24 Hours

04.30.2007 | 1:52 pm

A Note from Fatty: Today’s post comes to you courtesy of BotchedExperiment. Here, he describes his experience of riding around the White Rim last weekend. I so wish I could have been there.

Tomorrow, I will post Dug’s writeup. And then the following day I will post a video Dug’s doing of the ride.

This is the kind of stuff I love. Indulge me.

Last Saturday was the 7th annual Ride Around White Rim in One Day (RAWROD). Kenny and 50 of his best friends gather at Canyonlands National Park to ride 104 miles of dirt road through spectacular scenery, deep sand, and high temperatures. I’ve wanted to do this ride since I first read Fatty’s three-part write up about it a couple years ago. dug’s write up of last year’s ride only whetted my appetite more. If you really like reading about crazy things people have done, check out Bob’s description of his and dug’s ride around White Rim on summer solstice.

The following takes place between 4:00 am Saturday and 4:00 am Sunday:

4:07 am I’m rifling through my bag for the second time, looking for the earplugs that I KNOW I brought. I correctly predicted a cacophonic symphony of snoring. I still can’t find those #@&*& earplugs.

4:35 am Trying to get some sleep by laying on one ear, while plugging the other ear with a finger isn’t working. Plus, I have to urinate. The air is crisp, but not cold. The stars are amazing, the moon is gibbous and brilliant.

5:00 am I give up trying to sleep and start putting on my cycling clothes while still in my sleeping bag. I think Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) is dead. While sleeping, he doesn’t move, doesn’t snore (thank God), and doesn’t even breathe heavily.

5:30 am Kenny and Brad are up, so I start to organize my stuff for the ride, and go out to shiver in the morning cold. The donuts I bought for breakfast taste like lard. Luckily Brad brought lots of oatmeal.

6:00 am dug emerges from the tent. I’ve never seen anyone look so tired. He drags himself to a camp chair, and someone hands him a bowl of oatmeal. He stares at it blankly, uncomprehendingly. He’s trying to explain why he’s so tired. The individual words he’s speaking make sense, but the sentences don’t. He’s saying something about Ambien. . . I’m pretty sure dug doesn’t remember the first hour of the ride.

7:05 am Kenny honks the starting horn and we head down towards Horsethief road.

The dirt road is mostly downhill and I’m on a singlespeed (like Rick, dug, Kenny, and Brad). While descending the road, dug rests his head on his stem and takes a nap. Far up ahead I see large figures racing along with the main group of riders, and then darting off the road into the brush. The figures do this several times. Apparently, as in Jaws 4, the Chupacabra has followed Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) to Moab and possessed the bodies of some horses.

There is absolutely no one behind me on the road and I start to fear that I’m going to be riding 10 feet in front of sag wagon all day.

7:30 am When we reach the bottom of the switchbacks, we all pose for a picture; after the picture a bunch of people start leaving and I head out with them thinking that Rick, dug, and Brad will quickly catch up. The only thing that happens quickly is that everyone on a geared bike leaves me in the dust. Strangely, it turned out that for several different reasons, everyone on a singlespeed stayed behind at the spot we took the picture. For the next couple hours I pretty much ride alone, and thus, have time to think about all the stuff that hurts, which is my calf, my left knee on the outside and under the kneecap, and my butt. And my left wrist. I’m not feeling strong. At the top of Hardscrabble, I take a page out of Fatty’s book and keep going while all the losers who think this is a social outing, gather for pictures and to “socialize.”

12:00 pm Murphy’s Hogback is the designated meeting place for lunch. It’s at the top of a steep 600 foot climb. It’s starting to get really hot outside. I eat a peanut butter and honey sandwich, a bag of Cliff Shot Blocks, a baggie of trail mix, a Gu, and a Cliff bar. I also drink a 24 oz bottle of sports drink and a bottle of water. I’m absolutely stuffed to the gills, and fear that I’ll never be able to digest all the stuff I just ate, and will soon be horribly sick. dug is now fully awake and is drinking a Diet Coke. He’s very happy. One of Rick’s legs has been cramping. Brad has only been pedaling with his left leg. Brad and Kenny are the only singlespeeders to clean the Hogback.

