UPDATE FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT A GOOD DEAL: The cool folks at Jaybird sent me a code Friends of Fatty can use to get a great deal on their Jaybird Bluebuds X. Get 25% off MSRP by buying your Bluebuds at the Jaybird store and entering JBFCBBX25 in the “Coupon Code” box after you’ve entered your payment and shipping info (shipping, by the way, is free for purchases inside the US).
Is this a good deal? You bet it is. With this coupon, you’ll actually be getting the Bluebuds for around $127, which is $10 cheaper than you can get them at the Amazon link I provided earlier.
This code expires November 5, so make sure you use it before then!
A Note from Fatty: I normally don’t do a lot of reviews in my blog, mostly because reviewing things requires that I think and take pictures and explain my reasoning.
But every so often, I use something for a while and realize, “Hey, I really love this thing. It has actually made my life better. I should write a blog entry about it.”
But then I don’t, for the aforementioned reasons (work, thinking, explaining). As a result, the list of things I really love and use but have not yet talked about much at all has grown pretty long.
Well, it’s time to remedy that. For the next few days, I’m going to talk about some bike-related stuff that I just love. Stuff I use all the time and think you might like too. So, these aren’t going to be reviews, per se, because reviews are generally about brand new things. Also, with reviews you generally expect some balance: a mix of what’s good and bad. Since, however, I’m not going to bother talking about anything I haven’t already said — up front — that I personally really love, you should expect the “what’s bad” section to be short, or non-existent. Sure, if there’s something I’d like to see different, I’ll say what it is and why, but mostly just because I’m a malcontent who must find fault in order to make myself feel superior.
Jaybird Bluebuds X
Whether I’m on a road bike or mountain bike, I sometimes ride with headphones on. Go ahead and judge me for that if you like. I can handle it, because no matter what you say, you won’t be able to take away from the fact that attacking the Jacob’s Ladder climb and then bombing the descent with Danger Days as your soundtrack is — quite frankly — pretty freaking fantastic.
And since I always carry my phone — which contains my entire library of music, divided conveniently into playlists for pretty much every riding mood — with me when I ride, Bluetooth headphones make good sense, because I don’t have to thread cables down through my jersey and into a pocket.
I’ve tried other bluetooth headsets, and some of them are pretty good.
But I love Jaybird Bluebuds X headphones.
And today I’m going to tell you why.
It Starts With the Packaging
This is going to come off as a little bit fanboi-ish, but I don’t care. The packaging for these headphones is awesome. How awesome? Well, I’ve had these headphones for about eight months now and I still have the box.
Oh sure, it starts out as a normal box. But instead of tape and everything-resistant shrink-wrap that could quite possibly send you to the hospital when you try to wrestle it open, the box is held closed with…magnets.
So you just take the green nylon tab at the right side, give it a gentle pull, and…
The only thing missing is a little “angel chorus” audio clip as you open it up.
So what do you get inside this package? Pretty much everything you need:
- The Headphones themselves
- USB-powered charging cable
- Lots of little parts to fit the headphones perfectly to you
- Carrying Case
It’s worth noting that the carrying case snaps shut and stays closed thanks to…magnets.
Magnets are so cool.
You shouldn’t think you’re going to love your Jaybirds right out of the box. Because you aren’t. In fact, you’re not even going to be able to use them right when they come out of the box.
First, you’re going to have to get the fit right. And that’s going to require some time and maybe even a little bit of patience on your part. But think about it: your bike — the one you’ve taken the time to get fitted right is so much better than if you’d just ridden it stock, straight out of the shop, without bothering to make it yours.
So yeah: you’re going to need to spend between ten and twenty minutes experimenting before you get the fit nailed on these.
After which, they’re going to fit fantastic, and when you put them on, they’re going to stay on ’til you take them off.
The Jaybirds come with all the parts you need to fit your ears, pretty much regardless of the size and shape of your ears:
That first row is three sets of earbuds: small, medium and large. They’re easy to match because their centers are different colors (a nice touch for people like me who are terrible at eyeballing sizes).
The second row are…well, I don’t know what to call them, but they hook up into your ears and hold the Jaybirds in place, nice and secure.
And then the third row are little cable guides, to remove any slack you might have left over, once your headphones are set up.
