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.


  1. Comment by Brewinman | 04.27.2007 | 5:48 am

    Kudos to the Jack Mormon Militia!

  2. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 04.27.2007 | 5:49 am

    HA that’s kind of a funny prize. Are you sure they weren’t punking you?

    I’m laughing extra hard because of the story Chucky told you and I about his trip to Mexico and the pool diving misadventure he had there. For those of you that weren’t on that ride when Chucky told us, suffice to say that Cucky and his girlfriend flunked out of dive school on a recent trip to mexico.

    Personally, I couldn’t/wouldn’t have been able to use the trip either.

    Great write race. I’m going to go to one of these races “incognito.” I’m dying to hear what other competitors and organizers say about you guys smoking everyone on rigid singlespeeds.

  3. Comment by GenghisKhan | 04.27.2007 | 5:55 am

    Hey, yesterday Barry1021 posted a nicely written open letter to the b@$t@r6 cancer in Mrs. Fatty (Susan, right?). Well, someone more creative and connected might want to suggest to Fatty a solidarity/fundraising t-shirt with that letter printed on the back for all of FATTY’S (Friends Against The Tyranny in Your Susan–see, I need more creative!) Army to proudly wear. The front could have FATTY’s ARMY emblazoned across it with the Fat Cyclist Jersey horse crushing a cancer cell. Just tryin’ to sow a seed…

  4. Comment by Tg | 04.27.2007 | 6:11 am

    Congrates! But, what a bogus prize! I say ripoff!

  5. Comment by msk | 04.27.2007 | 6:30 am

    outstanding job kenny and the team – v impressive
    you have shamed / inspired me to scrap my turner sultan 29er (5k) idea and thinking more rigid singlespeed (well for now)

    just a couple of questions for the bike geek in me

    are you all on 29ers?
    what frames and wheelsets?
    do you keep the same front ring and just change in the rear cog, or do you have to change both to get a comprehensive coverage of ratios?
    do you use a flip flop hub?

    prize sucks
    you should have gone first and got to choose whatever you wanted
    or given your ebay success could you have sold the dive trip?



  6. Comment by poweredbywaffles | 04.27.2007 | 6:38 am

    you know id say “nice job on the race” but that just doesnt quite capture the total holy crapness of the accomplishment. you dudes are sick! what are they feeding you? & did i catch that right — you lapped second place?? do they start crying when you do that?

    on a side note, i didnt know vail lake was out here in socal. lol i saw “vail” and thought it was in colorado. nein, turns out its right here in the heart of the 909! floyd landis territory! truckers and dirt! welcome (belated) jack mormon militia!

  7. Comment by TidusBlue | 04.27.2007 | 6:45 am

    So, you lapped 2nd place once…. but the fact that you lapped 3rd place 4 times, well that’s just mean.

  8. Comment by Lowrydr | 04.27.2007 | 6:53 am

    So, are they looking at you for Dopping?

  9. Comment by Al Maviva | 04.27.2007 | 7:01 am

    Well done, boys. I hate to say this, but it has to be said: if you ride single speed, you are lucky to just not get a prize. You ride SS MTB, you should have been whacked with a cricket bat until your eyes bled. After all, you obviously don’t get enough suffering, so the prize should have entailed… more suffering! Truly impressive performance.

    Dropping the tongue from cheek, I’ve seen the light on the SS MTBs. It’s a nicer way to ride, you can really flow, and in fact have to learn to flow because you can’t get a do-over on the SS… mid-move or on a hill. You may not be fast when you start SS, because a geared bike lets you pick along through tough stuff in a granny gear. You ride SS… it makes you ride at a certain pace. You’ll pick it up… or we’ll be picking you up. For curious readers, there are some great options in single speed 29′ers. Redline makes one for under $500, and while it comes with cantilever brakes, you can get a decent mechanical disc brake for around $100… yeeeaahhh, you can be rolling big time, for dirt cheap. I think Raleigh and maybe Scott also make similar inexpensive SS 29ers for maybe $100 or $150 more than that. And yes, I’ve found rigid is plenty comfortable with the bigger tires, and they are the bomb for larger riders.

  10. Comment by JET(not a nickname) | 04.27.2007 | 8:30 am

    Riding a mountain bike for 24 hours. How foolish. And I say that because I wouldn’t last 15 minutes doing what you guys did. Well done gentleman!

  11. Comment by Boz | 04.27.2007 | 9:12 am

    I’d get used to the bogus prize conspiracy deal. The JMM are sure to be marked men at what ever race you guys enter. Bad enough to pummel with a single speed, but lapping the high-dollar teams just leads to hard feelings. Lucky a couple of made guys aren’t waiting out on the course at night. You’ve been warned.

    PS – good story !!

