Thankful, 2014 Edition

11.25.2014 | 2:06 pm

A Recap Note from Fatty: In social media and the comments, a few people have asked whether my book pre-order still has the contest component going on, so I thought it might be a good idea to do a quick re-cap of the highlights and logistics of my The Great Fatsby: The Best of FatCyclist.com Volume 2 pre-order:

  • What: The pre-order is a chance for you to pre-order my new book (regular, signed, inscribed, or Kindle), as well as a very cool tecno-merino wool jersey and t-shirt, (or a discounted bundle) with delivery by Christmas (as long as you live in the US).
  • The Contest Part: Depending on what you buy (the description for each item lists how many chances that item includes), you automatically are entered to win your choice of any Ibis bike, which will be equipped with top-of-the-line SRAM components.
  • The Charitable Giving Part: 25% of all profits will go to World Bicycle Relief. And that 25% gets anonymously matched, so WBR winds up getting 50%. Which is kind of mindboggling.
  • When: The Pre-order goes through December 3.
  • Where: Click here for the complete list of items. And thank you.

Thankful, 2014 Edition

2014 has been an exceptional year for me. 

That is not, by the way, how I wrote the introductory sentence on the first or second time. Originally, I said “hard year” and then tried “challenging year.” 

But I like “exceptional year” better, and I’m thankful for a lot of it.

I am thankful for patience. There have been a lot of things that have kept me up at night this year—some of them blog-related (yes, sometimes I fret about this blog), some of them family-related, some of them career-related.

Ten years ago, any one of those things would have had me worried sick for days. I guess I’ve seen enough now, though, that I’m able to keep focused and keep moving forward, affecting what I can, accepting what I can’t. 

I don’t know if I can claim much in the way of wisdom; I’ve never gone out of my way to seek wisdom out. But I think I’ve become a little more patient—both with people and events—and I think that’s a pretty fair substitute for wisdom.

I am thankful for health and strength. I am 48.5 years old now, and I predict that I will, sometime within the next two years, turn 50. I think that ought to freak me out, but it doesn’t (this may change without notice of course). 

Why? Because at 48.5, I’m faster, stronger, tougher, and healthier than I was at 28.5. 

I get sick very rarely, and when I do, it’s never been anything serious (I don’t think I’ve ever even had the flu).

The bicycle—and my love for the bicycle—has given me this gift of health, and as someone who has seen what true illness is, I am thankful for my health.

I am thankful for my friends. I’m at the age where everyone’s busy, all the time, and it’s easy to not do much with your friends. I missed the Core Team’s Fall Moab trip this year because I needed to work on The Best of FatCyclist.com Volume 2, and I’m still disappointed. That said, I feel like some of us reconnected this year, and I’m very thankful for that.

I’m thankful for the generosity of Team Fatty. I do very little projects, and for some reason all of you magnify them into things that are very big. You’ve changed thousands of lives; I love being a part of this.

I’m thankful for my kids. And by “my kids,” I mean both kids and stepkids. I didn’t realize that it would take a while before we all found a place in the family, and I won’t claim that everything feels seamless yet, but I feel really fortunate to have any part at all in all seven of these fantastic people’s lives.

I’m thankful for Lisa. Sure, on the blog I usually call her “The Hammer,” but in real life she’s Lisa, and I count myself very fortunate to be married to someone who loves the people and activities I love too.

I hope you’ve had an exceptional year too, and I hope you have plenty to be thankful for. I’d love to read about what’s on your mind.

 

As a Serious Cyclist, I Demand You Take Me Seriously

11.24.2014 | 11:32 am

A Note from Fatty: I’m happy to announce that my second Best of FatCyclist.com book, The Great Fatsby, is nearly finalized and going to the printer next week.

I’m even happier to announce that I’m genuinely happy with how it’s turned out. It’s about 350 pages (fifty or so pages more than the first volume), the intros, edits and annotations actually make the reading experience better, and Velo’s Dan Wuori has an awesome Foreword…and Middleword…and Backword. Yes, really.

To check out the book—and the beautiful tecno-merino long-sleeve jersey also on pre-order—by Christmas, click here. Thanks! 

As a Serious Cyclist, I Demand You Take Me Seriously

I’ll thank you very much to not mock my lifestyle, for I am a very serious cyclist. I have made incredible sacrifices to get to where I am today. I want you to respect them for what they are, and to see me as the dynamic, steel-eyed figure I see myself as.

