I am a sensitive person, and do not like to be the cause of sadness, distress, disappointment, or even melancholy. And so I feel it is my duty to tell you, up front, that while this post is about a product that I really, really like, the post ends on a sad note. So if you don’t like sad things, you should stop now.
If on the other hand, you are into sad things, I should probably point out that on the sadness scale of 0 to Edward Scissorhands , this is probably a 2.
In short, this post ends sadly. But not very. And in the meantime, you’ll learn about something I love: my Pearl Izumi glove / mittens.
[UPDATE: Okay, the sad part is no longer all that sad. So as soon as you're done being sad, you can be immediately happy again. This blog is a huge emotional rollercoaster today.]
They’re Gloves. No, They’re Mittens
The Winter months are difficult for cyclists in cold places. The likelihood of the temperature and weather being the same for the duration of your ride is, well, nil. So you layer up, or at least have layers ready, for when the temperature drops.
As you warm up, you strip down a little. When you get to the top of a climb, you layer back up. If you change direction — so your tailwind becomes a headwind — get ready for everything facing the front to get much colder all of a sudden.
I’m pretty good at this layering business. But what to wear on my hands in cool-to-cold weather has always been a problem. Sure, I can start with a pair of light gloves under heavier gloves, but peeling layers of gloves is not easy.
And re-layering is even harder, especially if you don’t want to pull over and put a foot down.
So I love the solution Pearl Izumi came up with.
[Full Disclosure: I bought these gloves at a bike store and got no special discount on them. Same thing goes for The Runner.]
Here’s the palm view:
And here’s the back-of-hand view:
It’s a nice, lightweight glove with good tacky grip on the palms and lightweight insulation on the back.
So, what’s so special about these?
Well, that reflective stripe on the back of the glove is actually a pouch, containing an attached (so it can’t be separated or dropped) lightweight nylon pocket that slides over your fingers, changing the gloves into mittens in less than two seconds:
And here’s what this looks like from the palm view:
And they can be converted back into mittens just as easily and instantly. Here’s how the glove looks with the mitten part stuffed partway back in the pouch on the back of the glove, so you can see where the mitten pocket goes:
The Gimmick is Not Gimmicky
You might think that a thin little nylon mitten stretched over your glove wouldn’t make much of a difference, but you’d be wrong. That thing serves as a terrific windbreaker for your hand and makes a huge difference when you’re riding into a headwind.
It also does a great job of retaining heat, and is good for keeping your fingers at least a few degrees warmer than they otherwise would be.
And since that shell stuffs away into the glove, you can easily swap it on and off — while riding — as often during the ride (or, in The Runner’s case, during the run) as you like.
These gloves / mittens are, in short, an elegant and effective layering solution that have made my winter riding (and — I confess — running) hugely more pleasant. These are my go-to Fall/Winter gloves, and having used them frequently for about five months now (I bought them at Mellow Johnny’s during the Austin LiveStrong Challenge and have been using them at least twice a week since), I can wholeheartedly say I love these gloves.
And The Runner feels just the same way about hers.
And Now for the Sad Part
As part of the extensive research I did for this post, I went to the Pearl Izumi site, so I could link to these gloves.
But they aren’t there. They used to be, but they aren’t anymore.
So I left a voicemail with Pearl Izumi asking them to call me back and tell me if I’m not looking in the right place.
Heck, I even tweeted, asking if anyone knew where to find these gloves. Nobody has replied.
But honestly, as soon as I searched the Pearl Izumi site and came up empty-handed, I knew what had happened: these gloves I love have been discontinued.
I would express my surprise, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m not even remotely surprised.
It’s a simple manifestation of what I shall hereby dub the “Discontinuance Principle:” I.e., the likelihood of a product being removed from the market is in direct proportion to how much you like that product.
This has happened to me countless times, with products ranging from breakfast cereals to magazines to soft drinks.
And now, of course, to a pair of very useful gloves.
But you know, I wouldn’t even mind so much except that now that I know these gloves are no longer for sale, another principle will come into play: “The Irreplaceability Effect.” Specifically, the likelihood of an item being destroyed or lost is in inverse proportion to the ease with which that item can be replaced.”
