04.6.2006 | 4:27 pm

I was in Utah a full 30 hours before I went on a mountain bike ride, so you’ve got to admire my personal restraint and single-minded focus on my new job.


Preparing for the Ride

I met Kenny, Bry, and Rick at the parking lot of the Grove Canyon Trail. We all just call it “Grove,” though. Kenny was putting the final touches on my brand new, never-rode-it-before bike: a Fisher Paragon. And by “final touches,” I mean that he had put about fifteen extra reflectors on it.


By getting a Paragon, I had completed my assimilation into the group. All four of us were riding 29" Paragons. Two yellow (this year’s color), two deep red (last year’s color).

Sadly, Rick had forgotten his helmet and bike shoes. This would not have happened if Rick would learn and use what I like to call “The Mountain Bike Checklist Ditty.” It goes like this:

The Mountain Bike Checklist Ditty

Air pressure, lube and tube

Don’t forget the CO2

Water in the bottle too

Always wear a helmet!


Shoes and socks and shorts and shirt

Cell phone in case you get hurt

MTB, ride on the dirt

Now you’re set to go!

copyright 2006 Fat Cyclist Productions. All rights reserved

OK, I admit: I just made up that ditty. But (I’ll further admit), I’m now rather smitten by it. I think I’ll memorize it and start using it.

I encourage you to do likewise.


And Now, Back to the Ride

Rick borrowed a helmet from Kenny. This helmet was far too small for Rick’s enormous melon, and perched comically atop his noggin. On the plus side, it did make Rick seem much taller.

For shoes, Rick was out of luck. He wore his street shoes, and did not complain about them even once during the ride. Props to Rick.

Grove starts out easy. Deceptively so. You start by riding along wide, gently climbing dirt road, chatting and joking with your riding buddies. This goes on for about a mile.

Then you take a right turn, and everyone stops talking. That’s because suddenly Grove gets brutally steep, and it stays steep for the rest of the ride.

At first, it’s just steep dirt road, which is not too big a deal. Just scoot forward on the seat, drop down a gear, and pedal.

Then it turns left into a steep gully and gets technical. Hoo boy. I feared this moment. I’ve cleaned that chute maybe 10% of the times I’ve tried it, and I am not currently in the best shape of my life.

I cleaned it. No slipping, no problems. Maybe there’s something to this 29" wheel thing.

Kenny shot on ahead, while I — strategically weaving and blocking the trail — kept Rick and Bry from passing.



After the first set of climbs, we traditionally regroup at a little fire ring. Everyone was really kind, avoiding looking at my gut, not mentioning how Rick was climbing better in his penny loafers than I was in full MTB kit.

Then we started again.

The second half of the climb is even more difficult than the first half. While slightly less steep, it’s absolutely relentless, and it’s almost entirely on loose shale. With serious exposure on the right side. Slip a foot to the right and you’ll be lucky to live. Or unlucky, maybe. Let’s not talk about this anymore, OK? I’m getting queasy.

We got to the bench — someone built a little park bench way up on this treacherous trail as a monument to a lost outdoorsman; best tribute I’ve ever seen — without hitting any snow. That’s about 2000 feet of climbing in about four miles (purely a guess).


We couldn’t continue on past the bridge, though; the north side of Grove is always a muddy, snowy mess long after the South side is clean and clear.

Time to descend.



I developed a couple theories as I rode down this shale-with-death-inducing-exposure:

  • Descending skills get rusty when not practiced
  • Rick is completely insane. He descended faster — a lot faster — than I did while wearing penny loafers perched on his clipless pedals. Freaky.

I got to the bottom without any problems, though I’m sure I looked ridiculously tentative. I know I sure felt ridiculously tentative.

I still beat Bry to the bottom, though.



My legs hurt.

My stomach is huge.

I’m glad to be back.



  1. Comment by craig | 04.6.2006 | 4:43 pm

    ahhh  don’t worry FC, those extra reflectors
    a.  added to much weight for you to be expected to climb like everyone knows you can
    2. were probably deliberately placed to create an artificial imbalance on the bike so that you had problems descending.

