I’d like to tell you a story today. While it’s not a story that is quite over, it seems to be going well for the protagonist.
But it’s also a cautionary tale.
You see, after a pretty successful race season last summer, I stopped racing. And more or less stopped training, too. But I kept eating as if I were still going full tilt.
By January of this year, I was up to 183 pounds. I took this picture, which I am now showing to you, with apologies.
Then, I started a contest with Adam Schwarz, who had the terrific misfortune of being the same height and weight as me, as well as having a goal of losing the same amount of weight as I.
You can read the details of the contest here, but basically, we each have ’til 3/30 to reach 158 pounds — a 25-pound loss in 90 days. If one of us fails, he has to buy the other a pair of Assos shorts.
To keep ourselves accountable, we would tweet our weight loss progress daily (I have also kept track of my progress in the sidebar of my blog, as well as on Beeminder).
Wherein I Learn The Axioms of Dieting
There’s nothing quite like a diet to completely focus your attention, at all times, on food. As I took off the pounds — and as I would sometimes stall out and start putting the pounds back on — I began learning the following truths about dieting:
The scale rules your life. I am currently weighing myself every day. I do this because if I weigh myself only weekly, I am vigilant about my diet only when the next weigh-in approaches, and say to myself immediately after a weigh-in, “Well, now I have a little time to goof off before buckling down and getting serious about food again.” When I weigh myself every day, I never get to say that.
If you don’t want to weigh yourself, you absolutely must weigh yourself. Some days, I wake up thinking, “I just don’t want to weigh myself today.” On those days, it’s absolutely critical that I weigh myself. Because if I don’t want to weigh myself, it’s because I know I’ve done something that is going to show up on the scale. Which is to say, I’ve never led an error-free day on my diet and then not wanted to weigh myself. When I have screwed up, diet-wise, however, I rarely want to see what the consequences look like, because I generally have a pretty good idea that they won’t be good. And only by stepping on the scale and seeing the “effect” part of the whole cause-and-effect of cheating on your diet have I started to get better at not cheating. Or at least at not cheating as severely and often.
Scales are evil. Sometimes you’re doing everything right and you still don’t lose much weight. Or any weight. Or sometimes you even gain weight. This is because bathroom scales are evil, spiteful, hateful things that don’t take your feelings into account at all. That said, I’ve found that scales don’t hold a grudge forever. If I continue to hold my line, diet-wise, the scale will eventually — begrudgingly — yield up some positive results.
Your weight doesn’t always tell you how well you’re doing. No matter how hard you exercise, sometimes you don’t lose weight. And I’ve found in fact that sometimes if you exercise hard enough, your weight will spike sharply upward for the next few days. This is because of inflammation and water retention after a hard workout, and it will slope off after a couple days, revealing how much you’ve actually lost while it looked like you were gaining.
Backsliding isn’t worth it. I’ve discovered that when I abandon my diet for a day and eat whatever I want, it takes about four days for me to claw my way back to where I was before I lost control. That’s a lot of time and effort spent on getting to where I was…instead of on moving forward.
Backsliding is occasionally totally worth it. Nobody’s perfect. Once in a while I discombobulate and eat everything in the fridge, and then I go to the neighbor’s house and eat everything in their fridge too. And then I apologize and give them some money and advise them to improve the security of their premises. But here’s the thing: as I am eating, I know I’m screwing up and sabotaging myself, and I don’t care. I just want to eat. No, “want” is the wrong word. When I lose my dieting willpower, I lose it entirely. I don’t want to eat, I simply am eating. I must eat. There is nothing in the world but eating. Eventually I come back to my senses, and then assess the damage I have done, both to myself and to those around me (“Sorry I ate your hand”).
If you ever meet an expert, you will find you are dieting wrong. A couple of days ago, I tweeted what I considered (and continue to consider) to be a self evident truth: “There’s nothing quite as effective as a diet for making all your waking thoughts center around food.” Immediately a number of Very Smart Experts on diet jumped in, telling me what a bad job I must be doing on my diet. But you know what? Those people don’t know the way my mind works, they don’t know the way I publicly hold my feet to the fire in order to keep myself honest, they don’t know me. And they don’t know you, either. Experts generally love to share their expertise. But that doesn’t mean they are right.
