I Can’t Even Remember

12.4.2014 | 11:55 am

For some reason, today I found myself in a nostalgic mood, thinking back to the bike I raced my tenth Leadville 100 in back in 2006, when this blog was young, which I called The Weapon of Choice.

IMG 0031

It was an aluminum Gary Fisher Paragon, heavily-modified—I pretty much replaced everything, making it as light as possible.

Back then, “as light as possible” was 22.5 pounds. I would finish this race in a disappointing 10:06, in spite of the fact that I was the lightest I had been in my adult life (154 pounds). Not that 10:06 is an objectively bad time. I had just thought I was a lock for sub-9.

Eventually, I’d get that sub-9. But not on that bike. Nor the next. Nor the next. Nor the next.

Each time I get a new bike, I am sure that this is going to be the bike that makes the difference. The one that really makes me fast and capable. And so I have justified my new bike addiction with a ridiculous number of bikes.

You know that “N+1” cliche? The one that says something along the lines of “The number of bikes a cyclist needs is N+1, where N is the cyclist’s current number of bikes.”

Well, that gag doesn’t even start to work with me, because it’s rare that I don’t have at least two bikes I’m planning out. And it’s usually closer to three or four: a road bike, a geared mountain bike, a singlespeed mountain bike, and something for The Hammer.

I am not joking. Not even a little bit. 

The result is a garage that looks like this:

IMG 9126

How many bikes is that? I have no idea. I will say, though, that this doesn’t represent all the bikes I’ve owned in recent memory, because I tend to be pretty free with my bike loans to friends. Dug’s got my old Waltworks. Kenny’s got my Specialized TriCross. 

And how many have there been that have come before? Good question.

In truth, I I’m not sure I can even remember how many bikes I’ve had since I’ve started riding seriously. Clearly, I’ve got a problem.

But let me take a swing at it. Order isn’t strictly chronological or anything, because that would be too overwhelming, to be honest.

