Six Years

02.29.2016 | 11:19 am

Six years ago (on March 3, 2010, to be exact), The Hammer and I got married.


On our honeymoon, we went to Zions National Park, where we spent a long weekend hiking, mountain biking, and road biking.

And it’s been our tradition to do the same thing every year on our anniversary (or as close to it as is possible with our work constraints).

So while I won’t be posting for the next few days (’til Thursday), here are a few pictures of what’s been going on.

Day 1: True Grit Recon

In order for me to get over the bugaboo I developed regarding the True Grit Course, on the first day of our vacation, The Hammer and I pre-rode the True Grit course.

Through a strange (but completely welcome) turn of events, orchestrated mostly by The Swimmer’s Other Mom (AKA The IT Guy), The Swimmer crashed our pre-ride of the course.

And I do mean “crashed” quite literally.

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On the very fast descent from the top of Stucki Springs, The Swimmer flew ahead. She was doing great ’til she came into a whoop-de-do a little hot, landed just a little off the trail nose first, and went down on her right side. 

The bad news: she slid on her face, got pretty cut up, and chipped a tooth.

The good news: the place she landed was remarkably soft and rock-free, and she didn’t break anything (having seen the crash, I would have bet cash money on a broken clavicle).

Se did finish the ride, and is still planning on doing the True Grit in a couple weeks. Tough girl.

Day 2: Angel’s Landing and a Secret Spot Scramble

Yesterday, The Hammer and I climbed up to Angel’s Landing, hustling to the summit in under an hour.

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In the afternoon, we met up with Kenny, Heather, Kathleen and Lucas to do a hike unlike anything I’ve ever done before: Island in the Sky, in Snow Canyon. 

More of a climb (scramble?) than a hike, really:

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It was an amazing day. Definitely outside my comfort zone, but I saw things and tried things I never would have ever expected to try / do in my life.


And now, today, We’re going on a long road ride. Probably 100 miles, starting from Zions and heading out toward Hurricane and St. George. We’ll bring money, and stop and eat numerous times along the way.

Tomorrow? More mountain biking and hiking, probably. We’re not fancy people; we didn’t buy physical presents for each other. But on this, our sixth anniversary, we’re spending time together doing what we love doing, in a place we love, and — as a bonus — getting together with some friends and family we love to do things with.

Our life, right now, is darned near perfect.

PS: Thanks to Heather, who took most of the really awesome pictures from yesterday’s hike/climb/scramble. 


Bike Mechanic Tipping Etiquette for Dummies

02.25.2016 | 7:09 pm

It’s a well-known fact that bike shops are flush with cash, and the people who work in these bike shops have a very similar problem: so much money and time on their hands that they are frequently left at a loss: vacation in France, Italy, Spain, Mallorca, or all of them in turn?

Thus, it is entirely unnecessary to tip people who work at bike shops. They’re doing just fine. Pretty much like servers and other restaurant workers: hey, they’re getting paid.

The New Basic Rule

I should probably make it clear at this point that I don’t work at a bike shop. I’ve never worked at a bike shop. I’ve never even worked at any job where I get tips (though now that I think about it, I should totally have a tip jar in this blog).

So I’m probably about the worst person in the world to be writing this post. But that’s been true of pretty much everything I’ve ever written about bicycles, and it’s never stopped me before.

Weirdly, if you go to the Internet, people seem to think the idea of tipping your bike mechanic is odd at best, usually unneccessary, and definitely not expected. Something you do maybe when a mechanic goes above and beyond

This is, quite simply, both horrible and stupid.

The accepted common wisdom, it seems to me, is that if your mechanic does a good job, they get nothing. If they do an amazing job, a miraculous job, you give them some beer.

The common wisdom notes that bike shop mechanics are happy to receive the beer. I would assert that the mechanics are simply being polite, in the same way that anytime anyone gives you anything, you act happy to receive it.

Here’s an interesting fact you may not have considered, however: rent, groceries, and utilities cannot be bartered for beer. 

As it turns out, beer is not as much of a fungible as some of us think.

You may be even more interested to discover this surprising fact: if a mechanic would like a beer, they can obtain a beer…with money.

Thus — and I’m just throwing this out here — unless you have a specific understanding of your mechanic’s wants and needs (for example, if you know for a fact that a mechanic loves burritos from Mountain West Burritos and is going to be working through lunch on your bike, and has furthermore asked you to buy her a burrito), how about tipping your mechanic using this clever sing-a-long algorithm I’ve developed (and also use for tipping food servers):

Round it, double it, drop a digit.

