Two Observations

04.7.2011 | 8:42 am

Yesterday afternoon, while riding to Cedar For and back — a 44-mile road ride that comes as close to a flat course as can be found in Alpine, UT (only around 1500 feet of climbing) — I had two observations, one of which has a followup observation.

I submit them both for your consideration.

Observation 1

Like most important and deep truths, the observation I made during this ride is succinct:

If you’re going to talk with someone during a road ride into a strong headwind, whatever you have to say had better be worth repeating. Loudly. And at least three times.

Hey, that’s so short I very nearly could have tweeted it.

Observation 2

As you might have guessed from observation 1 above, yesterday’s ride had a pretty significant headwind — except when it was a crosswind, and except when it was a tailwind. And the wind kept changing.

It was a very mischievous wind.

Anyway, one of the characteristics of The Runner is that she doesn’t like drafting. She feels it reduces the effort of the ride too much, and since getting in a good workout is one of the reasons you’re out there, why draft?

Frankly, I’m boggled by this line of reasoning, but that’s not the observation I want to make.

I, unlike The Runner, am perfectly happy to draft. In fact, I love drafting. And so, while tucked behind The Runner as she toiled away against a stiff headwind, I made the following observation:

If you’re a guy, there’s something really, really awesome about drafting behind a very hot woman.

I don’t think I need to explain my reasoning on this observation, for I consider it self-evident. However, as soon as I made this observation, I had a followup observation.

Followup Observation to Observation 2

Even as I reveled in my good fortune, something nagged at me. Then, as a cyclist going the other direction gave us a “I’d wave but the wind has crushed my soul and drained all my energy” nod, I realized what that nagging thing is. Which is the following:

While it’s awesome to be drafting behind a really hot woman, the macho part of me hopes that none of my friends see that I haven’t been taking a turn pulling.


News Flash: It’s Difficult to Lose Weight While Working from Home

04.5.2011 | 2:11 pm

Back in the early days of January of this year, I mentioned that I had taken delivery of a Gary Fisher Trek Superfly 100 — an awesome full-suspension 29′er mountain bike I have wanted ever since I first rode one — but that I would not build or ride this bike until I had gotten my weight down from the 171.4 pounds I weighed at the time to a good race weight of 158 pounds.

Well, I am happy to announce that during the four months that have elapsed since this time, I have lost a staggering 1.2 pounds.

In order to give myself the credit I deserve, I’d like to spell that amount out, and put it in italics: One point two pounds.

Okay, so that equates out to…um, 0.15 ounces lost per day.

So perhaps an explanation is in order.

An Important New Formula

Really, this explanation is sadly simple: I work from home about 90% of the time. And, as I’m discovering, it’s really, really difficult to lose weight when you’re working from home.

Why? Easy: because the kitchen is about 40 feet away. Or really, it’s about seven feet away, if I were to get literal. But since it’s a lot easier to walk up stairs from the basement into the kitchen than it is to drill a hole in the ceiling and climb up a ladder through this newly drilled hole into the kitchen, let’s go with that original figure of 40 feet.

Which is still really, really close, by the way. Some might even say too close. In fact, I’ve come up with formula that describes the difficulty of losing weight working so close to the kitchen:

D = 1/P


D = Difficulty of losing weight, expressed as a percentage.

P = Number of feet one must travel to go from workplace to the kitchen.

So, some examples of what this formula means:

1. Since I work about 40 feet from the kitchen, my D measurement is approximately 2.5%. This may seem like a small number, until you consider that I used to work about 10 miles from my kitchen, which has a D measurement of approximately .0019%. Or, in other words, it’s now about 1315 times more difficult for me to lose weight now, since I work about 1315 times closer to my kitchen.

2. If you work 1 foot from the kitchen, you have a D measurement of 100%, which means the difficulty of losing weight is as hard as it could possibly be. Which sounds about right.

3. If you work in the kitchen, this formula gives you a “divide by 0″ error, which means it would be entirely impossible for you to lose weight. Which also sounds about right.

A Practical Example

To help you understand this formula, I’d like to excerpt several moments from my typical workday for you:

9:30am: It’s been an hour since I finished breakfast and have come downstairs to work. I find myself hungry. Bravely and wisely, I ignore the hunger.

9:35am: Perhaps I could eat a grapefruit. Those have negative calories, if I understand correctly.

9:36am: As long as I’m up here getting grapefruit, I’ll just have a handful of cereal, too. Those Toasted Oatmeal Squares are a crunchy little bit of heaven.

10:20am: What, not lunchtime yet? Maybe one of those little yogurts I keep in my mini-fridge down here. Those only have 70 calories, and they take the edge off the hunger.

10:21am: You know what would go well in this yogurt? A spoonful or two of granola. I’ll just run upstairs and get it.

10:22am: As long as I’m here, there’s no harm in having another handful of the Oatmeal Squares. I probably burned off that many calories going up the stairs anyway.

11:40am: It just occurred to me: I haven’t had any peanut butter at all today. Maybe I’ll run upstairs and have a spoonful. Or maybe I’ll spread it on the heel of a bread loaf. After all, nobody else in the family likes the heel; if I don’t eat them they’ll just go stale and to waste.