  • The bikes up ‘to 2007: Bridgestone MB5, Specialized Stumpjumpoer M2, Ibis Steel Mojo, Ibis Bow Ti, Ibis Ti Mojo, Fisher Paragon, Bianchi ??? (low-end road bike: Campionissimo?), Ibis road Ti, Gary Fisher Sugar 2, Gary Fisher Sugar 1. I’m cheating here, because I did a post in 2007 listing my bikes up to that point. 
  • Lemond ???: I owned a Lemond road bike very briefly after my Ibis Road Ti died. Honestly, I recall it only very vaguely.
  • Ibis Silk Carbon: This was my road bike ’til I got the Orbea with the Di2. But I still have this, and have converted it into my singlespeed road bike.
  • Lemond Fillmore: A steel singlespeed road bike. Incredibly heavy, incredibly inexpensive. I gave it away in a fundraiser when I converted my Ibis Silk Carbon to a singlespeed.
  • Bianchi Pista: When I lived in Washington, I rode by the Marymoor velodrome on my way to work every day. I bought the Pista with the hope of starting to race track. But then I moved and gave the Pista away as part of a fundraiser.
  • Fisher Paragon: A light-for-its-time aluminum 29er. Finally sold it locally.
  • Dahon Flo: The first bike I ever got as a perk for being a blogger. Eventually it became the bike I used to pull trailers and tagalong bikes. Now that my kids are all grown up, I finally sold it.
  • Gary Fisher Superfly: My first carbon bike. The frame cracked, so it was also my second carbon bike. I still have this; The Hammer rode it for a couple years and now The Swimmer rides it.
  • Matt Chester Dinglespeed: Back before I started this blog, I had a website called “Epic Rides,” where I wrote about my long rides and invited others to do the same. Matt Chester contributed and eventually I built a website for him when he started building bikes for a living. He built me this really cool dinglespeed (double singlespeed) titanium bike, but I got it before I really understood or had the strength for singlespeeding. I still have the bike, though, and think maybe it’s time I get it conditioned and give it another try. I’ve lost touch with Matt and wish I hadn’t. I hope he’s doing great.
  • Gary Fisher Superfly Singlespeed: This was a hard bike to get ahold of when it first came out; it was not sold at retail. I sold this when I got the next year’s version. I wish I wouldn’t have. 
  • Gary Fisher Superfly Singlespeed 2nd Year: This bike was a mix of awesome and tragic. The good folks at Gary Fisher did a custom paint job for me. Unfortunately, the swinging dropout is notoriously slippery and won’t stay put. I still have this bike and will never sell it, but I don’t ride it (in part because of the dropout, but mostly because the frame is too awesome).
  • Waltworks SS: A cool singlespeed custom-decaled by Twin Six. the frame cracked and has been repaired, and I let Dug’s son ride it ’til he outgrew it. I think Dug has cannibalized it for parts on other bikes now.
  • Some Cheesy Tandem: I bought a super-cheap tandem for a few hundred bucks. It’s a terrible, Walmart-quality bike that was fun for some laughs but now sits rusting in the backyard.
  • Orbea Orca: A gorgeous carbon road bike, outfitted with the then-brand-new Shimano Di2. I still own this bike; it lives in Austin and I ride it when I am at the office there.
  • Gary Fisher Superfly 100: I wanted to see how I felt riding a full suspension carbon cross country racer. I never really fell in love with it though, and it sat around mostly unused for years. I finally sold it a few months ago.
  • Specialized Stumpjumper: Specialized wooed me away from Fisher with this incredibly light, fast, sophisticated carbon hardtail. Riding it, I got my first sub-9 Leadville time. 8:18 in fact. Specialized congratulated me / rewarded me by letting me keep this bike. 
  • Specialized Stumpjumper Singlespeed: This is the fastest, lightest singlespeed I could ever imagine. I built it up with crazy-nice ENVE wheels and cockpit and I am still in love with it. I did an 8:25 on it at Leadville a couple years ago.
  • Ibis Tranny 29: My current favorite go-anywhere, do-anything machine. I originally had it built up with a belt drive, but prefer it with gears and the incredible Ibis 941 wheels. Built with a dropper post, this is not my lightest hardtail ever, but it may be the funnest, most versatile bike I’ve ever owned.
  • Specialized Shiv: I’ve never gone so fast as on this bike. And I might start racing more with this this summer…I’m kind of thinking it might be fun to start racing some time trials, and I understand there’s a local time trial series in SLC.
  • Specialized Tarmac: My gorgeous, exquisite, rocket-fast, incredibly light, silver road race machine. I cannot imagine a better, faster road bike.

I think that’s it. I didn’t cheat by looking in the garage or checking old posts in my blog, so I don’t know for sure. 

And you know what? Now that I’ve written this, out, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t have a problem. Sure, I’ve had a lot of bikes. But I’ve had an extraordinary amount of fun on almost every single one of them. They’ve each reflected something I wanted and was at the time.

I started this post thinking I was going to poke fun at how many bikes I’ve had. But I’m finishing it happy. These bikes are all part of who I am and what I do. 

I expected to finish this post with some kind of jokey “I’m going to change, I’m going to repent” tone. Instead, I’m finishing nearly in tears (I’m serious), grateful for the joy these bikes have all bought me.

At some point, all these bicycles—the ones I have and the ones that have moved on—have become members of my family.

 

Self-Taught, Lousy Instructor

12.3.2014 | 10:35 am

The dirt-and-rock jump at the top of Zig in Lambert Park is not a big jump. At least, some of you wouldn’t think it’s a big jump. But ever since I first saw it, about five years ago, it’s been big enough that I have never been brave / foolish enough to try it. 

Sure, I’ve come close to doing it. Several times, in fact. I ride up to it, stop, take a good look at the approach, decide what the best line is and make sure that the landing looks safe.

Then I ride back a couple hundred feet, turn around, and come charging at it.

But by the time I’m 25 feet away from it, I already know I’m going to bail out. I’ve already started the process of bailing, in fact. My fingers are on the brakes. Instead of looking at the line for the jump, I’m looking at the little trail that veers away from it.

The line that’s been created for and by people like me. People who want to do this jump, but chicken out before they get there.