Your diet is super-interesting…to you. And you only. I wasn’t kidding when I said that my diet has consumed all my thinking. And I am afraid that I have subjected The Hammer to relentless speculation on my weight loss so far, why the working parts of my diet work, why the non-working parts have failed, my current trajectory of weight loss, colorful and protracted descriptions of my hunger, and much much more. Lucky her! Except I’ve noticed that her eyes have started glossing over when I talk about my diet chronicles. Which is…always
The Most Important Axioms of Dieting
You know what, though? That’s all the small stuff. Here are the real things I’ve learned. The things I’m hoping I can use to actually keep most of this weight off.
Your diet probably works. My diet — lots of protein and fat via egg whites and avocados — is strange, but it works great for me. I don’t get tired of it, I’m very healthy, and it’s easy. But other diets would work, too. Really, any reasonably well-thought-out regimen would probably work…if you stick to it. It’s when you start slacking on diets that you stop losing weight.
When you screw up, don’t abandon the day. Sometimes you’re going to mess up. Fine, whatever. Just get back to it. Limit the damage of the day instead of saying, “I’ll start fresh tomorrow.”
When your diet isn’t working, there’s a reason. Sometimes you’re just going to plateau for a few days, sometimes your weight is going to spike because of inflammation, and sometimes your diet might stop working because you’ve stopped doing it right. This happened to me at one point during this diet. I had gone from occasionally putting yolks in my eggs to always putting yolks in my eggs. And more cheese. And I was snarfing a spoonful of peanut butter — which was supposed to be my safety net for when I was going to otherwise completely lose it — several times per day. Astonishingly (not), I was no longer losing weight. When I cut the yolks and peanut butter out — that is, when I started following the original rules of the diet — I started losing again.
But staying on your diet is easy — relatively — when you’re at home. When you’re traveling or stuck at a conference or a week-long meeting, it’s not so easy.
Last week, though, I managed to drop two pounds in six days while traveling. Which is what I’ll talk about in my next post.
The Hammer and I are almost ridiculously happy together. We love planning things out together. And talking with each other. And training together.
We even love going to races together.
But when we go to races, we’re never racing against each other. Partially because that’s just not what married couples do.
But what if we…you know…did?
I’m not saying we would ever go and actually just race against each other to see whom of us is faster. Because of marital harmony and stuff, as heretofore mentioned. But also because there aren’t many races where it would be a legitimate competition.
Like in the race we did last weekend, for example. If I’d have run a half marathon, The Hammer would have beaten me by a huge margin. Similarly, in bike races, I’m a little faster than she — although her recent Leadville 100 finishing times are faster than all but four of my finishing times.
But what if we were to do a race where the bike portion and the run portion were balanced out, and maybe a randomizing third event (like maybe a swim?) neither of us is good at were thrown in?
And suppose, unlike when we last tried doing a long-distance triathalon, we were both really fit and fast?
And further suppose, unlike when we last tried doing a long-distance triathalon, we agreed that if and when The Hammer caught me on the run, she would just keep on going to see how much faster she is than I?
And even further suppose that unlike in a full Ironman, we were to do a half Ironman, thereby taking away the (some might say) out-of-proportion advantage given to cyclists?
Between The Hammer and me, who would win?
You must admit, it’s an interesting thought experiment. You know, the kind of thought experiment a loving couple might discuss, just for fun. And perhaps it might even become the prevalent topic of conversation between that loving couple. And it’s even conceivable that the loving couple might engage in quite spirited debate on this topic.
But, you know, it’s not something we would actually do.
Why It’s a Bad Idea to Have Connected Friends
So, having had a number of spirited conversations with The Hammer, I took it upon myself to check and see if it was too late to register for the inaugural St. George Half Ironman (it used to be an Ironman but was generally acknowledged to be too difficult of a course, which makes both The Hammer and me feel kind of awesome that we both did it).