4:30 pm We arrive at Musselman Arch. The temperature is in the 90’s. The only shade is under a small juniper bush, under which some blessed human had recently taken a dump. We’re all out of water, and the support truck is far behind. We all slump under the bush, despite the aroma.

Rick begs some water off a guy in a truck; we drink it and then Brad makes shames Rick into begging more water from the guy. I’m feeling good, but tired. There’s a park ranger who is just heading out of the park, so he fills up all our bottles with water.

The past four hours have been a blur. After about 20 minutes of feeling like I was going to die after lunch, I started feeling better. Then I started feeling way better. Then I started feeling strong like bull. I even managed to ride to the front and scare Kenny by riding up on him and yelling “track, track, track,” as if we’re racing, and he’s in my way. Man, I’m funny.

At airport campground I decided to duck into one of the dark brown pit toilets. It was approximately 238 degrees inside and I was unable to consummate my visit.

After the support vehicles come, dug has a diet coke. He is very happy. Rick is definitely no longer having fun, and in my mind I could hear him swearing horribly at dug for introducing him to mountain biking. When Rick tries to pedal hard, his quads cramp and actually leave their designated position on his leg and kind of slide around to the side of is leg.

Brad switches to pedaling with his right leg.

5:00 pm We depart for the 1200 foot climb up Shafer switchbacks. I’m feeling pretty good and ride a descent chunk of the bottom part. Then I blow up and have to get off my bike to rest. After a couple minutes I get back on my bike and make it about 30 feet before my legs quit working. Rick and dug are just behind me so I wait for them. dug rides by in silent, abject suffering. I re-mount and make it up around the next switchback where I see dug laying in a heap in the middle of the rocky dirt road. I ride by him in silent, abject suffering. About 30 yards from where dug collapsed, the climb becomes much less steep. If dug had made it up that last steep bit, he would have cleaned Shafer Switchbacks on a singlespeed after 90+ miles of riding. I don’t make it to the flatter part either; this time when I blow up and get off my bike, my legs won’t hold me up correctly and I kind of stumble around in a wobbly sort of way like a sailor who’s just stepping onto solid ground after a long sea voyage.

Kenny and Brad are waiting where the climb flattens out and we ride back to camp together.

7:00 pm We arrive at camp. 104 miles: it’s the longest I’ve ever ridden a bike both in terms of distance and riding time. I feel tired, but really good. I’m happy to have been able to ride that far on a rigid singlespeed. For the first time in several years, I feel like I’m starting to get into cycling shape.

I make a joke about taking a quick ride down to Gemini Bridges (I am, after all, very funny) and Rick threatens to punch me in the throat if I say another word about cycling.

8:00 pm Brad and I leave to drive home. Normally, this would pretty much be the end of an epic day, but my wife is shooting a wedding in California, so my Mother-In-Law is watching our five year old and seven month old daughters. And it turned out that my day was far from being over.

10:00 pm Brad and I stop at Wendy’s in Price, Utah. I swear this is the best hamburger I ever had. I’m so sleepy, I feel like someone has drugged me. Brad looks like he’s ready to go for a ride when he gets home.

12:12 am I arrive home, unpack a bit, shower, and get a snack.

12:55 am I lay down to go to sleep, but can’t. It’s paradoxical, but I’m too exhausted, too achy. Plus I’ve had enough caffeine to ward off sleep, if not sleepiness.

1:20 am I look at the clock, but can’t see it well, which makes me think of Fatty’s fancy alarm clock that projects the time up onto the ceiling, which reminds me of the fact that I’m supposed to write something for Fatty’s blog. I fall asleep.

2:10 am The baby wakes up. She’s hungry. I change her diaper and feed her. Then I change her diaper again. Why can I never remember that you should change a baby’s diaper AFTER you feed her?

2:50 am Just as I’m getting ready to lay down again, the 5 year old wakes up crying. She had a scary dream. I snuggle her on the couch until she falls asleep.

3:10 am I attempt to carry the 5 year old upstairs to put her to bed. After two steps, I begin to doubt whether I’m capable of making it up the stairs with her. I take her back to the couch. And crawl up the stairs into my own bed. I lay down and have the idea for this blog entry. That’s when I first started to notice The Hunger. I tried to go to sleep, but felt like I was getting more hungry every minute. I got up, ate some cereal, and went back to bed. Still hungry. I get up again and this time make a sandwich and eat it with chips and drank a big glass of milk. Then I eat some M&M’s. And some more chips. And some cheese. And some crackers. I burp loudly and pat my gelatinous torso.

