The Runner qualified for Boston with a time of 3:41:44. Time to get her registered for Boston!
I did better than expected, with a 3:59 or something like that. My first sub-4, by a hair. Gravity is my friend.
The Runner qualified for Boston with a time of 3:41:44. Time to get her registered for Boston!
I did better than expected, with a 3:59 or something like that. My first sub-4, by a hair. Gravity is my friend.
Hey, you know what I’m going to do tomorrow? I’m going to run a marathon!
Yeah, I really am.
I can see by the expression on your face (I’ve remotely enabled your webcam and can see you right now) that you are surprised by this fact. And you should be surprised, because I have not mentioned this fact in this blog until right now.
Why haven’t I?
Well, because I don’t expect to do very well, mostly. In fact, I don’t plan to do well at all. In even more fact, I’ll go ahead and get explicit and say that I haven’t run more than eight or nine miles at a stretch since the NYC marathon and haven’t trained for the Ogden Marathon at all, really.
Nevertheless, this race is very important, and I am a very important person in it.
I shall now explain why.
Why This Race is Important
While I personally haven’t trained for the Ogden Marathon, it’s been the main thing The Runner has been thinking about for months. She’s trained hard for it, even through a painful hip injury. She’s been thinking (and dreaming) about it.
This race matters to her.
Why? Because The Runner is hoping to qualify for next year’s Boston Marathon tomorrow. Which means she needs to run it in 3:50 or less.
“So what,” I can see you ask (because, as I have mentioned, I am watching you right now), “Are her chances of qualifying?”
Well, the short version is: pretty darned good. Indeed, it is my personal opinion (which is based on how I’ve observed her running condition in the past and present, as well her recent marathon finishing times [when she wasn't dragging me along, that is]) that she’ll finish in about 3:40 with a nice little ten minute buffer for potty breaks.
If her hip doesn’t bother her.
And if the weather is good as the forecast says it should be (it currently looks like Saturday will be the first sunny day in forever here, as well as the last sunny day for forever).
And if everything else goes right.
Basically, I’d say that The Runner has done everything she needs to. if she has a good day tomorrow, she’s going to Boston.
I, on the other hand, will feel quite pleased with myself if I can finish this particular marathon in fewer than five hours.
Why I Am A Very Important Person
If you were to come root for The Runner and me at the Ogden Marathon tomorrow, you would notice that our race bibs show our numbers as being “VIP-29″ (hers) and “VIP-30″ (mine).
“VIP,” I’d like to point out, stands for “Very Important Person.”
I can see (you know why) that you are wondering how it is that the race officials came to recognize us as being the Very Important People we are.
Is it because I am a very famous, beloved, and award-winning blogger? No, surprisingly that is not the reason.
The reason is because I am an oaf.
A long time ago, I took on the responsibility to get both The Runner and me registered for this marathon. I took note of the day registration opened, with the full intent of registering the moment it is possible to register.
And then — because I am, as I have recently mentioned, an oaf — I failed to get us registered in time. By the time I got online, all the regular race slots had filled up.
“That’s OK,” The Runner said, in a voice that told me she was really doing her best to believe that it was OK.
Which was pretty much the time I discovered: there were still VIP slots available. “Well, that’s awesome, because I am very self-important,” I thought to myself, and went to register.
As it turns out, in this case “VIP” simply means, “willing to spend four times as much money on registering as people who signed up for the race on time.”
Supply and demand, baby. Can’t argue with market dynamics. Can’t be a capitalist only when it works in your favor.
And in short, I signed us up.
The Best Thing About Being a Very Important Person
There are actually very many nice things about being a VIP at the Ogden Marathon. For example, we have access to the VIP packet pick-up, which means we don’t have to wait in a line. [Value: $0.20]
We get to ride in a nicer bus — that leaves later than the other buses — to the starting line, which means less waiting around and a more comfortable place for us to fret about the race (i.e., we’ll both be fretting about her race). [Value: $3.50]
We get a nice tent to hang out after the race, which means The Runner will have a nice place to wait for an hour and a half (all times approximate) for me to finally cross the line. [Value: $7.80]
We even get a massage. [Value: $15.00]
But none of those things are the best thing about being a VIP at this race. The very, very, very best thing about being a VIP tomorrow will be that there will be VIP porta-potties at the starting line.
Yep, while most folks have to wait for twenty other people to finish their business, The Runner and I will be able to just waltz (not literally) right up to the porta-potties and do what we gotta do. Which, in my case, is take a Very Important Poop. [Value: $210.99]
The Worst Thing About Being Me
I expect very good arguments could be made about which of very many of my characteristics are the worst. This is not the time for those arguments (nor will any such time be provided, ever).