11:41am: What’s a slice of bread with peanut butter without honey on it?

11:41:30am: Hey, look — there are two heels that haven’t been used for this loaf. I could make a PBHH2 (Peanut Butter, Honey, Heel x 2) sandwich.

12:30pm: Wow, lunchtime finally. I am starved. I’ll just have the second half of the tuna salad I made for The Runner and me before she took off for work this morning. I’m on a diet, after all.

1:55pm: Time to go up and check on how that Chicken and Tortilla soup I’ve got going in the crockpot is doing — take out the chicken (so it doesn’t overcook), put in some corn tortillas. It smells pretty good!

1:57pm: I really shouldn’t have any more handfuls of cereal today. On the other hand, a handful of cashews would go really well with the Diet Coke I cracked open at lunchtime.

3:15pm: My mind’s fried. I need a break. I think I’ll walk upstairs and grab another handful of those cashews. Those were so good.

3:43pm: Wow, here I am in the pantry again, just staring. How’d I get up here? I don’t even remember walking up the stairs; I must have been totally on autopilot. I’m not hungry; I should just go back downstairs.

3:44pm: Oh well, I may as well get another handful of cashews as long as I’m up here.

4:15pm: Time to put the chicken back in the crockpot, as well as the cheese. The Runner will be home in an hour or so; we’ll want to eat dinner right away since we’re both so hungry from dieting.

4:16pm: Hey, while I’m up here I think I’ll have one handful of cereal. I don’t think I’ve had any cereal today, after all.

5:10pm: “Hi Lisa. How’s it going? Yeah, I’m starved too. This diet is killing me!”

PS: I want to put out a big kudos to NYC Carlos, one of the long-time friends of Fatty as well as an Account Manager at Interclick, which is the company that serves ads for my site. When I emailed him today letting him know I didn’t like having tobacco ads show up on my site, he took care of the problem within about five minutes. That’s awesome service; thanks Carlos!

Run the AF Half Marathon, Fight Cancer

04.4.2011 | 12:19 pm

201104041111.jpg I’d like to take a moment and list a few things I really, really, really like.

  • American Fork Canyon: The fact is, when I moved back to Utah, I made a point of moving as close to it as I could afford. This is because it’s beautiful and hosts incredible biking, both road and mountain. It’s also where Tibble Fork is, which is the best place in the world. (In fact, The Runner and I like American Fork Canyon so much we got married there)
  • Fighting Cancer. I should probably be more clear about what I mean by “fighting cancer,” because I think different people mean different things when they say they’re joining the fight against cancer. One way to join the fight is to help raise money for research. That’s awesome. Another way to join the fight is to help people who have cancer and are fighting it. Because of my own experience, this is the fight I am motivated to join in.
  • Running a Half Marathon. You know what’s good about running a marathon? The first half of it. You know what’s a good distance to work up to running that most people can achieve? A half marathon. (I swear, The Runner did not force me to say any of these nice things about running.)

So when some people at Intermountain Health (which is where The Runner works as a nurse) asked The Runner and me to help organize the first annual American Fork Canyon Half Marathon and 5K, with all proceeds going toward helping people who can’t afford cancer treatment, answering “yes” was easy.

And if you’re local (I.e., if you’re anywhere near American Fork Canyon, UT) I’d love to have you join us — either as a racer, or helping us out on before and during the race day.

A Little About The Race

There are a few very important things you should know about this race.

1. It will be downhill. Since the AF Canyon half marathon starts at Tibble Fork Reservoir, comes down the canyon, and finishes at American Fork High School (click here to see the course in Google Maps), it has a really nice, moderate, downhill grade pretty much the whole way. Check out the elevation profile:


So even if you’re not normally much of a distance runner, think about the fact that gravity will be on your side.

2. It will be beautiful. I don’t love American Fork Canyon merely because it’s a good climb or has good access to terrific trails. I love it because it is a beautiful canyon. I don’t have any video of me running down it, but I think it might be worth doing a replay of a video I took a couple years ago riding down this canyon:

Seriously, if you’re going to run a half marathon, this is a beautiful place to do it.

3. The cause couldn’t be better. I get a knot in my stomach thinking how much more stressful and awful the cancer experience would have been if I would have had to be considering finances the whole time. Horribly, that’s the reality for a lot of people. All of the proceeds from this race will go to lighten the financial load of people who are fighting cancer here, close to home.

4. The race will be June 25. So you’ve still got time to prepare for it.

Sign Up or Help Out

I’d love to see hundreds and hundreds of people lining up to participate in this event, and I’d even more love to see some Fat Cyclist jerseys at the finish line (I’m not sure, but think that’s where The Runner and I will be helping out on race day). In which case I will give you a hug.

Unless you don’t want one.

If you can open the day up, please go visit the race site, learn more, and register. And I’ll see you there.

Or if you don’t think you can (or want to) sign up to race, we could sure use your help volunteering to make this event as awesome as possible. Email me with the subject line “AF Canyon Half,” and let me know when and how much you can help.

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?)

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