2015 Race Objectives

01.13.2015 | 11:24 am

I believe I have made mention, once or twice, that I intend to be fast in 2015. Faster than I have ever been before. No, even faster than that.

I have explained that all of this is with the goal of having an incredibly fast (maybe, for me, unattainably fast) time when I race the Leadville Trail 100. I hope to complete this problem in under eight hours. So I’m doing some serious research on what bike to buy and build, I’m doing all this training, and I’m putting some serious mental energy into the universe to ensure good weather.

And if I get this thing done in under eight hours, here’s my solemn promise: I will tattoo this finish time on my left calf. 

What I have not explained, however, is the extent to which I am planning my year. How incredibly careful I am being in selecting my races. Indeed, I have very specific reasons for choosing each of my races this year. In fact, I would go so far as to call my planning “sublime.” 

You would do well to emulate my race selection strategy and reasons, which I shall now list.

True Grit Epic

My first big endurance race of the year is the True Grit Epic, which is March 14. Two short months away!  There are two variations of this race: the fifty mile version, and the 100 mile version.

I have not yet decided which version I will race, though I am kind of leaning toward the 100 mile version, because I think it will suit my purpose for this race more effectively. 

And my objective for this race? Simple: to humiliate me.

I know full well that this is an incredibly technical race, and I am not a good technical rider. Further, I know that I am about twenty pounds overweight at the moment, and I really doubt that I am going to get rid of more than ten of those pounds by mid-March. Finally, I am hardly going to be in race condition at that point, so the only thing that would kick my corn more thoroughly than a fifty mile race would be a 100 mile race. 

Regardless, my corn will be kicked. Which is precisely what I want

Why? Because nothing motivates me to start dieting better, training more faithfully, and otherwise getting ready for a race season than a really truly horrible result: watching my friends and would-be competitors—people I should be just as fast as, if not faster than—completely obliterate me.

I think the True Grit Epic will accomplish this objective very thoroughly. I can hardly wait.

[Bonus: The weather for the True Grit Epic has been completely awful for all but one of the years it’s been put on. This should augment my misery and self-loathing nicely.]


I am so excited for Boggs, and not just because I’ll get to race with BFF (Best Friend of Fatty) Jeff Dieffenbach and Levi Leipheimer in the eight-hour relay.

No, I’m also excited to be racing because by this time (first weekend of May), I expect to be at racing weight and in racing form, so plan to really give my all in the Hill Climb the day before the relay.

Specifically, my strategy is to feel really strong and fast as the days lead up to the race. Maybe I’ll even pick up a few of those newfangled annual KOMs on Strava (you know, the ones that are designed to help you feel better about the fact that you can’t get a real KOM on the same segment).

I plan to start secretly harboring plans of podiuming in my age group. Maybe even show folks in the next age group down a thing or two about a thing or two.

Then, on race day, I expect to discover how adorably slow I am, relative to all the hotshot racers in Northern California. You know, the people who have actual talent, and not the picayune substitute we have for talent in rural Utah.

This will be very helpful in helping me keep my expectations reasonable for other races during the year.

Rockwell Relay

I’m not even going to pretend to be humble about this one. My primary objective for this race—this, the race I care more about than any other race—is to freak my teammates out. You see, The Hammer has gotten a couple of our friends to join and be our teammates, saying this “will just be for fun.”

It will be my objective, for months before this race even begins, to make sure they understand that this is not about having fun. 

Indeed, I have already begun work on this objective in earnest. Last weekend, for example, the four of us went out to dinner. The other three of them kept wanting to talk about other things, but I would drag the conversation back to the topic of The Rockwell Relay, with the tenacity of a badger. 

“Hey,” I said to Lynette, “I know that right now you’ve only got a Tri bike. You need to get yourself an honest-to-goodness road bike pronto, and get used to it.”

“Let’s talk about our racing rotation,” I said, later. “I know we’ve all picked our spots, but I think it might be an interesting exercise to model other scenarios. I’ve created a spreadsheet that will help.”

And I went on. And on. And I expect to continue to do so, to the point that everyone else will start losing sleep before we begin this race.

Why am I doing this? Honestly I have no idea. Certainly, it’s not productive, and it may well be counterproductive. I can’t seem to help myself, though. Not that I’ve tried.

