

“I think I can hang,” said The Runner.

And that was pretty much the end of the trash-talking session. But let the record show: the first instance of competitiveness between us was over respective capabilities in donut eating.

The Stage is Set

The way the Fat Cyclist family wound up being represented at the Tour de Donut was The Runner and me, each on our respective road bikes, and The Runner’s son — The IT Guy — on his road bike. The tandem fell through at the last moment, because my tandem is currently not in riding condition — a fact I discovered just a hair too late to do anything about it.

I arrived at the venue, picked up our race packets — including really nice t-shirts — and met with a couple of fellow Utah-based bloggers. Here I’m with Lindsay of Healthy Stride:


Her story is pretty impressive — she’s lost more than 100 pounds through eating properly and exercising — and she’s recently been bit pretty bad by the cycling bug.

This was her first cycling event, so I assured her that all cycling events have an eating competition portion that allows you to deduct minutes off your final time, and that this year’s Tour de France will likely come down to whether Contador can eat more than Schleck, though I think Cadel Evans might have a serious chance if he is really willing to apply himself.

I also talked with Camille of Make It Work Mom.


I admit that Camille had a sort of “eye of the tiger” thing going on, and I was pretty sure she was going to kick my butt in the riding portion of the race.

I was not, however, worried about being beaten in the donut-eating portion of the event, in much the same way that Superman does not worry about being out-supered by the Wonder Twins.

And then, finally, I got to meet the race organizer, Rod — a guy I’ve talked with on the phone a dozen times — in real life:


Rod is a great guy — someone who loves finding ways to help people, and having fun doing it. I’m looking forward to working with him more in the future.

By the way, my very favorite moment of the day was when Rod introduced me to his daughter (pictured above) and said to her, “Do you know what this man’s name is? It’s Fatty!”

She busted up. Just started laughing uncontrollably.

I’ve never been so happy to have the nickname “Fatty” in my entire life.

Looking around, I was really pleased to see a lot of “Fat Cyclist” jerseys in the crowd. JJ and his wife Gina. Seth, whose wife The Runner and I had met earlier that morning at The Swimmer’s swim meet. Jolene, who stated that her husband KanyonKris had stayed home because the event seemed “too silly.”


A Lap for Bunny

The truth is, The Tour de Donut would have been a completely, aweseomely silly event except for one extremely sad event that happened earlier last week: a mom and avid cyclist — Elizabeth “Bunny” Bradley was killed by a truck while she was out on a ride.

A two-car collision sent one of the cars into Bunny, killing her; the car crash had nothing to do with the cyclists. It was just one of those horrible random events.

I met briefly with Bunny’s dad, who was at the event, and did my best to tell him how sad I was for them and how impressed I was that he was out doing anything at all right now.

Before the main race, we then did a slow, quiet lap for Bunny. A number of people wore “Riding for Bunny” t-shirts showing their support for the family.


And then it was time to race.

Intense Pace

I expect there were some people who treated the Tour de Donut like a race, but they were nowhere near the part of the field I was in. The Runner, The IT Guy, and I chatted as we rode along the industrial roads. Oh, and you know how you know for sure you’re not racing seriously? When you take out your phone and take candid shots of people riding with you.


As we rode, lots of people cheered on the “Fat Cyclist” jerseys — indeed, I’ve never felt quite so at home in a Fat Cyclist jersey as at the Tour de Donut. It’s like they were made for each other.

One racer pulled alongside us, commented on the jerseys, and said, “Isn’t the Fat Cyclist supposed to be riding here today?”

“Yeah, that’s me,” I said.

To which he replied, “May I draft behind your magnificent quads?”

And for saying that, this rider is hereby promoted to my favorite reader of all time.

Magnificent Technique

The first lap — a perfectly flat 7-mile loop — ended, and it was time to begin the reason we came to this event: eating donuts. For each donut eaten, we could subtract three minutes from our riding time. So there were two things to consider:

  • The most important rule: No puking in the donut-eating zone.
  • The practical reality that eating a donut only saves you time if you can eat it in less than three minutes.

I immediately made a grave error: I did not take off my cycling gloves. Within seconds they were covered, and would leave sticky glaze on everything I touched — especially on my bike’s bars — for the rest of the day.

I now have to confess that until now, I have never eaten competitively. Oh sure, to look at me you’d assume that I am a serious eater indeed, but the truth is, I’m an amateur.

So I experimented a little.

