Category Archives: Fat ass


July 28, 2012.  I swung a leg over the Silver Bullet and shoved off toward Mercersburg.  This was, I hoped, not to be a repeat of my first attempt several years ago, which ended 25 miles early at a McDonald’s, soaking up their AC and trying not to puke while I waited for the cavalry to bail my fat ass out. It had been my longest day in the saddle ever.  Nearly 50 miles.  Part of my new motivation was simply the fact that there would be no bail out, no matter how far I fell, which meant I’d have to find a shady tree and take a nap under it.  The horror.

Back then I was 25 pounds heavier with a pack-a-day habit.  July the 28th bore forth a man lighter than he’d been in a decade, an ex-smoker, with over 400 miles behind him during the last few weeks.  A veritable god among men.  OK, maybe a demi-god.

Hero of the Republic?

Circus clown?  Let’s go with circus clown.

My weapon of choice would be a Surly Pacer.  The Silver Bullet.  A steed I had almost forsaken, thinking she was too big, too stretched out.  I had ridden her most of July and grown quite fond of the fit and feel.  Several years of trial and error and Christie’s money had shown me what was best in a bike, and I had kitted her out appropriately.  Cloth bar tape and a firm leather saddle.  Down tube shifters mated to a nearly new Shimano 600 rear derailer.  A Carradice Bagman supported a canvas saddle bag, which in turn held my abundance of crap – rain shell (didn’t need it), Lara bars (didn’t eat them all), tools (never touched them), wallet (empty), phone (dead) and GPS (the only useful bit in the whole bunch).

I rolled out at 6am.  By the time I arrived in Carlisle, I had to pee.  Like, now.  The first convenience store displayed a sign in the window – “No public restroom.”  I feigned ignorance.  The middle-eastern girl behind the till showed indifference.  I grabbed the nearest candy bar, dropped it on the counter and offered up the cash.  She pointed to the “employees only” door at the back corner.

Back in June I got the damn fool idea to join a challenge.  “Ride 500 miles in July” says they.  “Durr, OK” says I.  So I stopped again at 31 miles into my quest.

500 miles, suckers.

I was skeptical of actually meeting this goal.  So was everyone else, I think, though they were mostly supportive.  25 miles a day, most days, at oh dark thirty with Bill and Owen.  And it’s up there in lights a photo on the Internet.

Newville is a pretty little town that sits at the crossroads of 641 and 233.  Both are busy roads (and I’d be riding them again in the near future).  I approached Newville on a farm road and only had to deal with 641 for a couple blocks before making the left onto 233, and then a couple blocks more until peeling off to the right in search of the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail and 11 miles of flat and easy all the way to Shippensburg.  I missed my turn and went a few gorgeous miles out of the way along Big Spring Road before correcting my course.

Nealy and Bullshead. Middle of nowhere. Very big, protective dog on his way. Didn’t stay long.

So maybe 8 miles on the rail trail.  Their sign-age is funny.  In addition to a stop sign at every cross road there are a myriad of unenforceable requirements.  No weapons.  No riding after dark.  Walk your bike across the intersection.  And cyclists please, oh god, pleaseohplease wear a helmet.  I think the signs are there to make the trail commission feel better about being safety conscious or some such.  Granted, it is technically private property, owned by a non-profit.  So I suppose they could have come out there and told me I was trespassing and made me leave or whatever.  Feel-good-ism and CYA above all else, I guess.

The trail doesn’t extend into Shippensburg as suggested by Google Maps.  That’s a future expansion.  It currently ends at a park just north of the University.  This turned out to be a nice place to stop.

The Pacer taking a much needed break. BTW, I made it to Shippensburg without bonking!

I realized at this point that I hadn’t taken my chain off the big ring since leaving home. And thus was hatched the most retarded scheme in history – I would ride all the way to Mercersburg without touching the front shifter.

As I approached Letterkenny and then Chambersburg, I knew I was truly in southern Pennsylvania.  The proof was at a yard sale, though I didn’t have the opportunity to take a photograph of the woman as she climbed down from the lifted 4×4, wearing heels, jogging shorts, beer gut and tube top.  Her shirtless companion, in flip-flops and cut off BDUs was easier to purge from the memory banks.  I’m fairly certain her image is permanently etched upon my retinas.