You’ve got a decision to make on how you’re going to wear these, too. If you’re just going to wear them while walking around and maybe use the built-in mic for making/taking calls, the buds and control go down and can hang loose around the back of your neck.
If, however, you’re going to use these as sport headphones — and I definitely recommend that this is what you should be using them for — you will want to set them up so they go over and behind your ears, with the controls just right over your left ear.
Photo courtesy of myself. Yep, a side-shot selfie. Not bad, eh?
Pretty nice and unobtrusive, right? And a helmet can go on just like it always does, without anything getting in the way of anything, either.
Here’s what it looks like from the rear side, so you can see the way the little cable guides work:
Photo courtesy of one of the twins before she went to school. Because my selfie-taking abilities have their limits.
See? No matter how big or small your head and neck, you can make these things fit you exactly how you like them. It’ll take you a little while to figure out which sizes work best for you for the ear buds and those other things I don’t know the names of, but you’ll get them. And then you don’t have to mess with them ever again.
OK, so now let’s talk about why I like using these headphones.
The battery lasts for hours and hours
Back when I first got these headphones, I went on a weeklong trip to Chicago…and I forgot my charger. I was sure the headphones wouldn’t last for the hour I planned to run (yeah, I was training for the half Ironman back then) every day, but figured I’d use them ’til they ran out.
But — even though I used them for an hour a day for five days straight, and then used them to watch a movie on my computer for most of the flight home — the battery didn’t run out. Which meant it was good for at least seven hours of use between charges. Which is long enough for at least most of the bike rides you’re likely to head out on.
Once you’ve gotten them fitted, the Jaybirds are easy to pop in your ears. And — unlike pretty much any other sport headphone I’ve ever had, they stay in. Comfortably and securely.
These headphones have controls built right in, and they stay right over your left ear. Three easy-to-feel (even through long-fingered gloves) buttons give you the ability to control volume, start and pause the music, and skip tracks (forward and backward). Which is all you need.
I’ve had my Jaybirds for about eight months now, and in spite of the fact that I sweat my corrosive man-sweat on them constantly, they work just fine. Just as well as when I got them, in fact.
It’s almost as if the makers of these headphones anticipated that I would not be sitting quietly in a cool, dry room when I used these.
Biking and Running
I’ve run with these on for an hour (or very occasionally, more). I’ve biked with them for hours and hours. They’re comfortable. They stay on. They stream music from your phone via Bluetooth very, very easily. And they don’t short out just because you happen to sweat.
Seriously, I love these things.
Are the Jaybird Bluebuds X perfect? Nope. There are a few things I wish they did better:
- Signal: I put my phone in my jersey pocket when I use these, and it’s really obvious that the Bluetooth antenna on the headphones is on the left side of my head, because if I put my phone in my center or right pocket, the sound breaks up. So I’ve had to get used to putting my phone in my left jersey pocket for these headphones to work great. [Update: Jaybird says this is not typical behavior and has sent me some remedies to try; I'll update this post if these remedies work]
- Social Mode: I never wear these when I’m out riding with someone else, because you can’t really leave one earpiece just dangling so you can hear conversation, and if you put the earpiece in, you can’t really hear very well. What I’d love to have would be a mode where the headphones sent both channels to the right ear, and used the mic on the left ear as a pass-through, letting me hear people and stuff around me. Then I’d be able to have music in the background, but not feel isolated.
- Oh, the Name. I hate the name “Bluebuds.” It’s just really an unfortunate name (if you don’t understand why, it’s not my job to explain). So I never use it. I just call them Jaybirds. And I fully intend to continue to do so.
And I sorta kinda was thinking about putting the price of these in my wish list, too. $137 is a lot of money for headphones — more than I’ve ever paid before. But here’s the thing: they’re that good. They’re light, they fit, they work, they last a long time between charges, and they’re designed for what we do. To me, that’s worth a premium price.
And in short, I love my Jaybird Bluebuds X headphones.
PS: If you want product details, go to the Jaybird website. If you’re ready to buy, let me recommend you use this link, and then enter JBFCBBX25 in the Coupon Code box after you’ve entered your payment and shipping info. This will get you 25% off the price (and shipping’s free within the US), which makes it the screamingest deal around ($127 and change). Make sure you make this purchase before November 5, though, because the code expires then.