Five years I’ve done this. Abandoning every single time. 

Until last Sunday. 

The Hammer and I have been riding in Lambert Park, because Corner Canyon seemed like it might be too muddy. She’s been riding her singlespeed, I’ve been riding my Ibis Tranny 29. And I had told her, “Let’s make sure we come down from Corkscrew onto Zig. I’m going to do that jump today.

So, following my usual script, I rolled up to the jump, looked at it, made note of a little rock embedded in the dirt jump that seemed like a good mark for me to target. I rode back a couple hundred feet, turned around, and started toward the jump.

But this time, I did things a little differently. I took my braking fingers off the levers and wrapped them around the grips. I made myself focus on the little rock that meant I was lining up for the jump…instead of fixating on the bailout line.

I pedaled, hit the jump, caught nice air (probably four or five five horizontal feet, but felt like a lot more), landed comfortably and safely, and rolled to a stop by The Hammer, who was watching.

“I did it,” I said. “I finally did it, and it was easy.”

Then I went back and did it again. Twice.

Why Now?

So why, after five years of inspecting and fretting and last-moment-bailing, did I finally have the confidence to do this jump?

I think there are a couple reasons.

First, I have Rush to thank. This very popular down-only flow trail in Corner Canyon has—guessing here—a dozen whoop-de-doo-ish jumps. You can slow down and roll over them (which is what I used to do) or you can hit them fast and get some air (which is what I’ve started doing as I’ve become more confident this past two years). 

Yes, that’s right. This past two years marks the first time I’ve dared get any air at all. 

IMG 0809

Second, I have the new Ibis 941 wheels to thank. They’re much wider than normal mountain bike wheels, and can be run at much lower pressure without burping or pinch-flatting. I’ve been running them at around 15psi on all my rides, and they’re the most confidence-inspirting wheels I’ve ever used. They just seem to grip everything, corner unbelievably, and allow me to just stomp landings on my (admittedly modest) jumps.

And so, with the confidence that comes from lots of positive experience on smaller jumps, combined with wheels that I trust won’t betray me if/when I land hard, I’ve started doing some things that I haven’t dared do, up ’til now.

Why Not Before?

And now I’m getting to the point of this story. 

Like most cyclists, I’m more or less entirely self-taught. And I’ve never really questioned whether that was the right way for me to learn during this twenty-or-so years I’ve been riding. I mean, after all, I already knew how to ride a bike, right? So all I needed to do was ride more, and I’d get better.

Which is true, up to a point.

But a lot of what I learned about mountain biking got ingrained back when wheels were small, tires were hard as rocks, suspension didn’t suspend, and bike geometry was more guesswork than anything else.

Plus, I’m not what you’d call a “natural” at technical riding. I’m not one of those flowy, graceful smooth riders. I’m the opposite. Indeed, scientists postulate that if Danny MacAskill and I ever met, there would be a universe-ending talent/anti-talent explosion.

But while I don’t think I’ll ever be able to claim grace, I think I could aspire to technical competence. To confidence.

Maybe even to not riding like a complete goofball. A goofball that is making do with what he’s been able to figure out himself, rather than learning from people who have actual expertise.

From what I understand, there are some skills camps that are exactly for people like me. People who ride a lot and love riding and think about riding…but never actually, you know, learned to ride

I think, maybe, it’s time for me to learn to ride a bike.

Giving Tuesday: ALL Profits from Great Fatsby Pre-Order Go To WBR (And Get Matched)

12.2.2014 | 11:40 am

It’s December 2nd, often called Giving Tuesday. It’s also the penultimate day of my Great Fatsby pre-order.

So how about this: today, I’m going to donate ALL profits from pre-orders of The Great Fatsby, the Great Fatsby t-shirt, and the Team Fatty jersey to World Bicycle Relief.

But here’s the really crazy part: since the profits will be matched, the amount of money donated to WBR will in many cases be more than the cost of the item itself.

Here, let me give you a few examples.

