How to Enjoy a Race

05.30.2007 | 8:31 am

I fully intended to race last Monday. The course is practically in my backyard and I know it well. It was low-stakes, so I wasn’t worried about having to do well — plus, with Kenny, Brad, and Dug racing in the same category (singlespeed), I didn’t need to worry about winning or anything.

And then, Saturday morning, on a group ride with friends, I noticed something weird.

As we did the downhill section of the Alpine Loop, I noticed that I was lightheaded. This is an unsettling sensation to come across at 40mph.

I dialed back my speed (a lot), and ended the ride early.

By late in the afternoon, it all made sense: I was coming down with a nasty cold.

Sunday, I felt lousy. And when Monday came around, I still felt lousy. No way was I going to race.

But I still wanted to go, to see how my friends did.

And I wanted to see how people looked in my sexy new Fat Cyclist jersey.

How Not to Take Pictures
Kenny, Brad, Dug, Rick S (not his real name), and Tasha (Brad’s wife) had all said they’d wear the Fat Cyclist jersey for this race.

The only problem was, I forgot my camera. Clever.

Luckily, Brad had a camera in his car, so I was able to borrow it and get some good shots. Let’s start with the pre-race parking lot shots.

I asked Rick S to pose for me as if he were an ad for a Performance Biking Catalog model:

I’d say he nailed it.

Next, I asked Kenny to show off the big guns:

As Kenny shows here, if you’re going to race single speed, you’ve got to have arms to go with the legs. A point of interest: note that Kenny is not sitting in the back of his beloved F’nJ Cruiser. That’s because he wrecked it last Friday. I feel responsible, for two reasons:

  1. He was on his way to ride with me when he wrecked it.
  2. He was looking down for a second, trying to deal with the melty chocolatey mess from a Honey Stinger Peanut Butta Protein Bar I had given him, when he got in the accident.

And here’s Dug, doing his pre-race calisthenics:

Dug loves his Diet Coke. Yeah, like I have room to talk in that regard. The only differences between Dug’s and my Diet Coke consumption are:

  • I am also perfectly happy to drink Diet Pepsi, which Dug hates.
  • From time to time, Dug tries to cut back or quit his Diet Coke habit. I embrace mine, and never look back.

And here’s Tasha, capably showing that a Fat Cyclist jersey looks great on women, too:

The Race Begins
Just before the race began, I headed up on the trail, found myself a good spot to stand, cheered people on as well as I could with my sore, froggy voice, and took some pictures. Look at Rick — dude’s totally got the eye of the tiger:

Kenny shows off that it’s possible — barely — to make an orange and black jersey go with blue shorts:

And Dug flouts convention by wearing wool messenger knickers the last weekend of May, in 312-degree (celsius) weather:

I’m going to give Dug an extra 55 style points, though, for wearing a leather belt during a race on a hot day. Plus an extra 23 style points for the socks.

How to Cheer People On
After everyone zoomed by my first spot, I relocated to a different part of the trail, where I could catch people right in the middle of the climb in the second lap — you know, where I figured everyone would be suffering the most.

And this is where I discovered something amazing.

I discovered that I really enjoy watching bike races. This is truly a startling discovery, because while I’ve been to dozens of races, it’s always been to race, never to watch.

Specifically, I really enjoyed cheering people on. Here are the things I yelled at people as they went by:

  • “Looking strong! Looking very strong!”
  • “You’re a monster climber, dude!”
  • Damn, you are fast! Keep it up!”
  • “Way to climb, man, way to climb!

To my delight, it seemed most people really seemed to appreciate my encouragement. This shouldn’t be a surprise, I guess. When I’m racing, my demons tend to talk to me nonstop, so any contrary voice telling me I’m doing OK is more than welcome.

I did notice, however, a certain amount of variance in the way people responded to my encouragement:

  • Habitual racers: Pros and experts mostly didn’t acknowledge me as I cheered them on (Chris Fox being the notable exception). My guess is because they’ve heard this kind of thing often enough that it no longer affects them.
  • Sport, novice, and masters racers: These are the people who responded best to encouragement. These are the people who are pushing themselves into new territory and just eat up any kind words that let them know they’re doing well. These are the people who usually smiled and said, “Thanks!”
  • “Cave of pain” racers: Sometimes I’d be cheering someone on and then — just as they passed me — I’d see their eyes, just for a moment. That’s all it takes, though. These racers are beyond encouragement. All they want to do is finish the race and be allowed to die quietly. I’ve been this kind of racer, and I remember thinking to myself when someone would cheer me on, “I wish that guy would just shut up.”

Big Finish
After all my friends passed me, I started working my way to the finish line. This was slow, because I had to walk on the singletrack, and there were still racers on the course. I’d walk five steps, step off the course, cheer on the guy going past, and then repeat.