3:40 am I lay back down to go to sleep and before I doze off, I have the idea to write this blog entry.

4:10 am The baby awakes screaming frightfully, apparently with a belly ache. I’m not able to get her to settle down, so I take her to the office, and I start writing this blog entry while the baby plays. Oh yeah and I got some more cereal.


24 hours of Vail Lake

04.27.2007 | 5:31 am

A Note from Fatty: Thanks to everyone who continues to leave some of the nicest, most supportive comments my wife and I could ever hope for. You really give us both a big lift.

Now, today’s guest post comes to you from my good friend and longtime riding buddy Kenny, team captain of the Jack Mormon Militia.

Meet the Jack Mormon Militia
Fatty asked me to do a write up on the 24 hours of Vail Lake.  As I started writing this story, I realized it’s hard to write a dramatic story when everything goes as planned. It’s not like I was stuck out in the desert at night with no food, no water and no light.   We couldn’t have asked for a better result, we had very few mechanicals and the whole team did super fast laps from start to finish.

My team, the Jack Mormon Militia, is a single speed mountain bike 24 hour race team, consisting of 4 riders: Josh Wolfe, Chucky Gibson, myself and our newest member, Jason Asay.  For those who are unfamiliar, a 24 hour mountain bike race consists of doing laps around a 10 to 15 mile course from noon one day to noon the next day. Teams can be solo riders, two person teams, four person teams, five person coed teams and single speed rigid teams. 

My team rides in the single rigid category.  The bikes can only have one gear and no suspension.  It’s hard to explain why we prefer riding these kind of bikes, other than it’s simple and it keeps the bikes light and fast.  For me biking is very spiritual and by choosing to ride a rigid single speed bike, I experience more of this sensation.  When we race in these events we like to compete more for the overall win than in our own category.  We’re trying to show people that you don’t need to spend 6 grand on a tricked-out fully suspended mountain bike to be fast or to have fun.

Road Trip
On the way down, we stopped in Vegas to break up the trip into two shorter stints in the cars.  Plus  it’s always good to have an excuse to stop in Sin City.  We are the Jack Mormons after all. We figured the second day’s drive would be about 3 hours; we’d pick up the motor home rental, set up camp, and pre ride the course. 

Here’s a news flash: the traffic in southern California is a big peace of crap.  We had to bribe the rental guy to stay late and we missed pre-riding the course.

One thing that’s a little tricky racing single speed bikes is gear choice.  Pick too easy a gear and you’ll lose valuable time on the flats.  Pick too hard a gear and you’ll blow up on the climbs.  We tried to calculate the distance of the course to the average speed we would need to hold to turn 50 minute laps and came up with about 52 gear inch ratio. 

We were wrong. 

Let’s Go
We always insist that Josh take the first lap.  He’s the youngest on the team and the only one that can stay in front on the run.  He did well, considering he stepped in a hole and twisted his ankle.  As he grabbed his bike off the stand he jumped on the bike putting his weight on the back of his saddle.  It must have been loose because the front of the saddle pointed straight up.  He got off his bike and smacked it precisely into place.  It must not have slowed him down, because he finished his first lap riding a wheelie, and in first place.

Chucky went out next.  He held the lead, but really blew himself up on the first climb.  While Chuck was out on his lap, I quickly changed my gearing to a much easier gear.  I had the advantage of talking to Josh, who was totally cooked having used the harder gear that we agreed on.   When Chucky rolled in and gave me the baton his face was the same color as his red Felt bikes jersey.

My Turn
One thing that makes our team fast is that we compete against each other. So, needless to say, I went out fast. 

I felt like if I raced smart, I might have a chance with the better gear selection.  The course started out flat for about a mile and then started to climb.  The climb was steep and long, but I came over the top and still felt strong.  The course started rolling with some short ups and some technical descents.  It made picking the right line difficult because you couldn’t see over the top of the rollers.  I came up fast on junction and the yellow marking ribbon was blowing across the single track to the left.  I went right and started descending down a long dirt road. 

