Fatty’s Inferno, Part V: True Cyclists’ Hell…and Heaven

04.1.2011 | 10:45 am

Note: This is Part V of Fatty’s Inferno. Read previous installments here:

“Please,” I begged The Cyclist as we once again found ourselves standing at the junction, the word Whiners appearing on the signpost by the road upon which we had just traveled. “I’ve seen enough. I just can’t take anymore.”

“And you’ve been here only a moments,” said my guide. “Imagine eternity here. Or, on the other hand, don’t worry about it. You’ll be here for good, soon enough.”

“But in which of these places am I doomed to ride?” I asked, terror (or something) welling up in my throat.

“Wow,” replied The Cyclist. “That’s actually a really interesting question. I’m not sure I’ve ever met another rider as deserving of being in multiple cyclists’ hells as you.”

“Thanks,” I said, not sounding at all thankful.

“Hey, maybe you could move around,” The Cyclist mused. “A few millenia in this one, a couple of millenia in that one. You know, mix it up a bit. Let you get the full effect of all of the sins for which you are guilty.”

“Whatever,” I replied.

“Yeah, I knew you’d say that,” responded. “Anyway, we’ve still got a lot to see down here, so let’s check out this next road.”

“You mean,” I asked, “You’re not even going to pretend to let me choose?”

“No, no point in that anymore.”

Fifth Circle

We began on the road, which immediately turned downhill, sharply. Suddenly, I could see the entirety of this circle of hell, and I had to stop, trying to let my mind process it.

Before me lay a pristine valley. Clean air. Pines and aspen. Tall grass, waving gently in the light breeze. Not a single building in sight.

A single road dropped sharply down into this valley, at which point — with no flat to speak of — it immediately climbed steeply back up. The only riding to be had here would be hard climbing and steep descending.

“This is a beautiful place,” I told The Cyclist. “And this is an incredible road. How can you call this a level of hell?”

“No kidding,” agreed The Cyclist. “Actually, I vacation here. It’s one of my favorite places.”

And then I saw something far down at the bottom of the valley that perplexed me, deeply. Thousands — perhaps millions — of bikes laying down (drivetrain side down, of course), littering the valley floor.

Meanwhile, not a single rider was in sight anywhere. “Where is everyone?” I asked. “Why is nobody riding?”

“Take a closer look at the bikes,” replied The Cyclist.

And then I got it. Every single one of them was a fixed gear bike, built without brakes, for showing off and for urban riding — and entirely useless in a place like this.

“But where are the riders?” I wondered.

“Oh, they’re here all right,” smiled my guide. “It’s just that I have made them invisible. You see, fixie care much more about being seen than about the ride itself. In the absence of an audience — not to mention coffee shops and thousands of pedestrians and exhaust from a road choked with cars –they quickly lose interest in riding.

“So what are these guys doing for all eternity?” I asked.

“Mostly they spend their time reloading Bike Snob’s site, hoping they will someday be the first to comment on his blog. They don’t realize that I’ve ensured that never happens because the internet here is on a twenty-second delay.”

“Well, I don’t even have a fixie anymore,” I said. “I guess this is one hell I don’t have to worry about winding up in.”

“Yeah,” agreed The Cyclist. “You don’t have to worry about winding up in the place where you just mentioned you’d love to go riding. Isn’t hell ironic?”

Sixth Circle

Back at the junction — where Fixie Hipsters had just appeared on the signpost by the road we had just been on — I told The Cyclist, “You know, you’re kind of mean.”

“You have no idea,” affirmed The Cyclist. “Let’s check out this next road.”

We were back on our bikes, and riding together on a road that felt strangely familiar. The road was perfect. The partially-obscured sun was overhead, staying out of our eyes. The temperature was exquisite. The variety of terrain would suit any taste. This was a perfect spot to ride.

It took a moment, but then it occurred to me. “Hey, you’ve brought me here before. This is Limbo, the very first place you brought me!”

“No, it is not Limbo, though it is very similar,” replied The Cyclist. “In fact, your mistake is understandable, since the place itself is identical — we saved a lot of expense when we had it constructed by using the same blueprint.”

“But,” he said, “It is not the same place. Look at the people.”

As soon as I saw them, I understood. Millions upon millions of people were here. All of them very fit, all of them in cycling clothes — shorts, jersey, gloves, helmets, shoes, the works — all of them clearly ready to ride.

But none of them were riding.

In fact — apart from the bikes The Cyclist and I were on — there were no bikes at all in this place.

