Why….?

16 07 2009

Why do we do the things we do?

What do we learn from the decisions we make?

Do we learn from them?

Do I?

Deciding not to ride on the tour was a huge thing for me. Hard. Mostly because I didn’t want to be labeled a quitter…or a wimp…or whatever else I might have been labeled because of it.

It was hard to make the decision, and then even harder to figure out why I made it. One of the other riders (Doug) asked me why and I said I wasn’t having fun. He said that sometimes things were hard and you have to stick with them. I said I know, but this wasn’t one of those things.

And here’s what I meant. I know that things are hard. I know that very little that is really worth getting is easy to get. There is no one (I would hazard to guess) on this earth who has spent most of their life 200 pounds over weight (as I have) and has lost 170 pounds of that mass (as I have), all on their own, with no councilor, special powder, surgical procedure, or fad diet who would tell you anything else. I know what hard is.  More importantly I know what it’s worth. If it has worth. Losing all that weight is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and that’s what I’m going to be writing a great deal about.

Riding my bike was easy. It was like running away. It made me feel like my life was on hold. And while I was out on the road it gave me a feeling of heading toward something. I remedy for being lost. But I came to a huge conclusion.

I’m not lost. I’ve felt that way  before…but I don’t feel it now. What I want at the end of the day, any day, no matter the day…is to be at home in the arms of the woman I love. My best friend and my greatest nemesis. My wife. I choose fleeting moments with her buying a new mattress, shoping at trader joes, arguing over how many pictures we’ll hang in the living room, over time with the bike, over time on the road.

Does that mean I’ll never plan an other long trip on the bike? Don’t know. But I certainly won’t plan it while she has a bunch  of time off. I’ll be more careful with it. I’ll weigh it’s worth and put that above my curiousity about my personal limits.

So was the ride worth that time away from her? Hell no. We’ve spent too much time away from each other over the past few years, and we’ve been living in the same house.

The ride was in no way worth that.

The ride was worth, proving that I could do it. The ride was worth, showing other people how cool and physically awesome I am. And in that was worthless to me, now, at this point in my existance.

I believe that if the worth of an experience hinges on creating a situation where other people are forced to be impressed with you…and not

and not, I say

and not, on sharing yourself with those other people, on opening yourself up to them and the world and the universe and all that hippy-dippy shit…then it has little to no worth at all.

I truly believe that there is not a person reading this blog (I truly believe there are very few people reading this blog) who isn’t capable of riding a bike across the country (or getting across using a simple tool and their body as the engine). Regardless of age, weight, stature, size…you name it.

People have done it, crawled, walked, biked, hiked, pushed themselves in a wheelchair.

I believe in every last one of you. I believe you can do anything if you really put your mind to it, and have a good enough reason.

I know you can, I just don’t know if you will.

So making the decision was hard.

But no where near as hard as leaving the 22 people who are still pedaling away. They are truly some of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure of spending three weeks with. We ate, slept, wept, sweat, pedaled and raged together. We sang karaoke…we laughed.

Those people rule. They had their reasons for starting, and I think they’ll all finish it…in one way or an other.

I’m sorry I left you…but it had to happen.

My last day riding was 103 miles and I rode it with my great bearded roommate Brian Vanfleet (sp? sorry dude). We Tom and Hucked it from a crop duster hanger, to a pond full of banded water snakes…it was a hundred degrees with a hundred percent humidity and we rode until we were loosing our minds. It was the greatest day I spent on the ride. It was the perfect way to end it all.

I was going to (at brian’s request) say  a little something to each of the other riders in this blog today, but it all seems condescending and potentially hurtful…i have a habit toward bluntness…

So let me just say this.

I believe in you all. I hope that you get out  of this ride, everything you wanted to get out of it. I did. Pedaling isn’t enough. But if that’s all you got, it’ll suffice.

I know you can make it all the way there. The mystery, as always, is will you.

If you think in terms of what will you do, instead of what can you do…the boundaries that separate us all would simply fade to nothingness.

Until next time

I am, as always

thefatmanindisguise

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it’s not you…it’s me

15 07 2009

Its the greatest break-up line of all time. The shittiest thing you can say to someone you’re in the midst of dumping. But baby, I am dumping this ride.

