Free Verse Friday: Illustrated Ode to a Yurt on a Calm Spring Morn

03.28.2014 | 9:50 am

A Note from Fatty: 

Friday
End of week approaches
I am excitement
Personified.

Singletrack
To ride with friends
On perfect trail
I just can’t even.

The Hammer
And Kenny and Heather
And I
Shall all be riding
Near St. George
On Gooseberry Mesa
Which I should note 
Is known to be the best trail
In the whole world.

But wait!
There is more!
We will be camping-in-quotes
Staying in a yurt  
Of Kenny’s own construction
Right on the border
Of Gooseberry Mesa.

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Tent?
I should say not
It is more like a nice apartment
Check it out from within.

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We are bringing four bikes
Two singlespeeds
And two geared hardtails
All four are Stumpjumpers
All four are carbon
All four are 29ers.  

IMG 4503

The Hammer
Has made quiche
We will bring it with us
One is vegetarian
Without onions 
(It is for Heather)
The other one will be
Delicious.

My GoPro is charged
And I have figured out
How the iPhone app
Works with it.

I shall bring back video.
I shall bring back stories.
I shall bring back
More than likely
A scab or two.

Above all else
I shall bring back a tale
Of how you
Like I
Can spend a weekend
Riding incredible trails
And staying at 
An incredible place.

Perhaps
As the winner
Of a contest. 

Thank you.

 

An Open Proposal to Mark Cavendish

03.24.2014 | 11:49 am

NewImageDear Mark,

I have been reading your latest autobiography, At Speed: My Life in the Fast Lane. What a fantastic book! With every word I read, I cannot help but think to myself, “How is it possible that this 28-year-old has only written two autobiographical volumes? And how is it possible he let a full 2.5 years elapse between books? Mark Cavendish is so interesting that I want a book from him each and every year!

“No, that is too long!” I then exclaim to myself. “I demand a Mark Cavendish autobiographical book-of-the-month club!”

Heck (I’d say “Hell,” but I know you’re offended by coarse language), I feel like I’m not getting enough Mark Cavendish if I don’t get a new book about your latest reimagining of what would be perceived as childish, bad behavior in most adults every single day

With that in mind, it is no surprise to me your latest book is currently  #52 in the “Cycling” book category on Amazon.com, and #14 (!!!) in the “Bike Repair” category

(I am totally stoked, by the way, to get to the part in the book where you tell me how to repair my bicycle.)

And that’s where we get to the problem, Mark: what is the world to do while we wait for your next book? I’m sure it’ll be coming out sometime within the next few months, but your fans can’t wait that long! We need something to tide us over. Something that captures the passion, joy, intensity, and insightfulness of your writing. 

What we need is At Speed: The Musical.

I’ll pause for a moment while you let that soak in.

OK, let’s continue.

I believe that only in this format can the pathos, excitement, and lyrical quality of your most recent book be truly captured and shared with your fans.

I am pleased to present a sample script for your perusal, based on the opening scene in Chapter Two (“Five Stages”) of At Speed, because that’s as far as I’ve managed to get in the book so far.

FIVE STAGES

Scene 1: Trauma and Treachery On a Bus

The stage — the interior of a bus — is empty and dark, except a single CHAIR, a spotlight tightly focused on it. Mark appears onstage, pensively holding a HELMET. The spotlights converge as MARK sits on the CHAIR, staring down at his helmet. 

MARK looks into the audience, who can now see there are TEARS running down his face.

A lone piano accompanies MARK as he sings:

Lost
I have lost
I have lost a sprint to Alessandro Petacchi
How could I calculate the cost? 

Dreams
I had dreams
I had dreams of winning another stage
Now all I want to do is scream 

MARK stands up and places his HELMET on the CHAIR, then throws his head back and screams.

The HELMET falls off the chair and skitters across stage, a spotlight following it. As the HELMET exits the stage, the spotlight reveals the PRESS CHORUS, which sings to a cacophonous string arrangement:

CLUNK!
CLUNK!
CLUNK!
His helmet bounces everywhere
We’re not the only ones who thunk
This madman, this madman
Who’s raging like a drunk
We must eviscerate and castigate
Cavendish, obnoxious skunk!

The echoes of the shrill chorus fade into silence, then MARK sings.

