A Note from Fatty: Upon reading my “Open Letter to Co-Workers of All Cyclists,” Dug texted me, saying, “You forgot the part about changing in the parking lot.” I replied, “You’re right, I did forget. But that’s a complex topic and would be a whole ‘nuther letter.”
Dear Co-Workers With Window Offices,
Don’t worry, this isn’t the letter you think it’s going to be. You know, the one where I complain loudly and bitterly about how unfair it is that you have a window office, while I have an interior cubicle adjacent to the HVAC closet with the HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS sign on the door.
No, that is a different letter for a different day. Probably one with a lot of exclamation marks and interrobangs.
This letter, on the other hand, is just a friendly reminder, an explanation, and a request, all made in the spirit of cooperation, improving company dynamics, and interoffice communications. And any other buzzwords I might have missed. Like “synergy,” probably.
Yes, let’s go with that: this letter is about improving departmental synergy.
My request is an easy one. One that you will have no difficulty complying with. It will take little — if any — of your time. In fact, I suspect that you’ll be very glad that you do as I am about to ask.
Simply put, I’d like to ask you, should you ever notice me walking out into the parking lot in the middle of the day, to not look out your window for the next seven minutes.
In fact, I’d regard it as a kindness and a going-of-the-extra-mile if you’d just draw the blinds. So that other people — people less in-the-know than you — also don’t look out the window for the next seven minutes.
Because you are, by nature, a curious person and perhaps now would like to know why I would like you to look pretty much anywhere but into the parking lot for approximately seven minutes, I will explain why this is important.
I feel I owe you that much.
What I Am Doing…And Why
I’m going to be honest with you here, co-workers. Honest to the point where it might affect my Christmas bonus or chances of moving up the company ladder.
Which would be a bigger deal if I actually thought there were any chance of getting a Christmas bonus, or of moving up the company ladder.
The reason I don’t want you to look out that window for seven minutes is because that’s when I’m changing into my bike clothes and heading out for a lunch (or brunch, or mid-afternoon snack) ride.
I know. You probably figured that much out. But still, you might be wondering: why? Why would I be changing clothes, hidden only by my car doors and the vehicle I am parked next to? Why would I not be instead changing clothes in the bathroom, provided by the company for my convenience?
I have my reasons.
First, I don’t like to carry all my gear into the office when I arrive in the morning, because there’s a lot of gear there — enough, in fact, that it might look to a casual observer like I’m planning to spend the night.
And to a more observant observer, it might look like I’m planning to go on a ride during company time. Which I am, but I don’t really want to broadcast that information far and wide.
Further, I don’t want you all to see me leave the office in cycling clothes at 11:30am, then returning at 2:30pm in the same cycling clothes. If you do that, it’ll be way too easy for you to connect the dots as to where I’ve been in the intervening time. Whereas if you see me leave the office at 11:30 in my regular clothes, and then see me at 2:30 in the afternoon still in my regular clothes, I like to imagine that you will suspect nothing.
OK, I realize these reasons don’t exactly relay that I have much confidence in your powers of deduction, but they’re my reasons, and I’m holding tight to them.
What I Do Not Want You To See
During the seven minutes I would like you to not look out your window, I will be changing out of my work clothes and into my bike clothes.
Yes, I will be changing my clothes. In the parking lot. At work.
Don’t worry, though, I will have cleverly constructed a zone of privacy through the medium of parking in a far corner of the parking lot and next to large vehicles. Then, by opening both the rear and front door on the passenger side of my car while slightly stooping, I will have a nicely private changing room, just so long as you don’t look very closely.
That said, I will still be somewhat visible. And I will be changing clothes, moving at a rate that can be accurately described as “comically fast.”
I will strip my pants off in a fluid motion, then very likely hop around at least a couple of times as I fail to get my foot through my lycra bib shorts. Sure, it’s possible that I’ll get them through the first time — I generally don’t have any trouble with this maneuver when I’m not in a hurry, ironically — but I’m quite a bit more likely to fall down.
And you don’t want to see that. Any more than I want you to see it. Trust me on this.
Then, with my shorts on, I will pull off my shirt. This is, more than anything else, the part you do not want to see. Sadly, this is also the part you are most likely to see, due to the fact that my pale skin reflects all available sources of light, and is likely to catch your eye and make you wince.
I apologize for the inevitable afterimage that will be burned onto your retina. It will fade within a few hours. I promise.
Then I will get my helmet and shoes on and ride away, as if nothing had just happened. With your help, we can both share in this charade. And we’ll both be happier for it.