“This is the true cyclists’ hell,” said The Cyclist. “This is the place where are sent those who have lost the right to ride. This is the place made for biking, but where there are no bikes.”

“In this place are the people who bought bikes, then hung them up in their garages.”

“In this place are the dopers, as well as doping conspiracy theorists.”

“In this place are those who inhibit innovation in cycling in the name of tradition.”

“In this place are triathletes who only did the bike part of the race because they couldn’t find any events that did just swimming and running.”

“In this place are the people who stopped riding because they claim to have burned out.”

“In this place,” concluded The Cyclist, “Al Trautwig commentates every single move every single person makes.”

I collapsed on the ground, sobbing uncontrollably.

Seventh Circle

We were back at the junction. No Bikes Allowed appeared on the sign by the road we had just been on.

“What new horror will you show me on this final road?” I demanded of The Cyclist. “A road paved with nails and glass? A place with an atmosphere specially designed to rust chains? A hell where bike thieves outnumber cyclists three to one?”

“No,” replied The Cyclist. “Nothing like that. In fact you’ve got it all wrong. In fact, this last road doesn’t lead to a version of hell at all.”

“This seventh road,” continued The Cyclist, “goes to Cyclists’ Heaven.”

“Please, Cyclist, please take me there!” I begged, now on my knees. “Show me Cyclists’ Heaven, so I will have something to strive for, something to think about and earn for the rest of my days!”

“Oh, I don’t need to take you on that road,” replied The Cyclist.

“Why not?”

“You’ve been there before,” said my guide. “Many times, in fact.”

“I have?” I asked, dumbfounded. “In my dreams, you mean?”

“No,” said the spectral figure that had guided me through these many levels of hell. “In real life. This seventh road leads to Moab, Utah.”

“Heaven,” said The Cyclist, just as I began to wake up, “is for mountain bikers.”

PS: Believe it or not, this story is my April Fool’s joke, or at least it was supposed to be. My idea was to do a week-long shaggy dog story (a guided tour through hell), with a weak punchline (heaven is for mountain bikers) on April 1. Which is sort of what I did, but pretty early along the way I got a lot more into writing the story and kinda stopped thinking about the fact that it was supposed to be just a long, drawn-out joke. So, April Fools! I guess!

PPS: If you want to spend a few minutes reading a good bike-related April Fools joke, I liked the one over at Gu. I also like the one about Johan Bruyneel over at Velonews, mostly because they mention me in it (but would it have hurt to link to me, guys?)


  1. Comment by Brett | 04.1.2011 | 10:58 am


  2. Comment by bikemike | 04.1.2011 | 11:00 am

    crap, i was trying to google earth that road. ha, you got me.

  3. Comment by Crash Enburn | 04.1.2011 | 11:01 am

    Well *I* really enjoyed the whole story. Thanks, Fatty! And I’ll be going to ‘heaven’ in two months. :)

  4. Comment by JJ | 04.1.2011 | 11:05 am

    First. Couldn’t resist. Great story maybe one should consider trying that mountain bike thing.

  5. Comment by axel in texas | 04.1.2011 | 11:14 am

    but when you get to Moab, there is an intersection of sis trails… because the whiners, eternal attackers, lazy riders, etc. come on fat tires, too. Except the fixie hipsters…

  6. Comment by Less Fat Mike again | 04.1.2011 | 11:14 am

    Heaven is for mountain bikers….I can’t stop laughing. Truly brilliant. I’m sending out emails to everyone I know with the links. This has to go in a book somewhere.

  7. Comment by Justin | 04.1.2011 | 11:14 am

    Good one…see you in Heaven

  8. Comment by Kyle (aka slowcyclist) | 04.1.2011 | 11:19 am

    Well done. Guess I’m the 5th one to comment. I’ll have to keep trying :)

  9. Comment by Kyle (aka slowcyclist) | 04.1.2011 | 11:19 am

    Or 8th. :(

  10. Comment by Liz | 04.1.2011 | 11:24 am

    That was an awesome series. Thanks very much. You gave me, at least, a lot to think about (and speaking of Mr. Snob, he has an exceptional piece of writing up today, too).

    Must get out on mountain bike more.

  11. Comment by Brian V. | 04.1.2011 | 11:27 am

    With NBC Universal purchasing Versus, I’m fearing for the return of Al Trautwig. Perhaps we are already in the 6th circle. The horror!

  12. Comment by Mike Roadie | 04.1.2011 | 11:49 am

    I am doomed to the 6th circle for certain……yikes! That’s April Fool’s enough for me.

