Into the Fire

11.23.2005 | 4:17 pm

Five years ago — by which I mean “between three and seven years ago” — Utah was in the middle of a serious water shortage. This crisis deeply affected me in several ways, including (but not limited to):

  • I watered my lawn only once per day, instead of the normal twice.
  • I stopped going to Lake Powell, because it had dried up completely. Just kidding; it was easily still 15-20 feet deep in some places.
  • My favorite mountain bike trails became incredibly loose and dusty.

These problems, however, suddenly seemed trivial when my favorite bike trail in the world — Frank — got caught up in the path of a fire that chewed up and spat out mountain after mountain near my home.



Just so you understand how important Frank (yes, everyone I rode with spoke of this trail as if it were a person named “Frank”) was to me, I should also point out that this same fire also threatened my house. But while I was concerned about my potential property loss, my indignation — my hate-filled rage — was reserved for the likelihood that I was about to lose my trail.

And then the day came: Fire trucks and firefighters were stationed at the trailhead. Helicopters were slurry-bombing burning trees just a few hundred yards away from the ride I had done hundreds (no exaggeration, for once) of times.

There was no question about it. Frank would burn.


I Was a Bland Youth

I’m now going to shift focus, both for a break in the story’s incredible dramatic tension and to give you a little bit of my personal backstory.

I think we can agree that most teenagers express their individuation via some sort of rebellion. Here are the things I did to rebel:

  • I grew my hair so far down it very nearly touched my collar.
  • I listened to Oingo-Boingo and DEVO, occasionally at volumes of which my father did not approve. I also wore out (literally) a copy of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

I bring this list up by way of demonstrating that in general, I am a law-abiding type, one who does not cause waves.


Doing What Must Be Done

Knowing that Frank would never be the same, and knowing that access was both blocked and forbidden, I did the obvious thing: I got on my bike and got on the trail anyway, using a lesser-known trailhead that had three essential benefits:

1.      It was not blocked by firefighters.

2.      It was not on fire.

3.      It was easily accessible, if you happen to know the trail so well that you can close your eyes and imagine the whole thing in perfect detail.

I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I was breaking the law or putting myself in danger or about anything else, really; I just wanted to ride my favorite trail one more time before the fire took it.


The Ride

I expected the smoke to be a problem, but it wasn’t. In fact, Frank seemed perfectly normal during the climb. Two switchbacks, both of which I had mastered. A hard scrabble up a loose, rocky section: I cleaned this maybe half the time (I can’t remember whether I cleaned it this day). Then, a nice, steady singletrack climb through scrub oak. Then I got to the top of Frank, a rock cairn where the fastest guy gets to sit and wait for everyone else to regroup. As such, it’s more of a throne than a simple pile of rocks.

This time, though, I was riding alone, so didn’t care about the rocks. Also, I didn’t care about the rocks because there was a fire coming down the mountain, about 300 yards (I’m guessing so wildly that I may as well be picking a number at random here) away. I couldn’t see beyond the fire to what it had done, because the smoke was so thick.

Better keep going.

Before the fire, the first part of the descent down Frank was a group favorite. How could it not be? You’re blasting through a tunnel of brambly trees. The trail, which had been nothing more than a deer track before we started riding it, was smooth and fast. There were embedded boulders and trees to dodge, but you could really open it up and fly.

And that is the real reason why this last pre-fire Frank ride is one of my favorite memories. Because after the fire, the tunnel would be gone. And then, a little while later, several days of rain would come, and without the thick brush and grass on the mountain to slow it down, the water would briefly form a running stream along this part of the trail, turning it from a hang-on-let’s-fly section of downhill to a rocky riverbed: a bumpy, rattle-your-teeth-out section. It’s still good trail, but it’s totally different.

For some reason, I get tremendous satisfaction that I was the last person to ride this trail as it was, before it got turned to a charred, stark, naked-looking thing that smelled of smoke for years afterward.

Finishing my ride, I dropped off the trail near the water tower. There were several firefighters and vehicles there, getting ready. I didn’t look at them, employing the “I don’t acknowledge you, therefore I don’t exist” technique. Amazingly, it worked. I just rode by them.

There were a couple kids straddling bikes on the side of the road, looking at me as I came off the trail. “Are you that guy?” one of them yelled at me as I approached.

“What guy?”

“The firefighters were talking on the radio a little while about some stupid mountain biker, riding up into the fire, about half an hour ago. Dude, they said you’re an idiot.”

A fair point.

And yet, this stands out as maybe the only very stupid thing I have ever done that I do not regret at all.


The Banjo Brothers Messenger Bag Giveaway: How Stupid Are You?

OK, for this week’s Banjo Brothers Giveaway – and this is for a messenger bag (regular-sized, not the enormous ones they’ll be rolling out next year), folks – tell me about something stupid you’ve done on a bike. But not just any old stupid thing. Tell me about something stupid you’ve done on a bike that you would gladly do again.

I won’t be posting again ‘til Monday (11/28), so I’m going to let this contest go through Sunday. I’ll announce the winner in Monday’s post, although I’ll very likely be dropping into the Comments section between now and then, making snarky remarks about how stupid everyone is.

Also, I reserve the right to post something before Monday, if I feel like it.


Happy Thanksgiving

You know what I’m thankful for? I’m thankful for everyone who stops by and reads my blog. You make writing this thing a lot of fun.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 4:48 pm

    I have to admit, FCI think it’s worse that you watered your lawn twice a day than to have ridden a trail about to burn.

  2. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 5:15 pm

    Ditto on the twice a day watering. Utah is a desert. I never water my lawn, much to my wifes chagrin. Brown is in, it is my goal to turn my whole yard to a brown xeriscaped opportunity to ange rmy neighbors. Kind of a caring mans Malcom in the Middle yard.Speaking of deserts, the worse i ever did on my bike. I believe it was the 2003 Desert Rampage in Saint George. SUnny, low elevation, warm Saint George, sure, well we woke up Saturday Am in our tents to snow, yes snow, it had rained/snowed all night. The day before was perfect conditions, rain early in the week had made the course tacky and fast. Race day was evil. The course is not your normal race course. I love it. Technical rock wash climbs (2 of em) classic desert singletrack and long bumpy descents. Well it was a goopy muddy sandy bike destroying mess. We raced, normal distance and i believe we ripped the bloody heck out of that trail. After I de-sanded my self, replaced pretty much every moving part on my bike (the bike shops in utah had a boom after that race) after all that i thought of the trail, well i do know that a local southern utah club re-habilitated it. Fast forward to summer of 2005, Utah Summer Games in Cedar City, this race is usually in 95 degrees, Dry and SUnny, this year it was 45, cold and rainy, same trail damage, same sick feeling, samebike damage.Have you ever read Young Men and Fire by Norman MaClean (of A river runs through it aclaim)?That true story will make you realize how insane or idiotic riding towards a fire is.

  3. Comment by James | 11.23.2005 | 5:58 pm

    Did people look at you funny when you asked them "Hey, you wanna go ride Frank on Saturday?"JLS

  4. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 6:09 pm

    frank is a handsome trail, any of us would be proud to ride the sanctimony is getting thick. need to hose it out. except that would use too much water.

  5. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 6:23 pm

    Okay, so my story is nowhere as cool as yours, but I’ll tell it anyway.One winter break, I mostly bummed rides off of my parents to see my girlfriend. However on one occasion my parents refused to drive me. A blizzard had blown in and there was over a foot of snow on the ground. At the time I was an avid mountain biker, and skier. I thought why not ride my mountain bike with all of my ski gear on? After all my girlfriend’s house is only 3 miles away. I suited up and took off.There were a number of issues:1. Ski pants and parka do not make for easy pedaling. Especially when riding on ice/snow.2. During blizzards cars REALLY don’t expect to see some idiot on a bicycle. 3. It’s rather hard to see stuff. Stuff like storm drains, parked cars, and pot holes. After about an hour, and lots of falling down, I made it there. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. There’s something really cool about not only riding your bike down the middle of main street, but feeling like you’re the only person alive. The kind of feeling you get if you ever go out during the middle of a large snow storm, or at half time during the Super Bowl.

  6. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 11.23.2005 | 6:26 pm

    lars / bob – i see where you’re coming from, but please try to see my point of view. the ferns were getting a bit dry, and the palm trees weren’t producing coconuts quite like they were when i was watering 5 times a day. even dropping down to twice a day was a real sacrifice. james scott – yeah, they would’ve looked at me funny, because — obviously — frank is a weekday ride. on saturday, we’d be riding betty or joy.

