Something Old, Something New

02.11.2007 | 9:58 pm

It has been a cold, miserable Winter. I am sick, sick, sick of riding the rollers and trainer. So as you’d expect, the prospect of a weekend in warm Southern Utah sounded even better to me than usual.

And it didn’t just sound good to me, either. Other people made sacrifices to do this ride:

  • Bob flew in from Seattle, leaving his wife to tend with sick toddler twins.
  • BotchedExperiment bailed on working on his doctoral dissertation.
  • Kenny ummm, okay, it was no sacrifice at all for Kenny to come. If he hadn’t been riding with us all weekend, he’d have been riding somewhere else all weekend.
  • Paul left the criminal justice system of Southern Utah untended.
  • Dug asked his wife if he could go.
  • Rick made necessary adjustments at work, which is not as trivial as it might seem, because he is an important executive in an important company. He is, in fact, thrice as important as you and I combined. But nothing matters to Rick as much as honoring a commitment. If he says he’s going to be somewhere, there’s simply no question: he will be there.
  • Brad told his tenants to fix their own stupid water heaters for 48 hours.

See what I mean? You’ve got to make sacrifices if you want to get out and get some quality ride time in with your friends.

Day 1: Gooseberry Mesa
Gooseberry Mesa seems to be on everyone’s “Best Trails in the World” list, and for good reason. It’s beautiful, it’s got both technical and moderate terrain, making it a good trail for a wide range of abilities, and you can make the ride last all day or just a couple hours — whatever you’ve got time for.

I’m guessing the owner of this truck has some pretty deep feelings about this trail:

The strangest thing about riding Gooseberry Mesa in the middle of February is that you don’t feel like you’re going to die from the heat. We were still wearing shorts and short sleeves (and sometimes armwarmers), but didn’t feel like we’re melting.

Preliminary Report on the ATC-2000
A couple months ago, I mentioned that I was buying an ATC-2000 video camera to be able to do first-person video of riding. Well, it’s arrived, and I mounted it on my handlebar for the Gooseberry ride. As I slalomed through the beautiful slot canyons and desert scenery, I kept thinking what awesome footage this would make, and how cool it would look on my blog.

Sadly, it’s totally unwatchable.

The thing about mounting a camera on the handlebars of a rigid bike and then filming as you ride on rough singletrack and sandstone is the resulting video shows off every turn of the handlebar, every bump of the bike, to great effect.

If I posted the footage and then you watched it, I guarantee you would throw up.

I’m not giving up, though. I’m going to try mounting the camera on my helmet next, which should smooth things out at least a little bit.

As a consolation prize, how about I instead show you this excellent photo of Kenny I took.

Also, I do have lots of good video using my regular camcorder — I just haven’t learned enough about Premiere to edit it together yet. I’ll try to get that posted tomorrow.

Quick Summary of Day 1
Not too long ago, I posted about riding Gooseberry with my friends, and this was a similar day. So let’s skip to the group photo:

I can’t pretend this is the best group picture we’ve ever taken. First of all, it’s so obvious that I’m sucking in my gut. It looks like I’ve got three, maybe 4 seconds ’til I absolutely positively have to exhale.

And then there’s Dug. I don’t know what was up with him, but he insisted on removing his shirt for this photo. He said something about being “totally into Pilate’s.” I think Kenny’s right to be leaning away from him, to tell the truth.

And don’t even get me started about Brad and Rick. They were like that the whole day. Any time anyone said anything about it, though, Brad would go into his Mui Thai fighting stance, and Rick would start telling you to begin with the end in mind.

Whatever that means.

The craziest thing in the whole photo, though, is Bob. What’s up with that pose? He looks like he’s standing in line at a wedding reception.

Day 2: Little Creek
You know what’s really, really sad? The fact that for years and years and years, we have traveled to Gooseberry Mesa, ridden for a day, and then turned around and gone home, thinking we had ridden the best of what the area had to offer.

This whole time, we were — fools that we are — ignoring the ride literally across the street from Gooseberry Mesa: Little Creek.

I promise you, that will never happen again.

While Gooseberry is a perfect mountain bike playground, Little Creek is an elegant high desert singletrack paradise. Gooseberry is a tight snarl of trails that interconnect and turn back on themselves. Little Creek is a big loop that really shows you around the place, displaying incredible views at ever turn.