A Note from Fatty: Earlier this week, I posted a blog entry asking for help on crewing for Kenny, The Hammer and me at the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow.
I was astonished at the number of people who said they’d like to volunteer. Or, more to the point, I was astonished that anyone at all wanted to volunteer. So, a huge thanks to everyone who emailed me, saying you’d like to help. Thanks (but not as much) also to all of you who commented, saying you’d like to help but have a good excuse for why you’re not going to.
I did, I am happy to announce, pick a crew chief. Today’s post is his application.
Purpose and Vision: To be the best damn Frog Hollow Crew that has ever crewed for the best damn single speed blogger that had ever blogged…and single-speeded (?)
I’m Zach…and to make my pitch short and sweet, I’ll start by saying simply that I’ve ridden countless road, mountain, and cyclocross races in my lifetime. And I’ve owned, operated and wrenched my own bikes for decades. I’ve put more miles on my bikes than all my cars combined.
But that’s not what makes me the most qualified person to be your crew chief for the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow. What makes me the most qualified crew chief is Fred.
Fred, in the simplest terms, is to a crew chief what Kit was to the Knight Rider. Fred is the most self-sufficient, sophisticated, and highly trained Recreational Vehicle you have perhaps ever witness. He makes Kit look like a child’s toy.
Why? Well, he’s handled no less than 10 grown men sleeping, eating and pooping in him over long weekends in Moab and on the White Rim Trail. (Handling the cooking and waste disposal alone is a task that should earn Fred the position. We’re talking about crewing for Fatty, right? The king of pooh and eating? Ok then…)
Fred has nimbly danced down the Horsethief Bench, all while towing a trailer filled with mountain bikes in the middle of November on a layer of snow and ice and slippery red clay. And then turned around and gone right back up that trail, taking us to safety.
Fred has warmed the bodies and souls of racers and riders at various events, and brings with him an ambiance and secure “homey” type feeling that a person needs when they’ve been running on gels and waffles for 18 hours.
Fred knows what a racer needs when he’s in distress. And he translates that need directly to me, and others who he has trust and faith in. Fred is a refuge for the struggling and a beacon to the hungry.
I’ve also started the TOSH cycling team and have plenty of support crew buddies at my disposal.
Fred and I await the mission, should you choose to accept us. And we promise nothing short of excellence, precision, and enough jocularity to keep you going for at least 26 or 27 hours…if that’s how long it does take you to finish the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow.
Zach Terry, and Fred
A “Hey, I was on TV” note from Fatty: Yesterday I was on a local mid-day TV show called “Browser 5.0,” where I was their “Blog of the Week” feature. Check it out here. Oh, and then leave a comment on their site telling them how handsome and telegenic I am.
And for those of you who are wondering why I seem to be growing my hair out, it’s because I’ve got a big ol’ cyst growing on the right side of my head, and I’m using hair to try to hide it. How’s that for over-sharing?
There comes a time in a man’s life when he realizes he can no longer tolerate the madness around him (it’s also possible that women come to similar realizations, but I am not a woman and have no wish to make any assumptions). A time when that man must stand up to the insanity that surrounds him. A time when that man needs to stop biting his tongue, no matter the consequences, and make his voice heard.
I have held my peace too long; I have permitted foolishness and thus tacitly endorsed it.
No longer. Today I proclaim, once and for all, for all to know and bear witness:
Fingerless gloves are stupid.
And I am not saying this out of pique or due to some attempt to manufacture controversy. No. I am saying it because it is true, and because I have proof. Which I shall now present, in an airtight and incontrovertible method that brooks no dissent.
Grievance The First: Odd Tans
There is no denying that there is a certain fetishistic fashion appeal to fingerless gloves. Especially if they’re black leather. Like this:
Sure, those are going to look great when you wear them to the next Duran Duran reunion concert.
But here’s the thing: as a cyclist, there’s a pretty good chance eventually you’re going to want to wear those gloves outside. Quite possibly during daylight hours. Which means you’re going to be exposed to sun. Thanks to your fingerless gloves, you’re going to wind up with a tan that looks something like this:
Although with any luck your hand won’t look so old and wrinkly. And hairy.