For my first donut, I just ate it as I would at the office, but much faster. This, however, seemed slow, as well as messy — as I crammed the right side of the donut into my mouth, the left side would poke against my face.

So for the second donut, I just stuffed the whole thing into my mouth. Which posed a new problem: with a whole donut in my mouth, I couldn’t breathe. And it was hard to chew. And it was dry and wanted to just sit there forever in my mouth.

By the third donut, I stumbled on a technique that I would adopt for the rest of my donut-eating efforts: I folded the donut in half, then ate using a two bites / 1 swallow of water rhythm. I ate with alacrity, but not with panic or uncontrolled urgency.

I had hit my groove.

As I ate, I called out donors’ names. Thanks to my eating prowess, however, I ran out of names before I hit my maximum donut threshold.

The Runner ate four and said she was done. “I am just getting into my groove,” I said.

The IT Guy ate six and said he was done. “I think I’ll eat a couple more,” I allowed.

By the time I had eaten eight donuts, I figured I had hit the point where I could no longer eat more donuts and still ride comfortably.

So we set off for lap 2 of 3.

The Question

As we rode — still cruising, not really racing — I often asked people we went by: “How many have you eaten?”

Sometimes the answer would be three. Sometimes — most commonly, in fact — it would be two. I don’t think I came across anyone who had eaten eight (because the serious contenders were further up the field).

Strangely, I came across quite a few people who said “zero.”

Zero. Really. You ate zero donuts at the Tour de Donut.

The very thought makes me want to cry.

Donut Zone 2

Seven miles of flat roads goes by quickly — and with only eight donuts in me, I didn’t feel sick at all. Seriously, I didn’t. My superpower is totally real. The Runner was forced to acknowledge that in terms of eating, she is more of a sidekick than a superhero. But that’s OK, because I need a sidekick.

As we pulled into the Donut Zone, I proclaimed that I was going to eat four more donuts. By the time I got to number 12, I had slowed considerably. I confess, in fact, that for the first time in my life, donuts had lost their appeal.

But then I thought to myself: “When eating donuts, one should not eat a dozen. One should eat a baker’s dozen.”

So I ate one more. 13 donuts. People were actually cheering me on. Which helped. A little.

And then I heard louder cheering. Much louder. People were yelling, “Regan! Regan! REGAN!” And there, at the next table, was Regan Fackrell, reigning champion of the Utah Tour de Donut. He was somewhere in the process of eating the 25 donuts he would eventually consume (Brent Strong would eat 26 donuts, but take much, much longer to finish).

Regan was gracious enough to pose for a picture with me, captured by Jess of Picture Me Mine photography (see Jess’s writeup of the event in her blog here:


25 donuts. Seriously. Wow.


After getting photographed with Regan, I looked around — The Runner and the IT Guy had gone on ahead. I tried to step up my riding to see if I could catch up, but at first, that was a problem.

You will be very surprised, I am sure, to find out that I was feeling a little bit full. Nearly to the point of discomfort in fact.

And then, about 200 yards into the lap, I burped about 13 donuts worth of air out of my stomach.

Suddenly, I felt fine. Could’ve eaten another five donuts, I’ll bet.

And in any case, I felt like I could ride again. So I started riding hard. Before long, I caught the IT guy, who was riding with Jolene. The Runner was further up ahead. I kept cranking. Then, with just a couple miles left in the loop, I caught her.

“Please,” I said, “can we slow down now? I feel like I may have overeaten this morning.”

And we cruised to the finish line.


To my amazement and delight, I finished on the podium for my age group. Yes, out of 59 starters in my division, I took third place with my 13 donuts. And if I’d have eaten just one more, I could have tied for most donuts eaten in my division.

Next year. Just you wait and see.

As for The Runner, she did excellent as well, taking fourth out of more than 50 starters in her division. And the IT guy — pitted against a very competitive field of 95 guys (including the overall winner), took 14th. Very respectable.

After the Afterward

It was a hot day, and so as I lounged around the finishing area and talked with people, I took advantage of the plentiful bottles of cold water laying around. Probably drank about three of them.

And then…well, I didn’t feel so good. In fact, you might say that I felt ill.

As we pulled into a convenience store to pick up a Diet Coke, I said to The Runner, “I don’t look so great, do I?”

“No,” she agreed, “you don’t.”

So when we got home, I found a toilet and put my finger down my throat, intending to de-donutize a little.

Weirdly, though, all that came out was about two bottles-worth of water. Evidently, it was just sitting on top of the thirteen donuts, just sloshing around.