After a bit, I got a sick feeling. You know, the “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore” feeling. I started thinking that the yellow tape had dislodged from one side by the wind and had steered me in the wrong direction.  I stopped quick and looked back up about a quarter mile to the questionable turn.  Two other racers were coming down towards me.  I continued down, even faster to try and make up time.  Another half mile or so I came to a major fork in the road.  There were no markings in either direction.  I stopped and waited for the other cyclist to catch up to me.

I asked a racer (solo women’s category) if we were off course. I thought she would know, since she was on her second lap.  She said she thought so.  I knew we weren’t but continued down the road hoping to hook up with the trail down below.  The climb back up would take 15 minutes or more. 

It was a gamble.

Luckily, I won.

It wasn’t more than a half mile down the road that the marked single track connected to the road I was descending on. The road turned up and climbed for another mile or so and finished with some kick-ass rollers.  My lap time was 51 minutes, a minute or so slower than Josh’s and Chucky’s times.   I was just glad to have finished my lap with out being passed while I was lost.

Jason then showed us all how it was done with a 47 minute lap, the fastest so far.  This course was a blast. The more you did it, the faster you could descend, with better lines and keeping your momentum into the short rolling hills.  Our second laps were all faster and we only slowed down five minutes or so during the night. 

The second place team was a really fast 5-person coed team with one girl.  They ripped it through the night and kept it pretty close when the sun came up. 

Time for Bed
For me, the hardest lap in a 24-Hour race is always the one between 2 and 4 o’clock in the morning.  It’s hard to keep eating and drinking at that hour; my body just wants to shut down.  It’s amazing how much better I feel when the sun comes up.  Botched explained it to me once.  He said it’s because the cells in your body follow some kind of rhythmic clock. Or something like that. 

Anyway, during this time we were able to lap second place, but we kept going hard.  We wanted to get 7 laps each. 

We were very happy with our showing at this race.  The course was fun.  The weather was good.  We had a few mechanicals, but nothing that really slowed us down much.

Prizes. Pfff.
We finished with 28 laps in 24 hours and 8 minutes.  I’m pretty sure that is the course record. 

The only thing that I’m a little put off by is the awards and I’m really curious what you all think.  There were some really cool things on the prize table; Night rider light systems, jerseys, camelbaks and other bike related swag. By the time Laird Knight, the race director, got to my team, though, the table was empty.  He praised us for doing a great race and said he had the best prize of all for us, which was a 4 person scuba trip in San Diego.  We all looked at each other with puzzled looks.  How would four guys that get together exclusively to ride bikes put together another trip to southern California to go scuba diving?  We told Laird that we didn’t think we’d be able to use it and he said, “That’s the beauty of it.  The trip is good for 1 year, so you could use it when you come back next year.”

We told him we still wouldn’t use it and gave it back, thinking that he would then give us something bike related, like a jersey or a bike pump or even socks for that matter. 

We were wrong. 

He graciously took it back and said he would put it to good use. Wouldn’t it make more sense to give that prize to a local team, or was that his plan all along, to give it to a team that wouldn’t use it? Let me know what you think.

Some Good Things

04.26.2007 | 10:57 am

So many of you have commented and emailed with support for Susan and me. Thank you for that. It never would have occurred to me that this blog would be such a rich source of good friends, but you all have been the best. Again, thank you. (On a related note, I just renewed the fatcyclist.com domain for three years. So yes, I’m sticking around.)

Tuesday, when this whole bombshell got dropped on us, I did my best to be the strong guy — take care of my wife, take care of business, take care of the kids, take notes at the doctor’s.

You can only do this for so long.

Luckily, I have some good friends. At 4pm Tuesday, Dug, Botched, and I hit the Draper singletrack, where I discovered — to a greater degree than I ever have before — one of the most important, wonderful things about being on a bike:

When you’re riding hard, that’s all you can do.

When you’re in the red zone, all you can think about is turning the cranks. When you’re riding down technical, exposed, twisty singletrack, that’s all you can pay attention to. Essentially, riding a bicycle can be fully absorbing – a vacation from everything.

It’s like therapy, but cheaper. And more effective. And less creepy.

OK, I guess it’s not really any cheaper.