The sun was in full fry mode by this point and the weatherman’s “partly cloudy” really meant “clouds everywhere except between the Sloth and the sun.”  Traffic was heavy south of Chambersburg, too, and I started to look for a place to find some shade for a few minutes.  A Pepsi machine appeared on the left, as if summoned by Mordenkainen himself, and beckoned me to partake of the fizzy.  It turned out the diet button was really a Pepsi Max, but getting a refund proved difficult.  I drank it anyway and sat in the shade for a few minutes.

When it was time to go I looked down at the computer and noticed something funny. 62.69 miles. You know what that means, don’t you?

Metric century!

Hot damn! I was stoked.  I had just ridden 100km and felt pretty good.  Hell, I decided, I’m going to start training for my first 200k brevet.  This was easy.

Back on the bike and rolling, I burped up every last molecule of carbon dioxide, along with whatever reserves I had left. There were only 10 miles to go, and I was about to hate every last one of them. The man with the hammer had been hiding in that Pepsi bottle the whole time. Even the slightest incline, grades I wouldn’t notice at any other time, required all my strength. But I still wouldn’t shift the chain off the big ring. The chain, over most of that last 10 miles, was in 53/28. But I made it. 72.9 miles.

I might not be ready for that 200k, but at least I didn’t puke.


Core dump

This is one of those multi-topic, Spring cleaning posts.  It’s a bunch of random clutter I need to sweep out.  You’re the dust pan.

April was #30daysofbiking.  I finished the month with at least one ride daily and 206 miles.  The bulk of that was getting the kiddos to school.  I didn’t lose a single pound.

Speaking of weight, I tend to get hungry when I exercise.  That means I eat.  So instead of burning fat, I’m burning the stuff I just ate.  When I don’t exercise, I eat then, too.  I like starchy things.  They go right to my tummy and stay there.  For the last two days I’ve been not eating within an hour of riding, before or after.  And I haven’t been eating bread or sugar.  Guess what?  I’m losing weight already.

Grant Petersen wrote a book.  It’s called “Just Ride“.  You can get it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or better bike shops.  The evil LBS doesn’t have it.

  • He and I disagree about underwear.  In my experience, seams in the wrong place hurt.  They bunch up into my nooks and crannies and rub me the wrong way.  Seamless undies and shorts without rear pockets work well for me.
  • Part 7 was a snoozer, which surprised me.  I can talk bike parts and geometry and tire suppleness all day long until you’re bored to death.  Apparently, I like talking parts more than I like listening to someone else talk parts.  I’ll talk less parts next time.
  • Other than that, GP is spot on.  You should get a copy and read it.  It’s worth more than the 14 worthless Americanos.  I’ve already started using the wobbly bike method when cars approach.  I think it might just work.  Will report back later.

The rSogn continues to be a work in progress.  It’s currently sporting Gary II bars, which I just put on two days ago.  Haven’t ridden it yet.  Will report back later.  I also measured the 38mm Col de la Vie tires with a digital caliper.  36.2-ish at 3 bar on Velo-Orange Diagonale rims.  That’s less than a 10% margin of error.  I can live with that.  It also got some Eggbeater pedals and I put cleats on my shoes.  This experiment is probably coming to an end soonly.

The Pacer is back in rotation, but not as the Bio-Pacer.  105 double rings, drop bars, plastic sneaker pedals.  I really like the pedals and am considering trying out some of those RMX sneaker pedals or Grip Kings/Lambdas.  They allow me to ride in canvas Chuckie T sneakers, which I can’t do on rat traps like the MKS touring.  The Pacer is a fun bike.  It climbs better than anything else I own and the side pull brakes stop better than anything else I own.

There are two new Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch Me Baby Just Like That Turbo Rocket Ship Super Duper Special Edition phones on the way.  We’re also ditching T-Stationary in the process.  Android’s been good to us for the last two years.  I’m looking forward to it being even better starting tomorrow.

I finally got around to ordering that part for the refrigerator.

Ride bike!

How far?

Yesterday, Christie and one of the troop’s co-leaders asked me if I’d go camping with the Girl Scouts this Spring.  There’s a wall tent with cots for the Dads to share, so I wouldn’t need to bring a tent.  “Cool,” I said.  “Maybe I’ll ride the bike.”
“Um, it’s out in the sticks,” says they.
“I know,” says me.  “That’s the point.  New roads, new scenery, it’ll be a fun ride.  How far is it?”
“It’s really far.”
“How far?”
“And there are at least two mountains you’d have to climb.”
“How far is it?”
Christie continues to protest.  “It takes over an hour to get there.”
“How.  Many.  Miles?”
“I don’t know.”  She looks at me like I’m retarded.  I can’t blame her.  She’s bailed me out before when I got too big for my chain ring.  The last thing she’ll want to do is rescue the wheezing fat guy and his bike from some Jeep trail when she’s trying to get her troop of Brownies to camp.  This conversation is rapidly approaching over.
“Would you please send me the address?”