Crusher in the Tushar

This is the last big race before the Leadville 100. My objectives for the Crusher in the Tushar are simple and twofold:

  1. To demonstrate to myself that I am fast, strong, and ready to race The Leadville 100, by beating my best time by half an hour.
  2. Be so far ahead of schedule that I have time to go recover some litter I left near the trail a couple of years ago. I will bring tongs and a ziploc bag for this purpose. 

PS: I’m also considering racing the Park City Point to Point. My objective for this race is to convince The Hammer that it wasn’t so awful the first time and that really, she wants to come race it again.




Fatty’s Book Club 1.0: Fat Tire Flyer

01.8.2015 | 9:57 pm

NewImageYou can tell when someone is in love. And I’m not talking about first-blush, first-kiss, first-sight love here. I’m talking about a long term relationship. One that has stood the test of time.

You can tell when someone has been in love long enough to have history, kids and grandkids, and a lot of stories. 

You have to respect that kind of love.

And that is the kind of love that shines through in Charlie Kelly’s Fat Tire Flyer: Repack and the Birth of Mountain Biking.

This is the history of the first days of mountain biking, told by Charlie Kelly, one of the guys who was right there for it from day one. 

And Fat Tire Flyer will be the first book we read and discuss in the new, monthly “Fatty’s Book Club.”

There’s no membership dues or anything like that. You just need to get, read, and talk about the cycling book I’m going to choose each month or so.

Getting the Book

This idea of an online cycling book club is something I’ve been tossing around for a long time. With the huge number of really great cycling books that have come out recently, I’ve decided to make it happen. 

First of all, you’re going to need the book. I talked with VeloPress, the publisher of Fat Tire Flyer, and asked them to give us a deal on this book. They’ve generously offered to give you 25% off if you buy Fat Tire Flyer together with Rusch To Glory from the VeloPress site, using the REPACKFATTY discount code (this code good only from now ’til January 19).

[As an aside, I highly recommend Rusch to Glory, and have already done a chat with the author about it, which you can watch here.]

Reading the Book

Once you’ve got the book, you ought to read it. And maybe read it with an eye toward talking about it. 

And plan on doing your reading at home (or wherever you keep books), because this is a hefty, hardbound book. It’s the size of a coffee-table book, really, and maybe even looks a little bit intimidating, with how big and heavy it is (3.6 pounds, according to my bathroom scale).

But don’t be intimidated by it. It’s got a lot of pictures—definitely one of the things I’m enjoying about it—and it reads very easily. Plus, about 20% of the book’s 260+ pages is appendix and index. 

So you’ll get through it.

Talking About the Book

On Tuesday, February 10, at 11:00am PT / 2:00pm ET, we’re going to get together online and talk about this book, just like in a real-world book club.

And I’m really pleased to announce that the author, Charlie Kelly, will be joining us for this conversation. I’ll have questions for him, and I’ll hope you will too. 

I’ll have details in the near-ish future about how to register and participate. I will be limiting the number of people who will be able to join in live, so you’ll definitely want to get on board early.

If, however, you’re unable to join the call, you won’t be out of luck. I’ll be recording a video of the conversation, which I’ll post on Vimeo. I’ll also be making an audio-only version available as a podcast.

I’m really looking forward to trying this cycling book club idea out. I hope you’ll help me make it a success.

PS: Bonus Homework: Watch Klunkerz, and read my review of it (along with Charlie’s rebuttal to my review) from back in 2009.

Please Hold While I Go To Meetings and Get Things Ready and Stuff

01.8.2015 | 9:20 am

Hi There. I’m out of town doing work stuff for my day job; I haven’t had / won’t have time to do a lot of writing yesterday or today.

However, while held up at an airport yesterday, I did make some progress on getting the first book in the book club lined up—including a sizable discount on the book and an interview / book club chat with the author.

I love when things come together, and things have come together very nicely for this first installment of “Fatty’s Book Club.” 

“Fatty’s Book Club” is a working title, by the way. If you’ve got a better name for it, I’d love to hear it.

So, quick version of how I imagine how the book club will work:

  1. At the beginning of the month (January in this case), I’ll announce a book and, ideally, a discounted way for Fatty’s Book Club members (aka anyone who wants to participate) to get it.
  2. You have about a month to purchase and read the book. During this time, I’ll also be reading the book and will probably post a few thoughts about it as I go.
  3. We’ll get together early in the next month (February in this case), hopefully with the author of the book, and chat about it. We’ll be using GotoWebinar; the tech is pretty solid. You’ll find that a surprisingly large number of people can have a reasonable conversation with this tool (managing large online meetings is kinda one of the things I do for my day job right now), whether you’re using a phone or computer.
  4. I’ll record the conversation and make it available as a Vimeo video and a podcast after the live version is over, for people who can’t join in live.
  5. We announce the next book, and the process repeats.

