Fatty’s Inferno, Part III: Sloth, Etc.

03.30.2011 | 10:20 am

Note: This is Part III of Fatty’s Inferno. Read Part I: Prologue here. Read Part II: Limbo here.

We were back at the junction. I could not remember arriving there, nor getting off my bike, but there I was, and my bike was laying on the ground — drivetrain side down. I could also no longer see cyclists on the road we had just been on, but the sign was now illuminated and symbols on that sign — and that sign alone — had resolved into words: Cyclists’ Limbo: A Much, Much, Much Better Place Than Where You’re Going.

“Really?” I asked. “The sign needs to use ‘much’ three times? That’s hyperbole, right? Also, it’s not very creative.”

“Choose the next road you wish to travel,” said The Cyclist.

“Well, it’s pretty clear I don’t want to travel any of the roads beside the one I’ve already been on,” I said. “But I’ve read the Wikipedia entry on Dante’s Inferno, so I have a pretty good idea where this is headed. So how about I just skip all the intermediate levels and you show me the final road? I choose this one,” I said, pointing to the road to the left of the Cyclists’ Limbo.

“How na├»ve. What makes you think the Roads of Hell are arranged in a nice order like that?” sneered The Cyclist. “Furthermore, what led you to think that hell would be arranged clockwise? You Western thinkers crack me up.”

“Whatever,” I replied, fully realizing that I had just given the weakest of all possible retorts.

“Indeed,” said The Cyclist. “Now. Let’s ride.”

Second Circle

As before, The Cyclist got the jump off the line and I was left to pull my bike out of the dirt, mount, and give chase. All that time in the dust seemed to have affected the drivetrain; there was considerable grit in the chain and it was now making a distinct grinding sound, as opposed to the the delicious, smooth meshing sound a clean, well-lubed chain makes.

I shifted to a bigger gear, then stood up and pedaled hard — and nearly racked myself as the chain slipped, hopping continuously between two cogs on the cassette.

“OK, don’t use 5 or 6,” I told myself, finding a gear where the chain wouldn’t jump around.

It took minutes, but I finally caught up with The Cyclist. By the time I reached him, however, my hands were buzzing from the constant road vibration. I looked down.

Striated concrete. Yuck.

“It’s not really that bad of a road surface,” said The Cyclist. “Just a lot of road noise, plus constant vibration you can feel through the handlebars. Oh, and then there’s the bump as you go over the joints every twelve feet.”

“I suppose, however,” mused The Cyclist, looking sideways at me, “It would be a rather annoying surface to ride for eternity.”

I shuddered at the thought, flexing my already-numb fingers.

“But where are the cyclists?” I asked, thinking back to the busy road in Cyclists’ Limbo and noting the relative barrenness of the concrete we were riding on.

“Look at the side of the road.”

I looked, and saw countless cyclists. All with beautiful bikes.

Very few of those bikes were being ridden.

Some cyclists were twiddling barrel adjusters. Some were digging through seatbags and jersey pockets, looking for CO2 cartridges. Some were tentatively prodding their brakes with hex wrenches. Some were staring dumbly at a broken chain held in their greasy hands. Some were slamming their wheels against the ground.

Almost all of the cyclists were weeping.

I slowed to a stop, and noticing a cyclist who was trying — unsuccessfully — to pry a wheel off the rim using nothing but his bare hands, asked, “Got everything you need to fix that flat?”

The cyclist looked up at me, repeated my question back to me — but in a sarcastic whine — and then lunged at me, grabbing my throat and choking me.

Through the horror of simply being attacked, I nevertheless managed to wonder two distinct thoughts: Why was this man attacking me for simply offering to help? And, more importantly, if you’re already dead and in hell and someone chokes you to death, where do you go?

I never got an answer to this second question because, as spots began to appear before my eyes, The Cyclist spoke to my attacker.

“Cut it out.”

Immediately, the cyclist with the flat tire leaped away, and sat cowering, clearly not willing to meet The Cyclist’s eyes.

“What was that all about?” I asked. “I was just going to loan the guy a tire lever!”

“Go ahead,” said The Cyclist, coolly. “Loan it to him.”

So I unzipped my seatbag and pulled out a blue Pedro’s tire lever. Not willing to get within arm’s reach of the guy who had been throttling me a moment ago, I tossed the lever to him. Nice and easy.

Midway through its arc, the lever disappeared. Now, neither of us had a tire lever.

The other cyclist started laughing. But not in a healthy, cathartic way. More of in a “cross the street to avoid that guy because he might be armed” kind of way.

“Why did that happen?” I asked The Cyclist. “And can I have my lever back?”

“The lever is gone forever,” said The Cyclist. “That is part of the nature of this circle of hell.”

