You + Me + Beeminder = Weight Loss (With Accountability) Starting Today

03.4.2014 | 1:31 pm

The Hammer and I were in Southern Utah last weekend.

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Hiking. 

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Biking.

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And in general just having a great time. 

As we rode and hiked, however, I constantly noticed something: my gut. I’ve managed to put back on a bunch of the weight I dropped last year (which is why all the pictures I’m showing above are of The Hammer, not of me). And it seems that, in the absence of an imminent race or a reason to keep my feet to the fire, I haven’t dropped much of it at all since the beginning of the year. (And what little I had dropped, I’ve put back on during our anniversary trip).

I’ve got a sneaking suspicion I’m not the only one who’s put on a few pounds during the winter months. And I suspect I’m not the only one who hasn’t done that fantastic of a job with keeping the weight off, and who would like to lighten up before summer gets into full swing.

So: time for a weight loss contest.

Fair warning, though: this is not something you will want to join unless you are committed now, and plan to stay committed for the next few months (at least). Because this is a contest with some teeth. 

The Short Version

I’ve partnered up with my friends at Beeminder to create a weight-loss contest. It’s not about how much you lose, and it’s not about how fast you lose it. It’s about setting a goal, then staying committed to the goal and being accountable when you slip up. 

Between now and Summer Solstice (June 21), you’re going to need to weigh and report in every day. As long as you stay on track (or better than on track), you earn points that will keep you up on the leaderboard. At the end of which, either the outright winner or a person randomly drawn from all the tied winners (because that’s possible and even likely) will win a pair of Rapha bibshorts (worth $235), which I am going to pay for myself. 

So, that’s the carrot. But there’s also a stick. 

Every time you go off-track, it will — very literally — cost you. And the more times you go off track, the more it’s going to cost. 

It’s a tough program. And if you’re serious about losing some weight, maybe a program tough enough to hurt when you cheat might be what you need, too.

And I’m stoked to get started.

The Details

So here’s how it works. 

First, you go to the sign-up page at beeminder.com/fatcyclist. Toward the bottom of the page, you’ll have the options to sign up for Beeminder and set your current and target weight (i.e., the weight you want to be at on June 21). 

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The first thing you need to do is click the “Need to Sign up for Beeminder” link, which will let you sign in using your Twitter or FB account, or just signing up with Beeminder itself. 

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 Once you’ve registered, you can set your current weight and your target weight:

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And then you’ve got to have your credit card ready, because in order to sign up for this contest, you’ve got to ante up with the $19.95 entry fee. Why a $19.95 entry fee? Three reasons:

  1. I don’t want people signing up who don’t intend to play for reals. Consider this $19.95 an “are you serious” test. 
  2. To raise money for a good cause. Your $19.95 is completely in support of The Hammer’s fundraising efforts as a new ambassador for World Bicycle Relief. As in, all of your ante goes to WBR. 
  3. Because $19.95 is a bargain. Hey, it’s less than $20.00! (Isn’t it clever how I used psychological tactics to make what is essentially a $20 purchase feel like less than $20? I’m the first person to do that, ever.)

Once you’ve paid your $19.95 (via credit card), you’re all set to go and are taken to your own personal page. You should bookmark this page and come back every day to report your weight (Beeminder also has options where you can text and email your weight in, keeping it all pretty darned convenient). 

Recording And Understanding Your Data

As you record your weight each day, Beeminder builds you a graph, giving you a good sense of how you’re progressing toward your goal. Here’s a look at mine, from last year’s weight loss effort:

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There’s a lot going on there, and it will take a little time for you to be able to read it at a glance, but you can grasp the basics easily:

  • The Yellow Band: The yellow band going down the chart is called “the yellow brick road” and is the range of weight you want to be at to hit your goal. If you can keep your weight somewhere on the road, you’re doing OK. 
  • The Dotted Orange Center Line: If you can keep your weight below the dotted orange center line, you’re doing awesome. 
  • The Dot Colors: Each dot is a weigh-in data point. A green dot means you’re actually below the good side of the road. A blue dot means you’re on the “good” side of the road, below the dotted center line. An orange dot means you’re in danger: you’re still on the road, but in danger of moving off it. And a red dot means you’ve moved off the wrong side of the road — you’ve derailed — and you’re going to have to pay up.

