How To Pee Whilst Riding Your Bike

01.23.2006 | 3:47 pm

Editor’s Note: Bob of Bob’s Top 5 wrote the below entry; I, meanwhile, wrote an entry for him. I think Bob makes an excellent Fat Cyclist. In fact, I’d go so far as to say he’s even fatter than I.

Today was going to be the day that I peed while riding my bike. I know what you’re thinking: Why? In case I ever get called up to ride in one of the tours, that’s why. The last thing I want to have happen is to be riding for Team Phonak during one of the 6-hour stages of the Giro d’ Italia, only to realize that I didn’t know how to urinate while bicycling. I just know what would happen. I’d overhydrate and then try to hold it in. Soon, I’d drop to the back of the pack, clenched and sweating, and then I’d just let go. Riders would make fun of my soggy shorts, and I’d start crying.

No, I want to be ready.

But how do I go about this? On the bathroom wall of my favorite bike shop is a poster of a rider holding another rider’s seat; a third rider is holding the second rider, and the first rider is making a beautiful stream away from his bicycle. Getting help seems like a good option. Should I ask someone to hold the back of my seat? If so, what accent should I use? I do an OK breathless old man impersonation (“Young man, I’m about to soil my trousers. I need help!”), and my Spanish accent is OK, but I think the British dandy would be the best approach, given the awkward nature of the request. Oh, or maybe go back a few centuries to Elizabethan times:

“Good sirrah! I am ill at ease! My full bladder bespeaks a most disquieting pain, a pain at once nightmarish and exquisite. My body cries out to me as if bedammed for nigh this fortnight. Were that it were not so! Perchance thou couldst hand my seat whilst I heed the beckon of nature’s most insistent call. Prithee, answer man!”

No, I knew I had to be realistic. I wasn’t riding with a buddy, and I wasn’t about to ask a stranger to help me, accent or no. If I was to go through with this, I needed to do it alone. Besides, you know those urinal troughs in seedy downtown bars and old baseball parks? Those make me nervous, especially when there’s a line. No one wants to hear the guys muttering behind him: “How long has that guy in the green fleece been standing there? I don’t see a stream. Hey pal! What’s the problem? Maybe you should step aside and figure it out while the rest of us go about our business.” This was going to be awkward enough without dealing with performance anxiety. I needed privacy.

I also needed some advice. So I went to the library. Ha! Just kidding. Here are the three rules I learned from the Internet:

Rule 1: Make sure you’re safe from legal repercussions.
Urinating in public may violate indecent exposure, public nuisance, and disorderly conduct laws. In some states, you can become a sex offender for urinating in public. You don’t want to have to knock on your neighbors’ doors and notify them of your status. It’s awkward.

Rule 2: Make sure you’re riding on a slight decline.
If you’re going too fast, you don’t want to lose control of your bike. If you’re going too slow, you don’t want to have to pedal midstream. You might as well just stop and get off your bike.

Rule 3: Learn the proper technique.
Extend one leg and rotate the opposite hip towards the extended leg. Free your member from the top or bottom of the shorts, and let it flow. Tap as necessary.

After doing my research, I decided it would be easy. It even looks easy.

Notice the varying techniques used by the cyclists. The Postie is using the over-the-shorts method, while the guy in the green jersey is using the under-the-shorts method. See how the right leg of his shorts is rolled up? Easy enough. I was all set. On the way into work, I found a nice, remote location with a slight decline and got ready to go. That’s when I learned one more rule to successful relief on a bicycle:

Rule 4: Make sure you really need to go.
The first time you try this, understand that Nature doesn’t just have to be making a polite house call, ding-dong. Nature needs to be banging on the door with an oak cudgel, shouting and threatening to breaks windows.

After work, I didn’t stop by the bathroom on my way to the bike cage, and I downed two bottles of water. I was good and ready. Almost too ready. After a painful twenty-minute ride through traffic, I finally got to a trail where I could get on with my business. I don’t want to go into the details of my experience, but let’s just say I learned two new rules:

Rule 5: Account for shrinkage.
You may not have as much capacity for extension as when you started the ride.

