Weapon of Choice

08.7.2006 | 5:54 pm

A Moderately Special Note from Fatty: Usually, I try to keep The Fat Cyclist from being too bike-geeky of a blog. Today, though, it’s all about the hardware. For those of you who don’t ride at all, or just ride your bikes without obsessing about gear, you have both my apology (for what is about to follow) and my admiration (for keeping it simple and not ratholing into the dark underbelly of the cycling industry: bike porn).
This Saturday, I’ll be racing the Leadville 100 for the tenth time. For the first time in a long time, I’m light and fast. I really, really, really want to turn in a fast time. In fact, I’ll be trying hard for under nine hours.
There’s a big chunk of me, though, that says, "You haven’t ever been able to do this race in under nine hours. Why would you be able to now?"
My response to this internal skeptic is: "Now I have the Weapon of Choice."
Philosophy of the Weapon of Choice
I do not need to be particularly comfortable when I race the Leadville 100; I have demonstrated that I am capable of suffering all day. However, on a course that has 12,000 feet of climbing and is all about 9500 feet, I do need a bike that is light. And with a course that is fairly non-technical, with lots of open rolling, I need a bike that can build and hold momentum.
This ought to do nicely:
Click for larger image
Let’s Get Specific
OK, so you can see it’s a Fisher Paragon. (Or, since I still haven’t replaced the broken camera and am therefore still using the camera in my phone, maybe you can’t see it’s a Fisher Paragon. Sorry!)
But I’ve made a few changes.
First off, I had Racer of Racers Cycle Service build me a lighter set of wheels. This is the first change anyone who wants a faster bike has to make. Less rotating weight =  faster bike. Racer built me wheels using DT Swiss 240s hubs and Bontrager Race Lite Disc rims. He also set my wheels up with Stan’s Notubes, which is a crazy combination of an airtight rimstrip and some liquid latex in your tires. Fewer flats, and a lighter wheel. I’ve had Stan’s before and did not have a great experience with it, so am a little bit nervous about this part of the whole setup. But if you can’t trust your mechanic, who can you trust, right?
Maxxis Igniter tires round out the wheelsets.
Let’s Get Sexy
Without a doubt, the sexiest upgrade I’ve made to my bike are the Magura Marta SL disc brakes. I sometimes just go out to my garage and look at those discs. They’re things of beauty, I tell you. Oh, and they’re also really light.
Coming in at second place in the sexy upgrade category is the new cockpit:
Click for larger image
Lots is going on here. The stem: Easton EA70. The handlebar: Easton MonkeyLite SL. The shifters: SRAM X0. All these changes probably bought me at least an ounce and a half. Easily.
And coming in third for the Sexiest Upgrade contest: the Bontrager Carbon seatpost. It’s sexy, but you know, there’s nothing in the world that’s going to change the fact that it’s just a seatpost.
Let’s Get Wacky
Here’s the part I’ve been saving up, the part that changes my Paragon from a bike into a weapon. Check it out:
Click for larger image
I’m guessing some people immediately noticed the boldness of what I have done here, while some of you have no idea how this front end is any different from any MTB front end. For those of you who are not so geeky as to notice what I’ve done, here’s a hint:
I replaced the suspension fork with a carbon fiber fork: a Bontrager Race Lite.
Yeah, I’m racing Leadville fully rigid.
Because it saved me about 1.5 pounds, first of all. And the course isn’t that technical. And, as I mentioned before, I don’t mind suffering a little bit. It’ll be good for me.
Other Goodies
Oh, I’ve done more. Consider:
  • XTR Cassette
  • SRAM XO Rear derailleur
  • A yard of duct tape wrapped around the seatpost
  • Oh, and one other very, very important thing:

Click for larger image

What It All Means
Racer has built me the lightest, climbiest 29"-wheeled bike I could ever hope for: 22.5lbs. I took it out for a four-hour shakedown ride last Saturday, and it’s a climber’s dream. Then I took it out this morning on Hog’s Hollow and got a little more comfortable with downhilling on a fully rigid bike.

This bike has the potential to either deliver me the best time at Leadville I’ve ever had, or to rattle my brains out by mile 60.

I can hardly wait to find out which happens.


  1. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 08.7.2006 | 6:19 pm

    Bold move. I agree with the strategy to try to switch things up to see if you can break through to a new paradigm. 
    Since my public adoration of your logo didn’t garner a single comment from anyone (including you!) I will withold all comment on the logo and it’s potential use on a bumper sticker and/or jersey, except to say that I prefer the vertically oriented version for bumpers and jerseys, and could be persuaded to put the bike sticker on one or two of my rides. 

  2. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 08.7.2006 | 6:20 pm

    You know what would really make that bike a weapon? Carbon Fiber Cranks!

