Book Review: Racing Weight

The Underwear Gnome Plan To Weightloss

I know it’s a bit misleading to call this article a “Book Review”, but “Book Review” soundsbetter than “Jump To Conclusions After Reading One Chapter and Publish Those Conclusions”.

Like most cyclists, I suffer from the belief that I’m overweight (I am).  In a world of rising obesity, I am thrown strange glances and receive accusations of “being anorexic” from my colleagues when I comment that I won’t have a cookie or slice of Birthday cake because I’m trying to lose some weight.  The fact is, despite being generally thinner and fitter than the average citizen, cyclists suffer from the same self-image problems that everyone else does.  Not only that, we struggle to lose weight just as much as our non-athletic friends.

Athletes generally lose weight through piling on more miles – a theory based on Physics and the wonderfully useful principle known as The Conservation of Mass; what goes in goes out and if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. (The Conservation of Mass is actually our best friend; it’s behind almost everything that makes bicycling possible and also being out of shape incredibly frustrating).  Owing to this simple theory, it’s generally unsurprising that there are very few diet programs for amateur athletes and as such I was thrilled to pick up a copy of “Racing Weight“, by Matt Fitzgerald, a book seeming written for just this audience.  I prepared to read it and readied myself to lose those last few (dozen) pounds.

I found the book very disappointing.  What I’m gleaning is that in order to loose weight I should “eat right,  “eat less”, “train more”, and – worst of all – “stop drinking like a fish”.  Not only that, but the book insists that I should diligently collect data on my training, diet, and weight and track it over several training cycles in order to even understand what my ideal weight might be in the first place.  Basically, by the time Winter sets in again and I’m ready to eat turkey and drink Scotch from the bottle, I’ll have some idea as to how fat I really am.

I’ll be honest: that’s not really the program I’m looking for. I was looking more for the program where I get to eat Cadbury Eggs, chips and salsa, and watch clever videos on the internet while dropping weight like a heroin addict with giardia and at the same time not losing muscle mass (it would even be nice if this diet even helped me gain some).  Isn’t there something I can inject or a pill to make myself a better cyclist? Come on, Matt, I’m getting tired of unhelpful authors.

And with that, I’m left with no option but to stick to my usual plan of eating hamburgers, drinking beer, and spending loads of money on lighter cycling equipment in lieu of losing weight.

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69 Replies to “Book Review: Racing Weight”

  1. Three hours high intensity on the turbo without a fan (sips of water only), followed by a good hour’s rehydration with nothing but red wine and black coffee.

    Instant weight loss.

    Simples!

  2. If it weren’t for beer I’d look just like A. Grimpeur. Well that and the fact that I don’t ride 20000k a year.

  3. One of these days I’ll move to Beverly Hills or somewhere and set up a ‘3d Fitness Lifestyle Clinic.’ Basically the tenets of my philosophy will include multiple reps of mulholland, understanding and appreciating vintage steel framed Italian cycles, the art of cocktail making, beer and burrito science and lying to your girlfriend / wife whilst pissed – potentially all at the same time. Be prepared, indeedy. To this end, I slogged around London for 70 miles last night and went for a large lunch on the sauce today. Feeling a touch unusual now but a session on the vomitarium (turbo) this evening should restore the equilibrium.

  4. @Joe
    Your business model is genius. It’s perfect for Beverly Hills. I recommend you also add a bit in to sell the $10,000 road bikes to all the fatsos who want to join the program. Because none of them will ride anything less.

    Vomitarium. Classic.

  5. Your business model is genius. It’s perfect for Beverly Hills. I recommend you also add a bit in to sell the $10,000 road bikes to Robin Williams and Jake Gyllenhall who want to join the program. Because they won’t ride anything less.

    @frank
    Fixed your post

  6. @Marko
    Thanks mate.

    @all
    For those of you not expanding the “clever video” link, it’s embedded here. It’s done by an Artist/Comic in LA, Dan McNeil. It’s brilliant. Pay attention to the little messages.

  7. Thanks Gents,
    Might have to pass on Robin Williams as a client – whatever crazy skills my ‘clinic’ might have, I don’t think I could make him funny again…
    Jake can take a number but I’d want him to maintain a rigourous observance of Rule #5. Start him on a strict hill rep programme riding friction downtube shifters then follow up with basic training in almost neat gin drinks and bike science. Begin with 10 shots at Laurel Canyon, a triple round of Negronis and memorising every Campag Groupset of the last 30yrs. Ground him in the basics.

    Frank, you could support Bar Tape and Ale Studies….

  8. @Joe
    I’m in!

    If you call it Joe’s Rehab Clinic, you’ll attract loads of LA pussies who are in desparate need of a heavy regimen of Rule #5 Observation. Open a satelite clinic in Park Slope in Brooklyn and you’ll retire within two years.

