Stuff Fatty Loves to Hate: The Insidious Treachery of Netflix

03.21.2011 | 1:16 pm

I am a hardy soul. I am a man who loves to brave the elements, to be in the great outdoors, no matter the weather. A fierce-eyed cyclist of all seasons who gladly turns his eyes into the wind, glad to feel the sting of sleet in his eyes. A rugged ruffian who laughs at the numbness in his fingers and frostbite in his cheeks, not to mention the way his eyeballs have turned to granite.

Oh, I’m sorry. I made a couple of little typos in that first paragraph, which could have possibly led to a misunderstanding of its meaning. It should have read as follows (additions in red, deletions in strikeout):

I am not a hardy soul. I am once met a man who loves to brave the elements, to be in the great outdoors, no matter the weather, and I thought he was completely insane. As far as I’m concerned, nothing ruins a group ride more than having some A fierce-eyed cyclist of all seasons who gladly turns his eyes into the wind, glad to feel the sting of sleet in his eyes. Those guys are insane and just don’t know when to quit. To me, it seems completely ridiculous to be a A rugged ruffian who laughs at the numbness in his fingers and frostbite in his cheeks, not to mention the way his eyeballs have turned to granite. I mean, after all, hypothermia is no joke.

I apologize for any confusion my original rendering of that first paragraph may have conveyed. Because the reality is — and believe that as a person who has actually lived for a winter right on the edge of the Arctic Circle I can say this with some authority — I’m not a huge fan of the cold.

And so I have been riding the rollers this winter. A lot. Or at least, it feels like a lot. Because 45 minutes is seven years in rollers time.

But through this very long and cold winter, I’ve had a secret weapon: Netflix. I’m on the 2-DVDs-at-a-Time plan, which means that I pretty much always have at least one DVD ready to watch.

More importantly, though, I also have the instant streaming part of Netflix, piped in through both my PS3 and my AppleTV. Which means that I have a near-infinite number of movies at my beck and call, ready to watch anytime I want to throw a leg over the rollers.

The good news is: I never run out of shows to watch, and can pretty much always find something good enough to distract me from the fact that I’m riding the rollers.

The bad news is: I’m pretty sure my standards for “good enough” have fallen to a pretty low place, due to the “inconsistent” (those quotes are there to indicate I’m using “inconsistent” as a euphemism for “pretty bad”) selection of shows.

For example, I have recently watched:

  • Lost Boys: The Thirst (genuinely truly awful, especially for those of us who remember the original Lost Boys with fondness)
  • The Towering Inferno (probably was considered a thriller when it was made, back in 1872)
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (I found the plot too complex and unpredictable, so did not finish it)
  • District 9 (OK, I actually liked this movie a lot)
  • MST3K: Horrors of Spider Island (MST3K is awesome, but not for riding rollers to)
  • MST3K: Tormented (OK, so why did I watch another one?)
  • Mad Max (I didn’t find him all that mad. Maybe “Irritated Max” would have been a better title)
  • The Matrix Revolutions (Proof that sequels aren’t always as awesome as the original, a fact which I know most people will be surprised by)
  • Starship Troopers (I read the book as a kid. Was it as campy as the movie? I think it might actually have been.)
  • The Burrowers (Worse than Lost Boys: The Thirst)
  • Surrogates: Why does Bruce Willis hate all of us so much?
  • Gamer (As a person who likes violent movies, you will have to trust me when I say this movie is way too violent.)
  • Michael Jackson’s This Is It (This movie did what I would have considered an impossibility: it made me wish I could have seen this concert)
  • Battlefield Earth (Has anyone watched more than the first 20 minutes of this movie? If so, did it get any better?)

And that’s just a sampling of films I am not too embarrassed to admit I’ve seen.

The thing is, though, it’s at least something to watch when the weather’s too lousy to go outside. And when it’s too cold to ride, I’m (obviously) not very picky about what I watch.

But there’s a problem.

Little by little, the weather’s been getting better, but my laziness has meanwhile gotten worse and worse. To the point where I’ve been thinking, “Oh sure, I could go ahead and suit up in tights, a thermal top, a long sleeve jersey, a jacket, a beanie, and gloves in addition to all my other gear, or I could just throw on shorts and a jersey and get on the rollers and watch Netflix.