  12. Comment by Jay | 04.27.2007 | 9:25 am

    I don’t know…..I’d have a tendancy to make up my own jersies for next year. Maybe saying ” We won this race last year and we didn’t even get these lousy jersies.” Maybe that will wake those assholes up. Also maybe they figure that the guys with the $6,000 bikes can’t afford the rest of the gear…….frankly….i don’t get it. I guess they thought it was a great prize. Maybe one of the orginzers is a diver. Maybe they don’t want you guys to come back….you’re making the rest of them look bad. Go back next year and win it on beach cruisers…..that will show them…….LOL.

  13. Comment by Eufemiano Fuentes | 04.27.2007 | 11:00 am

    Good Showing

    Crappy Prize

  14. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.27.2007 | 11:46 am

    er yep, the prize was, indeed crappy+. I expect it was cathartic to give it back, but, maybe you ought to write the sod that is just going to keep it for hisself, ask for it back and sell it on EBay. Make sure and sent him a link.

    Conga-Rats on the impressive win.

    P.S. when I was going through Navy Nuclear Power School, I was stationed 6 months in Idaho Falls for training at the nuclear prototype site near Arco, ID. I used to drink a beer or two with a neighbor – a potato (potatoe?) farmer, who claimed to be a Jack Mormon, at least when it came to beer. His most memorable line: “Anyone who puts anything but butter, salt & pepper on a baked potato is a queer!” Personally, I never had such strong feelings about potato preparation, but, in Idaho………

    I don’t think he rode a SS rigid 29er, either.


  15. Comment by bikemike | 04.27.2007 | 12:14 pm

    good read man, holy crap.

    on the prize, well, i guess its like offering a steak dinner to vegetarian.

    fight the good fight!

  16. Comment by MTB W | 04.27.2007 | 1:28 pm

    Way to go! Lapping 2nd place? Wow- maybe you should go back next year with beach cruisers. In the few races I’ve been in, I felt like I was on a tricycle compared to everyone else.

    I can’t believe they didn’t try to offer the overall first place team something else. I agree with the others that you should contact them, get the prize and then e-bay it.

    Anyway, another great story! Glad you are helping FC out.

  17. Comment by Mrs. Coach | 04.27.2007 | 1:44 pm

    Hey, at least they offered you something of value. Last year when Bob got 3rd place in the Pro/1/2 on the Snowbird hill climb all he got was a water bottle. And it wasn’t even a big one. Just one of those dinky short ones. 50 minutes of eye popping, gut wrenching brutatlity and all he gets is a stinking water bottle?!

    Needless to say, we were pretty ticked. I think that if you come in the top 10 you should at the *very least* get your entry fee back or the equivalent in schwag.

  18. Comment by cyclechic | 04.27.2007 | 2:20 pm

    When I won UVAS I got a giant bottle of Olive Oil. Apparently, it was a $200 bottle of gormet Olive Oil but what the heck am I going to do with 3 gallons of olive oil that tastes like Carp?

    The diving trip doesn’t sound so bad…

  19. Comment by Bob | 04.27.2007 | 3:00 pm

    Congratulations, Kenny. I like to think I had something to do with the victory since I pushed you so hard at Gooseberry and Little Creek. I knew the training would pay off.

    The diving trip is goofy prize. It’s for certified scuba divers. You should have demanded a set of water bottles.

  20. Comment by LMouse | 04.27.2007 | 3:11 pm

    Cyclechic: Tastes like Carp? Sure it wasn’t fish oil? Snort, snort. Sorry, my bad. Couldn’t resist.

    The prize was awful, to be sure. In future, re-gift or E-bay. You’re too nice.

  21. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 04.27.2007 | 4:44 pm

    Winners are Grinners. Was there a $ value on the prize did it include accommodation, boat hire, training etc. Sounds like it could have been quite a good prize. Surely the JMM is in it for the spritual rewards, the win, the medals, the team photo, the record (hopefully) and the inner satisfaction that comes with being a group of number 1’s. The win lasts for ever the prizes wear out, break, get lost or used up.
    Well I tried but the prize does seem somewhat lacking. Reminds me of a golf tournament we played in as a team and won over 36 holes years ago. We each won an Iron (steam variety for flattening clothes) the group that had the best score over the first 9 holes got Saeco Coffee machines! As the prizes dwindled down we stood there as overall champions looking at 4 Irons – gobsmacked!
    Like I said tho great performance and great win.

  22. Comment by spin echo | 04.27.2007 | 5:33 pm

    great writing — and congrats

  23. Comment by Boz | 04.28.2007 | 6:24 am

    My wife was in a triathlon 2 years ago, her first, and finished in the pack. But, the payoff at the end was great. The raffle included a Serotta tri-bike, a gear bag w/ helmet, shorts, shoes ect, and the prize my wife won – the complete Spinerval dvd collection. Now that was great swag. I have noticed alot of my wife’s doctor friends are into triathlons. Maybe that accounts for all the goodies.

  24. Comment by Jerry | 04.28.2007 | 9:42 am

    How old are you? 4? 5?

    The prize didn’t actually suck. It was just not what you expected. In fact you sound rather ungreatfull and a little petty. That sounds like the most expensive prize they had to give out int terms of $ value and your response shows your limitations and inability to stretch out in any way.

