I’m exhausted. Just cooked. I am tired in a way that I’ve never been tired before.
I think it’s obvious why.
Without really meaning to, The Hammer and I have managed to ride ourselves through a ridiculously ambitious season. We’ve both been faster than ever, and it’s been a long time since The Hammer has not finished a race on the podium.
But, behind the scenes, we’ve been wearing out.
For example, since racing the Salt to Saint, The Hammer has gone out on the road with me exactly one time. And during that one time, about three miles into the ride, she simply said, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” turned around, and went home.
I was not surprised; I was not confused. I knew what she meant.
Since then, we’ve just ridden mountain bikes. And even then, we will often look at each other at the top of a climb and ask things like, “Was that a lot steeper than it was a couple months ago?”
Because everything sure feels steeper.
And longer, too.
One More Finish Line
So a few days ago, I was texting with Kenny, who is racing the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow in the solo singlespeed category, as are The Hammer and I.
“My season is DONE,” I texted to Kenny. “I have ZERO motivation to train.”
Then I concluded with, “I’m conceding to you NOW.”
Of course, that’s only a partial truth. When it comes down to it — when we line up at the starting line — I know that I’ll get all charged up. I know that I’ll race hard. I know that I won’t get all lackadaisical and give up part way through the day. That’s not my way.
But when this race is done, I’m looking forward to months and months with no races at all. I’m looking forward to putting together a season next year that focuses less on racing and more on riding.
Because I am tired.
In addition to this last one big race, I’ve got some pretty big personal stuff going on at home right now. Not bad stuff, just big work-related stuff (and some behind-the-scenes blog stuff that takes some energy and time). And I’ve got to focus on it this week.
So, I’ll be back Tuesday, November 5.
’Til then, remember: ride for fun. And if you’re racing, do that for fun, too.
A Note from Fatty: Jim R — who comments on this blog as “Cyclingjimbo” — won the grand prize winner in the contest I put on for World Bicycle Relief last July. What was that grand prize? A full-on dream bike: a Trek Madone Series 7 Project One Frame with the ENVE wheels and cockpit and SRAM components.
Yeah. Like I said: dream bike.
I got Jim to promise to write up a story and take pictures once he got his bike, and he did not disappoint. So now, for your collective jealousy, Jim’s story of what it’s like to win this amazing bike.
We were on a family vacation in Lake Placid when Fatty had his WBR drawing. Our son, our niece’s husband, and a good friend of theirs had just competed in the Lake Placid Ironman the weekend before and we were all in recovery mode. Imagine my surprise when I opened my email that afternoon to read I had won the Trek-Enve-SRAM bicycle!
I spent a good part of that weekend on the Trek web site looking at the Project One options, and my brain was quickly saturated with the possibilities. I thought I had it all worked out and let it rest for a while.
Our first week back home was hectic, not only catching up on the work that accumulated while we were away, but also working with the great folks at High Road Cycles in Wayne, PA to figure out just what I would need in frame size, cockpit components, gearing, and so on. Pat and Isaac at High Road were absolutely great, and Isaac even set me up with a Madone to take out for a spin after a preliminary fitting, just to see how it felt.
About that time Fatty and The Hammer took off for Leadville, and the bike project understandably took a short break. On August 19 Fatty sent a message to Katie at WBR, Jake at Enve and Brandon at Trek with the subject line “Please help Jim (Project 1 Winner) with his Prize.” I was able to communicate with each of them very quickly and after a little more thought on the frame conveyed my choices. With my wife’s help (she is the artist in the family) I modified the color scheme of the frame a bit, and I have to say the final piece is really stunning.