Gooseberry is, in short, a perfect first-day ride of a two day trip: it tests you and wears you out. Little Creek is the perfect second-day ride — it’s a big rolling tour, punctuated with lots of excellent places to test your riding skill.

It’s at Least Somewhat About the Bike
An hour or so into the ride, I volunteered to switch bikes with Bob, so he could see what it’s like to ride a 29″-wheeled, fully-rigid singlespeed on this kind of terrain. I, in turn, would ride his 26″-wheeled, full-suspension geared bike for a while. We switched shoes since we don’t use the same kind of pedals (Bob is the last person in the world using Speedplay Frogs), and took off.

At about the same time, Kenny and Paul switched bikes, giving Paul a chance to ride a bike like mine (but much, much lighter — Kenny’s put some serious money into making his Rig race-worthy).

Bob immediately fell in love with the Rig. He went on and on about how smooth, quiet, and intuitive a singlespeed felt. He talked about how he didn’t really feel the need to shift with this bike.

I get the sense that there’s a singlespeed in Bob’s future.

Kenny wasn’t having much fun with Paul’s bike, though. It was too small for him. The geometry felt wrong. He had a hard time clipping in.

Dan observed that Paul’s bike was like kryptonite to Kenny.

It was during this brief riding exchange that I got to witness Kenny ride down a very ordinary-looking drop — no more than 18″ — then slide off the back of the seat and rack himself on the seatpost.

I tell you what: there’s nothing quite so funny as watching a guy try to recover from a good hard kick to the balls.

Meanwhile, I was actually having fun riding Bob’s bike, even though Bob has elected to wear terrible biking shoes — I wouldn’t have believed it possible for MTB shoes to have such flimsy soles — with cleats mounted so far back they were pressing right into my arches.

Other than that, though, I was enjoying Bob’s bike. It felt wild to have so much cush. 

And that’s when I found out how used I have become to 29″ wheels. Riding down a fairly non-descript series of ledges, I lost control of the bike. I don’t know why, I don’t know how. I was riding along one second, and the next second I was rocketing toward a tree.

You know what’s interesting? When the front of your bike hits a tree, the bike stops immediately, but the rider keeps on going until he hits something.

For example, the rider might stop because his testicles have slammed into the stem of his bike.

I tell you what: there’s nothing even remotely funny about having everyone stand around you, laughing at the way you’re screaming in pain, doubled over from a good hard kick to the balls.

Since this is a family blog, I cannot / will not provide a picture, but rest assured: I am black and blue in some highly unusual and sensitive areas.

Oh, and it still hurts to pee.

I also cut up my face and my right leg:

But you know what? I landed on my feet. So I get style points for that, don’t I?

The Surreal Bushes
Riding at Gooseberry and Little Creek, I saw bushes that I have never seen (or at least noticed) before. Check this out:


Yes, that rough gray bark is encased, in some places, with a deep maroon coating, as smooth and shiny as polished mahogany. Have a closer look:

Does anyone know what kind of bush this is? It’s gorgeous, whatever it is. 

I’d Like Some More, Please
While Gooseberry is tight and twisty, Little Creek gives you a grand tour. We rode along the rim for big stretches of time, incredible vistas just off to our left (I’m not sure where Brad, Dug, and Rick are in this photo; they were probably working on a move or something).

And then you’re riding in a dry creek bed. And then on slickrock. And then weaving in and out of forests of juniper bushes.  

Really, just an exquisite ride. Definitely worth the effort to get away from it all for a weekend, as I’m certain my friends all agree.

PS: Today’s weight: 169.6. Hey, when you travel, you eat.

PPS: There are a few minor factual inaccuracies in this post. See if you can find them!


  1. Comment by dug | 02.12.2007 | 11:55 am

    i’m not usually one to heap you with praise, cuz i know how easily your little head swells up till it won’t fit in your helmet.

    but that’s the funniest thing you’ve ever written. i think it was the ball injury jokes.

    by the way, thanks for the use of your hairdryer. not sure what i would have done without it.