Screenshot 2014 12 02 06 59 09

If You Pre-Order The Great Fatsby

Let’s just suppose you pre-order the Kindle version of The Great Fatsby. That costs you $9.95. Amazon.com takes a cut out of every Kindle book I sell, so my profit is $9.05. I’ll donate that whole $9.05. But also, that $9.05 gets matched anonymously, so the amount World Bicycle Relief gets when you pre-order this $9.95 book is $18.10.

Plus, by ordering it you still get two chances at winning any Ibis bike you want or getting into the Leadville 100.

Yeah, I know. Crazy. But true.

And just so we understand each other, this is a pre-order where you can specify the email where the redemption code will go. You (or whoever you specify in the email) will get the redemption code on December 10.

The math works out pretty similarly for paper versions of the book, although I can’t give you as exact of numbers (because the hard costs of the printed version depend on how many copies I order). But here’s a guestimate of how much will be donated for the various flavors of the book:

NewImage

If You Pre-Order A T-Shirt or Jersey

At $124.95, The Long-Sleeve Tecno Wool Long Sleeve Jersey is maybe already the best deal on a clothing Item I’ve ever offered. But with 100% of the profits being donated and matched to WBR today, that means you get a screaming deal on a beautiful, comfortable, Italian-made wool jersey…and WBR gets about $70.00 (and you get SIX chances at the bike and Leadville 100 entry).

So if you buy two, WBR makes enough to buy a bike for a schoolgirl in Zambia.

Matched set, anyone?

By the way, today is the last day you can order these Long-Sleeve Jerseys and still get them in time for Christmas.

As far as t-shirts go, if you buy one for $19.95, pretty much that exact amount gets donated to WBR (plus you get two chances at the prizes).

Astonishing. It’s like some insane and generous alchemy! 

But What About Bundles?

The bundles are already discounted, so of course there’s a little bit less profit built in to those. Still, here’s how things work out (not exact, because my prices depend on how many of different things I sell):

It’s pure madness, I tell you.

And, dare I say it: perhaps a really good reason to pre-order some Great Fatsby books and gear as Christmas presents. 

Guest Post from Dan Wuori, Who Wrote the Foreword (and Middleword, and Backword) of The Great Fatsby

12.1.2014 | 12:30 pm

A Note from Fatty: Today’s guest post comes from Dan Wuori, the back-page columnist for Velo Magazine. He also agreed to write the Foreword to my (very) soon-to-be-published The Great Fatsby: The Best of FatCyclist.com, Vol. 2

Also, he wrote the Middleword, something I don’t think many books have. I was joking when I asked him to write this, but he seemed willing, so I went with it.  

Finally, I asked him to write a Backword, too. By the time I asked him to write this, I was just seeing if there was anything Dan would say “no” to. Evidently, there is not.

In the interest of full disclosure, however, Dan did have a few demands before he would agree to write these three things in my book:

  1. That I ask everyone who reads my blog to follow Dan on Twitter and tell you how great he is. 
    (Hey everyone, follow Dan on Twitter! He’s really great!) 
  2. Pay him in 30% in Bitcoin, 30% in Dogecoin, and 30% in one-dollar bills, printed exclusively during years that are divisible by both three and seven. He seemed unaware that this did not come to 100%, and I wasn’t about to tell him.
  3. That, should we ever meet in person, I would salute him and greet him by saying, “Hail, Son of Krypton.” 

Also, you should know: Anyone who buys the signed and inscribed copy of The Great Fatsby today, tomorrow, or Wednesday will also get their book signed by Dan. 

And also, from now through Wednesday, you can use the FAT20 code to get 20% off on all your Great Fatsby pre-order purchases

Huzzah!

Guest Post from Dan Wuori

When Elden told me he planned to name his next book The Lament of the Purple Snipe, I told him it was quite possibly the worst title I had ever heard. But when he rang to explain that the name was a callback to a blog post about a groin injury (in which “snipe” was actually an anagram for the word “penis”), I had a change of heart – and told him it was definitively the worst.

In the end he named his bookThe Great Fatsby. It is my fervent hope that this is not another of Elden’s “clever” anatomical references..