Just about the time I was beginning to get antsy over when the parts would be delivered I heard from Isaac at High Road that (almost) everything was in and I could come in later that week to make the selections I would need to provide to make it a complete bike – you know, things like a saddle, tires and pedals. Here’s a picture of the frame in the shop last Friday evening:
I have to say I am really happy with the color scheme. And here is a picture of the final assembly, with my newest best friend Isaac, who along with ace mechanic Jude spearheaded the work in the shop:
I raced home from work this evening so I could get a couple of pictures with a clear background:
When I was surfing the trek site in preparation for placing the order with Brandon, I realized this bike would be in their signature series, so I had to come up with something appropriate. Here’s what I settled on, as a reminder of where this great bike came from:
Now all I need is a quiet afternoon at work or a weekend with some free time for a ride (wedding anniversary celebration this weekend with a short trip, so I am still waiting). This is one really wonderful bicycle, and the folks at World Bicycle Relief / SRAM, Enve, and Trek have been absolutely stellar in working with me to put this together. The bicycle is a far better machine than I am a rider, and I will do my best to live up to it.
Thanks to Elden for putting this great fund raiser together; thanks to Katie at World Bicycle relief, Jake at Enve, and Brandon at Trek for kicking in such great components to make this once in a lifetime dream a reality. World Bicycle Relief will remain high on our donations list for many years to come.
And special thanks to the great folks at High Road Cycles for working with me and putting this great machine together so well.
A Note from Fatty: If you read my post about Jaybird Bluebuds X headphones early yesterday, you’ll have missed that FatCyclist.com readers can now get a code to get 25% off MSRP, making for a pretty awesome deal. Check out yesterday’s post for more info, but make sure you order before November 5, because the coupon expires then.
I don’t pretend to be expert at fixing bikes. Mainly, I make no such pretense because I wouldn’t be able to get away with it. Specifically, as soon as I actually start to work on a bike, it becomes painfully evident that I am completely awful at it. I have no skill, and I have no knack. When I work on bikes, my hands get clammy and my fight or flight reflex kicks in.
If at all possible, I opt for flight.
Sometimes, though, I’ve got to fix stuff. Or maybe put a bottle cage on my bike. Or tighten something that’s rattly.
And more often than not, I use Fix It Sticks to get the job done. And — as strange as it feels for me to say this about any tool at all — I love these things.
What Are Fix It Sticks?
You might not have heard about Fix It Sticks, so this is what they look like:
They’re incredibly light aluminum sticks (you can also get stainless steel, but those aren’t as light) with a hex-bit-sized hole in the middle, and a bit permanently stuck in at either end.
I keep all of mine bundled together with a leftover rubber band from my Garmin 500 mount, making them easy to either drop in a jersey pocket or keep in my seat pack:
Then, when you need to tighten something, you just make a “T” out of a couple of the sticks, making an instant handle that gives you enough torque for most tasks:
It’s a simple and ingenious system.
Why I Love Fix It Sticks
The obvious use case for Fix It Sticks is field repairs. Fix It Sticks are portable and light, after all. Probably that was what the inventor had in mind when he designed these.
But the truth is, what I really love these for is my ordinary, everyday stuff. For my in-the-garage quick fixes.
Because, as it turns out, Fix It Sticks are incredibly versatile, and excellent for working in tight spots.
Let’s take a classic example: attaching a water bottle cage to your bike frame. using a triangle wrench or an L-shaped wrench, you’re going to have some awkwardness as you work the angles of the wrench around the frame and the cage itself.
With a Fix It Stick setup, though, you just take the stick that fits — by itself at first, which means the short (four inches), straight tool is unlikely to be in the way of anything — and twirl it between your thumb and fingers to get the bolt snug, then plug another Stick into the center hole and use that to tighten.
Of course, removing bolts from tricky spots works the same way: Make a “T” to start loosening, then use a stick by itself to spin the bolt the rest of the way out.
It’s noticeably easier than using other tools in hard-to-reach spots. And easy is good.
Of course, I have a wish list for Fix It Sticks.
The first item has to do with pricing. A pair of Fix It Sticks costs $29.99. And really, to cover most of the bits you use most often, you need a couple pair. And that’s $57.50 (though you can specify which bits you want for all those sticks).