You want examples? Oh, I’ve got examples. You may want to sit down, though, because these are going to rock your world.

Suffering

The overarching theme to my cycling is that I suffer. When I am riding my bike up a mountain pass (I do not trifle with things so mundane as hills), I evoke the image of a figure both heroic and tragic. “Who is this man?” passersby would wonder, if only there were someone to see me. “Who is this man who attacks the mountain with such cold fury? Such power? Such wrath melded with stoicism?”

People in the metal coffins they call cars—mere sheep, I despise them!—pass and look at me with what must be envy. I do not deign to return their gaze; they are mere sheep.

Instead, I ignore them and focus my energies—every nanogram of effort I can muster—into the pedals. “What emotional furnace drives him to push his body to its limits so? Is he paying penance? How is it possible that one man can exert such an extraordinary force of will?”

And lastly and above all, “Why does he suffer so?”

That is what they would say about me if they could look into my soul, if they had the capacity to understand how serious I am about cycling.

But they do not say any of these things. How could they? They do not (could not!) understand.

This is one of the reasons I hold them in contempt.

My Appearance

Look at me. No, don’t be afraid. Take a good long look. Is there anything about my appearance that does not indicate I am very serious about my cycling? 

My bib shorts are of the highest quality; the chamois alone is the product of more R&D than the automobile (a hybrid, I assure you) I drive when I am not on a bike. (Which, I assure you, is rarely.)

My glasses match my helmet, both of which match my jersey, which is as form-fitting as it is light. By the way, I resent my helmet, because my idols did not wear them and I consider them an insinuation that my bike handling skills are not sufficient to successfully resolve any situation that might arise.

Have no doubt that everything I own goes well with my shoes, and my socks are the proper length dictated by the most recent issue of Peloton magazine (which is the only magazine I find adequately serious for my cycling needs). 

My legs are freshly shaven, as are my arms. 

My face is studiously neutral. I have cultivated this expression so it appears this way at all times. You will never know whether I am about to attack or to be dropped.

My game face is my only face. I take my cycling that seriously.

Riding With Others

You say that you also ride a bike, and that we should ride together sometime? Well, I admire your audacity; I’ll give you that. But we could never ride together until I know a few key facts about whether you take cycling seriously enough to ride with my group.

First, I need to know whether you intend to wear that helmet with the visor clip on the ride. You know that’s a mountain bike helmet, don’t you? And that this will be a road bike ride? Don’t embarrass both of us by showing up with that.

Can you hold a speed within one one-hundredth of a mile per hour, without looking at a speedometer? Everyone in my group can. Can you hold your line within one millimeter (as a serious cyclist, I measure everything in metrics)? If you can’t, there’s no place for you in my group.

Under what circumstances do you ride in a paceline, and under which  is an eschelon preferable? What is the correct duration of a pull? How do you signal that you want someone to pull through? When did you most recently shave your legs?

I need to know all of these things. Fill out this form, make 15 copies, and I’ll get back to you. My very serious riding compatriots and I will think very seriously whether you are worthy of advancing to the next stage of the group ride interview process.

History

Tell me everything you know about Eddy Merckx. It’s important to me that you can speak about him in reverential enough tones and that you are fully versed in his life and racing statistics.

You don’t know that much about him, because he retired from cycling before you even knew professional cycling even existed? Obviously, you don’t take your racing history very seriously. If you can’t be effusive about someone who last raced about forty years ago, I don’t think we have that much to talk about. 

Fortunately for you, I have studied him at some length and will be happy to lecture you endlessly about the golden age of cycling.

Fun

I resent that you think, by being very serious about cycling, that I somehow do not have fun. I have exactly the right amount of fun. Two days ago, I did intervals specifically engineered to increase my capacity for fun: eight repetitions of thirty seconds of fun at my absolute limit, followed by two minutes of recovery. 

I can show you the the data from the event, if you’d like. I think you’ll find that I am 2% more fun than I was this week last year. That’s significant progress.

Besides, I do cyclocross. Cyclocross is fun. Last Sunday I raced a cyclocross event I peaked for. I wore a skinsuit for maximum aerodynamics, heckled other people within acceptable limits, and lectured all around me about how cyclocross is better in Belgium. 

And then I drank a beer. Beer is fun.

As long as it’s a serious beer.