Alright, that’s not entirely true. He called it The Great Fatsby because I thought it was funny and told him I wouldn’t write the foreword unless he did.

This also wasn’t true.

Maybe no one has ever asked you to write a foreword, but let me tell you it’s like the perfect Ocean’s Eleven-style heist. You do 1/500 th of the work and still end up in the Amazon.com search listings as if you’ve actually done something. You’d really have to be an idiot to say no. Still I told Fatty I wanted naming rights to the book, just to see who had the upper hand in this relationship.

I thought for a brief time it was me. But that was before I started writing.

I’ve been reading Elden’s blog for years. We don’t know each other well, but we both love cycling and share a certain sensibility as writers. The difference is that I’m much more content to write a magazine column once a month (over which I labor as if creating a plan to broker peace or rid the world of unsolicited Candy Crush invitations), whereas Elden manages to spew forth three times weekly with nary a proof read.

“I prefer first draft mediocrity,” he once told me.

[Note from Fatty: That is in fact an actual quote, and not out of context, either.]

But the truth is he takes this blog very seriously – and puts in a tremendous amount of time and effort to produce what you read here each week. The problem is, he expects others – namely me — to share his work ethic, which I’ve come to learn the hard way over the past several months as I’ve watched my 1/500th grow. And grow. And grow.

First there was the foreword. You know, the thing I actually agreed to write. Then he calls to say that he thinks the book needs a middleword. I thought I had the perfect out when I told him that there was no such thing and to leave me alone. But the next thing I knew I was writing a middleword. And a backwards. Suddenly I was feeling less like Danny Ocean and more like that casino owner Andy Garcia played, but whose name I’m just too lazy to Google.

And don’t even get me started on the edits. Even writing for American cycling’s journal of record, I’m not used to the kind of editorial scrutiny this guy exercises.

Can I make it little longer? Can I rework the ending? Can I add some dialogue in French so we can impress Johnny Depp? (Bonjour Johnny! Ca va?) The guy is full of demands.

And now the latest: can I write up a guest post for the blog? Well guess what? I just did.

Who’s the alpha dog now, Fatty?

(SHOP NOW: For a limited time only, if you purchase Dan Wuori’s new book Foreword, you will receive Elden Nelson’s The Great Fatsby for free. Or buy the deluxe version of the foreword for $123.96, use the FAT20 discount code and get the book, jersey, and a t-shirt for free!)

20% Off! Black Friday – Wednesday Deal on The Great Fatsby Pre-Order

11.28.2014 | 10:20 am

We’re down to the last few days of the pre-order of The Best of FatCyclist: Volume 2 – The Great Fatsby. And also—I know this will come as a big shock to a lot of you—beginning with today, everyone is putting everything on sale!

And I didn’t want to feel left out.

So, for the last few days of The Great Fatsby pre-order (now through Wednesday), you can use the FAT20 promo code to knock 20% off your pre-order. 

Screenshot 2014 11 28 07 29 38

Not just on the book, either. On everything, including the bundles, which are already nicely discounted.

Which means, for example, that you could buy the Great Fatsby Super Bundle—a signed and inscribed book, the long-sleeve wool tec-merino jersey, and the t-shirt—for $123.96

Which, if you’re not too good at math, means that you’re getting the signed and inscribed book and the t-shirt for free. 

Killer.

And just in case you are wondering, yes, the FAT20 promo code will work on your whole order (with the exception of the $10 WBR donation — a $10 donation is still a $10 donation).

But Wait! There’s More! 

Even with the 20% discount, you’re still getting the cool stuff that makes this pre-order really awesome (besides the fact that you’re going to be getting around 350 pages of my very best work, newly edited and footnoted practically into oblivion).

  • Chances at winning the Ibis bike of your choice: I don’t know if anyone else is giving away the Mojo HD3 that everyone is raving about (seriously, everyone is going nuts about this bike). Or you can get my personal choice, the Tranny 29. Or a Ripley 29. Or a Hakkalugi Disc. Whatever your pleasure, SRAM will gear it up with absolute top-end parts.
  • Chances at getting into the Leadville 100. That’s right, you and I could be hanging out and freaking out over racing the hardest-to-get-into, highest-in-America mountain bike century there is. That would rock.
  • 25% of the profits go to WBR: That is a serious donation. And the cool thing is, that 25% donation is going to get matched, dollar for dollar, turning it into a 50% donation. Killer.