Rule 6: Once you start, don’t stop until you’re done.
It doesn’t matter if you think you see the lights of an approaching car or an oncoming cyclist. Stay committed. Otherwise, you’ll finish your ride with a soggy bottom.

And if You’re a Woman…
I have neither information nor advice for you. I’m sorry.


Pro Cycling Teams Unveil 2006 Hair Strategy

01.23.2006 | 3:21 pm

Mallorca, January 22 (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – Cycling enthusiasts around the globe reacted extremely positively to the January 22 T-Mobile team presentation, wherein the 29 members of the men’s’ team and 10 members of the women’s’ team were announced.

More importantly, however, T-Mobile also took this opportunity to reveal Jan Ullrich’s new hairdo.

Image from

“This hairdo represents the significant investment we have made in Ullrich,” said team manager Mario Kummer. “These curls have been scientifically designed to be loose enough to blow elegantly in the wind as he attacks on mountain climbs, but not so loose that they unravel under the intense pressure of a grueling time trial. They are long enough to look cool, but not so long that they will poke out of his helmet and look clownish. They have been demonstrated in wind-tunnel tests to be the most aerodynamic curls known to man.”

Continued Kummer, with evident pride: “His curly, highly moussed locks clearly state, ‘I am the team captain. You must ride in support of me, and in support of my hair.’  I only wish that we had thought of this hair before last year’s Tour de France; perhaps we could have kept Vinokourov in check. You will note,” the manager pointedly concluded, that this year Andreas Kloeden does not have such a hairdo.”


Team Discovery Channel Reacts

Johan Bruyneel, directeur sportif of Team Discovery Channel, lost no time in preparing his team’s response to the new threat Ullrich poses. “Acknowledging the brilliance of Ullrich’s new haircut,” said Bruyneel from the Team Discovery Solvang camp, “I have tasked one of my most seasoned riders, Viatcheslav Ekimov, to counterattack with a new hairstyle which I myself have designed.”

Image from

“As you can see,” said Bruyneel at a hastily-arranged press conference this past week, “Eki’s hairstyle is still short up top and on the sides, so as to not interfere with his riding. In the back, however, his hair is considerably longer, and now nearly touches his shoulders. I firmly believe this haircut will effectively neutralize Ullrich.”

Others, however, are not so optimistic.

“It’s a mullet,” said Lance Armstrong, who remains actively involved with Team Discovery Channel operations. “Bruyneel has sent Eki to chase down Jan with a freakin’ mullet. No way is that going to be enough.”

“I’m just glad that I’m retired,” said a concerned-looking Armstrong, pensively running a hand through his (rather pedestrian) close-cropped hair. “I mean, I’ve always said that Ullrich was my greatest opponent. With that new hairstyle, well, I don’t know.” Armstrong paused for a moment, weighing his words. “To tell the truth, I don’t think I could compete with that.”


This article will be concluded in an upcoming issue of Cyclingnews. There you will find — among other things — the following before-and-after image of Levi Leipheimer:


Bonus: Congratulations are in Order

Congratulations to Kelly (Mocha Momma) for winning the Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Giveaway! Congratulations also to Moishe, who took an extremely close second — a difference of only one vote.

Kelly, e-mail me with your address and which you prefer: panniers, messenger bag, or duffel bag.


Too Many Great Moments

01.20.2006 | 4:48 pm

Thursday’s usually the day I post the winner to the weekly Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Giveaway. You may have noticed, though, that yesterday I did not post anything at all.

That’s because I was staring at all the entries, wringing my hands, biting my fingernails, and in general failing to make a choice.

There are just too many stories I like too much. Evidently, a lot of us have done some pretty dang cool stuff on our bikes.


Help Me. I’m Begging You.

I did manage to winnow the list down to a group of finalists (although even that was not easy), which I’m publishing below. Please vote for the one you like best: either with a comment, or (if it’s inconvenient for you to leave a comment) with an e-mail (I will occasionally group and post the e-mail entries myself). You don’t have to give a reason why you voted for a particular person, but why don’t you anyway?