  2. Comment by Unknown | 04.6.2006 | 4:45 pm

    Is that trail just up above PG? I’ve lived in Orem for about 7 years now, and I’ve never been up that way. How does the steepness compare to Dry Creek (above Lindon)?

  3. Comment by Zed | 04.6.2006 | 5:02 pm

    Wasn’t the bike you killed a Paragon? Does your new Paragon know about that?

  4. Comment by Unknown | 04.6.2006 | 5:15 pm

    Grove Creek was one of the first trails I rode when I arrived in Utah.  Everytime I ride that trail I have a battle with myself.  I always ride the cliff-exposure parts and hate myself for doing it.  I’ve knicknamed it "the worlds most dangerous trail".  If 1/10 the people rode that trail as ride the portal trail in Moab, Grove would be universally known as a killer. 
    P.S. I may be getting Grove Creek and Battle Creek mixed up.

  5. Comment by Unknown | 04.6.2006 | 5:38 pm

    elden, please never ever again use the term "kit" when describing your bike crap. the proper term is, of course, "bike crap."
    why was kenny riding a paragon? i thought he had made a vow of singleness? he’s the only guy i know who can ride grove on a single.
    for those asking, yes, grove is above pleasant grove, and if you compare it to dry creek, it depends on which part of dry creek you’re talking about. if you refer to the part between the dirt parking lot and where it widens above the big cliffs, then grove is definitely steeper, which is no poor reflection on dry, cuz dry is a great trail, but doesn’t have the death defying exposure grove has.
    battle creek, which is between grove and dry, is a beautiful canyon, but almost completely unsuitable for biking, unless you go up grove, across sagebrush flat, and down battle creek. but my experience says that the best way down from grove is grove, not battle.

  6. Comment by barry1021 | 04.6.2006 | 7:14 pm

    Complaint: Filed in the State of Utah 04/06/06
    Against: Fat Cyclist (FC)
    From: His roadie blog fans
    Whereas  FC has moved his residence back to Utah,
    and Whereas by his own claim Utah has some of the best mountain biking anywhere, and
    Whereas FC is on the PUBLIC RECORD as preferring mountain to road:
    Be it known that we, the FC Followers that Prefer Road to MTB or Perhaps Just Ride Road (FCFPRMTBPJRR) do hereby say
     and do warn FC that if severe imbalances occur between road and mountain blogs that we the FCFPRMTBPJRR do retain the right to say Pah! at will and perhaps mosey off to other blogs whose blogger at least balances heretofore mentioned road with mountain blogs.
    Affixed with Seal of Lammler this day.

  7. Comment by Unknown | 04.6.2006 | 7:20 pm

    i’m just glad you are back.  realizing, course that your return represents a now-less-than-bright mountain biking future for me (I had sworn off of those utah valley trails for life), you will get back to your old tricks of dragging me into that ridiculous little shop of horrors you call a mountain biking trail network to watch me discombobulate.
    how’s the paragon?
    props to rick–he’s the toughest guy I barely know.  and he’s the only guy I know that talks to his "little buddy," even when he’s hurt.

  8. Comment by Unknown | 04.6.2006 | 7:33 pm

    What Barry said. 
    And this sentence:
    Rick is completely insane. He descended faster — a lot faster — than I did while wearing penny loafers perched on his clipless pedals…
    makes me think I have to get a pair of those penny loafer MTB shoes.  Not only are they good, but you were able to use Rick’s clipless pedals while you were riding.  I wonder what Rick was wearing while he rode, and whose pedals he was perched on? 

  9. Comment by Kenny | 04.6.2006 | 7:35 pm

    Fatty is just being modest.  He hasn’t missed a beat, since he moved to sea level.  If anything, all that flat commuting has made him faster.  I can’t recall riding grove with FC when he climbed or decended faster than he did yesterday.
    dug, I found out last year that if I race my single on the weekend and ride it during the week, I dig myself into a very big hole that’s hard to climb out of. Plus, the paragon is a super fun bike to ride.

  10. Comment by uncadan8 | 04.6.2006 | 8:04 pm

    Fatty’s inadvertent use of the word "kit" reveals his true love of being a roadie. He is a mountain biker poseur.

