How to Name a Bike Trail

A Note from Fatty: Today’s your very last day to enter the cleverly-named “Fight Cancer, meet Bike Snob NYC” contest, wherein you can fly to New York, meet my Evil Twin, Bike Snob NYC, and find out for yourself that he is actually eight feet tall, is covered with a thick coat of bright red fur (he dyes it; his natural fur color is light brown), has a goiter the size of a tangerine, and has a peculiarly-shaped bone structure protruding from his forehead that whistles shrilly when he reaches 18mph.

No wonder he values his privacy so highly.

Read details here, or go donate here. I’ll announce the winners tomorrow.

Another Note from Fatty: If you’ve been considering joining Team Fatty but just couldn’t deal with the $50 sign-up fee, today’s your lucky day, because there’s a one-day-only sale on registration going on right this very second. Simply click the city you want to sign up with — Austin, Seattle, San Jose, or Philly — and then from that page click the Join our Team link. Use “SPIRIT09” as your discount code when you register and you’ll get $15 off the registration fee. Join us today and help us help the Lance Armstrong Foundation fight cancer.

And here’s something to consider: I am currently working out the details to start a weekly prize giveaway — but it will be strictly for members of Team Fatty. More info on this soon, but let’s just say that I’m going to do what I can to give Team Fatty members extra-good reasons to work hard on raising money to fight cancer.

Oh, and if you’ve got something so cool you think people would compete for a chance to win it, email me.

Yet Another Note from Fatty: Philly Jen — the Team Fatty Co-Captain for Philadelphia — has begun a FattyCast for Team Fatty. It’s a terrific way to learn about and get tips on raising money for Team Fatty members…or for people who are interested in joining Team Fatty. You’ll find the first installment of the FattyCast here. As a bonus, unlike most podcasts, Jen has an honest-to-goodness great voice

Still Yet Another Note from Fatty: I have created a new forum for Team Fatty members for the different cities to chat, and for the team co-captains to start talking about any special Team Fatty activities we’ll be having before the event. I highly recommend checking it out. It should be a good place for you to meet your teammates. You’ll find the forum at That seems like a reasonable URL, doesn’t it?

1-day sale on joining the livestrong challenge. which makes it a good day to join team fatty

OK, Seriously, This is The Last Note from Fatty: I currently don’t have a team Co-Captain for San Jose and I need one. If you live in that area, have experience with leading teams, and are willing to take on the bulk of the Team Fatty San Jose-leading responsibilities, email me. Thanks!

How to Name a Bike Trail

I’ve mentioned before how much I love Draper City for building and maintaining Corner Canyon. Well, I’ve got another reason now. Jamie P, one of the guys I sometimes ride with, started going to the City Council meetings and then proposed a new trail in Corner Canyon: a trail built to be a twisty, cross-country, bikes-only, narrow, downhill-specific slice of heaven.

And Draper totally went for it.

Everyone I know who rides is so excited that many of us plan to actually help build it. Yes, I know that seems crazy, but it’s true.

So yesterday, when Jamie sent out an email asking for ideas on what to name this trail, the response was as overwhelming as it was tragic. As it turns out, very few of us know the rules for properly naming a trail. And I do not exempt myself from this sad group, for my own suggestions (including “B#,” a clever in-joke programmers will find mildly amusing and nobody else will get at all) were perhaps among the worst.

So I thought. And I considered. And I came up with what I can now confidently assert are the definitive and authoritative “Do’s and Don’ts” of bike trail naming.

