An Explanation for My Ongoing Absence

06.15.2016 | 7:36 am

Hi there. It’s me, Fatty. You know, the guy who used to write here from time to time.

No, seriously, you really don’t remember who I am? Look, I wrote here — on average — four times per week for eleven years. You’d think that would buy me some earned vacation days. 

OK, fine. You’re right, I should at least tell you what’s going on.

Basically, it turns out that having a new job requires a lot of mental energy. And new projects take mental energy. And being part of a family takes mental energy.

I’ve kind of overdrawn on my mental energy account.


Tomorrow I am headed to Moab, to race the Rockwell Relay. This year my team’s a little different. Our team’s name is “The Fatty Family,” and that tells you pretty much everything you need to know: every member of the team is also in my family. 

However, this does not mean we are going to just be toodling along: I’ve got some pretty fast family members. You won’t have to dig too deep into my blog to know who I’m talking about.

We are aware that there’s a bit of a target on our back after last year. We are aware that after last year’s race (and story), that the team that went after us is hungry for a rematch. And that they’re doubling — or possibly tripling — down on the multiple team strategy.

We, on the other hand, will be racing as one single coed team. It keeps things simple. 

Here’s My Point

Why am I telling you this? Because it’s a promise: while I will actually be leaving the  country for a week (for work) the day after the race, I will spend my evenings and early mornings writing  up the story. 

And also, I’ll be using my mornings to get caught up on podcasts. I’ve got so many great conversations to post. So many.

So. Hang tight. The dry spell’s about to end. Promise.


I am a Chatterbox, and I am Everywhere

06.8.2016 | 8:52 am

Most people hate the sound of their own voice. That’s understandable, too. Not because most people have awful voices, but because the voice they hear in their head is so much fuller, more resonant, than the voice they hear piped in through headphones.

So when they hear themselves the way other people hear them, they’re dismayed, because they discover that the fact that they don’t sound like how they think they sound when they sing in the shower also applies to everything they say outside the shower, too.

And so most people, when given the opportunity, stay away from microphones.

There are a few of us, however, who overcome this loathing. Not because we think we have great voices, but because we simply can’t help ourselves

We love to talk. Discomfort with our voices notwithstanding, we just keep talking.

And now, in the same way that blogs — more than a decade ago — enabled those of us who just can’t seem to stop ourselves from writing, the explosion of podcasting has enabled those of us who love to talk.

My “need to tell everyone everything that occurs to me about bicycles” affliction seems to have been enabled in a big way by both these technologies.

Because today — in addition to this blog — I appear in not just one, not just two, but three weekly podcasts.

I am not apologizing, mind you. Because all three are different, all three are interesting, and I love being in each. In truth, I am not so much the star of any of them; I’m just the guy (or one of the guys) who ties things together, drawing stories out of other people and occasionally telling one of my own.

So, before I describe the episodes coming out from all three podcasts today, let me say: I think it’s worth your time to subscribe to all three: the FattyCast, the CyclingTips Podcast, and the Paceline.

Yeah, that’s basically me asking you to give me three hours of your listening time each week. In addition to the time I ask you to spend reading my blog.

But hey, what else are you going to do during your lunch hour? 

So: here’s what I’m talking about this week, why you should listen, and how you can do it. 

The FattyCast

[iTunes | RSS | Stitcher | Download]

I’m fascinated by bike races, and lately have become even more fascinated by race directors. It takes a special kind of person to commit to something that is going to consume incredible amounts of time, make very little money, and earn more complaints than kudos.

So I’ve been making a point of reaching out to the race directors of some of my favorite races. I’ve talked with Burke Swindlehurst (Crusher in the Tushar), my next FattyCast episode will be with Ken Chlouber (Founder of Leadville 100), and this episode I’m talking with Jay Burke, the race director of the Park City Point to Point.

The Park City Point 2 Point is a race here in Utah famous for three things: an outrageous amount of incredible singletrack, an outrageous amount of climbing, and a registration period that lasts less than ten minutes.

In this FattyCast, I talk with Jay about the race, why it’s such a huge hit, and what he’s thinking of doing next…and we do it during the ten minutes the P2P, as it’s called, is open for registration. 

The CyclingTips Podcast

iTunes | RSS | Stitcher | Google Play | Download ]

I admit: I was very nervous to host this episode of the CyclingTips Podcast, because I’m a little bit in awe of Shane Stokes, the news editor for CyclingTips. Shane’s an extraordinary writer and journalist. Fair, thoughtful, and thorough.

Everything I’m not, really.

But I didn’t need to worry. Shane’s great to listen to, easy to talk with, and has great stories to tell. 

In this case, he has the story to tell of losing it all and then getting it back, told by many riders at an extraordinary race: The Ras.

And also, Shane tells the story of why he’s wearing a cast right now (hint: a pro racer crashed into him, breaking his elbow).