For example, if you’re getting a $53 tune-up, round it to the nearest ten to $50, double it to $100, and then drop the final digit. Ta-da: $10, and easy to do in your head.

And yes, for those of you who like to do real math, I’m simply advocating a twenty-ish percent tip. That extra five percent (more than 15% I mean) makes the number easier to figure out, won’t hurt you financially, and will help the person who’s working for you.

Naturally, you’re going to need to apply some intelligence here. Like, suppose you’re buying a $5000 bike and are having it built up. Am I really suggesting you tip $1000 here?

No, I am not.

What I’m suggesting is that you find out how much the bike shop charges for a bike build (in Utah, that’s around $150-$250), and tip 20% on that. $30-$50. Tip 20% on the labor. That’s not so much, and it feels fair to both you and the mechanic, since the work the mechanic is doing doesn’t vary hugely based on the selling price of the bike.

Repeat after me: Round it, double it, drop a digit.

Special Cases

So, that’s that. Tip 20%. Simple. I’m not sure how I stretched that into so many words, but that can be said of about 88% of my posts.

But there are times when 20% is not enough. When you need to step up and tip exorbitantly. For example:

The Tire of 1000 Thorns: If you rode your bike through a field of goatheads, then bring your bike to the bike shop to fix the flat, you should tip $0.25 per thorn removed. If you do the math and it makes more sense to just buy a new tire…buy a new tire. I’m guessing your mechanic will be grateful.

Build Salvaging: So you just built a wheel. Awesome. Except the tension on the spokes won’t balance out. And for some stupid reason, it just won’t true.

You know what you should do? You should take it to your mechanic. And then pay a 30% tip over the charge of a complete wheel build, because there is no way it isn’t going to take longer to fix your build than it would to build it in the first place. 

And if you stand around and ask questions and try to justify how you messed this wheel up so badly, you need to up that tip to 50%.

Divining Rod Diagnosis: If you provide only a vague idea of what’s wrong when you leave your bike with the mechanic (“There’s a weird scratchy clunky sound coming from from the crankset, but it might be the seatpost, or the headset,”) you put your mechanic in the position of needing to figure out not only how to fix your bike, but also what needs fixing, and probably under what circumstances the problem even occurs.

The proper tip for this kind of detective work is one dollar for every minute spent trying to make sense of the strange sounds you made. And if it turns out that the problem was in an area of the bike other than where you said it would be, tack on an additional $5.00. A “misguided guidance” penalty, if you will.

Beyond the Call of Duty Repair: If your mechanic discovers a serious problem with your bike and corrects it before things go all pear-shaped on you, thereby preventing a walk of shame or death, add $20 to the tip. Which is a ridiculously cheap price to pay for avoiding a walk of shame or faceplant, when you think about it.

Emergency Stand-Swap Repair: If you arrive in a bike shop with need for emergency repairs, managing to get the mechanic to take another bike out of the stand and replace it with yours, it’s your responsibility to pay the tip for both your work and the work being done on the bike you just supplanted. Because you know the other person’s going to be mad and not leave a tip when they get to the shop in twenty minutes and find their bike isn’t done.

“One More Thing” Repair: When you get to the shop to pick up your completed bike and then remember something else you need done, tip triple. That will help your memory improve next time.

Naturally, none of this is necessary, because bike mechanics are already ridiculously well-paid for their experience and ability. Still, I guess you could use it as a guide to tipping bike shop mechanics.

You know, if you feel like making these one-percenters even more ridiculously rich. 


“The Noodleator” (Janeen McCrae) on The FattyCast

02.22.2016 | 12:50 pm

If you follow my blog — — you might know Janeen McCrae as “Noodle,” or “The Noodleator” (if you follow her on Twitter or Instagram, as you should). She’s the one who has created the gold standard of 100 Miles of Nowhere videos, starting with this one: 

And this one:

But if you don’t know Janeen, you’ve still got to listen to this episode of The FattyCast. Why? Well, she just does stuff. Big stuff. And then she tells great stories — with words, pictures, and video — about what she’s done.

You know how you’ve got big biking adventure you’ve been thinking about? Well, Janeen — a more-or-less novice-level rider decided she was going to ride the Trans-America Trail…and then just went and did it: riding across America alone and unsupported.

