3 (More) Terms All Cyclists Must Know

01.23.2012 | 12:13 pm

A “I Found Myself Unable to Shut Up” Note from Fatty: Last night I was the second guest on TourChats (the first guest was Tara McCormick, the 16-yo woman who just went pro w/ team Exergy Twenty12). My part starts about twenty minutes into the show, and then goes for more than an hour. While talking, I — several times — found myself going on and on and on, and I’d be thinking to myself, “You’ve answered the question! Shut up now!” But I didn’t. I just kept going, often answering the question twice more, with slightly different wording.

And with that recommendation, how could you not want to go listen to — and watch — the exciting replay?


Bicycle technology and culture are evolving at a breakneck pace. Sadly, the English language has not kept up.

Today, I do my small part to rectify this problem. Or rather, I continue to do my now less-small (but still small) part to rectify this problem

Let’s begin. Already.


[tite-uh-noi-uh] (noun) – A mental condition prevalent among home mechanics, and becoming increasingly prevalent with the widespread adoption of carbon frames and components among cycing enthusiasts.

Tightenoia is the condition of having the two following contradictory beliefs, simultaneously:

  • If I DO NOT tighten this bolt a little bit more, it will not be tight enough, the component (e.g., a seatpost clamp, brake lever, stem) will slip when I ride, and the results will be catastrophic.
  • If I DO tighten this bolt any more, it will be overtightened. The bolt will shear, the component I am tightening will crack, and I will be forced to go to the bike shop and make up yet another story about how this happened due to something other than my own incompetence.

Tightenoia is unique among phobias in that one of your simultaneous, mutually-exclusive fears is almost always correct, and the one that is correct is always the one that you think is incorrect.

And don’t go trying to solve the problem by doing the thing (i.e., tightening vs. not tightening) you think you shouldn’t do, because that means you’ve changed your mind and now the thing you thought you shouldn’t do is now the thing you think you should do, which means the thing you thought you should do but now think you shouldn’t do is the thing that you should do.

And so forth.


[ess-see-eye] (acronym, noun) – SCI is an acronym for Soiled Chamois Index, a 1 – 10 scale indicating how frightening the event you just now avoided was, with 1 representing “just frightening enough that your sphincter clenched up” and 10 representing “so incredibly frightening that your sphincter clenched, unclenched, your bowels evacuated, you re-clenched, you passed out, woke up briefly, pooped again, and then re-fainted.”

Do not use number 10 lightly.

Sample events and their location on the SCI scale include:

  • SCI Level 1: While descending a fast, twisty piece of singletrack, you come around a bend to discover you are about to hit a hiker coming up the other direction. You brake hard, swerve, and successfully avoid the hiker, and even manage to say “Have a good hike” after you get around him or her.
  • SCI Level 5: Your downtube breaks as you descend a road at approximately 40mph. You manage to stop, but you are shaking so hard you cannot stand for several minutes, and you very nearly throw up.
  • SCI Level 10: Honestly, I have no experience with SCI Level 10 events, and I hope not to. If you’ve got one, please describe it in the comments.


[ess-ess-dee] (acronym, noun) – SSD is an acronym for Seasonal Stupidity Disorder (not Solid State Drives, nor Social Security Disability). This mental condition manifests itself throughout the year in people affected by this disorder through constant complaining about the current season, and always wishing it were some other season. Typically, the symptomatic complaints will be as follows:

  • During Winter: “I am so sick of riding on the rollers, and bundling up for an outside ride generates tons of laundry. Plus, with all those layers of clothes, you pretty much have none of the sense of freedom I usually associate with riding a bike. I wish it were spring.”
  • During Spring: “I swear, if it’s not raining, it’s muddy. Or if you go out on the road, there’s still all that sand on the shoulder and your bike gets all gritty and coated with worms and crud. And then you go out and it’s all cold and wet, but then halfway through the ride the sun comes out and you’ve got way too much on. And then once you shed all your clothes, it gets cold and windy and rainy again. I wish summer would get here.”
  • During Summer: “It’s too hot to ride today. Really, Autumn is the best time of year to ride is Autumn. The days are cooler, there’s still plenty of light, and the leaves are so beautiful.”
  • During Autumn: “I’m so burned out on riding. Honestly, I’m looking forward to just doing some spinning on the rollers and catching up with my NetFlix queue.”