More Things I Do Not Want You to See
Oh, I forgot. There’s a second part to this. Because in a couple hours (or so) I’ll be returning. Happier. Sweatier. And in need of getting back into my work clothes.
Once again, I’d like you to look away for seven minutes or so. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say it’s more important that you look away.
Because I’m going to take an improvised shower in the parking lot.
First, I’ll set up my changing room in much the same way I did earlier in the day. Then, I’ll take a gallon of water I keep in my car and pour it over my head. (Being bald has its benefits, and this is one of them.)
Then I’ll get out an ActionWipe, do some additional cleanup (which I choose to not describe here), and then get dressed.
Then, head held high, I will walk back into the office, confident that I have committed the perfect crime. In spite of the fact that every single person I work with knows exactly what I’ve been doing.
That’s not important. What’s important is my self-delusion, which I can maintain only if you help.
So please, don’t look out of your window into the parking lot whenever you see me walk out toward my car in the middle of the day.
And, while we’re at it, I’d appreciate it if you’d keep the knowing smirks and raised eyebrows afterward down to a minimum.
The Fat Cyclist
PS: Also, please do not call the authorities.
Suppose there were an island in New York, just a quick ferry trip ride from the city. And suppose that island used to be a military installation, but now is abandoned.
What would you do with all the space in these now-abandoned military homes?
The possibilities are endless, no?
The reality — because there is such a place, called Governors Island — is that these spaces are lent to 100 NYC artists: painters, photographers, sculptors, and more.
And then, during the month of September, the whole place becomes an amazing — and free to the public — art fair.
It’s a brilliant, wonderful use of the place, and it’s all run by a few volunteer/artist types.
Like my genius artist sister, Lori Nelson.
She, along with the other good folks at 4Heads.org, are running a Kickstarter to make ends meet. They’ve hit and passed their goal of $15,000, but they could use a little more help.
and since a lot of the incentives for helping fund the Kickstarter are artwork my genius sister created, I’m going to extra-strongly recommend you check out and fund the Kickstarter (which ends Sunday).
For $50, you can get a fine art print of her “Stupid Hair” painting, from the Cryptotween series:
Or the one I picked: “Overbite:”
Or you can get a t-shirt with this very weird squirrel on it:
How odd that this very strange-looking squirrel obscured some of the text. I wonder what it says? I guess we’ll never know.
Oh, here’s my niece, modeling said t-shirt:
She probably makes it look better than you will. Don’t feel bad about that, though.
One last time, click here to go to the Kickstarter.
And have a great weekend.
Dear Co-Workers of Every Cyclist in the World,
On behalf of all of us — your cycling co-workers — I’d like to express our appreciation for you. You are, by and large, really good about looking the other way when we park our bikes in our cubicles, and when we bring food into meetings that looks like it’s designed to be consumed by astronauts. And you cheerfully put up with our goofy post-ride endorphin rushes.
That’s wonderful of you. It really is.
Also, I’d like to acknowledge and apologize for our weirdness and shortcomings. We know that we tend to talk about things that make no sense whatsoever to you. We know that our freshly-shaved legs creep you out.
We know that we can be a self-righteous, indignant lot, screaming about cars and exhaust and close calls and non-existent road shoulders and bike lanes. Don’t take it personally; we’re just a little bit amped up because we just stared death in the face for a moment. We’ll be calm again as soon as our “fight or flight” reaction runs its course.
So, again, thank you.
With all that said, we have a few requests we’d like to make in how you interact with us from this point forward, in order to ensure a happy, productive work environment for all of us.
1. Do not schedule meetings just before we go on rides. If you want to get our full attention during a meeting, please do not schedule that meeting so it ends right when we have a ride scheduled to begin.
Right from the beginning of that meeting, we’ll be fretting about whether this meeting is going to end on time, and that fidgety staring at the clock will only increase as the minutes go by.
We’ll be thinking about how we can get our gear ready as fast as possible, whether our bikes are ready to go, whether it would be considered acceptable to eat something during the meeting so we won’t be depleted at the beginning of the ride.
We’ll be thinking about the route: either planning one out if we didn’t already have a specific ride plan, or tracing the route in our minds if we do already have a plan.
We will not be thinking about the meeting. This much I can guarantee.
As you get closer to the designated time for the meeting to end, our fidgeting and distractedness will only increase.
If your meeting goes long, we will either claim that we have a conflicting meeting that requires us to be present (which is technically true, since we cannot be on a bike ride unless we’re actually on our bikes), or we’ll just stare daggers at you until you feel so uncomfortable that you end your meeting.