And when she crashed four days into it — breaking an arm and getting a concussion — she changed her timeline, but she sure didn’t quit.

And when she was unhappy with what she was doing for a living…but loved her Specialized bikes? She went and got a job at Specialized, and now she’s responsible for making the company site more of a destination than a catalog. 

As you can guess — and as is going to be obvious in this conversation — I’m a huge fan of Janeen. She’s the creative force I can only dream of being. I talk with Janeen about books, jobs, deadlines, and using the bike to create the life you want. 

I think you’re going to like — and be inspired by — this episode of The FattyCast. Subscribe to it on iTunes, or Google Play Music, or get the RSS Feed ( Or just listen / download it here

100 Miles of Nowhere Race Report: Winner of the Recumbent-on-Rollers-in-Garage Division

02.19.2016 | 9:42 am

A Note from Fatty: The first 100 Miles of Nowhere was just me, by myself, watching TV, riding the rollers and losing my mind. So whenever anyone ventures to try this method of riding 100 miles, well, they’ve got my respect. And when they can write a funny, engaging story about it —Like Christina S-B here has — they’ve got my admiration. Enjoy!

My first 100 MoN was completed in 2011 by riding around Frontier Park over and over and over. There was a point where my son, Thomas, wanted to join me, so we rode around the parking lot. He was still riding with training wheels, which seems like forever ago.

Lining up for a high-five

I did the same in 2012 and 2013, completing them all with a little bit of sadness that it was finally over, with a definite bit of “why am I doing this” for miles 35-70.

This year, though, things were different.

The ride is usually set for late spring/early summer, but this year it was placed on November 7. “No problem!” I thought. “Maybe I’ll finally ride it on rollers.”

Folks, let me tell you- I feel like, in my 36 years, I’ve made a lot of dumb decisions, but this seems like the dumbest of all.

It started off innocently enough:


But a few minutes in, the wiggling on the trike was out of control. My husband came in and made wheel chocks from logs and rope, while we also zip tied the brakes.

There was no point during this ride where I felt great. In fact, I felt pretty horrible the entire time.

Things that made the ride tolerable:

Inspired to Ride

The free link to watch this beautifully done movie was wonderful. Inspired to Ride is a documentary about the Trans Am Bike Race, a totally unsupported ride across America. If you have ever bike toured, there are so many familiar moments to watching this. There are professionals, who make it across the US in 17 days (that’s insane), but in the film they are sitting at gas stations eating ice cream cones, just like I’ve done plenty of times on statewide tours.

I’ll admit I cried during the film. Early on in the film, they talk with a couple of people who are just riding the route, not racing. One of them is a Vietnam Veteran and he captures long distance riding perfectly.


I got hooked on Carborocket’s performance blend thanks to a previous 100 MoN swag bag. I used it exclusively during my marathon and it’s the only thing I can drink and drink that allows me to go without crippling my GI system.

During this year’s ride, I decided to eat a blend of things.

That was a horrifically awful decision.

I was not doing well and I started digging though my bag and found these:

They both calmed my stomach and loosened my legs. I only wish I had a whole bottle.

Social Media

It became apparent to me, around the 50-mile mark, that I was struggling in a way I have never struggled on a ride. On rollers, every mile is earned. There is no coasting. Those numbers only go up if the pedals are moving.

That’s torture!

I put out the plea for help on social media in the evening and got back awesome responses from my friends. I received pictures, videos, inspirational quotes and maybe, more importantly, plain ol’ belief in me, which I didn’t have at that time.

Thanks, friends, for cheering. There’s no way I would have completed it without you.

The Scary Part

There was a point where the sun had gone down. I had just switched my movie on Netflix and I was pedaling along.

Then a giant loud noise started from behind the tool chest and I nearly threw up from fear.

It was the air compressor, which was still plugged in and decided it needed to charge.

I had made my peace with the air compressor that it was only an air compressor and not something evil waiting to attack me.

Then the garage went dark.

I sprinted, flat sprinted to the house. I don’t even remember unclipping.

Turns out space heater plus air compressor equals blown fuse.


The End


I cut it close to finish this thing before midnight. I never, ever, ever want to cut it that close again. This was stressful. SO stressful.