  7. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 11.23.2005 | 6:27 pm

    rich – i assert that your story is every bit as cool as mine, and very nicely told.

  8. Comment by rich | 11.23.2005 | 6:28 pm

    What some call stupid or irresponsible, we bikers call adventurous. My wife and I had planned to hike a slot canyon near Escalante with another couple on Oct 1. The couple bailed the day before and we had to abondon the trip. See, it was a 20 mile hike and we needed them and thier vehicle for the shuttle. Since we planned for a weekend trip, I suggested "we could ride one day White Rim instead." My wife was all over that idea, so we packed up the truck and headed for Canyonlands.We broke camp at 6am and began our unsupported 100 mile adventure. We carefully avoided the fact that a simple mechanical could result in, at the farthest part of the loop, a 50 mile walk back to the truck. We did often remind each other that a would be a challenge to finsh the ride before dark. Especially because we each carried 100oz of water, 1 gallon of Gatorade, warm clothes in case we had to spend the night in the desert, tons of tools, and about 2 days worth of food.We ended up with 0 mechanicals, 0 bonks, at least 10 "wow, you guys are doing this unsupported?" comments. What a perfect day!

  9. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 6:32 pm

    I am sanctimonious, yes I am, oh to have a forest of ferns to ride through again, palm trees on the other hand, make me uncomfortable.

  10. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 11.23.2005 | 7:05 pm

    I don’t know about being totally stupid, but riding a 10 speed road bike down a ski slope in the summer might qualify! It wasn’t a huge slope, here in Indiana, we’re a bit short on mountains. I was doing pretty good til I hit the moguls, on a Schwinn Varsity with drop bars at speed. This was when I was still a teenager, by the way, and had to make that fast run down the hill to escape the T-Rex that was chasing me::GRIN::! Unfortunately, on landing, I bent the frame, fork, taco’d the rear AND front wheel……… short, a spectacular crash! I would do it again as it allowed me to upgrade at that time to a Fuji Finest alloy frame roadie with lug construction and (at the time) state of the art suntour derailleurs and a cotterless suntour crank instead of that blasted Schwinn one piece crank and Huret scissor type derailleurs! I still insist it’s true about the dinosaur and that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!::GRIN:: The ski run slope part is true, by the way, and happened at Mt. Wawasee in northern Indiana. Not really a mountain but as close as I can get in Indiana!

  11. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 7:30 pm

    I just have to cast a vote for the first "rich". A great story, and probably the best part is left to the imagination…his girlfriend’s reaction when he showed up at her house after riding 3 miles through a blizzard on his mountain bike!

  12. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 7:31 pm

    I just have to cast a vote for the first "rich". A great story, and probably the best part is left to the imagination: his girlfriend’s reaction when he showed up at her house after riding 3 miles through a blizzard on his mountain bike!

  13. Comment by tayfuryagci | 11.23.2005 | 7:41 pm

    I’m generally quite stupid on a bike so I don’t really have" stupidEST" moments. but I guess I have a stupidest thing I’ve done one or twice (or actually near a hundred times over that particular day). It was last year in winter. I was just starting biking "seriously". I had the cheapest and worst full-suspension bike you can imagine of and it was snoing real hard. One morningI decided it was a good time for a stroll around the neighborhood maybe ride some mild terrain on snow. I let most of the air out of the 2" tires and started pedalling. I came to a hill where we used to have sled races with my friends when we were kids -not long ago-. I thought it would be a very nice downhill experience to go 200 feet over one-foot-deep snow. It was the best time I had in years. I would go down the hill, get stuck in meter-deep snow at the bottom, get my bike out of there and go back up the hill to do the same thing. It was a stupid thing as I was going real fast over ice without a helmet or any protective stuff and I was using a huge pile of snow to stop instead of my brakes. The place I was getting caught by the snow was about six inches away from a concrete wall so if I didn’t get stuck in snow I would crash into the wall with 25mph. I just can’t wait to do the same thing again this year. Maybe with a helmet on.

  14. Comment by tayfuryagci | 11.23.2005 | 7:50 pm

    and BTW I think today’s post made the FatCyclist look like yo-duh-maan-duh-kool-cyclist ! kids asking "are you that idiot who rode the burning trail?" yeah definitely coolest post ever.

  15. Comment by kris | 11.23.2005 | 8:00 pm

    Stupidest thing I’ve ever done on a bike was pull some sorry looking sap most of the way between Twin Lakes and the Pipeline aid stations @ Leadville, and then get dusted by the same guy over the last section to the finish line. Talk about a rope-a-dope. I’d do it again in a second, though. Helping other riders along is part of what makes Leadville so great.

  16. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 8:07 pm

    Just as long as you are aware that riding in the rain every other day now is punishment for trying to make the desert green before.

  17. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 8:13 pm

    not just green, lars, but blooming like a freakin rose.slickrock with about 4 inches of snow on it. puts the slick back in slickrock.

  18. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 8:39 pm

    I live in the tropic climate [and by tropic, I mean painfully humid nine and a half months out of the year] of Houston, and we still can’t keep our lawn green. I agree with Bob [stupidbike], brown is the new green.Sorry, no bike story. Only a stupid fall-off-a-bike story, and I can’t post it because, no, I wouldn’t do it again.

  19. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 8:52 pm

    something stupid i would do again: we were relatively inexperienced and underprepared newbies, and for one of our first big epic rides, bob and i rode the 100 mile white rim trail outside moab about 10 years ago on june 21.temperature was 115 degrees in the shade. we rode the first 40 miles in under 4 hours, and the next 40 miles in 10 hours.the day ended with bob outside the tent, curled in a ball in the dirt, unable to move most of the night, and me in the tent, losing the lining of my stomache into the cooler every 30 minutes or so. one of the few times i thought i was going to die.i didn’t die though, and if bob asked me to do it again, i would without a second thought.

  20. Comment by Juliet | 11.23.2005 | 8:53 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving Fatty! I love reading your stuff.The stupidest thing I ever did on a bike was try to do tricks on a BMX on a steep alphalt road without a helmet or any protective garb at all and hardly any clothes on either just a swimsuit and a pair of Reefs (surf sandals). Bike met with gravel patch and things got bloody quickly. Luckily I still have my teeth but lost some skin – my modeling career was over before it even began. That was in 1985 – I still have scars although you can barely see them now.