Of course, your chart won’t look like the one above for a while. Here’s my new one:

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From here, I can see my yellow brick road for getting from where I am now (172.4) to 158, by June 21. And I’m determined to stay on (or really really close to) the “good side” of that yellow brick road for the duration of the contest. Watch me fill this graph up with data as time progresses. Darn it, there’s gonna be lots and lots of blue dots.

Of Points and Prizes and Data

For the duration of this contest, you can earn points. Here’s how:

  • 3 points: Every day you’re on the right side of the yellow brick road (a blue dot), you get three points.
  • 2 points: You get 2 points every day you outperform the yellow brick road (a green dot). Yes, you get fewer points for losing weight too fast. This isn’t a contest about crash dieting; it’s a contest about being slow and steady.
  • 1 point: Every day you’re on the wrong side of the yellow brick road (orange dot), you get one point.
  • 0 points: If you go off the yellow brick road or don’t report your weight for the day, you get 0 points. 

During the registration period (now until midnight, March 11), points are for practice. On March 12, everyone’s points reset to 0 and the contest begins in earnest. Whoever has the most points on June 21 wins a pair of what have become my favorite cycling luxury item — Rapha Classic Bib Shorts (or the women’s equivalent thereof). If there’s a tie for first place, I’ll draw from the winners randomly. If I win, I’ll buy the shorts for myself.

Why an expensive pair of bib shorts? Because these are really good shorts. I love mine. I have two pair (one that Rapha comped me, and one that I told The Hammer I wanted for Christmas because then I can pretty much wear them for every ride).

The Stick

So, what happens when you derail and go off the bad side of the yellow brick road? 

Well, the first time, you get a warning. It doesn’t cost you anything. The second time, it costs you $5, which is charged to the credit card you give when you start this contest. The next time, it costs $10. Then $30. Then $90. Then $270. And so forth. 

So yeah. You don’t want to derail more than three times. Or four at the most. Because that’s going to hurt.

So, once again: you shouldn’t sign up unless you’re really, truly committed to making a change and sticking to your program ’til at least June 21. 

By the way, half of your “derail” money goes to WBR, and the other half goes to the folks at Beeminder, who deserve to make at least a little money off this project.

But What If You’re Freaked Out by the Derailment Escalation?

If you want to join but simply cannot deal with the hardcore escalation of Beeminder, you can change that from your personal page by clicking the Settings link (it looks like a gear), then deselecting the “Increase pledge” checkbox:

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Be sure to save your changes (the site will warn you if you try to leave without saving, by the way). 

Sign Up Now

Okay, enough jibber-jabber. It’s time to sign up. Weigh in and get out your credit card. And then start posting your weigh-in info every day — and watch to see how others are doing over at the leaderboard.

You stand to win a pair of very nice shorts, and you stand to lose whatever weight you’ve been wanting to get rid of forever, but haven’t been quite motivated enough to really step up your game. 

Sign up now. And I’ll see you on the leaderboard

PS: The Beeminder folks have promised to watch this site and answer your questions as you sign up and configure your goals. 

 

Concession Speech

02.28.2014 | 12:38 pm

A Note from Fatty: Remember when I talked about the weight loss grace period? How I was giving us until the beginning of March to lose weight without having to divulge our starting weight? How I was giving us one last try at keeping our new year’s weight loss resolutions without subjecting ourselves to public humiliation and ridiculous gamification tactics?

Well, that grace period is about over. 

I won’t be posting Monday cuz that’s The Hammer’s and my anniversary (our fourth) and we’ll be out cycling and hiking in Southern Utah. But this Tuesday I’ll be revealing a new weight loss contest — one that focuses on accountability and long-term success. 

So. Find your scale. We’re about to lose some weight together.