Upping the Ante

Originally, this contest was going to be for a seat bag, but the fact is, these are some of the very best entries I’ve ever seen for the weekly contest, so I’m upgrading the prize to a messenger bag / pannier set / gear bag. Winner’s choice.

I’ll announce the winner in Monday’s post.

And hey, there’s no shame in voting for yourself. Well, not much shame, anyway.

And now, on with the stories.


Kelly (Mocha Momma)

Who doesn’t love a “Triumphant Underdog” story? And Kelly’s is a good one, with victory to the just and pain and humiliation to the villains.


There’s an epic hill in every cycling story of mine, and this one from my childhood is no different. It took me exactly one month to attack the hill and go down it on my bike, but I had just gotten braces and my mother was worried I’d take a softball to the mouth or get my mouth stuck to the climbing rope in P.E. class and she became overprotective.

All the boys in the neighborhood taunted us little girls and dared us to speed down The Hill. Since I felt the need to tempt death and my mother in the same task, I waited till everybody had cleared out and went down The Hill. No problem.

The next day, when all the guys were there taunting and teasing and generally being He-Man of the Hill, I dared a guy to race down the hill. WHAT? Not only was I going to go down The Hill, I was gonna go fast. He snorted and decided to take me on. I beat him and when we got to the bottom he was really pissed and being laughed at by the other guys. He proceeded to punch me in the arm really hard. Instead of waiting for any of the other biking boys to protect me, I then kicked his ass.

Yeah, this was my proudest moment. I did it all while still attached to the bike. My teeth are perfect to this day.


Big Guy

Last year, I did the MS 150 for the first time, and with the very generous help of folks who read this blog, raised around $1600.00. I was very proud of that. So I can sorta-kinda imagine why Big Guy is proud of raising $12,000 for an incredibly worthy cause.


I rode for Team-in-Training (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) fundraising events not once but three times (so far). I’ve personally been able to raise around $12,000 to date just by riding my bike (and, of course, asking folks to sponsor me for doing it). $12,000. It’s sometimes hard to get my mind around that number (=~$40/mile) just for doing something I enjoy (except the asking folks for money part).



Moishe’s story is just a great romp, and is really well told. If you’ve ever dropped your friends on a tough climb, you’ll be able to relate.


When I lived down in Olympia, my friend Scott and I rode our butts off down in Capitol Forest. We rode all the time; we planned our class schedules around getting out to ride during the week, we rode every weekend, and so on. Since it was Olympia, we rode through lots of mud and water and other bicycle-destroying crud. We decided, in the interest of saving money on parts and time on maintenance, to join the burgeoning singlespeed scene, and both built ourselves up some pretty sweet singlespeeds. We tooled around town on them, took them on some easier rides through the Forest, then, one February weekend, rolled out on their maiden "big" voyage: a 25-mile loop, whose appetizer was a 7-mile climb.

So we rolled out, this chilly and (of course) rainy March morning, in full singlespeed glory. We were riding with a couple of other friends of ours, who weren’t riding as much as we were, and we rolled ahead of them on the beginning of the climb. As we left them further and further behind, and ascended through the mist and mud and standing water, our pride at our single-speed badassedness grew. We muscled up short little ascents, kept our momentum along the steady grades; in short, we both felt fan-freakin’-tastic.

After roughly an hour of climbing, we reached the sign at the trail intersection at the top of the climb, got off our bikes, and leaned them (o glorious singlespeeds! let all the world revel in the simplicity of your drivetrains!) on the sign. We sauntered over to a convenient log where we sat down, unwrapped our clif bars, and waited for our riding compatriots to come and praise us.

So allow me to digress, briefly, and tell you about the trail we were about to go down: it’s rocky, rooty, steep, and (yes) muddy. It’s slippery and treacherous. Not the sort of thing you need a downhill bike for, by any means, but a tricky trail on the way down and a genuine pain in the ass on the way up.