Feeling better, I asked, “How does Del Taco sound for lunch?”

Next Year

As the day went on, I couldn’t help but think back. I finished on the podium! And I wasn’t even really riding hard! And I know for sure I could have eaten a couple more donuts if I had really tried.

So yeah, I’ll be back for the 2011 Tour de Donut. But this time, now that I know what I’m capable of, I’m going at it hard.

I just hope Regan doesn’t move into my age group between now and then.

PS: A huge thanks goes out to Rod, Lane, the Rotary Club, the volunteers, One on One Marketing, and everyone else who put on a great event that raised a lot of money for great causes in a really fun way.

San Jose LiveStrong Challenge Report

07.16.2010 | 9:24 am

A Note from Fatty: Tomorrow’s the Tour de Donut, and it’s not too late to register, though the event will definitely sell out today. Come ride and pig out with The Runner and me tomorrow! Read details here, and go register here.

201007160918.jpg A Preface About Today’s Story from Fatty: Matt Chapek is the Co-Captain for Team Fatty San Jose. Matt is also one of the nicest people I have ever met, and I’m not just saying that because he gave me a monster pull at the Austin LiveStrong Challenge last year. I’m really proud of the work Matt has done as the Co-Captain of what is undoubtedly the toughest LiveStrong Challenge to raise money for (it’ s just a few weeks after the Seattle event, biking news is dominated by the tour, and everyone’s out on vacation). Matt’s positive attitude is as inspiring as his metabolism is envy-making. Enjoy his story!

Matt Chapek’s Ride Report

Saturday was our fun-day to just hang out at the LIVESTRONG venue and absorb the vibe, and I have to say that the addition of the Team Tents this year was nothing short of brilliance on somebody’s part.

I set up a small barbeque and had a cooler full of tasty bevarages available. The tents were set in a nice grassy area literally right across the street from the LIVESTRONG products trailer. I had my Tour of California “Team Fatty” banner up on our tent so there was no problem finding us, and we got even a pretty good amount of attention from non Fatty members that know who Fatty is and stopped by to say hi (which is great, as I’m always on the lookout to recruit new members for next year).

Yann, Karen, Angie, Matt, Andrew V & Jeff at the tent.jpg
(Yann, Karen, Angie, Matt, Andrew V and Jeff at the tent)

Team members filtered in and out all day as we hung out in the shade, and if they had an appetite and time to spare I’d make them a picnic lunch of burgers and chips.  

The Pre-Ride Dinner

About the time the village was wrapping up for the evening we also had to close shop, as I was to be attending the Award dinner along with Yann Bertaud, Karen Lorentson and Angie Gibson (Yann and Angie were the only two members on our team this year to earn tickets, with Karen and I as their guests…well done to you both!)

The dinner was very tasty actually, and was extremely well organized (I even went back for a 2nd full plate using my only superpower: making food dissapear without a trace). After dinner we had the guest speakers, who were both LIVESTRONG guys…one was Lance’s good friend and one of the actual founders of the LAF, and the other was a guy high-up in the organization (I can’t seem to remember their names, sorry. I’m just terrible with names).

They had a nice back and forth banter describing what the LAF is actually doing, how they do it, future plans, and why they need our help. During this banter the awards were presented, and I’m sad to report that Team Fatty San Jose didn’t get any this year. Team Spike the Dog and Team AntiOxidants beat us out in both the Team Champion and the Team Time Trial. It was a hard-fought competition and we were close, but I think Team Spike was not very pleased losing to us last year and that gave them the needed extra momentum. After the dinner we wandered around meeting members from the other teams (who I again saw during and after the ride).

In the Chute

The ride was a blast, and was once again the best organized and well-staffed cycling event I have ever been associated with. A gigantic tip of the hat goes out to the entire LIVESTRONG organization! ClydeSteve, I’m happy to report that we had awesome weather the entire day. You Seattle folk should consider a road trip next year….(just a thought).

Anyway, I had totally planned on a relaxed, easy start this year being as we were not awarded Rock-Star status with head of the line start priveleges. However, the amount of riders was barely half of last years total. As we lined up in our chutes I think there were only about 8 or 9 of us Fatties in the 100 mile group…with the rest of us scattered in the other chutes.

Fatties in the chute.jpg
(Fatties in the chute)

And it turns out we weren’t really THAT far away from the very front and the police vehicles that would pace us thru the city (just a few hundred people were actually in front of us is my guess).