It’s 30 miles away.  About 2000 feet of climbing.  I can do this.  But that’s not the point.  The point is I tried to get directions from my lovely wife that would apply to riding a bike.  She doesn’t really ride a bike much, and I shouldn’t expect her to automatically say something like, “It’s 30.3 miles if you take the fire road through the State Forest, but that adds another 500 feet.  If you go around the mountain it’s an extra 5 miles, but there’s no climbing and the Mom and Pop store on back road #7472273 pulls a really mean vanilla Coke.”

It’s all about perspective, I suppose.  Ken Kifer wrote about this.  A motorist doesn’t notice the little roads that turn off the main artery because he doesn’t care.  The big, fast highway is the best way to get the big, fast SUV from point A to B.  If  there’s anything in between that doesn’t sell gasoline, it’s quite possibly irrelevant.

On the other hand, the big, fast highway isn’t very suitable for cycling.  Or, at the very least, it’s not very comfortable for cycling.  Back roads with little traffic, little “gas stations” that haven’t sold gas in a decade, and lots of scenery are just what we need.  For those of us who live in town, these places are often more than a few miles away.  Which leads me to my point.

“Any distance is biking distance.” –Kent Peterson

The people around me sure have had some good reasons to doubt my ambitions.  Maybe if I live those 5 words I’ll give them a reason not to.

New Year’s Resolutions – 2011

It’s about time for me to discuss all the crap I’m going to half-ass and then quit over the next 12 months.  Let’s start with the easy stuff.

My first resolution is the same as everyone else’s.  Be 20 years old and have six-pack abs.  Well.  Lose weight and get more exercise.  That’s fairly broad, so I’ll narrow it down a bit.  His Boniusness laid out a pretty good plan.  Every week I should lose a pound and cycle at least 35 miles.  This is manageable and practical.  I’m too embarrassed to tell you what I weigh right now but I’ve already lost my first pound by eating mostly fat and leaves.  However, 5 days into 2011 and I haven’t thrown a leg over a bike.  Looks like I need to go for a ride or 4.

Complete the GOTCHA Mega-multi Challenge.  This one’s in the bag, folks.  The Engineer and I are more than half-way there.

Go bike camping more.  I went once each year in 2008 and 2009.  Last year was better – at least thrice.  2011 should host at least 6 S24O events.

Add at least 6 passes to my Pass Hunting score.

Meet some other bike bloggers in person.  This could happen.  Train ride to Bahst’n, anyone?

I’d like to learn how to do something new.  Not a hobby, but a skill.  This should be something I’ve never done before, but not something that takes all my time and energy.  I don’t have clue what this might be, but when I figure it out you’ll be the second to know.

Ride a century.  Now we’re getting ambitious.  Let’s start by defining “century” – ride at least 100 miles within a 24 hour period.  I have no desire to ride an organized century, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Go on an epic ride.  Cyclists like to use the word “epic” a lot.  To me an “epic” ride should be worthy of the written word.  While we can plan a gazillion miles over rough terrain, it’s not epic unless there are unplanned events along the way.  In other words, an epic adventure can’t be scripted.  We can play only a small part and then some other shit just happens.  We’ll see if it’s the kind of shit that makes an epic.

Peace, love and go ride a bike.  Happy 2011 everybody!

Getting off my ass

It seems that lately I’ve had this thing I don’t usually have.  It feels kinda weird.  Not a latest-designer-STD weird, but almost a good kinda weird.  They call it motivation.  I hate that word.

A few weeks back I started the C25K running program.  The short version goes like this: go for a walk/run 3 times a week for 9 weeks.  By the end there’s more run than walk and 5k should be doable.  I’m on week 4.  It should be week 5, but I slacked off on week 3.  Then I got that motivation bug.

Last night was the first time in a couple weeks that the Trucker’s been ridden.  We rolled out 10.5 miles of moderate hills with the new lights (which are bright!).  7th Street fell to the king.  Walnut Street was no match for my 20″ low gear.  The kids making out at the top were stunned by the brightness that is a Lumotec IQ Fly N Plus.  The light at the bottom of 12th turned green as if to say, “Thou art truly worthy.”