  3. Comment by Tim D | 08.7.2006 | 6:21 pm

    What’s the golden rule?  You know the golden rule. Change nothing on raceday!
    You are going to die.  If Mrs Cyclist is reading, make him change it all back now before you become the Widow Cyclist. 

  4. Comment by UltraRob | 08.7.2006 | 6:22 pm

    I’m really, really going to want to hear how you like the carbon fiber fork.  I agree that Leadville is a course for a hardtail and regretted the year I went full suspension.  I was mountain bike racing before there were suspension forks and when they came out I thought guys were sissies for using them.  When I made the switch, I didn’t like how I didn’t get good feedback on traction.  The suspension forks have gotten better and I’ve gotten older.  Right now I have a rigid fork on and smooth, gravel trails are great with it but when it gets rocky I get really beat up.  I can almost see using the rigid fork at Leadville except for coming off the top of Columbine and from the top of Sugar Loaf down to the Haggerman Pass road is going to hurt unless the carbon fiber does some good dampening.

  5. Comment by craig | 08.7.2006 | 6:36 pm


  6. Comment by Unknown | 08.7.2006 | 6:37 pm

    Nice ride Fatty! Good luck in the race.
    I agree with Botched about the logo – jerseys and bumper stickers are in order. That frame sticker is nice too. I’d put that on my bikes. How about a sticker givaway?

  7. Comment by Unknown | 08.7.2006 | 6:58 pm

    Hmm…Another way to shed weight would be to remove all those extra gears.  It’s not too late to go single for Leadville.  I’m just saying.
    By the way, Dug and I were out this morning on Hog (no "S") Hollow.  Sorry we missed you.
    Rick S.

  8. Comment by Random Reviewer | 08.7.2006 | 7:06 pm

    you’re just taunting me now, right? it can’t be an accident.
    i am going to free a dozen wild hogs into that fenced area next to your house you used to call your yard.
    now your yard will be HOG’S HOLLOW.

  9. Comment by Unknown | 08.7.2006 | 7:22 pm

    Super sexy ride!  I’m jealous.  Botched, I asked about getting fat cyclist jerseys back when he first added the logo, and I didn’t get a response, either.  I think we need a full fat cyclist kit.  I’d go for one.

  10. Comment by Tim D | 08.7.2006 | 7:26 pm

    Given time to think on this, I have reaslised the brilliance of this move.  You have made modifications that would seemingly give you the best advantage and increase your chances of a sub-9 hour ride, whilst at the same time giving you ready made excuses if you don’t.  Just think how much easier that 22lb beauty will be to carry when your Stans blow out.  And when the 9 hour mark clicks by and you are still only at mile 85, be sure to whack that carbon fork into the bigest rock you can find.
    Good luck

  11. Comment by Tim D | 08.7.2006 | 7:34 pm

    PS  I’d be in for a Fat Cyclist cycling shirt.  Its a shame CafePress don’t do cyclist shirts

  12. Comment by pete | 08.7.2006 | 8:27 pm

    Never mind this being the tenth time you’ve ridden the damned thing, this is my second Leadville 100 as a Fat Cyclist reader and that takes real commitment. It might just be the angle, but it looks to me like you’ve saved some weight by only using one pedal. Good thinking.Anyway, while you’re slogging your guts out on Saturday, I’ll in Poland getting unfeasibly drunk at a friend’s wedding. Best of luck Fatty.

  13. Comment by Robert | 08.7.2006 | 8:32 pm

    You’re going to crash out. DNF.

  14. Comment by regina | 08.7.2006 | 8:40 pm

    i need that sticker, and a fat cyclist kit. come’on! work with us.

  15. Comment by regina | 08.7.2006 | 9:00 pm

    I tried botched, this live space once you have error in your post does not clear and let you post after you fix your error, so I gave up, but I am with you on the logo adulation.

  16. Comment by barry1021 | 08.7.2006 | 9:35 pm

    WoW! I am not a fat tire guy, slim Fat cyclist, but it seems to me that your improvements are so massive, if you do a sub nine, you’re gonna have to put an * next to it….

  17. Comment by Unknown | 08.7.2006 | 10:41 pm

    OMG! Bro, you are going to effin die between mile 75-85 on that rigid fork.  Have you been on a regimen of daily pull-ups and dips or something?  did you really just go out on the rigid for the first time a week before leadville?  I guess I can stop worrying about that tattoo.

  18. Comment by brendan | 08.8.2006 | 12:56 am

    Nice ride Fatty. But I’m curioys – what is the yard of duct tape for?? 