  11. Comment by barry1021 | 04.6.2006 | 8:32 pm

    Great grammatical catch–just to emphasize, FC, your incorrect placement of the modifier produced an ambiguous sentence. And you wrote SWAMMED too! HA HA
    This are proof positive that you is not to mess with us roadies-we is too damned smart for you.

  12. Comment by Sue | 04.6.2006 | 9:18 pm

    As I crammed my mouth full of Lays Cheddar and Sour Cream chips and ready Kenny’s post, "Fatty is just being modest.  He hasn’t missed a beat, since he moved to sea level.  If anything, all that flat commuting has made him faster.  I can’t recall riding grove with FC when he climbed or decended faster than he did yesterday,"  I had only one thought: Uh Oh.
    P.S. Since punctuation and syntax are a re-occuring topic here, I wonder about the above sentence into which I pasted two sentences and made into a paragraph. . .

  13. Comment by Kenny | 04.6.2006 | 9:46 pm

    My bad.  I thought I was in a biking blog, not an english grammer, lets show everyone how clever I am,symposiam.

  14. Comment by uncadan8 | 04.6.2006 | 10:09 pm

    We just wish we were as cool as Fatty and his friends, so we have to pick on something. By the way it is "symposium." Notice the placement of the period.

  15. Comment by Sue | 04.6.2006 | 10:19 pm

    Kenny, I was referring to my sentence, not yours.
    P.S. I show people how smart I am by being an under-employed 35 year old who is moving back in with his mother-in-law.

  16. Comment by Kenny | 04.6.2006 | 11:18 pm

    Alright, I guess I’m just being too sensitive.  I just ride bikes.  I don’t care about spelling or grammer. I thought you were making fun of me. I don’t even know what syntax means.

  17. Comment by Andrew | 04.6.2006 | 11:46 pm

    By "cool" are you implying that the ambient tempurature was low, or that FC is reptilian and poikilothermic? Or might I infer that you think FC has a very fashionable demeanor? Your choice of words seems, well, oh dear, horribly imprecise.

  18. Comment by uncadan8 | 04.7.2006 | 1:03 am

    TWL – Utah would be fairly cool in the mountains this time of year (note his reference to the snow), I suppose. I cannot speak to Fatty’s genetic heritage, so I’ll leave that to him. And as for Fatty’s fashion sense, his "kit" works. His humorous, self-deprecating demeanor in this forum is refreshing, and, therefore, most definitely, cool.

  19. Comment by Teresa | 04.7.2006 | 2:16 am

    Well I don’t know if Mr FC is cool, but this is the only blog I read and I don’t ride (much).  He’s got a je ne sais quoi.  I certainly enjoy all the comments too!

  20. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 04.7.2006 | 11:49 am

    Even trackies don’t have a "kit".  That’s 100% roadie.
    Ha Ha.  Face it, you’re a roadie convert.  Skinnie tyres are your destiny.  It won’t be long before the Pista starts calling your name in the middle of the night.  Roadies who can pedal circles at 100+rpm quickly succumb to the siren call of the velodrome.

  21. Comment by Unknown | 04.7.2006 | 1:08 pm

    To clear up a few points…
    My modifiers were placed in the proper places.  I did hang a participle and misuse a pronoun, however, and those are things up with which us should not put.  And Kenny, don’t sweat it man.  I’m sure you know what syntax is.  Ever wonder why booze is so expensive in Utah?  It’s because the government imposed a steep syntax on it.  I can’t even imagine what sex costs there – probably $40,000 or so, which everybody knows is the cost of dinner, a movie, and a nice wedding reception for 400 of your closest friends.
    Finally, "kit?"  "Kit?"  What is this, Knight Rider?  Is Fatty actually David Hasselhof in disguise?  I have to think that BIg Mike is right, Fatty has been captured by mind-sucking aliens and turned into a roadie, maybe even a roadracer or that distilled essence of roadie, a trackie.  Soon he will turn snotty towards all lesser riders, and start abasing himself Omega Dog-style before anybody who can drop him on a climb or outsprint him.  If his wife is in a hurry to get to the PTA meeting, he will insist that she draft her minivan behind his Yukon for two thirds of the way to the meeting, because "it’s always faster with a good leadout."   He will start to think that proper bicycle japery necessarily involves nudity, humiliation, bloodshed and preferably some broken carbon components, none of this gentle "filled my buddy’s tires with water" stuff.  And his grammar and spelling will improve markedly.  He will start shaving on weekends, and not just his hairy back.  Women will love him, but he will love only a 12 pound bicycle.  (In a manly but entirely natural way, I assure you).  He will consign his baggy shorts to the uses for which baggy shorts are meant – attending cookouts and swimmming.  Most of all, he will stop being a Fat Cyclist, because unlike Mountain Biking, there are no weight classes in roadracing.
    Either that, or shamed by this mindless abuse, he’lll resolve to stop saying "bike kit" annd just call it "my s417" like the rest of us uncultured swine.