Subtraction

11.19.2014 | 12:47 pm

Kindlecover

A Note for Kindle-Loving Friends of Fatty: I know that a lot of people these days prefer to read their books as e-books. In fact, I am one of those people. So it bothered me that I couldn’t figure out a way to make it possible to pre-order an e-book version of The Great Fatsby and still be entered in the contest to win the Ibis of your choice, not to mention have 25% of the profits go to World Bicycle Relief.

Well, I woke up at 4:00am today with an epiphany. Now I know how to do it, and it’s not even all that hard. Well, it will require some work on my end, but it’s do-able. 

The catch is, to keep the logistics from being entirely insane, I need to make Kindle the only e-book format this pre-order will work with. I’m OK with that; it seems like an acceptable compromise.

So, starting right now, you can pre-order a Kindle version of this book. Just click here to pre-order, and you’ll get a code emailed to you on December 10 to download the book.

Or, if you’re giving the Kindle version of the book as a gift, you can specify their name and email (and a gift message if you like) and the code will be sent to them on December 10. Easy.

Huzzah!

Subtraction 

I was on one of those long rides last summer, the kind where you’ve been out for a couple hours and have another few hours to go. You’re on a road you’ve ridden many times before and there’s not much new to see.

It was the kind of ride that lets your mind detach a little bit. To wander. 

And while I was thus wool-gathering, a question occurred to me—one that has grabbed me and gnawed at me ever since.

If I take me as I am, then subtract the bicycle, what do you have left?

It’s not an easy question to answer. It’s not even an easy question to interpret. But I’ve been considering it from a few angles.

How Big a Part?

I started listing the ways the bike is a part of my life. 

  • It’s more or less the only way I (enjoy) exercising. I ride a bike probably six days a week.
  • It’s how I stayed stable and centered when Susan was ill, and after she died.
  • It’s how I met The Hammer. 
  • It’s how my wife and I spend our time together. Sure, we occasionally go to a movie or restaurant, but more than anything else, we ride together.
  • It’s what I spend a couple hours each day writing about. Right now, for example.
  • It’s what I think about. When I’m not on a bike, I check bike blogs and news sites and bike manufacturer sites and racing sites and think about my next ride and think about racing. 
  • It’s how I make a difference. For whatever good I’ve done in the world, a huge chunk of it can be attributed to the bike. I raise money with bikes, I give bikes away, I go to charity rides, and I encourage all of you to do the same.
  • It’s what my friends do. Almost without exception, my best friends in the world…all ride bikes. And not casually, either. It’s what we do together. Most of us started in the same company (WordPerfect) long ago, but the bike gives us a reason to stay in touch and do something together.
  • It’s how I make friends. I’ve made a lot of friends through this blog. A lot of these friendships now transcend the bike, but the bike is still a part of all these friendships.
  • It’s tied to an important personal anniversary. Every year I do The Leadville 100. It’s more than a race to me, it’s a big chunk of who I am and how I think about myself. 

That is…a lot. And I’ve spent some time thinking about how my life would be different—how I would be different—if bikes were somehow subtracted from my life.

In a Non-Bike Universe…

Imagine a world where, for whatever reason, the bike simply does not exist. At all. Never has. How would I be different?

Would I still exercise? Would I have been able to be as good as I was to Susan? What would The Hammer and I do together? Would we have ever connected at all? What would I be writing right now (or during the past ten years)? About something different? Anything at all? 

Would I have ever become passionate about fundraising? 

I don’t know the answer at all to some of these questions. I can guess at others. I think I’d still exercise—before I had cycling, I played racquetball a few days each week, and I rollerbladed (yes rollerbladed) to work and back each day, about eight miles each way. Don’t judge, that’s where my quads came from.

But I think exercise would just be something I do—not something I love, not one of the defining characteristics of me.

Maybe The Hammer and I would have gotten together; after all, our first date was a run, not a ride. But because we each are faster / stronger than the other in one of these two events, we have great balance and understanding of the other. I don’t know how our relationship would be different without the bike, but I do know it would be massively different.

I wrote—a lot—before I ever took up biking; I’m sure I’d be writing something. Maybe Random Reviewer would have survived if I hadn’t been focusing on bikes so much. But probably not.

More importantly than any of these one activities, though, is who I’d be if there were no bikes. Would I have experienced the catalytic moments that have made me do so much fundraising? I kind of doubt it, to be honest. I don’t by nature go seeking things like that out. 

Because of the bike, they’ve come to me and I have helped a lot of people make the world a better place.

Of course, there’s no way to check this. No way to verify who I would be in this universe. But I think about it, and I can’t help but be incredibly glad and grateful for what the bike has given me, for what it has made me into.