THE RIDE IS OVER….for me…or at least it will be after Thursday night. I’m going all the way to little rock, Arkansas…two more 90+ miles for me and then it’s over…i fly home…get on with my life…get on living or get on dying…as some dude once said.

I’m a big baby and a quitter. (you can count that as a fess up for those of you who may think  that about me…it’s all good)

I’ve got a couple things to say. One, I have the most incredibly supportive group of friends on the planet…you guys rule…maybe too much, thanks for your kind words on the post and those of you who called me…thank you too…

Also, the company who organized the whole thing is being nothing but classy in my exit.  Super supportive words thoughts and organization from them.

For the most part the other riders are being awesome too. A couple others of them are talking about leaving and I support what ever they do…but I hope all get’s worked out and that everyone for whom getting to Los Angeles is the most important thing…they make it there, safe, sane and in one piece. Those others riding are truly a remarkable group of people, and I will miss them (some of them)(okay two of them) a great deal. Not you Chirs…you’re an ass!

Sure there’s a couple of them who think I’m a big fat weak baby…but hey, whachagonnadu?

The blog ain’t over…it’s on to what I named it for in the first place…

I should say more, but there is little else to say.

talk to you in the next few days…

until then…

i am

thefatmanindisguise

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This thing I do….

13 07 2009

The ride is going….well….I guess just going is the best way to describe it. It feels a bit like a regular 9-5 (except it’s 6-5) job….we get out of bed, we get dressed, we get on our bikes, we pedal and pedal and pedal and pedal, we get off our bikes again. Last night we camped in a thunderstorm in Mississippi and today 8 of 23 of us are making the ride and the rest of us are hiding from the weather, and trying to dry out.

If you ever make a trip across a country (this or any other) on a bicycle, do yourself a favor and go be the less traveled roads, and I mean really less traveled. Just like in a car, on a bike highways all look the same, unless you’re doing it just to prove that you can, or to say that you did…give yourself some amazing things to sensually experience, don’t just go as fast as you can on the most direct route. It’s torture.

Seriously, torture. Road and shoulder and grass and trees. Boring as hell. When I set out on this trip I didn’t know the  reason I was doing it. There’s the obvious “chance of a lifetime” angle, there’s go out and find something about yourself (soul searchy) angle, there’s the I just want to have fun and get paid to ride my bike across the country angle, the I want people to think I’m cool because I did it angle, the I’ve got something to prove (to myself or to others) angle, and many many more.

I was never sure witch angle was mine, and then it hit me…I’ve taken a couple of days away from riding (partially due to illness, mostly due to mental fatigue). This idea of why I am doing this ride has been plaguing me. And the reason it’s been plaguing me, is that I’m not having any fun. I’m bored. We’re traveling on highways (as I said boring) and we’re going at such a furious pace that I’m unable to experience any of the places that we go. I’m miserable. Strangely enough, physically, I’m fine. My body has adjusted to the miles and I don’t feel tired all the time any more. My body is down, with it, but my mind is not. It wants to go home.

So I started thinking about why I’m doing this. What is the draw. It’s true…i love to ride my bike. I love it (although recently that has not been the case). Riding gives me an incredible feeling of freedom…which when you’re on a schedule and riding a set route along an old battered highway isn’t always there.

So why else. I went through all the reasons. I tried them each on for size and the one that seemed to fit the most was…to have fun. I wanted to do this because I thought it would be fun…and since it’s not anymore…i don’t want to do it.

But there was something not quite right about that either. I knew that I wasn’t just thinking it would be fun…I knew there was something deeper…something I wasn’t admitting to myself.

And then I found it. I found something big. Something that doesn’t just apply to this trip but to a great many things I’ve tried in my life.

I was sort of curious to see if I could do it. Would I be able to pull it off. And it was this curiosity that drove me. I came to this conclusion by going backwards to the day where I stopped having fun. It was on that same day that I stopped worrying about whether I would be able to finish the ride…the day where I realized that riding your bike across the country, like so many other things in this world, is just a matter of doing….Of course I could do it, I am doing it.

