Fall Moab ‘06, Part IV: Redemption on Slickrock

11.10.2006 | 10:52 am

A note from Fatty: Before I get started today, I want to call your attention to the shiny new Vicious Cycles ad over there in the sidebar area. Vicious Cycles has very cool bikes and the most exquisitely outrageous paint jobs in the world. I’m excited to have them in the Fat Cyclist Ads-for-Schwag program — we’ll be running the first weekly schwag contest giveaway next week. Meanwhile, take a moment to check out the Vicious Cycles site and see what they’ve got, would you?

Dug’s Video, Part II
Dug’s uploaded part 2 of his Fall Moab ‘06 video. I highly recommend you watch it, for the following reasons:

  1. It gives you and idea of how long we’re willing to stick around and try a move. The video shows at least twenty attempts on what we call the Gold Bar Crux Move. And you can bet that’s only a small fraction of the actual number of attempts made.
  2. The video has a few really great falls in it (one by Bob, two by Tom), including one which I cannot believe he didn’t break his wrist.
  3. It shows me cleaning some moves, though it’s hard to tell it’s me. I swear, though: it’s me.
  4. It shows Kenny’s bare butt.

Really, what more could you want?


Last-Day-of-the-Ride Resolution
As I mentioned yesterday, I was a little bit disappointed in my sissiness on Gold Bar Rim. For the final day, I decided, I would ride the Paragon so I’d have the advantage of gears. And I would try every move.

When I got to the trailhead, though, my geared bike just didn’t look like the bike to ride. I wanted to ride my singlespeed again. There’s no rational reason why singlespeed riding is so much fun, or why people who start riding them start to ride them exclusively. There’s no argument to be made for why riding a singlespeed is better or more fun than a geared bike. There really isn’t. And besides, I love my Paragon — it’s light, fast, it fits, and it works great. But I like riding that singlespeed even more.

And then we got to the first move — a zigzag, off-camber, climbing move with a U-turn that requires you to duck your head at the top to avoid hitting the overhanging rock. I’ve done this move dozens of times. It’s not easy on a geared bike, but it’s do-able. Nobody had every cleaned it on a single, though.

Until I blasted straight up the thing, eliminating the U-turn through sheer power.

Just kidding. It was actually Kenny who did that. But that set the tone for the day.

If there’s one thing at the Slickrock trail I look forward to most, it’s a naturally-formed halfpipe. It has a lip at the top, making it so you can’t quite see what it looks like at the bottom. As long as you stay to the left of a painted line, though, it curves out nicely, then turns vertical up the other side.

Doing this drop means you have to have a certain amount of commitment, because you’ve got to let go of your brakes to have enough speed to coast up to the top. And there’s a brief moment of what feels like freefall as you begin. Then, before you know it, you’re flying up the other side, as if gravity no longer applies to you.

It’s terrifying and thrilling in much the same way a rollercoaster is, except for two things:

  • You’re the pilot instead of a passenger
  • There’s a much better chance you’ll crash.

For what it’s worth, I have never crashed on the halfpipe. I’ve seen someone crash on it, though. He went too far right of the white painted line, where the rock formation stops being a nicely shaped parabola and starts being a slope that terminates in an uphill wall. When the guy hit that wall, his front wheel taco’d unlike any wheel I have ever seen. It was like the way the front of a car crumples when it hits a telephone pole.

Here’s me riding the halfpipe. It looks (and feels) much steeper in real life — ask anyone who’s ridden it. Look for the white line in the video; you can see how nasty it might be to crash if you’re on the right side of it.


And, just for fun, here’s a good photo of me dropping down that halfpipe. This photo gives you a better feel for how steep it is:

Fatty on the Halfpipe

Kenny had a very close call, by the way, on the halfpipe this year. As he got to the bottom, his tire compressed down to the rim, nearly folding off, and burping out the Stan’s Tube Sealant. The back of his bike slid sideways and I thought Kenny was going to do a high-speed, downhill high-side. Kenny kept his head though, corrected, and rode away. Whew.

The Wall
Right after doing the halfpipe, there’s an off-trail move that just scares everyone. It’s a 30-foot (I’m guessing) near-vertical sandstone wall that terminates in a bed of sand and cactus.

The trick for this move is to stay waaaay back, keep your speed down, but don’t lock up your tires. And don’t endo at the bottom. 