Scott and I are sitting down, chillin’ out, and we hear a couple of guys riding up said nasty trail. "Cool," we thought, "people to brag to about our singlespeeds!" (well, Scott probably didn’t think that, and I certainly wouldn’t admit it in any context other than the relative anonymity of the internet) Sure enough, two guys rolled up, we got to talking, and they did admire our singlespeed bicycles and our prowess at muscling them up the hill. And around this time our riding buddies showed up (who I should mention were, to add sting to the you-must-think-by-now-inevitable putting-in-place that’s about to happen, attractive young women) and also exclaimed at our brilliance and we basked in the glow of our fantastic hill climbing ability with — yes — ONE gear!

So we’re all sittin’ around, talkin’ bikes, and one of the two guys says, "gee, I wonder where Brett is, he shouldn’t be too far behind." And but a few seconds later there came the sound of breathing and gear shifting and up comes Brett, cleaning a nasty little technical move, indeed cleaning an entire climb that I’d never succesfully ridden on any bike, rolling up like it ain’t no thing. And Brett – yep, Brett Wolfe – has only one goddamned LEG. He rolled up the trail, did a trackstand (well, maybe I’m making that part up), said hi, and kept going, like some ego-destroying ghost.

I’m still proud of my ride that day. But I’m truly thankful that it had such an inspiring coda.


Matt Mayer

Matt is doing a great job of passing his love of biking on to the next generation. His story reminds me I need to take my kids out biking more often.


There are quite a few moments that stand out but I guess right now this one is the biggest:

Last spring, perhaps April or May, I decided to go for a bike ride one Saturday morning. Decided to take my boys with me (they were 3 and 1). So I hooked up the bike trailer, threw in some drinks, blankets and a couple of rugrats. Hitched it up and pulled away.

The plan: To go for a bike ride and enjoy some time together.

What happened? A lot more.

I remember the ride was pretty uneventful as we ventured down the side streets of our neighborhood making our way to our normal trail entrance for the city wide trail system. The trails kind of run along the Cedar River here.

We stopped at the park so we could play. I mostly rested and then we saddled up again and ventued further. We came across the lake downtown with all the ducks and geese that live there. We rested there and feed bread to the animals for a long time. Finally saddled back up and ventured on.

We stopped at a donut shop and had a little snack. Well, I had two snacks. Ventured on further down the trail system until we eventually came across another park. Stopped for more play time. By now we were going on about an hour and half away from home and probably only 12 miles or so of actually movement. (Hey, we move slow) We eventually came to the end of the trail system, turned around and started for home. (The first time I had actually gotten to this end of the trail) This time we didn’t stop at all. All said, we spent about 3 hours together riding the trials, covered about 25 miles, had 4 donuts, handled out about a loaf of bread to birds, played on two different playsets and by the time I got home I had two sleeping rugrats.

I’d say it was a good day. I had a good nap that day too.

I was really proud of spending that time together, showing them a very interesting world along the river, pulling that much weight behind my bike, and knowing enough not to hurry what we were doing.



StormcrowePrime isn’t actually in the running for the bag, since he’s already got the Banjo Brothers to set him up with gear. But his story’s still worth hearing.


My greatest cycling moment happened last summer. It was my first ride in recent history where I made any miles at all.

Those of you that have followed my blog know that in March last year, I was in a wheelchair due to a heart problem and morbid obesity brought on by a pituitary disorder as well as being on oxygen. This ride was out to a park called Fairfield Lakes County park. This was a 7.2 mile ride and at the time, I was having to take frequent breaks, but I did make it out there. Believe me, riding with a 15 pound oxygen tank strapped on your back ain’t easy.

I know that a bit over 7 miles doesn’t really sound like much, but at that time it felt to me like I had just aced Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France! I’ve learned to appreciate every ride I make, good, bad or indifferent!



Anyone who has ever planned on quitting a race, but kept going because you didn’t want to disappoint a loved one will understand why Bikepbp’s entry is a finalist.


I entered Paris-Brest-Paris in ‘03 after training from January of that year til August. (PBP is an ultramarathon ((1200 km)) road ride held once every 4 years and is older than the Tour.) I thought I was in good shape having trained between 4 and 5 thousand miles in preparation but I’d never done a ride like this straight through with little sleep.