Too bad, too. I really love these gloves.
And Now for the Happy (And Kinda Embarrassing) Part that Follows the Sad Part
Almost the very instant I posted today’s entry, Lana commented with the name of the gloves. They’re called “Shine Wind Mitt Gloves,” evidently. Which is a mouthful, but that’s not the point. The point is that armed with that knowledge, it took all of three seconds to find that these gloves are in fact still available from Pearl Izumi, right here at this here web page.
Trying to figure out how I possibly missed seeing these gloves, I tried to reconstruct my problem. My problem, as it turns out, is that I went to the top-ranked promoted site Pearl Izumi advertises (shop.pearlizumi.com), which does not have the gloves. However, their more current, updated site does of course have these gloves.
In short, if you want a pair of these gloves I like so much, go here, or just search for “Pearl Izumi Shine Wind Mitt” at your favorite retailer.
Thank you. I am now going to go take a nap.
PS: Be sure to check out the new header photo today, sent in by StuckInMyPedals — a photo of her and her brother Pete. Photo courtesy of Chris Flentye.
The Runner and I just got back from a little trip to Zion National Park, celebrating our one-year anniversary. We stayed in a little cabin that’s actually inside the park: wood floor, gas fireplace, and a beautiful view.
We went on two runs, two hikes, and two bike rides. And ate ourselves silly. For a couple that loves the outdoors and wants a reasonably-priced, uncrowded romantic getaway, I highly recommend late winter in the cabins in Zion National Park.
What was really great about the stay, though, was that our cabin had no phone (including no mobile phone reception) or TV. I had time to think. And to let my thoughts settle.
And at some point during this trip, everything came together. The Big Idea I’ve had swirling around in my mind — creating a Caretaker’s Companion book and companion website — gelled into an actual plan.
I went from thinking about “someday” to “ASAP.” Because this is the thing I think I can do in my lifetime that will actually make a difference in the world. And I believe my personal and work experience have given me what may be a unique ability to create something that can improve the lives of thousands of people.
And — since I’ve never been one for keeping cards close to my vest — I’m going to lay out what I want to do and the things I need to do it.
And I would love your feedback, because this is still early stages, and I would love to get your good ideas on how to make this plan better and make it work well.
The Elevator Pitch
When you have cancer, it takes everything you’ve got to simply fight that cancer. It falls to your caretaker — a loved one who wants you to give that fight everything you’ve got — to take care of everything else: your doctors, your food, your comfort, your wellwishers, your medicine, everything. And like millions of other people who have been caretakers of loved ones with cancer, I know that the job of being a caretaker can be overwhelming.
It can also, if you know how to approach the job, the most rewarding thing you have ever done.
I want to write a book called The Cancer Caretaker’s Companion. This book will combine the lessons, questions, tips, tricks, advice and inspirational stories from approximately 25 people (including myself) who have been the primary caretaker of a person with cancer.
The wisdom of these caretakers’ experience — gleaned from dozens of in-person interviews — will be combined with the expertise of people who see and help caretakers on a daily basis: oncologists, nurses, insurance professionals, dietitians and more.
By reading this book — and visiting the companion Cancer Caretaker Community website — caretakers will learn invaluable techniques for helping their loved ones during — and beyond — treatment, learn the right questions to ask doctors and nurses, and get the invaluable support and inspiration from others who have been there.
The caretaker has the most important job in the world when they are helping a loved one fight cancer. The Cancer Caretaker’s Companion will help them do that job better and easier.
Why I am the Right Person to Write this Book
There’s no question in my mind that this book needs to be written, nor that there is pent-up demand for this book. For every person fighting cancer, there’s another person giving them the support they need to engage that fight fully.
There are three reasons, however, why I’m the perfect person to write this book.
- I have personal experience. I have lived through the process of being a caretaker. For five years, I was my wife’s caretaker as she battled breast cancer. I have learned hundreds of valuable lessons and want to share them. This matters to me.