    Well done, Fatty!

  13. Comment by Grizzly Adam | 04.1.2011 | 12:02 pm

    “Heaven,” said The Cyclist, just as I began to wake up, “is for mountain bikers.”

    Well played. And so true. Great piece of storytelling.

  14. Comment by RANTWICK | 04.1.2011 | 12:06 pm

    Holy cow! I stop blogging and go off the grid for just one month, and Fatty does an INFERNO THING while I’m gone? I’m gonna take breaks more often, because I LOVE the inferno thing! Nice work Fatty. No kidding, this kind of writing from you really floats my boat.

    My inferno thing isn’t nearly as literary. It’s, like, different.


  15. Comment by mateo | 04.1.2011 | 12:12 pm

    Fatty’s 7th Level of Hell: To be mentioned in Velonews, but no link…

  16. Comment by KanyonKris | 04.1.2011 | 12:17 pm

    Excellent story and well told!

    I could be in Moab in 3 hours, but I’ve got life stuff – that’s hell.

  17. Comment by Deuce | 04.1.2011 | 12:36 pm

    You forgot to add that Vegans are in the Sixth Circle too. Just saying

  18. Comment by Jeff | 04.1.2011 | 12:39 pm

    “In this place,” concluded The Cyclist, “Al Trautwig commentates every single move every single person makes.”—> Awesome line!

  19. Comment by Mark | 04.1.2011 | 12:41 pm

    Got me, too! Great! But the insight you led us to acquire this week was pretty awesome as well.

  20. Comment by LesleyG | 04.1.2011 | 12:43 pm

    I’ve enjoyed the story! Great job, and good job working the joke in, even if it turned out to not be the most important part. :)

  21. Comment by Ben | 04.1.2011 | 12:48 pm

    I ran across a couple April 1 articles:
    Alberto Contador lands new personal sponsorship

    The end of Flanders’ cobbles? Koppenberg, Oude Kwaremont scheduled for paving

    New regulations: UCI sets friction limits for World Tour bikes

    Flecha would be happy with Tour of Flanders podium

    Flanders route changed after cobbles theft

    Yes, I have too much time on my hands.
    No, I’m not doing this because I was told yesterday that I had a mandatory meeting at work at 8:00 AM and found myself all alone in the office until people started trickling in around 9:00 with amused expressions on thier faces. Really I’m not.

  22. Comment by Jenn | 04.1.2011 | 1:04 pm


  23. Comment by Eric L | 04.1.2011 | 1:08 pm

    EPIC FTW! Fatty.

    I’m printing this all out to snail-mail to my pop. He will love this too.

    Phil and Paul will have to come up with a new lexicon commentating those races in heaven.

    Thank you for your never-ending inspiration.

    …counting the minutes to 04/11 and hoping I don’t go to hell for that.

  24. Comment by Hautacam | 04.1.2011 | 1:16 pm

    +1 for Mateo at 12:12. Ha!

    This ending is sooo much better than what I was expecting — a weak punch line about riding turbo-trainers for eternity in a gym with a view of great roads.

  25. Comment by roan | 04.1.2011 | 1:30 pm

    Road 7 is on my bucket list.

  26. Comment by Mike | 04.1.2011 | 1:43 pm

    ahahah. You got me too. I was just thinking I’m glad Fatty is obviously doin some and thinkin about road riding and isnt running or mtn biking. hahahaha. Guess i had it coming. Time to dust of my mountain bike. But I was more disappointed the story ended than sorry I got fooled! That was some fun reading. I was hoping for more installments. What hell do I go to for picking which hell my riding friends go to?! ahahahhaha

  27. Comment by roan | 04.1.2011 | 1:46 pm

    Just in case !

  28. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.1.2011 | 2:30 pm

    Thanks Fatty! Fun all week. And, like others, the story was so much fun, I did not feel like I had been stung with the lame punchline.

  29. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.1.2011 | 2:31 pm

    And, although I expected to hear something about Dick Pound – Pound Dick, the Al Trautwig line was fabulous.

  30. Comment by Squirrelhead | 04.1.2011 | 2:46 pm

    I thought the story was great and then ending did make me laugh.

  31. Comment by rich | 04.1.2011 | 3:03 pm

    A great piece of storytelling and an awesome April Fools day ending…..although, I tend to agree about heaven being for mt bikers :-)

    Good stuff Fatty!

  32. Comment by Sansauto | 04.1.2011 | 3:14 pm

    I was wondering last night why you would start a story that would go over April Fool’s Day because I’m fairly confident it’s your favorite day. I loved the story!

