As a Serious Cyclist, I Demand You Take Me Seriously

11.24.2014 | 11:32 am

A Note from Fatty: I’m happy to announce that my second Best of book, The Great Fatsby, is nearly finalized and going to the printer next week.

I’m even happier to announce that I’m genuinely happy with how it’s turned out. It’s about 350 pages (fifty or so pages more than the first volume), the intros, edits and annotations actually make the reading experience better, and Velo’s Dan Wuori has an awesome Foreword…and Middleword…and Backword. Yes, really.

To check out the book—and the beautiful tecno-merino long-sleeve jersey also on pre-order—by Christmas, click here. Thanks! 

As a Serious Cyclist, I Demand You Take Me Seriously

I’ll thank you very much to not mock my lifestyle, for I am a very serious cyclist. I have made incredible sacrifices to get to where I am today. I want you to respect them for what they are, and to see me as the dynamic, steel-eyed figure I see myself as.

You want examples? Oh, I’ve got examples. You may want to sit down, though, because these are going to rock your world.


The overarching theme to my cycling is that I suffer. When I am riding my bike up a mountain pass (I do not trifle with things so mundane as hills), I evoke the image of a figure both heroic and tragic. “Who is this man?” passersby would wonder, if only there were someone to see me. “Who is this man who attacks the mountain with such cold fury? Such power? Such wrath melded with stoicism?”

People in the metal coffins they call cars—mere sheep, I despise them!—pass and look at me with what must be envy. I do not deign to return their gaze; they are mere sheep.

Instead, I ignore them and focus my energies—every nanogram of effort I can muster—into the pedals. “What emotional furnace drives him to push his body to its limits so? Is he paying penance? How is it possible that one man can exert such an extraordinary force of will?”

And lastly and above all, “Why does he suffer so?”

That is what they would say about me if they could look into my soul, if they had the capacity to understand how serious I am about cycling.

But they do not say any of these things. How could they? They do not (could not!) understand.

This is one of the reasons I hold them in contempt.

My Appearance

Look at me. No, don’t be afraid. Take a good long look. Is there anything about my appearance that does not indicate I am very serious about my cycling? 

My bib shorts are of the highest quality; the chamois alone is the product of more R&D than the automobile (a hybrid, I assure you) I drive when I am not on a bike. (Which, I assure you, is rarely.)

My glasses match my helmet, both of which match my jersey, which is as form-fitting as it is light. By the way, I resent my helmet, because my idols did not wear them and I consider them an insinuation that my bike handling skills are not sufficient to successfully resolve any situation that might arise.

Have no doubt that everything I own goes well with my shoes, and my socks are the proper length dictated by the most recent issue of Peloton magazine (which is the only magazine I find adequately serious for my cycling needs). 

My legs are freshly shaven, as are my arms. 

My face is studiously neutral. I have cultivated this expression so it appears this way at all times. You will never know whether I am about to attack or to be dropped.

My game face is my only face. I take my cycling that seriously.

Riding With Others

You say that you also ride a bike, and that we should ride together sometime? Well, I admire your audacity; I’ll give you that. But we could never ride together until I know a few key facts about whether you take cycling seriously enough to ride with my group.

First, I need to know whether you intend to wear that helmet with the visor clip on the ride. You know that’s a mountain bike helmet, don’t you? And that this will be a road bike ride? Don’t embarrass both of us by showing up with that.

Can you hold a speed within one one-hundredth of a mile per hour, without looking at a speedometer? Everyone in my group can. Can you hold your line within one millimeter (as a serious cyclist, I measure everything in metrics)? If you can’t, there’s no place for you in my group.

Under what circumstances do you ride in a paceline, and under which  is an eschelon preferable? What is the correct duration of a pull? How do you signal that you want someone to pull through? When did you most recently shave your legs?

I need to know all of these things. Fill out this form, make 15 copies, and I’ll get back to you. My very serious riding compatriots and I will think very seriously whether you are worthy of advancing to the next stage of the group ride interview process.