Then I started week 4 of C25k.  Woo!  I don’t even feel like a truck hit me.  That’s surprising. Week 4 is significantly harder than week 3.  I really expected to be inflexible this morning, especially after both a bike ride and run.

On the bad news front, the rear hub on the Blue Beast is wobbly.  I’m hoping it just needs some adjusting, but I’ve probably cracked the axle.  Of course, this happens right after I switched the Trail-a-Bike hitch over from the Trucker.  (If you’ve ever tried to uninstall/re-install a Trail-a-Bike hitch, you know why that’s a problem, and you can feel free to send me condolence cards.)  UPDATE: The rear hub is shot.  The axle is bent and one of the cone nuts just won’t budge.  I found an old MTB wheel with freewheel in the parts pile, and that’s good enough for the time being.

That’s all for now.  The Megan and I have to go get the Molly.  One last ride on the Beast before I tear into that hub.  I hope we don’t have to walk home.

2010 Goals

Resolutions suck.  I never follow through.  So this year I’m setting some goals for myself instead.  These will all be closer to reasonable than impossible, and are guidelines for living better and doing more of the things I like.  I don’t expect to stick with all of this all the time.

Bike stuff first.

  1. 2400 miles.  That’s 200 miles per month, or 46 and change per week.  I’ve done this before and it shouldn’t be a problem to do it again.  Seriously, I ride 9 miles per week just getting the Molly to pre-school and back.  That leaves 37 per week to go.  Throw in a couple trips to the grocery store and a bike club D ride or two and it’s done.  This is a reasonable goal.
  2. Bike 180.  This started as a Flickr group last year whose members had a goal to ride 180 days during the year.  While I don’t really care about the Flickr group, the concept is kinda cool and goes well with the mileage goal.  In fact, they’re probably mutually inclusive.
  3. The 2 Mile Challenge.  I did this, more or less, during 2008 but really slacked off last year.  You can click the linky-link and read all about it.  The short version goes like this.  Get a map.  Draw a circle with a 2 mile radius around your house.  Don’t drive your car to any of these places.  Ride your bike or walk.  Andy over at Carbon Trace emphasizes the 1-Mile Solution.  It’s the same basic concept, but the circle is smaller and it only replaces one car trip per week.  Either of these is good and, IMHO, deciding where you need to get to on a regular basis and how much of it you’re willing to get to without a car is a step in the right direction.  If it’s within a couple miles there’s not a significant increase in time, it costs less than driving the car and it causes exercise to happen.  Those tree hugging hippies also tend to think that it saves the planet or some such.  These are all good things and, most of all, this is a reasonable goal.  I’m not going to lie to myself or you and claim that I’ll never drive the car to anything within 2 miles of my house, because I will.  As of right now I have no way to transport an extra large Hawaiian pizza from Villa Roma on my bike.
  4. Go bike camping more.  I went twice last year and once the year before.  There’s no reason I can’t throw in 2 or 3 S24O trips during the non-Winter months.
  5. Organize a themed ride.  I’ve been wanting to do this since I first read about the Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour and l’Eroica.  Perhaps a Roadster Ride or a Steel Rim Ride.  With tweed and a brew up.  Bring your pipe and smoke it.

Weight loss.  I’m fat.  I like to eat.  I like to feel full.  I have no will power.  (Yeah, sure.  I quit smoking “cold turkey”, but I can’t quit eating.  Eating is not an all-or-nothing undertaking and I’m simply not going to subsist on protein shakes.)  My initial thoughts a couple years ago were to continue eating as I always have but burn more calories.  This, in theory, is not a bad plan.  Unfortunately, when I burn more calories I desire more fuel.  Fuck.  One year ago I weighed 247 pounds.  That’s a lot and it’s the most I’ve ever weighed, before or since.  I managed to shave off 20 pounds and then put half of that back on.  237 is better than 247, but it’s still too damn much.  20 pounds is a reasonable goal, and if I stick to the bike stuff up above it’s shouldn’t be hard to do at all.

Surroundings.  I have a bunch of stuff.  Much of it is in boxes in the basement.  It might not be a bad idea to get rid of something every time I bring something new into the house.  More or less.  The trash guys are going to hate me.  I also need to build some shelves and declutter the rest of the house.  This is my least favorite goal but it needs doing.