Not that I was going to register us for it if registration were still open. I was merely curious.
Imagine my relief to find it was sold out. “Oh well, that’s that,” I thought.
“I don’t suppose you’d be interested in having The Hammer and me race as part of Team Gu in the St. George Half Ironman, right?” I asked, expecting a quick and decisive “No.”
“Magic will be happening in less than an hour,” replied Yuri. And he was right. Before I could come up with a plausible excuse, The Hammer and I were registered.
(And also, two giant boxes full of Gu products arrived, which the two of us have begun training with. More on those soon.)
Suddenly, the hypothetical was real. The Hammer and I are racing in a Half Ironman.
Against each other.
Here’s my (absolutely and completely impartial) analysis of what the day will bring.
The morning starts with a — and I just checked this to make sure of the distance — 1.2 mile swim. This is the part that both The Hammer and I dread the very most. Neither of us is a trained, strong swimmer.
That said, this leg of the race is incredibly strategic.
First of all, we don’t start at the same time. Thanks to the fact that we are of different genders and have a last name that starts with “N” we start six minutes apart:
Of course, this race is timed by chip, so theoretically it doesn’t matter who starts when.
In reality, though, by having The Hammer six minutes ahead of me when the race starts, I have an excellent carrot. If I can manage to pull up even to her and say “Hi honey!” we both know that I am in fact actually saying, “I’m six minutes ahead of you now.”
In the past, there’s been a reasonably good chance that I would catch The Hammer before the swim leg even finished; thanks to the miracle of a wetsuit and stronger arms I’ve been able to compensate for my total lack of form and haul myself through the water more quickly through the water.
But The Hammer’s been in the pool several times per week this past winter, training using the much-acclaimedTotal Immersion swim method. She’s fixed some important problems with her technique and I now fear that my brute force advantage has been nullified.
Meanwhile, for your information, I have not been in the pool even one single time. I should probably fix that.
The Hammer and I have identical bikes we’ll be riding for this race: the Specialized Shiv. We both have been training using these bikes, and while neither of us could be called an expert on them, we’ve both gotten better.
In terms of raw power, I have the advantage, and that matters in time trials. But on a hilly course, power-to-weight ratios come into play. And this is definitely a hilly course — 2552 feet of climbing over 56 miles:
Both The Hammer and I are good climbers. But — and I say this in a reasonable facsimile of humility — I am a better climber.
It’s almost certain that I will put some time on The Hammer during the bike leg of this race. The question is, will I put enough time on her? Because following the ride comes…
The central question in the “Fatty Vs The Hammer” race is, “how much time will Fatty lose to The Hammer in the run?” The easy answer is, “A lot,” but that’s not very specific.
The Hammer is in fantastic running condition right now — she’s light and she’s training for an upcoming marathon and she just ran a personal best for the course in last week’s half-marathon.
She’s faster on a flat course, and she’s much faster on the climbs. And this course is climby:
She is going to crush me on this leg. As in, it’s entirely possible she’ll be two minutes per mile faster than I am. And maybe more if I am reduced to walking the climbs, which is likely.
Which means that even if I manage to put half an hour on The Hammer in the rest of the race, she could beat me at the line.
And the thing is, this is an out-and-back course, so at some point we’ll see each other and then she’ll know exactly what the gap between us is…and what it will take to close that gap.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but The Hammer is somewhat competitive. If at the point she sees me there’s even a remote chance that she could catch me, she will catch me.
And then she will blow me a kiss and keep on going.
Personally, I think there’s a 52% chance that I will be the victor in this contest, provided I manage to not go so hard on the bike that I have entirely discombobulated by the time I have to start running.
But I’ve been part of a relay team in a half iron-distance race before, and I was pretty much unable to even walk after the ride. I can easily imagine being in a similar state in this race. In which case The Hammer may win simply by being able to complete.
That said, I am a somewhat competitive person myself and do not intend for that to happen.
Please, by all means, please feel to speculate yourself on what the outcome of this race will be.