  2. Comment by SyracuseStu | 02.12.2007 | 12:05 pm

    Is it just me, or are there others who would pay these guys to be friends with him and invite him on their adventures? I sometimes feel like that little dog in the Tom and Jerry cartoons that followed Butch around hopping and panting and looking for approval.

    At the very least, the State of Utah Bureau of Travel and Tourism should link here.

  3. Comment by Big Boned | 02.12.2007 | 12:12 pm

    Did you know that smart wool makes cycling socks? Just curious.

  4. Comment by bikemike | 02.12.2007 | 12:26 pm

    God, Florida is flat! i’m seriously jealous. About the riding, i mean, not huggy, lovey-dovey man entwinement thing. EEEEwwwwwww. There may not be anything “wrong” with that but it did make me cut snacky time short today.
    I must say there aren’t many things more fun than riding all weekend with just a few of your close buds.

  5. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 02.12.2007 | 12:31 pm

    dug, fatty was pretty mad that you used all his hair gel.

  6. Comment by dug | 02.12.2007 | 12:33 pm

    it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.

  7. Comment by kenny | 02.12.2007 | 12:33 pm

    you’re right..there’s real oddness to that picture. It’s like Bob and Dan didn’t know what to do with thier hands. Bob’s trying to mischieviously hide something and Dan has his hands buried deep in his pockets.

  8. Comment by O | 02.12.2007 | 12:39 pm


    Sweet description of Gooseberry. I have been wanting to check that place out for a while but haven’t made it yet.

    That bush is called a “Manzanita”. Common in high desert areas in the Southwest.

    Are you or any of your buddies coming down for the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo? It is fast becoming an event not to be missed.

    Props to you for expanding your blog but not getting too commercial! Sweet jersey design!

    O in Tucson

  9. Comment by Rick S. | 02.12.2007 | 12:41 pm

    Dug- Do you have 50 cents I can borrow? Oh wait, those aren’t quarters…..

  10. Comment by kenny | 02.12.2007 | 12:51 pm

    My single speed team.. Jack Mormon Militia is coming down.

  11. Comment by barry1021 | 02.12.2007 | 12:55 pm


    Go ahead and put up the video. It looks like I am going to need a purging aid to hit weight in late July…..

    And once again, as you publish a story and pix about your off road adventures, I kneel, kiss the macadam, and say “there’s no place like road, there’s no place like road.”


  12. Comment by the weak link | 02.12.2007 | 12:58 pm

    “Wang Chung in Paradise”. That sounds like a bike book, or at least a short story, begging to be written.

  13. Comment by Doug | 02.12.2007 | 1:13 pm

    The plant as mentioned above is called Manzanita and is actually found all over the drier areas of the west including the foothills in California where it is the predominant flora in some areas (think wall-to-wall plants about 8-10′ high). Makes excellent coals for grilling, by the way.

  14. Comment by Mrs. Coach | 02.12.2007 | 1:29 pm

    I can’t wait to hear what Al has to say!

    For other good “kicked in the crotch” moments check out Click- we watched it yesterday, altogether I didn’t really like it, but there were a few laughs. Also a smaller but hilarious movie, Relative Strangers- has a great one involving a cheese ball.

  15. Comment by cheapie | 02.12.2007 | 1:33 pm

    for some reason that group shot looks incredibly photoshopped.

  16. Comment by Clydesdale | 02.12.2007 | 1:36 pm

    O.K. Is everyone in Utah really short? I’m looking at the group photo and since Fatty considers himself Fat @ 170~ lbs. he must be on the 5′9″ give or take side and unless it’s the angle everyone else is shorter except that skinny shirtless guy whom I refuse to look at… oh yeah and the brokeback twins in the bottom left corner.

    Great write up on the weekend as always and yes I’m jealous. A group shot up here this week would reveal a whole bunch of winter parkas and toques, that’s a wool hat, with a really white indestinguishable background and not much else except for a really skinny hypothermic guy with his shirt off who I would refuse to look at.

  17. Comment by Bob | 02.12.2007 | 1:42 pm

    Excellent write-up. If you’re keeping stats, I had two audibles and a snort.

    I know I look ridiculous in that photo. I was going to put my arms around the guys next to me, but then I saw Rick and Brad spooning each other and thought I needed to keep my arms to myself so our photo wouldn’t end up in Playgirl magazine. I guess you had to be there.