Screenshot 2014 11 28 08 44 24

Curious About the Jersey and How It Fits?

One of the things I’m really excited about in this pre-order is the Team Fatty Tecno-Merino Wool Long-Sleeve Jersey.

it’s an incredibly comfortable and beautiful jersey—something you could wear both on and off the bike.

Wear it with a base layer or right against the skin—either way works great.

And I’ve got a size for most everyone: all the way from XXS to 5XL. Those of you who haven’t been able to get a FatCyclist jersey before because I haven’t had sizes small or large enough…well, now you can.

And they’re made in Italy. Yeah. 

And with the FAT20 code, you can score one for under $100 now. Yes, a long-sleeve, high-quality, Tecno-Merino jersey for less than $100

But quite a few of you have wondered what size will fit you. And I wondered the same thing. So The Hammer went to DNA Cycling, my partner for these jerseys, and tried on a couple of jerseys with the same cut. These should hopefully help you make a decision.

For reference, here’s a little bit about how tall and heavy The Hammer and I are right now (and yes, we’re definitely moving into our off-season weight):

  • Lisa (aka The Hammer): 5’7”, 128lbs.
  • Me: 5’7”, 168lbs. (Yeah, yeah, I’ve put ten pounds on since September.)

Here’s The Hammer wearing a size Medium: 

IMG 0860

As you can see, it’s a loose fit, even though she’s got a t-shirt underneath. She could easily wear a Small for a closer fit, which is probably what she’ll get for herself. That said, sizing up to a Medium means she can wear it more as a comfortable, loose-fitting sweater. 

(Unfortunately, DNA didn’t have any of the Small in stock, so I can’t show you how those would fit her)

And here I am, wearing a Medium: 

IMG 0865

I’m wearing this right against the skin. It fits perfect for riding: not tight, but close-fitting.

If I were just wearing this casually, I’d want a size Large: 

IMG 0870

Still fits great, but a more relaxed, looser feel. 

Oh, and just to give you a feel for what the back of the jersey looks like: 

IMG 0863

There are three traditional jersey pockets, as well as a zipped additional pocket in the back for your phone. That little white rectangle in the bottom center is reflective. 

And here’s a close-up of the color and texture of the wool, as well as the nice easy-pull zipper (the zipper pull is on the left, in case you care):

IMG 0903

Using the FAT20 promo code, you can get this jersey on its own for $99.96, with a signed copy of the book for $111.92, or with the Great Fatsby t-shirt and signed, inscribed copy of The Great Fatsby for $123.96.

Meet Dan Wuori

One last thing here: Dan Wuori, the hilarious genius behind the back page column in Velo magazine, has written the Foreword (along with a Middleword…and a Backword…which I’ll get to in another post) for The Great Fatsby. If you buy a book with a signed inscription today, I’ll get him to sign the book as well

Which, honestly, raises the value of the book to that of a fully-tricked-out Yugo. Easily.

Why Am I Doing This?

I haven’t traditionally done discounts, and I am a little bit nervous about this one. But here’s the thing: I’m self-publishing this, and the more books I order from the printer, the less each costs. At this point, I haven’t yet hit the 1000 book price break.

Which means that sales aren’t as awesome as I’d like them to be. Which bums me out just a titch, because I am outrageously proud of this book. It’s about 350 pages (yes, longer than I originally anticipated, thanks to a lot of footnotes) of what I consider to be some of my very best work.

And from a purely selfish, contest-oriented perspective, the lower sales combined with the fact that I’m giving away a bike and an entry into Leadville,  means that this might not be a bad thing for you to jump on, because your chances of scoring a bike in this contest are probably somewhat better than they usually are in my contests.

Regardless of whether you buy one thing, lots of things, or nothing, I do want to thank you for reading this blog. It’s been an awesome (almost) ten years.

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