Last year I tried this move and supermanned right into a cactus, which left me little prizes I’d be picking out of my hand for the next six weeks.

This year, like every year, people stood at the top of the move, looking at each other, trying to get enough courage to make the drop.

And that’s when I had a strange out-of-body experience. Without saying anything to anyone, without thinking about the consequences, without giving myself time to freak myself out about it, I just clipped in and rode down it.

Clean as can be.

You can see it on Dug’s video — though, again, for some reason video makes stuff look not-as-steep as it does in real life. Right afterward, thinking something along the lines of, “Well, if Fatty can do it, it must be easy,” Bob headed down.

Then he slid out sideways and crashed hard in the sand. Sadly, Dug doesn’t catch what happens immediately after: Bob picks up his bike and walks away, head down, to spend some time by himself.

You have no idea how happy it makes me to be able to say that not everyone in our group would try that move this day. Including people who are by far my technical superiors.

There’s probably a lesson in there for me: when it’s time to do a move, I need to just turn off my brain and do the move, not thinking about consequences.

But that’s usually not an easy thing (for me) to do.

Into the Sandpit
The Slickrock trail has a series of uneven ledges that drop into a sandpit; Dug’s video has shots of several people trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to climb out. Before you do that, though, you’ve got to drop in. Until last weekend, I have never managed to drop those ledges without doing an endo at the bottom.

This time, though, I got it on my first try. On a fully rigid bike, mind you. And furthermore, I rode through the whole sandpit, a not-minor thing (though I credit the big wheels for getting me through the sand).

Yay for me.

Wedge Move
Up next, there’s a sandy ledge move, with exposure on the right and a wall on the left. To clean the ledge without scraping on one side or falling off the other, you’ve got to ride up not just with power, but with control.

I tried that move half a dozen times before I almost got it. One more pedal stroke and I would have been up at the top, ready for the freaky drop that is on the other side.

So on the (approximately) seventh try, I put a little more juice into it. And I got it!


Right at the top, I could feel myself stall out. I tried to turn the cranks over, but just couldn’t get one more.

And that’s when I started sliding backward. I fell against the wall, still clipped in and sliding, then kept sliding back down, tangled with my bike, eventually arriving at the bottom of the move in a twisted crumple.

Observers say my fall lasted 15 seconds. I do not doubt it. I didn’t resent the crash, though, because — finally – I had irrefutable evidence that I had been pushing my limits. Here’s the bruise I got just below my right butt-cheek (even now, I sit awkwardly):

Just below the butt-cheek

And here’s my left arm:


It’s official: the trip was a success!

Penultimate Move
On the way back to the car, you’ve got to go through the sandtrap one more time. I usually don’t even try this move, and have never come close to it — if I couldn’t drop down those ledges, what chance did I have of climbing up them?

But I was having a good day.

Let me say this: I am lucky to have patient friends. By the time I had tried this move ten times, they had every right to say it was time to move on. But they didn’t. They let me plug away at it until I had satisfied myself.

And, finally, I got it right. I climbed that ledge.

I was having a banner day.

Big Finish
Having cleaned stuff I never have before, on the way back to the parking lot I decided to try the wedge move a couple more times.

My second attempt, I got it. From far away, Dug even got it on video tape — it’s the last move you’ll see in his video.

You know, it’s nice to have a good day.

What Now?
I’m going to spend some time getting this site up to speed, doing all the things I said I was going to do. And I’m going to gain weight (I have already made significant progress on that front, actually). And I’m going to think about getting my shoulder fixed.

The season’s over.

And what a great finish it was.

Fall Moab 2006 Group Photo


  1. Comment by Tayfuryagci | 11.10.2006 | 11:16 am

    Well this last post was the best. I have to say that picture is not of a fat cyclist but a normal cyclist, SHAME ON YOU! Put on some weight immediately. Thanks for a great story and cool videos.

    I checked out the vicious cycles site as soon as the ad was on and man thay have cool bikes. You won’t happen to be giving away a 3750$ titanium 29er frame won’t you? :)

    And the forum misses it’s admin, man!

  2. Comment by sans auto | 11.10.2006 | 11:58 am

    The season’s over? I didn’t think cycling had an off-season.

