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.

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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. 

Why?

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?

Thanks.

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.

NewImage

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? 

Easy. 

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.

New Year’s Resolutions, or Something Like That

12.30.2014 | 11:18 am

I’ve been thinking about 2015, for a bunch of reasons. This will be the year this blog turns ten, for one thing. It’s the last year I’ll spend entirely in my forties, for another. And The Hammer and I will celebrate our five-year anniversary, for a third. 

This feels like it’s going to be a special year. An important year. And I’ve got a lot of things I want to do. 

So is this a “resolutions” post? Maybe. Kind of. Mostly. But it’s also a teaser post of things I’m thinking about doing. Things that aren’t quite resolutions, and maybe not even quite at the point of being announcements, but they’re on my mind enough that I want to at least annoy you with a vague hint or two.

The Fast Year

I recently posted about working with TrainerRoad to catapult me into a fast early season, with the plan of having momentum into the race season. 

I expect to race a lot this year. Short races. Long races. Time trials. Everything I can get my hands on. 

Furthermore, I plan to train smarter than I have in prior years, and I’ve asked the guys at TrainerRoad to support me in this. They’re on board, and said they’d be OK with doing online chats and answering questions you might have, too, whatever your goals are. 

So while I’d never position myself as someone who is smart about how to train, I’m pairing up with some people who are. For the first time ever, instead of stunt diets and weight loss competitions that don’t stick, I’m hoping to have some actual valuable and useful information on this site. 

Weird, I know.

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K

I love this blog, so anytime I’ve ever considered stopping it, I’ve reconsidered pretty much immediately.

So this blog will not go away in 2015.

But it will change. In a big way. In an awesome way. In a way that will let me still do what I love doing (writing about whatever bike thing I want to). But moreso. 

If things work out the way I want them to, by the end of 2015 you’ll be wasting more of your time here than ever before.

You’re welcome?

Big and Important Project. Or Projects. Or Something.

I don’t know how many “Best of FatCyclist.com” books this blog will eventually wind up making, but I do know there will be at least one more—the only one that matters, really. This will be the year I tell Susan’s story, by combining the posts I wrote during her sickness with the parts of her story I didn’t write. 

So that’s one book I’m going to commit to finishing this year. 

But I’ve got another one in the works. One that I haven’t told you about. Haven’t told anyone about it, publicly. But there’s some interest in it, and it will require a lot of effort to write, since it will be from scratch. But it could be the book that actually moves me closer to being able to write about bikes full-time.

Sorry to be vague. You’ll hear more about it soon. I hope. 

Fundraising

It’s important to me to do something good with this accidental soapbox. For the past couple years, I’ve focused on World Bicycle Relief and Camp Kesem. And I’m going to continue to focus on these two wonderful charities. I’d also like to help out NICA, which is doing outrageously good work.

But it’s been nagging at me that I have dropped the ball in the fight against cancer. I don’t like that. When it became difficult to tell the LiveStrong story without hearing a lot of pushback, I did the easy thing and stopped telling it. 

I don’t know yet if I’ll go back to raising money for LiveStrong. They’re a good charity and do good work in the fight against cancer. But the Huntsman Cancer Institute is close to home, helps individuals in their fights, and does important research. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What About You?

I have a big year ahead of me. I’m excited for it, and I’m nervous for it. In good ways.

So: what are you excited / nervous for in 2015?

Last Minute Gifts to Buy for Cyclists In Your Life

12.23.2014 | 1:01 pm

A Note for My Readers: This post is not really for you. This is for you to give to the people you know should have bought you a present, but haven’t. You’re welcome.

Oh, nice work. You know a cyclist and should have bought them a present, but you haven’t. And now you are pretty much out of time. 

Shame on you. SHAME. ON. YOU.

Luckily for you, I am going to help you save face, by presenting you with several ingenious gift ideas you can buy today, wrap tomorrow, and look like you are a thoughtful gift-giving person (instead of the forgetful, inconsiderate person you actually are) the day after that.

The List of Present Ideas

Of course, if you are an actual good person, you may want to buy a bicycle as a gift for someone. It doesn’t have to have a lot of fancy colors or anything; keep it simple. For example, I would be perfectly happy if someone gave me this bike for Christmas:

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It’s the Cannonade F-SI Carbon Black, Inc. As you can see, it’s a simple bike. Just one color, just one leg on the fork (when a fork doesn’t fork, what is it?). Just one shifter (Shimano XTR Di2). No pedals or water bottle cages, even. It doesn’t even weigh very much.

I’d be OK with getting one of these bikes, and I suspect your loved one would like it well enough, too.

But if you can’t (or, more like it won’t) get this very important person in your life a present like this, there are additional options you can consider even though you are a miserable cheapskate. Here are some.