However, tomorrow, the worst thing about being me will be that, 3:50 after the race begins, The Runner either will or will not have qualified for the Boston Marathon — something that matters to her — and I will not know which it is, for about another hour and change (or two hours and change, if I suck as bad as I might).
So, it’s entirely possible that you might find out — using clever Internetty methods and Twitter and such — how The Runner does in the race before I do.
Which doesn’t seem fair at all.
In any case, I’ll post our times tomorrow as soon as I am able (i.e., lucid).
Meanwhile, if you’d be so kind, take a moment and wish The Runner good luck in qualifying for Boston.
A Note from Fatty: As you will soon see, today’s post is about helmets and helmet cams. In that spirit, wouldn’t it be awesome to win a GoPro helmetcam? Why yes it would, as a matter of fact. Well, my good friend Chuck Ibis is giving exactly such a thing away to a lucky winner. You should click here to find out how you can be that lucky person.
Dear Helmet Manufacturers of the World,
First of all, I want to say “thank you.” Thank you for making helmets that are light, comfortable, affordable, and life-saving. I think I speak for all cyclists (except the stupid ones who don’t wear helmets) when I say we appreciate it.
That said, I have a bone to pick with you. Specifically, I think it’s time you take a look at the rapidly-evolving helmet accessory landscape and make some changes to your products to make your helmets more useful.
Allow me to explain.
Like many cyclists, I love filming my rides. Most sports camera manufacturers create helmet mounts for their cameras. Riders use these because the first person perspective gives a “feels like you’re along for the ride” feel to the video. Like this:
I do pretty much all of my video using a VIO POV camera, attached to my helmet, like this:
(Yes, my expression is always like that. Thanks for asking.)
Well, it recently occurred to me that by filming only what is ahead of me, I am missing half the action. My video doesn’t show the riders behind me. Doesn’t show what the trail looks like as it recedes into the distance.
And with the availability of inexpensive high-definition helmet-mounted cameras, it seemed foolish not to get a second setup, this one pointing behind me. So I strapped a Contour HD to the other side of my helmet, facing back. Like this:
Sure, it’s a little heavy, but I’m willing to make sacrifices for my art.
Here’s the thing, helmet manufacturers. I don’t want to ride (and film…in both directions) only during the daytime. I want to be able to ride at night. So naturally, I’ve connected up my helmet-mounted lighting system.
This was not easy to put on, helmet manufacturers, due in large part to the fact that I started running out of helmet vents to push velcro straps through. But I made it work, because I certainly don’t want to go without light, and everyone knows that helmet-mounted lights work better than bar-mounted lights: they point where you’re looking, which is a useful thing for lights to do.
Now my helmet’s almost ready to go, but one thing’s missing: tunes! As a responsible cyclist, I would never wear headphones, because if a semi is going to run me over flat from behind, I want to hear it just before it happens.
What’s this? Why it’s a cool little speaker setup that attaches to my helmet, then works with my phone over bluetooth to let me listen to my rock and roll while riding. And filming. And lighting stuff up.
So, helmet manufacturers, here’s my helmet now, all ready for me to ride:
And here’s me, wearing it:
Clearly, helmet manufacturers, you need to get busy rectifying what I am sure is this all-to-common problem, among others I shall hereby enumerate.
As you can see in the highly illustrative photograph above, my head is bowed down, lolling due to the weight of all these (highly necessary) helmet-mounted accessories. And my tongue is sticking out, because all these velcro straps going inside my helmet have made it fit extra-tight, so that the chin strap is cutting off my air supply.
When I turn my head quickly, the problems get even worse. The effort required to get past the massive inertia of the helmet strains my neck. Then, once the helmet is finally in motion, it wants to keep moving, often giving me whiplash.
Also, it’s hard to see, what with all the cables and straps jabbing me in the eyes.
And I don’t even want to think about what might happen if I were to suffer an actual crash, wherein I hit my helmet. But I can easily imagine the following scenarios coming to pass:
In the best-case scenario, all the electronics I have strapped to my head would have a contest with my skull to see which is harder and better-built. I have high confidence that the VIO lipstick lens in particular would remain intact long after my skull splintered.
In the worst-case scenario, of course, all the electronics would break upon impact. I don’t even want to think about how much that would cost me.
Suggestions for Improvement
Helmet makers of the world, I’m quite sure that by now I’ve got you on board with the impending crisis you face by not considering the literal cornucopia of helmet accessories either being made or about to be made available to the electronics-hungry cyclist (And I do mean literal; I keep my helmet accessories in a cornucopia. It’s very handy).
