I Can’t Even Count the Times…

11.9.2011 | 1:12 pm

I don’t know how many years I’ve been riding. That may seem a little odd, considering that it’s my one and only form of recreation, but it’s true. The problem is, I didn’t realize when I started riding that it was going to become my thing. So I just started doing it.

And now, when people ask, “How long have you been riding?” I have to make up a number. For the past five or six years, that number has been “Fifteen years.” Though — by working from a recollection that I did my first Leadville 100 about two years after I started riding, I’d say that the actual number of years I’ve been riding currently stands at sixteen.


And that’s too bad. I should have kept track. And you know what? That’s not the only thing I wish I would have kept track of during the years I’ve been riding. If I could go back in time to when I started writing, I’d tell myself, “Hey, buy a blank book, label some pages with categories, and keep track of things you frequently do when biking!”

Why? Well, because those would be some startlingly cool (or, sometimes, depressing) statistics.

For example:

How many times have I done my “backyard” rides? When I first started riding, Frank was my backyard ride — the ride I did more often than any other, because I could do it right from my house. Now Corner Canyon and The Alpine Loop are my backyard rides. Ideally, it would be interesting to have stats for each of them (have I ridden Corner Canyon as many times as I’ve ridden Frank yet?), but the most interesting thing to know would be how many hundreds of times I’ve ridden an extremely familiar trail or road, without ever getting sick of it. I’ll bet I’ve done 3,000 backyard rides.

How many times have I done my favorite ride? Tibble Fork is my favorite ride in the world, but how many times have I been up there. Fifty maybe? Perhaps more, perhaps fewer. If it’s only 50, that doesn’t seem like enough. In fact 100 times isn’t enough.

How many times have I crashed? If I’m counting mountain bike rides, I would guess I’ve probably fallen 200 times. Now that I write that down, it seems like that’s a lot. Like only a klutz would fall that many times. Which is why I’m inclined to believe it’s probably a reasonably accurate guess. If I count road biking, that’s one number I can actually report, because it’s so small: just once (that I can remember right now, anyway).

How many times have I fallen badly enough to draw blood? This will, of course, be a subset of the previous statistic, though I’d guess it’s a pretty large subset — maybe 60% of my falls have drawn blood.

How many times have my falls resulted in a permanent mark? Well, my wedding ring finger turns up at the tip, there’s the scar going from my nose to my lip, and then there are my knees.

Yeah. About my knees. I think it’s safe to say that both my knees are nothing but scars now. As in, there is no original, non-scar skin on my knees. I’ll bet my knees and shins have fifty scars.

How many near-misses have I had? I’ll bet I’ve had 500 near-crashes. Which means, I think, that I almost crash 2.5 times as often as I actually crash. No, that number is too high. Let’s change it to 400. Of those, I’d say fifty are times where it was so close that I got an adrenaline rush and accompanying shakes.

How many energy gels / bars / chews / waffles have I consumed? There was a time when I used gels pretty much every ride. I think back on that now and wonder what I could have possibly been thinking. That said, I now look for excuses to eat Honey Stinger Waffles. But that’s different. I’ll bet, if all energy food products are lumped together (which, by the way, would be really gross-looking), I’ve eaten 2,000. I wince a little at this, but bet it’s reasonably accurate.

How much peanut butter have I consumed? If I consider only the peanut butter I have consumed either immediately before, during, or immediately after a ride, I’ll bet I’ve had had 7,000-sandwiches-worth of peanut butter. I’m not exactly sure how to express that in gallons.

How many tubes have I used? This is an interesting question, because while it would be easy to express in a total — probably eighty or so — if I were to express it as a graph, it would look something like this:


That sudden drop in the number of tubes I need to use coincides with when I started using tubeless tires on my mountain bikes. And it continued to drop when I went to tubeless tires on my road bike. I’m happy to say — and have just thrown salt over my shoulder so as to prevent the jinx — that this year I have not had a single flat on any of my bikes. Between many fewer flats and improved handling of both mountain and road bikes, tubeless tires have — more than almost any other advance — made biking so much better for me.

How many strokes of air have I put in tires with the floor pump? Would it be outrageous to guess a million? The thing is, if I were to diagram use of floor pump over time, it would go in the opposite direction of the “number of tubes” chart above. Because while tubeless is awesome, you do have to top off with air more often.

How many times have I listened to Renegades of Funk? I’ve explained before that of all power songs in the world, there is one that powers me like no other: Rage Against the Machine’s “Renegades of Funk.” It’s my secret weapon for climbing fast. I bet I have listened to that song two hundred times. It works every time.