If Bikes Were Taken Away From Me

The other way I could interpret this question is, “What if I couldn’t ride?” In other words, what if something were to happen to me and I could no longer ride my bike?

It’s incredible, really, how physical my reaction is when I consider this question. I become literally queasy. My anxiety level jumps to the level of near-panic, and I feel smothered. Believe me when I say that I’m not exaggerating here.

I think this is because while a “universe without bicycles” thought experiment is mildly interesting, this second interpretation of the “Who am I without bicycles” question is a little too real of a possibility. 

What if I had an accident? What if I had a disease? And because of whatever the circumstance is, I just couldn’t ride anymore? Ever again?

Yes, there it is again: that feeling.

Regardless of whether I think about bikes too much, they’ve become such an enormous part of me that it affects me physically to consider myself without them as a part of my life. It’s like considering what my life would be like without air. That sounds like hyperbole, I know, but take a look at how I described how I feel: it’s not that different from how I’d describe what it feels like to be held under water.

Still, it’s worth thinking about for a minute, because it’s instructive. To consider how important something is in your life, consider the universe without it. Then, make it personal: consider it being taken away from you. 

And then, be grateful for it.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. Consider the question, “If you take yourself as you are, then subtract the bicycle, what do you have left?

I’ll be very interested to read your responses.

Good News, Good Reviews

11.18.2014 | 11:33 am

Last week I announced that as part of the pre-order on my upcoming book, The Great Fatsby: The Best of FatCyclist.com, Vol. 2someone is going to win an Ibis bike of their choice

I mentioned the Tranny 29—my own personal bike, which I’ve been riding as a singlespeed and as a fully geared go-everywhere, do-anything bike. 

I’ve mentioned the Ripley 29, which Boston Carlos won last year, and now rides and loves.

What I did not mention at the time, however, was something I knew (and yet managed to keep secret): that Ibis would be announcing and launching a new bike in very short order.

And that bike would be the all-new, incredibly beautiful Ibis Mojo HD3:

NewImage

This is a 27.5” all-mountain MTB, and it was just announced yesterday, to extraordinarily positive reviews from BikeRadar, VitalMTB, and everyone else who’s been lucky enough to ride one.

NewImage 

I, unfortunately, am not one of those lucky few who has ridden one (yet). 

However, I think I am the only one who may get to give one away

Because, yes, I had the foresight when I was talking to Chuck Ibis about including an Ibis in my pre-order giveaway, to ask, “Can the owner choose any Ibis bike, including this new one you’re launching next week?”

Yeah, I had to frame it like that, because Chuck wouldn’t tell me the name of the bike. Sheesh. But I couldn’t stay mad at him because he said, “Of course.”

So yes: when you buy anything from my book pre-order store, you’re automatically entered for chances in the giveaway (the number of chances is included in each item description).

And, lest you forget, 25% of the profit goes to WBR.

And you might win an entry into the Leadville 100.

And you actually get the thing you’re buying.

And I’ll actually get a little something for the ten years of writing I’ve put into this blog. Which I hope you’re OK with.

NewImage

People Are Nice To Me

A few days ago, I listed a few folks who have been nice enough to send me short reviews of their thoughts on The Great Fatsby

Well, I sent out some sample chapters to a few more cyclists I really respect, and have gotten some more great feedback. 

Kathryn Bertine is a pro cyclist, the director / producer of the important cycling documentary Half The Road, as well as the author of the must-read As Good As Gold. Here’s what she says:

The Great Fatsby is not unlike The Great Gatsby; one big party with a few necessary morals for good measure. What’s great about Fatty’s writing is his ability to entertain and educate–not just for the cycling audience, but for all readers who enjoy taking a peek behind the curtain of niche cultures. Fatty reminds us of the true joys of cycling, and his self deprecation will keep you laughing cover to cover. We’re lucky to have him–and his witty words– in the sport.

Patrick Brady (aka “Padraig”) is the honcho at Red Kite Prayer, one of the sites I visit every single day. Here’s what he says:

It’s a difficult thing to be funny in print. It’s even harder to revisit existing work and find fresh ways to be funny. Such is Elden’s talent. Perhaps the truest thing I can say of this book is that I envy his gift for finding laughs in the flattest light. 

Levi Leipheimer is a pro cyclist, the namesake of the best Gran Fondo in the world, and a really good guy. He said this about my book:

The Great Fatsby is, of course, very funny and sheds a comedic light on a sport that often takes itself too seriously. The far more pleasant surprise is its raw, poignant, and introspective truth about why we simply love to ride bicycles.