Concession Speech

Good morning. Thank you for taking the time to be here today. I have a short statement to make, and then will answer questions.

I am a competitive person. I love a challenge, and have in fact based an inordinate amount of my adult life on my willingness to participate in contests, whether the contest is a weight-loss contest, or a race.

Because of this trait—call it a weakness if you will—I agreed to a weight loss contest with Adam Schwarz last year. We both succeeded in our goals (although he has since kept his weight off, while I have not). 

Following the conclusion of this contest and my subsequent participation in last year’s inaugural St. George Half Ironman, Adam challenged me to race him in the 2014 edition of this race.

Recklessly, I agreed.

Since that time I have watched, chagrined, as Adam related his podium positions in numerous triathalons, not to mention his relentless training in all three disciplines.

Meanwhile, I have enjoyed what I like to call my “off season.” Which is to say, I have ridden little, and eaten much. And have reaped what I have sown.

And in short, I am currently as pudgy as a pot-bellied pig.

Clearly, Adam would handily defeat me in St. George. I began  to mentally compose my mental blog post, wherein I would set forth my list of excuses, in a manner that somehow was simultaneously self-deprecating and convincing. It wouldn’t be an easy challenge, but I felt like I was up to the task: I would lose the race between Adam and me, then write a post that cheerfully acknowledged his win while making it seem trivial and ridiculous. 

And then, suddenly, I was confronted by a genuine, actual problem: Kenny — without consulting me, if you can believe it — had the temerity to have his fiftieth birthday on the same weekend as the St. George Half Ironman.

Further, Kenny elected to host his annual Ride Around White Rim in One Day (RAWROD, where I — almost nine years ago — got the idea for this blog) on that same weekend.

And then Bob said he’s coming. And so is Dug. And Ricky. And in short, the whole core team. And possibly a very recent winner of Survivor. And they’re riding the 7Up – Mag7 trail the day before RAWROD. And then having brats the night before.

And in short, Kenny is putting on what I would describe as the most perfect Moab weekend possible for his fiftieth birthday.

And I just don’t want to miss that. Which is to say, I won’t miss it. Which is to say, I’m going to Moab.

For this reason, I feel it is necessary for me to proclaim to the world that — had we raced the St. George Half Ironman — Adam would have absolutely, positively kicked my ass. 

He would have demolished me. Destroyed me. Left me sad, lonely, and questioning my life choices.

Let’s take a look at my splits from last year: 

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My swim time was 41:32 (pathetic). My bike time was 2:29 (pretty fantastic). And my run time was 2:06 (astonishingly slow).

Now let’s assume that this year I would have been exactly the same as I was last year (in spite of the fact that my current fitness is nowhere like where I was this time last year).

I get the sense that had we raced, he would have been about eleven minutes faster out of the water than I was. That puts him at 30 minutes. 

On the bike, things would have gone (somewhat) better for me. Thanks to the fact that I live about 3,000 feet higher than St. George and he lives about 3,000 feet lower than it, combined with the fact that I own a high-zoot TT bike and he doesn’t, I would have reversed the time deficit, so I would be five minutes ahead of him. That gives him a cumulative time of 3:20.

And then he would have slaughtered me on the run. There’s no two ways around that fact. I am not running at all this year. Every time I’ve tried, I’ve been crippled for about a week after. Meanwhile, Adam has taken to running as if it were actually an enjoyable sport, rather than a hideous mockery of all that is good in the universe of exercise options.

Hence, let’s be generous (to me) and say that Adam would be about a minute per mile faster than I am. He’d do the run in 1:53, for a total time of 5:18. 

All up, this totals out to him beating me by approximately eight minutes. That’s close, yes. But still a clear and convincing win. 

My speculative numbers don’t lie, probably. Adam would have beat me. And thus I concede to him. 

Adam, you are the superior athlete. I bow down to you.

That said, I reserve the right to retract this concession if Adam has a slower race time than 5:26:07. And don’t think I won’t be checking.

