The Unicycle Chronicles, Part I: Some Assembly Required

12.27.2010 | 1:51 pm

The Runner got me a unicycle for Christmas. Which is awesome, for two reasons:

  1. I have always wanted a unicycle. Like, since I was a kid. And yet, in spite of the fact that unicycles are pretty inexpensive (especially compared to the cost of some of the bikes I currently own), I have never owned a unicycle. So this is a realization of a childhood dream.
  2. I did not expect to get a unicycle. When’s the last time you got a present that really caught you off-guard and simultaneously opened a whole new world of possibilities? And also, probably, a whole new world of bruises and and abrasions, short-term-wise.

There was, however, a small problem. Here’s what the unicycle looked like, when I unwrapped it:


Yeah. It arrived in a box.


I am not a good mechanic. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the only way I could be a worse mechanic would be if, when I went about assembling something, I instead wound up deconstructing said object into its constituent molecules.

And so, I did not open the box on Christmas day. For I was afraid.

Similarly, I did not open the box on the day after Christmas. For I continued to be afraid.

This morning, then, The Runner asked, “So, are you ever going to assemble this unicycle, or do I have to take it to Racer’s and have him build it for you?”

“I’ll build it today,” I said. By which I meant, “I’ll open the box and if there are more than two or three parts, I’ll take it to Racer’s myself.”

The Difference Between Feet and Inches

Normally, opening a bike box sends me into a cold sweat. I mean, it’s like opening a trunk of a car and finding a dismembered body. At least, I assume that’s what it’s like, seeing as how I have never actually opened a trunk and found a dismembered body. Which I am totally OK with, by the way.

Anyway, they’re at least similar to the extent that in either case I recognize most of the parts, but there’s no way that I’m going to be able to put them back together again.

You know, the more I think about it, the less I like the analogy I started with here. Could I just call a comedy mulligan and say something like, “Opening a box full of bike parts makes me feel woozy.”

Thanks, I think that’s much better.

In this case, regardless, the wooziness was not a factor, because there just aren’t that many parts to a unicycle. Attach the wheels and the fork to the body, attach the pedals to the cranks. You’re done.

And yet I still managed to screw it up.

You see, one of the steps in the instructions was to tighten a set of four bolts to a maximum of 45 pound-inches. So I got out my torque wrench — yes, I actually do own a torque wrench — and set it to 45 pound-feet.

You see the problem here?

Well, as it turns out, 45 pound-feet is considerably different than 45 pound-inches. Like, twelve times as much.

And so it should come as no surprise that I snapped the first bolt I was supposed to tighten, clean in half.

At which point I figured out my mistake, did some math (45 pound-inches is 3.75 pound-feet), found a replacement bolt (to my amazement I had one on-hand that was a perfect match), and finished assembling the unicycle without incident.

Check it out:


So now I’m the proud owner of a unicycle, which I assembled all by myself. So now I kinda know how Luke felt after building his own lightsaber.

So far, though, I have not tried to ride it.

That comes next.

I am afraid.


“Lose Ten Pounds By Christmas” Final Weigh-in (Updated As Often As Necessary)

12.23.2010 | 8:26 am

A Note From Fatty: Today is the last day you can enter the “Help Andreas Knickman Fight Bone Cancer, Tour Italy with Andy-Freaking-Hampsten” contest. Click here for details on who you’re helping and why, and then click below to donate.

Just so you know, so far we’ve raised $13,800 for Andreas. It would be awesome if we could end the contest by telling them we raised $15,000.

And thanks, everyone, for your generosity. I’m astounded and impressed at the way Fat Cyclist readers give.

I’ll contact the winner of this contest early next week.

Another Note from Fatty: If you haven’t joined Team Fatty for 2011, you should. I go into it in great detail in yesterday’s post, which you can read here. Or you can simply go to the Team Fatty LiveStrong Challenge page, click the “Join Our Team” link, and sign up. I’m cool with either one.

Your Weight

Today is the final day you have to weigh in, too. You need to post as follows:

1. Your starting weight
2. Your current weight
3. Your total weight loss
4. Any special thing you did to get to that loss of ten pounds

If — like me — you need to do some “last minute weight loss” before you get to that magic number, get to it. You have ’til midnight (your midnight, not mine) today to post a comment with your numbers.

Make sure you fill in the email field when you enter your comment so I can get back ahold of you if you win.