Make the World a Better Place: It’s not too late to change someone’s life for the better on your friend’s behalf. Go to the World Bicycle Relief donation page, and you can make a donation, sending an e-card to them. In addition to this being an actual good thing to do that will make a difference in a child’s life, this option is instant and doesn’t require you to wrap anything. In fact, you don’t even have to get up from your chair, allowing you to be simultaneously really generous and thoughtful, and a completely lazy slob. Highly recommended.

Get Them Things They Will Actually Use: According to very scientific surveys and studies and statistics and things, less than 20% of Christmas gifts ever get used. This is due to the surprising fact that people mostly use things they actually want and use, compounded by the astonishing reality that if someone wants something and is going to use it, they have already gone and bought that thing.

However, there are exceptions. Specifically, if you have a cyclist in your life, they need and use certain things, and then wear them out. And they always need more of those things. 

If you will go to the trouble of getting them those things, you will have made their life better.

Here are some of those things:

  • Tubes: But don’t just go to the local bike shop and buy any tubes. Bike tubes have gotten a lot more complex in the past few years. The one thing you can be certain of is that if you guess, you’ll get it wrong. So call or text or email or something and just ask: “Buying you a Christmas present. What kind of tubes do you use? BE SPECIFIC.” Then, after they reply, say, “Oh I’m not really getting you those, I’m getting you a patch kit, because they’re cheaper and should work just fine.” Their heart will sink with despair at that moment, because that totally seems like just the sort of thing you’d do. And then their heart will surge with joy when they discover on Christmas that you—for once, finally—actually did the right thing. Cost: $5 – $10 / tube
  • Lube: Chain lube is essential, and everyone runs out at inopportune times. This is because there is no such thing as an opportune time to run out of lube. So. Buy some lube for your friend. But since chain lube choice is deeply personal, ask your friend what they use and where they get it. This is important, since different bike shops tend to stock different kinds of lube. Cost: $5 – $25 / bottle
  • Chain: If your cyclist friend is more than just a casual rider, chances are at least one of his bikes is going to need a new chain sometime soon. Like, maybe at the beginning of the riding season. Ask them what kind of chain they use, because this—like everything else in cycling, apparently—is now highly specific; you can’t just go and buy any old bike chain for a lot of the newer bikes. Note that a bike chain is a biggish-ticket item. Cost: $40 – $60
  • Cleats: These have to be replaced every single year, or more often. Once again, though, you have to buy the correct kind, so ask your friend what kind of pedals they use, and have them be really specific. And call the bike shop before you head over; not every shop carries every kind of cleat. Cost: $20 – $50
  • A Gift Certificate: OK, by the time I finished writing the first four items on this list, I realized that there is no possible way for you to surprise a cyclist and get them something they can use…unless you trick them. Here’s how the trick works. You say, “Hey, I’m thinking of buying a bike. What’s your favorite bike shop?” And then you buy them a gift certificate at that shop. I promise, it will get used.

Super Secret Bonus Gift Idea 1: Rice Rice Baby.

What? You say you’re no good at being tricky? OK, fine. Here’s what you do, then. I’ve got to warn you, though. This is a pricey one. 

First, you get this person a big bag of Calrose rice and put it in a box. That’s going to keep them guessing what you’re getting them. 

Second, you buy them a Zojirushi rice cooker. They’re expensive, but they work great and they last for pretty much forever. I have owned one Zojirushi rice cooker, have used it at least once per week for about fifteen years, and it has never had a problem. 

Third, you get them a copy of Allen Lim’s Feed Zone Cookbook. You can score a copy at most bookstores, and many bike shops. 

Abracadabra, you’ve just given this cyclist about 90% of the stuff they need to make their own on-the-go cycling food for the next year. You’re a hero. Do a victory dance.

Super Secret Bonus Gift Idea 2: Me

If you haven’t given your friend / loved one / worst enemy a copy of The Great Fatsby, well, you’re just not a very good human being, are you? But it’s not too late, as long as you don’t mind giving them the kindle version of the book

But if that just doesn’t seem personal enough, you could do any of the following to make their FatCyclist experience more grand, somehow:

  • Option 1: If you order a paperback copy of the book and then Paypal me an additional $50, I will have an awkward phone or Skype conversation with them, telling them it is my fault you have not yet received the book. I will apologize profusely and convincingly.
  • Option 2: For an additional $25, I will sing the “Happy Birthday” song to them (desperately off-key), and then act horribly embarrassed that I have sung a birthday song to them instead of a Christmas song.
  • Option 3: For yet another $25, I will then sing a Christmas song I made up for my twins, which I sang to them two years ago, because it was time. The lyrics are as follows:

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
Christmas is so
Very Merry
Merry Christmas
Merry Christams
There’s no
Santa Claus
Ha! 

Due to time constraints, I will only take the first 500 requests. Contact me at fatty@fatcyclist.com to arrange a time that is both convenient to me and horribly inconvenient to your friend for me to talk with them. And also to arrange payment.

May your days be simultaneously merry and bright,

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The Fat Cyclist

PS: I will be slacking off and probably not doing much in the way of writing until after the new year, though I’d be surprised if I don’t post something between now and then.

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