Hey, it’s just a friendly thought experiment. Right?
A Note from Fatty: A big thanks to those of you who have bought copies of Susan’s book, The Forgotten Gift. And an even bigger thanks to those of you who have left a review of the book. I’ve been really happy to see that the appeal of the book goes way beyond the teenager market I had originally talked about — adults are loving it too.
If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, please do. You can find it available in paperback, as well as in Kindle and Nook formats.
I’m not even going to try to disguise this post. Plain and simple, this one’s all about how proud I am of my 17-year-old son, Brice. Brice is a gifted kid. Extraordinarily smart (he was the top student in his gifted student class back in sixth grade). A great sense of humor. Good at pretty much everything he tries.
He also battles severe depression, which would have been bad enough on its own, but pretty much wiped him out for a few years as his mom’s cancer got really bad and then took her life.
I don’t want to go into the bad times he’s had, though. Not in this post. What I want to do is write about a few awesome things that have happened lately.
The University of Utah has a great program, called TeenScope, Brice participated in. And it did amazing things for him — in fact, I’d say it’s no exaggeration to say that the program saved his life.
It’s also the program my insurance company, Cigna, actively battled me on covering. While they eventually paid for part of it, several thousand dollars are now my responsibility — it’s my hope that royalties from Susan’s book will help meet that.
Following that program, Brice started coming back to us — I don’t even know how to describe it better than that. He even started going back to regular school, and is now back in school full time.
And that’s not all.
A couple weeks ago, Brice did something he hasn’t done in — quite literally — years. He — on his own — joined an extracurricular program at school, called Academic Decathlon (AcaDec). Essentially, this is competitive test-taking, which may not sound all that exciting to you unless you happen to be really good at taking tests.
Which Brice is.
The thing is, though, Brice joined the school’s AcaDec team pretty late in the year, and didn’t have time to read the books and essays that were the subject of this year’s essays and tests.
So he talked with some of his teammates, getting the best sense of the topics he could, and traveled with the team to the state competition.
When he came home, he told us all about the essay assigned: compare a particular Russian short story (which he hadn’t read, and the name of which I can’t remember) to the novel Dr. Zhivago (which he also hadn’t read).
“I totally had to bluff it,” he told the family, saying that he turned it into an essay comparing thematic scope potential of short stories to what is possible in novels, and what each is best suited for.
“Hey, don’t worry about it,” I started, wanting to let him know that to me it wasn’t important that he didn’t do well; it was great that he had simply tried.
Brice interrupted me by saying, “I took first place.”
And in fact, Brice was an important reason his team will now be participating in AcaDec online Nationals.
He and I have agreed we will each read Dr. Zhivago by then.
The Big Race
Getting back into his academic groove is only part of the story, though. Around the beginning of the year, Brice also agreed to train with me to run a five-mile race in Moab.
We started by running 2.5 miles, inching up to our longest run before the race itself: 4.25 miles last week.
An then, last weekend, we had the race itself. Brice and I would be running five miles together; The Hammer would be running the half marathon. Here’s the group of us together, sharing a moment as we waited for our respective turns at the port-a-potties:
And yes, Brice really is half a foot taller than The Hammer and I (Susan’s dad and grandfather were both 6′4″).
The Hammer went to get on a bus to the half-marathon starting line; Brice and I found ourselves at the end of the line for the bus to the five-mile starting line (same course, just eight miles further down the canyon).
As it turned out, the last bus didn’t quite have room for us, so we — along with a half-dozen other runners — were put on a van.
It was a very exciting ride:
Even as riders on the very last bus, we arrived at the starting line with almost an hour to kill. “Show me your awesome running pose,” I said.
Brice is way too obliging.
We sat on a big rock, watching all the people mill around, with most everyone waiting for a turn at a port-a-potty:
I swear, races are 90% toilet-related.
At 9:20am, ten minutes before the race began, we ditched our coats and joined everyone else in a short walk down the canyon road to the starting line:
It was a good way to get ready for a race to begin — standing around for a long time at a starting line just makes me anxious, which in turn makes me need to pee (yes, more toilet-related observations. See?).