  21. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 9:27 pm

    About seven years ago, my mountain biking life, as I then knew it, ended. There were numerous lands in our area of Western Colorado that were declared wilderness areas by the then current administration. There was a local BLM official that decided to take advantage of the "grab" and included in the declaration a slice of our outdoors that encompassed a trail named Pollack’s Bench. At the time it was ranked by some polls in the top five trails in the country. I say ’slice’, because this piece of territory was an afterthought–not a logical part of the new wilderness area. Pollock’s Bench was rumored to be the personal favorite of said BLM official as she is a trail runner with dogs–a lot of dogs, and she complained of mountain bikers not being courteous, and of the bikes ruining the trail.This trail had it all, a steady but manageable climb, big ledges, small ledges, it had fast winding singletrack, it had cliff exposures, it had jumps, it had moves, it had vistas, it even had a short portage. It was the standard against which you could measure your fitness. And it had one intangible–it had history. I had been on a few mountain bike rides before I rode Pollock’s Bench. But it was not until I rode this trail that I became a mountain biker, hooked for life. I remember the moment, the sensation. I bunny-hopped a juniper root at about 25 mph. I had discovered an indefatigable sense of invincibility. Pollock’s Bench offered the quick fix, too. You could get in and out of this trail in less-than 70 minutes, if you were pressed. Or you could do numerous loops and stay for hours. Pollack’s Bench was perfect. I imagine it still is, but it is no longer accessible to "our kind". It officially closed on July 13, 1998.I am not the defiant type–at least where federal laws are concerned. I did, however, go through a significant mentally debilitating mourning period where this trail was concerned. I was there on July 12th to ride it with the hoards that rode it for the last time that day, and to protest its close. So you can understand a momentary snap of logical thinking in the face of such a loss. Sometime in November of that same year I called one of my riding friends and told him to get ready–we were going for a ride. He didn’t protest. But then, I didn’t tell him where we were going, either. We arrived at the trailhead with very little said between us. We unloaded the bikes as habit would dictate and off we rode. There was only one other car in the trailhead parking lot.We had just finished most of the fun ledges on the way up–we were having a great time. A GREAT time. We were laughing, and frolicking. The temperatures were in the thirties and there was a skiff of snow on the rocks. It was a little less than ideal. But hey, there was healing, there was no more longing. All was right in the world once again (queue reconciliation music).(Now queue record scratching to a halt sound). Then SHE showed up. There she was, ominous and foreboding–THE very BLM director that had commandeered OUR trail. And her six, yes that is, six dogs. All of the dogs were on leashes, except for her. I don’t know how you leash yourself, but it needed to be done. She was foul and unpleasant. She was argumentative and accusatory. But I digress. Anyways, there they were, running six abreast on the trail. So much for mountain bikes ruining the trail?!? What had been singletrack was now a super-wide dog-turd strewn running freeway. I digress, yet again.There was a brief verbal exchange with a vague question as to our knowledge of the trail closure which was clearly marked with numerous signs in the parking lot, and at a couple of gate closures along the way. There was some slightly clever, yet lackluster appeal to illiteracy, and some feeble response like: "Huh, really?" And then it was on. She and her six pooches bolted for the parking lot. She had the jump on us as we were facing the wrong way with mud in our cleats. There were only about 30 yards of trail where we could get around her before everything was rock walls and cliffs that would either force us to follow her out to the parking lot, or would force us to run her over. Hmmm….. Seriously, she had about a 25-foot wide swath covered on that trail. We had very few viable options available to us, and the windows of opportunity were slamming shut quickly on those–she was pretty fast–she had gynormous feet and amazonian legs (did I mention the need for a leash–maybe a muzzle and a feed bag or something, too?) and she covered a lot of ground in a little bit of time. We did what any self-preserving, semi-law abiding mountain bikers would do. We rode off trail–way off trail, laughing the whole time at the absurdity of the situation. My friend went way left. She shifted the herd over to try to block him. I then went right, laughing nearly uncontrollably, which seemed only to heighten her rage, which in turn only fostered more laughter. She muttered something about our deceitfulness, and our flip attitude and something about a resultant lynching as she struggled to keep us behind her. I said something about having more gears than she did, and off we tore, dropping and climbing three and four foot ledges, and fighting off nervous, hysterical laughter the whole time. As a significant side note, my riding buddy had had a serious crash on this very section of trail only months before as we raced to the parking lot. He still had ghosts of the crash and the potential of a repeat looming in his head. As I recall now, this ride was prompted by the fact that he had not ridden the trail since his crash and then, the trail’s closure. This ride was to give him some closure, since he couldn’t ride the last day the trail was open—he was in a cast. Now his ghosts were in my head, too. Visions of his mangled thumb jutted in and out of my subconscious, as I recall thinking that the prospects of surgery and hard time in some super-secret BLM torture prison didn’t sound terribly inviting. She gave a much better chase than we had anticipated. I guess laughter takes more energy than one would think. But alas, we were loaded and driving out before she could get a good look at the truck. We were still laughing as we drove past the entrance to the trailhead parking lot. My friend rolled down his window and defiantly waved and yelled some obscure epithet related to dogs, and the beast that they were out walking, as we drove away. We left her there alone that day, just her, the six dogs, and her Subaru Wagon. The Subaru should have tipped us off.I’m not so certain how stupid this was. If she had had a gun, I guess it would have been stupid. Would we do it again? As long as we could have a guarantee that she would be there to give chase, absolutely.

  22. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 11.23.2005 | 9:30 pm

    stormcrowe – i’m pretty sure evel knievel got his start the same way. you should’ve kept it up.mark – it is my fondest hope that when rich finally got to his girlfriend’s house, she wasn’t there.tayfur – you’re young enough that you MUST have some stupid stories of your own to tell. let’s have it.kj – man, he sounds like a total dork.lars – sorry, i’m karma-proof. every bad thing i do, rocky gets punished for.dug – i still can’t get over the fact that you are at work the day before thanksgiving. that’s wild.damasta – c’mon. share it anyway. i LOVE the fall-off-the-bike stories; they make me feel less clumsy. a little.dug – i’m sorry, but i don’t believe you’d really do the white rim on summer solstice again. i mean, when’s the last time you did 100 miles in a day? i’m not saying you couldn’t do it if you wanted to, just that you don’t seem to want to. also, i’m calling you a – hmmmm…good entry, but i think you’re missing the required "lack of remorse" component.

  23. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 11.23.2005 | 9:46 pm

    rocky – excellent story. pollock’s is a great trail, and it’s a shame that it’s closed. next time i’m in the area we should definitely not plan on poaching a night ride on it.

  24. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 10:00 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving. One of the things I’m thankful for is your blog, the great community of people who comment here, and all the marvelous entertainment all of that provides for me.I think maybe Fattyland is the greatest amusement place on earth.Hugs to you and yours,MuMo

  25. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 10:03 pm

    Sorry, Fatty et al. I got a little carried away. It’s kind of slow at work today.Kenny, since you enjoy helping others at Leaville, can I attach a bungee to your seatpost next year? That’s the only conceivable way for me to sub-nine.

  26. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 10:06 pm

    Fatty–when you come to Grand Junction, don’t bring your lights because poaching the trail is out of the question. It is patrolled way too tightly, and I have not been able to ride it more that fitty times since its formal closure. By the way, the trail is in exceptional condition.

  27. Comment by Unknown | 11.23.2005 | 10:40 pm

    I was nine [and by nine, I mean I don't really remember what age I was] and I was riding my new Schwinn somethingoranother around the neighborhood. I was cruising along on the sidewalk, jumping over cracks, going up foreign driveways, trying not to run over poodles, when someone behind me called out my name."Hey [DaMasta]!" they said. I turned to see who it was. Before complete recognition, I yelled back, "He–" BAM!!The next thing I saw was the concrete that was now embedded into my face. Both knees were bloody and my hair was an absolute mess. My hands had gravel dots in them [you know those little holes made by the tiny pieces of concrete your hands just collided with?]. I screamed. I cried. To this day I have no idea who called out to me on that fateful day because they didn’t stay to watch the horror that was my panic-stricken face.Moral of the Story [to the rider]: Never care who’s behind you. Never. Never, ever.Moral of the Story [to the yeller]: Never yell to the person in front of you unless you have something pretty darn important to say. Like the halftime score of the UT/A&M game.

  28. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 11.24.2005 | 12:46 am

    Fatty, what can I say, I took a job driving tractor trailer, and cycling doesn’t mix with that very well! I do completely regret the lack of cycling for years, because I truly love riding! Oh well, at least I’m back to it and currently looking for a new stupid stunt on a bike trying to show off!::GRIN::

  29. Comment by Patrick | 11.24.2005 | 12:48 am

    About 10 years ago I had a full week of vacation between Christmas and New Year’s and decided to take advantage of this wealth of free time by embarking on a fully-loaded bike tour of the Olympic Peninsula. Filled with the optimism and ignorance of youth (and the accompanying empty wallet), I planned to camp at the various parks and campgrounds that dot the route. Friends and family expressed skepticism about my plan, but I reassured them that I knew everything and would see them in a week.I loaded up my bike with the requisite camping gear – tent, sleeping bag, stove, food, fleece, more fleece and set out from my home in Seattle in the crisp early morning light of December 26th. Now, while temperatures in Seattle can be described as ‘cool’ during the winter, I failed to understand that they’re much ‘cooler’ in the foothills of the Olympic Mountains. After crossing Puget Sound by ferry I set off northwards to reach Highway 101. Because, apparently, it’s colder on this side of the water the shoulder of the road had occasional patches of ice. And, because there was ice, the powers-that-be had recently sanded the road. After about 10 miles of riding (cursing) through sand and ice my hands and feet were completely numb. I soldiered on for another 20 miles before I realized this wasn’t much fun and that I ought to find a place to sleep for the night. I opted to head for Quilcene since my state map showed a park there. Sure enough, there was a park. But…it wasn’t really a campground. Imagine my delight when I realized that the water spigots had all been shut off for the winter. Regardless, I set up my tent in the fading light (no, I did not make good time this day) and settled in for a miserable dinner of camp-stove pasta. I slept, shivering, for maybe two hours that night. The rest of the sleepless hours I thought about all the closed, waterless campgrounds ahead, the sandy/icy roads and the eight hours of daylight available each day for riding. I also wondered what locals did for fun after the bars closed.Early the next morning I broke camp, packed up and rode straight back to the ferry without stopping once. Again my extremities were frozen, but I was warmed by the thought that I’d be in my own bed again that night. I didn’t even care that my friends and family would laugh themselves stupid upon seeing me back home so soon.