Hey, Let’s Talk

02.26.2014 | 11:52 am

Tomorrow (Thursday) at 1:00pm ET / 12:00noon CT / 11:00am MT / 10:00am PT, I’ll be hosting a live Spreecast, where I’ll be talking about the Rockwell Relay: Moab to Saint George: what the race is like, tips for doing it well, mistakes to avoid, and why it’s one of my very favorite annual races.

The best way to watch and participate in this live chat is to go over to the Spreecast site. But if you’d rather just watch it from here, you can:

I’m excited to have some unbelievably awesome guests onto the show, including:

  • Brent Chambers: Brent is the owner / promoter of one of the most popular road races in Utah: The LotoJa Classic. He’s also a Rockwell Relay four-time finisher.  
  • Dave Thompson: Dave is one of the friendliest Friends of Fatty you’ll ever meet, and did the Rockwell Relay for the first time last year. He’ll have lots of great tales of what it’s like to do the race the first time, as well as things he plans to do differently this year.
  • The Hammer: My wife Lisa — aka The Hammer — will talk about the race from a woman’s perspective, as well as give guidance to male racers on how to be “chicked” with grace.
  • Tyler Servoss: Tyler is one of the race directors for the Rockwell Relay and will be available to answer any questions you might have about anything on the race, from what the race is like at the front, what it’s like at the back, common reasons teams drop out, the best kind of support vehicle to bring, and how it’s even possible to mark and support a 500+-mile course.

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More than anything else, this is meant to be a time where anyone who either has signed up — or is considering signing up — for the Rockwell Relay to ask questions or ask for advice. 

And hey, just in case you are going to sign up for the Rockwell Relay, you should do it today, ‘cuz if you do, you’ll get — at no extra cost — this very nice Fatty / Rockwell Relay jersey (and your team can buy them at a good price). But you need to make that purchase pronto, because this Friday (February 28) is the last day this deal’s on the table. So click here to sign up

Homework Assignment

If you’re already familiar with the Rockwell Relay, awesome. I’m looking forward to talking with you. If you aren’t familiar with the Rockwell Relay, you can get caught up with this incredible race by watching this video or reading one of my  race reports. Or the summary I put together earlier this month. 

 See you Thursday!

Oh Yes, I Would LOVE to Have You Guest-Post on My Blog

02.24.2014 | 12:18 pm

Oh hi there. I’m pleased to announce that I’m not dead. I’m just not writing blog posts very often right now, for the following reasons:

  • I’ve got other stuff going on in my life that leaves me very little time or energy to write each day.
  • Winter sucks for cyclists in Utah who don’t have fat bikes, and in spite of my very obvious hints, no cycling company has yet offered to set me up with a fatbike. Yes, a guy named Fatty who rides bikes and lives in Utah and has a popular and award-winning cycling blog has not been offered a fatbike to ride and write about. Which brings up the question: is there a single bike company in the world that has a marketing department that is even trying at all?
  • I’ve written nine years’-worth of winter posts and am pretty sure I’ve told most of the jokes I have to tell on this matter. In recent days, I’ve had half a dozen blog post ideas. Each time I did some checking and discovered I’d already written that post. Frequently, twice. 
  • I’m hungry because I’m trying to get rid of the weight I’ve been putting on since mid-October. And when I’m hungry, I get cranky. I know, I know: that’s really hard to believe.

Luckily for me, I very frequently get unsolicited offers from people who would like to write guest posts. I’m very confident that each of these people really wants to write because they have a great story to tell, not because of SEO scam tactics.

Today, then, I am happy to relay some of these letters, which I shall answer publicly, because I’m sure these people really do read my blog and will see my answers right away.

10 Reasons I Am Excited for This Guest Post

Let’s begin with this proposal from Steve Laurel. 

Hi, 

My name is Steve and I was wondering if I could contribute an informative article to give you some more great content. Do you think your readers would be interested in reading a post about “10 reasons you should take up cycling”? The article is unique, informative only and well written. I’m asking for 1 or 2 links in bio section or at the end of the article. Thank You!