2. Do not schedule meetings just after we’ve been on rides. Look, we do our very best to have our rides end when we say they’re going to, but events beyond our control can occur. For example:
- We might get a flat tire
- We might get lost
- We might decide that it’s too nice a day to come back to work just yet
Also, once we do get back from our rides, we’re going to need a little time to adjust. We’re so full of endorphins and the general sense of well-being that comes with riding that it’s not easy to drop back into the hell that is the modern conference room.
Plus, it takes a few minutes — or possibly three-quarters of an hour — for our bodies to realize that it is now time to stop sweating profusely.
It’s best for us to be alone during that time.
3. Do not schedule meetings that conflict with the best time of day for a ride. Hey, we’re happy to work as much as it takes for us to get our jobs done. Don’t go thinking that we’re slackers. But the fact is, we can work at any time during the day (or even during the night), but there are only a few hours per day that are perfect for riding. Hours when it is not too cold, nor too hot. When it’s not too dark. When (for those of us who ride on the road) there isn’t a ton of traffic.
Do not schedule meetings during those times. Those times are sacred. Those times are when we want to be on a bicycle.
Oh, and by the way, those times shift constantly as seasons progress and change, and as days become longer and shorter.
Also, some days we like riding in the cold (or hot, or rain, or snow, or dark), so what constitutes the best time of day for a ride might be a little bit difficult for you to pin down.
Just don’t schedule a meeting during that time, OK?
4. Do not schedule meetings that conflict with a window of good weather. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes it snows. By and large, we — your cycling co-workers — don’t really want to ride during these times (unless we have fatbikes, or we ride CX).
And then, sometime during the day, a window of good weather will open. Just long enough for a little ride.
Don’t go scheduling meetings during these windows. They’re precious, precious windows, and if we’re in a conference room as they open and shut, our souls will wither and die.
Honest. They really will.
Oh, also: if you’ve scheduled a meeting before it becomes clear that your meeting time conflicts with the only good weather of the day, we’d really appreciate it if you’d reschedule the meeting. We’re not fussy about the reason. Thanks.
5. Do not schedule meetings that are just far enough apart that we could almost — but not quite — go for a ride between them. Don’t tease us with 90-minute gaps between meetings. Between the time it takes us to get ready for a ride, go on the ride, and then get back into work clothes, ninety minutes just isn’t enough.
Schedule us back-to-back, or schedule us with at least 2.5 hour gaps.
That’s reasonable, isn’t it?
6. Do not schedule big deadlines during Spring. Or Summer. Or early autumn. It may not seem that way to the rest of you, but we cyclists are absolutely committed to our jobs. But we are also big believers in work-life balance. And we’d like you to respect that. So after a long winter, it’s important to us to get out and get some riding in; surely whatever projects you have in mind for us can wait a little bit while we get back in the saddle.
Similarly, Summer is kind of when we do the bulk of our training, not to mention when most of our big races are. So try to keep things light, job-wise, during that season if at all possible (and we all know that it is possible).
And finally, Autumn is really the best time of year for riding. We just want to get in a little more saddle time before the snow flies and the off-season begins, OK?
But we’re totally yours during the Winter. Really, we are. Unless we have CX or fatbikes, I mean.
7. Don’t expect us to come to your offsites, your after-work get-togethers, or your team-building exercises. We have other plans.
Please observe these simple, easy-to-follow rules and we’ll get along famously.
We look forward to working with you.
The Fat Cyclist
Dear Lucky Eventual Winner,
First off, I should probably remind you: you have only a few more days to enter the contest to win a trip to Northern California. The one that is benefitting the Forget Me Not Farm. The contest ends Thursday at 11:55pm PT, October 2.
But the real reason I am writing you is that I feel I owe you an apology. Not for the fact that you have just won an incredible all-expenses-paid vacation at Boggs, a suite of races — a hill climb, an eight-hour team relay, and a downhill race — in a beautiful location. A race which sells out almost as soon as it opens.
No, I am not apologizing to you for that. Why would I?
What I am apologizing to you, Lucky Winner, is for what some people might call my excessive exuberance during this event. For my tendency to…shall we say…allow my cup of happiness to overflow. And to slop around and make a bit of a mess, to speak quite frankly.
I recognize now, from the below recent conversation which I had with Levi Leipheimer and his duly appointed legal representative Greg Fisher, that I can celebrate, from time to time, perhaps overmuch.
Please, allow me to explain what I expect the weekend to be like.
And to ask for your understanding in advance.
