Self-Importantly, I Agree to an Interview

Several months ago, the good folks at Dahon loaned me a Flo to review. I liked it so much that I have so far accidentally forgotten to ever return it (and plan to continue to accidentally fail to return it). Their (incredibly patient) marketing guy, Christopher Hess, tried to recoup something out of the terrible mistake they made (sending me the bike in the first place) by asking me to do an interview for their newsletter.
Celebrity that I am, I said “Yes, as long as you clear all the questions with my agent.” Quickly, I had to decide: should I ask my wife to pretend to be my agent, or should I just do my Jimmy Stewart impression and hope that fools him?
I went with the Jimmy Stewart impression.
“Weeaaahhhll,” I drawled, “So you wanna talk with the Fat Cyclist, doya?” I asked Christopher.
Christopher, I suspect, was not taken in. But he agreed to my demands, and we proceeded to do the interview. It was, as you’d expect, pure gold.
Ten Questions: Dahon Interviews the Fat Cyclist

1. Thanks for your time Elden. Tell us a bit about yourself and your Fat Cyclist blog?

Okay. About a year ago, I did an epic mountain bike ride — the White Rim Trail, near Moab, Utah — and just barely survived it, what with the 40 pounds of blubber I had managed to acquire during the previous couple years. Sooo, I thought, “Hey, while I try to whip my sorry butt back into shape, how about I embarrass myself by writing about the whole thing?

At first, I mostly just wrote about my weight loss efforts and riding, but soon I ran out of things to say. I mean, think about it: how many different ways can you say, “I screwed up my diet again, but still really really really love riding my bike?” So to add a little variety, I started doing some bike satire, the occasional contest, and stories about biking.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up a good-sized audience (about 4,000 people per day), with some terrific commenters — I expect a good portion of the Fat Cyclist readership comes by to read the conversation that happens after my initial post.

2. Could you tell us a little bit about how long you have been commuting and what sort of bike(s) you ride?

I started bike commuting when I moved out to Washington and started working for Microsoft. Before that, I had never worked more than a mile from my home — and usually worked in my home. So having any commute at all was sort of a new thing for me.

My bike stable:

  • Ibis Ti Road: I’ve had this road bike for nine years. Titanium becomes more beautiful the longer you have it. I will never part with this bike.
  • Dahon Flo: I initially got this bike to review, but fell in love with it and decided to keep it. It’s not just a great bike for traveling; it’s a great mountain bike for tight, twisty, technical trails. The fact that you can pack it up and take it with you is a great bonus, but I’d love this bike even if it didn’t fit in a suitcase.
  • Gary Fisher Paragon: My first 29”-wheeled mountain bike. I’m still getting used to the way it feels, but love the way it hooks up in the loose stuff.
  • Bianchi Pista: I bought this for track racing; it turns out that I love it for fixed-gear road riding, too.

3. You live in a beautiful part of the world, with all the trimmings western cities seem to provide in terms of being ‘car-friendly’. What influenced your decision to start cycling to work?

I started bike commuting for a couple reasons. First, I was trying to multi-task: I didn’t have time for a “real” bike ride, and figured I could get in some kind of workout by biking to and from work each day. Second, the streets in the area around Microsoft are phenomenally congested. The number of cars trying to get to the main campus in the morning cannot be expressed with conventional mathematics. Bikes get to ignore all this traffic. I sometimes amuse myself by counting the number of cars I pass as I bike to work. Often, the number is greater than 200.


4. And just how long is your commute each way?

Well, eleven miles if I go the shortest way possible. But on nice days, the route somehow manages to wind up being closer to 20 miles.

I just started a new job in Utah, though, where the house I’m buying is about 20 miles from work…with a big mountain pass in between. I can hardly wait to start making that commute daily. Seriously.

5. How is the Flo treating you? There is quite varied terrain where you live, so how does the Flo handle its mountain bike duties?

The Flo is the best-handling mountain bike I have ever ridden. I mean, a steel, Joe-Murray-designed hardtail: what’s not to love? Well, actually, I don’t love the seatpost / saddle combo that came with the bike, but that’s nitpicking. You guys hit a home run (or the cricket equivalent thereof) with this bike.


6. What do you think are the benefits of more enviro friendly transport solutions and less cars in urban centres?

Actually, I think there will shortly be more and more cars in urban centres (you British are so adorable the way you spell!) — it’s just that they won’t be going anywhere, what with gasoline and gold costing the same amount per ounce. Cars will come to be regarded as exciting obstacles cyclists can use in trials maneuvers and in urban mountain biking, which I believe will be the next big thing.


7. So… any ideas on how to fix the world?

I recommend first loosening it up with a judicious squirt of WD-40, then take after it with a 5mm hex wrench and a 15mm box wrench. Between those two tools, you can fix just about anything. If you find you’re in over your head, though, you should take it (the world, I mean — not your head) to a good mechanic and tell him it broke while you were “just riding along.”


8. Aside from commuting, what other riding do you enjoy?

I love both road riding and mountain biking. My favorite thing, though, is heading out on a big ol’ all-day mountain biking adventure with my friends. At least, that’s my favorite kind of biking when I’m not actually out on an all-day adventure with my friends. When I’m out on such a ride, my favorite kind of biking is a quick ride to the El Azteca Taco Stand.


9. Has the regular commute helped your other riding, your overall fitness?

I’m pretty sure it has. I’ve still got plenty of blubber to work off, but after biking to work all through the winter, I’m entering this season without that terrible soreness I get after my first long ride of the year. So that’s worth something, I figure.


10. And finally, the Dahon Photo Competition is underway. A lot of people are talking about which bike they would build if they won. Whats your dream Dahon?

I’ve already got it, man. That Flo is sweet as pie.


Though I wouldn’t turn down an Allegro, either. My new job has me on the road a bunch, you see, and some of the places I go to have better road riding than mountain biking….

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