Grievance the Second: Reduced Safety
One of the really wonderful things about gloves is that they do two really good things for your riding:
- They form a grippy layer between your sweaty hands and the handlebars, making it so that you don’t slip.
- If you do fall, your gloves protect your palm and fingers.
Do I have to spell out the problem with fingerless gloves here? Do I? OK, I will.
- Your gloves can only improve grip on the parts they cover.
- Your gloves can only protect the parts of your hands they cover.
Grievance the Third: Removal of Fingerless Gloves
When you remove a regular, full-fingered glove, you simply pull at the fingertips and it comes off. Easy.
With fingerless gloves, of course, there are no fingertips to pull on, which means you have to pull starting at the base of the glove, hence turning the stupid thing inside out as you pull it off, resulting in something that looks like this:
So. Let’s suppose that you are an avid fingerless glove wearer (and I know that some of you are). And let’s further suppose it takes an extra three seconds per glove each time you remove your gloves — it’s a well-documented fact that fingerless gloves take a horrendous amount of time to remove — and five seconds per glove to turn them back right-side out the next time you want to wear them.
How much time do you think that will cost you over the course of your life? Well, if you ride 300 days per year for 50 years, that works out to almost 67 hours.
That’s right, almost sixty seven hours of your life you’ll spend doing nothing but turning gloves inside out and then right side out again.
Just think of all the things you could do with that 67 hours:
- Get six really good nights’ sleep.
- Make, eat, and then ride off the best cake in the world.
- Watch the extended Lord of the Rings Trilogy and most of the special bonus features
- Ride your bike from Salt Lake City to Saint George, Utah. And Back.
What a waste of time wearing fingerless gloves is. What a tragedy to spend your time doing something so utterly pointless.
Grievance the Fourth: Silliness
Of course, the real problem with fingerless gloves is that they’re just silly. What is the real practical purpose of them?
It’s not coolness. Your fingertips aren’t exactly hotspots of heat dissipation, if you catch my meaning. And if you don’t catch my meaning (and I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t), I’ll be more clear: Your hands aren’t going to be a lot — if any — cooler when you wear fingerless gloves than when you wear full-fingered gloves. Really.
It’s not weight savings. Your fingerless gloves don’t weigh any less than your full-fingered gloves. But even if they did, it would be truly weird of you to wear them for that reason.
It’s not about phoneability. OK, it’s entirely possible that you actually do wear fingerless gloves so you can get to your phone and tweet and take pictures and update your Facebook page with your status (On my way to a Duran Duran concert!). Because a lot of people don’t realize that you can buy full-fingered gloves that work just fine with your phone screen.
Behold the Specialized Ridge Wiretap:
Yep, those are the gloves I wear on pretty much every ride: both mountain and road. And because they’re very dapper and understated, and because black goes with pretty much everything, I am also wearing them right now while I am typing this post.
It’s not about grab-ability: The Hammer — who, I am disappointed to announce, often wears fingerless gloves while riding — tells me that it’s a lot easier to grab food out of her Top Tube Bag when she’s got fingerless gloves on.
To which I respond, “Well, maybe you shouldn’t use a top tube bag, then, silly.”
Actually I’m totally lying. I would never even think such a thing much less say it and this is a very good use case for fingerless gloves and I love you dear.
PS: For those of you who are saying to yourselves, “Well what about short-fingered gloves?” Stop it. Being neither one thing nor the other, they are even worse.
I have had an extraordinarily packed race season this year. I’ve raced the St. George Half Ironman. The Rockwell Relay: Moab to St. George. The Crusher in the Tushars. The Leadville 100. The Salt to Saint (yeah, still not quite over that one). And that doesn’t even include events.
And of course, I’ve still got the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow coming up.
That is a lot of racing. Enough racing, perhaps to leave any other man all raced-out and ready to take it easy. To just ride for fun, at a nice mellow pace.
Photo and very sexy shorts courtesy of Kitsbow
But the term “taking it easy” isn’t even in my vocabulary, although I quite clearly just used it in this very sentence.
No, I am absolutely, totally stoked to start the cyclocross racing season.