  30. Comment by Unknown | 11.24.2005 | 1:50 am

    Um. You forgot to mention the perm. But only on the back. The top and sides were too short to accomodate perm rods.I miss you. Happy Thanksgiving without me.

  31. Comment by Unknown | 11.24.2005 | 2:31 am

    Um. If you are not too cautious with the definition, what you have there is a mullet. Yessir, a mullet.

  32. Comment by Unknown | 11.24.2005 | 5:31 am

    Living in the foothills west of Denver, I have a favorite ride which takes me exactly one hour door to door. I’m amazed at how consistent this ride is, exactly one hour plus or minus a minute, every time. Conversations heard before this ride:“Dinner will be ready in about an hour? great – going for a quick ride!”“We have to pick the kids up at 3:00? great – going for a quick ride, I’ll be home in one hour.” I use my ‘cross bike for this ride because it is mostly road but I also work in a little single-track dirt to keep it exciting. I especially like this ride because it goes right through the 9th wonder of the world, Red Rocks Amphitheater. If you have ever been there for a concert with a full moon casting a rim light on the rock structures, stars twinkling above you, stage lights bouncing off the red rocks… you know what I mean.My route—To get there I cruise up Jewell Ave. to Green Mountain then hop onto the dirt. I love taking my drop bar bike on this trail because of the looks I get from the full suspension MTB crowd, especially when I catch up to one and casually say “on your left.” Then it’s back on the road and a climb up Dinosaur Ridge, one of the world’s most famous dinosaur fossil localities. Another cool thing about this ride is seeing the footprints and fossils from creatures that made this same trek 145 million of years ago. It’s a downhill on the other side of Dinosaur Ridge then into the West entrance of Red Rocks Park. There is usually very little traffic on this road, unless there is a concert and this particular day there was. The band playing Red Rocks this day happened to attract lots and lots of people who ride Harley’s. As far up as I could see, motorcycles lined both sides of the narrow road up to the venue and biker dudes were standing in various groups tail gating – without the tail gate.Where is the stupid part of this story you may be wondering – its getting close. Identifying with the rock and rollers—As a kid I listened to Motley Crue, Black Sabbath, AC/DC… (Hey Fatty, my little sister listened to Devo – she’s a girl) so I was not scared of or worried by these leather clad, beer belly, two wheel lovin’ brethren. In fact, as I was climbing up the steep road I thought maybe some of them might be impressed by my climbing capabilities, sans motor, until I heard in a snickering tone – here is the plot point you’ve all been waiting for – “Nice bike sh*thead”. Without even thinking about it, I blurted out “&*ck-you and your boyfriend.” Now, I knew the person with long blonde hair and leather halter top on the back of his motorcycle was not his boyfriend, it just sort of came out. He hastily stood up on his bike, told her to get off, kick starts his bike and screeches forward. I start sprinting up the narrow road weaving in and around groups of people, using them as human shields – I figure I can’t keep this up for long so I do a 180 and start flying back down the hill. He could not turn his big bike around quickly enough on the narrow road, and I was gone. Looking back up on the big turns I could tell he gave up his chase. I don’t remember if I made it back home in an hour. Would I do it again – maybe.

  33. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 11.24.2005 | 8:38 am

    OK, it looks like Rich is going to take the gold and silver medals, but here goes anyway.I would love to do the pre "ambulance ride" ride again. But only the 400 solo miles in 4 days part. Not the 3 miles between where I left my face on the ground and where the doctors xrayed my skull and spine and stuck my ear back on.But alas, I’m a full 100 pounds heavier and 17 years older (and at least 2 years more mature). But worst of all, that road now carries about 3 times the traffic and it scares the hell out of me. But who knows, I could lose half that weight and half my commonsense… and away we go.

  34. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 11.24.2005 | 8:40 am

    Or maybe riding rollers in a very public place with my arms crossed waiting for a tyre to blow and launch me into the crowd. That I’ve done before and could definitely do again.Fatty – you know what I mean. Just pretend the television in your basement was 300 shoppers.

  35. Comment by Unknown | 11.24.2005 | 9:47 am

    About 12 years ago, some friends and I did the UK Coast-to-Coast MTB trip. On the fourth day I’d not bothered checking out my bike, too tired from the previous day. Hurtling down a shooting track totally out of control, I tried to slow down but couldn’t cos my brakes no longer worked properly. I hit the side of the rut I was in and flew into the air, landing on my elbow. I new straight away that I had broken it. Did I stop? No I carried on that day, and the next, riding one handed. Did I go to the hospital when we finished? No, nor the next day. It wasn’t until I had had four sleepless nights due to the pain that went and got it confirmed that my elbow was indeed broken.I think I might have done some permanent damage. This is the elbow I crushed when I was twelve. This is the elbow that has swelled up to the size of a golfball overnight last night.

  36. Comment by Unknown | 11.24.2005 | 12:27 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving Fatty, I’m thankful for your Blog. In 50 yrs of cycling I can’t really think of anything stupid that I’ve done, other than the normal stuff like:Pumping up a big hill on my road bike, almost to the top, shift to the lower ring on front, throw the chain, I’m clipped in, yep, I fall over. First, I look to see if anyone has seen me and then I look for cars. I really enjoy yalls (no apostrophe, where this word is used punctuation and spelling arent that important) comments, what a bruised, beat up bunch.

  37. Comment by Unknown | 11.24.2005 | 1:12 pm

    Stupid stories… I have 2, one clearly more stupid than the other.Story one – I was living in Bozeman, MT at the time. Winter had set in hard (it was January and there’d been snow on the ground since October). I had been commuting on the mountain bike, but that was only 2 miles each way. I had been riding my rollers, but as Fatty noted, that’s about as exciting as poking sticks in your eyes. It was only 20 below – I could ride right? I piled on clothes – shorts, winter weight windproof tights, nylon pants, undershirt, short sleeve jersey, long sleeve jersey, fleece vest, windproof jacket, fleece helmet liner and lobster gloves. Oh, and socks and neoprene shoe covers. Turns out that’s all not enough. No matter how much you wear, I found two places always get cold at -20 or colder after about half an hour. First, the feet – turns out metal SPD cleats do an excellent job of providing a nice cold sink to your feet. Second – wind will always find a way in to cool your, um, reproductive organs. Would I do it again? I did – lots. Why? It was fun being out alone – rarely even any cars on the dirt roads I rode on. Also, I tried desperately to find something to block the wind and protect said reproductive organs. Note to others – never really found anything. In my younger carefree days, there was a cute older girl who lived down the street from me growing up. I had just learned how to ride my bike (Schwinn Hiawathee – orange and yellow with metallic orange banana seat). I was cruising down the street showing my "I know how to ride" stuff off. She came out to say hi as I rode by. I turned, waved and said hi, then felt and heard a sickening thud coming from my chest. Unbeknownst to me (somehow) there was a farm truck (with a raised flat bed) parked by the side of the road that I had just run into. The bed was high enough that the bike had cruised underneath it, leaving me to be the focal point of the impact instead. Would I do it again? Well, I certainly did lots of other stupid things to impress girls. Some of them were even (slightly) more successful than this attempt.