The Paceline 

[ iTunes | RSS | Android | Download ]

I love participating in the Red Kite Prayer panel-style Paceline podcast…even though I get the distinct impression in every single episode that I know about 70% less about bikes and racing and pros than Patrick and Michael. Frankly, I’m astonished that they haven’t kicked me off yet. Don’t tell them that, though.

In this episode, we talk about strategies for planning rides at places you don’t know anything about. We talk about cramps. We talk about how Canyon Bikes are coming to the US, and what a strong direct-order model for bikes might mean for the industry. I try to keep up, to the degree I can.

In Short

If you listen to podcasts, listen to these. If you don’t listen to podcasts, listen to these anyway. Because it will make me feel good about myself, and that’s very important to you.

Style Points

06.6.2016 | 11:43 am

I am an enthusiastic cyclist. I tell many people about the virtues of bicycles. I ride with aplomb and energy. After rides, I earnestly effuse about how happy I am. About the good time I’ve had.

I’m a strong cyclist. I can ride for hours, and often do. Indeed, I have occasionally ridden for more than a day, just to prove a point. I no longer remember what that point might have been, but let’s agree that whatever the point, I have made it sufficiently.

I am a committed cyclist. I have been riding for more than twenty years. Not contiguously, but darned near close to it.

Enthusiastic. Strong. Committed. When it comes to cycling, I am all those things. And all those things are good things.

Sadly, however, I have no cycling style. No panache, as it were. At all. My riding is as boorish and ham-fisted as it’s possible to be without calling the authorities and hiring a lawyer to draft a cease-and-desist notice.

I shall elaborate.

Technical MTB Style

Some people are a pleasure to watch as they mountain bike. They glide up and over ledges. they lightly hop over rocks and roots. They carve hairpins cleanly and precisely. They climb with economy and grace.

They sail from jumps in a perfect and mathematically elegant arc, landing so smoothly that you’re not precisely sure of the moment they returned to earth. 

I do none of these things. Or to be more accurate, I do the opposite of these things.

When I try to bunny hop, I pull my shoulders out of their sockets — so great is my effort — but my bike remains on the ground. 

When I get to a ledge, there’s even odds that I will jam either my front wheel or my chainring into the lip of the ledge, bringing my bike’s forward progress to a sudden and traumatic halt. I will then either flip over the front of the bike, crush my snipe into the stem, or fall over backwards onto my tailbone.

Sometimes — and I know this should be impossible, but it’s true — all three.

I approach hairpins so slowly and tentatively that a case could be made that I never reach them at all.

When I try to clean a technical ascent, I seem to be wrestling my bike — as opposed to riding it. Furthermore, it is quite clear that I am losing that wrestling match.

I seize up and stiff-arm my bars during descents. Steep drops ending in flat runouts terrify me, and wheelies are right out.

In short, while I love mountain biking, I am possibly the ugliest-riding cyclist who has ever donned (and then crookedly worn) a helmet.

Climbing Style

Here’s a nice little piece of irony for you: I think of myself, above all else, as a climber. But I climb terribly

Rather than sit and find the correct combination of gear selection and high cadence, I stand up as soon as the road turns uphill. I hang my head down, so all I can see is my front hub, mocking me with the slow repetitive rotation of its logo: DT Swiss, 240s. DT Swiss, 240s. DT Swiss, 240s.

My mouth hangs open; I drool. Sweat and snot — a “snotulum” I call it — combine and sway from the tip of my nose.

Spit, sweat, snot. And, frankly, tears. Honestly, it’s astonishing how many fluids drip out of my face when I’m climbing.

So gross. And that’s just what’s going on at head-level. 

I lack any form. I have no upstroke, I have nothing that resembles a cadence. I look, essentially, as if I’ve somehow mistaken my bicycle for a rowing machine.

The moans of pain aren’t very attractive, either.

Finish Line Style

I am pretty sure I’ve never had the good fortune to win anything, so developing a victory salute style isn’t something I have needed to spend a lot of time on.

But even if I were much, much faster — so much faster that I could dream of winning in a less non-fantastical way — I would never even attempt a victory salute.

I know myself too well, that’s why. 

I know that if I were to win and raise my arms to the air, I would immediately veer hard to the left (not sure why, but if I’m going to veer, it’s always to the left), plowing into timing equipment, race officials, and spectators. 

And if any of those spectators happen to be small children or frail senior citizens, you can bet I’d manage to single them out.

The carnage, the humiliation, the complete clumsiness of it all, would be too much; I’d have to impale myself (if I hadn’t already) with my handlebar in order to escape the shame of it all.

Of course, all of this would happen before I even crossed the actual finish line, and so I’d wind up being a DNF.

In summary: should you ever see cross my path whil we are riding, look away.

For your own good.

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