When I’ll Announce Winners

Well, since you can post your weight anytime today, I won’t be contacting winners today. And there’s no way I’m going to spend Christmas Eve (that’s tomorrow) finding and contacting more than 100 winners. Same goes with Christmas day.

And frankly, it’s going to take more than a day for me to draw and contact that many people.

So let’s say that I’ll contact winners early next week. Fair enough?

My Weigh-In, Version 1.0

Last night, after a busy day of work and an exhausting evening of Christmas shopping, The Runner and I went to a popular Mexican place: Cafe Rio. I got the Grilled Chicken Tostada, which is not quite enough food for three people.

I of course ate the whole thing.

So it should not surprise you that when I weighed myself, I came in at 167.2 — exactly four pounds too heavy to say I lost ten pounds.

I am not content.

Luckily, I am now on vacation, The Runner is at work, the kids are still in bed, and I have rented Inception (no, I have not seen it yet).

So I am going to get out the rollers and ride until I weigh 163.2.

I shall report back on my progress from time to time.

My Weigh-In, Version 1.1

Okay, just finished watching the first hour of Inception. I now weigh 166.6 pounds. Somehow, I thought I’d be down at least a whole pound by now.

Looks like I’ll be riding for quite a while.

My Weigh-In, Version 1.2

I’m now two hours into Inception, and am happy to report I now weigh 164.8 pounds. 1.6 pounds to go. Luckily, this movie is a lot of fun to watch (although perhaps a little too obvious and non-convoluted for my tastes), and is also very, very long.

Unluckily, I need to go run errands for a little while, so I’ll have to pause the movie and get back to my “weight loss” when I get back.

My Weigh-In, Version 1.3

I’m back from errand running now. About an hour an a half has elapsed. I just weighed myself again and am now at 164.2 pounds. I can only conclude that errand-running is a highly effective (albeit heretofore unknown) weight loss technique.

I think it’s entirely possible that I will lose the final pound necessary while riding the rollers for the last half hour of Inception, provided I ratchet up the resistance on my rollers a notch.

My Weigh-In, Version 1.4

The movie’s over. Not exactly sure what happened, but I can state unequivocally that I am very, very thirsty.

Sadly, my weight is 163.4 pounds, which is 0.2 pounds too heavy. I think another fifteen minutes on the rollers will do the trick, however.

And then I will enjoy a nice cold drink. And, I believe, a sandwich.

My Weigh-In, Version 2.0

Drumroll, please. My weight is now. . . 162.8 pounds, which is 0.4 more than I had to lose.

See? Losing 10.4 pounds by Christmas is easy. Even if you have to lose the final 4.4 pounds in one day.

Team Fatty 2011: Join Us

12.22.2010 | 9:09 am

I’d like to make one thing perfectly clear: I am not good at making plans. I don’t like making plans. I prefer to have an idea and then instantly adopt one of the following courses of action regarding that idea:

  • Execute the idea right then
  • Forget I ever even had the idea

However, a bunch of Team Fatty members — every single one of which is more organized than I — have been asking, “What are we going to do in 2011?”

It’s a fair question, and one I’ve been giving a lot of thought. For example, in between when I finished the previous sentence and started this one, I thought about it for about ten minutes.

Which, for me, is a lot.

So here’s what I’ve been thinking.

My 2011 Team Fatty LiveStrong Plan

Team Fatty: Fighting Like Susan is practically synonymous with kicking butt in the LiveStrong Challenges, and this will continue to be the case in 2011. But this year, I want to hone things a little bit so that I feel a little bit less overwhelmed by having so many teams.

Mainly, instead of having going full-bore on every single LiveStrong Challenge, I want to focus on one event. And this year, we’re going to do the newly-created LiveStrong Challenge in Davis, California, July 10-11.

That’s the event The Runner and I are going to. That’s the event that Philly Jen is going to. That’s the event that ClydeSteve is going to. That’s the event that MattC is going to. Heck, I’m hoping that’ll even be the event that MikeRoadie is going to.

In other words, we plan to make a giant Team Fatty blowout party out of Davis, to the extent that we’re expecting LiveStrong will have no choice but to rename the event LiveStrong Davis / Team Fatty.

Join Up

To join Team Fatty, go to and click the “Join Our Team” link, then fill out the form.

Note that you only need to pay a fee if you plan to show up and ride your bike at the event. If you want to join Team Fatty and help us raise money in the fight against cancer — but don’t expect to be able to come to Davis on July — you can sign up for the “Virtual Challenge” for no fee at all.