In order to accommodate the needs of my accessories and my head, you need to start updating your helmets to be geared more toward the electronic-savvy cyclist. Now.
I have suggestions.
Thanks for your attention to this matter, helmet manufacturers. I look forward to seeing my ideas implemented soon.
The Fat Cyclist
PS: You may also want to consider some kind of lead shielding for the inside layer of helmets. Currently when all my gadgets are on, the fillings in my teeth starting humming and become uncomfortably hot.
I confess to being quite proud of that post, and the fact that I was able to go on for seemingly ever about a mundane topic, without including a single legitimate fact.
That post, I am sad to say, garnered a whopping 26 comments. And since I regard my comments as a sort of metaphorical tip jar, I couldn’t help but wonder what the problem is.
These are my theories:
Seriously, I want to know: what did you think of yesterday’s post? Good? Bad? Stupid? The fact is, I write this blog because I want it to be read (I’m not one of those writers who is compelled to write and doesn’t care whether he ever finds an audience). If you didn’t like something, I want to know why.
Six years into this blog and I’m still learning. So that’s good.
Today, I weigh 163 pounds (that’s rounding up, not down, by the way). Which means I’m five pounds away from the 158 pounds I need to be at by June 3 in order to keep my Superfly 100. At this point, I have confidence I can do it.
How am I doing it? Well, in two words: egg whites.
In slightly more than two words: around 20 egg whites per day. That’s a lot of protein.
And I’m basically off carbs except for right before and during long rides.
Weird, but it’s working. Good thing I like egg whites.
I haven’t talked much about Team Fatty and our plans for this year’s inaugural Davis LiveStrong Challenge.
That’s about to change.
If I were you, I’d join Team Fatty and make plans to be in Davis, if possible. And if not possible, you’ll still be glad you joined, because you will have been a part of the team that is going to raise a ton of money in the fight against cancer, not to mention kick every other team’s butt (sorry, other teams!).
A Note from Fatty: Today, I am happy to present the fourth installment of “The Fat Cyclist Explains,” the series in which I answer questions that you would have wondered about, if only those questions had occurred to you. Previous episodes of this series are here, here, and here, but are not required reading. In fact, they have nothing to do with the topic at hand. Honestly, I’m just linking to them to increase my page views for the day, in a desperate bid for self-validation.
And now, let’s make with the explainification, already!
Yesterday, I was surprised to receive an email I had sent myself. The fact that I was surprised shouldn’t be much of a surprise to you, considering that few people — including myself — rarely spell my first name correctly, which means that a certain firstname.lastname@example.org is probably getting a ton of email that he probably wishes he weren’t.
Anyway, here’s the email I received.
Like most cyclists, I have a lot of bike bottles — probably fifteen or so. The thing is, very few are by the same maker, so they’re all slightly different from each other.
Furthermore — like most cyclists — I have a few bikes, each with two bottle cages. On each bike I have a different brand of bottle cage.
As I took bottle brush in hand for my annual spring bottle cleaning yesterday, it occurred to me that it’s actually kind of amazing that all these bottles — made by various different bottle manufacturers — fit in all my bottle cages, which are all also made by completely diffferent bottle cage manufacturers!
And then I got to thinking and it occurred to me that all of these bottle cages screwed right on to all my bikes’ bottle cage mounts. Wow. I mean seriously, wow.
Until now, I had never taken the time to consider how awesome it is that all these different bottle, cage, and bike manufacturers have come up with a system where products from competing companies work so well together.
Could you explain how and why this system came to be?
Thanks for your wisdom,
Thanks for your note, Duane. I must admit, until reading it (and shortly before that, writing it), I had never considered the beautiful way in which bikes, bottles, and bike bottle mounts work seamlessly together, regardless of which component of the whole system is purchased from which manufacturer. I mean, consider the wide variety of bottles:
And the mind-boggling variety of cages:
It’s amazing that any of the bottles work with any of the cages. And yet, most all of the cages work with most all of the bottles. So I became fascinated with Duane’s question, and have spent hour upon hour researching it.
I am pleased to now present you with the electrifyingly educational answer to your question.
You’ll be astounded — as I was — to learn that until 1946, it never occurred to anyone to affix a water bottle to a bike. Indeed, it wasn’t until the previous year (1945) that anyone even used a bottle to carry their beverages at all. Instead, most people rode along the rough-paved (or often, unpaved) streets while holding a tin cup full of water in one hand. Or, during the Great Depression, during which time tin cups were difficult to come by due to the fact that hobos had commandeered all tin cup supply chains, many cyclists would simply either begin their ride with a mouthful of water held in puffed cheeks, or perhaps try to ride with both hands held together in a cup shape, holding as much water as they could.