This is something I’m really excited about. Check back tomorrow for an announcement of the first meeting of Fatty’s Book Club!


Time to Think, and Thinking About Talking

01.6.2015 | 3:38 pm

I want to tell you about the “ride” I had on New Year’s Day, and about an idea I had during that “ride.” Cuz I think it’s a good idea, but it’s only a good idea if enough of you also think it’s a good idea. So I need to know whether you think the idea I think is a good idea is a good idea.

I apologize for the previous sentence, by the way.

New Year’s Ride

My friend Jared Eborn puts together an annual event called the “New Year’s Revolution Run & Ride.” The idea of it is pretty ridiculous: he reserves the Utah Olympic Oval, gives people timing chips, and lets them essentially do a Marathon of Nowhere (95.5 laps to do a marathon) from 8am to 1pm on New Year’s Day.

Off in the corner, he also allows cyclists to come join in the “fun” by riding their trainers or rollers for five hours. The Hammer and I chose this option, mostly because I have been promising Jared I’d come do one of his events for the past five years or so.

So: we set up—The Hammer on her old trainer, me on my rollers (we didn’t want to disassemble our Wahoo Kickr setups we have so nicely arranged in the basement), and we began our five-hour-long ride.

IMG 1044
The Hammer is on the far left in this photo. My rollers are to her left.

I expected it to drag on and on and on. To be a brutal test of my mental endurance. I was therefore astonished to have the time just fly by. 


IMG 1041

Because I was completely absorbed by what I was listening to: The Serial Podcast: twelve well-written and narrated episodes of a journalist’s struggle to find the truth about the guilt or innocence of a man convicted for murder back in 1999.

I know it’s an incredibly popular show and I know that I’m probably the last person in America to have listened to it, but we have not finished it yet (I’m on episode 9, The Hammer is on episode 5), so: no spoilers please.

And this got me thinking about why I enjoyed this podcast so much. Part of it had to do with the mystery, part of it had to do with how it happened in the real world, part of it had to do with the narrator’s fantastic voice. 

And a lot of it had to do with the feeling that I was part of a fantastic conversation. Yes, I know: a one-sided conversation (usually). But still, the narrator’s gift is in sounding like she’s chatting with you.

And the thing is, this isn’t the only podcast I’ve been enjoying lately. I really like Open Mic with Mike Creed, too. His style is different than mine (i.e., he doesn’t shy away from four-letter language at all), but he asks his guests fantastic, disarming questions that are at times hilarious, at other times provocative. Mike has a gift for pulling stories out of people. 

The Idea

So, as I rode (in place), I started thinking, “I need to start a FatCyclist podcast.” By which I do not mean that I should start doing an audio version of my blog. 

No, I mean I want to hear people’s cycling stories. I want to talk about interesting books and movies. And I want, in every instance, for you—my readers—to be a part of it.

For example, let me know what you think of:

  • Book Club: There are a lot of books about cycling coming out nowadays. What if we had a “book of the month” I assigned out to read at the beginning of each month. At the end of the month, we get together online in a big web-style video conference call, and talk about the book—maybe sometimes even with the author. For example, I’d like to talk with Charlie Kelly about Fat Tire Flyer. I’d like to talk with Patrick Brady about Why We Ride. I’d like to talk with Jill Homer about pretty much anything she’s written. I’d like to talk with Kathryn Bertine or Rebecca Rusch about their books. So, is this something you’d participate in?
  • Interviews: I’ve done a number of interviews before, but I feel like the technology for them to happen live and online is just now starting to be reliable enough for me to do without worrying we’re going to lose signal more often than we’re going to have it. Further, I don’t want to just interview pro cyclists. I want to interview bike shop owners. And race promoters. And people who have done interesting and unusual things on their bikes. And just normal people. And for people who join in live, I’d definitely want to give you an opportunity to ask questions.

So, a few final questions:

  1. Do you listen to podcasts? I don’t want to make something that nobody’s going to care about. 
  2. Would you participate in live events? And if so, what day / time combo works well for you?
  3. How often is good? If I did a monthly book club and one or two interviews per month, would that be about right? Or is that more listening than you have time for?
  4. How long is good? Is an hour-long show about right? Half an hour? Fifteen minutes? What’s your threshold for too much? 
  5. What else would you want to talk about? Who else would you want to talk to?