Gotta Go

When the horn went off and the mass of cyclists slowly started to move forward and gain momentum, the ‘chase’ instinct in me went into high-gear and I just HAD to get into that front group! How often do you get the chance to race thru the streets of a city just behind a police escort? This insane speed-up/slow-down at every intersection chase goes on for about 12 miles when the escort finally pulls off and we resort to the Rules of the Road.

The ride itself was punctuated with lots of aid stations with incredible volunteers at each. I’ve never seen so many cheerful volunteers and short lines…and the variety of food was staggering. At every stop the volunteers would be thanking us for what we were doing! The San Jose Sharks hockey mascot was again at aid station #1…though I heard he slunk away in quiet shame when Angie asked him why the Sharks keep losing in the playoffs.

And there was no devil on the route this year, which was a huge loss as he was awesome last year (he’d move aorund to various points of the ride, and if you asked him a question he’d lie…being as the devil is the great deciever). And somehow again this year it was one of our Fatties who had jersey # 666, which is eerily coincidental.

Metcalf (Hell) Hill

And everybody who has done the 65 or 100 mile routes in SJ knows about the dreaded Metcalf Hill at mile 69. This is a lovely 1.8 mile long slice of hell covered with pavement. It’s so steep that really strong riders are able to go straight up in their granny gear, albeit very slowly.

More moderate riders might still somehow go straight up, although coming to a near complete stop with each pedal-mashing stroke as the top of the hill keeps receeding into a tunnel-vision blip at the end of the cave of pain. And many are reduced to a paper-delivery style climb (back and forth across the road) or just realize the insanity of this hill and walk it.

Those equipped with a triple chain-ring rule on this particular climb. It’s probably the steepest hill of any distance that I’ve ever climbed on a road bike, and somehow seemed even steeper and longer than last year. I heard that 3 years ago (San Jose’s first year as a LIVESTRONG event) when Lance was there, he rode it and commented afterwards, wondering who put a hill like that 2/3rds of the way thru a recreational ride.

After Metcalf it’s a little over 25 miles of survival to the finish, with the last 15 being back on city streets including all the lovely stop signs and stoplights.

I personally can’t recall when I’ve been so happy to see a finish line, as I suffered greatly during the last third of the ride due to my boneheaded sprint at the front for the first 10 miles. And although not as hot as last year, it did still get pretty toasty, slipping into the mid 90’s when we got to Hell Hill.

I recall sending out a mental thanks to Fatty and Twin Six for making the 2010 jerseys WHITE! I can still vivedly recall the cooked goose feeling last year in the all black (yet O-SO-AWESOME LOOKING) 2009 jersey. And throughout the ride it seemed that any time I’d encounter a Team Spike member they would say “Look…a skinnny Fatty!” I personally consider myself an malnourished Clydesdale, thank you very much.

Anyway, our entire team did great, and to the best of my knowledge we had no crashes or injuries this year, and only a few flats. Well done team!

Lastly, I want to thank THE TEAM! As was discussed during the Awards dinner, cycling is a team sport. Well, so is fighting cancer. One of the first things in the LIVESTRONG guide that you are supposed to do after being diagnosed with cancer is to assemble your team. As Fatty’s Co-Captain, I was again blessed with the most awesome team at the event! By my count we had at least 25 team members who showed up for the ride on Sunday from all over the state. I truly enjoyed meeting, spending time with, and most importantly: wheel-sucking off of you, as so many of you helped to drag me to the finish line at some point in the 1000 miles…er, 100 miles I mean…(it only FELT like 1000 miles).

The event was a great success!

One Final Thought

I implore all of you to continue fundraising as if you are going on to Austin, whether or not you have any intention of doing so. The reason we are doing this is to fight cancer. Cancer isn’t taking a break until next year. Just because our event is over doesn’t mean that the fight is over. In fact I think the fight has just begun. We have our team(s) assembled. Collectively we can kick cancer’s ass, but it’s going to be a long fight.

We can do this!

It was once again an honor and a privelege to be Fatty’s Co-Captain, and all I can say is wait ’til next year! We are going to spank the Dog (Team Spike) and give cancer a swift kick to the head at the same time!

Until we meet again Team SJ, stay safe, keep the rubber side down, and keep the dollars rolling in. Team Philly, the ball is now in your court.

Game on!