At the end of one of the four qualifying rides I found a small stuffed dog that I brought home for my young daughter. She gave it back to me before I left for France for good luck–good thing she did. I zip-tied it on the back of my saddlebag and started the ride with some friends from NYC.

On Thursday night, sometime after midnight, so I guess it was really Friday morning, I couldn’t go on because of back pain and sleep deprivation (1.5 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday night). I told my friends to go on without me or they wouldn’t make the cut off time of 90 hours for the 750 miles. I just laid down on the side of the road and tried to rest my back and sleep.

As I was laying under my space blanket, I saw the stuffed dog on my bike and thought about how disappointed my daughter would be if I didn’t finish this thing so I got back on the bike and rode to the next check point. They told me I was just within the time limit so I took a short nap and rode on.

I was so inspired that at the finish I had caught up to my friends and we all finished about the same time well within the time limit and I was able to call my daughter back in the states and tell her that I finished–in French; which was our code for telling her that I finished under the time limit.

I’ll never forget that ride or the dog or the inspiration the dog (from my daughter) gave me.



Nathan’s sneaky. He entered two of his favorites. The thing is, they’re both great favorites. A five day self-supported bike outing as an early teen. Your first big paceline ride. Who wouldn’t keep those as favorite memories?


1. First completely independent bike trip – my brother and I (11 & 13) left on a Wednesday with nothing but tarps, sleeping bags, some changes of underwear (this was pre biking shorts for us) and $50 bucks apiece. We were gone for four nights and 5 days riding around the San Juan islands, humping it up Mt. Constitution, sleeping in farmers fields and generally having a complete blast (’80s reference since that was the era). We called from about 20 miles out on Sunday and my dad drove back up our route home to take some pictures. He caught a shot of us that to this day is about the happiest I have ever seen myself on a bike.


2. Fast forward 5 years. Now I’m 18 and starting to race seriously. So as training I entered the Seattle to Portland, opting for the double century since I couldn’t get off work for two days. I will never forget sliding into my first real paceline (more then 5 people). The absolute rush of watching the lead person swing off and drop back and then me being the very tip of this 50 person snake of energy. I try to keep it smooth, marvel that maintaining 27 mph for 5 seconds is easy, drift over to the leeward side, wait for (interminably) that tap on the rear that signals the second to last rider then slide in and hunker down in the biggest draft of my life. I remember that day because riding was still effortless and new and I did 200 miles at a crack in under 10 hours.


My Sister Kellene

I’ve told my sister Kellene’s amazing crash story before, but it’s her story to tell, and she’s justly proud of the fact that even after that she still rides.


So…I am sure I could win the bag if I tell my story of my most memorable day on the bike! Actually the most memorable for my husband since he had to do the rescuing .I am not proud of my ridiculous fall, but very proud of my super hero husband that came to the rescue of his broken wife!

I took the most amazing fall! Fell 20+ feet right on my face on a pile of boulders. No rolling, just straight free fall! Many injuries to sport around and be proud of:

broken jaw, 14 broken teeth, broken wrist and arm, sheered off kneecap, stitches in arm, chin, and lip and beautiful black eyes..

After lots of dental work, braces, new teeth, and plastic surgery I am better than ever! You can check out my $30,000 smile on Rocky’s blog!!!

I guess the proud part for me is that I still ride! Thanks to my Rockheaded husband! He got me back on the bike while I still had a cast on! Just around the neighborhood. Then for my first ride he patiently went with me to the place of impact and coached me through it.

I love riding, and hate being a "girl" on the bike. For that I am proud!



Dug has done what I could never do.


Once I sat through the entire 6 hour BBC version of pride and prejudice. I didn’t ask my wife to pause it when I had to pee, but I think it still counts.



DPCowboy describes what most of us can only wonder about: what would it be like to ride with the big boys?


I had an experience back in 1978 that I will never (ever) forget. It was the highlight of an incongruous number of years when I thought I was a good roadie (but wasn’t) and was struggling (although I didn’t know it at the time) to find a niche in cycling that worked for my particular set of skills.