We got to the starting line just a couple minutes before the race began, and settled in where we figured we belonged: right in the middle of the pack.
“Are you nervous?” I asked Brice.
“A little,” he said. “Mostly, I just want to get started.”
“Show me your ‘very nervous’ face anyway,” I said.
Like I said, Brice is way too accommodating.
The starting gun went off precisely on time (this race has been run annually for more than thirty years; they know exactly what they’re doing), and we began. Brilliantly, I had set my camera to take rapid-fire shots, figuring that at least once in a while I’d capture Brice in the frame. And I was right:
And I even managed to capture the two of us together in a selfie. Of the fifteen shots I took while holding the camera pointing in our general direction, this was the best of them:
I need to learn not to hold my mouth open in that position when I’m concentrating. I think it may look a little bit silly.
Honestly, I didn’t care even a tiny bit about how fast we went or whether we walked half of the course, or whatever. The fact that my son was outside, doing something with me, was a massive victory, and we both knew it.
“A year ago, would you have guessed you’d be out here today, doing this?” I asked.
“No way,” Brice said.
“You should be massively proud of how far you’ve come,” I said. “I am.”
“I’m proud of both of us,” said Brice. “We’re doing awesome.”
And he was right. We finished our first mile in under nine minutes, a pace faster than we had ever run in training.
“We haven’t run this far before,” I said, “So let’s be sure we agree the same rules apply during this race as did during training: either of us can declare a walking break at any time and we don’t have to give a reason. The walking break can go as long as necessary. Whoever starts the walking break also declares when it ends. Our objective isn’t to win anything, it’s to do this together.”
“Yep,” said Brice. But he continued going faster.
Our second mile was faster than our second — 8:19, I think. Maybe it was because of the adrenaline that comes with racing. Or maybe it was because of the drummers that famously play for the duration of the race, their booming drums echoing across the canyon:
“This is an amazing day,” Brice told me as we hit the halfway mark and came out of the canyon.
Price to Pay
Anyone who knows anything about adrenaline-fueled racing knows that it doesn’t last. As we crossed the three-mile sign, we slowed to a walk for break. In under a minute, though, we were back to running:
How did he get to be so tall and skinny?
We took one more break at the four mile mark, after which I asked Brice to slow down a bit during the final mile. He was dropping me.
With a half mile left to go, I looked ahead and could see the finish line banner. “We’re going to do it,” I said.
“And we’re going to finish faster than Lisa’s projected time (47 minutes) for us,” Brice answered. And he was right:
46:34 by the clock, with corrected chip time of 46:15 for Brice:
And a similar placing for me:
And medals for both of us:
The Part I Didn’t Tell Him
“That was fun,” Brice told me, which was pretty much the most awesome thing I’ve ever heard in my whole life.
“Let’s keep doing this,” I said. “Maybe even work up to a downhill half marathon this autumn.” He agreed we should. We started talking about doing the Mt. Nebo half this Fall.
Then we walked into the post-race feed zone, which is really well stocked at this race. Cookies, chips, ice cream bars, chocolate milk, more chips, candy. Brice got some of everything.
“You didn’t tell me about this part,” Brice said. “This is the best part of the race, by far.”
Which made me feel a little bit bummed about the sad little cup of water I had gotten for myself on the way through.
Brice and I walked back to the car, changed, and came back to the race venue to wait for The Hammer to finish. While we did, Brice went through the feed zone again (I figured we were within our rights, since I had gotten nothing at all on the way through).
Then we went to wait at the finish line. As we stood there I told Brice that The Hammer’s previous best on this course was a 1:45, so we started craning our necks, looking for her orange, black and white jersey at 1:40.
She came hauling through at 1:43, setting a personal best for this course, and a top-ten finish for her category:
I got a picture of her with Estella, a woman we’ve become friends with, even though we never see her anywhere except for at races.
She’s not even from the same county as us, but we’ve run into her at this race twice, at the Ogden marathon, and at the Boston marathon. She and The Hammer run very similar times, and both have husbands considerably slower than they are.