Lost
I am lost
The emptiness and silence
On this bus tear me apart

Alone
So alone
The tumult in my mind
Is echoing my heart

BOB STAPLETON enters stage left, wearing a TOP HAT, a black cape, a sinister MUSTACHE, and a sneer.

MARK: Oh no, not Bob Stapleton.

BOB STAPLETON circles MARK, leering, snapping his fingers, always facing MARK.

MARK sings.

Say something
I don’t know what
But
Say something
Anything
You’re freaking me out
I can’t think of what you could say 
That would help
But
Say something
Not just anything
So many things you could say
That would hurt
So no!
Don’t say something
Don’t say anything
I don’t like that look in your eyes!

MARK runs off stage, while BOB STAPLETON twirls his mustache and laughs.

BOB STAPLETON sings. 

What you don’t know
Can hurt you
What I do know
Will hurt you
And if you don’t know
What I do know
Well…

I’ve got a plan
Oh it will hurt you
Another man
Yeah, this will hurt you
Another horse 
Rogers of course!
I’ll leave you twisting in the wind
And you…you’ll never feel safe again!

Muaaaah ha ha ha ha!

BOB STAPLETON flourishes his cape and runs offstage.

END SCENE

I’m confident, Mark, that this play will be a huge hit. I look forward to collaborating with you further on this project.

Kind Regards,
NewImage 
The Fat Cyclist

PS: Pages 47-48 of At Speed, from which I have adapted this scene, are shown below for your reference.

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Cherish the Memories: Guest Post from The Hammer

03.20.2014 | 7:07 pm

“Your elevated PSA levels would indicate that the prostate cancer has come back and this time it will be terminal.”

A few days later the bone scan confirms that the cancer has metastasized to the bones. The radiologist explains, “its everywhere.” 

This is the news that my dad and our family was faced with this last week.

As I reflect on the past few months, the signs were there: weight loss, along with increasing discomfort in his back and legs. Signs that you want to ignore and explain away as stress, or growing old. 

I keep telling myself that we are lucky. Receiving a terminal diagnosis of cancer at age 82 is better that receiving one at 40, right? Everyone has to die sometime.

Then why do I feel so sad?  

Maybe its because he’s my dad, and dads are always supposed to be there.

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I remember how I challenged his patience when he taught me algebra, or when he taught me how to drive a stick shift. I remember how he challenged me on our summer vacations that always included hiking some mountain or canyon.  

Unbeknownst to me at the time, he was passing on his love of hiking and of the great outdoors to me. That explains why he and I have ascended the 3000ft climb to the top of Y mountain every month for the past 12 1/2 years.  A lot of advice, laughs and tears have been shared while climbing that trail with my faithful hiking buddy.

He may not be a man of many words, but he always lends a listening ear.  

Now that I know that my time with dad will be cut short, I will cherish the memories and make new ones.  The questions that need to be asked will be asked.  My gratitude and love will be expressed more freely.  

I will make the time count.  

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So as the ominous black cancer strikes again, we are reminded that life is short. We all eventually pass from this life. Let the ones that are important to you know how you feel.

Don’t hold grudges and bitter feelings. Say you’re sorry. 

Say those “three little words” that can be difficult for some to say.  

Thanks for letting me unload.  

A Big THANK YOU from The Hammer

03.19.2014 | 8:48 pm

I wanted to say a huge thank you to the 165 people that have joined Elden and me in our quest to lose weight. The last few weeks have definitely been a challenge for me! Whether you have a lot of weight to lose or just a few pounds I want to thank you for making the commitment with Beeminder to publically acknowledge your weight loss goals.

Not only are we making a difference in our lives, but we are also impacting young girls in Africa! What an awesome thing: a situation where everyone can win…by losing! As a result of the $19.95 the 167 of us each donated when we began this challenge, we have raised enough money to buy 24 bikes. So, even by just starting something good for ourselves, we have essentially already changed the lives of 24 young ladies in Zambia. Talk about win-win!

Emily

This happy young lady is Emily. We met Emily when we traveled to Zambia with World Bicycle Relief. She was one of the teenage girls fortunate to receive a bike through the efforts of WBR.

