Wednesday, March 24, 2010


In gyms and basements all around the world today, countless men and not a few women are slaving away doing rep after rep with dumbbells, barbells, machines, and even a bowflex or two (though most of the bowflexes are likely gathering dust while the owner eats a burrito). Their objective: add bulk to their triceps. And pecs, and lats, and traps, and biceps. A few of them are even going so far as to stick needles in their butts, taking years from their lives for the sake of adding millimeters to one of the too-sexy-for-my-shirt muscle group.

I wish I could give them some of mine. I would gladly shed 30% of the mass in each of my triceps, biceps, deltoids, and pectoral muscles. I haven’t done so much as a single pushup for two years in hopes that by neglecting them, these muscles will go away. Well, I don’t really want them to entirely go away. But I would like them to shrink. Substantially.

They do me no good on the bike. They do me no good while skiing. All they do is make it so I’m effectively hauling a chuck, a brisket, a rump roast, a shank, and a flank up the hill every time I climb, which is a lot. I live on top of a mountain, for crying out loud. If I go anywhere on my bike, I climb 1500 feet just to get back home.

This morning I weighed 163.8 pounds. And while for me that’s a reasonable weight for the start of the season—especially since it’s nearly ten pounds lighter than I was this time last year—it’s still nearly seven pounds more than where I finished last season and ten+ pounds more than where I should be if I’m going to be competitive at the big climbing races like High Uintas and Tour of Park City.

So let’s figure out where to trim the fat.


Inside the orange circle is my double chin, part of the chuck. If I can lay off the brownies, that should disappear.

What’s inside the red oval is like keeping a flank steak or two stuffed in my bibs every time I ride. I’ll blame the Saturday evening date nights and the Sunday morning waffles for that one. Problem is, I like taking my wife out on the weekends. And I like making waffles for the kids on Sunday mornings. Especially when they (waffles, not kids) have nutella on them. You see my dilemma?

The purple oval is where the rump roast hangs out. I’d be OK with this one if the others went away since that area is responsible for putting power to the pedals and can actually be helpful. I could keep it lean by giving up bread. But have you tried my wife’s bread?

The toughest problem is the yellow oval—the brisket and shank. Does any cyclist need that much flesh around his shoulders? OK, maybe Chris Hoy does. And I’d love to be like Chris Hoy, ‘cept we don’t have a velodrome around here. We have a bunch of steep mountain roads instead.


Look at the green circle—I don’t know that guy, but he’s a typical cyclist in my category. He seems to do just fine with normal arms. You’d think mine would get that way after years of neglect, but they don’t. I fear that even if I ate nothing but cabbage*, they’d stay pretty much the same.

*For the record, I love cabbage. Problem is that I love it shredded on fish tacos or in posole or covered in mayonnaise in cole slaw.

Think I’m exaggerating? Well those aren’t arm warmers I have on in the photo. They’re knee warmers. I’m just wearing them on my arms because that’s where they fit. Size? L/XL. Now do you believe me?


  1. I think you should give up cycling and take up gymnastics.

  2. Rachel: why would I want to ruin my love of cabbage like that?

    Blackdog: if I took up gymnastics, I'd have the same problem, except I'd need to lose weight in my legs. It's a no-win situation. Plus I'm pretty old for gymnastics.

  3. Hey, Gimli! How's the cycling?

  4. speaking of velodromes:

  5. Dug: I saw that. Hope it happens. Hope they put a bubble over it in winter. A velodrome is a big deal. A velodrome you can use in winter is a big f'ing deal.

  6. Gimli! Good one SB.

    It sounds like your problem is the same as mine: weekends. I eat pretty carefully during the week, but weekends, including Sunday morning waffles (by the way if want an excellent rising waffle recipe you make the night before let me know) are what kill me. I do have stick arms though.

  7. Just develop ungodly power in your legs. And when you beat all those Karen Carpenters up the hill, they will be THAT much more pissed off.

    That's my strategy.

  8. mark, you're right, mr vice president.

  9. Do you think Nutella would be good on a fish taco? Yum.

  10. I so get this. I am one of the only girls I know that actually goes up in clothing sizes when I workout. Annoying. Love the gimli comment.

  11. I had to look up what a Gimli was. And I thought Star Wars dorks were bad.