I was having a great time.

By the time I got back to the Start / Finish, Brad and Kenny had finished the race — turns out they took second and third, respectively, in the SS class.

Two Fat Cyclist jerseys on the podium already. Nice!

Dug rolled across the finish line a short time later.

It turns out he did the whole race carrying a Diet Coke.

No, not really.

As for me, I left the race feeling like I had turned in an extremely strong performance. I think, in fact, I may have finally found what I’m best at.

I am an awesome spectator.


  1. Comment by Big Boned | 05.30.2007 | 8:37 am

    Just don’t get svelt cyclists sportin’ “Fat Cyclist” jerseys. Are you all mocking me?

  2. Comment by cheapie | 05.30.2007 | 8:41 am

    i’m STILL waiting on a pic of an actual fat person wearing one of your jerseys! btw, they look pretty frickin sweet! can’t wait for mine….woohoo!

    psst….more pics of tasha and fewer pics of dudes in wool bike knickers would be very nice….just sayin’….

  3. Comment by jill | 05.30.2007 | 8:56 am

    Nice …

    Way to represent, Team Fat Cyclist.

  4. Comment by LanterneRouge | 05.30.2007 | 9:10 am

    I never know what to say when cheering from the side lines and usually end up spouting some extraordinarily retarded version of “hey batter, hey batter , batter, swing!”

  5. Comment by KT | 05.30.2007 | 9:39 am

    LanterneRouge, I know the feeling: my cheers usually consist of, “Woooooo!” and… well, that’s about it, really. :)

    Although I guess sometimes I mix it up with a well-timed “Yeah!” or a hearty “Go!” but that’s about all I got. :)

    Fatty, those jerseys look great. :) Man, I shoulda ordered one! :)

  6. Comment by kmax | 05.30.2007 | 9:55 am

    Yeah, I’m with you guys on the cheering front, it’s always tough to come with something on the spot like that. I’m always to excited by the bikers flying by that I forget to think about it and typically yell out awkward blurts of disintelligence.

    Fatty, those jersey’s are SLAMMIN! I wish I could go in on one, but I really want to get the breast cancer supporting pink version when it comes out and can only really justify the money for one. Any word on when the order will be going out for those?

  7. Comment by Boz | 05.30.2007 | 10:05 am

    cheapie- If I had one, then you would see a real fat cyclist, but I won’t order one till I can fit in a large size, not XL. 20 more lbs…

  8. Comment by mark | 05.30.2007 | 10:16 am

    “Cave of pain.” Hey, I know that place.

    Once during a marathon I passed a point where the crowd was kind of quiet, probably all tuckered out from having cheered most of the rest of the field already, when a guy running a little ahead of me suddenly pumped his fists in the air a couple times and yelled, “AND THE CROWD ROARED!!!” To our delight, they did.

  9. Comment by mark | 05.30.2007 | 10:24 am

    Wait a minute–I’m confused. Someone else named mark just posted a comment that I very well could have posted. Is it my evil twin? Has a lurker stolen my identity? I guess I should have known better than to just use my first name and assume I’d be the only one. I wonder how many comments “other mark” has written that I assumed were my own?

    Fatty, I hope you don’t blame me for the cold even though I’m sure it’s my fault. I’m sorry.

  10. Comment by Kathy | 05.30.2007 | 10:27 am

    Never underestimate the power of encouragement. Great job to all. How did the rest of team “Fat Cyclist” finish?

  11. Comment by Al Maviva | 05.30.2007 | 10:33 am

    Cave of Pain. Hah. That’s where they deliver my mail. At least during ‘cross season. It’s a nice place, it’s sheltered from the weather, you don’t hear much when you’re in the cave, it’s reasonably cool, and you could probably use it to age cheese. It’s a good place to sit and drink a beer after the race, too. I wouldn’t recommend permanently relocating there, however. It’s kind of short on creature comfort.

  12. Comment by fatty | 05.30.2007 | 10:35 am

    kathy – good question. rick s took 6th in the mens’ sport class, and tasha took third in her class. i don’t know how dug did, but the SS class was kind of stacked.

  13. Comment by Jose | 05.30.2007 | 10:41 am

    Fatty: When I receive my Jersey, can I sign in the races as being part of the team “Fat Cyclist – Cancer Sucks” ?

  14. Comment by buckythedonkey | 05.30.2007 | 11:29 am

    Cheapie, you won’t have to wait long, I assure you.

  15. Comment by buckythedonkey | 05.30.2007 | 11:34 am

    Hang on. An orange and black jersey with blue shorts? Twice?

    Yet here I wait with my Crash Test Dummy socks (fdrom Sock Guy. Oh yes, totally accessorised am I) waiting to make a truely grand (in both the English and French senses of the word) sartorial statement.