Footon-Servetto Reveals Its 2011 Team Kit

07.15.2010 | 11:11 am

A Note from Fatty: The 2011 Fat Cyclist Gear pre-order is going strong, but ends this Monday. Read here for details, and click here to order from Twin Six.

CANTABRIA (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – Reacting to a growing tide of feedback regarding its Team Kit, Team Footon-Servetto today has revealed its 2011 Team kit.

“We are of course extraordinarily pleased with the extraordinary — and frankly, unexpected — success of Team Footon-Servetto in the Tour de France,” said Team General Manager Mauro Gianetti in a post-stage press conference. “And want to assure the public that we are taking their concerns to heart with the 2011 Footon-Servetto kit.”

For contextual purposes, the 2010 Footon-Servetto kit is a distinct caucasian flesh color, with a black footprint on the front, as shown below:

(Riders David Vitoria and Noe Gianetti pose with Mauro Gianetti. Source: CyclingNews)

Unfortunately, the footprint is recognizable as such only when the a cyclist is standing and facing you. Which — considering that most spectators see most riders from the side and back, or possibly a front view of the cyclist is hunched over his bike — is essentially never.

To illustrate, the Footon-Servetto kit usually looks like this:


Or this:


(Source for above 2 images: Footon-Servetto team site)

The effect of this design, according to pretty much everyone, is that in the 2010 kit, the Footon-Servetto riders look like they are essentially nude, with holstein cow markings or tattoos.

The spectator reaction is typified by Steve Blanstrom, an American spectator at this year’s Tour de France, who remarked during an early stage as a Footon-Servetto rider went by, “Martha [Steve's wife], avert your eyes! There’s some weird naked human / cow hybrid thingamajig approaching! It’s horrible! Martha! I said avert your eyes!

Listening to Concerns

Said Sabino Angoitia, Team Director for Footon-Servetto, “Naturally, when we became aware of people’s discomfort with the current Team Kit design, we went back to the drawing board. And I — along with the rest of the team — am pleased to announce that we have arrived at the new, preliminary design for our 2011 kit (shown below).”


“We felt,” said Gianetti, “that the naked human flesh look, integrated with the seemingly random black spots on the jersey, was too confusing.”

“As you can see now,” injected Angoitia, “That problem has clearly been rectified to our satisfaction. Thanks to our new graphic treatment, there is now no longer any question about the skin color on the front. It is 72% fleshier than before, without the distraction of black splotches.”

“Meanwhile,” continued GM Gianetti, “The back of the jersey now quite clearly shows the distinctive spots of a cow.”

“Naked man from the front, holstein cow from the back,” enthused Angoitia. “Absolutely no way you can be confused by the imagery now.”

“Problem solved,” said Gianetti, and then concluded by saying, “By the way, we’re pronounced ‘foot on,’ not ‘futon.’ Although we welcome inquiries from futon manufacturers interested in cosponsoring a pro team.”

The team then went on to demonstrate the new design for the official team bib shorts, which were immediately awarded the distinction of being the first ever shorts to be rated NC-17.

La La La La Na Na Na Na I’m Not Listening

07.13.2010 | 12:54 pm

201007131039.jpg A “Fat Cyclist Gear Pre-Order Week Is Still Going” Note From Fatty: The 2011 Fat Cyclist Gear collection is available for pre-order now through Monday, July 19. You can read details in my blog post from yesterday, or go to the special Fat Cyclist catalog area on the Twin Six site.

Honestly, if you want any of this stuff, you need to pre-order it, cuz while we order a few extras of most things, those tend to disappear, fast.

And do yourself a favor and don’t wait ’til what you think is the last day to do your pre-order, OK? Because every single time I do this pre-order, someone forgets and then sends me an email the morning after the pre-order is over, asking me to make an exception, and I feel all bad the whole day because there really is no way for me to make exceptions. If I hold up the metaphorical train before it starts its magical journey, it won’t arrive at its destination — which we will whimsically call “available by the Austin LiveStrong Challenge and NYC Marathon” — on time.

Also, I’ve given the Twin Six guys the power to reply to questions people have posed in the comments section yesterday, right within those comments . So, if you asked a question about sizing yesterday, check your comment to see if it’s been answer. Probably it has. Because Twin Six loves you.

La La La La Na Na Na Na I’m Not Listening

Last Friday, I went mountain biking on the Ridge trail with Kenny and Bob. Bob — who has lived at sea level (Seattle) long enough that he may as well have never been altitude-acclimated — was suffering mightily.