Bike Snob NYC is a better writer than I am, and his blog is funnier. There. I said it. So it was incredibly cool of him to send me this quote: 

Fat Cyclist is the Godfather of Bike Bloggers.  Just when you thought you were out…he pulls you back in.

Does it seem like I’m kind of hammering you on pre-ordering this book (and jersey, and t-shirt)? I know. Here’s why: I’m making some big personal bets on it. (No, not actual gambling-style bets). So, if you’ve already bought a copy, thanks for your patience.

And if you haven’t, well, you’re exactly the person I’m talking to. 

Tomorrow, I promise: less selling, more regular-style blogging.

PS: If you haven’t read my first Best of book, Comedian Mastermind, the Kindle version is now cheap as dirt.

Here, Have a Free Slice of My New Book, for Free

11.17.2014 | 10:07 am

Today, I am beginning what may be the busiest week I have ever lived in my life. Here are the things that are happening:

  1. I am finishing my edits of my new book. I may have to do some late nights to make this happen, but I will get it done.
  2. Something I can’t tell you. It’s important and kind of a big deal to me personally, but doesn’t have anything to do with cycling or this blog.
  3. I am completing and submitting an application to a reality TV show, at their request. I will either have more to say on this in the future…or I won’t. I guess it all depends on whether anything happens after this. What surprises me about this, though, is how much work it is to put this application together.

Why am I telling you all this? Because even with all this, I still plan to post as often as possible this week. Why am I doing this? Because I love you, you big crazy bunch of Friends of Fatty.

And also, because I have some kinda really amazing stuff to tell you about. 

IMG 0834

Pre-Order My Book (or Long-Sleeve Jersey, or Both), Get a Chance at  Racing The Leadville Trail 100 

It’s probably no secret that The Leadville 100 mountain bike race is a massive part of my life. That it has, for each of the past 18 years, been the focus of my racing efforts. 

It’s also no secret that this race is pretty darned difficult to get into. I don’t know the numbers, but anecdotally it seems like entering the lottery gives you about a one-in-ten chance of getting in.

So I’m pretty excited to announce today that someone who pre-orders my book (or any of the items in my online store, including the t-shirt, jersey, a WBR donation, or a bundle) is going to draw a free entry into this race.

Yes, really.

And those of you who have already pre-ordered something? Yeah, you’re already entered in the drawing. How about that?

And even if you don’t win, well…you’re still getting the book (or whatever it is you ordered). And 25% of the profit still goes to World Bicycle Relief.

So no matter what, you get something cool (I promise, my book is cool…more on that in just a minute) and help the world become a more awesome place.

NewImage

And of course, you also have a chance at winning any Ibis you want, completely tricked out with a top-end SRAM build.

Oh, and also…I’ll be announcing more prizes soon. Including one that is going to require you to have a current passport.

Here, Let Me Give You a Big Chunk of The Great Fatsby For Free Right Now

I am, in addition to being a beloved and award-winning superstar celebrity in the cycling blogosphere, a fairly imaginative person. This is, mostly, a good thing. Thanks to this trait, I generally have a pretty easy time of coming up with things to write about, and the writing process is a lot easier for me than it is for most people.

However, this imagination also makes for some freak-out-edness sometimes. I worry about things I shouldn’t. I lose sleep. I fret about worst-case scenarios, in spite of the fact that this worrying does me no good.

NewImageThis surprises you, doesn’t it?

No? Oh well, let’s continue anyway.

So this morning I was talking to The Hammer, telling her how it worries me that my readers don’t know much about my new book, The Great Fatsby. You haven’t seen it and don’t know whether you’ll like it. So you don’t know whether you’re going to want to buy it.

“Well, why don’t you give them a sample to look at, so they can decide for themselves whether they want it?”

Oh. Well. Duh. Have I mentioned that one of the downsides of being an imaginative person is that I’m not a particularly practical person?

But I can recognize a good idea when I hear it. So here you go: a PDF of the first 28 pages of Chapter 3: “Valuable, Practical How-To Guidance You Can Use Right Now,” from The Great Fatsby

Yeah, a 28-page sample—that’s about half the chapter. That should keep you busy for a little while…and it should give you a pretty good idea of whether you’re going to enjoy the book.

If you do, I hope you’ll pre-order it

And I’ll be interested to hear what you think in the Comments.

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