    Leave it to the Brits. I’m tellin’ ya. ;-)

  16. Comment by Rick S. | 05.30.2007 | 12:22 pm

    It’s my favorite jersey and it makes me faster. Now if I could find a matching pair of shorts to prevent crashes….

  17. Comment by Boz | 05.30.2007 | 12:30 pm

    I just realized I’m a pretty good spectator too, being as I was off the back early and watched as the fast guys went up the road early in the race this weekend. So me and 3 other fat/old guys just cruised along looking at the scenery. We crossed the line 4-wide about 10 minutes back. Fun, though..

  18. Comment by bikemike | 05.30.2007 | 12:39 pm

    cracking crew there, grommit.

  19. Comment by LanterneRouge | 05.30.2007 | 12:45 pm

    Rick S., I splurged and bought a pair of black Giordana Tenax shorts with orange flat seam stitching that will match perfectly with my, soon-to-be-arriving FC jersey. Now I just need black and orange socks that don’t come up to mid calf like Fattys.

  20. Comment by Eufemiano Fuentes | 05.30.2007 | 12:53 pm

    Avert thine eyes – Fat Cyclist couture has been co opted by skinny folk

  21. Comment by dug | 05.30.2007 | 12:54 pm

    for the record. the knickers, or, “manpris” as you all like to call them (my 9 year old calls them capris, and tells me i’m gay for wearing them), are NOT wool, they are cotton. and very comfortable. and they go perfectly with the fat cyclist jersey.

    also for the record, i wear an XL. no shame in that. not everybody can wear painted-on jerseys like brad and kenny and fatty. also, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. unless you’re a woman. then you should.

  22. Comment by LanterneRouge | 05.30.2007 | 1:23 pm

    Out of the mouths of babes…

  23. Comment by Rick S. | 05.30.2007 | 1:25 pm

    LanterneRouge- thanks for the tip. I hear Fatty has some cool new socks in the works. You might want to hold off until you see them.

  24. Comment by LanterneRouge | 05.30.2007 | 1:26 pm

    Out of the mouths of babes, dug.

  25. Comment by fatty | 05.30.2007 | 2:02 pm

    dug – i liked those knickers better when i thought they were wool cotton and biking just don’t mix.

    not that i recommend this for anyone else, but i have a M, L, and XL fat cyclist jersey for my use. cuz, you know, my size fluctuates.

  26. Comment by cloud19th | 05.30.2007 | 2:05 pm

    you really nailed the 3 kinds of reactions to cheering. I’ve volunteered for two Ironman suffer-fests (in be-eweteeful Madison WI) and those are exactly the categories! The differences are even more pronounced in the marathon portion.

    Dug, you must have SOME kinda lactic acid threshold to handle all that coke. Dude.

  27. Comment by dug | 05.30.2007 | 2:31 pm

    regarding finishing times, i’m pretty sure i was very near the back of the singlespeed class, although my time had me finishing 25 seconds behind rick s., or about 7th in sport. of course, if i’d been racing head to head with rick s. i would have knocked him off his bike.

    but even though the singlespeed class was full of pros and experts, and i was clearly outclassed, racing in that group was the right thing to do. with a course that’s 80% singletrack, you want to start as close to the front as you can, and the singlespeeders started right after men’s expert, which is a very nice place to be on a tight course.

    regarding diet coke, um, sometimes i fill my bottles with it. seriously. yum.

  28. Comment by MTB W | 05.30.2007 | 2:54 pm

    Dug, have you heard of DCA (Diet Cokers Anonymous)? The first step is to admit you have a drinking problem. In your water bottle? Seriously?

    FC, nice pics and nice jerseys. Go Team Fatty! (well, Team formerly known as fatties). Call me twisted but I think the best part of a race to watch is the creek crossing. Get to see some blast thru it while others get stuck or, even better (my twisted side), fall in the water. The Winter Park races have a creek crossing about 20-30 feet across that always creates havoc (I’ve always raced and never have actually watched it but think it would be blast).

  29. Comment by wndnh2o | 05.30.2007 | 3:57 pm

    dug… you rock those “manpris” with pride and show your 9 yr. old how its done!
    Just wait until he see his dad in “manpris” and a PINK jersey!!!

    congrats to all who finished and to the one who cheered them on.

    ride pretty, ride strong

  30. Comment by Yukirin Boy | 05.30.2007 | 4:25 pm

    Guys, you all look fantastic, even Dug.
    Cant wait to get my FC jersey either. Perhaps then I can restore some semblance of “fat” to the average size of Fat Cyclist Jersey wearers !

  31. Comment by DoubleJ | 05.30.2007 | 4:44 pm

    I think what blew me away the most about this report was that they actually had a podium for the winners to stand on. Maybe that’s how yall roll out west, but here in northeast Tennessee, the closest thing we have to a podium is a mound of red clay.