All the best,

Steve

Dear Steve,

I confess, I am extremely excited by your proposal, and must confess some astonishment. Where in the world did you come up with such a unique idea? An article listing ten reasons to start cycling? Wow! I just hope that when you write this post, you will cover some of the same ground as this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And the many others that all say pretty much the same thing (E.g., it’s fun, it’s transportation, it’s exercise, it’s social, it’s good for the environment…but I’m sure your article will have completely new reasons). 

Next, as a frequent visitor to my blog (which you no doubt are), you are probably aware that very few of of my readers ride bikes. To be honest, I haven’t ridden one myself since 2005, well before I started writing this blog. With that in mind, I feel that my readers and I could definitely use an article listing ten reasons we should take up cycling. 

I’m glad that you took the time to point out that the article, in addition to being unique and well written (I probably would have put a dash between “well” and “written,” but whatever), it will be “informative only.” Had you not taken the time to point this out, I would have had grave concerns that it might have also been interesting or entertaining, or—horrors—both. This site, as you well know, is about being informative, and informative only.

Finally, I’m super excited to find out what the one or two links are you’ll want in the bio section at the end of the article. I’ll bet that my audience will love to click them!

I look forward to getting your article, and will post it as soon as I want. By the way, I reserve the right to edit it to whatever extent I might deem necessary. Don’t worry about that, though. I generally have a pretty light touch with the red pen.

Kind Regards, 
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The Fat Cyclist

Aalia Has So Many Good Ideas

Next up, I received the following letter from Aalia Anderson, who—I think we can all agree—probably always got to go first when kids at school had to line up alphabetically.

Hi,

I am Aalia Anderson a writer and a blogger.

Before anything else, I would like to commend your awesome site. The articles are well-written and very informative.

I have been following your blog for some time now & would be great if I get an opportunity to write for your website in your niche with quality content & 100% copyscape passed with a reference link to the related website.

I have a few topics in mind mentioned below:

  • Things to check before buying a scooter seat covers
  • How to make your bike seat cover at home
  • How to recover an old bicycle seat
  • How to Reupholster Your Bike Seat with Leather 

Also, if you have a topic in mind, I can write an article on that topic.

I hope I’m not asking for too much :)

Thank you very much and I hope to hear from you soon.

Cheers!

Dear Aalia,

First of all, I’m concerned you may have sent this letter to me by accident. I go out of my way to ensure that my articles are anything but “very informative.” I’d go out of my way to ensure they’re not well-written, too, but that pretty much takes care of itself.

With that in mind, I have forwarded your email to Red Kite Prayer, since it contains actual information and is well-written.

That said, I appreciate your interest in writing and your willingness to share your upholstery skills with my readers and me. But while I think probably everyone in the world is in fact interested in reupholstering their bike seats with leather, I’d like to direct your skills in a slightly different direction. Would you consider writing an article on one of the following?

  • How to reupholster your bike helmet with leather and chrome so it looks like you’re even more of a geek than you already do
  • How to reupholster your entire bike with leather, including the rims, cranks, spokes, cassette, and chain.
  • The care and maintenance of leather cycling jerseys
  • Leather Socks: pros and cons
  • Why you should replace your traditional bike shorts chamois with a leather one

Thank you for writing, and I’m looking forward to posting your very informative and well-written article.

Kind Regards, 
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The Fat Cyclist

How Could I Say No?

Finally, Ashley Louis sent me an article pitch that, frankly, I found too intriguing to turn down.

Hello,
I’m Ashley Louis from (congestionchargingguide.co.uk) I’m looking forward to do some guest posting on your site, where I could share some more information for your site (fatcyclist.com) which I found very informative and the theme of your site is very impressive which can help you built more Traffic to your site. I have been writing articles and publishing them as a guest post. 

My guest post articles are unique and usually of about 400-500 words with high quality English and contents and would ask for one link to my website.
 
Let me know if you’re interested and give your suggestions on it. And feel free to shoot me a mail.
 
Regards
 
Ashley Louis.