Photo and shorts continue to be courtesy of Kitsbow
I am ready — nay, eager – to train. To put in the hard miles at threshold, so I’ll be ready to give it my all on the cyclocross course on weekend mornings.
None of the rest of these shots are courtesy of anyone. I took them myself. Except the ones of me, naturally.
Indeed, I think it’s safe to say that I am more focused on getting my body in to tip-top condition than I have ever been. I am putting in huge miles on my road bike. Head down, staring at my GPS, measuring my watts, trying to achieve personal bests on Strava.
Hey, I know what’s important.
Why, just yesterday I found a nice empty park and spent two hours working on my fast dismounts and running re-mounts.
I know it may be a little early to say this, but I have a feeling that this is going to be a breakout year for me on the cyclocross track.
Oh, and my diet. You should see how motivated I am about staying on my diet right now. The cold weather and shorter days haven’t changed my appetite at all. There’s nothing like a nice crisp bowl of salad greens (and out-of-season vegetables) on a crisp October evening!
“I’ve gotta stay trim for these cyclocross races I’m so excited about,” I tell myself.
Oh, and The Hammer’s the same way. Our mileage hasn’t dropped at all in the past few weeks. We are training hard together, she and I. Getting lots of miles in, keeping our noses to the grindstone.
Because autumn is for cyclocross, baby. Autumn is for racing.
I’m so glad there’s no such thing as an off-season anymore.
PS: If you’re local and you have a TV, I’ll be on KSL for about three minutes between 12:30 and 1:00pm today, talking about my blog.
Today is a lucky day for you. Such a lucky day. For today is the day I offer you an unbelievable opportunity. The kind of opportunity that changes your life. An opportunity the like of which does not come along every day. No it does not.
And if it seems like I’m overselling this just a bit, well, that’s just because it is such a fantastic opportunity that I have been losing sleep, every single night, over the fear that I will undersell this extraordinary opportunity, due to the fact that it is so amazingly wonderful and life-enriching and just generally extraordinary that I am, even now, trying to think of ways that I myself could avail myself of this opportunity, instead of giving it to myself.
But I will not do that, because it would be selfish of me to keep this for myself. And I am not selfish. No I am not.
Also, I’m pretty sure it would be impossible for me to do this myself, in the absence of some pretty sophisticated time-traveling or cloning technology. Both of which I possess, naturally, but neither of which I like to use (the time-traveling software is what I charitably call “in alpha state;” using the cloning machine causes an unacceptably large spike in my electricity bill).
Wow, I’m really rambling this morning, aren’t I? I guess that’s what happens when I’m not writing a multi-parter.
But I will be writing another multi-part series soon, about a big new adventure.
And if you’re the right kind of person, with the right skills and the right availability, I need your help in making that adventure happen.
So please, allow me to tell you the what, who, why, and how to apply. And then you can let me know whether you’d like to be a part of it.
This November 2-3, I will be racing — in the solo singlespeed category — the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow.
And so will The Hammer.
And so will Kenny.
That’s right, all three of us are racing in what I consider to be the single best 25-hour mountain bike race around. Beautiful course, awesome vibe, great gimmick (it’s 25 hours instead of 24 because the race happens over the time change every year).
Oh, and all three of us will be racing on singlespeeds.
And none of us have any crew arranged. You see, The Hammer and I recently spent any and all brownie points we had accumulated with our friends and family; nobody we know is interested in crewing for us again.
And Heather can’t crew for Kenny; she’s on a team herself.
So, we could use a little (OK, a lot of) help. A little kindness from strangers.
Which (if you’re very, very lucky) is where you come in.
We need someone to take care of us. Or really, we need multiple someones to take care of us, because while none of the three of us are particularly high maintenance, three low-maintenance racers is still a lot to maintain. So if I were going to put together qualifications for our crew, here’s what would go on the list.
- Mechanical Genius: We need someone to take care of our bikes, along with our bike-related stuff. You’ll be in charge of making sure all three of our bikes stay in perfect riding condition, which — in rocky, sandy riding conditions — can be quite a bit of work. But hey, at least you won’t have to worry about derailleurs, right? Also, you’d be the person who gets our lights mounted on our bikes and helmets at the appropriate times, and ensures that we always have a charged battery at the ready.