- I have professional experience. I will create this book using techniques similar to how I do my day job at an IT research company. I find people to talk with, interview them, extract the key learnings from those interviews, and work with teams of experts to interpret and organize the insights we have uncovered. This will not be a book based on one person’s recollections; it will be a thoroughly, expertly researched book with guidance from both caretakers and professionals, conducted by a person (me) who does this for a living.
- I am a writer. My experience both with cancer and research could make for a tragic book or a dry book, but they won’t. I have experience both as a professional writer and editor, and the style I will bring to this book will be the same conversational style I bring to the blog that has won “Best Sports Blog” (three times) and “Lifetime Achievement” awards. In short, this book will not just be helpful, it will be uplifting and readable.
What I’m Going to Do, and What I Need to Do It
To make this book happen, here’s what I imagine myself doing.
- Complete the first Best of Fatty book. I’ve outlined three volumes for The Best of Fatty. Yes, really. Before I do much of anything else, I need to get at least the first one complete and see if I can get some pre-orders going for it. Why? Because building the Caretaker’s Companion site and interviewing dozens of people in person (for something like this, phone calls won’t do) is going to cost me a bundle. I need money to gather the wisdom this book needs.
- Launch the Caretaker’s Companion site. I’ll need people who are willing to help me get this site off the ground; it will be more sophisticated than a blog. I’ll need help with design and coding, at the very least.
- Assemble a team. While I’ll be writing this book myself, I will assemble a team of people to lend their professional advice, in order to supplement what I’ll learn from caretakers themselves. Initially, I’m thinking an oncologist, a nurse that works with an oncologist, a hospice nurse, a radiologist, a dietitian that has worked with cancer patients, and an insurance professional. But I would love to hear ideas of other professionals you’d like insights from.
- Find partners. I’m hopeful that LiveStrong will work with me on this book — both for finding people to participate, and in promoting the book itself.
- Find a publisher. I’ll need a publisher who has the vision to support this book, long-term and through multiple editions. If you’re with a publisher and you think we’re a good fit, please email me.
- Get interviewing and writing. Once I have the pieces in place, the actual work of researching, interpreting, and consolidating what caretakers know is something I’m good at. And writing is something I know how to do.
I kind of feel like a big chunk of the experiences in my life have led me to this point. I understand an important problem, I have the tools and experience to study and learn how to help others who have this problem, and I am lucky enough to be a good enough writer to tell the stories and give the guidance well.
I have to say, I’m incredibly excited to have a vision of something I can do to make the world a better place.
I can hardly wait to get to work.
A Note from Fatty: This post is going to wander a little bit, but rest assured: this is because I have a subtle mind, not because I am middle-aged and enfeebled.
When I write a blog post, I generally have certain expectations about what will happen next:
- Several people will comment on the post. Many will enjoy it. A few won’t. At least one of the comments will contain insights or jokes better than anything included in the post itself. This does not hurt my feelings.
- A few people will tweet or email me about the post.
- Everyone will forget about the post and move on with their lives. Including me.
- This item included because lists of four are too rare in this day and age, where it seems like there’s some unwritten law that lists must contain a prime number of items. Although 10 is also OK.
What I usually do not expect to happen is for the post to gather steam and generate either very angry responses or awesome opportunities.
Last week, though, I wrote a jokey little post that did both.
Angry Leads to Awesome
The idea for the post came when I gave my friend Kenny some ProBars. As I did, I mentioned to his girlfriend Heather — a vegetarian — that she might enjoy them, because they’re vegetarian (I meant to say vegan).
“You mean,” she joked, “these energy bars don’t have little pieces of meat in them? How original.”
And of course, a lightbulb went off in my head and I wrote my Meat-ergy post.
As some of you know by now, this generated a little bit of a fuss among some readers. This bothered me at first — I’m a pretty thin-skinned person, sometimes. This consternation turned, however, to pure joy as my friend Dug took one particularly sanctimonious comment and pretty much crushed it.
That, by itself, would have been a sufficiently awesome unintended consequence. But it got better.
I also heard from Derek, who said:
“Hey, one of the companies I represent makes a beef bar, and a beef and berry bar, and jerky. Send me your address and I’ll send you a box. They actually are great one a ride.”