  32. Comment by Bob | 05.30.2007 | 5:35 pm

    I miss those Utah races on Tuesday evening. Utah — it’s a pretty, great state.

  33. Comment by Suzanne@Team Optimistic | 05.30.2007 | 8:09 pm

    FC, you seriously need to change your name to “@”, the blogger formerly known as fatty. I have yet to see a fat person on your site. And also, you and I weigh the same. I’m a 5′8″ female…are you trying to tell me something?

    In regard to cheering, I was on the bike leg of a triathlon, grinding up a hill past a group of 20 spectators. What did I hear? Crickets. Not one person cheered for me. It was demoralizing, even though I was on the edge of the Cave of Pain. Next time I’ll try “and the crowd roared….”

  34. Comment by Born4Lycra | 05.30.2007 | 8:14 pm

    I never even knew the tops and bottoms were supposed to match. That might explain some of the looks I’ve been getting.
    Dug you’ve got me a little worried I ordered an XL too and I’m worried it is going to be too loose. Only joking it might in fact be a bit tight. I may have to get a pair of the manpris too take the attention away from the tight fitting FC top.
    What happened to that other writer from yesterday she was great?

  35. Comment by Weean | 05.30.2007 | 11:01 pm

    Suzanne- Your triathlon spectators had probably fallen asleep, that’s why they didn’t cheer.

    I used to love participating in triathlon, but found them deathly dull to watch, and I believe this to be a universal truth. With the possible exception on Edinburgh’s New Year Day triathlon, where there was always the possibility of seeing someone who had over-indulged at Hogmanay holding onto one of the guard rails on Arthurs Seat, looking very green.

    And to all those spectators who did cheer me on during my triathlons, I’m sorry- I promise it was the ‘cave of pain’ thing,

  36. Comment by Boz | 05.31.2007 | 4:47 am

    Does dug sport a hidden “kick me” sign ? You have to be a real man to pull of capri pants at that age. Where did you get them ?

  37. Comment by mocougfan | 05.31.2007 | 5:15 am

    Please don’t ask Dug where he got his Capri’s from. It makes me nervous that you might want a pair yourself.

  38. Comment by dug | 05.31.2007 | 6:18 am

    i think you’ll enjoy the capris, aka, bike messenger pants. i like the ones at swrve:

    i’ve been trying to get elden to create a pair of fatcyclist messenger pants. cmon, who wouldn’t wear those?

  39. Comment by KT | 05.31.2007 | 7:59 am

    I would, but I’m a chick.

    Dug, I thought you looked spiffy in the manpris and FC jersey. And those socks! I almost swooned!

  40. Comment by KatieA | 05.31.2007 | 2:59 pm

    Jerseys look AWESOME FC!!

    And by the way, you’re going to turn into one of THOSE people… you know the ones, they don’t know anyone in the race (or they know one person) and they turn up and cheer the entire field on.

    I like those people, cause in half marathons / marathons, I’m the slow, fat chick at the end who is in “Cave of Pain” mode, and the only reason I continue plodding along is because there’s that person going “you’re doing great!” on the sideline.

  41. Comment by dkirkavitch | 05.31.2007 | 3:10 pm

    Hey Fatty,
    Awsome jerseys! I just got mine. now the world will see a truely fat cyclist in one of your jerseys. I was on the cusp of an extra large. All the more reason to continue in the B7 so I don’t have to walk around sucking in my gut. That will be hard to maintain at 10,000 K this weekend on the Grand Loop Race. Check out mtbreview, Mike C may post some pictures.

    hope your are feeling better,

  42. Comment by Mike | 05.31.2007 | 5:37 pm

    I still want the pink one………

  43. Comment by Mike | 05.31.2007 | 5:38 pm

    I still want the pink one………

  44. Comment by Mike | 05.31.2007 | 5:38 pm

    I still want the pink one………

  45. Comment by MonsieurM | 05.31.2007 | 7:01 pm

    Being a spectator is great fun. You get to see everyone in the race… the strong leaders and the racers being shadowed by the car that picks up the racers who went too far in the cave of pain (what is the english term for that car? in french it’s “voiture balai”).

    Always cheer for the lesser-known riders, if you call them by their name, they will throw you a big smile.

    And as a matter of fact, Saturday I’ll be on the streets here in Montreal to watch our round of the women’s World Cup. Watching the ladies tackle eleven climbs of the infamous Mont-Royal… I guess that’s a pretty good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

    And as everyone said, those FC jerseys are great. I should have ordered one…

  46. Comment by Erin | 06.6.2007 | 11:16 am

    i may be a little late to the party but knickers? and a leather belt?

    that’s hawt people.

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  48. Comment by fahrrad | 03.6.2009 | 2:33 pm

    Dies ist ein gro?er Ort. Ich m?chte hier noch einmal.


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