Tell me everything you know about Eddy Merckx. It’s important to me that you can speak about him in reverential enough tones and that you are fully versed in his life and racing statistics.

You don’t know that much about him, because he retired from cycling before you even knew professional cycling even existed? Obviously, you don’t take your racing history very seriously. If you can’t be effusive about someone who last raced about forty years ago, I don’t think we have that much to talk about. 

Fortunately for you, I have studied him at some length and will be happy to lecture you endlessly about the golden age of cycling.


I resent that you think, by being very serious about cycling, that I somehow do not have fun. I have exactly the right amount of fun. Two days ago, I did intervals specifically engineered to increase my capacity for fun: eight repetitions of thirty seconds of fun at my absolute limit, followed by two minutes of recovery. 

I can show you the the data from the event, if you’d like. I think you’ll find that I am 2% more fun than I was this week last year. That’s significant progress.

Besides, I do cyclocross. Cyclocross is fun. Last Sunday I raced a cyclocross event I peaked for. I wore a skinsuit for maximum aerodynamics, heckled other people within acceptable limits, and lectured all around me about how cyclocross is better in Belgium. 

And then I drank a beer. Beer is fun.

As long as it’s a serious beer.


  1. Comment by rohit | 11.24.2014 | 11:49 am

    OUI! … et tue parle Français , car en France la langue est le Français. Sauf si tu es en Belgique , ou de Cross , alors tu parle Flamand

    I see you speak French. That is a good, serious language coming from a country with a rich heritage in cycling. As a serious cyclist I now think more highly of you. – FC

  2. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 11.24.2014 | 11:49 am

    Cyclocross? Oh no. Say it aint so.

    I see you choose to mock this serious sport, where cyclists ride around in small circles in the mud, frequently dismounting and jumping over obstacles similar to those used by smaller breeds in dog shows. I now resent you. – FC

  3. Comment by MLB | 11.24.2014 | 12:22 pm

    We are not worthy! We are not worthy!

    “Wayne’s World” references are not sufficiently serious for this sport. Please try to quote “Breaking Away” or “A Sunday in Hell” if you are going to quote a movie at all. – FC

  4. Comment by Tim | 11.24.2014 | 12:25 pm

    A few weeks ago, I was riding a hybrid with appropriately sized tires on a compacted crushed stone trail. Going in the opposite direction, I encountered two “cyclists” riding road bikes. I could hardly contain myself from the embarrassment. Road bikes on a trail? I simply had to stop and adjust my coordinated sun glasses to collect myself. Thank you, Fatty, for being such a fine example of a serious cyclist. I can only dream about striving towards such a lofty seriousness.

    I wept silently while reading your comment. I commend you for your proper and complete dedication to this noble sport. – FC

  5. Comment by luis vasconcelos | 11.24.2014 | 12:31 pm

    How can anyone even question your devotion, to what state has this world arrived in which you, the mighty Fat Cyclist, has to lower yourself and write of your faith and devotion in cycling. It is truly a mad world in which the obvious has to be defended. Let me state that me as a long devoted Fatty tiffosi (owner of one of the original Pink Fat Cyclist jersey – only one in the Iberian Peninsula) I despair upon seeing such spectacle. Just like the Sports Director of the great italian cycling myth Gino Bartali once spoke of his athlete, after a stage win : “Do not touch him, for he is a God!”.

    While I am serious, I am also humble. Indeed, humility is one of my finest (although not my very finest) attribute. I am willing to take whatever steps are necessary in order to promote the more serious aspects of this sport. I am that dedicated. And serious. – FC

  6. Comment by Tim W | 11.24.2014 | 12:35 pm

    I followed your instructions and sat down before reading. Fortunately it was a chair made of porcelain because the seriousness, that I can only hope to aspire to, really helped move things along.