These rules are as follows:

Do Not…

  • Use more than 3 syllables. This is not because I am lazy. This is because I am practical. If a bike trail has more than three syllables, I will not be able to curse it properly when I am climbing, because I will have to take a breath in the middle of the trail’s name. For example, if the trail is named “Revolution Revelations” (eight syllables), I will pass out if I try to say it during a climb. Also, it takes me about thirty seconds to type, and about nine minutes to text. Hence, I would simply call the trail “RR,” which wouldn’t be too bad of a name, except for the fact that it sounds like the way Mork laughed.
  • Call it something you cannot picture yourself saying to your grandma, or spouse, children, or ecclesiastical authorities. I just cannot imagine myself telling Susan, “Hey, I’m going to head out and ride the Dirty Mistress. I’ll see you in a couple hours.”
  • Use trendy slang. The thing about trendy slang is that it either falls out of use, or it becomes cliche. And also, it sounds painful when middle-aged white guys say anything ending with “izzle.”
  • Name it with presumption, so that it is unlikely to meet expectations. If you name your trail “The Terminator” but winds up being more like The Sarah Connor Chronicles, well, that’s a bit of a letdown, isn’t it?
  • Make it sound horrible, dangerous and no fun. Trails should not be named “Scab Picker,” nor should they be called “The Disemboweler” or “Twenty Foot Drop Into a Pit with Sharp Iron Spikes at the Bottom.” This is a different kind of presumption — that your trail is unrideable — and it’s even less cool than the first kind. The exception to this rule, of course, is if the trail actually does have a twenty foot drop into a pit with sharp iron spikes at the bottom.
  • Use puns. As you know, puns are the lowest form of humor. So don’t name your trail “ReCYCLER.” Or “CYCLone” or “Spin Cycle.” If you do, I will be forced to call the trail by an alternate name. You know how people say, “No pun intended?” What other form of humor is usually followed by a disclaimer / apology?
  • Use alliteration. Alliteration is lucky it’s a rhetorical device, not a form of humor. Because if it were a form of humor, it might be even lower than puns. So don’t name your trail “Seriously Sick Singletrack.” Remember: alliteration is an absolutely abhorrent avenue for assigning an appellation.
  • End the name of the trail with “Trail.” Of course it’s a trail.
  • Name the trail after current events, a song, a band, or other transitory pop cultural puffery. What if someone had named a trail after the BeeGees? Think about that before you go naming your trail after a Metallica song. Or whatever it is kids listen to these days.
  • Name it after drugs. Or sex. Yes, yes, this trail is as addictive as crack. And it’s better than sex. Got it. But that gag is used. As in, used up.


  • Be non-comedically obscure. What does “Goldbar Rim” mean? I have no idea. How about “Amasa Back?” Nope, still no idea. And “Kokopelli Trail?” Well, that violates the “Don’t end the name of the trail with ‘Trail'” rule, but I still don’t know what it means. And yet, these are all great trails with names I remember. This highlights a key point in trail naming: A trail’s awesomeness stems from the trail itself. The name will take on awesomeness in time, so don’t get in its way with kitsch.
  • Be descriptive. Slickrock Trail is the best known trail in the world, and it has a simple, descriptive name. Timpooneke Trail is just named after the mountain it’s on. The Ridge Trail network is a network of trails on a common mountain ridge. I can see, right now, that my “Don’t end your trail name with ‘Trail'” rule is not holding up very well.
  • Be thematically random. If you think about naming all of your trails before you begin naming any of them, then you can choose a theme. For example, I recommend “Famous magicians and psychics” as a trail theme. Houdini, Krespin, Hennings, and Copperfield all make terrific trail names. The names of the characters on Gilligan’s Isle is another fine trail-naming theme that has so far been sadly neglected.
  • Use a first name, but one that was popular with people 60 – 70 years ago. This is by far the best way to name trails. And, fortunately, there’s a handly list already made. Dolores, for example, is a terrific trail name. As is Wanda. In fact, I would love nothing better than to say, “I’m going riding on a trail called Wanda.” Marvin, Floyd, Ethel, and Lester: all terrific trail names. In fact, if I were to run for office, I would use as my platform a promise that all trails would be named after popular names of the ’30s.

Oh, who am I kidding? This is all just sour grapes. In truth, I’m just disappointed that nobody suggested naming this new trail “Fatty.”

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