The other thing I would wish for would be that I could get Fix It Sticks that just have sockets, letting me put bits in and take them out at my leisure. That may not be the greatest idea for Fix It Sticks that are going in a jersey pocket (I can imagine bits falling out of the Sticks as I ride along), but honestly, I’m using these a lot more often in my garage than in the field. This way, I’d be able to just have a couple of Sticks and the very complete set of bits I already own.
That said, the eight bits I have in the four Sticks I have take care of me for about 90% of the bike-related fixes I am capable of attempting, and I don’t have to worry about swapping bits in and out.
You can learn more about Fix It Sticks, as well as purchase them, at FixItSticks.com. Or if you click here to buy them at amazon.com, I get a little cut, too. Which I am in favor of.
UPDATE FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT A GOOD DEAL: The cool folks at Jaybird sent me a code Friends of Fatty can use to get a great deal on their Jaybird Bluebuds X. Get 25% off MSRP by buying your Bluebuds at the Jaybird store and entering JBFCBBX25 in the “Coupon Code” box after you’ve entered your payment and shipping info (shipping, by the way, is free for purchases inside the US).
Is this a good deal? You bet it is. With this coupon, you’ll actually be getting the Bluebuds for around $127, which is $10 cheaper than you can get them at the Amazon link I provided earlier.
This code expires November 5, so make sure you use it before then!
A Note from Fatty: I normally don’t do a lot of reviews in my blog, mostly because reviewing things requires that I think and take pictures and explain my reasoning.
But every so often, I use something for a while and realize, “Hey, I really love this thing. It has actually made my life better. I should write a blog entry about it.”
But then I don’t, for the aforementioned reasons (work, thinking, explaining). As a result, the list of things I really love and use but have not yet talked about much at all has grown pretty long.
Well, it’s time to remedy that. For the next few days, I’m going to talk about some bike-related stuff that I just love. Stuff I use all the time and think you might like too. So, these aren’t going to be reviews, per se, because reviews are generally about brand new things. Also, with reviews you generally expect some balance: a mix of what’s good and bad. Since, however, I’m not going to bother talking about anything I haven’t already said — up front — that I personally really love, you should expect the “what’s bad” section to be short, or non-existent. Sure, if there’s something I’d like to see different, I’ll say what it is and why, but mostly just because I’m a malcontent who must find fault in order to make myself feel superior.
Jaybird Bluebuds X
Whether I’m on a road bike or mountain bike, I sometimes ride with headphones on. Go ahead and judge me for that if you like. I can handle it, because no matter what you say, you won’t be able to take away from the fact that attacking the Jacob’s Ladder climb and then bombing the descent with Danger Days as your soundtrack is — quite frankly — pretty freaking fantastic.
And since I always carry my phone — which contains my entire library of music, divided conveniently into playlists for pretty much every riding mood — with me when I ride, Bluetooth headphones make good sense, because I don’t have to thread cables down through my jersey and into a pocket.
I’ve tried other bluetooth headsets, and some of them are pretty good.
But I love Jaybird Bluebuds X headphones.
And today I’m going to tell you why.
It Starts With the Packaging
This is going to come off as a little bit fanboi-ish, but I don’t care. The packaging for these headphones is awesome. How awesome? Well, I’ve had these headphones for about eight months now and I still have the box.
Oh sure, it starts out as a normal box. But instead of tape and everything-resistant shrink-wrap that could quite possibly send you to the hospital when you try to wrestle it open, the box is held closed with…magnets.
So you just take the green nylon tab at the right side, give it a gentle pull, and…
The only thing missing is a little “angel chorus” audio clip as you open it up.
So what do you get inside this package? Pretty much everything you need:
- The Headphones themselves
- USB-powered charging cable
- Lots of little parts to fit the headphones perfectly to you
- Carrying Case
It’s worth noting that the carrying case snaps shut and stays closed thanks to…magnets.
Magnets are so cool.