Emily and her new bike can now make the six-mile round trip to and from school in a quarter of the time it takes to walk. This allows her more time to study and take care of the chores around her home. Your small sacrifice of a few dollars to join our weight loss contest will have an impact on a young girl a half a world a way. I cannot say Thank You enough!

I’m also excited about our weight loss potential as a group of Fat Cyclist Fans! Losing weight is not easy, and knowing that 165 people are suffering right along with me is a comfort! The end result of our weight loss struggle will be worth it in the end–at least that is what I keep telling myself! I’m hoping to come away a little faster for my racing endeavors this summer.

I’m curious why you decided to join Elden, Beeminder, and me in our weight loss contest. I would love to read about it in the comment section.

And If you have any good low calorie/low carb recipes I would love to have them.

You see, Elden is out of town this week and I have temporarily taken control of his blog. It’s our secret. Lets see how long I can go before he finds out.

How I’m Losing Weight This Year: The Egg White Scramble

03.17.2014 | 9:57 am

A couple years ago, I wrote about how I used egg whites and avocado to lose weight. A couple years later, people still ask me if I continue to be on the avocado and egg white diet. 

The answer is, “Yes…sort of.”

The problem, as you might expect, is that this particular diet works only if you actually stick to it. And even a person who doesn’t particularly need or care about variety in food — e.g., me — eventually gets tired of eating the same thing over and over.

So, as The Hammer and I work on our respective weight loss efforts in the FatCyclist / Beeminder weight loss challenge, we’ve adapted the recipe a little. And it’s working out great (I’m at 167.6 pounds today, down from my initial weigh-in of 173).

Essentially, we’ve started scrambling the egg whites with a lot of mushrooms, onions, and zucchini. And some cheese. And often, some chicken or steak. 

And — even for The Hammer, who’s down to her last couple of pounds to lose (and I’m down to my last twelve or so to lose) — it’s working. 

It’s delicious, it works, and — once you know a couple tricks we have been using — it’s really fast and easy.

So let’s get started.

Prep Work

It sounds like too much work to chop and sauté a bunch of onions, mushrooms and zucchini before each meal…and it is.

So we do a huge batch of onions, mushrooms, and zucchini, all at once, and then refrigerate it, using some whenever we cook.

There’s no recipe, no correct amount of what to use. But we chop up a couple onions and then enough mushrooms and zucchini to fill the biggest frying pan we have in the house.

And instead of butter, we sauté using chicken broth.

Sure, this takes a little time, but then we’ve got this mixture that turns our very boring batch of egg whites into a meal that has some bulk (which means it looks like more food and takes longer to eat, which is pretty important when you’re dieting), and it tastes good

Without, I should add, adding any significant number of carbs or other calories.

Prep Work, Part 2

The Hammer and I have been grilling a lot of chicken and steak on the outdoor barbecue lately. This is of course for the family dinner. As long as we’re doing this, though, we’ve started grilling — and then refrigerating — extra. Which we’ve then been chopping into our scrambled egg whites.

Adding It All Together

So, between five egg whites, a few big spoonfuls of our pre-saute’d onion/mushroom/zucchini mix, several bite-sized pieces of steak or chicken, and just a tiny amount of shredded cheese, we’ve got a really nice-sized (and good-tasting) meal, which can be made in just a few minutes. We then chop up some tomato and a quarter of an avocado (per person) on top of this, add some Cholula (for me) or Chipotle Tabasco (for her), and you’ve got something that doesn’t remotely feel like you’re dieting.

But you are.

Because that’s all lean protein, good fats, and hardly any carbs.

Try it. You’ll (probably) like it.

Bonus Tip

As a cyclist, I would never ever say that you should live a carb-free life. If you’re going to exercise for more than an hour at a stretch, it just won’t work. 

But, if you skip the carbs during most of the day and then have some carbs (I like to have the egg white scramble described above, but wrapped in a tortilla) in the meal before you exercise, you’ll have the energy you need to get in a good workout, and (this is important to me) you appease the God of Carb Craves that otherwise will eventually overpower all your willpower and leave you eating an entire loaf of bread at a single sitting.

PS: I tried taking pictures of what the egg white scramble looks like, but I lack the gift of photographing food, and scrambled eggs are pretty gross-looking anyways. 

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