And then I ride the rollers, because it’s easier and faster and generally more convenient.

See the problem? Well, just in case you don’t, I’ll get all specific and stuff:

The problem is that I’m an idiot.

Here’s how I discovered I’m an idiot: I get on my bike and take it outside, and rediscover what I’ve known (and discovered and rediscovered thousands of times) for like twenty years now — riding a bike (any bike, whether it be road, mountain, townie or whatever) outside is so much better than riding a trainer or rollers.

Somehow, magically, even though it’s pretty much exactly the same physical activity, having your bike go somewhere when you pedal it changes cycling from exercise into fun.

The alchemy is crazy: Pedaling on rollers for 45 minutes: pure hell. Pedaling down a straight, featureless road for 45 minutes: awesome. Why? I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense. But the truth is, the worst ride outside is immeasurably better than the most awesome session on a stationary bike, ever.

So, Netflix: thanks for keeping me (more or less) sane during the winter. I appreciate it. And maybe I’ll see you next winter.

But I am so glad spring is here.


  1. Comment by KM | 03.21.2011 | 1:28 pm

    Right there with ya Fatty w/the winter roller laziness, except I’m into Redbox movies and full cable TV series. If you thought Gamer was violent, don’t rent the entire season of Spartacus. Jeez, what a randy, angry and generally bloody lot those Romans were.

  2. Comment by KM | 03.21.2011 | 1:30 pm

    Although I do doubt the historical accuracy of Spartacus…..(stupid touchpad submitted my entry before I finished, it’s always the computers fault, they have it out for you.)

  3. Comment by California Finn | 03.21.2011 | 1:43 pm

    Rovaniemi rocks!

    Rollers and trainers suck. Go out Fatty, go out, you are not made of sugar, we all know that by now.

    Can’t say anything about your list of movise, have not seen any of them.

  4. Comment by California Finn | 03.21.2011 | 1:44 pm

    but I could learn how to spell :-)

  5. Comment by Den | 03.21.2011 | 1:44 pm

    “But I am so glad spring is here.”


  6. Comment by John | 03.21.2011 | 1:52 pm


    I’m impressed over the quality of movies that you have found on netflix streaming this winter… I for one have found that nothing is more odd than than watching movies from the “80’s Space Travel” and “Dark Political Documentaries” Netflix categories while doing intervals at 5:30am before work. I for one am looking forward towards getting my sanity back by riding into work on a real bike. (Loved the MST3K reference as well!)

  7. Comment by Ethan | 03.21.2011 | 1:54 pm

    Watching every season of Dexter got me through this past winter. Not sure what I’ll do next winter.

  8. Comment by Rick | 03.21.2011 | 1:56 pm

    You need to watch Lesbian Vampire Killers. Awesome movie! :)

  9. Comment by Bryan | 03.21.2011 | 2:01 pm

    I’ve recently completed the 144 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer training plan – all 7 series, watched whilst on the turbo in the garage. It did take me over two years though.

  10. Comment by chtrich | 03.21.2011 | 2:07 pm

    I live very close to you and I can tell you spring is not here yet. :(

  11. Comment by Lisa | 03.21.2011 | 2:10 pm

    MST3K isn’t good for any sort of activity other than sitting/watching/munching preferred snack food/drinking/laughing.

    And I’m totally taking your Mad Max comment (with proper credit, mind you) because it is made of awesome.

  12. Comment by GenghisKhan | 03.21.2011 | 2:13 pm

    You watched BFE? I read it!

  13. Comment by MOCougFan | 03.21.2011 | 2:14 pm

    Ran 4 miles this morning and biked 8 1/2 during lunch. I LOVE SPRING!!!

  14. Comment by Jay | 03.21.2011 | 2:22 pm

    My recipe for surviving many roller sessions here in snowy Boston?

    Two words: Battlestar Galactica.

    Yes, I’m a geek. But, I’ve learned to embrace this in my middle-age.

    It’s snowing as I look out the window this afternoon. Looks like another episode or two tonight.