  38. Comment by Sue | 11.24.2005 | 4:16 pm

    I have almost always ridden alone (Nikared and BIG Mike, I forbid you from knocking out of the park the soft-ball I just tossed.) Riding alone is great. Don’t the safety people always say, "never ride alone"?I was out on my regular training trail several miles from civilization and decided to really let loose on a fun descent. In fact, I decided that I wouldn’t even touch my brakes (this was in 1993, and I have almost completely sworn-off this practice). I didn’t make a turn in the trail, and wound up going down a ridge, that the trail traverses. It was steep. It was rocky. It had small boulders. I was a spectator. I had absolutely no control over where I was going, how fast I was getting there, or how it would all end.End it did, with me taco’ing my front wheel on a smallish sized boulder, flying over the boulder, and landing on my left hip on a different boulder. I writhed, screamed, did the "eldon wail", and paradoxically, I couldn’t really feel my left leg.Moving the leg or trynig to put pressure on it was agonizing, I had no cell phone, and twilight was approaching. My bike wouldn’t roll, and I couldn’t walk. Eventually, I hit on a method of ambulation where I used my non-rolling bike like a walker (lift the bike and move it forward, put one hand on stem, another on seat, hop forward, repeat). I don’t remember how long it took me to get to the first house, but I do remember being somewhat embarrased by the fact that I couldn’t think of anyone to call that had a car, and the guy who lived in the house gave me a ride back to my apartment.Would I do it again? Yes, I still ride my mt bike alone all the time.Botched

  39. Comment by Unknown | 11.24.2005 | 6:28 pm

    fatty, you’re calling me a pansy? really? in the words of philip oakey and the human league:You were working as a waitress in a cocktail barWhen I met youI picked you out, I shook you up, and turned you aroundTurned you into someone newNow five years later on you’ve got the world at your feetSuccess has been so easy for youBut don’t forget it’s me who put you where you are nowAnd I can put you back down toodon’t make me come up there.

  40. Comment by Juliet | 11.24.2005 | 9:07 pm

    You’re right, I am remorseful, I’m thinking next time I’d use neosporin.

  41. Comment by Jill | 11.24.2005 | 11:04 pm

    Sorry, my sister was the witness to this, not me:Sis and husband Bob were riding bikes on a warm day at a leisurely pace out in the lovely dull suburbs of Chicago. A hell-bent bike racer went whizzing by, and started to remove his tight "sausage casing" shirt those guys wear. He sat up to ride no hands, got both his elbows up over his head and – the shirt got stuck, inside out, hooked on his helmet with his biceps glued to his ears. The clincher is he can’t see and he’s still pedalling like a maniac. They froze, sickened, to witness the carnage, and the guy popped the shirt over his head and kept going.I am a mom, and this kind of thing keeps me awake at night.

  42. Comment by Selina | 11.25.2005 | 1:33 am

    Ok, that’s a great story. I don’t know if these comments where we write for entry for the messenger bag, due primarily to some reading-comprehension impairment, but I figure I’ll send it out anyway. This is my story of cycling stupidity.About 3 years ago I went for a long ride with a friend on one of those fantastically unexpected warm days we have here in Boulder, Colorado. It was 92 that day in May, sunny and with a nice breeze so it didn’t feel too overwhelming. My friend and I were going to do a 70 mile road ride to a reservoir outside of Loveland and back. But when we got there, it just seemed too nice to come home, so we rode around the reservoir, bringing the projected total to 80 miles. It was a little ambitious that early in my season at that point, but I remember voicing the opinion that 80 miles seemed far too short for such a beautiful day, and that really, we weren’t that far from a nice clean 100. But just as the idea began to dig roots and fester in my sick little mind, it somehow talked him into riding in a completely different direction than the one I was going. He rode home, and we parted ways.I like to climb hills. I’m not the fastest up them, but I suppose I’m no slouch either and I am strangely drawn to the idea of riding up mountains. So I decided, what better way to cap off a random early summer ride than climbing up Left Hand Canyon? I worked it out in my head that I only had to go to the 13 mile point, turn around, and descend to my house with a bare minimum of pedaling.By 5 miles into the climb, I realized I was down to my last Gu. But knowing I only had 8 more miles to go, I confidently snarfed it down, swigged my water, and picked up the pace. I realized also I was a little low on water, but things were cooling down and I was sure I could get home on what I had. I took another drink to emphasize the point.By the 8th mile, I noticed that there was a lot more cloud cover than there had been at the start of my climb. Things were also getting a little bit chilly for my current attire, which was shorts and a cutoff jersey. But I was almost there.At mile 11, it began to snow. This was incredibly surreal to me, since down on the plains it had been so warm, and since I really didn’t feel all that cold. I knew I was only about 10 minutes away from my chosen turnaround point, after which I would probably be a little cold for 2 miles, but I would quickly descend out of the snow once I got below 8000 feet again.By mile 13, my turnaround, the snow had seemed to have let up a bit and I was feeling somewhat relieved. I would hate to do something foolish like ride too far into the mountains into a snowstorm! So I turned around and tried to ignore the chill. I got my speed up, fully intending to beat the storm down the hill and get back to where it was warm.But something was wrong. As I came down the hill, I noticed it was snowing a bit harder. I was beginning to shiver pretty violently, and it was getting hard to control my bike. Determined to outrun the storm, I got deeper into my drops and started pedaling – hard.10 minutes into the descent I realized I was numb. 12 minutes in, I realized that my body was buzzing. 13 minutes … I could no longer brake effectively. And my body was starting to get this odd sort of rigidity to it. Something was definitely not right – not only was I not outrunning the storm, but my face was freezing into this strange expression and my chest was tightening in a very disturbing way. I started wondering if I was going to have a heart attack and decided my best course of action was to stop.I knew there were some houses by the side of the canyon, but it was an effort to stop the bike. Worse, when I did, my arms and legs seized up, in addition now to my face and chest, and I had to lay the bike down to get off it. The house I had chosen was well lit and their garage was open, but it took me another minute to walk down the driveway. I was a zombie, and a very scared one at that because by the time I got to the house my muscles were so locked up I was almost paralyzed.I waited for some undertermined period of time in the garage, basically enough that I felt like I could move my mouth again to speak. I ventured back out into the snow and around to the front door, and I raised my arm to ring the doorbell, but my arm didn’t obey. Knocking was out of the question. Dimly, I became aware that there were voices coming from the window beside the front door, so I raised my voice to say hello and leaned over to the right to get a better look at where the people might be …… and discovered I was looking straight at a man and woman, probably in their early 50s, naked, in the midst of coitus. On a bed. Next to the front door. The sounds I had heard had most certainly *not* been conversation. As these epiphanies were dawning on me, two pairs of eyes suddenly swiveled in my direction, and the woman’s voice lifted dramatically into an entirely different sound of passion.I suddenly realized that I was not only freezing to death, but was probably about to be shot for trespassing, and intruding upon what was clearly a very delicate moment. As fast as I could, I began my zombie shuffle away from the door, back to the garage, where I gathered up my bike and did my best to get up the driveway and back to the relative safety of the frozen road. It was only 20 feet, and I was almost sure I could get up in time to get away before the inevitable shotgun blast. But in my current state 20 feet was a very long way, and I didn’t make it."HEY!" I lifted my foot and tried to further my escape, but the snow was getting pretty deep and I could only lift my leeg a few inches. "HEY!!!" a second time, more insistent, and I heard footsteps coming up behind me from the garage. Encouraged by the fact I had not yet actually been shot, I stopped and laboriously turned to face the music.A man stood on the driveway in his bathrobe, in slippers, with his hair in disarray and a slight smile on his face. He wasn’t carrying a shotgun, and though his hands were in his rather deep pockets, I began to hope he didn’t have a handgun either. Besides, the smile didn’t look terribly threatening, and this was clearly the man I had just interrupted. He spoke again, "Are you ok?"I couldn’t really answer him, but clearly I was not. So I looked at him instead and shook my head. In response the man walked up the driveway and supported me while I hobbled my way down into his home. He brought me into a massive kitchen and introduced me to his son, who was a triathlete on the University of Colorado team. He got me a heavy towel from the closet in the hall and asked his son to pour me some warm water. Then he turned to me and said, "I’m going to finish up now," jerking his thumb in the direction of the bedroom/front door.By now I was too far gone to think that this was strange, and I certainly wasn’t going to argue with him. The rigidity in my muscles had relaxed to the point to where I could actually talk and hold a phone, so I dialed my riding partner and got him to come pick me up. Then I waited somewhat awkwardly in the kitchen with the triathlete, and thanked all three of them profusely before I left.As we drove down the canyon, I explained to my friend what had happened, only to discover that there was even more snow at the lower elevations than in the canyon. As it turns out, there had been an upslope storm, a complete meteorological freak that nobody had predicted. There had been a great many riders who were caught out on the plains that day in shorts and light jerseys, so I was able to feel a bit less foolish – and a lot more lucky to have stopped where I did. When I got home I learned the medical term for what had happened to me: "Tetany."Now one of the criteria for your contest is that the stupid thing be something you would be willing to repeat. And reading through the above, *I* certainly would have assumed that the writer would take great pains never to end up in a similar situation again. But assumptions like
    that are very poor bets.Not even a year later, I repeated the situation, admittedly without the snow or potentially hostile canyon inhabitants, and certainly without the X-rated interlude. Nevertheless, I found myself 35 miles away from home at 9000 feet in January, inadequately dressed and completely out of food and water. This time I made it down and even back into Boulder before my body began to experience the Tetanu; but the potential glory associated with this particular feat was mitigated by the fact I had to hitch a ride for the less than 2 miles remaining to my house.