How many jerseys have I owned? How many socks? How many bottles? I have quite a few jerseys right now. But I certainly haven’t kept all of them. And for every two jerseys, I probably a pair of socks. Which means, I guess, that I’ve owned the same number of socks and jerseys. I’ll bet 150 jerseys, and 75 pair of socks.

And the bottles. Don’t even start me on the bottles.

How many bad days have turned into good days? How many times have I been riding and taken what had been a cranky, miserable mood and turned it into an excellent mood? Or started a ride in outright despair and — over the course of a ride — brought myself back from the ledge? Combined, I’ll bet at least a hundred times.

How many insights have I had / problems solved? I’ll be out riding and suddenly a solution to what I thought was an unsolvable problem occurs to me. Somehow, turning circles with my legs over and over and over seems to trigger inspiration. I’ll be this has happened fifty times.

How many times have I bailed on a ride because I was lazy? There have been times when I’ve skipped riding. Not for a real reason, either. Just because I didn’t feel like it. Because I was lazy. I’ll bet that’s right around 75 rides I’ll never be able to recapture.

How many times have I bailed on work because I wanted to ride? None. Ever. My work ethic would never let me do that. (Hi current and former managers!)

How many times have I been to Moab? Thirty or so — generally a couple times per year. That’s like having a couple extra Christmases every year.

How many bikes have I owned? This, probably, needs to be the subject of a blog post of its own. I already know the first line for it: “I know, it’s time I admit I have a problem.”

How many miles have I ridden? This is, in fact, the question that triggered the idea for this whole post. In sixteen-ish years of obsessive cycling, how many years have I ridden? I wish I knew, but this is one number I couldn’t even take a realistic stab at.

How many hours have I ridden? On average, four days per week, times two hours per day, times forty weeks per year times sixteen years. Only 5,120 hours? Well, that doesn’t seem like a lot.

How many times have I smiled or laughed while riding? Enough to make all the other stats irrelevant.


  1. Comment by Andy | 11.9.2011 | 1:27 pm

    Isn’t the answer to most of those questions, not enough. Especially the one about the number of bikes.

  2. Comment by Mark in Ottawa | 11.9.2011 | 1:31 pm

    Well this was a very cheery entry! Nice counterpoint to yesterday – a real affirmation of why we ride and continue to ride.

    I’ve often wondered about how many miles I’ve logged and how often I’ve bailed on a ride…

    As for crashes, I’m probably at around 8 on the road in my adult life, with one being fairly serious (it left me with a cracked top and down tube [on a steel frame] to give you an idea).

    Mark (in Ottawa, Canada)

    Ps. 150 jerseys? Really? Wow…and I thought I had a problem ;-)

  3. Comment by Lana | 11.9.2011 | 1:32 pm

    Scarred knees are how you know you are living the good life.

  4. Comment by Erik | 11.9.2011 | 1:37 pm

    I don’t know how many times I’ve done any of the above, because of my most dramatic crash. Iwas Mountain Biking North Table Mountain in Golden, Colorado with some work buddies. We were on the top, on singletrack. I was riding sweep, as is the wont of us Fatties. Gentle, rolling downhill singletrack threading amongst the boulders and rocks. All my buddies made it through the pinch point, where the trail threads between 2 boulders and it’s just barely wide enough to pass through.

    I had picked up enough speed that I hit the left boulder and my bike and I became airborne. I endoed and uncliped in mid-air. I landed helmet-first on a boulder, splitting my helmet, hand, and knee. I was still conscious enough to wonder “Where’s my bike?” when…


    My Gary Fisher Aquila fell from the sky on top of me.

    Lights out.

    That day was still one of my best on the bike.

    That is an awesome story. And I’ll bet a pretty awesome set of scars, too. – FC

  5. Comment by Fifth Column | 11.9.2011 | 1:44 pm

    Only one road bike crash?????

    You’ve never truly lived until you’ve been t-boned by a car pulling a “California Stop” at an intersection.

  6. Comment by KM | 11.9.2011 | 1:46 pm

    Whoops! You jinxed it now Fatty. Just thinking that you never flat with tubeless tires brings the all seeing eye of the flat god upon you. Yep, it’s only a matter of time now. I can prove this, I did a 24hr. race and my three teammates gave me crap for riding tubes. I will wax biblical for the remainder…..

    Oh, they boasted mightly about never needing to change tubes b/c their prophet “Stan’s” protected them. I had to endure their barbs and shamefully aired my tube filled tires to their required pressure. However the vengeful flat god smote them!