  15. Comment by Paul Guyot | 03.21.2011 | 2:22 pm

    Just wait until you start watching Netflix’s original programming, which will debut next year with “House of Cards.”

    You’ll create an indoor Leadville.

  16. Comment by KanyonKris | 03.21.2011 | 2:27 pm

    I’m terribly disappointed. I really wanted to hear you explain why it’s so much better to ride outside.

  17. Comment by Jeff | 03.21.2011 | 2:35 pm

    Matrix Revolutions was insidious – it wasn’t just one bad movie, but a movie that ruined three. I could forgive Matrix Reloaded, because it’s the second part of a trilogy – there’s supposed to be some unresolved conflict. But Revolutions killed it all.

  18. Comment by 3d brian | 03.21.2011 | 2:42 pm

    Uh fatty…you do realize it’s snowing outside right now, right? How can you say spring is here?

    If you want to hit a new low check out Troll 2 on Netflix – arguably the worst movie ever made and it was even filmed here in Utah. It’s so bad it’s hilarious. I hate to admit this, but I even watched it twice.

    I know. I’m currently experiencing irony-induced cycling ennui. I am SO SICK of the rollers. – FC

  19. Comment by Eric L | 03.21.2011 | 3:15 pm

    Hey Fatty, check out the movie A Town Called Panic (Panique au Village). It’s available on Netflix streaming and is great for roller boredom. Your kids will like it too as it’s animated and extremely funny.

  20. Comment by RoBanJo | 03.21.2011 | 3:19 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. Except for maybe that ride in 40 degree RAINING weather where my feet were having an out of body experience… Have you considered watching cycling coverage and trying to out sprint the field?

  21. Comment by George | 03.21.2011 | 3:30 pm

    After the TV in the basement bit the dust I have been stuck with BBC on the radio before sun-up. I crave any sort of visual distraction. I can’t wait for spring.

  22. Comment by Cannonball | 03.21.2011 | 3:38 pm

    I have all seven of the 12-hour Lance Armstrong Tour de France videos and I can tell you, RoBanJo, it is impossible to outsprint the field. But the good news is that you never get completely dropped.

  23. Comment by Less Fat Mike again | 03.21.2011 | 4:33 pm


    You have tapped into my super power. Bad scifi. Starship Troopers was B level, but the book is actually quite good if you’re old enough to be cynical like the author. He goes over a lot of themes of war and social responsibility. Battlefield Earth is that bad for the whole movie. Some of us might watch the whole thing out of some nostalgic nonsense since Boy’s Life made the book into a serial comic for the last 1 or 2 pages of the magazine and stretched it out for 20 years (approx). I too have investigated the netflix for 80s scifi movies I may have missed. Try Runaways (pro: Tom Selleck, con: no one else).

  24. Comment by cece | 03.21.2011 | 4:56 pm

    I am right with you! I am still riding indoors on my trainer and staying very toasty warm. My preferred method of torture is Spinervals CDs. I love to hate them.I just put my IPOD in and bring my own music.

  25. Comment by Chris | 03.21.2011 | 5:31 pm

    BE- Doesn’t get better. There’s quite a bit of awesome Sci Fi but hard to find.

    Try A Boy and His Dog and This Quiet Earth. @ different takes on life after the big one.

  26. Comment by Michele | 03.21.2011 | 5:34 pm

    Dear Fatty–I just read your blog linked from somewhere on my intranet…but at the risk of seeming very non-intellectual-like, I like to watch NipTuck, America’s Next Top model, American Idol and anything else I can store on the DVR. Actually, my husband has told me that I can’t watch reality TV unless I’m on the trainer.

  27. Comment by Mikeonhisbike | 03.21.2011 | 5:56 pm

    What about the Prison Break series. That’s kept me on the rollers for a good month

  28. Comment by kentucky joe | 03.21.2011 | 6:06 pm

    I find myself dogging it on the trainer if I watch anything other than repeatedly watching Sufferfest The Downward Spiral.

    Needless to say, I am soooo glad spring has sprung here in the Ohio Valley!