    You should act like a grown up and accept the prize with grace and dignity. If it was truly unusable because you would “NEVER” go to San Diego. Then wait and trade the prize for jerseys or something after the end of the ceremony. I truly hope you have better luck in terms of prizes in the future. Prehaps a pacifier will be on the prize table next time.

  25. Comment by Tg | 04.28.2007 | 7:35 pm

    Jerry, were you on the race committee?

  26. Comment by Co | 04.28.2007 | 8:23 pm

    Jerry was not only on the race committee, Jerry is a scuba diver who counted on the committee reclaiming the price. Jerry is not a biker. Jerry has no concept of anyone valuing anything other than what he values. Jerry probably would hand a steak dinner prize to a vegetarian.

  27. Comment by reader | 04.28.2007 | 10:15 pm

    Congrats on the win, but Jerry is right. The trip probably was worth the most dollars, and you gave it back, you didn’t trade it in.

  28. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 04.29.2007 | 5:09 am

    Jerry, you’re an idiot. Think about the prize and what using it would entail. They literally couldn’t use it (for at least 3 reasons).

    As for giving the prize back, how do you kow how they handled it? Were you there?

  29. Comment by deepersouth | 04.29.2007 | 7:08 am

    Assos jersey AND arm warmers evident in that fourth picture … I am glad the rigid singlespeed cult doesn’t preclude sartorial indulgence. I just hope there are Assos bibs under that jersey taking care of an unsuspended arse.

  30. Comment by spin echo | 04.29.2007 | 10:45 am

    i think jerry must be a troll — there is no need to be insulting, even if he disagrees

    either that, or he is on the race committee as others have suggested

  31. Comment by KatieA | 04.29.2007 | 3:19 pm

    See, I always thought those people that won got their prizes first, and one would think, pick of the table. Any I would have thought a lot of the teams involved wouldn’t be from the area, so why have a prize that most of you can’t use?

    But hey, they’re MUCH better prizes than our basketball ones (because, you know, adults don’t want trophies) – we got a shoe bag which is too small to hold ONE basketball boot, let alone two, a laptop bag with no padding so it would smash anything you kept in it, a wine glass with the stadium logo on it that washed off the first time I used it, a coffee mug that did the same & one year, we got a voucher for a beer at the lawn bowls club across the road. And that’s after we pay $60 a game. Be thankful in some respects… :)

  32. Comment by buckythedonkey | 04.29.2007 | 11:34 pm

    My first thought: you got stiffed on the prize for sure.

    My second: as soon as deeperSouth pointed out the presence of at least one Luxury Body on your team, I figure you deserve all the spalming you get. Shame on you for giving Jack Mormonism a bad name.

    Hats off to the race organiser! Trebles all round (except for Jerry who clearly has too much free time on his/her hands)! ;-)

  33. Comment by kenny | 04.30.2007 | 7:07 am

    MSK, Were all on GF rigs except chuck has the new Felt single. I’m running the new x-lite tubless bontragers. It’s a hugi 240 hub. These wheels are light and so far very durable.

    Al, Amen my brother

    Born4Lycra, I live on coffee. I would love that prize.

    Jerry, Your point well taken. wa wa

    KatieA, Coffee mugs, beer, wine glasses… these are all things I would use.

    buckythedonkey, my bro Jason truely has the luxury body. The ad finally makes perfect sense to me.

  34. Comment by buckythedonkey | 04.30.2007 | 10:16 am

    I’m gettin’ wood. ;-)

  35. Comment by MAJ Mike | 04.30.2007 | 12:55 pm

    In order to settle the controversy, i will be happy to accept the prize even though I haven’t ridden any kind of a single speed since I last got off a BMX dirt bike when I was 14. I think that would be perfectly fair…(says the guy who loves scuba diving…)

  36. Comment by Tg | 04.30.2007 | 1:36 pm

    Dr. Fuentes, perhaps you should do a post expressing your feelings about Ivan Basso’s request to be realeased from Team Discovery Channel. I think we would all be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.

  37. Comment by Lurch | 05.1.2007 | 7:41 am

    Well….the Puerto situation in “Clintonesque” terms….Looks like they found the dress!

  38. Comment by dpcowboy | 05.1.2007 | 9:59 am

    The funky prize table thing is exactly why cash is generally a better option, followed by edibles, like donuts, restaurant certificates, or even bags of chips.

    If they knew they were about to run out of prizes, they coulda ponied up something appropriate…i think they don’t like Mormons, or even Jack Mormons.

    I once won a prime in a criterium in Santa Cruz, and when I went to collect it, I found out it was a pie….great, I thought…then the earth mama who supposedly donated the prime told me that she hadn’t made it yet, and had hoped that a local rider would win it, so she could make it later. Later that night as my teammates and I were arriving at our ‘guest’ housing (locals who donated their homes/floors for visiting teams) we were surprised to find the same earth mama at the door and…you guessed it…she didn’t have any space.

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