There have been so many things in my life that were driven by that curiosity…I’m curious what I’m capable of…

Once the whole thing went from something I wasn’t sure if I could do, to something I was pretty darn sure that I could, then the question of worth began to play into it. Is this trip, this time, this summer, this whole 42below vodka 42ride thing, really worth my time?

Truth be told, and I’ve been trying really hard not to complain, this is not a great job. It’s completely unorganized, the pace  is so fast that we’re unable to healthily feed ourselves and rest, the miles that we’ve told that we’d be riding have never been right (we’re riding 10 to 20% more every day that we were told we were going to), the people we’re working for have no idea what’s going on and we’re all (those above us and below) in over our heads. Its a giant mess. We need rest and recoup time  to ride 90+ miles a day, and sustinance other than fast food and trans-fatty acids. I mean when I  find myself riding down the road on my bicycle (one of my very favorite things to do) and thinking about how I’d rather be at the house I barely moved into in New Jersey unpacking boxes and looking for a job there (two of my least favorite things to do) there’s something a bit off about that scenario.

You might say, “Tyler, it’s a job, you can’t always like your jobs.” But when it pays this poorly, I’ve got to love it, or look for other options. So it’s back to the question of worth…is it worth it…all this time away from my life, my dogs, most importantly, my wife.

It really makes me question the worth. What would make it worth it? I don’t f*cking know. But I’m working on that.

So, perhaps I’m about to bail…go home…perhaps I’m not…I can tell you this. If you wonder if you could ride your bike across the country, the answer is…you can!

I’ve been riding sick and partially injured for days, and it really has barely slowed me down. If you keep moving forward you’ll get where it is you set out to go…the question is…is that really where you want to be?

until  next time

i am

thefatmanindisguise

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one has fallen…Alabamaians hate bicyclists

10 07 2009

Rode 95 miles today, up and down and up and down. tI was a cross between the most boring thing you can think of (church with some ancient guest pastor…any graduation ceremony ever…a ron howard film….you get the picture) the most exciting thing in the world (no list), hell, and the greatest experience of my life (in no particular order) I’m tired and don’t have much wit or pith inside me to blog out….but a couple of things today demand that I sit here (lay here really) and type away.

One of our number has fallen…he (our Canadian) brushed his front wheel on the rear wheel of another rider and lost control sending him flying…the result a broken collar bone…hard to say what will become of that…had he not been wearing his helmet he would most assuredly have a concussion or perhaps worse.

So if you don’t have a helmet…get one you f*cking idiot….drop the vanity and wise up.

Several other people in the group had some very close brushes with danger/death/dismemberment….

People who populate the state of Alabama, apparently, hate bicyclists. They yelled at us, attempted to run us off the road, and in one case actually yelled, attempted to run off the road and then lost control of his vehicle ditching out off the road and totaling his car (karma baby, or is that bikma)

What the f*ck is wrong with you if you have such a need to scream at someone  on the road that you loose all sense of time and space and self, while hanging out the window, tongue wangling in the air, voice a flame and heart enraged you scream “get the f*ck off the road you crazy bitc…” only to be interrupted by reality coming screeching to a halt in front of your face as you loose control of your vehicle, nearly run over the “crazy bit…” and careen into a ditch, blowing out all your tires and firing off the airbags.

Oh wait I know what’s wrong with you. YOU’RE A GRADE A F*CKING MORON!!!!!

And a coward to boot! (see yesterdays entry)

that’s all i got for now, hopefully I won’t be killed tomorrow by some crazy dipshit driving his 2000 pound wmd

until we meet again

I am, as always

thefatmanindisguise

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the best defense is a good O…

9 07 2009

So…

It’s not just a title. It’s not just catchy. It’s the f*cking truth. I am a spy. I’ ve done it. I am “the fatman in disguise”.

There’s this whole group of people who never new me before, and though some of them know that I used to be  bigger (165 give or take pounds, bigger) they forget. They know, but they are not aware.

How do I know. I witnessed a tirade. A serious “what is wrong with those big disgusting fat people who have to use scooters in the grocery store” tirade. Not the kind of thing I was ever privy to when I was “bigger”. I knew it was said, I knew it was thought…I just never actually heard it. An incredible, blatant, fearful, HATEFUL, attack on strangers. On people unknown. On people minding their own business, doing their own thing. For no reason that I could, at the time, discern.