“I don’t understand,” I said, because I didn’t understand.

“This circle of hell is for cyclists guilty of greed, selfishness, and laziness. These are the cyclists who did not stop to offer other cyclists assistance — they shall receive no assistance themselves.”

“These are the cyclists who constantly sought to purchase better and lighter and more expensive equipment, rather than to take time enjoy the bicycles they own. They shall spend eternity with two things. First, with a perfect understanding of the latest developments in bike technology. Second, with the bike they died with, never to be upgraded again.”

“These are the cyclists who never learned to fix even the simplest of mechanical problems, relying on others to fix their bicycles. These shall be required to carry the heaviest multitool with them for eternity, confounded forever by their own ambivalence toward bicycle maintenance.”

“These are the cyclists who did not carry tools to fix a chain or flat or other minor mechanical problems during a ride. They shall continue forever without tools to fix their bikes, and no other rider shall be able to offer them assistance, lest their own tools vanish forever.”

These are the cyclists,” said The Cyclist, and he turned toward me and stared at me with red fiery eyes, “who are a lot like you.”

My hands were cold now — it was no more than 48 degrees fahrenheit (“No, you don’t get new clothing either,” The Cyclist spoke into my head) and my terror was immeasurable. Was it true, that I had spent most of my cycling life lusting after new gear instead of learning to take good care of the equipment I already own?

Even before I finished asking myself the question, I knew it was true.

“Can I please at least have my tire lever back?” I asked The Cyclist. “I didn’t know the rules of this place when I tried to loan it to that rider.”

“Sheesh,” said The Cyclist, and the tire lever appeared back in my hand. “They cost, what, $1.99?”

“Whatever,” I replied.

[To be continued in Fatty's Inferno, Part IV]

32 Comments

  1. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Fatty’s Inferno, Part II: Limbo | 03.30.2011 | 10:21 am

    [...] Fatty’s Inferno, Part I: Prologue Fatty’s Inferno, Part III: Sloth, Etc. [...]

  2. Comment by Skaught | 03.30.2011 | 10:30 am

    I sometimes forget that Fatty can write. Thanks for the reminder, Fatty.

  3. Comment by don-s | 03.30.2011 | 10:40 am

    Keep it up mr. Fatty, this story gets better every day. Looking forward to tomorrow (and am kind of curious in which circle of hell I’m gonna wind up…)

  4. Comment by mateo | 03.30.2011 | 10:51 am

    Sheesh, getting a little close to home there Fatty. Lust for equipe and Sloth in learning repairs in the same post- harsh. At least I stop to help, so I get to keep my lever, for now.

  5. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.30.2011 | 11:07 am

    The ‘Cyclist’ seems a little like Sauron). He’s got his eye on us. So… if I go back to my Schwinn Varsity bike, what do I do with my carbon? If I sell it to you then you would be in the Inferno. (though you’d have a nice bike(s). As for repairs, it took me a week to fix the stove, I assume i’m doomed to an eternity with Rachel Ray and Martha Stewart.

  6. Comment by Steve L | 03.30.2011 | 11:11 am

    What I initially thought was an attempt at children’s literature has a bit of a dark side. Consider adding a fairy character or small talking rabbit (think Bugs Bunny). In the meantime I’ll probably stick with Thomas the Tank Engine for my four year old’s bedtime.
    Best of luck with the chapter book writing career!

  7. Comment by jeff | 03.30.2011 | 11:26 am

    Something tells me a lot of those cyclists you passed were wearing the Assos gear they died in.

  8. Comment by Larry | 03.30.2011 | 11:45 am

    MOAR

  9. Comment by Bonnie | 03.30.2011 | 11:54 am

    I’m absolutely loving this. Thanks Fatty!

  10. Comment by Erik | 03.30.2011 | 11:56 am

    The final chapter of this series shall be called “Wherein Fatty Learns the Zen of Bicycle Maintenance”.

    To be followed by a giveaway to loyal Fatty readers of a bicycle maintenance book and toolkit.

    Or Fatty could just go back to nature, give away his entire stable of bicycles and begin riding a sub-$100 steel special from Wal-Mart.

  11. Comment by Hautacam | 03.30.2011 | 12:05 pm

    I am so totally loving my 1993 RB-1/7 right now.

    And the fact that I habitually ask stranded cyclists if they have everything they need.

    But somehow I think that in the end, that will not prove enough — and the Cyclist will find a special torment for me after all.

    Like being doomed to loiter in bicycle junk shops, asking everyone who comes in if they have a set of the little return springs that make Suntour Superbe Pro brake levers work sooooo well. Because mine are eternally broken.