  9. @frank No one has pointed out that the photo of you (above on the left), while technically following Rule #17, you are in blatant violation of Rule #22.

    As a newbie I am not sure how to proceed… but I sure appreciate the fine article and your bravery. Also looking forward to stage 2 images!

    P.S. Some how I was under the impression that you were a bit taller?

  10. dropping weight like a heroin addict with giardia

    Brillant post Frank. That’s why I was sadden to see Big Magnus Backstedt retire, a cyclist who weighed as much as I did. Usually if your a 6’4″ cyclists you have to weigh 160lbs. I’d have to lose a gun to get anywhere near that weight and I’d be weak as a damn kitten and missing a leg.

    @Joe
    Joe, you are a business genius. And I’m loving the term “unusual”. Very useful, like that feeling is not the usual result of a cold meat pies and five pints down the neck-hole lunch.

  11. I’m 165cm/60kg, and feel like I’m overweight, but I also live in West Virginia… Fat people are like the frickin’ norm around here. I get the stares all of the time, solely because I wear fitted clothes that do not come from walmart and hang on me like a bodybag. It really makes me feel in check about my weight sometimes.

  12. @Joe

    Basically the tenets of my philosophy will include multiple reps of mulholland, understanding and appreciating vintage steel framed Italian cycles, the art of cocktail making, beer and burrito science and lying to your girlfriend / wife whilst pissed – potentially all at the same time

    I’m so in. I need to be part of this business. I understand this business. Lying to your wife/girlfriend whilst pissed…a whole sub-business for men.

    You might need to start writing some posts for this site. You funny boy.

  13. @wvcycling
    Has West Virginia gone metric on me? Oh, wait, you are adhering to Rule #24, well done. I better get reconverted. Fat is the national norm these days, you are not alone. And I bet the locals are impressed as you ride the roads all lycra’d up too. It’s our sickness, this cycling, all we can do is look good and haul ass, or at least attempt to.

  14. @wvcycling

    @john

    That and I know peeps that don’t teach their kids to ride bikes until there 8,9, & even 10 in some cases. It’s nuts. When I got my first bike at 5 my mom couldn’t get me in the house and claims I didn’t eat for days when I learned to ride. I’d lose a thumb wrestling match though to anyone in the world under 25.

  15. I do not think we are talking about being fat. Fat is drive up windows, elevators, and sugar in all food, bad sex, never getting out of breath but being out of breath all the time.

    We are talking about 2-5 kilos of love handles, beer bellies, and pinched skin that has a bit too much padding.

    OK that’s my shit and its about beating the 30 somethings on $9,000 (holy mother of G-d!!!) rides with my old 753 so that in July when I’m peaking I can nail their skinny little butts at the summits of awesome climbs!

  16. @john
    It’s tricky for us bigfellas. That’s why I universally support any successful, large rider. Like Big Maggy and Jens. Especially when they make it over a hill.

    Your comment on severing the gun is brilliant, but that’s the trick, too – how do you loose the last 5 pounds when you’re pretty fit and avoid muscle mass loss?

  17. @wvcycling
    We lived in the country in North Carolina for about a year and it drove the locals mad to see us out on our bike wearing spandex. They would routinely sic their dogs on us and laugh as we sped away (those were some ferocious dogs).

    What is it with dogs and bikes? One of my dogs, Mack, goes bananas when he sees me on a bike. He’s like, “DUDE! That is the coolest thing that you can go as fast as me now!”

  18. @wvcycling
    Fat Lampre guy IS a cliche, but I failed to find a better one. Unfortunately, it appears the blog filtered out the pic – can you post a URL to the pic and I’ll snag it.

    UPDATE: Grabbed it – posted it. Seems WP is unhappy about users who aren’t logged in posting images. Must work on that. Thanks for the awesome pic. It’s fucking brilliant!

  19. @Rob
    Yeah, but that’s the point, right? I mean, sure, the non-cycling folks wouldn’t worry – or even notice – the weight, but as cyclists, it’s those 5 pounds or so that are so hard to loose but that make a huge difference in our performance. What we as cyclists call “fat” is not the same as the rest.

    In two months, when I peak, I’ll be right there, though.

  20. @Joe
    The image of Jake sitting on the turbo trainer with you yelling about Rule #5 in a megaphone and quizing him on campy groups has been flashing through my head all day.

    Are you going to teach him about toe clips, too?

  21. @wvcycling, @Marko
    WTF is he wearing? I thought it was a jersey, but looks like a v-neck t-shirt. It’s hard to tell with the way his neck dangles over the top of the shirt what is going on at the collar. Can’t see a zipper, but it’s anyone’s guess what’s going on there.