    By the end of the race all three of them were covered in the goo of Stan. Oh, they wailed mightly whilst picking large mesquite thorns out of their sidewalls and raining curses upon their prophet!! All the while, the flat god mocked them. They were further brought to submission and forced to to apologize a la “Liepenheimer headlock” by the acolytes.

    I will go to the alter and intercede on your behalf so you won’t suffer a similar overly dramatic fate…..

    Thanks. I think I’m gonna need that. – FC

  7. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 11.9.2011 | 1:47 pm

    Oh Fatty, you cruel master! I was going to stay inside nice and warm, but you’ve pushed me out the door, into the elements ( mid day sun, light breeze, 55 degrees) to ride my backyard ride.

    Thank You

    Glad I could be the trigger that got you out the door! – FC

  8. Comment by Obstinate Roadie | 11.9.2011 | 1:49 pm

    That’s a good start — how about:

    How many pounds of salt have you secreted through your sweat pores?

    How many times you have you accidentally spit on, or worse, shot snot at, somebody behind you?

    How many times have you ended up with your own snot on yourself?

    How many times have you been very distant from a bathroom when you very urgently needed one?

    I love these — especially the one about the salt. I’d love to see a pile of salt the size of how much I’ve sweated out. – FC

  9. Comment by blair | 11.9.2011 | 1:51 pm

    all that matters is how many heartbeats, awesome memories, and friends have i added to my life?

    How many heartbeats on the bike? THAT would be an awesome number indeed. – FC

  10. Comment by Dopey | 11.9.2011 | 2:06 pm

    I’ll take a realistic stab at your mileage.You estimated 5120 hours. Let’s say you average a modest 16 mph. That’s just under 81920 miles, so taking into account a slight roundup in number you’ve clearly ridden 100K miles.

    What might be sad is to divide this by number of bikes owned. I suspect your used bikes have a lot of life left in them.

  11. Comment by Jeff Bike | 11.9.2011 | 2:33 pm

    If your MtBiking and somebody didn’t come home bloody you are not riding hard enough.
    Gee I must be a newbee, Backyard about 500 times.

  12. Comment by jack | 11.9.2011 | 2:55 pm


    The order form for your book is not working for me. What email address to I paypal send you money to please. I really want to buy your book!


  13. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 11.9.2011 | 2:58 pm

    How many donuts have you eaten while in the middle of a bike race? Again the answer: Not enough! :)

    Nice post Fatty!

  14. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 11.9.2011 | 3:09 pm

    I think you could take a guess at the total number of miles. Use your 5,120 number of hours estimate times a reasonable average MPH and there you go.

  15. Comment by Dan O | 11.9.2011 | 3:15 pm

    We used to call the Frisco to Breck ride on the peaks trail our “come back muddy and bloody, or don’t come back at all ride.” Everyone came back filthy and bloody. But it was fun getting that way!

  16. Comment by nh_joe | 11.9.2011 | 3:30 pm

    Interesting note about pumping up tubeless tires. Mine hold pressure for weeks without pumping.

  17. Comment by Fuzz Martin | 11.9.2011 | 3:31 pm

    So, Fatty, are you going to start keeping track of all of this information, today? It would be nice to see the stats in the side bar, from today forward (or from Jan. 1, 2012 forward).

  18. Comment by Christina | 11.9.2011 | 3:33 pm

    I like the rides where I realize that I was in a horrible mood, but still got out and rode. I love the rides where I’m just thinking and then realize that I’m already at the turnaround, because I’ve been thinking so hard. It’s a fabulous ride when I can let my brain just churn while my legs spin.

  19. Comment by Michael Clark | 11.9.2011 | 3:37 pm

    They say it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at something. :)

  20. Comment by skippy | 11.9.2011 | 3:42 pm

    Funny you should be talking about crashing when i had already blog/outlined the reason for today’s disaster !

    Your total mileage has got to be a lot higher than you are owning up for in this post !

    My latest post also covers the tribute to Sir(saintly)Jimmy Saville who if he blogged would rival your exploits !

  21. Comment by Dave T | 11.9.2011 | 3:50 pm

    At age 52 I’m thinking more about the rides yet ridden then the rides of the past. The buck list is long.
    @davidh-marin, ca I to was thinking of taking the day off but after reading today’s post I got in a noon time ride.