It reminds me of bicycling in the south (at least so far). I’ve been spit on, had rocks and cigarette butts thrown at me. I’ve been yelled at every day, over and over “get off the road”, “fuck you asshole, out of the way” “ride on the sidewalk (where  there was none)” “ride on the grass”. There was a big red truck today that could spit black smoke from it’s tail, and it spit it on me, and then on each rider in front ofme. The smoke, was not constant…which gave it a very deliberate feel.

Again, an incredible, fearful, HATEFUL, blatant attack on strangers. People minding their own business. Doing their own thing. Reason? Can’t find one…but wait…

It get’s me thinking. Why would anyone feel the need to attack something, unless they feel threatened by it. Which make me wonder, how does the dominant culture (people in cars on the roads/thin athletic “beautiful” people) feel threatened by the subculture. How can that possibly be. The cars are in full force, obviously they have the power. The thin, athletic “beautiful” people have the media and the youth oriented anti-aging social programing of the country on their side, so obviously they have the power. Why do they need to attack what obviously has nothing over their head. Is it possible that the bikes on the road have power? Is it possible that the over-weight people who need scooters to shop in the store have the power. Who is on their side? What is it in them that makes the car drivers and the pretty skinny people feel the need to defend?

 Not that they would fess up to that need. There’s no way they would admit to being afraid or defensive…but they don’t have to admit it verbally, their behavior dictates their  state of being, which is that of people under attack (people who  defend themselves) what else am I to think about their motive? Why attack something, why defend yourself against something that is not attacking you?

So how are they being attacked?

All I can figure, it that it has to do with the rules they’ve made up for themselves. The rules, that they’ve made up, that lace our society together. That hold the world in tight to their chest and tell them it will be alright. We all make up rules, right? I’d be a liar to say that I don’t. We all have our world, our version. What’s sad is how many of our worlds depend on validation from others to really confidently exist….and so….

When someone attacks our world, by doing something different…by looking different…by acting “strangely” , by riding their bike on the road we always take home from work and getting in our way, or using a scooter to help their “fat ass” shop…we lash out. We defend. And the best defense is a good offense. So we attack.

We allow our fear to make us bigots.

And the worst part is….we claim that we’re not even afraid.

People like that (sometimes like me)…what’s so sad is that they let their fears turn them into bigots…and they don’t even know that they’re afraid…they think they’re fearless.

Until next time….

i am

thefatmanindisguise

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that’s not a knife…

5 07 2009

Today on the tour was fantastically wonderful and weird and exhausting. 93 miles and we are in Greer South Carolina.

I know it’s been a couple of days, so I’ll give a quick recap…rode from Raleigh to South Hill, then South Hill to Charleston. In Chapel Hill stopped at a bike shop and weighed my bike with the bags and all the stuff I’veloaded onto it. The scale maxed out at 60 pounds, so it’s well above that. 75 maybe more. I’m clearly insane for riding with all that sh*t on the bike, but those of you who know me, know I’m clearly insane.

Those rides were long and hard and my knee almost shot off my body going into Charleston so I vanned it for about two thirds of the way.

Now, today’s ride. First  off about 44 miles in we had breakfast at Danny’s Dinner in Cherokee county, I can’t remember the town name, but the place was incredible….best breakfast since the ones mom used to make.  That place does it right and never makes you feel like a fool for not just buying all the stuff and making it at home, better and cheaper.  Inexpensive and excellent.

Plus when you’re riding 90+ miles a day, you can get away with eating pretty much anything you want and still slim yourself away. It actually is harder to loose weight the less you eat, cuz your body doesn’t know how to deal with the lack of caloric intake (or so I am told)

At any rate, let’s get on to the big thing today. GAFFNEY South Carolina. That place was freaking crazy. For those of you with your eyes on CNN the reason Gaffney sounds familiar, is because they have a gunman/serial killer on the loose there. Some dude who’s been running around shooting people, and has not, as of yet, be apprehended. Riding through was incredible (not in a really great roller coaster sort of way, but in a alone in the woods at night sort of way). The place was vacant, to say the least. All of the shops and restaurants were closed and there were no people on the streets at all. It was like some one, or some thing (aliens, the government, the former Governor of Alaska) snuck into the town at night and stole away all the people. It was like a scene out of a movie. There’s something huge in that experience for me…I just haven’t quite wrapped my brain around what it is yet.