Also note that the registration fee to do any of the rides is only $35 right now but will go up to $50 after the beginning of the new year, so you should sign up now.

No Zero Dollar Members, Please

This year, I’d like to ask everyone, as you sign up, to make a donation to your own LiveStrong Challenge page. Whatever amount you can afford: $25, $50, $100. Seriously, whatever. In 2010, there were a lot of us who signed up with good intentions, and then never got past the starting gate. This year, give yourself some momentum by making a donation yourself.

And then you won’t feel so embarrassed asking others to make a donation, because you’ll be able to say, “Hey, I’ve already donated. I’m not asking you to do anything I’m not doing myself.”

Or you can feel free to rephrase that sentiment so it sounds less smug. Your call.

But What About If You’ve Already Joined the Davis LiveStrong Challenge?

If you simply couldn’t wait for me to get my act together and you’ve already signed up for the Davis LiveStrong Challenge, send an email to Team LiveStrong asking them to change your individual registration to a registration with Team Fatty: Fighting Like Susan. Be sure to give them the name you registered under. They’ll help you out.

But What About Other Challenges?

There won’t be a Seattle LiveStrong Challenge in 2011, so we won’t be going there. I will, however — at some point — be setting up a Team Fatty Philly and Team Fatty Austin, for the folks who want to attend those events because they’re closer.

But even if you’re going to go to one of those events, I’d like you to — for now — sign up for the Davis event and raise money for it. This is the event we’re going to really emphasize this year.

And this is the challenge all the big contests are going to be focused on.

So, once again, please join up.

If You’d Like to Buy Me a Christmas Present

By the way, I have created my very own personal LiveStrong Challenge page. I’m quite pleased with it. If you’d like, as a kind of “thanks for writing” Christmas present to me, to help me get started as I take up my 2011 fight against cancer, I’d really appreciate it. Click here to donate.

That’s Not All. Not Even Close.

This year, I want to start expanding Team Fatty’s efforts beyond just doing LiveStrong Challenges. Right now, there are two things that I really want to do.

  1. 100 Miles of Nowhere. We’re definitely going to do the 100 Miles of Nowhere again this year. I think May is a good month to do it, since this event has changed from being a solitary thing you do on rollers in your own house to being a full-on contest to see who can do the most ridiculous short-course century imaginable. This year, though, I’d like to see more and more groups doing this event, and I plan to give you tools to make that easy to do. Stay tuned for details (which is my way of saying I haven’t actually got any details ready).
  2. Dustin Brady’s Promise. You all know Dustin Brady as the guy with Shimano who has helped Team Fatty raise hundreds of thousands of dollars by arranging for me to have incredible dream bikes available for my fundraising contests. You also know him as the guy who lost his fiance (and published a very moving tribute to her here) to breast cancer in 2010, in much the same way I lost Susan in 2009. Well, Dustin made a promise to Michelle, and I think Team Fatty is in an excellent position to help him keep that promise to her. I’ll explain more soon.

And there’s more I’m going to want to do. Much more, really. If I had the energy and didn’t have to work for a living, honestly this is what I’d do full-time.

I’m excited for 2011, and extremely excited to be a part of Team Fatty for another year. I don’t think anyone else could even argue the point: I have the best readership in the entire world.

Thank you for all you’ve done, all you’re doing, and all we’re going to continue to do.

Weigh-in Monday, Or How I Will Lose 5 Pounds in 4 Days

12.20.2010 | 10:17 am

A Note from Fatty: An all-caps THANK YOU to everyone who has participated in the contest to win a tour of Italy or France with Andy Hampsten by helping Andreas Knickman in his fight against bone cancer. So far, we have raised $11,300. That is awesome.

There are still three days to enter the contest and possibly win the perfect storm of cycling, eating, and hanging out with a Grand Tour champion. So, click here to go to Paypal and donate:

Another Note from Fatty: I actually got an email last night from Deb, Andreas Knickman’s mom. Here’s what she said to us.

All I can say is wow, and thank you.

We’re stunned by the support our cycling community has extended… and hey, I think we’d all love a tour of Italy with Andy!!! Aside from what you guys are doing for Andreas, what a great idea to have this little contest! Gratitude doesn’t quite say enough about how this makes us feel.