This disorder should not be confused with CAWD (Complaining About Winter Disorder) which is actually not a disorder at all, but is a sign of being a normal person.


  1. Comment by wishiwasmerckx | 01.23.2012 | 12:25 pm

    I am guessing that we do not podium race on Fatcyclist.com?

  2. Comment by KM | 01.23.2012 | 12:43 pm

    I never had an SSD level 10 but I think I came close when I rounded a trail in Texas and came face to face with a large bobcat. It was just hanging out in the middle of the trail and I scared it as much as it scared me. The darn thing jumped straight up, landed and ran off. Jeez, those freakin cats are bigger than I ever thought! I think I was somewhere around SSD level 7. For there was definitely a hard clinch followed by a near release, but thankfully not quite. The bobcat ran off into the woods before I went to level 8 or higher. If it had been a mountain lion I can only imagine I’d have hit level 9 or 10 much quicker. My only other SSD experience involved my handlebar snapping while on a fast section of trail. I was able to stop before going tush over teakettle and required a few minutes to regain my sanity. Definitely a level 5 or 6.

  3. Comment by Dave T | 01.23.2012 | 1:07 pm

    No level 10’s but maybe a level 6 when I was on my first night ride at Demo Forest. I was using a flashlight taped to my top tube as a light. Half way through the descent on Sawpit my light would go off and on when I road over big rocks. In one section it came back on just in time for me to see that I was going to hit a particularly large boulder. An immediate endo followed by rolling down a hill in the dark. I was sure I would hit a tree but seemed to miss them. I was fine but my rear wheel was tacoed and something punctured the side wall on my rear tire. We straightened the wheel by placing it over a ditch and jumping on it. I then used a roll of electrical tape and a power bar wrapper to cover the hole in the side wall of the tire and road out. The following week I got a much better light.

  4. Comment by Johnny29er | 01.23.2012 | 1:38 pm

    Here is a story of Sid Taberlay hitting a bear at a NORBA event in Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho.


    I am pretty sure that hitting a bear rates a level 10 on the SCI

  5. Comment by Fishsalsa | 01.23.2012 | 1:54 pm

    I swear, I looked left and there was nothing coming as I approached the intersection. Hands were on the hoods since there was a stop sign, but my preference was to roll through if it was clear as it is in the middle of a descent, and I LOVE descents. Seeing nothing to the left, I looked right. Car coming, but still a ways away. Plenty o’ time to go. One last check to the left. Somehow, I had missed the oncoming minivan that was now RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! Hard brake as the van flashed, rear tire lifted and I said a quick goodbye to this cruel world. Incredibly, the timing was such that I completed the flip as it went past. Ducked head, ‘tuck and roll’-ed (i.e., skidded), thanked the Lord for helmets, bounced up, grabbed my ride as it bounded across the road. Sat for about 20 minutes to let the adrenaline and the shakes to subside. Maybe not a 10 – frankly, no time for all that rear action – mostly I was just happy to be alive and able to ride home. Slowly, and way more cautiously.

  6. Comment by Wash | 01.23.2012 | 2:11 pm

    Night MTB, 4 of us tearing through the woods in a pretty tight group. A buck suddenly leaps right through the middle of our group in panic mode, hooves scrabbling on rocks, somehow not touching anybody. It was through and gone before any of us could react. We all go adrenalin-toxic and fall off our bikes. “How did we not just die?” we keep saying.

  7. Comment by iRide | 01.23.2012 | 2:16 pm

    I’m going to Mexico for a couple weeks, I hear SCI 10s can happen without any fear involved.