  43. Comment by AO | 11.25.2005 | 2:14 am

    oooh, it’s a toss-up between daddyd and keith… of course, i’m biased b/c i miss living in the denver metropolitan area. especially reading daddyd’s entry. man, i lived right there. unfortunately, i was not into cycling at the time, and now realize i wasted 15+ years of my life living in a state w/ some awesome road/mtb riding…hope you had a good thanksgiving, fatty. how ’bout jumping on the scale before bed and letting us know where you’re at?

  44. Comment by Erlend | 11.25.2005 | 12:29 pm

    First time commenter on this site! Been reading it since summer though…Story actually starts when i was about 8,9,10,11, can’t remember since I actually think i’ve been doing it forever. As i little boy growing up in Askim, Norway i always enjoyed biking with my friends around town (as boys do). Me and a couple of my friends used to play this "game" i guess you could call it. The short version of it was to run into each other. We used to do it all the time, but not in the frame bending, arm crunching kind of way. No it was a much more gentle way, a gentlemans way you may even call it. The rider behind used to touch the rider in fronts wheel ever so slightly, causing a very cool sound and exhilerating experience. The rider in front would get very annoyed and express so, we would then call each other names and then laugh. It was all very well. How can you not have had accidents you ask? I don’t know, but we where very good bike handlers, world class even. Thing is we stopped doing it after we got older about 13,14 and when you stop doing something and then try again…. My best friend and I used to ride to school, about 6 km. Home from school one day I wanted to try again, see if I still had that world class bike handling, it was the end of a downhill section so the wind was blowing in my hair (small print: best attempted at lower speeds). I started to move in and he turned during my attempt, wheels should never touch each other from the side only back to front. My left eyebrow hit the pavement first, followed by my arm which breaks. I was in schock, stumbled to my feet, took a sheet from a textbook and wiped my face and rode home. No real pain yet cause of the schock. Try to shorten this now. Recieved funny looks on the way home, tried to clip off my eyebrown because I didn’t find i eastetically (can’t bother to look it up) pleasing just dangling there, friend talked me out of it, taxi, hospital, pain and so on.Playing the game still brings fond memories, just not the last time. Think it has marked me for life, don’t feel comfortable riding close to people anymore which will be a problem because I’m a road cyclist and will start racing next spring for the first time. Will try to do solo breakaways…

  45. Comment by Kelly | 11.25.2005 | 2:25 pm

    I’m grateful you WRITE your stories. They’re so good. In fact, you make me want to be a better writer. Or a writer at all. Kelly

  46. Comment by tayfuryagci | 11.25.2005 | 5:05 pm

    "don’t make me come up there."yeah dug’s a cool fellah. (not friendly but decent too ;)

  47. Comment by Ian | 11.25.2005 | 5:52 pm

    I have done quite a few stupid things on a bicycle. and probably the three that I recall recently were the ‘Cross race and the Pickup Trucks.A few weeks ago, I was at the Donida Farms cyclocross race. It looked like a beautiful day; it was foggy yet warm. My teammates Wes and Steve (the Junior B champ) joined me on a warmup ride along the course. after taking the run-up and braving the run-down (I hate descents), we cut across the horse track that was part of the course. On the way, I jumped off of the track and landed in a probably 6" deep puddle. I hooted as I went through it and it soaked through my very thin skinsuit. But I didnt care. I was confident and was ready to take on the race and come in the top 10 again. And, as my teacher and fellow cyclist said, "and then the heavens opened up in a torrent of rain." As I stood in the grid waiting for the start, I began to shiver. Violently. I was hoping the race would have warmed me up, but I was just being splattered all over with more mud. On the next lap, the puddle I fell in earlier invited some of its much larger friends. I went through the first one behind Wes, and, because I cant exactly afford $130 Team Oberto Axley’s, I couldnt see anything and fell over into a literally foot-deep puddle. I came around on an angled section, muttered, "I cant feel my lippths" and slid down the hill after hitting Wes’ back wheel. My coach and team manager ran over, I stood up to get back on the bike, and fell over. I just bought some warm-weather clothes, and am going to order some long-sleeve jerseys next time the team does an order.The point of hte story: Going through puddles are stupid but fun. As long as you dont have to race in 38 degree weather.The story of the pickup trucks- The first one: I was riding home from school, coming down what was, to me at that time, the world’s steepest hill. Its not much of a hill but I was very new to cycling.Anyway, I pulled out into the middle of the road to avoid the cars parked on the side of the road. About 5 seconds into it, nearing the bottom of the hill, I clocked 40MPH sprinting downhill (I had just bought my new Trek 1000 then..) and a very large pickup sped up past me (and this was near an elementary school, the posted speed limit was 15MPH and we were both going 40) and laid on the horn and started swerving at me. I startest screaming "hey!" over and over as this guy tried to run me off the road. I got mad and started hitting the side of his car until he left me alone. I would do it again, had I not been hit by an Escalade a month ago (now i have a fear of large vehicles). The second story was much more recent. It was a ride with the local club. We were coming down this huge (and it was actually huge) and I was riding a time trial bike with worn out Cane Creek levers.. not smart. But for once, I didnt have a death grip on the levers. Not long ago I grew a lot and lost a lot of weight (5′8" @180lbs vs 6′1" @ 130lbs) and I have learned that I tend to reach terminal velocity faster than most people i ride with. This, coupled with the fact that I fear fast descents, causes me to often get left behind after large hills: I am the first one up, last one down. But I was in luck today; I had aero bars and it was a 5 lane road. I was speeding down, whooping it up with everyone else when we came upon a truck. I decided to draft behind it. I dont know where my head was when there was an intersection coming up. I was too scared to come off of the aero bars. Once again, if I had drop bars and good brakes, I would gladly draft behind a truck like that again.And I know its late, but I was in Chicago when you announced the ’stolen bike’ story thing. here was mine.I just bought my Trek 1000 with toe-clips and an 8 speed Sora triple drivetrain. What an improvement over my hi-ten steel MTB. I decided to ride it to school one day. I locked it up, and checked on it between every class. When I got ready to go home, i unlocked it and ran inside to get my helmet. (my locker was right there) I came back to find a certain snobby heir to a certain window company doing BMX moves on my beloved. Now this guy is hardly a bully, he is just a real jerk. he took off down the parking lot with my bike, saying "oh, this bike stinks. (I hear the gears jamming up) My bike is so much better." I ran to keep up. "what kind do you have?" "a Huffy. Its better. it is 21 speeds and has shocks." I chuckled as I jammed a stick into the rear wheel. I hated to do that, but i watched him get jerked forward and fall into the gravel. That was quite a while ago. (I just finished upgrading that bike to Ultegra..9 speed, I couldnt afford 10) The last time I had a run-in with him it was a saturday production day for the newspaper. (my adviser, like I said, is a cyclist for the Starbucks team) I had no idea why this guy was there. I did get to rub it in his face that I had a 2002 Trek 5900 with DuraAce 9 on it and was on a local racing team. (I didnt tell him, however, that i bought the severely underloved bike for 200$ from a friend.) He was still convinced his Huffy was a better road machine, and i am ugly in a skinsuit. And sadly, that bike was smashed to bits with that run-in with the Escalade.