Anyway, yesterday we found out that the tumor in Susan’s hip is nasty and big enough that her hip’s in danger of fracturing; she needed to get on radiation pronto, in the hopes that we can shrink the tumor before her hip breaks. Cuz if the hip breaks, they have to operate to fix it, which would delay chemo. So we spent the morning getting Susan ready for that before I headed off to work.

Holy crap. I can’t believe I’m in the situation where I’m actually writing paragraphs like that.

By the end of the day, I needed — and I think I’m being completely honest when I say “needed — to get out on a ride. Alone.

I called Susan and asked her how long she could give me. She said, “Take as long as you need.” Yes, she really said that.

So here’s what I needed: oblivion. And I know exactly how to get it: climbing on the road, and lots of it. I went to the bottom of Suncrest and rode up the 3.5 mile, 1500-foot climb, then dropped down the other side. Then I pulled a U-turn and reversed my course.

And then I did it again. Two hours and fifteen minutes, 29 miles, 6200 feet of climbing (and the same amount of descending. The upshot? Completely wiped-out legs and a reclamation of my ability to hold things together.

Today, Susan’s getting a port-a-cath, tattoos on her hip to make it easy to align the machine for radiation, and her first radiation treatment. I wish I could send her out for a ride.

PS: Kenny’s writing up the story of his team’s big win at the 24 Hours of Vail Lake. I’ll be publishing that soon.

PPS: Dug, Bob, Botched and Al have all agreed to write some guest posts for my blog. Thanks, guys.

PPPS: I actually had a pretty funny idea of my own yesterday, so don’t be too surprised if I drop in with some (attempted) comedy sometime in the next couple days.

PPPPS: Today’s weight: 159.0

Here’s What’s Been Going On

04.24.2007 | 12:14 pm

I’ve mentioned a few times recently that I’ve got a crisis going on that makes it difficult for me to try to be funny. I didn’t want to talk about it until it turned out that our suspicions were wrong and I could laugh it off, or it turned out that we were right and we had to start taking next steps.

Turns out we were right. In a nutshell: my wife’s breast cancer has metastasized. It’s in her bones, her spine, her lungs, her lymph nodes.

Obviously, right now I need to put the bulk of my energy into helping her as we get started on the huge — and endless — array of treatment she’s got in front of her. Chemo, radiation, surgery. Rinse and repeat, pretty much forever.

Eventually, we’ll get businesslike about the work of living with cancer, and I’ll go back to being the goofball I usually am. Meanwhile, I’m going to ask some friends to cover for me here, comedy-wise. I’ll still be here, but my sense of humor and I are a long way from each other right now.

How to Make a Quick Buck

04.23.2007 | 12:51 pm

Recently, I provided some extraordinarily valuable advice on how to get the money you need for your next bike-related purchase. To my horror, however, I failed to describe one of the most important ways you can earn money for your next bike purchase. My mistake is even more egregious when I consider the fact that in addition to being a great money-gathering technique, this method can actually earn you brownie points with your significant other.

So, what is this brilliant money making / brownie point earning scheme? Simple!


True Story
It’s no secret that Kenny (congrats, by the way, to the Jack Mormon Militia, which won the 24 Hours of Vail Lake outright last weekend — yes, these guys on their rigid singlespeeds beat every other team in the entire race) bought himself a super-sweet Toyota FJ Cruiser earlier this year. What you may not know, however, is that Kenny bought this car using nothing but the proceeds from eBay sales of old bike parts.

Yes, that’s right. Kenny emptied his garage of old bike stuff he wasn’t using anymore, sold it all on eBay, and then filled his garage up again, but now with a brand new car.

OK, it’s possible that I’m exaggerating slightly here. But still: Kenny recently sold all his old bike stuff on eBay, and he recently bought a really nice FJ Cruiser. Coincidence? You decide.

What I Could Sell
So I took a look around the garage and elsewhere in the house. If I needed to make a quick buck getting rid of bike stuff I no longer need or use, what could I sell, and how much could I earn?

Here’s my eBay self-assessment.