  22. Comment by fult23 | 11.9.2011 | 3:59 pm

    I could never compare to the number of falls you and many of your readers have taken. Nor could I compare to magnitude of many (especially Erik, sheesh!) But of the falls I have had I still carry a significant scar.

    I was riding a single track near Pisgah Nat’l Forest in western North Carolina. We had ridden the trail many times before and I enjoyed it for is scenery and serenity. Mostly, I liked the many creek beds you forded on the bike. It had been a rainy week in WNC so the trail was still pretty muddy and as I went to cross a familiar creek bed I realized that much of it had been washed out! My front tire shot out from under me and I was catapulted into the air. As I was descending back to Earth I saw the deadwood that populated the creek bed and I braced for impact. To this day, I can still see the tree branch as it lanced through my jersey and into my chest. I still count my blessings. To think a few inches in several different directions, and I would not be spinning whimsically in this comment now.
    Thank you for reminding me to walk down memory lane from time to time!

  23. Comment by Gabi | 11.9.2011 | 4:04 pm

    how many bugs you’ve eaten?

  24. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 11.9.2011 | 4:09 pm

    So hard to read these blogs! I fell off a horse in Sept and haven’t been on my bike since! And probably won’t be back on the bike until spring. I miss it so much. It’s my thing too and has been ever since I was a little girl.

  25. Comment by roan | 11.9.2011 | 4:32 pm

    Pause…for thoughts. Ah, my 1st Century was when I was 13. Friend & moi took a compass and state road map, set the compass for 50 miles on the map scale and made a circle on the map and looked for the towns on the circle. Prospect popped up, so it was ‘Prospect or Bust’. We looked like cooked lobsters upon reaching Prospect. Sun screen, the only screens were on the porch doors and nearly all bikes were what are now called single speeds. Unless you were rich and had an English 3 speed Racer. Funny the return ride seemed shorter the next day. That was 50 years ago, still riding and my milage is much, much higher and BELIEVE I have at least 35 years to go. NAW, what are two additional years…for another century.

  26. Comment by Santi M. | 11.9.2011 | 4:39 pm

    Renegades is also one of my “power songs”.

  27. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 11.9.2011 | 4:52 pm

    Thanks Fatty, the ride was well worth the effort,

    Hope to see other Fatties out here come Thanksgiving. Yann? Laura?

  28. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 11.9.2011 | 4:52 pm

    A question I’ve always wanted to ask–on the off chance that you DO get a flat while riding tubeless, what do you do?

    I get that they are lighter and avoid pinch flats. There are probably other benefits–please enlighten me. But what happens when I ride over a field of thumbtacks laid down by a nefarious evil henchman?

    It’s a little messy, but I get rid of whatever caused the flat and just put a tube in. – FC

  29. Comment by Marco | 11.9.2011 | 5:05 pm

    How about: How many times you’ve *truly* suffered on a bike?

  30. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 11.9.2011 | 5:47 pm

    Fatty. My calender tells me it’s Fall. Isn’t there an Awesome Couple we all know going to Africa soon?

    “In addition to the most important thing — that 1001 kids’ lives are going to be changed for the better — this means that someone is going to join Johan, The Hammer, and me in Zambia”

    Do you have your shots? Are there pictures? And have you decided to take the twins? Just a blog idea I’m sure you already have ready.

  31. Comment by MattC | 11.9.2011 | 6:32 pm

    Hey Fatty…can’t speak for the tubeless road tires, but I’ve been riding tubeless mtb for about 6 yrs now. I almost NEVER have to add air. My secret: well, for one, I use a sealant (used to use Stans, but have been using tubeless Slime for about 3 yrs now w/ no issues whatsoever, except that it’s FAR cheaper…buy the HUGE bottle at Walmart). The BIG secret it took me about a year to figure out was that when you mount the tires (ESPECIALLY if this is a remount or a used rim), WIPE THE BEAD SURFACE ABSOLUTELY CLEAN W/ A RAG! Then after mounting up the tire, I use a Q-tip dipped in sealant and re-wipe the entire bead surface on both sides of the tire, putting an every so light coat. THEN you pump it up and BAM, it just doesn’t leak. I an not kidding when I say that I can go 2 months w/out putting in air. And w/ the sealant? Not to jinx myself, but I’ve NEVER flatted yet in those 6 years. I routinely pull out thorns or just see little green donuts in the tire after a ride where the sealant did it’s job. Sorry..this got kinda long.

  32. Comment by MattC | 11.9.2011 | 6:37 pm

    After re-reading my post…just to clarify…on wiping the bead surface on a remount tire: do both the tire AND the bead of the rim (such as when you are rotating tires)…they both must be super-clean. On a new rim or tire, you STILL need to do the rim bead area…there must be not be even a particle of dust or it will leak). Hope that makes sense. Give it a try.