Dear Ashley,

Thanks I give to for you as to the writing of most of your informative the letter you sent with to me as of days recent. I most like to think you are writing a post which are for the share to your most excellent and informative website and I am thinking if you were to write for me every day 400 – 500 words I could then have you to be my high-quality content and unique permanent guest posting writer. I think too much is not enough for you ask the contents and a link which readers my site of will find most useful and will bookmark and go to seven times or even thrice daily except twice on the end days of weeks!

I hope for the first article you am write will be on Congestion Charging in the London and its impatient practice important to cyclist in America. I think this exciting will to be read!

Kind for to be Regarded as, 
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Fat is to Cyclist the

How To Be Stupid

02.17.2014 | 8:28 am

This story is true. Before I say anything else, you must understand this very important fact. Which is to say, everything I will describe in today’s post actually happened. In fact, it actually happened last weekend.

The second thing you must accept as a crucial part of the premise of this story is this: I am a complete idiot. If you don’t take this second statement as given, you’ll never believe the first part.

Are we clear on both of these facts? Can we continue? Excellent.

Context

Saturday was the day we had been waiting for. A weekend day. Not snowy or rainy. Little wind. Mild temperature.

A good day, in short, for The Hammer and me to — for the first time in what felt like forever — go on a ride.

So, with me on my Tarmac and The Hammer on her Orbea, we rode the 23 miles to the Cedar Fort gas station, bought and shared a coke, and then started riding back.

On the return trip, we always take mile-long pulls, trading off at the mile-marker signposts. It’s a little tradition, one we both like.

“It’s so nice to be able to do this ride without the wind,” The Hammer shouted back during one of her pulls. And she was right.

Precipitating Event

As The Hammer came around for her third or fourth pull, I felt the way my rear wheel rolls change. You know the feeling: it becomes sloppy in the way it tracks, and you start feeling the road vibration much more strongly.

I had a flat rear tire.

“Oh well,” I said, not really terribly disappointed. Flats are easy to fix on road bikes. Meanwhile, it was a nice day out, and I didn’t mind taking a break from riding for five minutes or so.

So I unzipped my Banjo Brothers seat back and pulled out the spare tube I keep, wrapped up in an old cycling sock (to keep the tube from getting a hole rubbed into it). Then the CO2 threaded canister. And then the CO2 valve.

Except there was no CO2 valve.

Why wasn’t there a CO2 valve? 

I sent my mind back — when was the last time I had gotten a flat, and why would I have replaced the tube and CO2 canister, but not put the CO2 valve back in the pack?

I couldn’t even remember. It didn’t matter anyway, not for the moment.

Luckily, The Hammer had a Banjo Brothers seat pack on her bike. “Can you get me the valve out of your seat pack?” I asked The Hammer. “I don’t have one in mine, though I don’t know why not.

“Sure,” The Hammer said, and unzipped her seat pack. Which contained a tube, a CO2 canister, and…nothing else.

Gah.

Plan B

So, for whatever forgotten reason, at some point in the past I apparently had raided both our seat packs at some point, taking the valves. Then, I had evidently forgotten to ever replace them.

Past-self, know this: I am pretty darn upset with your forgetfulness and irresponsibility.

So there we were, me with a flat and no way for us to fix it. The solution — a lousy solution, but there you are — was obvious.

“You go ahead and ride home (about fifteen miles from where we were),” I said. “I’ll walk my bike to the nearest gas station and buy myself an ice cream cone while I wait for you.”

“But what if I flat between here and there?” The Hammer asked. A good question, but with no good answer. 

“Did you bring a phone?” I asked.

“No,” she answered. 

“So take mine,” I said. “If you flat, you’ll need to call one of the kids to come pick you up.

“I’ll hurry back as fast as I can,” The Hammer said.

“That’s fine,” I said, not really unhappy. Walking’s not as fun as riding, but at least the day was nice. Things could have been a lot worse.

Plan C

I walked for about ten minutes, and then saw a guy riding toward me on the opposite side of the road. Riding a Canondale, wearing an Adobe kit.

Right then, I knew I wasn’t going to have to walk much farther.