  48. Comment by Ariane | 11.25.2005 | 7:48 pm

    Hmmm… Well, we all already know I just AM stupid. Thus, I do stupid things… repeatedly, though not by choice. I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally done anything reckless while cycling since I was a kid. The dumbest thing I’ve ever done, biking or not, but would happily try again, though, that would have to be nearly dying with Ja’ar in the Alps. The long and the short of it is this. Ja’ar and I were on a road trip, and for a few days, we stopped in Gimmelwald, Switzerland. There’s all sorts of great trails around there, but there’s also quite a few things that appear to be trails, but aren’t. I said, "Ja’ar, look, a trail. " Ja’ar said, "Score. Looks steep."Two hours later, wearing nothing heavier than t-shirts, cargo pants and Birkenstocks, we found ourselves clinging to the side of Schilthorn, sliding about on a six inch wide, sloping, muddy mountain goat trail that was exposed to a several hundred foot drop into a gushing river. We had no climbing equipment save for a couple fence posts we’d dug out of the remains of an avalanche, which we were using as braces to better push ourselves against the mountain. At one point, I was dangling from a dead bush that was growing in our path. Yip. That was stupid. But I think we’d both do it again.

  49. Comment by Unknown | 11.25.2005 | 8:05 pm

    I’ve realised that my post, and to be honest most of the posts, don’t really have the same death defying stupidity of fatty’s original. To ride into a forest fire, that most capricious of disasters, know the world over for sudden changes of direction, the ability to advance over huge distances in seconds and to spring up unexpectedly miles from the current inferno, is the ultimate in elan over intelligence, one last ride onj the classic ride over one last ride. To win this prize, one would have to do something equally stupid. The current crop are merely foolish.When we were kids, the town we lived in had a marine lake, a boating lake that was separated from the sea by a low wall. Most of the year, this wall was just about at sea level, with the sea just washing over to keep the lake full. It also keeps the wall covered in slimy green algae. One of the big tests was to ride your bike around the wall. At low tide, you risked either sliding into the lake or sliding off the wall 8 feet down to the rocks. At high tide , the fall was replaced by a dip in the strong currents of the estuary. People drowned here every year, were not talking Bike Mike Bondai rip currents, just strong tidal flows that dragged you out into the main channel. Spring and autumn, we had very high tides coupled with storm force winds. It was always exciting to go down to the sea front and watch the waves crash over the car.One autumn we had particularly high tides, with very strong winds. Sections of the promenade, large concrete and iron sections, just disappeared. A friend who lived further up the coast woke up to find a large sailboat buried in his living room window. Cars parked on the seafront disappeared.My friend Dave and I decided we would have to ride the marine lake wall at high tide. We met at the appointed time at the town end of the lake and the wall was already awash and waves were crashing over the promenade where we waited. High tide. I went first, followed by Dave. The first third was the worst. The wall was under about a foot of water, with five and six foot wave crashing over the breakwater just beyond the lake wall. We got round the first third without mishap, but soaked to the skin. The second third was running with the wind and the tide. We had no idea where the edges of the wall were, only guessing from the changes to the colour and run of the waves. We made it through, with Dave closing. Final third, cutting back across the wind, but with the lake sheltering us from the tide, the easy bit. Half way through, a freak combination of wind and waves caught us both in a torrent of falling water. When did water get so heavy? We were batted into the ground. I went down left, Dave right. I went into the lake, Dave into the sea. I managed to get loose from my toeclips and was just about able to swim to the launch slip and safety. I called out the inshore lifeboat, who went looking unsuccessfully for Dave. He eventually washed up, literally, about three miles down the estuary, his life saved by an off-duty fireman, who fished his unconscious body out of the water and made sure he was breathing.We never recovered either bike, but we had to go back and ride the wall.

  50. Comment by tayfuryagci | 11.25.2005 | 11:41 pm

    Ok, I have some stupid deeds in the recent past:It was my very first bike which was called a "Pinokyo" at that time here in Turkey. It’s a foldable bike made basically of a long curved tube and a rear triangle. It had 20" rims was entirely made out of steel and heavy as an ox. I rode it mainly around the block sometimes a little further around the neighborhood. I wasn’t a crazy kid so I didn’t d any wacky stuff on it until one day. K?ds with BMX look-alike bikes were gathered behind our apartment block. I went to see whats going on too. they were takin turns and jumping off a 2-2,5 feet high ledge which I had never seen as a "Gap" before. I took my turn, jumped of the ledge and landen on both weels at once. You know I never was a skinny person whatta heck I was a fat kid not yo-look-at-duh-freek-man fat but fat. So I jumped and landed on both wheels. Front wheel tacoed but rear was a totally different story. It got smashed, completely. Tire was torn, rim broke and spokes flew all around. I was sitting there with no rear tire and a tacoed front wheel and about 15 kids were hysterical. I did the bestI could and faked a hysterical laugh myself too. After I dragged the wreckage into the apartment I cryed for days. But I know I’d jump off the same ledge on a similar bike right now.It was about six years ago. I was walking around the neighborhood with a buddy of mine, looking for something to do. It was summer and we both were bored. You know, you occasionally see an abandoned bike here and there. Sometimes you take a glance and walk away, sometimes you don’t even see it. Anywho, we saw a 16" wheel fixed gear bike abandoned, lying on the side of the street. It was a beautiful bike at least it was sometime before it was abandoned. We took the bike with us, put on new tubes and tires, tightened a bolt here and there and voila! We had a Freestyle BMX bike of our own. At least we thought so. On a fast downhill at a nearby street the BB gave up and commited suicide. I have never heard of such a thing and I probably will never see such a thing again but one of the crankarms (the left one to be precise) flew off. Thats ridiculous! Is such a thing even possible? I know a lot more about bike components now than I did at that time but I still cannot think of a good explanation. The downhill ended by hitting the sidewalk from one side and getting multiple bruises. It was a long explanation at home. "Who did you fight with? No one mom! It was a bike accident. Tell the truth Tayfur, you know I won’t get mad!" Sshe wouldn’t get mad and I still got the fighting-is-BAD lecture.The most recent one is STILL HAPPENING RIGHT NOW! Last saturday was a mud-fest. When I got back home from the 18 mile loop therewasn’t a single spot on me or the bike without a thick layer of mud on it. Of course I cleaned the mud on myself but the bikes another story. Everything on the bike is covered with mud after a whole week of neglect. Even though it’s my favorite bike, my beloved roadie the "Bikenstein" I just couldn’t get to cleaning it. I was busy with school all week. Now the mud turned into concrete in and out of the derailleurs, casette, all over the crankset and actually everywhere except my baby titanium XTR headset. Only he wiill not be harmed from that mud. But the rest of the bike is a mess and I don’t know what I’ll do. Maybe I’ll take it to a car-wash (not one with african-american women spongebathing lexuses). And you know the next time that bike gets into that much mud, it probably will be neglected for this much time again.

  51. Comment by Christina | 11.26.2005 | 3:06 am

    When I was about eight years old, I rode a lime green banana seat bike. It had a plastic flower basket attached to the handlebars. I also had a pet cat. I used to put my cat in the basket and take it for rides around the neighborhood. One afternoon, I decided to go down a steep gravely driveway, and the cat didn’t like the bumpiness, so it turned around and leaped at my chest. The cat’s four paws (and many, many claws) stuck into my chest. This hurt. I launched myself off my bike and wrestled the cat on our neighbor’s lawn until it let go. But I continued to ride the cat around the neighborhood the rest of our happy days together. ~The Beast Mom

  52. Comment by Bryn | 11.26.2005 | 12:20 pm

    I know im not going to win the banjo brothers comp with this entry for a number of reasons -1 – I don’t live in the states so i don’t think im eligible to win2 – My entry has nothing to do about stupid things ive done on a bike3 – Im a much better cyclist than i am a writer.Here goes. Around 2 years ago, i was really into mountain biking (sorry, but im a roadie now) and every day i would take my steed out to a old brick mining quarry. I would go almost every day and ride down the tracks made by the trucks and down the sides of hills that had being mined out. This place holds a lot of memories for me and a mate who would come with me whenever i could make him. One such memory was when we were both trying to descend a hill around 30 metres down and at an angle of around 80 degrees. I made it down fine after sliding around on through the loose soil, my mate however didn’t make it down quite as smoothly. As he started to leave the top of the hill he started to slide in the loose soil and ended up almost sideways. As he started to gracefully and unsuccessfully descend sideways he fell off the bike and landed face first into the dirt which ended up everywhere including his mouth. After he fell off his bike however, it fell on top of him which luckily enough pushed him back onto his feet in order to run down the rest of the hill, all whilst i was standing at the bottom laughing at how stupid he looked.As for how you felt fatty watching your trail be engulfed by flames and having that almost stupid feeling in his stomach to ride your trail one last time. I understand fatty, i too have had to have a final ride on such a beloved trail. Lucky for me though is that my trail is still there, i however am not, i moved 900km away, which in a way is good because i go and ride this track whenever i visit my old home town. Since that particular move though, i decided to take up road cycling, i like it more than mountain biking i must admit, however you can never have trails. I have pity for those particular road cyclists who have never had the chance to have their own trail, they don’t know what they’re missing!