  33. Comment by mtb w | 04.1.2011 | 3:27 pm

    What punchline? I must have missed it. Afterall, mountain bikers really do go to heaven! But KK is right, life stuff getting in the way is pure hell/torture. I was supposed to go to Moab last weekend but work got in the way – NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Great story!

  34. Comment by MattC | 04.1.2011 | 4:05 pm

    That’s not a punchline…it’s TRUE! I road bike mostly cuz it’s convenient (I can ride from my house or from work). I mt bike when I want to have FUN, tho I have to load the bike in the car and drive a minimum of 30 miles. THAT would be pure cycling hell to me…having my mt bike and no place to ride it (or to have to ride it on the road)…brrrrrr…that thought gives me shivers! NICE week Fatty! And btw: the Al Trautwig line had me busting a gut! Way to go..now I will hear AL instead of Phil in my brain as I ride…that’s gonna be a tough one to shake!

  35. Comment by Dave T | 04.1.2011 | 5:55 pm

    Fatty I love this story. Nice work!

  36. Comment by leroy | 04.1.2011 | 9:41 pm

    My dog didn’t think the story was all that shaggy.

    But it’s hard to take him seriously sometimes.

  37. Comment by 3d brian | 04.1.2011 | 10:24 pm

    Now I’m mad!

    I almost commented earlier in the week that I knew why it was hell – there were all roadies!

  38. Comment by Laurence Guttmann | 04.2.2011 | 2:53 am

    Hey Fatty.
    I know one rider who is going to love hell. Patrick Seabase. Check this out:

  39. Comment by Fat Cathy | 04.2.2011 | 11:33 am

    “In this place, Al Trautwig commentates every single move every single person makes.” That would be my version of hell!

  40. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 04.2.2011 | 3:04 pm

    Wow, Fatty…this was an awesome story! Funny, meaningful, and full of heart. If liking it makes me a fool, then foolish I shall be!

  41. Comment by guerch | 04.2.2011 | 4:29 pm

    fatty, i am in ohio. it’s a two day drive to salt lake. Can you recommend three days of rides in your area? i don’t need death defying trails, just nice trails that are fun and dont have serious risks. i ride full suspension gary fisher but i am 61 and would like to make it to 62. you have posted some great pics of nice single track, i would welcome any suggestions. i am thinking mid september. i go to the pisgah in nc, which is the most beautiful mt biking i have seen so far, looking to see the west.

    btw i have supported you and am a cancer survivor too, good luck with the book. if you dont have time to respond its okay i understand you get mega email.


  42. Comment by Debi | 04.2.2011 | 8:13 pm

    Fatastic writing, great story. Loved the end. LOved everything about it Fatty.

    I loved all of it, and Part III really resonated with me. I suspect I’ll land in hell for sure since I don’t mountain bike.

    Again, loved it!

  43. Comment by MikeL | 04.3.2011 | 5:52 pm

    Well done. Very well done.

  44. Comment by GJ Jackie | 04.3.2011 | 8:02 pm

    Loved it! Especially since I just got home and read this piece after mountain biking with my family in Moab!

  45. Comment by 3d brian | 04.4.2011 | 9:58 am


    Check out utahmountainbiking.com and pay attention to the “Must Ride Classics”

    Short list:
    Wasatch Crest
    American Fork Canyon (This is where most of Fatty’s stories & pictures come from)
    Park City

  46. Comment by Shawn | 04.4.2011 | 10:58 am

    I thought the bottom of cycling hell was going to be an intense non-stop wind up a never ending climb. I kind of figured heaven would be reserved for the mtb’ers, since they ride up there in paradise all the time.

    Hipster-fixie hell… Ha!

    Great stuff Fatty!

  47. Comment by Angie | 04.5.2011 | 9:46 am

    Awesome story. I enjoyed it. I am caught up now! After reading your old posts for about a year, I am finally caught up. I will fast become your favorite blog commenter.

  48. Comment by Dan O | 04.5.2011 | 5:17 pm

    Moab is for ROAD bikes. Look up skinny tire events. Now you will have to bring both a road AND Mtn Bike.

    Life is good

    Dan O

  49. Comment by MikeL | 04.7.2011 | 10:46 am

    I agree with Dan O. My wife and I went down for the Century Tour in Moab last year and also took the mountain bikes. The day after the tour we went up to Deadhorse Point SP and did a recovery mountain bike ride. We will be back.


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