  29. Comment by thule | 03.21.2011 | 7:25 pm

    Saturday I rode on the road for the 1st time during this @#$%^ Iowa winter. I was laughing maniacally over the ease and speed of My Therapist (the Trek)! this after 800 miles on the “authentic” old stationary with the same 15 audio CDs I listen to every Winter. I do enjoy them since it’s the only time I listen to them. but I have to ride with my eyes shut in order to avoid motion sickness. DVDs aren’t an option (luxery!).

  30. Comment by Barbara | 03.21.2011 | 7:45 pm

    As a longtime runner, I always hated running inside on a treadmill – I went out in all but the worst of winter weather. The first time I rode my bike on an indoor trainer, I realized I had discovered something even more crashingly boring than running on a treadmill. OMG. This is when it became clear to me that I LOVE BEING OUTDOORS! We had a wonderful weekend in Philly – chilly but ridable 40’s/low 50’s but on my Saturday ride the final 15 miles was straight into a killer headwind. Oh yeah, there were hills, too! We were thoroughly shredded – and LOVING it!

  31. Comment by Squirrelhead | 03.21.2011 | 7:55 pm

    Ah yes, Netflix has helped me to ride indoors on the trainer during the winter. I will keep it in my back pocket for the nasty weather days but I am so ready to get out of the basement. I am sure the hills will punish me for being away for so long but it will be worth it.

  32. Comment by Jojo88 | 03.21.2011 | 8:33 pm

    Great, I’m reading this post on my trainer which I just got today. Oh well, apparently Vegas’ wind didn’t get the memo that it’s now 2nd day of spring. Please go away wind, 3 days straight is enough!!!

  33. Comment by mike dion | 03.21.2011 | 10:04 pm

    Yes spring! However, ‘Ride the Divide’ should be hitting Netflix soon. Feel free to add it to your cue. That way you wont have to endure Lost Boys: The Thirst…

  34. Comment by roan | 03.21.2011 | 10:06 pm

    You watch those movies ? tsk, tsk, tsk.
    My indoor riding is usually due to darkness and rain, make that HEAVY RAIN ! LUV riding on snow either studded(compact snow) or fat tires. The greatest thing about riding outside in crummy weather is the hot shower and bowl of soup afterwards…summer or winter…both have BLISS. Funny but all the summer rides tend to blend together except for location, whereas winter rides really make lasting impressions.

  35. Comment by Chris | 03.21.2011 | 11:52 pm

    do not diss ‘Battlefield Earth’ (mostly cause the scientologists will come after you) it’s an awesome movie! I evne bought the DVD!

    Really, if you take it for what it is, sci-fi-fantasy nuttiness, it’s spot on! (plus, how doesn’t want to see travolta in some crazy platform boots?)

  36. Comment by Jenn | 03.22.2011 | 12:55 am

    I’ve had access to stationery bikes all winter long, yet managed to gain ten pounds in four months. We’ve had good riding weather for just over two weeks and I’ve already lost seven pounds. Not hard to do that math. Here’s to ‘going someplace’ and to spring!!

  37. Comment by bob | 03.22.2011 | 1:51 am

    Battlefield Earth doesn’t get any better but you have to know that going into it so you don’t feel ripped off for an hour and a half of your life. If you know ahead of time that Travolta tried to make a dead serious movie that came out so cheesy it makes the whole thing hysterically funny.

    You may want to take a shower though.

  38. Comment by Granite Eyeballs | 03.22.2011 | 5:30 am

    With all the riding I did this winter, I’ll be crushing you up the climbs all summer long! Ha ha ha!

  39. Comment by ChrisL905 | 03.22.2011 | 5:35 am

    So far I’ve watched season 3 of Chuck (best show on TV right now), the first 3 and half seasons of Mad Men, a bunch of movies and just when I thought it was warming up we get told that Southern Ontario is going to get 10cm of snow tonight.

    Warm weather can not come soon enough.

  40. Comment by Easterday | 03.22.2011 | 6:38 am

    I guess I am lucky, I live in the South East and have no rollers. I have pretty much braved the temps as long as the snow melted and the road is dry. I’m gonna do a century this year!
    Campy 80’s Netflix movies are what I watch when I am eating the entire pizza on Friday night, because I’ve earned it, right? I mean it has all the major food groups right?