  3. Comment by mtnbkr | 11.10.2006 | 12:20 pm

    Yo Fatty, Great stuff. 13 of us from CT were out there a few weeks ago. I had a helmet cam on and have over 6 hours to tape. Poison Spider Mesa, Slick Rock x2, and Porcupine Rim. So far only one clip on You Tube http://youtube.com/watch?v=3Cb_PLjOGT8
    Showing what happens to a true roadie in Moab.
    I’ve got helmet cam shots riding the half pipe too. Only downside to a helmet cam is the emense amout of film to edit. I try to get through more this weekend and post it.
    Loving re-living my trip through yours!

  4. Comment by axel | 11.10.2006 | 2:28 pm

    you must be younger than I thought, judging by your willingness (even eagerness) to crash. I have reached an age where I consider one crash per year too much. I heal slowly. Just thinking about it hurts.
    Let the young ones deal with broken bones and contusions.

  5. Comment by MTB W | 11.10.2006 | 3:11 pm

    Too bad the 15 second fall wasn’t on video. It sounds like one of the unforgettable (to be remembed with pride) moments to be re-lived every return trip. Thanks to you and the great vids, I will steal your idea and try to video my group’s next moab trip. (Don’t worry, your royalty check is in the mail).

    Dug, if I keep cycling this winter (yeah, right) and have enough stamina built up by the time of the next trip, I will try Porcupine uphill. At the moment, however, the climb to the top of the Moab Rim trail was enough for me (900 technical feet in less than a mile requiring some hard moves without falling backward).

    Bob, man I feel for you. I hate it when I can’t get out of my clips, causing me to fall, including one time when I went 20 feet down a slope when I lost my balance with the bike still attached for the first 10 feet (pretty embarrasing since it happened during a race and several people stopped to help).

    My winter weight (my self given nickname last spring) is now just starting to reclaim me. Thanksgiving and Christmas (can’t wait for all those holiday cookies and pies), come to mama!

  6. Comment by Seph | 11.10.2006 | 5:00 pm

    After watching the videos, you guys are nuts! I hurt just watching them. Seeing the way some of you were moving in the videos makes me wonder what drives you to do those kind of rides. At the same time, my hat is off to you for having the courage (or is it folly) to attempt these challenges.

  7. Comment by Born4Lycra | 11.10.2006 | 5:46 pm

    You are still all mental – great read tho.
    So who ended up with the best injury? In fact how do you determine that. Most blood or longest recuperative period.
    Can’t wait for the write up when you are all 60 and still going out once a year and letting it all hang out – so to speak.

  8. Comment by Caloi-Rider | 11.10.2006 | 6:10 pm

    Fatty, the site’s looking cooler every day. Can’t wait to see what you add next.

    P.S. I still haven’t rec’d that photo from you. No pressure.

  9. Comment by Jsun | 11.10.2006 | 8:06 pm

    I was scrolling down, reading intently, when the top sliver of your leg bruise photo hinted at something absolutely disgusting lay ahead. And then it looked like the caption said something about your butt. I was truly afraid to read anymore, worried that if I kept scrolling I may see something that might give me nightmares and turn me off your site forever, ugh, shiver. Thank goodness this is a PG site.

  10. Comment by Nanget | 11.10.2006 | 9:11 pm

    You cleaned the moves after getting a badge of honour. Well done.

  11. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 11.10.2006 | 9:33 pm

    I like the new site, Eldon! Looks great!

  12. Comment by Caloi-Rider | 11.11.2006 | 9:31 am

    Dug, you’re doing an awesome job with the filmwork on this, by the way. Did you just use Imovie for it? Or did you go all out and get Final Cut? Great soundtrack too–that was the first Modest Mouse tune I’ve ever heard.

  13. Comment by dug | 11.11.2006 | 4:34 pm

    caloi, you’re just being silly now. i have pinnacle studio on my computer, and it’s very easy, i’m just a shmo. course, on youtube, the quality looks bad, on dvd it looks crystal clear.

    first modest mouse ever? you’re just putting me on now, right? on the movie, we’ve got white stripes, the pixies, social distortion, modest mouse, bad brains, a little rage from the car scene, and bumblebeez 81.

  14. Comment by regina | 11.11.2006 | 5:04 pm

    So there are these guys that live inside my computer, they are great, they are fun. I am glad they live in there. Smashing videos, looks like you guys had a great time. I need to get to moab someday.

  15. Comment by Caloi-Rider | 11.11.2006 | 6:39 pm

    No sarcasm on my part–really, it looks good. Granted, you didn’t use any transitions on your cuts, but it looks more authentic that way. You mixed the sound really well, I thought.
    No joke about the modest mouse, either. They’re pretty good. They’re not local to Utah or something are they?