I was racing in the Tour of Bisbee, a short stage race in Southeastern Arizona that had a kind of "down home" feel to it with a lot of civic involvement. It was a team stage race primarily, and a lot of the then current hot roadies were there (Boyer, Howard, Cook, etc.). It was the first or second stage, a 100 mi. (or so) road race where I found myself in the front of the group, knowing that two teammates ( and three or four others) had slipped away at the start of the race, and were smokin’ it 7 or 8 minutes clear of the field.

The hotshots didn’t know, and the surprise they showed when they got a "time check" (you know, that little guy on the motorcycle with the chalkboard?) about 70 miles into the race, and, well, it was an interesting reaction.

This was the first, real experience I have had with the "hammer going down", and it went down hard, believe me. I sat on, for dear life, for about 20 miles, as the field dwindled to just a few, and the last climb (a long one…six or seven miles) started. I have never been so absolutely shelled and wasted, but I hung on as long as I could, and Cook, Boyer and Howard, especially, rolled up that climb so fast, it was mindboggling….like 53 x17 fast.

I couldn’t help wondering, and have been thinking about it ever since…what if I could have stayed on? Logically, there was no way…the nuclear blast that shattered me was irrevocable. They (I think just Bob Cook (RIP) and John Howard) eventually caught the break, and Cook won the stage, but my teammate beat Howard in a two up sprint for second. I crawled in and died a thousand agonizing deaths, and started the very next day, and most days after that, with new expectations.


From Time to Time, I Do Not Suck

01.18.2006 | 4:50 pm

Most rides I do don’t really stand out from each other. I enjoy what I’m doing while I’m doing it, maybe have a few highlights I’ll tell friends about later, and then let the recollection of that ride drift off into this big, warm, fuzzy collective memory I have of biking.

There are, however, certain exceptions.

Occasionally, something big enough happens that the memory of the ride — or part of the ride — remains clear in my mind forever. My crash at Gold Bar Rim, resulting in a terrific photo. My crash on a local trail, resulting in facial scarring. My crash at Brian Head, forcing me to ride without a seat. Yeah, crashes are easy to remember.

Even more occasionally, though, I’ll do something I’m really proud of, and that memory sticks with me, too.

Today, I’m going to push the crashes out of my mind, and talk about some of my favorite mountain biking accomplishments.


Practice Run

I give Dug lots of grief about being churlish, but the reality is he’s about the best biking ambassador I’ve ever known. I am just one of probably more than twenty people he has brought into the sport. He introduced me to a jeep trail I could get to from my house. The first time we rode it, I was hooked.

In reality, it wasn’t an especially technical trail, nor a long trail, nor a steep trail. But for a beginner, it was all of those things. The steep pitches were too much for my legs. The gravel and embedded rocks would throw me off my line. I’d be tired and out of breath before I got to the final, long climb.

It was, in short, a perfect challenge for a beginning cyclist.

I started riding that trail every day, trying to string the whole thing together without putting a foot down. If I spun out toward the beginning, I’d turn around and go back to the bottom to try again. Once I spun out at the very end, in the final pitch, and rode back down the entire 2.5 mile course to do the whole thing over.

Toward the end of the season, I finally did it. I rode the entirety of my practice run without ever taking my feet off my pedals. I had built this up into such a huge deal that actually completing it seemed really remarkable. I told all of my friends about this huge achievement, who seemed a little confused. “You mean, you sometimes do put a foot down on that road?” Bob asked. “I can’t think of anywhere you’d need to do that.”

Sure enough, a couple years later — just for nostalgia — I rode what our group now called “Elden’s Practice Run,” and found that there’s nothing noteworthy, difficult, or otherwise impressive about this little trail.

But it was still my first big triumph, and it still feels like a big deal.


Finishing the Cascade Creampuff

I had heard the Cascade Creampuff was difficult, but I’d done the Leadville 100 several times and figured that it couldn’t be much harder. They were both 100 mile mountain bike races, and the Creampuff is in Oregon at a nice low altitude, so I expected it to be about the same effort.

I was a fool.