  33. Comment by Kukui | 11.9.2011 | 7:13 pm

    Bike/Maintenance: $3500
    Annual Bike Gear/Paraphernalia: $750
    Biking Snacks: $650
    Trip to the Emergency Room: $500
    Pure Bliss/Happiness/Excitement from Riding Bike: PRICELESS :)

  34. Comment by Mandy from KS | 11.9.2011 | 7:49 pm

    Crashes do not count unless they end up with you in the ER or Urgent Care. Thus I’ve only crashed twice.

  35. Comment by thule | 11.9.2011 | 8:45 pm

    (an over-examined life is not worth living. I have no rocks to throw.) between 01/01/05 and 11/08/11, I have rode 19,310 miles. I started riding/training in 2004 when I didn’t have an answer for this question: “if RAGBRAI is so great, why don’t you do it?”. my logbook is my reward and my coach. biking also helps me with processing work. when I am stumped with a problem, I say “let me pedal on it”. thank you SO much, Fatty, for eloquently expressing what the rest of us know!

  36. Comment by jacked | 11.9.2011 | 9:15 pm

    My how many question is – How many Fatties were at Iceman this past weekend in Traverse City, MI. I only saw one other flying the colors.

  37. Comment by Patrick #4091 | 11.10.2011 | 2:48 am

    Wonderful last line.

  38. Comment by Clydesteve | 11.10.2011 | 7:53 am

    Fatty – all that!

    @Erik – I so relate to you wondering where your bike was. On my big ER road bike crash which involved flying 30 feet through the air, I recall being still clipped in on one foot, and hanging on to the bars with one hand. My thoughts mid-flight?

    “I hope I can set my bike down gently.”

  39. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 11.10.2011 | 8:13 am

    The how many bike thing is becoming an issue at my house. :)

    The how much time will become an issue next summer, but there is resignation from the fam that there will be a lot of training going on next summer.

  40. Comment by chickenbocks | 11.10.2011 | 9:14 am

    Fatty, does breaking a bone count in the “drew blood” category if it didn’t leave a permanent mark? And if it was my tailbone, does it count more than once because of how long it took to heal? Strangely, I’m proud of my bike-related injuries. lol

  41. Comment by KM | 11.10.2011 | 9:27 am

    I love the question about how much salt you’ve sweated out. Alright here’s a few more questions I want to know and my answers:

    How many spiderwebs have you cleared out on MTB rides?
    Too many to mention.

    How many bee/wasp/hornet/deer fly bite/stings have you had?
    I know I’ve been stung by bees at least 5 times and wasps once. Deer flys…jeez, way too many times to count.

    How many near misses have you had with cars when riding on the road?
    At least a dozen and this past August I finally was dropped by a pickup truck. Thankfully I’m all better now (thanks for asking) and I’m patiently waiting to get my new road bike…Merry Christmas to me.

    How many times have you had something thrown at you while riding on the road?
    At least 10-12 times over the course of about 17 years of riding. My most memorable items were getting hit by a can of oil and a Big Mac. Pop/beer cans are the most popular items that I’ve had heaved at me but those two in addition to a ham sandwich were ones that actually hit me. Well the Big Mac hit my teammate directly, I just enjoyed the pickles, onion and and sesame seed bun. The ham sandwich just hit my wheel. I think they folks were just worried we weren’t getting enough nutrition and didn’t know how to conduct a hand off appropriately. The oil can is still a mystery.

  42. Comment by The Flyin' Ute | 11.10.2011 | 10:11 am

    Great post.

    Hi current and former managers. That was the greatest line today. Love it.

    Side note: Did you see that 7′6″ former NBA basketball player Shawn Bradley’s bike was stolen? Right out of his garage. He said that the only person in Utah that is tall enough to ride it was Mark Eaton who he called up to tell him about it.

    80cm frame. Keep on the look out for it. You’ll know it when you see it.

  43. Comment by Mark | 11.10.2011 | 10:56 am

    I see the blog morphing away from “Fat” cyclist (that’s a good thing). I expected to see, “How many pounds have I lost?”

  44. Comment by Nic Grillo | 11.10.2011 | 6:58 pm

    Start using Strava. It will make it waaay easier to keep track of all that stuff. Better yet, you will be able to see if anyone is doing it faster! Even Lance, er, Juan Pelota is on it now.


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