The Fat Cyclist Explains: How to Win a Race

12.15.2011 | 12:24 pm

As anyone who has ever tried knows, I am really, really, really good at responding to email. I check my email account several times per day, and quickly respond to each and every message that has been sent my way.

The truth is, the main reason I started writing this blog was because I am great at tactical, logistical stuff like responding to email and organizing events and things. The actual writing of the blog is actually not at all fun for me. If I could, I’d just answer email all day. This is why I most emphatically do not currently have 14,808 unread email messages.


Just yesterday (because I’m totally caught up in my email inbox) I got a message from a reader with an interesting question. I would like to share it with you:

Hi Fatty,

I am reaching out to you because I know you win a lot of races, and so will be able to answer my question from a position of experience and expertise.

My problem is, I never win races, but I would really like to. And I just can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. I mean, I have a really nice bike. My shorts match my jersey, and they both match my helmet. As do my shoes.

I drink Red Bull, and eat nothing but Hammer Nutrition products.

To top it off, during the race I pedal really hard — so hard that after the race I’m often quite winded!

But I still never win!

Could you please explain what I’m doing wrong, and what I need to do if I want to win a race?

Best Regards,


I have good news for you Duane, and it’s this: You aren’t doing anything wrong, per se. It’s just that you’re not doing all the right things necessary for someone to win a race.

I believe I can assist you in this matter.

The Missing Ingredient

You mention, Duane, that you have purchased a nice bike, good bike clothes, and even foodlike substances engineered to give you the impression that you are racing.

Those are all good purchases, Duane, and you are to be commended for them.

But even as you have gone about buying things for your race, you have, sadly, neglected the most important — and dare I say most obvious — purchase of all.

You forgot to purchase the race itself.

No, don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one who seems to have forgotten to buy your way onto a podium. In fact, it seems that a startlingly small number of people remember to buy a race, as is conclusively demonstrated by this impressively three-dimensional pie chart:


Now, while you may rightly take comfort in the fact that you are not the only one to forget to buy the race, you should also consider the impressive pie chart below:


I think you will agree with me that the similarity between the two charts may in fact be more than mere happenstance. And not just because they’re the same chart with different words, either.

Up until now, you clearly have been in the largish “Didn’t buy / Didn’t win” portion of that pie. And that’s OK, don’t feel bad about that. Even in the elite pro ranks, that’s remarkably common. As we have recently learned, however, racers who really care about winning are doing the smart thing: buying the race.

Who Should I Buy It From?

Of course, Duane, the first question you’ll have when buying a race is, “Who do I buy it from?” Well, just like for everything else, you simply go to and purchase the race there.

Ha ha! Just kidding, Duane. I’m afraid buying a race is a little more complicated than that.

What you actually need to do is figure out who would win the race on her / his own merits. Write that person’s name down.

Next, assess who would take second. And third. And so forth. Write those names down, too.

In fact, you’d better go ahead and write down the names of everyone who could possibly beat you in this race.

These are the people you need to approach and buy the race from.

How Much Should I Spend?

Once you have found the person from whom you want to buy the race, you need to assess the importance of the race itself, so you can make a reasonable offer. Base prices per person for races are as follows:

  • Local or weekly race: $10.00
  • Regional race: $20.00
  • National race: $50.00
  • Grand tour: $9995.00
  • Singlespeed World Championships: $1.18

How Do I Conduct the Transaction?

Now we arrive at the most delicate part of this important aspect of winning a race: actually offering to buy it.

The best thing to do is couch the offer in ambiguous terms. The following are all excellent ways to do this:

  • The “Happy Coincidence” Approach: “I understand that you like money.” (Wait for response.) “Well, isn’t that a coincidence. I so happen to have some money, and I like winning. It’s almost as if we were meant to be having this conversation.”
  • The “Friendly Bet” Approach: “I bet you $20 that I win the race today. By which I mean, of course, if I win the race, you win the bet.”
  • The Polite-but-Firm Approach: “Here is some money. Now I would like you to please ride just a little bit slower than I do today. Thank you for your cooperation.”

But What If They Don’t Want to Sell The Race?

In rare circumstances, the person you are talking to will not want to sell you the race. That is unfortunate.

Unfortunate for the person who elected to not sell you the race, I mean. Because you can still buy the race. You just need to find yourself another racer whose “interests” coincide with yours.

And who is not necessarily averse to throwing an occasional elbow. Or to scattering tacks. Or –in rare and desperate circumstances — to having an unfortunate and ill-timed two-bike accident.

What Should I Watch Out For?

When you purchase a race, “discretion” should be your watchword. For example, all of the following ideas are not good:

  • Giving a receipt.
  • Wearing a jersey that proclaims, “I bought this race.”
  • Riding extra slow, just because you’re that confident you’ve got the race in the bag.
  • Keeping an email record of your exchange, as well as the hand-wringing that accompanies it.

Follow all this guidance, Duane, and you’ll be well on your way to a long and happy career as a race-winning cyclist.