As soon as the cyclist saw me, he veered off his line, cut across the four lanes of the road, and hollered the standard greeting cyclists on bikes yell to cyclists who are walking: “You need anything?”

“Do you have a CO2 valve?” I yelled back.

“Threaded,” he said, because by then he was stopped and swinging his leg over his bike.

“Perfect,” I said, and we talked for a few minutes while I changed my tube. As I worked, a couple more riders came by, each yelling the standard offer of assistance, and I thought to myself how great it is that this is somehow part of standard cyclist etiquette.

Before too long I was all set and Ryan and I each resumed our rides, heading in opposite directions.

The Problem With Plan C

As I rode back, I tried to picture how far ahead of me The Hammer might be. How long had I walked before Ryan rescued me? And how long had it taken me to get a new tube in once Ryan had shown up? A total of fifteen minutes, maybe? Possibly more? 

I didn’t really know, but wasn’t worried. I figured I’d just ride the route The Hammer and I always ride, keeping an eye out for my truck.

But then I remembered. 

The Hammer had said, “I’ll hurry back as fast as I can.” 

And The Hammer is usually very literal. Which might mean, it now occurred to me, that when she came to get me, instead of retracing the less-trafficked route we take when we ride, she might drive the shortest route.

Because, of course, she wouldn’t be expecting me to be back on my bike.

Or would she?

Like me, The Hammer was bound to have noticed how many cyclists were there on the road that day, and she knows as well as I do that they often offer to help.

So she might guess that I might be back on my bike.

But that would be just a guess.

And she wouldn’t want to leave me sitting bored at a gas station for any longer than necessary. 

And I didn’t have a phone to let her know what was going on.

“I’ll just have to hope she retraces the route we ride,” I thought, and kept going.

Missed Connection

When I was about half an hour from home, I started watching carefully for the truck, preparing to wave wildly when I saw it.

I did not see it. And as I got closer to home, I was more and more certain that I would not see it. That I would get home just about the time The Hammer got to the gas station where she expected me.

I got home and opened the garage door, hoping against hope that for some reason she had been delayed at home and was still there, thus bringing a ridiculously easy conclusion to this little farce.

Of course, the truck was gone.

So I went to call The Hammer. Except when she had left to pick me up, she had taken both her phone and mine with her.

So I tried the landline. Which failed to work. (Yes, really.)

And then one of the several teenagers living at our house wandered by, his phone in his hand (natch). “Give me your phone,” I said, curtly.

“Why?” He replied, suspiciously.

“Just give me the phone,” I said, the explanation for why I needed it almost ridiculously too complicated in my mind.

I called The Hammer. 

“Hi Nigel,” The Hammer said, answering the phone.

“Nope, it’s me,” I replied.

“Elden? Did Nigel come and get you, then?” 

“No, a rider stopped for me and I was able to get my bike fixed, and I rode home. I guess you must have gone a different way than we ride?”

“Yeah.”

“So,” I asked. “Where are you?”

“I’m just getting to the gas station now.”

Doofus

And that’s when I realized what you probably realized about twenty paragraphs ago: I could have stopped at a gas station along the way. Or any of the multitude of fast-food restaurants. Or just about anywhere, really. And I could have made a phone call, letting The Hammer know where I was and what I was doing

But I didn’t. It didn’t even occur to me. I had given my phone to The Hammer and — magically — at that instant all other phones (including the one I probably could have borrowed from Ryan if I’d thought of it) had stopped existing.

And — in spite of the fact that we had seen probably 25 or 30 bikes on the road that day — it never occurred to me to say to The Hammer before she took off on her own, “Hey, on your way back, retrace the regular riding route…just in case someone stops and can loan me a CO2 adapter.”

And…finally…maybe it’s time I realize that owning a small pump that fits in a jersey pocket — not just relying on CO2 to fix flats — might not be a half-bad idea.

But I figure I’ll probably just wait ’til I’ve found myself stranded on the side of the road a few more times ’til I learn that lesson.

Yeah, that’s almost certainly what I’ll do.

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