So I’m actually writing from the hospital for an unexpected visit, and my poor guy is pretty down. He was supposed to have a sleepover with his best friends tonight, and he’s pretty shut down… so actually you could do something. He loves the CaringBridge updates this year– we can tell they help him, and he reads every day. He won’t get out of here til at earliest mid-Monday, so if you or any buddies want to send him a note, I’d be immensely grateful! Funny or stories are always good… Kid is living on air and love this weekend…

This seems like a request that was made for the super powers Team Fatty has. Please join me in heading over to Andreas’ guestbook on CaringBridge and dropping off a note of support. Thanks.

Oh My Goodness, We Have EVEN MORE PRIZES For the 10-Pounds-By-Christmas Weigh-in

I am starting to find it hard to believe, but I have more prizes to

Today’s Weigh-In

weighed myself today, and am happy to report that . . . I am a pound heavier than last week. Yep, I gained a pound over the weekend. For the record: 168.0 pounds.

I am so proud.

What does this mean? It means that, with three days to go (final weigh in is on Thursday), I am pretty much five pounds away from my ten pounds by December 23 goal.

So I am considering my options.

  • Give up. I could claim a moral victory and simply not worry about losing the final ten pounds. The “moral victory” part comes from the fact that to lose any weight at all during this time of year is quite a feat. I could claim that trying to lose ten pounds in that period of time simply wasn’t realistic, considering that there are bags of Kit Kats, Reese’s, Twix, and Nestle’s Crunch around, and that every single one of these is my absolute favorite candy bar of all time. Yes, I know it’s not possible for all of them to be my very favorite, but it’s still true.
  • Starve. Five pounds in three days is totally possible if I live on grapefruit and water. And the occasional splurge on celery, when I really want to treat myself. This is also known as the “really grouchy Fatty” option.
  • Caffeinate. I have found that if I take enough caffeine I will lose weight, quickly and effectively. Albeit totally temporarily (i.e., I know it’s totally due to the diuretic effect). As long as I don’t mind being really jittery and not being able to sleep. Oh, and there’s the headache, too.
  • Dehydrate. Wednesday night, ride without a water bottle. Don’t rehydrate afterward. That’s two pounds, right there.
  • Procrastinate. Originally, I planned my Thursday weigh in for the morning. Now I’m thinking I’ll give myself the rest of the day to lose a little bit more, through the medium of eating very little, drinking even less, and exercising myself silly, with an eye toward dehydration.

Will I hit my goal? I think I will. And then will bounce right back by Christmas afternoon.

So how are the rest of you doing? Remember to post:

1. Your starting weight
2. Your current weight
3. Amount lost so far
4. Your ingenious plan for how you’ll lose those final pounds by Thursday  

We’re on the home stretch (although the home stretch is longer for some of us than others). Good luck!

Hanging Out with Justin

12.17.2010 | 10:38 am

Today is the office Christmas party, wherein we eat, drink, and try not to act like the huge nerds you pretty much have to be in order to work at the company where I work (for those of you who don’t know, I now work at Gartner, which acquired Burton Group at the beginning of this year).

Every year, as part of this party, we have a white elephant gift exchange. In previous years, the gifts I have given have been:

  • A variety box of Spam, which is to say, one can of every kind of Spam I could find at the grocery store (it turns out there are quite a few)
  • Two marshmallow guns and a couple bags of marshmallow shooters
  • A variety pack of weird things, including 50 Chinese finger traps, 25 Silly Putty Eggs, 250 super balls, 50 miniature yo-yos, 25 whoopee cushions, 50 assorted plastic animals that, when squeezed, bug their eyes out, and 1 tube of vegemite

This year, though, I pulled out all the stops and got something that every single person at an IT research company would want to have:

A (more than?) life-size cardboard cut-out of Justin Bieber.


This is not going to be easy to wrap (especially since I don’t plan to fold it back up before I wrap it), but I think I’m up to the challenge. I have experience with wrapping up large presents.

Alternate Universe Cycling-Related White Elephant Exchange

To be honest, though, it’s not easy for me to come up with great White Elephant gifts for normal people. If, however, I were to somehow magically be transported to a place where all of us did a white elephant exchange, I think I’d be awesome. And also, I wouldn’t have to go out and buy something.

I know, in fact, exactly what I’d wrap up: a 1-gallon can of apple-flavored Cytomax (those of you who remember apple-flavored Cytomax just gave an involuntary shudder).

What — if you were restricted to cycling-related stuff and had to use something you already have on-hand — would you bring?

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