  1. Shoot more.  I barely shot anything at all last year.  The MX is begging for just a couple more rolls.
  2. Build a portfolio.  Or maybe assemble a gallery show, even if I don’t have anywhere to show it.  Something like that.
  3. Print! Print! Print!

I have a few more goals that involve family and friends and spending less time on Facebook, but they’re not something I can quantify, so I’m not going to write about them here.

Happy new year!   Where’s the pie?

Open Letter to the Food Industry

Dear food company executive nincompoops,

Prices go up.  We, your fat and sassy customers, know this.  It never goes down.  Not for long, anyway.  We know this, too.  As citizens of the fattest nation anywhere, anywhen we’ve eaten a lot and we know what tastes good.  We’re experts.  We also know when you’re yanking our chain.

It was bad enough when the Consumerist shone their hypocrisy exposing light on your shrink ray.  We thought you’d get the fucking message.  But no.  Your ears are apparently full of all that ice cream that’s not sold in half-gallons anymore.  Allow me to say this one more time.  ICE CREAM IS SOLD IN HALF-GALLONS YOU TERMINALLY RETARDED, SHIT-FOR-BRAINS JACK ASSES.  We know it got more expensive.  Just raise the fucking price like everyone else.

Today, you short bus riding twits, my uber-healthy microwave lunch tasted like crap.  It didn’t used to taste like crap.  It used to be edible.  But now, crap.  I imagine the price of basil went up a whopping 2 cents per bushel or something like that and it made the bean counters’ knees jerk too hard.  So the old men in the ivory tower just decided to leave the basil out and put feces in.  Because us food experts won’t notice.  Great move.

You inbreds in the food industry suck.


Fuck you.


Christie’s Nana let us bring home a typewriter that she couldn’t sell at the yard sale.  Olympiette 3 portable.  Orange and creme.  Retro chic.  I banged out a page on it this morning after flipping the ribbon, even hit every ‘a’ twice.  My left pinky has no strength.  Hunt-and-peck typists are no longer a pet peeve.

Starting up the diet again.  The bike rides have dropped off and the fat has stacked up.  247.5 lbs this morning and that scale, well, that fucker don’t lie.  The old one lied sometimes.  This one doesn’t.  I hate it.

Cigarettes were easy.

Who’s your Daddy?

Today I rode up 9th and Allen to the top of the hill where it intersects with 7th.  But today’s death ride was accompanied by Molly, who is three, and the trailer she rides in.  That’s right, folks.  I pulled a freakin’ 50 pound trailer up that hill.  I muttered something like “Who’s your Daddy” when we got to the top and Molly instantly replied with “Daddy, you’re my Daddy.”  I guess I had that one coming.

We rolled down the hill faster than we should have and stopped at the school to pick up the Megan.  She wanted me to pull them both back up to the top.  Considering I could barely stand I opted to not.  Maybe next time.

On the serious side, I found out what my lactate threshold feels like.  The lungs usually give out long before the legs, but not today.  This has got to be a side effect of not smoking.  I need a bigger hill.

Who’s the King, baby?


When I quit smoking my greatest fear was not being able to control the addiction around other smokers.  Recovering alcoholics, at least for a while, probably avoid places with booze.  Like bars.  We’re allowed, for now, to smoke in more places than we can drink.  And that’s my weakness.  Fucking peer pressure.  Driving long distances alone is also a problem.  I’m going to North Carolina this May to hang out with some damn fine photographers.  It’s a long drive and some of them smoke.  Worrisome.

It’s been a few months since I’ve had a cigarette.  I think the only remaining tobacco in the house is half a stale pouch of Captain Black, but I can’t quite recall where it is right now.  Last night – well, actually about 1 o’clock this morning – I rode over to the supermarket for a diet Pepsi.  The two people smoking outside the north entrance didn’t seem to notice me, even with the yellow jacket and chrome leg band and MTB gloves.  A minute or two passed before I realized the smell of smoke hadn’t called to me.  It didn’t make me want one.  I stopped shopping for a second and tried to imagine taking a long drag on a Camel.  Nothing.  No fleeting thoughts of bumming one off the couple outside or the night stock crew.  In fact, this is the very first time since I’ve quit that I’ve been able to reconcile desire and logic.  At this point I’d rather not smoke.  I think I may have won, kicked it to the curb.  I’m not worried about North Carolina anymore.

There’s no sadness or happiness.  No regrets about the act itself or the damage I probably did to myself.  But Jesus Christ, man, what I could have done with the money.