You shouldn’t think you’re going to love your Jaybirds right out of the box. Because you aren’t. In fact, you’re not even going to be able to use them right when they come out of the box.
First, you’re going to have to get the fit right. And that’s going to require some time and maybe even a little bit of patience on your part. But think about it: your bike — the one you’ve taken the time to get fitted right is so much better than if you’d just ridden it stock, straight out of the shop, without bothering to make it yours.
So yeah: you’re going to need to spend between ten and twenty minutes experimenting before you get the fit nailed on these.
After which, they’re going to fit fantastic, and when you put them on, they’re going to stay on ’til you take them off.
The Jaybirds come with all the parts you need to fit your ears, pretty much regardless of the size and shape of your ears:
That first row is three sets of earbuds: small, medium and large. They’re easy to match because their centers are different colors (a nice touch for people like me who are terrible at eyeballing sizes).
The second row are…well, I don’t know what to call them, but they hook up into your ears and hold the Jaybirds in place, nice and secure.
And then the third row are little cable guides, to remove any slack you might have left over, once your headphones are set up.
You’ve got a decision to make on how you’re going to wear these, too. If you’re just going to wear them while walking around and maybe use the built-in mic for making/taking calls, the buds and control go down and can hang loose around the back of your neck.
If, however, you’re going to use these as sport headphones — and I definitely recommend that this is what you should be using them for — you will want to set them up so they go over and behind your ears, with the controls just right over your left ear.
Photo courtesy of myself. Yep, a side-shot selfie. Not bad, eh?
Pretty nice and unobtrusive, right? And a helmet can go on just like it always does, without anything getting in the way of anything, either.
Here’s what it looks like from the rear side, so you can see the way the little cable guides work:
Photo courtesy of one of the twins before she went to school. Because my selfie-taking abilities have their limits.
See? No matter how big or small your head and neck, you can make these things fit you exactly how you like them. It’ll take you a little while to figure out which sizes work best for you for the ear buds and those other things I don’t know the names of, but you’ll get them. And then you don’t have to mess with them ever again.
OK, so now let’s talk about why I like using these headphones.
The battery lasts for hours and hours
Back when I first got these headphones, I went on a weeklong trip to Chicago…and I forgot my charger. I was sure the headphones wouldn’t last for the hour I planned to run (yeah, I was training for the half Ironman back then) every day, but figured I’d use them ’til they ran out.
But — even though I used them for an hour a day for five days straight, and then used them to watch a movie on my computer for most of the flight home — the battery didn’t run out. Which meant it was good for at least seven hours of use between charges. Which is long enough for at least most of the bike rides you’re likely to head out on.
Once you’ve gotten them fitted, the Jaybirds are easy to pop in your ears. And — unlike pretty much any other sport headphone I’ve ever had, they stay in. Comfortably and securely.
These headphones have controls built right in, and they stay right over your left ear. Three easy-to-feel (even through long-fingered gloves) buttons give you the ability to control volume, start and pause the music, and skip tracks (forward and backward). Which is all you need.
I’ve had my Jaybirds for about eight months now, and in spite of the fact that I sweat my corrosive man-sweat on them constantly, they work just fine. Just as well as when I got them, in fact.
It’s almost as if the makers of these headphones anticipated that I would not be sitting quietly in a cool, dry room when I used these.
Biking and Running
I’ve run with these on for an hour (or very occasionally, more). I’ve biked with them for hours and hours. They’re comfortable. They stay on. They stream music from your phone via Bluetooth very, very easily. And they don’t short out just because you happen to sweat.
Seriously, I love these things.