This method was, in most cases, only marginally successful.
Then, in 1945, a young lad — whose name is unfortunately lost to history — was riding a tandem biycle one day with his mother. As stoker, his job was to hold both tin cups (they were from a wealthy family and could afford a tin cup for each person therein), while his mother steered the ungainly and heavy (bicycles were made of solid core iron back in these days and could weigh upwards of 240 pounds) bicycle.
Sadly, the bicycle hit one of numerous potholes, jostling the two cups of water and spilling half of each.
Quickly, the bright young lad (the word “boy” had not yet been invented in 1945) poured the remaining contents from one cup into the other, then turned the empty cup over on top of the full cup, creating an improvisational lidded container.
Thus, in one moment inspired by need, the lad had invented water bottles for bikes, but lids in general (most people don’t know that lids did not exist before 1945).
From this prototype quickly (like, in two days) evolved the bottle industry, including screw-top lids (the impetus behind the invention for this particular device is not suitable for children to read) and bite valves (even more disturbing than screw-top lids).
And then, in 1946, Thomas Edison invented the bike bottle cage, quite by accident. Having — as a prank — built a bicycle frame out of strong magnets, his iron bike bottle (until 1982, all bike bottles were made of one metal or another) stuck fast to it. Always the opportunist, Edison shouted, “Eureka!” as if he had done this on purpose.
And the rest is history.
Innovation and Fragmentation
The years immediately following the invention of the bottle and the bottle cage were heady years indeed. Piggybacking on the post WWII prosperity, the bicycle industry — and all its attendant accessories — presented a huge opportunity for the big manufacturer and the lone inventor, alike.
It must be said that the first commercially-available bike bottles and cages were not especially convenient to use. Following the lead of Edison, Trecke Bicycle Company created a bicycle with a bottle that was formed as part of the bicycle frame itself. While this was certainly an improvement over the tin cup approach, it was not without its difficulties. Specifically, when the thirsty rider wanted to get a drink, she would need to tip the bicycle upside down in order to pour the contents out of the bike.
This was not as easy as it sounds.
Before long (approximately 24 years), inventors came up with the idea of having the bottle be detachable from the frame, so that the water container — as opposed to the entire bike — could be raised to one’s mouth and tipped back.
Once people realized the value of this innovation — having the bottle be both attachable and detachable at will — things went a little crazy, and dozens of products could suddenly be found on the market (albeit, for some, quite briefly), all utilizing to some degree the startling innovation that a bicycle could passively carry a beverage almost indefinitely.
For example, there was the Little Brown Jug Cage, a bottle cage designed to hold an earthenware corked jug, which in turn would hold up to 3/4 gallon of any desired liquid. This product was on sale for a fairly short period of time, due to the high incidence of bicycle crashes riders tended to suffer while riding with a Little Brown Jug Cage. Mistakenly, consumer advocate agencies blamed the size and awkwardness of the jug and cage for the number and frequency of these wrecks, instead of considering the contents of the jug itself.
A more popular cage size, thanks in part to its more-manageable size and in part to the ubiquity of school lunch programs, was the half-pint milk carton cage. The surge in the popularity of this cage ended quickly, however, due to non-cage-related problems. Specifically, the tendency of the milk to sour while sitting outside for the whole day. Further, there was the not-insignificant problem of trying to open a milk carton while riding a bike. We can only speculate as to how many people have suffered horrible, crippling accidents while trying to accomplish this fiendishly difficult task while simultaneously piloting their bikes.
Then, in a brilliant marketing move in 1964, the Coca Cola corporation created a bottle cage holder designed specifically to hold its signature bottle shape. Thanks to the indentation in the middle of the bottle, the specially-designed cage was able to hold the bottle more firmly.
Were it not for the fact that riding a bike with a bottle of Coca Cola was guaranteed to shake the bottle up so much that it was guaranteed to spray 40 feet into the air upon being opened, we may all still be using this bottle and cage style today.
Still, bottle and bottle cage makers everywhere took note of Coca Cola’s bottle/cage interdependency and started making bike bottles and cages that were designed to work together, as a system.
The problem was, there were too many systems.
Bottles that would appear similar at first glance would be too thick to fit in one cage, and too thin to fit in another. Cages required bike mounts that were proprietary, as well.
As one particularly egregious example, Gary Fisher created a bottle (and associated cage) that was slightly thicker and longer than any other bottle so it held three more ounces of fluid than the more-common 26-ounce bike.