  22. Yeah, but that’s the point, right? I mean, sure, the non-cycling folks wouldn’t worry – or even notice – the weight, but as cyclists, it’s those 5 pounds or so that are so hard to loose but that make a huge difference in our performance. What we as cyclists call “fat” is not the same as the rest.

    As one who did not really have to pay attention to my weight (until health + age issues) it was always fun to meet up for the first spring races and tell some insecure shlub that he looked “heavy” or “did you gain a lot this winter?” and they would completely freak.

    with my old 753

    Please tell me you’re rockin’ some downtube shifters. Please, please, please.

    Are you shitting me? I just broke down and changed the 7-speed to 9 and the Campy downtube shifters work a charm!

  23. @Rob
    I tried to edit it for you, and I fucked it up, too! SHIT! Lost the bit about coming East…what was that again?

    Seems the limitations of this comment box are being realized. Must work on that, too.

  24. Marko :@Rob
    So we’re talking about Phase 2?

    Yes!
    And there but for the grace of Jaysus go I… I feel for those 2 gents pictured above, I mean they most likely were animals in the day and now all they can do is squeeze into some kit and bask in memories (and they are sort of cute – I didn’t say that).

    As to Gnomes-underwear and phase 2, as Marko has stated else where see Rule #5.

  25. @Rob
    As for the 753…we need pictures, STAT. It’s funny, the myths created around cog spacing incompatibilities. So many configurations work that we are told by the manufacturers should not. Like, for instance, the spacing on the 7, 8, and 9 speed cassettes are all pretty much the same and can even be swapped between Campag and Shimano.

    It’s all Shimano’s ploy to totally integrate (STI stands for Shimano Total Integration, in case I haven’t mentioned that before.)

  26. @Rob
    Douché on Rule #5!

    My favorite bit about the Lampre guy is the floppy leg grippers due to the girth in the waiste not being designed in proportion to the girth of his guns.

  27. @Frank
    Toe clip training for Jake will be accomplished at the same time he learns to track stand…no handed…whilst rolling a joint. I may throw a few loose floor tacks around the bike to focus his concentration.

    Regarding 3d Fitness, I’ve been pushing the boundaries this evening and will post in more detail tomorrow. I will require several pints and some pie related products for lunch before the program is finished. It’s been gruelling but nothing worthwhile comes easy.

    I imagine N.Carolina must be at the frontline of the eternal battle against slow cooked swine derivatives. Tough work.

  28. frank :@Rob
    Actually, contemplating a Forth of July East Coast Extravaganza!

    It is ON!! I will be at my summer training camp (read the ranch house in the deep woods on a lonely country road), and you and the beautiful Ms. have an open invitation to come and bust yer legs in the hills of the Columbia/Northern Dutchess County, NY-MA-CT, Tri State area. The views of the distant Catskill and Taconic/Berkshire mountains are stunning.

    Perhaps I will have peaked enough to revive the “Legendary 10 Hill Route” a 100km leg breaker that includes infamous climbs like McGee Hill @19%, Schultz Hill @16% etc. etc. The boyez and I have not done it in 10 years so it would be a great excuse!

  29. @frank @Rob
    Douché on Rule #5!

    ++1

    DOUCHE – What a great word!

    @Joe
    Joe when my wife throws me out can I come and work at the 3D FLC? You just threw in some skills I happen to have perfected long, long ago and I know I could be a great role model for the students. . .

  30. There is, of course, the occasional cyclist who, through extensive prior demonstration of adherence to Rule #5, has earned the lifetime right to wear lycra whhatever weight he may choose to be –

  31. @Geof

    the occasional cyclist who, through extensive prior demonstration of adherence to Rule #5

    I beg to differ; not prior demonstration of but more like a fucking Founding Father! Dude pretty much laid the groundwork for all the Rules.

  32. frank :
    I beg to differ; not prior demonstration of but more like a fucking Founding Father! Dude pretty much laid the groundwork for all the Rules.

    I concur. My earlier post showed insufficient regard for the seminal (settle, boys) role of The Legend in relation to The Rules. This was unintentional. I apologize unconditionally.

    And I think should have said “one” rather than “the occasional”.

  33. @Marko
    Right on! (You are the master at recognizing this shit.)

    If I were to venture a guess, I would think the conversation started something like this:

    Eddy [pointing at the guy he’s fixing]: G’Day. How the fuck are ya? This is a little pussy who dies his hair white because he has to compensate for breaking Rule #45 and Rule #46. Harden the Fuck Up, little pussy! Now let me retrieve the allen set I’ve been carrying around non-stop since the introductory scenes of “A Sunday In Hell” and fix your bike, little pussy!

  34. @Dan O
    Would but for the honor of having that happen, I would die happily. He would just sit there, atop is orange bike, and say, “Here, this is how you go fast. Like this.” And then take off and be confused that we got dropped.

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