    I hope your toilet is carbon fiber and equipped with Dura-Ace. Otherwise you took a substandard poop. – FC

  7. Comment by Dave T | 11.24.2014 | 12:36 pm

    “My bib shorts are of the highest quality” are you saying you now have a Luxury Body? You have become quite serious indeed.

    I spend twenty minutes in front of the mirror each day, practicing my Assos Male Model pose, complete with the neutral stare. It is tiring, but I feel it is a necessary part of developing the look of a serious cyclist. – FC

  8. Comment by MikeL | 11.24.2014 | 1:06 pm

    So do you have moments when you despise yourself as you are driving to an event such as Leadville?

    No, as I drive hundreds of miles and spend thousands of miles to stay at a remote location for a week in order to do a one-day ride, I revel in my dedication to my art. Only a very serious cyclist would so thoroughly commit to such a gallant event. – FC

  9. Comment by BamaJim | 11.24.2014 | 1:09 pm

    I favor the “time trial” form of fun workout over the intervals. Try to hit the max sustained fun level and keep it there. Guess I’m not serious enough.

    Indeed, I am beginning to wonder whether you are serious at ALL. As penance, I demand you immediately go read the Wikipedia entries on Hinault, Merckx, and Anquetil, then write a ten page paper comparing and contrasting their Tour de France victories. You will be graded on content, style, and the degree to which I consider your paper sufficiently serious. – FC

  10. Comment by Liz M. | 11.24.2014 | 1:17 pm

    Just sat down and binge-read two weeks of posts; busy time at work and with sandwich-generation stuff. Thoughts, in random order:

    (1) Just bought the book, yay! Looked long and hard at that jersey, it is a beauty and well priced to be sure. I hope this is the beginning of a successful partnership so I can get one when I am more flush.

    (2) Re: possible reality show — I hardly ever watch them but from what I gather, many are designed to embarrass the participants as much as possible so I hope it is not like that. You are too kind of a soul . . . er, I mean, Serious of a Cyclist.

    (3) I assume you are done with 100 MoN posts? I was thinking of modifying mine (which you didn’t run) and pitching it to our local newspaper. With a nod to you and your blog as race organizer, of course.

    Happy Thanksgiving, all.

    3. I’m not done with 100MoN posts. Just wanted to take a little breather. More coming soon.

    2. I would never be embarrassed, because I never do anything that is not noble and serious.

    1. Thank you very much for buying this book. Although I am very concerned that it is not serious-minded enough.

    - FC

  11. Comment by Mike Kennedy | 11.24.2014 | 1:57 pm

    “And then I drank a beer. Beer is fun.”

    That sums up cyclocross for me as well : )

  12. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 11.24.2014 | 2:15 pm

    You failed to mention some of these finer points of a serious cyclist, pointed out to me by a very serious cyclist (he meant it, no sarcasm), when I was but a lowly trainee; Is the label on your front hub oriented in the right way (to be readable by the cyclist from his cockpit)? Do the labels on the tires align exactly with the tire valve? No valve stem covers? Are the “lawyer tabs” on the fork filed off? Is the tape securing your bar wraps precise, with the cut on the bottom?

    These are serious issues. I’m dismayed you didn’t include them and am wondering about your true level of “seriousness”.

    I treat these all as given. – FC

  13. Comment by Bart the Clydesdale | 11.24.2014 | 2:25 pm

    I am a very non-serious cyclist, evidently I about 175 degrees off from serious. I refuse to shave my legs, if vanilla gorilla is good enough for Dave Weins I figure I can skip the razor. I know nothing of Belgian, or French cycling champs from days of yore. I do race Cyclocross occasionally, but I do not drink beer.
    After realizing just how lackadaisically I take this cycling thing I might need to quit and take up whatever is 175 degrees from cycling, perhaps speed walking.

  14. Comment by fatty | 11.24.2014 | 2:28 pm

    I was asked to read aloud the “Suffering” portion of this, The Serious Cyclist’s Manifesto (which I now choose to call it). As a serious cyclist, I was happy to oblige:

  15. Comment by Roche Maier | 11.24.2014 | 2:44 pm

    Level.13 achieved. Mangia.Yio.