  22. Comment by Chris | 04.7.2006 | 6:37 pm

    Four grown men wearing skintight "kits" with matching bicycles.  Am I missing something?

  23. Comment by Andrew | 04.7.2006 | 6:47 pm

    Al, that was EXACTLY what I was trying to say.

  24. Comment by Jack | 04.7.2006 | 7:52 pm

    I’m not here to pug my own site.. because I enjoyed reading this site’s content very much.btw..Visit my site! – It’s pugarific!

  25. Comment by Yi-Hsiao | 04.8.2006 | 8:55 am

    I’m a roadie for life. In fact, I used to be a triathlete. Reading his previous post about triathletes was a good laugh. Keep up the cycling humor, I enjoy it very much.

  26. Comment by Sue | 04.9.2006 | 2:49 am

    Geez, aren’t people who do Tri’s wacky?
    P.S. ALL X’s are Y’s.

  27. Comment by Unknown | 04.9.2006 | 5:24 pm

    Just checking out the what’s your story spaces for ideas.  You have lots of interesting links.  Congrats on a great space and we wish you well.
    Jenna & Lexie

  28. Comment by Sue | 04.10.2006 | 4:30 am

    Did you ever wind up doing any track races?  I remember you said the races weren’t held on a convenient day or something.  What about cyclocross?  Weren’t you going to do some cyclocross races last fall?

  29. Comment by cawddup | 04.10.2006 | 8:08 am

    Elvis writes:"Four grown men wearing skintight "kits" with matching bicycles.  Am I missing something?"Fatty’s luxury body?

  30. Comment by barry1021 | 04.10.2006 | 1:31 pm

    What I learned about Fixies yesterday:
    It does take getting used to, and the last habit that has to be unlearned is to not pedal at an unexpected event–I have only 50 miles on my fixed gear and I was smugly thinking that I was used to it. I was out of the saddle on a gentle climb going over 15MPH when I hit a bump and some road sand left over from the winter. In that split second I resorted to instinct and habit and made the big mistake:
    I stopped pedaling.
    Since I was already standing my considerable weight was moved over the handlebar in a half turn of the pedal. I don’t remember much of the fall except that it hurt like hell on my left hip and butt (thankfully mostly butt). Interestingly my entire groin area is extremely sore and preventing me from walking normally (think Penguin). Not sure how or why this is, but I feel very lucky and I have all the more respect for racers who crash and continue, and especially for FC’s sister. THis was the worst fall that I have had to date and Lord willing, the worst that I will have. I still love my fixie too!!

  31. Comment by Chris | 04.10.2006 | 8:00 pm

    That is too good.  Elvis

  32. Comment by Azriel | 04.11.2006 | 3:03 pm

    Well… in order not to forget I simply touch each part of my body (in the cleanest manner!) from top to bottom and say the name of the thingie that goes there:helmet, shades, shirt, camelback (when offroad), food (favorite part) n drinks, tights,cellphone, socks, shoes. The bike itself usually is not forgotten.If I go seriouse offraod then I have protective gear that fits in the right timing while performing the aforementioned act…

  33. Comment by Unknown | 04.11.2006 | 7:11 pm

    Take Midol.  This should take care of it.  Oh, and make sure your string
    isn’t showing…
    Rick S.


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