  18. Comment by Born4Lycra | 02.12.2007 | 1:47 pm

    Great read – comfortable I’m sure but those are ugly socks. Or is it the legs? Definitely need more colour – socks that is not the legs. Factual inaccuracies not sure but I do find it hard to believe that anybody is 3 times as important as the FC.

  19. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 02.12.2007 | 1:53 pm

    Clydesdale, it’s just a trick of the camera although, on this particular trip, the average height was 5′9″ with a standard deviation of 0.2″, so none of us are at risk of hitting our heads on door jambs.

  20. Comment by Mrs. Coach | 02.12.2007 | 1:55 pm

    I don’t know what you’re talking about Clydesdale. Everyone here is really tall. Of course, my perception could be a little skewed. I couldn’t see eye-to-eye with a 5′9″ person even with the skankiest of stilletos. Maybe a 5′6″ person. At least someone who’s 5′4″.

  21. Comment by Clydesdale | 02.12.2007 | 2:04 pm

    Skanky stilletos? Another reason to visit the fabulous scenery in Utah!!

    All we have here are Skanky Mucklucks!

  22. Comment by Ricky | 02.12.2007 | 2:38 pm

    Great weekend all the way around. Thanks for capturing the moments, Fatty. It’s nice to be home again. I was getting really tired of asking Dug to put his shirt back on. I still can’t believe it took us so long to ride Little Creek. I’m looking forward to the next trip. I hope the poached eggs are doing better. Brad, my flight was delayed–don’t wait up.

  23. Comment by bradk | 02.12.2007 | 2:41 pm

    outed on a blog, how embarrassing. ricky m, why wont you return my calls? i nominate rick s for comment of the year.

  24. Comment by MTB W | 02.12.2007 | 3:08 pm

    Now I know what Dug is really looking at with his faraway gaze!

    BTW, great post. You hit this one out of park with great (but somewhat disturbing) pics and a funny story from a good ride. Somehow, the old get hit in the balls gag always seems to hit a funny bone (unless you are on the receiving end!).

    Is it just me or does Kenny’s eyes seem to follow you?

  25. Comment by sherlock | 02.12.2007 | 3:29 pm

    so i reckon, and this is controversial…

    brad, dug and rick were not actually there for the weekend, shock, horror!
    my evidence as follows:
    1. photoshopped group photo
    2. conspicuous absence in other photo
    3. fatty’s uncharacteristic magnamity
    and i quote
    “But nothing matters to Rick as much as honoring a commitment. If he says he’s going to be somewhere, there’s simply no question: he will be there.”
    obviously a sarcastic facetious rant as rick bailed last minute
    4. “Dug asked his wife if he could go”
    the unwritten between the lines is “and she said no”

    so i rest my case

    hopefully i haven’t scuppered anyones iron clad alibi for the weekend


  26. Comment by Al Maviva | 02.12.2007 | 3:47 pm

    Mrs. Coach, thanks for that vote of confidence. I try to never disappoint the ladies, and usually succeed except where my wife is involved. That’s probably why I love her so; like Hertz to my Avis, she makes me try harder. Anyhoo…

    I tell you what: there’s nothing quite so funny as watching a guy try to recover from a good hard kick to the balls.

    I had a whole long diatribe written about that and it was quite funny, but realized that the only worthwhile thing that I can say, is it’s a good thing that women don’t understand that principle, on which the entire Three Stooges cosmology is premised.

    If women thought the Stooges were funny, they’d spend all their time riding bikes into trees and racking the jewels on top tubes and laughing about it, and then the whole population of the Earth (versus half of it) would be walking around complaining about damaged plumbing. As it is, it’s good that most of us have in our lives a special someone who doesn’t understand the Stooges at all. This is good in part for the way the Stooge non-understand-ers adorn and enrich our lives, making us better than we’d otherwise be, and partly because it’s darned nice to have somebody in the house who, if we ask real nice, just might be willing to rub some ice on the wounded bits after we’ve done our best “Moe Hit in the Crotch With a Ladder by Curly” impression with the nearest Manzanita Bush.

    I know, it’s not up to my scathing usual stuff. I can’t help it, it’s nearly Valentine’s day and I’m bloody romantic.