Upon Your Arrival
When you arrive in either the San Francisco or the Oakland airport on Thursday, May 30, I will do my best to be waiting there for you, with my arms open wide. If I cannot be there, I will find someone who is approximately the same height and weight as me to take my place.
Whether we embrace or give each other an enthusiastic handshake is up to you. High-fives are not on the table, due difficulties I have with eye-hand coordination.
From there, we shall whisk you away to Santa Rosa, driving in a reasonably-priced automobile, which will be equipped with both air conditioning and a stereo.
We will take the greatest care to make the automobile comfortable for you, by removing fast food wrappers before your arrival, and adjusting a combination of air conditioning dials and car windows to reach a temperature you find acceptable.
I will see to it personally that the stereo is tuned to play the radio station of your choosing.
An Evening of Luxury
Once you are in Santa Rosa, I will take you to NorCal Bikesport, where we will fit you for the bicycle you will use during this weekend. It will be the very finest in mountain bicycles, and the people at NorCal will treat you with the respect you would expect when you are my guest.
No. With more respect than you would expect to be given a guest of mine. If that is even possible.
Then we shall pay a visit to the Forget Me Not Farm. Odessa Gunn will perhaps give us a tour. Levi Leipheimer will perhaps saddle up and ride a llama. It will be an unforgettable afternoon, which will be topped off with a dinner at the franchised restaurant of your choosing.
If you like, you may even order a dessert.
High-Class Camping in a Recreational Vehicle
But your trip has just begun, for on the next day, after staying at a hotel — you need not worry, we will have separate rooms — we shall board a rented recreational vehicle, which has been stocked with tools, our bicycles, and BikeMonkey staff to wait upon our every need.
Also, there will be food. And pie of multitudinous variety, including but not limited to your favorite three flavors. We will feast on pie, you and I.
And I may very well grill bratwurst. Stranger things have happened.
We shall park at a primo spot, and then you, Levi, and I will walk around like we own the place.
Don’t worry, Levi is actually quite well-behaved, once you defeat him in a contest of some sort. I recommend a staring contest or indian leg wrestling.
We shall pick out spots for sleeping in this RV. I shall let you pick first. And if Levi tries to take your spot, well, he’ll get what’s coming to him.
The Hill Climb
When you and I embark upon the hill climb race on the first day, I shall do everything I can to ensure you do well in the race. This is includes attaching one end of a strong cord to Levi’s seatpost and the other end to your handlebar.
I’m very interested in your success, Contest Winner. Very interested indeed.
After this effort concludes, we’ll dine on all-beef frankfurters (or a substitute hotdog-shaped vegetable product, if that’s your choice) and soft drinks. Also, there may be alcoholic beverages to drink, as long as you promise to drink no more than Levi’s body weight (84 pounds).
The Main Event
I will do my utmost to not snore while sleeping in our RV, eventual winner, though you must cut me some slack in this regard. Once I’m asleep, there’s really not much I can do about it. Feel free to nudge me if necessary.
In the morning, I shall scramble you some eggs, or pour milk on your breakfast cereal. I am a versatile man, and will go out of my way to ensure your happiness.
Then it will be time for us to race in the 8 Hour Relay Event. I’ll go first. Or Levi will. Or you can. It’s your call entirely, for you are the boss. Don’t let Levi intimidate you into thinking he is the boss, because he is not.
If you want to go fast like some kind of crazy person, I am all for that, and will follow your lead, absolutely gutting myself in order to win glory for our team.
Levi has indicated he will do the same.
Likewise, however, if you prefer just to relax and rid a lap or two at an easy pace, that’s what we will do. The long and short of it is, we will figure out what would make a race fun for you, and then we will go out and have that fun.
And if I get a little bit too enthusiastic and sometimes annoy those around me due to my yipping and hopping around from foot to foot, I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me. I am who I am.
No matter how fast — or how relaxed — we go, however, I can guarantee you one thing: that we will win our division. The reason I can make such a guarantee is that we will have a division of our very own.
We’re going up on the podium, you and I. Yes we are.
The Super D
I understand that we have the option to race a downhill event. I intend to spectate. I know what I’m good at, after all, and what I’m not.
If you choose to race, however, I will cheer you on with all the enthusiasm you could ever hope for or want.
Or indeed, tolerate.
You and I will become melancholy on the trip back to the airport, knowing that our weekend is at a close. And yet we will be grateful for the moments we have shared.
There is no chance we will not embrace.
I look forward to our adventure together. As does Levi. As will you. So you’d better donate now. Before it’s too late (For example, Friday is too late).