And then a picture of the three of us, now post-race, taken by the guy guarding the feed zone (whom I could tell was getting ready to turn Brice and me away as we approached):
As we started home, Brice conked out immediately and slept for the duration of the three hour drive. Like most teenagers, he has an infinite capacity for sleep.
As we drove home, I thought a little bit about what we had done: a five-mile race. We had built it up in our minds to be something big, but when it came down to it, the race itself had lasted just over three-quarters of an hour.
A lot of the time, after a race I’ll feel a little let down, thinking to myself, “That’s it? That’s all there was to it? It seemed like such a big deal before I did it, and now it’s just something I’ve done.”
I guess races are as meaningful as you make them. And this time, what we did still seems huge. I don’t think that’s going to change.
I’m incredibly pleased and proud to announce that Susan Nelson’s novel, The Forgotten Gift, is now available for purchase on amazon.com. I’ll get to the details in a second, but first, here are the links to where you will hopefully go and buy this book right this very second:
The short version is that metastatic breast cancer attacked Susan’s body, making it hard to breathe and incredibly dangerous and painful to move (I once broke her collarbone simply by trying to lift her into a sitting position). Instead of despairing at her fate, though, Susan began a race against her cancer: she set out to write a novel before the cancer could take her.
And she got to the last chapter. Literally. In fact, Susan wrote the first three words of that last chapter: “I quietly went” — leaving the sentence, and the final chapter, incomplete.
Which is why this is called “an interrupted novel.”
But don’t go thinking this is some half-finished book. It’s 368 pages of terrific storytelling, with a satisfying big confrontation. What you’ll miss by not having a final chapter is some resolution between some important characters, as well as the setup for the sequel Susan had already begun thinking about.
Help Make This Book a Success
I want this book to reach as many people as possible, and I’m hoping you’ll be a part of that. First — and most obviously — I hope you’ll go buy a copy, whether it be the paperback version or the Kindle version. Either way is great; pick whichever format you prefer. (For what it’s worth, though, I actually earn about a dollar more per copy from the Kindle version, even though it costs considerably less.)
Next, spread the word. You can do this in a number of ways:
Tell others: If you like the book, tell other people about it.
Review it: Post a review over at amazon.com.
Buy additional copies: A number of you have mentioned that you wanted to contribute extra when this book comes out. Honestly, I’d rather you buy additional copies and then give them to others. If this book starts rising up the bestseller’s list, it will start getting attention beyond the people who’d be buying this book anyway (i.e., my readers).
Finally, I had found a program that was really helping, but my insurance company was actively fighting me on whether they should have to cover his treatment. Eventually, they did cover his treatment, up to a point.
Then they stopped. And now that’s thousands and thousands of dollars we need to come up with, both for the treatment he’s had and the treatment he continues to receive.
By the way, my son is now doing great. He’s back at school full-time, and is headed off tomorrow to participate in an academic decathlon. Also, he and I are training together to run in a five-mile race next weekend.
I have to say, I think Susan would be really pleased at the idea of her novel covering the treatment that has done her son so much good.
The Forgotten Gift is a self-published book, but it doesn’t look (or read) like it is. For the proofreading, I have my very good friends — and top-notch editors — Wendy Fritzke and Bob Bringhurst to thank.
For the cover design, Jenn of Tiger Bright Studios worked absolute magic. And for the internal design and both print and e-book production, Keith — the genius behind Ride and Ride 2books — at Typeflow made this book look excellent.
Gone for a While
I’m going to be barricaded in various conference rooms for the next two weeks, which means this is going to be the lead post on my blog until at least March 18, at which point I hope to be able to post something (i.e., I’ll be in airports and planes on the 17th and so might be able to write something that day).
In the meantime, thank you very much for your support of this book. I’m excited to have you read it.
I was recently perusing the April 2013 edition of Peloton magazine when I happened upon your new ad.