  8. Comment by Mark | 01.23.2012 | 2:28 pm

    Out on a ride I do frequently so I’m just cruising, deep in thought. Subconsciously note a couple vehicles up the road. On the next glance there is a big pickup passing a car pulling a trailer, filling up both lanes. The paved “shoulder” is about 4″ wide. Fortunately, I’ve done enough racing and pace line riding that I was able to hold my line as the three of us passed all within about a foot (it seemed) of each other. There wasn’t even time to bail out into the ditch! As soon as the event passed, the SSI factor of about 7 kicked in and I just trembled as I rode for the next 15 minutes. That was worth a letter to the editor and a “thank you” to my higher power!

  9. Comment by Mateo | 01.23.2012 | 3:32 pm

    I had an experience with all three in one: Tightenoia when my seatpost slipped (continually) while on a hilly ride, when I broke the bolt overtightening it in an moment of SCI and had 30+ miles to ride home it made me concerned enough for an SCI of 2, and I thought “if this were Winter, I would be inside watching NFL games”…truly a sign of SSD.

  10. Comment by MikeL | 01.23.2012 | 3:48 pm

    The closest I have come to a SCI Level 10 was due to my first wife’s reaction when she found out I bought another bike. Oh the humanity!

  11. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 01.23.2012 | 3:54 pm

    SCI 0.5 – I’m grading it thus since it was when I fell over still clipped in at a stoplight for the first time. I wasn’t sure I was going to die, just wanted to at the moment. I thrashed around for what seemed like 10 seconds trying to extricate myself. Of course the guy in the big Ford diesel truck right next to me sees it all but is friendly enough to roll his window down and check on me.( I’m pretty sure his girlfriend smacked him for laughing and told him to.)

    SCI 2 would be the lady I saw coming up to the stop sign from a side street while I’m bombing down the main street at 35mph(45 limit). The whole time she’s looking away to the right, never a glance left til she guns it to take off again after her “stop” – which pretty much amounted to tapping the brake – and sees me whizz by about a foot in front of her grille. I couldn’t pedal for a while I was so shaky and I’m pretty sure my butt was suction-cupped to the seat so it’s good I was able to coast for a while and didn’t have to stop…

  12. Comment by Ahren | 01.23.2012 | 3:55 pm

    I would like to proffer Flat-anoia. The constant nagging fear that your tire pressure is low. Usually made worse when you have a high head wind or when you hit a rock and it makes a sharp noise. Bottom line is, when you have a flat, you will definitely know.

  13. Comment by KM | 01.23.2012 | 3:55 pm

    Huh, apparently I need to proof read my posts. I meant “SCI” not “SSD.” What’s wrong with me? Also Mark’s post reminded me of getting stuck on a narrow two lane bridge while a bull-hauler (semi-truck) passed another bull-hauler on the bridge. I had about 1-2 feet (although it felt like 6 inches) between me and the passing semi-truck. He was going so fast, the blast of air almost knocked me off the bridge. I truly believed I was on my way to biker valhalla, and had to literally pry my hands off the bars once the shock wore off. I know I had a religious experience.