The Creampuff has you do three laps of a 33 mile course. You climb about 6000 feet — mostly on graded dirt road — for eighteen miles or so, then descend on tight singletrack for about fifteen miles. So by the end of the day, you’ve done 18,000 feet of climbing, as opposed to the 12,000 or so you’ve done at Leadville. That’s 50% more climbing, for those keeping track.

The climb of the first lap of the Creampuff seemed easy. I was having so much fun. I was passing people, goofing off, and rolling a nice, high tempo. I expected to place very well in the race.

The descent on that first lap was incredible. I had never ridden such great singletrack, nor seen such incredible trees. This was going to be the best day ever, I could tell.

As I finished the first lap, I told my wife (crewing for me) that I was having a banner day, that I loved this course, and that I’d see her in another 3.5 hours.

Then the climb for the second lap began, and I bonked hard. I was soft-pedaling in my granny, unable to give it any more than that. I could not see any possible way I would finish this race. But even as I contemplated how I was going to quit, I kept pedaling. I’d quit at the next aid station.

It took forever, but I did get to the aid station. I decided to eat and drink for half an hour, and then I’d quit. By the time I had rested that long, though, I decided that I could make it to the next aid station, and would quit there.

I played that game the whole rest of the lap. I would quit, but I’d do it at the next checkpoint. Finally, when I met my wife, I said it out loud: “I quit.”

“No, you can’t,” she said.

“I’m done. Seriously,” I said.

“You will hate yourself forever,” she said.

I knew it was true. I would.

Sullenly, I got on the bike, and started the third lap. It was only a little bit harder than the second one.

I don’t remember my finish time for the Cascade Creampuff — something close to 14 hours, I think — but I do remember crying with relief when the finish line came into view at the end of the third lap. I quit dozens (hundreds) of times that day, but finished the race anyway.

I owe my wife big time on this one.


24 Hours of Moab, Duo Team

Racing the 24 Hours of Moab in the Duo Pro/Expert division (two guys taking turns racing a technically demanding 15.7 mile course for 24 hours) with my friend Brad was probably the most intense race I have ever done.

Brad and I agreed to do sets of two laps, giving each other more opportunity to rest between turns. That meant I wouldn’t have anything to do for at least the first couple hours of the race, except wish that I had worked harder at staying in shape.

Brad and I turned in very consistent times, though we stopped doing two-lap turns fairly quickly. As the day turned to night, we slowed down, going from 1:20 laps to 1:50 laps.

Between laps I had a pretty effective regimen going. Go back to the camp, give my bike to Jeremy (our mechanic), go back to my car, start the engine and turn on the heater, make a sandwich (Great Harvest bread, smoked turkey, lots of mayo) while the car warms up, climb into the back seat and change into the clothes for my next lap, eat the sandwich and drink about a quart of water, refill my Camelbak, rest for about 20 minutes, go to the restroom, then back to the staging area and wait for Brad.

Toward the end of his seventh lap, Brad bonked. And when Brad bonks, he really bonks. As he handed me the baton, he said that he had done the math and figured that I would finish my next lap (my seventh) by about 11:40 — twenty minutes before the race was over. He was completely fried, he said, and there was no way he was going to do another lap.

"You have to!" I yelled.

"No way," he said.

"You have to!" I reiterated, just in case I had been unclear the first time.

"No way," he said, just in case I hadn’t caught the subtle nuances of his previous statement.

For emphasis, I yelled "You have to!" one more time, climbed on my bike and took off.

For the bulk of that lap, I was preoccupied with what we would do when I finished my lap. At first I figured that Brad would see that he had a moral obligation to do that lap and would be at the staging area ready to go when I pulled in. Then I thought about it a little harder and decided that if Brad said he was cooked, he was really cooked. I didn’t want to hold back, though, and intentionally turn in a slow lap for my final effort. I had treated this event like a serious race for 23 hours; I was going to finish it like a serious race. I decided that if Brad wasn’t able to do the final lap, I’d do it.

Around 11:25 I pulled into Jeremy’s pit stop and asked if Brad had suited up for another lap. The people sitting around (Jeremy was crewing for more than ten people) said he hadn’t and that I should just sit down and chill out until noon. Instead, I handed Jeremy my bike and asked him to lube the chain while I filled up my Camelbak. I don’t know if there were really wild cheers all around, but it seemed like it at the time and drove my morale right through the roof. I took off for lap number 8.