Are the Jaybird Bluebuds X perfect? Nope. There are a few things I wish they did better:
- Signal: I put my phone in my jersey pocket when I use these, and it’s really obvious that the Bluetooth antenna on the headphones is on the left side of my head, because if I put my phone in my center or right pocket, the sound breaks up. So I’ve had to get used to putting my phone in my left jersey pocket for these headphones to work great. [Update: Jaybird says this is not typical behavior and has sent me some remedies to try; I'll update this post if these remedies work]
- Social Mode: I never wear these when I’m out riding with someone else, because you can’t really leave one earpiece just dangling so you can hear conversation, and if you put the earpiece in, you can’t really hear very well. What I’d love to have would be a mode where the headphones sent both channels to the right ear, and used the mic on the left ear as a pass-through, letting me hear people and stuff around me. Then I’d be able to have music in the background, but not feel isolated.
- Oh, the Name. I hate the name “Bluebuds.” It’s just really an unfortunate name (if you don’t understand why, it’s not my job to explain). So I never use it. I just call them Jaybirds. And I fully intend to continue to do so.
And I sorta kinda was thinking about putting the price of these in my wish list, too. $137 is a lot of money for headphones — more than I’ve ever paid before. But here’s the thing: they’re that good. They’re light, they fit, they work, they last a long time between charges, and they’re designed for what we do. To me, that’s worth a premium price.
And in short, I love my Jaybird Bluebuds X headphones.
PS: If you want product details, go to the Jaybird website. If you’re ready to buy, let me recommend you use this link, and then enter JBFCBBX25 in the Coupon Code box after you’ve entered your payment and shipping info. This will get you 25% off the price (and shipping’s free within the US), which makes it the screamingest deal around ($127 and change). Make sure you make this purchase before November 5, though, because the code expires then.
A Note from Fatty: Earlier this week, I posted a blog entry asking for help on crewing for Kenny, The Hammer and me at the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow.
I was astonished at the number of people who said they’d like to volunteer. Or, more to the point, I was astonished that anyone at all wanted to volunteer. So, a huge thanks to everyone who emailed me, saying you’d like to help. Thanks (but not as much) also to all of you who commented, saying you’d like to help but have a good excuse for why you’re not going to.
I did, I am happy to announce, pick a crew chief. Today’s post is his application.
Purpose and Vision: To be the best damn Frog Hollow Crew that has ever crewed for the best damn single speed blogger that had ever blogged…and single-speeded (?)
I’m Zach…and to make my pitch short and sweet, I’ll start by saying simply that I’ve ridden countless road, mountain, and cyclocross races in my lifetime. And I’ve owned, operated and wrenched my own bikes for decades. I’ve put more miles on my bikes than all my cars combined.
But that’s not what makes me the most qualified person to be your crew chief for the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow. What makes me the most qualified crew chief is Fred.
Fred, in the simplest terms, is to a crew chief what Kit was to the Knight Rider. Fred is the most self-sufficient, sophisticated, and highly trained Recreational Vehicle you have perhaps ever witness. He makes Kit look like a child’s toy.
Why? Well, he’s handled no less than 10 grown men sleeping, eating and pooping in him over long weekends in Moab and on the White Rim Trail. (Handling the cooking and waste disposal alone is a task that should earn Fred the position. We’re talking about crewing for Fatty, right? The king of pooh and eating? Ok then…)
Fred has nimbly danced down the Horsethief Bench, all while towing a trailer filled with mountain bikes in the middle of November on a layer of snow and ice and slippery red clay. And then turned around and gone right back up that trail, taking us to safety.
Fred has warmed the bodies and souls of racers and riders at various events, and brings with him an ambiance and secure “homey” type feeling that a person needs when they’ve been running on gels and waffles for 18 hours.
Fred knows what a racer needs when he’s in distress. And he translates that need directly to me, and others who he has trust and faith in. Fred is a refuge for the struggling and a beacon to the hungry.
I’ve also started the TOSH cycling team and have plenty of support crew buddies at my disposal.
Fred and I await the mission, should you choose to accept us. And we promise nothing short of excellence, precision, and enough jocularity to keep you going for at least 26 or 27 hours…if that’s how long it does take you to finish the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow.
Zach Terry, and Fred
« Previous Entries Next Page »