  12. Comment by Less Fat Mike again | 03.30.2011 | 12:08 pm

    I don’t know if I should be happy or worried that I’ve avoided condemnation so far. Still loving it. This is already a classic.

  13. Comment by Squirrelhead | 03.30.2011 | 12:11 pm

    After reading today’s installment of the story I am glad that I dropped my tool kit to a stranded racer with a flat so that he could finish the race. That and I have been adjusting things on my bike to make her ride smooth. :) Of course now I need to go to the LBS and get some new tubes as the guy took my last one and some CO2.

  14. Comment by MattC | 03.30.2011 | 12:30 pm

    Fatty…this is surely worthy of being included in a book of short-stories someday. The fact that you are an amazing writer is not in doubt here. And that you have a very wild and vivid imagination also not in doubt…all in all a great combination. I’m anxiously awaiting the next chapter!

  15. Comment by brokeMBA | 03.30.2011 | 12:31 pm

    Nice post. It’s a little off the beaten path and it’s fun to read some different things. Keep going and make sure the cyclist is revealed to be Pat McQuaid in some future chainring of hell…or whatever these circles are called.

    Do you have to have the “Approved by UCI” sticker on your bike in the inferno?

  16. Comment by MattC | 03.30.2011 | 12:35 pm

    In fact, I believe that with your imagination and writing talent you could easily make an entire book out of this. It’s quite original, and there are SO many ways to go. One good idea (and the necessary writing skills) can make you a zillionaire if you have what it takes to come up with it and run (just look at JK Rowling and the Harry Potter thing). Go Fatty!

  17. Comment by Z | 03.30.2011 | 1:06 pm

    The Cyclist is guiding Fatty through hell like Virgil led Dante. Dante choose best poet from ancient Rome to guide him.
    So probably The Cyclist is the best bike blogger from ancient Rome;)

  18. Comment by Mike Roadie | 03.30.2011 | 1:52 pm

    I am going out to ride the old Peugeot now!

  19. Comment by D.A. | 03.30.2011 | 3:41 pm

    I’m looking forward to finding out which ring of hell the UCI resides in.

  20. Comment by rich | 03.30.2011 | 4:02 pm

    lovin da story…..keep it coming

  21. Comment by Mark | 03.30.2011 | 4:12 pm

    I loved riding my (original) 1979 Schwinn Super Le Tour 12.2, and considered finding another after I crashed it and wrinkled the frame :-(. I loved taking care of it, finding old parts to “upgrade” it with, and I still look around eBay, etc. for a possible good deal. And I always ask stopped riders if they need help. Ahhh, I feel better now! Great story -entertaining and thought provoking!

  22. Comment by Peter | 03.30.2011 | 4:39 pm

    Kenny on the Chive It’s a big deal wish I could make it on there here is the link check it out
    http://thechive.com/2011/03/30/daily-afternoon-randomness-47-photos-13/

  23. Comment by aussie kev | 03.30.2011 | 7:52 pm

    this is awesome

    k

  24. Comment by Vaala | 03.30.2011 | 7:57 pm

    This is like my parents reading to me at night but only reading a chapter at a time which used to drive me crazy. They would take the book away and read ahead but we never got to and they would read so slow. I just wanted to find out what happened!!! Just like now…

  25. Comment by roan | 03.30.2011 | 8:36 pm

    “SHEESH” (I need to start using this…for typos).
    “Thye (SHEESH) cost, what, $1.99 ?” I’m suprised he would know !

    “Wahtever” (SHEESH) gutsy move Fatty. I’ll not be surprised to hear the price you will pay.

  26. Comment by Debi | 03.30.2011 | 10:02 pm

    This story is titillating. I’m on the edge waiting for your next blog. I’m anxious to read the next chapter!

  27. Comment by Jenn | 03.31.2011 | 1:06 am

    This is very, very creative, Fatty. I’m impressed. And I’m hard to impress, writing-wise.

  28. Comment by ChrisL905 | 03.31.2011 | 5:33 am

    Ask the Cyclist if you can take his bike for spin. I imagine it looks alot like Ghost Riders Motocycle…but with an asymetrical frame.

  29. Comment by zach in a cubicle | 03.31.2011 | 8:49 am

    By far the best installment yet.
    Tell the twins to keep up the good work.

  30. Comment by Adventure Monkey | 03.31.2011 | 10:18 am

    So surprised by what I am reading at Fatty’s blog, but loving every chapter. I can’t wait for the motion picture!

  31. Comment by Sebastian C. | 03.31.2011 | 12:35 pm

    So far so… “good”… ?
    };)

  32. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Fatty’s Inferno, Part V: True Cyclists’ Hell…and Heaven | 04.1.2011 | 10:53 am

    [...] Part III: Laziness, Selfishness, & Greed [...]

 

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