  14. Comment by Jason | 01.23.2012 | 6:11 pm

    SSD 7 maybe?: My brother and I were descending down the mountain at Beaver Creek when I slammed on the brakes after rounding a corner because a bear was in the middle of the trail. I told my brother to calm down and that bears are naturally afraid of humans. The bear did not appear to be afraid of us. I told my brother to calm down and that I had been in this situation before and during that previous time, yelled out and the bear ran away (but the previous episode was at a much greater distance). I told my brother that I had not calmed down enough to yell out yet. I explained that I could yell, but I was unwilling to take the chance based on just one past experience. What if yelling ends up provoking an attack? I told my brother that under no circumstances, should we run. After deciding the bear was not going to move or run away and appeared to even slowly move towards us, I decided that we would slowly shuffle sideways off the trail down the mountain and see what happens. The bear moved towards us, but stayed on the trail and we were able to increase the distance between us and the bear by moving down the mountain. New problem. We no longer have our bikes and were miles on top of a mountain. In fact, the bear is now sitting on our bikes chewing on the seats and water bottles. We actually call the concierge at Beaver Creek and tell them we had a bear situation on the mountain and might need some help. They never find us or my directions were off by one switchback. After what seemed like forever, the bear finally got bored with our bikes and moved up the mountain. We were happy to be alive and when we get to the bottom, we call everybody we knew and talked about how we just survived a bear encounter and show off the battle scars on our bike to anyone that will listen (and even those that won’t).

  15. Comment by Jason | 01.23.2012 | 7:11 pm

    Or rather SCI… I just looked at the comments assuming they were trying to describe a potential 10.

  16. Comment by Sean | 01.23.2012 | 8:20 pm

    My wife surprised me with a brand new Carbon Giant Defy on Saturday. I have a serious case of Tightenoia!!!!

    Great post….as usual. As I type this I am wearing my brand new “I am riding sweeper today” shirt. Keep the rubber side down.

  17. Comment by Ben | 01.23.2012 | 9:14 pm

    SCI 10 – You’re riding along in the lead group of a major cycling tour. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an overzealous French media vehicle swerves around a tree and veers into one of your competitors. This causes him to fall into the path of the rider beside you and in an attempt to clear him, he runs off the road, catapults up and over his handlebars and lands in a barbed-wire fence. You realize that this could very well have been you in the fence and continue cycling along having just encountered a SCI level 10.

  18. Comment by roan | 01.23.2012 | 9:31 pm

    @iRide, I’ve heard that 10s are Standard ‘Issue’ there.
    Can you get enough nourishment with just beer ?
    Worth a try.
    My own SCI, ZIP, Mind Blocking works, or I would never ride. To think about it would be like going uphill without a pedal.

  19. Comment by Scott | 01.23.2012 | 9:37 pm

    How should I rate the split second before I crashed into a large cholla cactus? I guess that’s a “3.”

  20. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 01.24.2012 | 12:27 am

    Fatty, I think you deserve some credit!
    (off topic, but worth a comment)
    Interview with the Bottle Boy
    From Tour de France to Shark Tank
    Seven questions with Clean Bottle creator David Mayer

    While he gives credit to Bill Walton, and his own exploits of ‘running’ around France, and some tv show called ‘Shark Tank’ we all know who really is responsible….Fatty!

    Those who have read Fatty’s Book will know what how he helped Assos and their ‘Luxury Body’ campaign (page 22, “Or we could just pray the Fat Cyclist tears…. ).

    I’m confident that Fatty was just as instrumental in making the bottle a success(???).

    Maybe you were question number 8.

  21. Comment by Chris | 01.24.2012 | 6:46 am

    Does anyone else find the flashing add at the start of the post a bit distracting and annoying?

  22. Comment by nh_joe | 01.24.2012 | 9:22 am

    Yes! I just scroll so that I keep it off the page. Fatty – Don’t write anything important next to the CC ads!

  23. Comment by Bernie | 01.24.2012 | 9:39 am

    I suffered a SCI 10 somewhere near Augusta GA, Triple Fork Trails. Long story short: NEVER EAT AT BOJANGLES PRIOR TO A RIDE!!!

  24. Comment by Anonymous | 01.24.2012 | 9:47 am

    After all these years you still make me laugh, thanks.

  25. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 01.24.2012 | 12:46 pm

    I just realized this guy saw the antelope coming – I’d say at least an SCI 5!


  26. Comment by Charlie | 01.24.2012 | 12:58 pm

    I can’t even imagine what a SCI 10 would be when Fatty only gives the broken down tube at 40 mph a 5. I’m sure it means definite ICU time and maybe even a funeral. I think my seeing a truck moving at 50 mph a foot away going the opposite direction only rates a 3 to 4.