Now, I firmly believe that when a company does something right, they ought to hear about it. They deserve our praise and respect. And that’s why I’m writing to you today: to give you kudos for your latest ad, supporting your limited edition SS.Lady ellisse jersey:
While I might quibble with your subpar Photoshopping skills, Assos, I can’t help but admire the fact that for your ad, you put a woman on a bike, in the outdoors, wearing biking clothing.
And while I personally believe that the jersey featured in this ad makes a personal statement along the lines of “I really miss 1974,” that’s neither here nor there.
The important thing is you show admirable respect for your female riders, treating them as what they are: an important part of our cycling community.
Oh, hang on. Wait a second. Hm.
Well, this is embarrassing.
As it turns out, that image above is something I put together myself in Photoshop. Here’s the ad you actually placed in Peloton:
In my defense, these ads are so similar to each other that it’s easy to see why I mixed the two up. After all, in both cases, the women are kneeling, wearing spike heels, and form-fitting shiny vinyl pants (over ridiculously sticklike legs) that are specially designed to be so movement-restricting that they come with a warning that says, “WARNING: DO NOT WEAR.”
So the ads may be different in some ways, I guess.
What Is It?
Assos, if this were just an ad featuring a girl — with legs so twiglike that it’s hard to imagine her walking – kneeling (nowhere near a bike) and wearing clothes that are specially designed to be bike-prohibitive, I’d just let the whole thing go.
But I’m so confused, and I need your help. Specifically, I have been brought to tears over the near-impossibility of understanding your ad copy:
Oh sure, everything starts out just fine. I get “NEW” — it tells me this is a new jersey. I get “sS.ladyEllisse” — this is just a peculiar name for a jersey, but no moreso than “Oldsmobile Omega” is a peculiar name for a car, I suppose.
So we’re just going to let those parts go.
But then there’s the heading above the ad copy: “What Is It?”
Now, I think this heading is probably meant to be a question the ad copy addresses, but it doesn’t quite work out that way. Instead, “What Is It?” is the question I was left with after reading this:
It’s the ASSOS celebration of the year 2013! ladyEllisse was created and designed as a tribute to our female customers and to please the eyes of the entire ASSOS community. Number 13 has a special place in the ASSOS world: it’s level 13, symbolizing the manga.Yio state of mind, the perfect ride, ASSOS nirvana.
Well, of course. That all makes perfect sense. Except for the way it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Unless, of course, you’re willing to go down the ASSOS-flavored rabbit hole, that is. In which case it begins to make a scary, twisted, creepy kind of sense. By which I mean, the kind of sense you would expect from a clothing company that shows an anorexic model dressed from the waist down in bondage-wear and calls it “a tribute to our female customers.”
Let us break it down, shall we?
In your ad, Assos, you tell us that:
Number 13 has a special place in the ASSOS world: it’s level 13….
So this is a special jersey because it’s the year 2013, which reminds you of level 13.
But what, pray tell, is level 13?
Well, I browsed, surfed, explored, and otherwise tried to find there’s no explanation of level 13 on the Assos site. Unless, of course, you take the arcane and devilishly clever step of searching for it using an obscure-but-powerful search engine known as Google.
Perfect World In the real world, there are 50 million cyclists, but only a very few can join Manga.Yio. Qualify yourself & join!
In the course of a man’s life (lady’s too), he (she) reaches various levels and hopefully passes onto the next. The higher the level, the more difficult it gets to move up:
Level 0 birth Level 1 party, party Level 2 sex Level 3 show time Level 4 knowledge
Then, the privileged ones, move on to
Level 5 wisdom
For normal people, that is the top level of life. But, a selected few cyclists go on and explore the ultimate dimension of inner-balance:
The understanding that a “little thing” called riding your bicycle is the key to personal fulfilment and well-being!
Living a luxury life does not require millions.
It’s not about lifestyle, it’s about health status.
Details don’t matter anymore.
A world ruled by concentrated, pure emotions.
An environment reduced to the essence.
Communication without talking.
No interferences, no hold ups; everything tuned to your personal frequency.
And whatever you do, it just feels perfect.
Manga.Yio – where YOU determine the pace of the ride. Fit the profile & join.