Naturally, I sent him my address, and the next day (literally) I had this:
Buffalo, beef, and berry meat-ergy galore, all packaged in easy-to-stuff-in-jersey form factors.
The Runner and I tried out several different flavors and came to the same conclusion: Yum.
Having one or two of these in the jersey, we agreed, would be an awesome antidote to the “sweet carbs overload” effect you get when eating and drinking sweet stuff nonstop for hours on end.
“I ought to contact Derek and see if he’d like to throw some of these in the 100 Miles of Nowhere Schwag Bag,” I told The Runner, and went over to my email.
But I never needed to propose this idea to Derek, because he had already left an email suggesting that exact thing.
So — in addition to the carbs — expect some protein in your 100 Miles of Nowhere bag this year.
And if you’re a vegetarian, give it to someone who’s not.
Wherein I Restore Balance to the Universe by Giving You an Awesome Vegetarian (Maybe Even Vegan) Burritos Recipe
To read all this meat-ergy stuff, you might get the impression that I’m a strict carnivore. In reality, I am not. In fact, with a practicing vegetarian in the house (The Runner’s youngest), I go out of my way to prepare vegetarian dishes pretty often.
And recently, I found (and then tweaked) a recipe for really fantastic vegetarian burritos. The original recipe comes from my sister Kellene. I’ve modified it a little bit as I experimented with it.
Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore, give this a try. I think you’ll like it as much as my family does.
2 cans vegetable broth (Kellene’s original recipe called for chicken broth for her “vegetarian” burritos. Kellene cracks me up)
2 cans coconut milk. Or light coconut milk if you’re that kind of person.
4 sweet potatoes. Or are they called yams? I can’t seem to get a straight answer.
1 onion, chopped up real good. Or 2 onions, if you like onions a lot, like I do. Your call.
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder if you’re lazy like me).
1 diced green, red, orange, or yellow pepper. Or, again, go with a couple peppers.
2 tsp cumin. I’m surprised every time I use this spice by how good it smells. Wow.
1 pkg frozen corn. Or canned, if you like your corn mushy and gross.
1 can black beans. Don’t use kidney beans. Kidney beans are nasty.
1/3 c cilantro, chopped. Is there a better smell in the world than chopped cilantro? Answer: no.
1 Tbs lime juice
1 c grated cheese (unless you’re vegan, in which case use whatever vegans use instead of cheese. Maybe a whole bunch of kale and spinach and sawdust?)
warm tortillas. Vegetarian tortillas, mind you. Or vegan, if there’s a difference. But I don’t think there is.
Chopped avocados. Chop them humanely, and don’t use avocados from a horrific factory farm where they treat their avocados cruelly.
Chopped tomatoes. I don’t have a joke to make about tomatoes that I haven’t already pretty much used on my avocados ingredient.
Shredded lettuce. See tomatos.
Mexican rice (If you don’t know have a good recipe for Mexican rice already, prepare as normal rice, but add a package of taco seasoning to the water, and maybe a little enchilada sauce)
- Combine the broth and coconut milk into a pot, holding a little of the broth in reserve. Put the pot on to boil.
- Peel and chop the sweet potatoes, then add to the coconut milk mixture. Boil until the sweet potatoes are soft (perhaps just a little harder than if you were going to mash them). Once light pressure with the edge of a spoon will cut a sweet potato pice apart, you’re there.
- While the sweet potatoes are on to boil, saute the onion, garlic, peppers, and cumin in the remaining vegetable broth. Sauteing using broth is a great way to skip using oil or butter and still get excellent taste.
- Cook the corn per package instructions.
- Strain the black beans.
- Once the sweet potatoes are soft, strain them from the coconut milk mixture (discard the coconut milk mixture).
- Combine the sweet potatoes, the sauteed onion mixture, the corn, the beans, the cilantro, the lime juice, and the cheese.
- Wrap the sweet potato mixture in tortillas along with some rice, avocado, tomato and lettuce.
- Top with your favorite salsa. Or your second favorite salsa.