Happy Winning,

The Fat Cyclist


  1. Comment by Jason | 12.15.2011 | 1:01 pm

    So….how many times have you paid The Hammer and your friends to let you win….?

  2. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 12.15.2011 | 1:04 pm

    I bet it cost Fatty plenty to buy off the Hammer in the Turkey Tri..Tight sweatpants my foot! :)

  3. Comment by Dave T | 12.15.2011 | 1:09 pm

    The question is how much per mile would Fatty be willing to pay the Hammer to not extend a planned run?

  4. Comment by roan | 12.15.2011 | 3:03 pm

    Fatty, not sure we are reading the same info in Duane (the Pain) email.
    Nothing there that says he bought the bike…so…=didn’t buy the bike and is probably trying to steal the race too. What a poser !

  5. Comment by j.b | 12.15.2011 | 3:19 pm

    Is it 9ET or 7PT?

  6. Comment by Loving the Bike | 12.15.2011 | 3:20 pm

    We’re looking forward to having you at #bikeschool tonight….as well as all your loyal fans. #bikeschool is a rocking good time and I can just imagine how insane things will get tonight with you leading the class. Good times…..see you tonight.

    If anyone wants more details about #bikeschool, check out


  7. Comment by Duane | 12.15.2011 | 3:50 pm


    Thanks for taking the time to answer my email.

    First of all, I didn’t steal the bike, or any of my fancy race clothes. I spent 5 months of salary on them. now unfortunately I don’t have much left to buy the race.

    What are your thoughts on doping for a win?


  8. Comment by davidh-marinca | 12.15.2011 | 4:08 pm

    Duane…and all racers. The most important thing is to focus on the Pie. Fatty does, and look at what it’s made him.

  9. Comment by davidh-marinca | 12.15.2011 | 4:32 pm

    I don’t think I was very clear.. On Team Fatty it’s the one(s) with the most PIE that are the winners. Look at that chart again. (those that purchase the race get very little pie) That’s a lot of pie left over for the rest of us. Yeah!!!

  10. Comment by Ed Hoffman | 12.15.2011 | 5:49 pm

    Duane is clever maybe he could write a guest post. thanks for the stuff on nutrition I really enjoyed that.

  11. Comment by Laura S | 12.15.2011 | 11:26 pm

    Thanks for the informative post. I have always wanted to know how to buy races, since that’s the only way I could win. I am saving up my $1.18 for next years single speed cyclocross world championship. That would actually be a bargain just for the tattoo, but how do I stay conscious after pounding all the beers they hand you?

  12. Comment by Kino | 12.16.2011 | 4:34 am

    Cheers fatty,

    That made me laugh out loud and seriously brightened my day.

  13. Comment by Hamish | 12.16.2011 | 5:01 am

    Good advice Fatty. I won my first club race this week without buying it, but now perhaps there’ll be a stream of people wanting to buy future races from me and I’ll make more than I would by actually winning. And I won’t have to train as hard.

  14. Comment by Homer | 12.16.2011 | 6:01 am


  15. Comment by DOM | 12.16.2011 | 7:50 am

    @Duane-every racer is broke. Why do think races cost $10, $20, $50?

    When you started talking about buying the race, I thought you might be suggesting gathering investors and buying a race, you know, like one that meanders through France for a few weeks in the summer. Didn’t some Texan try that?

  16. Comment by bykjunkie | 12.16.2011 | 10:48 am

    Duane? Vino? one in the same?

  17. Comment by Mark in Ottawa | 12.16.2011 | 10:54 am

    Thanks for this Fatty! It made me snarf out loud at work! Couple this with the tweets, and it’s pure entertainment genius!

    Mark (in Ottawa, Canada)

  18. Comment by Steve | 12.16.2011 | 11:01 am

    Obviously, you don’t do much wagering. I think the $20 bet should be that you don’t win the race. That way you pay off if you win.

  19. Comment by Big E | 12.16.2011 | 12:38 pm

    Gold… Pure gold.

  20. Comment by GJ Jackie | 12.16.2011 | 12:46 pm

    I’m so bummed. I used to love cheering for Vino. Add him to the long list of pro-cycling disappointments.

  21. Comment by 3d brian | 12.16.2011 | 2:16 pm

    I just so appreciate Duane asking the burning questions I have about cycling.

    I do think your answer is very narrow however – there are other methods out there like doping, taking a train, getting a friend to incorrectly mark the course, etc.

  22. Comment by roan | 12.16.2011 | 2:56 pm

    Duane, the only way you can win, if you can’t see that just riding is a win, is to Hop on the bus, Gus. No need to be coy, Roy
    No need for doping, you’ve all ready made it there.

  23. Comment by skippy | 12.17.2011 | 2:28 pm

    THis Guy knows how to win plaudits !

  24. Comment by Tes | 12.23.2011 | 11:55 am

    Only $1.18 for Singlespeed World Championships????


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