  16. Comment by spin echo | 11.11.2006 | 7:48 pm

    man, that is some serious hair you have on your leg —- above the shave line, I mean.

  17. Comment by Tayfuryagci | 11.11.2006 | 8:47 pm


    best comment ever.

  18. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 11.12.2006 | 1:17 pm

    Sans Auto, there are two types of people: normal and abnormal. There are two types of cyclists: the kind that enjoy riding their bike in the daylight hours or in the warm summer nights, and those who enjoy riding in the dark freezing winter.

  19. Comment by KatieA | 11.12.2006 | 2:40 pm

    A couple of things spring to mind:

    a) You’re all mental.

    b) Are you nuts?

    c) Nice work on the injuries.

    d) You keep saying “it is bigger in real life”… do you use that phrase a lot Fatty?

  20. Comment by sans auto | 11.12.2006 | 9:03 pm

    Botched, did you just call me abnormal?

  21. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 11.13.2006 | 8:01 am

    I maintain that a person is way out on the end of the bell curve if that person is over 33 years old and still enjoys strapping fenders, lights, reflective tape, and fat snow tires on their bike and then dressing in 4 layers of clothing only to go out into the DARK with whipping winds and oblivious drivers just to ride their bike their bike “for fun” or even worse, to ride to work.

    Said person is either abnormal, or worse, committed to some bizzare life-style where they DON’T(!??) want Utah to get warmer in the winter and have some ‘against nature’ aversion to eating stuff with nervous systems.


    P.S. Most importantly, I’m trying to justify my decision to not perform any type of winter bike-commuting this year except riding my bike (in the daylight hours) from the bus to work.

  22. Comment by Errorista | 11.13.2006 | 9:10 am

    You are a hairy beast. I like you, though. Oh – and Modest Mouse played in my little coffee shop in Sugar House circa 1996 way before they became rockstars so I’m just here to let everyone know I was cool before you. Dug. I was cool before you. However, I have not maintained the cool because I’ve not heard of bumblebeez 81.

  23. Comment by Lofgrans | 11.13.2006 | 10:46 am

    I love the end of the video where every very slowly hobbles over to get a picture. Especially the guy who plants his rearend in front of the camera to slowly lower his wearied body down the step.
    The videos almost make me want to mtb…almost.

  24. Comment by sans auto | 11.13.2006 | 12:13 pm

    I wouldn’t mind Utah getting warmer in the winter, it’s the summer that worries me. My little brick house may cook its occupants if it gets any hotter outside during the summer.
    You made mention of my vegan diet. As a person researching a cure for cancer, surely you have read Dr. Campbell’s book, “The China Study” which indicates diet as a cause of many of today’s cancers, especially meat in the diet. This book challenged me to be vegan, and I did (pretty much), for one month. I have now returned to a less than vegan diet and consume an occasional slab of flesh, especially fish.
    I understand your dislike for cold, wet, dark winter rides in Utah, but most days here (even in the winter) are not wet which makes it possible to stay warm. I also like to hear that you take the bus… Does that make you more environmentally friendly than you let on to, or just cheap?

  25. Comment by MTB W | 11.13.2006 | 12:15 pm

    I’ve got to ask – how did you guys with the 29ers get those big tires up and over those rocks? It seems like 29ers are great for downhill and crossing sand but harder to go uphill on technical stuff (yeah, I’ve only rode a 29er once, and that was just in a parking lot). Did anyone switch btwn bikes and see if there was a difference? Just wondering.

  26. Comment by dug | 11.13.2006 | 12:26 pm

    mtb w, tom was riding my big travel cannondale gemini (the pig), and i was riding my 29er single. but for that big triple stair step move we spent an hour at, i grabbed the pig from tom (who fell rather gloriously there on the pig) and rode right up that thing, twice.

    it’s a mixed bag. i don’t think the wheel size made a difference there, but rather the low gears and the way the long travel just sticks to the rock. the long travel and low gears make big gap wheelie drops and climbs easier too.

    i’ve only ever ridden the big wheels on a singlespeed bike, so it’s hard for me to say whether the big wheels make it harder to do tight technical stuff. but my impression is yes, the tight and technical is better on 26ers, and faster and bigger is better on 29ers. the 29ers roll really well over washboard rock, they don’t get stuck in dips and v-shaped holes, the roll really well generally.

    not sure we’ll ever know. until we all get bored and go back to gears, and maybe then we’ll get gears with 29 inch wheels.