The aftermath of this is sad. It’s a jumbled mess of Clif wrappers and Skratch labs and salt water taffy and ugh. It looked like Garmin-Cannodale threw a frat party.

It sucked.


And I can’t wait to sign up for next year.

But not on rollers.

Oh gosh, no.

Tyson Apostol on The FattyCast: Survivor, Whoopie Goldberg, Pro Cycling, and More

02.18.2016 | 1:42 pm

Here’s some stuff you probably didn’t know about me, enumerated for your convenience:

  1. My family and I are huge fans of the Survivor reality show / competition.
  2. I have tried, twice, to get on Survivor. In both cases, people with the show reached out to me and asked me to send in a video. I did, both times. After which, Survivor decided to go in a…different direction. 

With this in mind, of course it was only a matter of time ’til I asked Tyson Apostol — who has been on Survivor (thrice, winning on his third try) and has also been a pro cyclist — to be on The FattyCast. Here we are together:

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That picture will make more sense in a minute or two, I promise. Or maybe it won’t. I’m not sure, and I’m not too worried about it, regardless, because we are both clearly very handsome and photogenic.

I have a few details I’d like to point out about Tyson’s and my conversation, but first I think you should just listen to the show. It’s ridiculously interesting, especially if you like bikes and people doing bold things. So: get it on iTunes, or on the RSS Feed (, or just listen or download it below: 

What We Mostly Talk About

I was tempted to make the whole conversation about Survivor. I really was, because I would love to know more about the show from someone who’s been on it.

But the truth is, I knew lots of people have interviewed Tyson about being on this show, and probably all of them have done a better job about asking Survivor-esque questions than I would.

But not a lot of people have talked to Tyson about what — it turns out — is a much more interesting part of Tyson’s life. Specifically, when Tyson was in his early twenties, he packed up a couple of bikes — a road bike and a CX bike — and moved to Europe.

And then he raced himself into the pros.

Yeah, I know.

This FattyCast is mostly about Tyson’s experience with racing and competing — and believe me, Tyson is a remarkably competitive person. We talk about what it’s like to be a new pro, his big successes and failures, what it’s like to be in a breakaway that succeeds, and how hard being an aspiring pro can be on your body (hint: it basically destroyed him).

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a pro cyclist, you’ve got to listen to this episode. For reals. Tyson is an amazing storyteller.

Also, you’ve got to listen to his claim that anyone could be a pro cyclist. He makes a good case. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

Other Things We Talk About

I don’t exactly come into any of my FattyCast conversations with a plan, which means we wind up all over the place. And in this case, we wind up in more places than usual.

We talked about movies, including the new Star Wars. Or possibly we were talking about a very old Star Wars. I don’t think either of us were sure.

We talked about Tyson’s favorite movie (The Jerk), and Ghost. During this segment, I promised I would create an illustrative Venn diagram showing the intersect of two of the stars in this movie: Whoopie Goldberg and Dennis Quaid:


Unfortunately, I was completely wrong in this, because Dennis Quaid wasn’t even in Ghost. Apparently, the role of Dennis Quaid was played by Patrick Swayze in Ghost. Personally, I feel my confusion was justified. I mean, look:


Almost impossible to tell them apart, if you ask me.

Anyway, I hereby offer a corrected Venn diagram, which shows that Dennis Quaid and Whoopie Goldberg do have an intersect, because he’s been a guest on The View.


I regret the confusion, I suppose. 

Still More Stuff We Talk About

If a Venn diagram isn’t enough to get you to listen to this episode of the FattyCast yet, I’m not sure what will, but I’ll offer this list of conversational topics in the hopes I can sway you:

  1. As a millionaire, does he find himself spending money like there’s no tomorrow?
  2. Whether he has a job
  3. The most awesome thing about being a pro cyclist (it’s not what you think)
  4. The virtues of publicly shaming people
  5. How poker is like pro cycling
  6. Excellent parenting techniques
  7. Whether his newborn child is a male or female, and whether putting that child in pink clothing perpetuates gender stereotypes
  8. My plan for Tyson and me to be on The Amazing Race as a team

In conclusion, whether you like Survivor or not, this is an episode you’ll want to listen to. 

Oh, and be sure to listen to News AF, the weekly goofy news podcast Tyson does with Rob Cesternino. And follow Tyson on Twitter too, because sometimes he and I exchange witty banter. Or at least we might someday, and you for sure won’t want to miss it if/when we do.

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