ASSOS welcomes you!
I’ve read and re-read this philosophy, and I have a few questions and observations.
Shouldn’t levels 2 and 3 be switched?
Why is there a period after “Level” in “Level.13?”
When I read “A world ruled by concentrated, pure emotions,” I think of an eighteen-month-old child, having a tantrum. Is that what you’re going for in Level.13?
I assume that “Communication without talking” means that one conveys meaning primarily through the medium of waggling one’s eyebrows meaningfully, punctuated with the flaring of one’s nostrils. And maybe sometimes wearing very tight, shiny pants. Also, I feel I should point out that pre-verbal children communicate without talking…through the medium of tantrums.
When you say “details don’t matter anymore,” you’re not doing a ton to bolster my confidence in your dedication to quality products. JFYI.
When you say “Living a luxury life does not require millions,” is that a willful suspension of disbelief kind of thing? As in, we’re not supposed to consider your pricing?
“No interferences, no hold ups; everything tuned to your personal frequency” — hm. Let’s see. That reminds me of something again. If only I could think of what it is.
More than anything else, though, Assos, this explanation of Level.13 makes me think that you’re just lazy, skipping levels 6 through 12 like that. Or maybe it’s part of the “details don’t matter anymore” aspect of the Level.13 philosophy?
Regardless, based on my thorough understanding of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (i.e., I read about it on Wikipedia once), I think I can interpolate what would go between levels 5 and 13:
Level 6 impertinence
Level 7 despair
Level 8 I forget what 8 was for
Level 9 the all-too-frequent consumption of cheese-flavored snack foods
Level 10 red sports car
Level 11 irritating tendency to make jokes about “this one goes to 11″
Level 12 Cialis
There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? I even bolded them for you and everything.
Sadly, the “Level.13″ nonsense is only a fraction of the ridiculously cryptic ad copy here, Assos. In the same sentence as the “Level 13″ schtick — as if we haven’t already been thoroughly beaten about the head and shoulders with ad copy that ought to come with a decoder ring — you tell us that Level 13 symbolizes “the manga.Yio state of mind.”
As if we didn’t already know that. Pfff.
So, being the courageous user of Google that I am, I go ahead and try to find what these mystical, mysterious words — ”manga.Yio” — could possibly mean.
It must be something secret. Something that commands reverence. Something as deep as Level.13 itself.
Yep, that’s really all it is. So when you’re in “the manga.Yio state of mind,” they mean you’re in the state of mind of a really pretentious-looking store, with hardly anything in it. Here, take a look:
So what is the concept behind this store / state of mind? Well, both manga.Yio and I are very glad you asked:
In Ticino, Lugano, Switzerland, “Terra di Ciclismo” and home of ASSOS, the Assos manga.Yio is the Assos Experience Superstore. It’s more than a store.
Assos manga.Yio is fully focused on the Assos values. See, feel, touch & endorse.
Assos manga.Yio, where you can live the unique Assos experience
Assos manga.Yio, where you can indulge, share and receive answers.
Assos manga.Yio, that showcases and makes available our entire Assos product collection
Assos manga.Yio, created to identify and service your needs.
Assos manga.Yio, to provide your perfect outfit for your perfect ride.
Questions? We do have the answers.
We strive to have only happy customers. And we are happy when our customers enjoy a perfect ride!
Thank you for visiting & enjoy Assos.
“A situation which I dislike very much, is to find myself in a restaurant with an endless choice of courses. Total confusion and waste of time. What I appreciate instead, is having the cook welcoming me, looking in my eyes, identifying my needs and finally serving me the dish I was dreaming of.” Nice!
Roche Maier? créateur & ceo Assos of Switzerland SA
Or in other words, manga.Yio is a store where instead of you buying what you want, some guy stares at you for a minute and then tells you what you get to buy. (thirty-year financing available upon request).
I am so excited to visit manga.Yio, Assos. And you can bet I’ll come over as soon as I reach Level.13.
Assuming, of course, I can walk that far when wearing these shiny black pants.