This bottle — which Fisher called “The 29er” — developed a loyal following, but illustrated the fundamental (and growing) problem behind bike-mounted hydration: there were just too many systems.
Standardization and Process
There were many people who did not see this fragmentation of an industry as a problem. Indeed, some said it was good for the industry. “Let everyone make and bring to market whatever they want,” said these people. “Those products that are good will survive and gain popularity, resulting in a de-facto standard that can nevertheless continually evolve and improve with future development. In the end, market forces will ensure the availability of the best products; growing pangs are just a necessary part of that.”
Fortunately for all of us, these voices were drowned out. Instead, a much more sensible and orderly solution was arrived at. An official solution was settled upon. Indeed, so official was the solution that it was spoken of only in the passive voice.
Specifically, it was deemed necessary to create a governing body overseeing all things bicycle-related. Thus, Union Bottle Internationale (UBI) — was formed.
The objective of UBI — a small (only 98 employees) team of professionals, most of whom are retired government employees with plenty of experience with committees, memos, and regulations — was simple and clear: to institute a sensible set of standards and processes to ensure that everyone would have a uniformly excellent bike mount / cage / bottle experience.
The UBI immediately went to work, forming fourteen committees, each with overlapping (and to untrained eyes, often contradictory and / or redundant) goals. Some would later question the fact that none of these committees included actual cyclists, bicycle manufacturers, or people who had every used a bottle or bottle cage in their lifetime, but that is because some people are nincompoops and do not understand the intricate dance of regulatory bodies and how difficult it is to negotiate with other committees and take their needs into account.
Some people argued that the UBI should have maybe just asked cyclists what they’d like, document it, present that information to bottle, bike, and cage manufacturers, and then get out of the way. But those people are, as recently made clear, nincompoops.
In a relatively short period of time (seven years), UBI arrived at its first spec for mounts, bottles, and cages. The 483-page document, called The Liquid and Viscous Matter Containment Regulatory Specifications, was regarded by all members of the UBI to be very thorough and official-sounding. To make a (very) long story short, it had concluded that:
The reactions to this specification were mixed, ranging from confusion to extreme confusion to bafflement. Especially over the whey. And the yak wool.
Compounding this problem was the fact that during this seven year period, the bicycle bottle industry had, on its own, pretty much settled on the bike bottle / cage / mounting system you frequently see on bikes today. Which is to say, there was tacit agreement that there should be some commonality between bottle diameter, and that mounting screws should be a certain distance apart.
This kind of thinking, of course, was pure folly, and the UBI immediately went to work prohibiting this ridiculous, non-regulated, non-evaluated, and definitely non-standardized system. Indeed, they went so far as to create an “Approved by the UBI” logo, which was to be affixed to all glass orbs of the appropriate dimensions, approved yak orb bags, and approved containers of whey.
Surprisingly, most people didn’t care about whether the UBI put a logo on their bottles or not, and went about their business, continuing to use the (highly illegal) bottle cage system you often see on outlaw bikes throughout the world.
Harmony and Lawfulness Prevail
In 1987, the UBI reconvened to make revisions to the The Liquid and Viscous Matter Containment Regulatory Specifications. This (new and revised) publication is 793 pages long, and holds the Guinness World Record for being the “longest book ever written that can be condensed into a single sentence without data loss.” Specifically, the specification specifies that the existing bottle / cage / mount setup is acceptable, with two crucial caveats:
The first point was pretty much expected. The second, however, proved to be a difficult nut to crack. This is due to the fact that there are thousands of different bottles, cages, and mounts, which in turn leads to approximately 10,000,000,000,000,017 combinations of the three, with that number rising at an alarming rate each day.
Luckily, the UBI is up to the task.
In order to ensure that everything works with everything, the UBI now requires every bottle, cage, and bike frame manufacturer to submit samples of their product to their Testing Facility, which then rigorously tests that new product against every existing product.
[Interesting Factoid: The UBI Testing Facility is a popular tourist destination, due in part to the fact that it now covers over 40% of the landmass of France and is the world's leading employer of college graduates with Philosophy degrees.]
The UBI is justifiably proud of its Testing Facility, which — upon completion of the 48 page application — the manufacturer can expect a thumbs-up, thumbs-down, or — most frequently — a “thumb vaguely and noncommittally waggled in the air” within a few short years.
Thus, Duane, thanks to the tireless efforts of the UBI, you can purchase a bike, bottle, and bottle cage from three completely different manufacturers, confident that they will work elegantly and perfectly together.
Or, if they don’t, you can always drill a new hole in the cage to make it fit the frame, or buy different bottles, or something.