Stuff I had been blowing through in my middle ring now required a granny gear. I walked things that I would never walk. I felt like I was out there forever, but the actual time wasn’t much different than my other times for the day: 1:49. Good enough for a fourth-place finish.


The Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Giveaway: Your Turn

What have you done on a bike — something you’ll always remember — that you’re really proud of?

Three Tries

01.17.2006 | 4:06 pm

If I have a gift in cycling, it’s in the ability to keep turning the cranks. Which is to say, I certainly don’t have any special talent in the technical mountain biking arena.

And yet, if you were to compare my technical biking skill, it would be very nearly above average. I can ride up and down minor ledges. I can go over moderate-size logs. I can navigate hairpin turns, as long as they are not terribly tight. I can, if the situation requires, ride up short stretches of loose shale.

How is it I can perform all these magnificent feats of derring-do? I think I can narrow it down to one particular thing.

The Three Try Rule.


How the Three Try Rule Works

I started riding with The Core Team (Bob, Dug, Rick, Brad, Kenny) after the Rule had been established, so I’m afraid I can’t offer any insight into its history. However, the premise of the Rule is elegant both in its simplicity and usefulness.


Any rider can try any move three times.


This means that if, as you’re riding on a trail, you dab (put a foot down), crab (hit a rock with your pedal, throwing you off your line or off your bike), or just plain fall down, you get to go back and try it another two times.

By itself, that doesn’t seem like much of a Rule. The Three Try Rule, however, has an extensive set of supporting corollaries that give it its true power.

  • A Move is What You Think it Is: If, either on-trail or off-trail, you find a series of logs, rocks, ledges, roots, or any other interesting challenge, you can call it a move and commence to try to clean (successfully ride over) it three times.
  • Exception 1: If you’ve been declaring move after move after move, to the point that the group hasn’t moved 50 yards in the past four hours, people will start to find you annoying.
  • Exception 2: If everyone’s tired from a whole day of riding and just wanting to get back to the trailhead (except you), there are no moves. Just shut up, will you?
  • Stick Together: Once a move has been declared, all shall gather around the move to analyze, admire, pick lines, and give advice.
  • Peer Pressure: When at the move, nobody is required to do the move. However, you are a chicken if you don’t. You’re not a chicken, are you? C’mon. Just try it once. Everyone’s doing it.
  • Turns: After trying the move, you shall return to the back of the line to wait your turn for the next try.
    • Exception 1: If you actually cleaned the move, you get to remain at the top.
    • Exception 2: If you missed the move but had an epiphany that will almost certainly get you a “clean,” you can ask for (and usually receive) cuts in line and an immediate extra turn. If, during your extra turn, you fail, you are a dork.
  • Advice from the Successful: If you clean the move, you may remain at the top of the move and offer advice, encouragement, and commentary, though not to the point of being distracting while the next person is attempting the move.
    • Addendum 1: Encouragement, advice, and commentary may be useful or useless in nature, but must be at least moderately entertaining. If you aren’t funny, shut up.
    • Addendum 2: If you clean the move on your first try, but nobody else does, you are The Champ.
    • Addendum 3: If you are the Champ, your advice must be taken seriously. The move is your throne.
    • Addendum 4: The Champ gets to make a short speech, usually thanking all the little people, and concluding that this is something they can’t take away from you.
  • Additional Tries Available by Request: If you were Soooooo close on your third try, you may make an emotional appeal for another try, and another. And another.
    • Ennui Override: At some point, you need to let it go. You’ll get it next time. Let’s move on. Seriously. It’s getting dark.
  • Mulligan: If you make a boneheaded mistake in the approach to the move — can’t get clipped in, slide out in gravel, feel a certain bad juju in the air — you may call “Mulligan,” and try again. One Mulligan per person per move, please.
  • Acceptable Use: The Three Try Rule may be used alone or in groups, but is much more fun in groups. 
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