PS: I still don’t want to do any more 5-hour roller rides for a while.

The Weight of Things

01.5.2015 | 1:14 pm

Last night, for dinner, I had lasagna. And chicken fetuccine alfredo. And a really heavily-dressed salad. (I also had two mid-sized broccoli florets.)

Then, for dessert, I had homemade Oreo ice cream on top of homemade brownies.

I am not making even the tiniest bit of this up. 

“But Fatty,” I expect you are asking, “That’s grossly, excessively excessive. Why would you do this?”

A fair question. Which, I have an answer for. 

I did it because, starting today, I am resuming my diet. As such, this was a “last hurrah.” Or it may have been more of a “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!” when you consider exactly how much I ate.

But there was a strategy to it. And this strategy is important to understand if you really want to get inside my head and grasp exactly how twisted and otherwise messed up my thinking is about weight gain, eating responsibly, and weight loss.

I’ve Been Here Before

First, though, here’s how much I weighed when I weighed myself this morning: 

177.8 pounds.

That is up almost exactly twenty pounds since the racing season. And to be honest, I’m trying to figure out how I ought to feel about this. Should I feel outraged at myself? Yes! Should I feel shame at my lack of discipline? For sure! Should I feel astonished that I somehow manage to pack on so many pounds so quickly after the race season?

No. No, I should not feel even a tiny bit astonished. And if you’ve been following this blog for a year or ten, you shouldn’t feel astonished either. At least not astonished in a surprised kind of a way (though astonished in a repulsed kind of way…well, I’ll give you that).

Mostly, I just feel resigned. This is my pattern: I fight off the weight, I train like a madman and race my brains out, I finish the season, and I keep eating like I’m still racing and riding at full tilt.

So, to be honest, I look at 178 pounds and think, “Hey, that’s actually about five pounds better than most years.”

This Year’s Contest

Last year, I did a big contest with Beeminder where we all worked together on a big weight loss contest. That was fun. But it was also a considerable amount of work. And right now, I’ve got other projects that I need to focus on — managing a big challenge just feels like more work than I’m capable of taking on.

However, I am having a contest. With one person. And it’s worth mentioning now, because I’ll certainly be talking about it again.

First, though, I have to back up a bit.

As you almost certainly know, The Rockwell Relay is my favorite race of the year. As you likely also know, The Hammer and I have had Kenny and Heather as our teammates every year we’ve raced it.

Until this year. This year, they’re going to go to the wedding of two close friends instead. Which means, of course, that The Hammer and I are also going to that wedding. had to find new teammates.


We’re bummed to not be riding with Kenny and Heather, but were very glad to have our friends Cory and Lynette—friends you’ve seen mentioned in this blog before as our teammates this year.

More to the point, I’m very glad to have Cory to compete with in a weight-loss challenge. The rules are:

  1. The challenge begins now and ends May 15, approximately one month before the Rockwell Relay. We both have incentive to hit our goals, because neither of us wants to be the boat anchor in this event. Even more importantly, neither of us wants our very fast and competitive wives to call us out for being fat and slow during this event.
  2. We each selected our weight goals. Mine is 155 pounds (~23 pounds to lose). Cory’s is 180 pounds (45 pounds to lose). 
  3. If one of us succeeds and the other fails, our Rockwell Relay team shall be just the name of the winner’s brand (I.e., “Team Fatty” if I win, or “Team SBR” if he wins).  And all racers will wear the winner’s brand on all daylight legs. 
  4. If we both succeed, we come up with a combination team name, we’ll come up with a name we all can agree upon. I personally am partial to “Team 201,” because that’s our combined age, and I would like the teams we’re crushing to know that our average age is above 50.  Or maybe we could just be “Team Fogey.”

Back to Last Night

So, why’d I eat so much last night, even though I knew it was sabotaging my diet before it even began? 


I did it because it would make my weight artificially high for today’s weigh-in, which would set me up for a big drop over the course of this first week’s weigh-ins. 

Which would, in turn make me feel good about myself and thus give me first good momentum for my diet going forward. 

Yes, that’s right. I ate a lot in order to gain weight in order to lose weight. 

My mind is that twisted.

But it will work. Just watch. By the end of February, I’ll be able to squeeze back into a medium-sized jersey. By April, medium will fit fine. 

And by June, I’ll be ready to race. 

PS: And by next November, I’ll be fat again.

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