  53. Comment by Kenny | 11.26.2005 | 5:11 pm

    You were the last person to ride frank before the fire and I was the first person to ride it after. I also recieved snide remarks from the fire crew, who were still there working on the last of the smoldering ash. Frank is still one of the greatest and most accessable rides in the Provo area. Chuck and I rode it two days ago on our singles. We continued up and over to dry canyon. It’s in the best shape that I can remember. The stupidest thing that I ever did on a bike is also my earliest memory I have of being on a bike. I was four years old, so my memory of this event is very foggy. I remember my bike was red and it must have been a fixed gear, because I could pedal it backwards. Me and a friend of mine were tooling around the neighborhood experiencing the new freedom that we felt from having learned to ride bikes, feeling proud of my riding skills, I dared my buddy to ride down this little rolling descent with his eyes closed. I didn’t see what happened, because of course, my eyes were also closed, but when I got to the bottom of the hill, I found poor Timmy unconscious and bleeding in front of a parked car. I don’t remember much more of this except for visiting my friend at his home while he recovered. I felt jealous of the cool hot wheel set that his parents bought him and I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t let their son ride bikes with me anymore.Would I ever do this again? How about the next time you’re in town and we’re descending frank. You did say you could do this ride with your eyes closed.

  54. Comment by Unknown | 11.26.2005 | 7:33 pm

    Just thought of another.When I was about 4 and my brother 3, he had a little trike. One day he was trying to go up a curb, lifted the front wheel, went overf backwards and cracked his head open. Dad was at work, so Mum took him to hospital, leaving us with a neighbour. Dad came home and wanted to know what had happened. "Oh, he did this" says I demonstrating. Up comes the wheel, backwards go I and another cracked open head.

  55. Comment by PEr | 11.26.2005 | 9:08 pm

    The stupidest thing I have done on a bike… A couple of years back a group of friends and I were in Canmore AB for a weekend of racing including a 40km ITT on the Saturday, and a 40 km TTT and crit on the Sunday. Following a successful ITT we found ourselves a nice cheap motel right on the TransCanada and conviniently also beside a budget liquor joint. We rounded up enough cash to purchase a $10 oversized bottle of red wine and settled down in the motel room with our bounty in anticipation of the following days racing. As the evening wore on and we were thinking about turning in one of my friends puts down his travel mug of Gato and anounces that he has a great idea. His scheme was that we needed to work on our TTT formation… the nude. It was late at this point and a Saturday night. Canmore isnt a big place, for those who dont know its a little mountain town at the gateway to the Rockies, its generally a very quiet place, especially in the month of May. After much debate all four of us were ready to roll. We marched out the door with only towels around our waists and t shirts on (so as to not disturb the motel guests or staff) with our full decked out time trial bikes in tow. We wanted to make this experience count so we picked a nice wide street that was lit by streetlights and waited for some traffic. At the right moment we tore off the tshirts and towels and hopped on our steeds for a full flight naked TTT 3 blocks one way and three blocks back. 4 skinny dudes in the aerobars with disc wheels and in time trial formation rotating to the front and with a full fledged turnaround at the one end of the course attracted a great deal of attention from the pedestrians and motorists alike. Most people gave friendly honks and hoots, it was great. The following week one of the riders involved alerted me to an article that was published in the Monday Canmore newspaper that documented (in words only) our experience for all to see. It was pretty stupid, but the rush was incredible. I would gladly do it again if the opportunity arose!

  56. Comment by Stephen | 11.26.2005 | 10:37 pm

    Contest Entry: Years ago, when I was a strong virile young man (OK MANY years ago), I was somewhat "into" biking. Mostly fairly short rides of 10-30 miles through the Sonoma County wine country. Now this was NOT non-stop riding. Oh no. Riding the bikes was simply a way to avoid a DUI really. Because as we passed each winery, we would stop and have a "tasting" (read: slurp down as much free wine as we could before they threw us out).By the end of these rides we were usually thoroughly "gassed".Okay, Okay… I’m getting to the point…So this once, a buddy said "Hey! Let’s go do a Century!"Sure I thought – why not?Later, I could think of a whole lot of reasons (and Places) why not. Like for instance: my legs, hips, bum, arms, shoulders, and neck.The century was held near Palm Springs, CA – in JUNE. Gets warm there in June. Real warm.Suffice to say that was the first, last, and only time I ever attempted a ride of that length.s.

  57. Comment by tayfuryagci | 11.27.2005 | 12:16 am

    thats GOTTA be the stupidEST thing. drinking alcohol and riding a bicycle!

  58. Comment by Jill | 11.27.2005 | 7:45 am

    The fires also did a number on my favorite riding spot, the always people-free Stansburies, back when I called Tooele my hometown. I guess it’s a lesson in never getting too attached.

  59. Comment by Kelly | 11.27.2005 | 4:12 pm

    Dang. I’ve been thinking a lot about this and I CANNOT come up with something I’d do again. They all left awesome scars and such and one of them is even captured on tape. But I can’t say I’d like to repeat any of them.Oh, well. How about I just ask permission to link you? That would be a great gift in and of itself. Did I really say "…in and of itself"? Yikes. Brain clog.Kelly

  60. Comment by Unknown | 11.27.2005 | 4:24 pm

    Fatty,I am voting for juvenile Tim-D. His story has all the elements you are looking for. It is the only other story with an initial "idea core of stupidity" equaling yours. I have done lots of stupid things in my life. Of course I am still alive, so the final stupidity wasn’t as lethal as the intial stupidity may have been in any given circumstance. Usually, I wasn’t able to assess the actual stupidity until I had the benefit of hindsight, but there you go. Both of you guys are seemingly old enough to have developed analytical intelligence, or "judgement" as it is often called. You; out of control wild fire. Him; high tide with rip tide features during a storm. Sheesh. I am pretty sure I would have passed on both of those rides. But, I am fifty-ish and still riding a lot. Maybe you guys don’t have much time and you need to ride at every opportunity…..

  61. Comment by tayfuryagci | 11.27.2005 | 6:11 pm

    fatty oh brother where arts thou! I’m having the faty-withdrawal-syndrome all over cold…shivering…nauseaaeaae…feeling void, emptiness, falling into an abyss of darkness and evil…FATTTYAYYYYYAYYA AYEEEE!(I know you said you won’t be posting for a long time but we still miss you man. You owe us a big post! :)

  62. Comment by Unknown | 11.27.2005 | 10:24 pm

    1. Riding down a steep, ice-covered hill at full speed in mid-January in Upstate New York when I was about 14, and "flat tracking" a bunch of bikes through the iced over "T" intersection at the bottom of the hill, doing a two wheeled slide until the wheels hit the huge snow pile, then bouncing down the road after using the snow pile as a berm. Repeat over the period of two or three days with each bike owned by any and all family members, until all bikes have either (a) taco-ed rims; (b) broken handlebars; or (c) broken frames. Oddly enough, my mom’s Schwinn varsity was the first frame to snap. Casualties included the afforementioned Schwinn, a couple training wheeled bikes, my own Schwinn five speed, my sister’s little pink mixte bikes, an old tricycle or two, and a couple pairs of jeans. And my own butt when my father figured out a couple months later that I’d destroyed everybody’s bikes, including my own. Some scars, due to repeated crashes on rough ice. Two wheeled drifting on a bicycle on ice is fun though, and I’m still a very good bike handler. 2) Riding off the three meter board at the local pool, at midnight, drunk. I was probably 15 or so. 3) Riding off the back roof of the garage on a friend’s BMX bike, on a dare. I was about 14 or 15 at the time. But none of this even compares to riding into a forest fire. You deserve to give yourself that bag Fatty. Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you ate too much, so you have an excuse to ride more.

  63. Comment by Unknown | 11.28.2005 | 2:08 pm

    Jim, this was way before I acquired any sort of risk assesment ability, that has only come with multiple broken bones and 30 years of cycling. We did both sign up for a lifeguard course the following spring though, so something must have sunk in.


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