  27. Comment by Jim | 01.24.2012 | 3:23 pm

    Most people can only register about a 6 or 7 SCI; 8 or higher takes moments, minutes or even hours to set in. Even occurrence of an SCI 8 or higher don’t necessarily result in instaneous poopulation; the poopulation may occur a couple minutes later when the lizard brain realizes what just occurred. I had probably an SCI 6.5 some months back descending a rocky hill at perhaps 25 MPH. I hit a 1′ tall rock that I had somehow missed (due to blurred vision from the speed). It acted like a ramp and I was thrown up onto a side hill adjacent to the trail as if it were a half pipe. I was still moving at great speed, then was forced to ride off the embankment, a 3-4′ drop, to avoid running head on into this tree. So I dropped straight down the vertical embankment into the rock field I was trying to avoid when I first hit the rock/ramp. It was greenstick fracture country. I bounced through the rocks totally out of control, had a few incidents where the rear end bounced up and started to get in front of the front end, may have bashed my knees on the top tube a few times, but then eventually slowed and coasted out the bottom of the hill onto the road marking the trailhead. I had to make a mandatory stop to drop my guts about 30 seconds later when I realized how close I had just gotten to a free helicopter flight. So there I was, involuntarily polluting this conveniently placed little bathroom kiosk at the trailhead, and hyperventilating. It beat crapping my pants, but not by much…

  28. Comment by Mark in Ottawa | 01.24.2012 | 3:32 pm

    This is great stuff! Thankfully I’ve never done anything worthy of over an SCI 4 or 5…your standard crashing while bombing down the side of a mountain on a road bike…painful, yes…SCI 10 worthy…nope.

    Your description of the stages made me laugh so loud that my coworkers gave me a funny look! Thanks!

    Mark (in Ottawa, Canada)

  29. Comment by Kukui | 01.24.2012 | 10:58 pm

    Loved the TourChats interview, Fatty! And, while I can’t say I have (or ever hope to) experienced SCI, I certainly have a hard case of SSD right now…

  30. Comment by Riza | 01.25.2012 | 12:13 am

    SCI 10 contender?

  31. Comment by thegumtree | 01.25.2012 | 11:29 am

    or perhaps this one?

  32. Comment by Spencer | 01.27.2012 | 11:50 am

    My SCI – 5 is chamois-related. On the 14-mile Porcupine Rim trail, our group pinch-flatted out of all of our spare tubes. This was at mile 4.5 (1/2 mile into the 10-mile downhill). My brother borrowed a tube from a dude and gingerly rode out to get the car while I walked the 10 miles. I got serious butt chaffage. Normally, not a big deal. Before the ride, however, I had a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich, and now I had to relieve myself. Spicy chicken expulsion flowing past chaffed arse was terrible. I was nicknamed “firecrack.”

    My SCI – 7 (This was in Alpine, so Fatty knows where this happened…). I was in 2nd grade. I was with my dad and his buddies riding down Chatfield Hill in Alpine after riding up to the Hog Hollow saddle (this is before we knew there was a downhill into Fort Canyon). My dad and his buddies took off down the hill, and I tried to keep up. However, my (rigid Giant Rincon 24″) fork was bent from running into a parked car the day before. As I hit about 35mph, my handlebars shook and that’s the last I remember. Apparently I landed face first on the asphalt and slid for a good distance. Some scalpels and local anesthetic scraped out the road rash and I was in bandages for a few weeks. 2nd grade.

  33. Comment by Bruce E | 01.29.2012 | 8:29 pm

    SCI level 9–elbowing steering 80 miles into the Bend Century, going down a steep hill at about 50, drunk redneck passes us in pickup and attached 5th wheel camper. Missed clipping me by about 2 feet, made me swerve. Felt front tire wash out, then got it back somehow without going down. Not a smart place to be elbow steering…


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