  41. Comment by gfurry | 03.22.2011 | 7:14 am

    55º and sunny yesterday. Just when I get my hopes up for spring I see highs in the 30ºs and snow forecasted towards the end of the week. Send spring my way ASAP. I can’t stand rollers for another minute and I barely touched them this winter.

  42. Comment by Roses | 03.22.2011 | 8:00 am

    I had my first most awesome, 9 mile, outdoor run of 2011 last Saturday. It was still under 50 degrees but so glad to cut the umbilical cord from the treadmill.

  43. Comment by Fuzzy | 03.22.2011 | 9:35 am

    District 9? A hoot of a movie!

    Starship Troopers? Great book and a great film if you watch it for entertainment and nothing else “I say Kill Them- Kill Them All”
    Battlefield Earth? So bad that it is compulsive viewing.
    Something else to watch? The Shield. Great TV from start to finish.

    Luv ‘n Stuff
    Fuzzy from the UK

  44. Comment by Neil | 03.22.2011 | 10:11 am

    I don’t want to encourage you back on rollers and watching Netflix, but have you seen Trail Park Boys? I got Netflix just for this series. I have accomplished little since I started watching season one. Sometimes I just stop pedaling all together.

  45. Comment by Brendan | 03.22.2011 | 11:22 am is hot ticket for training entertainment. If you get into a good audio book, you’ll not only be excited to get out to ride, but you’ll want to know what happens next in your book.

    And whatever you do, stay away from Man vs. Food on streaming Netflix. You’ll get off the rollers and immediately want to eat meat and cheese until you vomit… just to see if you can. Not good for training.

  46. Comment by CGinAKR | 03.22.2011 | 12:59 pm

    I’m so glad there are so many others out there scraping the bottom of the Netflix barrel along with me. This winter I watched Law & Order:SVU. I had to stop at season 8 because I was getting a little paranoid and suspicious of men, teenagers, large dogs, or anyone that made eye contact with me.

    On the flip side, I think I may be able to pass the bar.

    Yay for Spring!

  47. Comment by JB | 03.22.2011 | 2:29 pm

    CG, that’s funny, pass the bar.
    I’m strictly a music guy for indoor riding. A couple of thousand tunes on my iTunes has worn thin by this spring. Thankfully outdoor time is here with a few weather interruptions.

    Wasn’t The Lost Boys all those dudes that hung out with Peter Pan??

  48. Comment by Jesse | 03.22.2011 | 9:32 pm

    I don’t feel so bad about my netflix selections anymore. Thanks Fatty!

  49. Comment by The Banter | 03.23.2011 | 6:16 am

    Dear Fatty,
    Please stop hacking into my computer and stealing my queue. I guess you could add computer genius to outstanding blogger. I worked diligently to come up with that play list so that I will truly relish the time when the temps climb off the rollers, out of the cellar, of the basement.
    The Banter

  50. Comment by hartofak | 03.24.2011 | 3:20 pm

    Starship Troopers was a great book; an adventure with a political subtext. Looking back, the politics may have been what we would call authoritarian, at least, but it was a thinking boy’s book. The movie (worst movie ever) turned every one of the author’s ideas on its head.

  51. Comment by Scott | 03.26.2011 | 9:59 am

    I’ll agree Starship Troopers was a great book. This movie is a letdown, but a huge disappointment after the book. I mean, even the sci-fi gadgets and action sequences in the book were so cool, if they’re just made that on film it would have been awesome! The movie is still vastly entertaining, but mostly because it’s just so bad.

  52. Comment by Joe | 03.28.2011 | 2:32 pm

    This is my first year using rollers over the winter (usually just work on my spare tire during this time) and I have watched a number of movies to get me through.

    I find the stupid humor movies to be a great choice for this as these movies are just entertaining enough to not get bored and realize that I really have not moved anywhere. Also, if I only have 45 minutes to ride the story is so over-simplified I really have will not have missed anything.

    Some of the movies I will admit to having watch this winter:
    Super Troopers, Waiting, Slammin’ Salmon, Grandma’s Boy, The Hangover, Step Brothers …

  53. Comment by LoPhat | 04.9.2011 | 8:36 am

    Two more options:

    Veronica Mars (if you liked Buffy)
    Dead like me


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