Here’s Bob, sitting on the ground after a long climb, trying to get every last drop out of his PowerGel:


(I should probably admit here that this photo doesn’t really have much to do with where I’m going with this post, but I wanted to put it up anyway, because Bob’s face looks like it came from a much redder person.)

These rest stops were fine by me, because they gave us a chance to talk, which is really about 70% of the reason I ride with friends anyway.

So as we were talking, Kenny — from out of nowhere — says who had won the two most recent stages of the Tour de France. Just like that.

And so I throttled him until he was unconscious. Before he could reveal anything else. Perhaps that seems harsh, but I think I was justified. Really, it was my only option.

And I’m not unwilling to use this tactic again.

The Plight of the Busy Person

Every July as the Tour de France begins, my television consumption goes up. Way, way up. Much to my disappointment, however, my job, my family and my other myriad (oh yes, I have a myriad) responsibilities don’t respect my sudden desire to watch three hours of TV per day by quietly disappearing into the background for three weeks.

How rude of them.

Thanks to the magic of the DVR, however, I can time shift my viewing. I record the live version of the Tour de France, hence accruing these three very important benefits:

  • I can then watch the stage anytime I want.
  • I can gleefully skip commercials. And yes, I do experience a moment of glee as the commercial whips by, unheeded.
  • I can minimize the amount of Craig Hummer in my life.

But the DVR is a two-edged sword (that’s a metaphor; don’t try to actually use your DVR as a cutting device. Your results will be unsatisfactory.). Specifically, once you’ve said to yourself, “I’ll watch this later,” you’ve got a problem: how much later?

Or even more specifically, how soon will you have three hours to watch TV?

As a stereotypical middle-aged man, it’s easy for me to answer that question: I will never have three hours to watch TV, ever again in my life. Sure, some of the flat stages don’t exactly take three hours to watch. In fact, with judicious use of the remote, many flat stages can take approximately fifteen minutes to watch.

But still. There’s a distressingly high likelihood that I won’t miss just one stage. In fact, I’ve been known to have missed multiple stages in a row.

Right now, for example, I have five unwatched stages of the Tour de France. Which is about fifteen hours-worth.

Sure, I don’t really need to watch the first two of those five stages, thanks to Kenny. But my point still stands.

Isolation Chamber

Right now, then, I have Saturday’s, Sunday’s, and today’s stages to catch up on (I had hoped to catch up on at least some of those stages last night, but I had tickets for the family to go see the local community theater production of Wizard of Oz, which — as it turns out — is about nineteen hours long.

And I really really really don’t want to know what is going to happen (OK, has happened, but it’s still in the future tense for me) on those stages. For example, I don’t want to know any of these things:

  • Will Contador climb so fast that specially-purchased high-speed cameras will be used to film him?
  • Will Armstrong reveal that he is actually not pushing 40 after all and is in fact in the prime of his life and will now gleefully crush his opponents?
  • Will we ever figure out who designed the “Holstein Nude” look for Team Footon-Servetto?

So, in order to keep TdF spoilers out of my life, I am having to adapt my behavior in a most severe way.

  • I don’t go to VeloNews, CyclingNews, BikeRadar, or any of the other bike news sites. This takes some effort, because I don’t even have to consciously choose to go to these sites normally. My mouse just wanders to my browser bookmark list of its own accord every few minutes.
  • I don’t watch TV. I know that if something really really big happens in the TdF, it could crack into the mainstream news, and I will of course be watching during the five seconds they spoil everything and ruin the stage for me.
  • I don’t leave my IM client open. Normally, I IM with friends pretty much through the day.
  • I don’t go riding with anyone. I used to, but I won’t anymore (Thanks a lot, Kenny).
  • I don’t look anyone in the eye as I ride alone. If I make eye contact, people are likely to say “hi.” Then a conversation could ensue. And then they could suddenly divulge what’s going on. And then I’d have to throttle a complete stranger, and I wouldn’t feel good about myself afterwards.
  • I don’t answer the phone. (This one’s easy, since I have an iPhone 4 [but it takes great pictures and video!])
  • I don’t look at email. I don’t even look at it.

I shall now go back into my hole, from whence I shall not return until I am caught up.

It could be a while.

PS: Don’t you dare tell me what’s happening in the TdF in the comments section, because if you do I will ban you forever. Even if you’re just kidding and making stuff up. Because I will, using my incredible powers of logic, infer what is really happening from your fake response. Believe me, I’ve done it before. I’m frighteningly smart.

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