The Fat Cyclist
A Note from Fatty: A few weekends ago, The Hammer, the twins and I got to spend a couple of days hiking and camping with Heidi, the winner of the contest The Hammer ran as a fundraiser for World Bicycle Relief.
Heidi is awesome. Also, she dyes yarn for a living. If you’ve never known that yarn can be beautiful (I didn’t, for example), you should check out Heidi’s Etsy store: Grant Creek Yarns.
Heidi agreed to write up the story from the weekend, giving me a nice little day off (for about the first time ever, I have had to do exactly no editing to this guest post).
Also, Heidi’s post gives me a great chance to remind you that I’ve got a new contest going on right now — a chance to come race on a team with Levi Leipheimer and me. This contest — which benefits Forget Me Not Farm — ends a week from today, so you better go donate soon.
Heidi’s Guest Post: The Gooseberry Yurt / Hiking Zions Weekend
Hi, I’m Heidi, the lucky winner of the Gooseberry Yurt Vacation, here to report on our grand adventure.
I was absolutely delighted to win this trip, and spending a weekend hiking in Zion was right up my alley. Lisa and Elden were brave souls to open their lives up to a complete stranger from Montana. I was tickled to hear that Elden’s twins would be able to join us; the more the merrier, and it was fun to hear their take on things.
Due to the timing of my flight along with the long (beautiful!) drive, it would have been fairly late by the time we reached the yurt. Rather than unpack and set up in the dark, Lisa switched up the plans and we spent the first night at an elegant home about an hour from Zion that was made available by her friends. There I learned fascinating, possibly little-known facts about Lisa and Elden: Lisa was a contestant on The Price is Right (we watched the video!), and Elden makes a kick-ass cup of French press coffee.
We packed a lot into the weekend. I had never been to Zion, and Lisa was excited to show it off. On Saturday morning, we hiked four miles up to Observation Point, gaining 2,100 feet in elevation. The website for Zion http://www.zionnational-park.com/ describes it well:
“Spend a few hours trudging up a steep mountainside to one of the best viewpoints offered by the list of Zion’s classic trails. This challenging path is complete with dizzying drop offs and eye popping scenery looking down into Zion Canyon. The maintained path zigzags its way up the steep mountainside beside familiar reddish Navajo sandstone before venturing through Echo Canyon, a deep gorge filled with water gnawed sandstone pockets. Near the top of the trek you will see white rock; this layer is known as the Temple Cap formation. Beyond Echo Canyon walls drop sharply, giving way to spectacular views. At the trails end, looking down into the canyon is a spectacular display of stone sculptures contrasted by the bluest of skies – thanks to the clean air of southern Utah.”
There was so much to see, and the views kept changing along the way.
Lisa pointed out that the four one-mile sections up alternated between comfortable and steeper/more challenging. It reached 93 degrees in the park that day, and I had to call breaks to catch my breath on the final mile (but I think the twins secretly cheered when I did). Lisa, of course, looked fresh as a daisy.
Here is the stunning view that awaited us at the top:
After lunch, we were ready to walk up the Narrows River. It was fun to watch so many people of different ages, shapes, sizes, and nationalities bobbing and laughing in the river. I was glad I took Lisa’s suggestion and used one of the walking sticks left by earlier waders, otherwise I might have ended up in the drink.
After picking up some fantastic brick oven pizza from the Pizza Wagon in the town of Hurricane, we headed to the yurt. It’s quite a ride in! It was later than anticipated, so we were fortunate to have an almost-full moon to light our way. The yurt is a camper’s paradise with very comfortable accommodations. (Thanks so much, Kenny and Heather! I’m sorry you weren’t able to join us, I would have loved to meet you.) Elden built an admirable fire; s’mores were consumed and we enjoyed a camp song the twins learned at Camp Kesem. The next morning brought a quick rainfall and Elden snapped a shot of this gorgeous rainbow:
Yup, it was pretty tough having to wake up to that view… Absolutely amazing. What a great place.
We returned to the park and hiked to the three Emerald Pools. Late in the season, they were lower than Lisa had ever seen them, but they were still very beautiful.
And then wham, bam, it was time to hit the road and get me back to the airport for my return flight to Missoula.
I can’t thank Lisa, Elden, and the girls enough for accepting me into their pack for a weekend and sharing this wonderful adventure with me. I was made to feel so welcome, and I came away with some lovely memories. Many, many thanks.
As a reminder for how my weekend came about… World Bicycle Relief made an excellent decision in choosing Lisa to be a Team WBR Ambassador. Lisa has surpassed her original fundraising goal of $20,000; her current total stands at $23,726, enough to buy 177 bikes. So many lives will be changed!
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