  19. Comment by James | 08.8.2006 | 1:38 am

    This is James – still haven’t figured out the whole Live profile thing yet. Sheesh. As for the bike: well, audentes fortuna juvat. Just make sure you know how it handles when things get sticky.
    Tokyob, that duct tape is for what happens when your plan doesn’t work out. Maybe it will hold your shorts together after you wreck. Or boot a tire (maybe not, with those notubes jobs). Or hold your superlight carbon fork together after you bash it on a rock.
    PMC was a raging success, by the way. I’ll have the writeup soon. -JLS

  20. Comment by Zed | 08.8.2006 | 1:48 am

    Pretty dang slick, Fatty.
    The Paragon has some additional carbon fiber in the seatstays doesn’t it? Now I’m just curious how much you paid for that sweet rig.
    I’m glad you took the time to shed the weight off your belly before you went gram counting on your bike.
    Good luck on the sub-nine. Can’t wait for the write up.

  21. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 08.8.2006 | 1:59 am

    Leadville on a rigid carbon fork… there’s only one thing crazier.  Leadville on a Bianchi Pista.
    Go for it.
    There’s still 4 days to the race.  It’s not too late to make another massive series of wholesale changes designed to help, but destined to hurt. 

  22. Comment by Jsun | 08.8.2006 | 4:37 am

    Well, posting up a picture of your weapon o’ choice will make it easier to spot you laying on the side of the road (because your body has been rattled into submission and the stars you are seeing are from campbells).  I will be happy to trade my full-suss rig for yours at that point so you can at least finish.
    And I have seen the prototype jerseys.  They have the great logo, over-sized food stash pockets and also have extra padding installed around the mid-section.  Imagine the superhero costumes with the fake muscles padded out, except FC’s jerseys are padded around the waistline.  This gives your competitors the false sense of security that they are riding against a fat cyclist instead of the lean, mean-machine that Elden really is.
    Don’t even ask about the edible stickers.

  23. Comment by Unknown | 08.8.2006 | 1:24 pm

    Wow..very interesting "weapon of choice"!!! I love your comment about your mechanic…how true…Anyway, maybe I’ll run into you in Leadville this weekend. Good luck!!! John

  24. Comment by Unknown | 08.8.2006 | 2:02 pm

    Um, wow. That’s impressively light. Unfortunately, I would agree you’re going to get your brains shook around so much that they’ll start leaking out your ears. I imagine they’ll pull you at a feed stop when that happens.

    Also, the front end looks awfully steep now. I don’t think the carbon fork has the same offset as your old suspension fork! That won’t be twitchy at all on long fast open downhills!

    Still, good luck!

    (whose palms still hurt years later from riding Porcupine Rim with friends who all had suspsension and I didn’t)

  25. Comment by Unknown | 08.8.2006 | 9:31 pm

    Yup.  It’s geeky.  You sound like a bike spy, or something.  "The name’s Bond–Jimmy Bond.  I ride a lot of bikes, and I fuss over equipement details with the fastidiousness of gender-twisted curmudgeon."  Cool bike, though.  I know a good dentist in case you rattle your teeth loose.  I can’t offer help where addled brains are concerned.

  26. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 08.8.2006 | 10:52 pm

    Elden, you are finishing #1 this year. I have that on good authority…..a Gypsy Fortuneteller!

  27. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 08.8.2006 | 10:53 pm

    By the way, your blog post is more like a post by "Q" than Bond!::GRIN::

  28. Comment by Zed | 08.9.2006 | 12:51 am

    So, forgive me, Elden, but I feel the urge to ask you a random series of questions.
    First, do you remember writing this?(:)

    "Everyone talks about wheels as if they’re the biggest factor in how fast you go. Let me tell you a secret: your wheels aren’t going to make you any faster or slower. They’re not going to change the quality of your ride. So, if you see that your competition is riding with very expensive wheels, don’t worry about him being faster than you. Instead, just make a mental note that this person is gullible and that you’ll probably be successful at selling him NuSkin products later."

    So, I gotta know, what changed your mind about the importance of the wheelset? Are Stan’s just an exception, or was the original line written in jest?

    P.S. Although I don’t know the course at all, I’d imagine your 29er wheels will roll over anything your shock would’ve absorbed. I don’t think you’ll have to worry about getting your teef rattled out of your face. And I agree that you’ll probably kick trash this year.
    Best of luck.

  29. Comment by EricGu | 08.9.2006 | 12:54 am

    What happens?
    Fatty goes out too fast, rides the first half very quick, and suffers immensely the second half as he regrets both his lack of suspension and inability to start at a reasonable pace.
    Or something like that.
    168 pounds (really!)

  30. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 08.9.2006 | 12:23 pm

    Why is everyone obsessing about this poor gentleman’s teeth being shaken loose from his head?  At Elden’s age, he’s likely to just take his teeth out in the morning and leave them in the jar beside the bed for safe keeping.

  31. Comment by barry1021 | 08.9.2006 | 1:09 pm

    Hey Big Mike!!
    NOW YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR!!! Elden is a young man barely in his prime of life. He’s just a kid!! I see you in person, I’m gonna bop you with my cane!!


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