Okay, now for an explanation of the title of the post…this ride that I’m on, is something other than a bike tour…for some it’s a test….for some it’s just fun….for some it’s a race…..on some days it’s an endurance test…some days it’s something else entirely. A bike tour, to me, is when you take your time and feel like you can go anywhere and do anything…you carry your stuff and you’re self sufficient. You can do what ever you want, you can ride 20 miles or 120.

This is us just riding, as much as we can…some people take days off (or just a few miles here and there) as their bodies betray them, or conk out on them. Some ride relentlessly.

For each of us there is some reason we go on. There are those of us who do it for what others will think of us. For bragging rights. There are those of us who are out to prove something, to ourselves or to others. There are those of us who ride as fast as we can and never stop because we’re afraid of what will happen to us if we do. Some of us ride because we love to ride…sometimes we ride because we know if we quit, we’ll regret it for the rest of our lives.

It means something different and unique to each of us. It is the difference between living and not. At least on some level.

We are starting to bond as a group. Who knew. It’s hard to get specific about these people because, for me at least, it’s an issue of trust. Whether we like each other or not, we’re in this together, and that fact has an effect  on me. Something I’ ve not felt for a very long time.

Strange, considering this ride is in many ways a microcosm of life. We are all, whether we like each other or not, in this together. On this planet together…trying to get by…and yet that experience does not seem to bond us.  Does not seem to pull us together, but push us apart.

Sad.

by the way, steve…congrats on the road bike and the helmet…it’s about f*cking time!!

okay people, get out there and ride

until next time

i am

thefatmanindisguise

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The Ground is Hot and there are Buzzards over Head

2 07 2009

We rode 83 miles today. It was a blast. I woke up ready and excited to ride. Like so much in life it seems that the less expectations I have, and the more open I am to whatever the day may bring, the more I enjoy myself.

The people I’m riding with are an interesting bunch. Which I’ll leave at that. For now. I know they might be reading this and I don’t want the people I hate (like Doug) to figure it out too soon. (Before I’ve gathered enough ammunition)

While I rode today, I got an incredible feeling  of connectivity to the planet. (I know it sounds hippy dippy, but deal with it or f*^k off) We were riding along the rolling hills of Virginia (I’ve really got my stride on the hills, but they do sometimes still make me wish that I didn’t load my touring bike with 60 pounds of extraneous junk)(anyway the rolling hills) and moving over the curves and the contours of the earth really made me wonder at the shear size and scope of it.

The earth is cool. Way cool.

That feeling of connectivity, reminded me of something that happened to me a couple of months ago. Up until recently, I was the director of the Black Hawk Children’s Theatre in Waterloo, Iowa…and one night at rehearsal I was sitting in the house (that’s what we call the place where the audience sits, you moron) with a friend of mine who was in the show (a friend and also a Dr. of Psychology) and another member of the cast ( a young woman who is truly one of my favorite people on the planet) came up and asked us what Nihilism. My Psychologist friend explained it as a philosophy that embraced the idea that people where inherently selfish, all they ever cared/care about is their own self gratification…nothing matters…nothing means anything…people just do what they want for their own selfish reasons and you can never trust anyone to do anything but.

She then went on to explain that she was the opposite and that  she believe that  we were all connected and people where inherently good.  She glanced at me out of the corner of her eye and said, Tyler’s more of a Nihilist.

I corrected….I do, in fact, believe that we’re all connected…but that most people are also inherently self centered and only concerned with themselves.

So long story short (too late) when I say connected to the earth, what I mean is, I think we all are. It’s obvious…without one peice the rest would cease to exist as they do…I get it…I believe it.

It just doesn’t stop me from cutting off an old lady with a full cart at the supermarket so I don’t have to wait behind her to buy my Watermelon.

Until we ride again…

i am

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