  27. Comment by NoName | 02.12.2007 | 4:42 pm

    [Apparently this is a false story that has been circulating the web chain-letter style. Let's wait until the official NPD numbers come out and add them to the weekly Japanese numbers.]
    It could be assumed that when FATCYCLIST has the only game in town that is in regular supply they would do incredibly well. Apparently, that isn’t the case; the FATCYCYLIST failed to meet sales expectations for the month of November.

    According to Bloomberg, FATCYCLIST only managed to sell 468,000 FATCYCLIST units in the month of November, quite a bit short of the 700,000 expected by analysts. The expected reason for the missed analyst goal is not known. The FATCYCLIST seems to be selling at the same pace as the rest of the year, which is not a good sign during the holiday season.

    With the lack of a major sales boost in November for the FATCYCLIST — Black Friday more specifically — and the declining interest in the FATCYCLIST , are consumers becoming weary of the same old game with a prettier shell? This sluggish trend could prove FATCYCLIST ’s strategy that next-gen is about new experiences; they are doing just fine with their sales, having outsold FATCYCLIST worldwide just in the United States. New experiences are not possible if the focus is on more realistic graphics.

    (there may be some factual inaccuracies in this comment)

  28. Comment by KatieA | 02.12.2007 | 8:13 pm

    Al – I get the Three Stooges. Does that mean I have to go out and ride into a tree? Or will a small shrub suffice? I have a lovely azalea out the front that I think would do nicely.

    Fatty – one would have thought with your computing skills that you might have been able to Photoshop that picture a little better. We can all tell you weren’t there. :)

  29. Comment by Al Maviva | 02.12.2007 | 8:44 pm

    Katie, I believe you about the Stooges, but please, please, stick to riding your bike into trees. The last thing anybody would want, is for you to hop on your bike and abuse your bush in front of the house…

    Oh, cripes people. I’m talking about the azalea. They’re lovely bushes, not as nice as dwarf rhododendrons, but much better than boxwoods.

    You people are perverts.

  30. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 02.12.2007 | 11:53 pm

    Here’s a factual inaccuracy for you all to consider: That bleeding leg belongs to a stunt double – by the authors own admission in one of his historical posts there is no way he could possibly be bleeding that much without being curled in the foetal position begging someone to dial 911.

    Also, let’s give Brad and Rick a bit of a break. If they want to take advantage of the old road trip rule “what happens on the road stays on the road” who are we to judge? Or to quote Jerry Seinfeld “not that there’s anything wrong with that”.

    And while we’re on the topic, who says Kenny is leaning away from Dug? I put it to you that Kenny is quite possibly leaning TOWARDS Brad and Rick. Not that there’s anything wrong with that either.

  31. Comment by Born4Lycra | 02.13.2007 | 2:36 am

    Big Mike I’m not so sure Dug was even there to lean away from. How comes he is bathed in sunshine and the others aren’t. Ooooh maybe he’s the Chosen One or maybe as Sherlock suggested he was not allowed out to play with the boys and he was only there in spirit.
    Thinking about the photo a little more I reckon they all will not be allowed out to play for quite a while.

  32. Comment by cheapie | 02.13.2007 | 5:43 am

    btw, i’m very sorry to hear about what just happened in your beautiful city! there are few cities that i feel safer in than SLC. what a tragedy!

  33. Comment by KatieA | 02.13.2007 | 11:31 am

    Al – why do you think I said “shrub”? I know their minds too well.

    I guess I’ll have to stick to the eucalyptus tree on my TT route, although I’m concerned the impact may wake up the koala.

    Any suggestions for which body part to maim? Should I go for the impressive “blood smear” as demonstrated by Fatty, or perhaps something broken would be more of a tribute to the Stooges…

  34. Comment by Lurch | 02.13.2007 | 11:40 am

    That really isn’t a picture of a “bloody smear”. It is really fatty showing off new the new product line! Fat Cylist socks! Those pictured are the “normal” length. The “extended version” will look (and perform) much like tights.

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  40. Comment by abe | 12.18.2009 | 1:12 pm

    Spent a week there in September and all who tried it thought that Grafton Mesa was the best trail of the trip. Very tech off the north side of Gooseberry down to the valley. The road to it is off the Scenic Byway a little north of the road to Goose.


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