  16. Comment by BostonCarlos (formerly NYC) | 11.24.2014 | 2:53 pm

    I thought you didn’t race CX? What happened to you?

    I got serious. As should you. Stop smiling. – FC

  17. Comment by Brian in VA | 11.24.2014 | 3:10 pm

    Wow. Seriously?

    Very, very seriously. – FC

  18. Comment by wharton_crew | 11.24.2014 | 4:18 pm

    As a very very serious cyclist myself, I would like to offer you my custom-made-for-serious-cyclists-only alarm clock mp3. It’s the very very egregious sound of a bike being pedaled furiously while cross-chained. The incessant ‘click, click, click’ of sadness will certainly rouse you from your (serious) sleep and seriously motivate you to continue your seriousness throughout the day.

    You’re welcome.

  19. Comment by UpTheGrade, SR, CA | 11.24.2014 | 4:29 pm

    I can’t take you seriously, for something velocentric is amiss:
    - lack of body hair to reduce drag: check
    - quads like the foothills of the Himalayas: check
    - racing weight that makes supermodels seem obese: check
    - N+1 bikes in stable: check
    - rides cyclocross for winter fun fitness: check
    - bike is held in higher esteem than wife, ala Sean Kelly: epic fail !!

    I just not sure you’re taking this sport seriously enough!

  20. Comment by Geoffrey | 11.24.2014 | 5:09 pm

    I am seriously considering buying the book (TIOOYK). I am seriously curious if I am still eligible to win a seriously nice bike. I am quite serious about this.

    As a side note, I have perfected a goofy face, to seriously make my competition disconcerted. Note, they are considered my “competition” only in that they are entered in the same race. I can now hold this face for 5 minutes at 92% of max power.

  21. Comment by Tes | 11.24.2014 | 7:31 pm

    Wow. As reading through the comments I was impressed that such a serious cyclist would take time to respond to nearly every comment. Nicely done. I am not a serious cyclist though I do have very serious thoughts regarding pie. I do think that qualifies me to ride with your group. Correct?

  22. Comment by Mike | 11.24.2014 | 8:58 pm

    Why do you ride in MPH and not KPH?

  23. Comment by Miles Archer | 11.25.2014 | 9:02 am

    You give yourself away! A serious cyclist would never drink a beer. He would drink a Czech Pils or a West Coast Style IPA. But a “beer”? Phooey.

  24. Comment by Daddy Style | 11.25.2014 | 9:21 am

    You make me laugh, seriously.
    Thanks for that.

  25. Comment by MattC | 11.25.2014 | 9:41 am

    Surely you can’t be serious.

    I AM serious.

    And stop calling me Shirley.

  26. Comment by BostonCarlos (formerly NYC) | 11.25.2014 | 1:31 pm

    Bro. I already raced CX. In a team fatty kit. So it was super serious. Also, it’s impossible for me to not smile… it’s just how my face is naturally. I’m seriously jovial.

  27. Comment by Doug (way upstate NY) | 11.25.2014 | 2:12 pm

    I apologize. Clearly CX is serious, because the world lacks naturally occurring places where a bike can be ridden over and around obstacles in mud, or rain, or snow for an hour, a day or even 22 days.

  28. Comment by Steve | 11.26.2014 | 12:04 pm

    Just a note of order, for luis vasconcelos.

    Any serious cyclist knows that the correct term for the “Fatty tiffosi” is the “Fattossi” (singular: “Fattossa”).

    You either are a Fattossa or you’re not.

  29. Comment by Tom in Albany | 12.1.2014 | 6:38 am

    Mister FC, sir: <— Note. I used a colon because this is serious.

    Several months ago, my beautiful, six-year old daughter said to me, "Daddy. When you're dead, I'm going to miss your sarcasm."

    I think this applies to us regarding you, should you ever decide to stop blogging. Or die. Whichever comes first. Because, you know. Serious.

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