- Chef: OK, honestly we’re not expecting any chef-ing from our chef. We just want someone who understands what each of us prefers to eat (and that these preferences can shift pretty dramatically during the course of a long race) and can keep us fueled for 25 hours.
- Clothing and Morale Officer: As the day turns to night and then back again, we’re going to be layering and then de-layering. We’ll need someone who knows what we’re going to need to be wearing before we do, have it ready for us and — if necessary — help us into it. And also to make us feel good about ourselves as we’re riding, using a clever combination of cowbells and inspirational quotes (e.g., “Looking strong, Fatty!”).
Is this three people we need? Maybe, but it’s also entirely possible that the Mechanical Genius is also the Clothing and Morale Officer. Probably two people will be enough to take care of all three of us.
Ideally, the crew would live at least somewhat locally. As in, within driving distance. For one thing, I can’t afford to fly anyone out and back, nor can I afford to reimburse anyone for anything more than a reasonable amount of gasoline expenses (driving from South Carolina, for example, is not what I consider reasonable).
If you’ve got access to an RV you can bring, that suddenly moves you to the very top of the list of candidates. Although if you don’t have one, we’ll still work something out. The Hammer and I have a ginormous tent, for example, and Kenny’s Amazing Sprinter Van will be available at least sometimes.
Oh, and if you’re the kind of person who gets into arguments with people — yeah, I know it’s because you’re right and your way is better — please don’t apply. I don’t want to ride for 25 hours knowing that I’m going to be dealing with a tense atmosphere each time I roll through the crew area.
I really don’t even know why I’m writing this section, because it’s totally self-evident why you’d want to be a part of this incredibly wonderful experience, and I’m fully expecting to get a complete flood of applications. Still, here are a few things — both good and bad — you can expect as part of being in the Team Fatty crew for 25 Hours in Frog Hollow:
- Watch The Hammer in Action: The Hammer is having a banner year. She’s the reigning Leadville 100 women’s singlespeed champ and record holder, as well as the reigning Salt to Saint women’s solo champ and record holder. The fact is, it’s now pretty rare for her to not finish on the podium in whatever she does. Many people would pay good money to watch her race.
- Watch an Epic Battle: It used to be a given that Kenny would thrash me anytime he and I raced. That’s no longer the case. Nobody will have a better sense of how either of us is doing as this head-to-head slugfest unfolds than you.
- See Kenny in Various States of Dress and Undress: There’s no escaping the fact that Kenny is an unusually handsome man, and he’s going to be changing clothes sometimes. You will have to decide for yourself how compelling of a reason this is for you to apply as you balance that fact against the reality that I, too, will be changing clothes sometimes.
- See Fatty Go Completely and Cheerfully Incoherent: It’s a well-known fact that when I race, I quickly lose all powers of higher reasoning and speech, while I simultaneously become happier and happier. It’s a near-certainty that as the day progresses, I’ll become an amiable, incoherent idiot. Seriously, you will be utterly convinced that I am filling my bottles with something a touch more potent than CarboRocket.
- Have a Front-Row Seat to the Entire Race: We have a spot reserved on Solo Row, which means that you’ll not only see us going by every lap, you’ll see all the racers going by every lap. Having a spot on the course is a pretty exciting place to be.
- We Won’t Pay for Much, if Anything: As I have mentioned, this is not a paid position. I just want to be clear on that.
- If the Weather Sucks, We Aren’t Racing: We’re excited for this race. We are, really. But if it’s snowing or raining or there’s a plague of locusts or something, we’re just going to call it a day. The good news is, you will not be required to crew for us through plagues of locusts.
How to Apply
So, if you want to be a part of this — and I’m sure you do — send me an email. Here’s what you’ve got to do:
- Address it to email@example.com.
- Make the subject “Crewing Application”. Make it exactly that (but, you know, without the quotes and punctuation and stuff). If you make it something clever designed to stand out from the crowd, it will almost certainly instead get entirely overlooked.
- Tell me what part of crewing you’re good at, where you’d be traveling from, and so forth.
And of course, if I don’t pick you, it doesn’t mean you’re not awesome.
In fact, it probably means you’re just a little bit too awesome, and I’m afraid of you.
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