Enjoy. I mean that seriously. You will enjoy these. Or I will be very angry at you. You think I bend over backwards, slaving over a hot stove all day for you to not enjoy these delicious burritos? Darn right I don’t.
Here, have another one.
PS: I did not include pictures of the food, because any picture I have ever taken of food has made that food look gross. You’re welcome.
A Note from Fatty: I just got confirmation that I’m in for my fifteenth Leadville 100. Which means I should probably start training and dieting in earnest. I’m curious how many Friends of Fatty also got in, or are planning on to come up to watch, or support a friend / family member. Maybe we should have a barbecue? Leave a comment and let me know.
Another Note from Fatty: Back in early January, Kenny asked me for a favor: appeal to my readers to help him get into Kona Bike’s 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. My condition to him was that in return, he’d need to write a race report, with awesome photos. You delivered, and now he has too. Enjoy his story!
Kenny’s Race Report: Kona Bike’s 24 Hours in the OIld Pueblo
One of my favorite races is Kona Bike’s 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo put on by Epic Rides – a fast, swoopy, desert single track mountain bike race outside of Tucson. It’s the largest 24 hour mountain bike race of its kind.
The logistics involved in getting to the start line of the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo are time consuming and difficult. You need shelter, food, heat, a generator to charge lights, all of your bike stuff – tools, helmet, shoes and clothes to ride in. You need to coordinate everyone’s schedule and everyone’s stuff.
And you need to be mentally prepared to spend many, many hours behind the wheel. Racing for 24 hours following a 14 hour road trip is probably not the best pre-race preparation strategy. In fact, I’m convinced that it could easily cause a psychotic break and/or medical crisis leading to death.
But it had been a while since I had done this race with my team, the Jack Mormon Militia, and the memory of the painful drive had faded, and the memory of the super fun race had grown. So, when I was looking for an event in February, I decided that the 24 hours of Old Pueblo would be fun to try again.
My racing buddies Chucky and Josh said they were interested, but when I checked on-line registration, I discovered that the race was full. Later that same day on facebook, Epic Rides posted a contest for an entry to their race – write a “comment” on the Epic page, and whoever got the most “likes” on their comment would win the last entry of the race.
Yes, a popularity contest! And since I am a pretty big deal in the biking community …
OK, OK, maybe I’m not such a big deal – but I know someone who is. Sometimes, it is a good thing to be a Friend of Fatty. [Ed. Note: Is it ever not a good thing to be a friend of Fatty?]
Five hundred and eighty “likes” later, and it was time to get the JMM crew back together. Thank you, Fatty and to all the readers of the fatcyclist blog who voted me.
Getting the band back together
With a few calls and e-mails, I re-united with my old JMM team mates: Josh Wolfe, Chucky Gibson, and Matt Harding.
And because my winning entry was for a 5-person co-ed team, I added the first woman to serve in JMM ground combat – pro racer and fitness trainer, Lynda Wallenfels.
My team is fast. Very fast. But the 5-person co-ed category is extremely competitive. Since every minute of our lap times would count, I did some research and discovered a recent biking invention – these strange shifty bits that fit on your bike, allowing you to change between different gear ratios by just pushing a little lever. I know, it’s a radical thought, but I was thinking with the help of these things — I’m going to call them “gears” — I could pick up a few minutes on each lap. And we would be just that much more competitive.
And secretly, I was a little worried about having slower lap times than our token female JMM.
We packed up all our gear and headed down with a stop in St. George to pick up Lynda. OP town was crowded, but thanks to my girlfriend Heather and the cutthroat team, we had our spot reserved.
Pre-ride and course
We arrived just in time to pre-ride the course. We had all done the race before, but it always helps to refresh your memory. Especially in this race, where every living thing seems to have a thorn on it. The Cholla bush, in particular, is a nasty little desert creature that lurks just around every off-camber singletrack turn, waiting to hurl big prickly chunks of itself onto unsuspecting riders.
The OP race is not official, in fact, until a racer crosses the finish line dripping blood from a cholla-skewered appendage.