  27. Comment by Rocky | 11.13.2006 | 12:33 pm

    Fatty–congrats on the redemption! Nice work on any of the sick moves at Slickrock. Some of those are heady moves, and on the singlespeed, you get double kudos for good work.

    Ew on the buttocks/leg shot–ew on the hairiness. It’s good to have some tangible evidence of putting yourself out there, however. As long as the evidence does not come in the form of a cast or an external fixator of some variety.

  28. Comment by Rocky | 11.13.2006 | 12:44 pm

    I should have read the last two comments before I posted. I have a geared 29er and a geared long travel pig of my own. I ride them both nearly equally. The 29er is inferior to the 26er in tight technical terrain (which we have much of in Western Colorado), as you surmised. Once rolling, it climbs better, but getting it to the point that it climbs better forces the rider through a bit of turbo lag, if that makes any sense. In other words, it takes about an additional 1/2 pedal stroke to gather momentum, and then it really hooks up with the trail.

    The 29er is an advantage in the up and over the rocks category, too. That’s why I sucked big time at Fall Moab this year–I was not on a 29er and most others were. Wait. Dug did the big triple on a 26er. I guess that means that I just suck, and have no excuse. Back to the 29er. Again, once you are through the lag (minimized by the gears), the 29er really moves over stuff, and crevices and rock sticking opportunities are minimized. As a side note, if you stick a tire on the 29er, count on a launch of some sort. If it doesn’t roll over the obstacle the first time and you stick, you are normally really stuck.

  29. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 11.13.2006 | 12:48 pm

    Sans, I never believe anyone who says People X or Animal Y don’t get cancer. If it can be demonstrated that those people or animals aren’t getting cancer, it is always because they are dying young of something other than cancer.
    From a molecular biology perspective, getting cancer is inevitable. If an ant or a shark or a human lives long enough, they will get cancer.

  30. Comment by sans auto | 11.13.2006 | 1:51 pm

    I’m going to note that you didn’t say that you read the book. Of course i recognize that we are all bombarded by stuff every day of our lives that messes with our DNA and potentially lead to cancer. Everyone is hit with this stuff and if people are living forever and not getting cancer it’s just luck. I also recognize that a cure for cancer would be a good thing for humanity.
    I’m stepping a little out of my expertice here, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I’m not saying that a vegan diet will eliminate cancer. It won’t. Notice that I resumed eating meat after the trial, it’s because I don’t believe this guy completely. He does make some very good points and has some solid evidence to back it up (although cancer research is not my expertice). He called Casein (the amino acid) the most significant chemical carcinogen ever discovered. In his first big study he gave a bunch of rats aflotoxin and then half the rats got a high protein (casein) diet and the others low. All of the rats on the high protein diet died of cancer. All of the other rats outlived “average” and none every developed cancer.
    I’m not saying, “jump on the bandwagon”. I”m saying look at it (I’ll even ride the book up to you if you give me your address) and make an educated decision… and tell me what you think because I don’t know cancer. Exercise, yes; nutrition, yes; cancer, no.

  31. Comment by MTB W | 11.13.2006 | 2:28 pm

    Back to cycling. Well, this may be more of a separate and new topic for our esteemed FC, but this past summer, I didn’t notice that many racers using 29ers. I don’t know if this due to 29ers relative newness, lack of info about them (for people like me!) or otherwise. While I don’t expect people to be using 29ers for a hill climb, they may be better for the dirt singletrack with lots of rocky descents, but not good for those trails with tight turns, technical uphills with little room for mobility (where you don’t have the time for that extra 1/2 stroke). Anyone try racing 29ers? Anway, I may have to reconsider my prejudice against 29ers and retry them next spring.

    At Moab last weekend, my friend had 3 endos on technical downhills, mostly from gaps and rocks he couldn’t get up and over – thinking back, the 29ers probably would have saved him a few bruises!

  32. Comment by campioni | 03.15.2007 | 8:41 pm

    um… buoni, realmente buoni luogo e molto utile;)

  33. Comment by rzealqfkpt | 06.20.2007 | 11:25 pm

    Hello! Good Site! Thanks you! zdrxwgclmjy


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.