  • Xport Xpress pickup bed bike rack: I recently traded in my RSX for a truck. Yes, I am a truck owner now. Of course, the first order of business was to find a way to find a way to securely store bikes in the truck bed. I ordered this $80 gizmo, but before it arrived, I had a little brainstorm of a sturdier, more secure way I could fork-mount bikes in my truck bed (which worked out beautifully, by the way). So I never even took this Xport Xpress out of the box. Still, I understand that through the magic of depreciation, there’s no way I could recover the entire purchase price of this thing. I think, though, I could get $60 for it. The problem is, I’m too lazy. Once I sold this on eBay, I’d have to lug it and ship it. So it’ll probably continue to sit in my garage until / unless I find someone who will just come and get it.
  • A Multitude of Tubes: I have a vast number of bike tubes, and this has become problematic recently. It turns out that the size and quality of my tubes is, in some cases, questionable. Specifically, there are at least two tubes sitting in my garage that are either brand new or have had a puncture — but I’m not sure which. There are several tubes that have been rolled up and stuffed in socks, which is a great way to keep them in your seat pack. Unfortunately, I do not know whether these tubes are for 29″ wheels or for 26″ wheels. Plus I’ve also got a couple tubes that I think may be more than five years old. Do tubes have a “Use By” date, after which they get all crusty and crumbly? Anyway, I’m thinking I’d be willing to give this entire lot of 15-20 tubes, almost all of which are very likely in usable condition, for $15.
  • Swrve bike messenger knickers: Last winter, Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) and Dug each bought some really awesome-looking urban-style biking knickers, made by a little cycling apparel company named “Swrve.” So I ordered a pair myself. When the knickers arrived, I excitedly put them on, which was when I discovered I would never be able to wear these knickers. While the waist fits just fine, thanks, my massive quads simply do not fit in the slim-cut legs. I paid $60 for them and put them on exactly once, so I’m hoping I could resell them for $30. I’m hopeful that some cyclist with skinny girly legs might want to buy these. Hey Dug, do you need another pair?
  • Two or three Y hex wrenches: I do not know how many Y hex wrenches I own, but I think a conservative estimate would be seven. I do however, know why I have so many. I’ll be looking around for one, can’t find it, and so the next time I’m at a bike shop, I’ll buy a new one. This, somehow, acts as a cosmic signal to all the other Y wrenches I own and they come out of hiding. It’s how they breed. I worry, to tell the truth, what might happen if I sell some of these wrenches. Probably, the rest would all go into hiding again until I had either reached or exceeded the current population. Still, I’m thinking: $3 per Y wrench.
  • Camelbak Mule: I have two Camelbak Mules. They’re exactly the same. I have no idea why I have two. $25 seems like a good price to eBay one of them.
  • Extra bladder for Camelbak Mule, slightly discolored: Oh, you know what? Now I remember why I have the extra Camelbak Mule. A while ago, the bladder in my original Mule got all gross and fuzzy on the inside. REI happened to be having a sale on the Mule, so it was about $0.79 cheaper to buy a new Mule than to buy a replacement bladder and bite valve. So I did. So I should be clear, whoever buys the Camelbak Mule on eBay is getting the old bladder, not the new one. And while I have taken pains to clean that bladder, it’s still a little bit brownish on the inside, and I’ve never quite been able to completely remove the mushroom smell. That’s not a problem, is it? $5.00, plus $6.99 shipping costs.
  • Lot of 15-20 water bottles: When we moved from Washington, I got rid of all but two of my water bottles. Now I have around 15 or 20 again. How did this happen? $0.50 / bottle.
  • Polar CS200cad: I’ve recently upgraded to a Garmin Forerunner 305 (thanks to everyone who recommended it; I like it a lot), so no longer need the Polar CS200cad. It’s a great bike computer: it does speed, heart rate, and cadence. Unfortunately, it eats through batteries — which are not rechargeable — at a prodigious rate, and it never turns itself off. And the buttons are hard to press. And it makes a peculiar odor (OK, I made that part up). $15, or at least that’s how much I would have charged for it if I hadn’t smashed it in a retributive fit.

The thing is, this list doesn’t even include all the old components I have — XTR sidepull brakes, a random assortment of stems, Clif Bars of indeterminate age, and the entire set of components and wheels to the old Ibis Ti Road.

I wonder how much I’d get for a 9-year-old Ultegra group?

PS: My sister Lori opened a show at the Phillips Gallery in Salt Lake last weekend. As of today, all but a couple of those paintings have sold. Lori’s art is awesome. Check out her paintings from this show.

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