We finished our pre-lap just before the western sun set the sky on fire in one of the most amazing desert sunsets I’ve ever seen.
It was a good omen, and it turns out, riding a bike with gears is just like riding a bike: you never forget.
Wind. Dust. Rain
We woke up the next morning to menacing clouds, great gusts of wind and lots of blowing dust. Pre-race nerves were replaced with hunkering down so all our gear didn’t blow away. Josh took the LeMans start, followed by Chucky, then Lynda third, which would hopefully allow her to complete her first lap before we started lapping other teams. It’s harder for women to pass in these races, because all of us ego-maniac men hating being “chicked.” The team line-up would finish with Matt and then me.
Despite wind gusts of over 50 miles an hour, Josh did great in the run and finished his lap in the top 25. Next up, Chucky pulled off a 1:02; the fastest lap from our team. Lynda survived a wind-induced cactus encounter and also had a great first lap.
By the time it was my turn to head out, we were starting to lap the slower teams. But thanks to Lynda’s daughter, Emma, I had a super-secret weapon – a hamburger bell mounted to my handlebars.
I don’t think my handlebars have ever had so much stuff on them before – they didn’t know what to do with all this mounted hardware. But the bell was totally worth it. Rather than an “on your left,” or “can I pass when it’s convenient,” or a “faster rider coming through get out of my way,” all I had to do was ding the burger bell and riders would immediately start looking for a place to move over. I liked the bell so much, in fact, I tried to steal it from Emma at the end of the race – unsuccessfully, it turns out, because Lynda took it off my bike when I wasn’t looking.
The Race Heats Up
By the end of our first rotation, the No Tubes team was ahead of us by about 10 minutes. We had a race on our hands! The No Tubes team had sent their ringer, pro racer Ben Sontag, out for two consecutive laps – two of the fastest laps in the race. But the key to a successful 24 hour team is consistency, and our team was very consistent in its consistency. With live iPhone results (which can become addictive, causing recurrent and frequent screen refreshing), we could see that we were staying within about 8 minutes of each other in our lap times.
During the night, we put about 20 minutes on the No Tubes team, taking over first place.
My second night lap is always my slowest, and this time was no exception. It’s strange how I always feel like I’m going super fast, but I’m always about 8 to 10 minutes slower than my day laps.
When morning hit, the No Tubes team sent out Ben for two more super fast laps trying to bridge the gap. He came close, but when he finished his 5th and final lap, we still held a small lead.
I felt really good on my last lap. The rain combined with hundreds of riders circling the course had turned it into a hard pack speed track. There were actual skid marks on top of the dirt, it was packed so hard. The wind had subsided and the temperature was perfect. I was overtaking some of the lapped riders so fast that I would have to start ringing my hamburger bell from 20 to 30 yards back.
I came up on a young rider fairly fast and skidded to a slow pace behind him because there just was no cactus-free room to pass. I had already rung my bell before I reached him. I think I made him a little nervous because of how fast I came up behind him. He wobbled his bike around looking for a spot, and just as I was saying “no worries,” he slammed on his brakes, half wheeled me, and turned hard, knocking me to the ground on top of a waiting cactus.
I got up and hopped back on my bike, trying to say thanks for attempting to let me by – but in my cactus-prickled, out-of-breath haste, all I got out was a quick “thanks,” which I’m sure sounded sarcastic — as if I was thanking him for knocking me into a cactus.
Even with the cactus Incident, I pulled off my fastest lap of the race. Matt helped pick the spines out of my back and shoulder, while Josh went out for the last lap – securing us a spot at the top of the podium.
We got our trophies, packed up and headed home. We didn’t have much luck finding the local burger joint, Four Guys and a Super Fast Girl, so we had to settle for the nourishing burgers and fries at Five Guys, where Lynda out-ate us all.
Chucky bought a pack of candy cigarettes, and we all had a celebratory “smoke.”
And then Matt celebrated our win by spending the next four hours throwing up out the window.
This was by far one of my favorite races of all time. Despite the hurricane gale force winds, 28 hours of travel and the fact that a week later, I’m still picking spines out of my back, I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in the Arizona desert.
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