The Most Important Race in the History of the Universe

06.15.2007 | 11:50 am

I had plans for last Wednesday. Big plans. Specifically, I was planning to get out and ride for about two hours, either on my singlespeed or my road bike. I hadn’t decided which. I also hadn’t decided where, exactly.

Like I said, I had big plans.

And then Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) called me. He told me I should come to Sundance (yeah, Robert Redford’s Sundance) for the weekly local mountain bike race.

“Well, I kind of already have plans,” I said. “But yeah, I’ll come race.” Hey, it would be a good chance for me to test the Fat Cyclist jersey under race conditions. And to see whether I can hang with Rick when it matters.

sundance1 Jitters
One of the things that’s great about a weekly local race is that it’s low-key. It’s weekly, so it’s not like anyone’s got their hopes and dreams for the season pinned on it. It’s local, so it’s not like you have to worry about someone with actual talent coming and decimating the field.

So why, then, do I still get incredibly anxious before the race? I mean I get nerves so bad I seriously considered just not doing the race, so I could avoid that rock-in-the-gut feeling.

But I did show up, suited up, paid my $10 to ride in the “Sport” category, and then rode in small circles on my bike (my singlespeed — a fully-rigid Gary Fisher Rig) waiting for the race to start. For some reason, someone took a picture of me doing this and put it on the site. Strangely, my rear tire is entirely transparent.

The Start
The good thing about jitters (for me anyway) is they go away as soon as the race begins. Weirdly — at least it seemed weird to me — everyone took off like they were on the final sprint to the finish.

As it turns out, there’s a strategic reason for going hard and fast at the beginning of this course. The first quarter mile of the loop is paved and is practically the only easy place to pass another racer on the otherwise-singletrack course. Once you’re behind someone, you’re stuck until they let you by.

Accidental Brilliance
So, in the field of maybe 20 Sport-class racers (Experts had left earlier), I entered the singletrack in maybe seventh place. Sunderlage was ahead of me, but in sight.

The only thing that mattered to me was that I not lose Sunderlage. I didn’t care if he beat me. It just couldn’t be by a lot.

So I passed a few people by saying, “Hey, yield when you can, OK?” and then waiting for the trail to widen enough for me to get by, and kept Sunderlage in view.

And it was while I was doing this that I realized something: by being forced to ride behind some people, I was being kept from racing at my limit. I was not out of gas. I still felt pretty good, in fact. Like I could go faster, should the opportunity arise.

Also, I got an immense amount of pleasure from the mental image of whenever I passed someone. There’s no way around it: they had to read “FATCYCLIST” as I went by. You know, that’s got to be demoralizing to whoever you’re passing.

I’ve confessed many times that downhill is not my strong suit. So it wasn’t much of a surprise that when we finished the big singletrack climb for the first lap and started downhill, at least three of the people who I had passed in the climb caught back up with me.

This time, though, the difficulty of passing on singletrack worked in my favor. I stood by my policy of letting by anyone who asked, but only one guy asked. So when we got to the pavement to begin the second (shorter) lap, we were all bunched up together. They got ahead of me by the time we got to the singletrack, though, and I began the second lap pretty much where I started the first lap. Sunderlage was still ahead, but in sight. I was riding the wheel of a guy who was just slightly slower than I.

And I still had something in the tank.

Magic Moments
My unwilling domestique brought us closer and closer to Rick until Rick — most courteous guy in the world — actually asked if we wanted him to yield.

“Hell, yeah!” I yelled, in my best Al Maviva voice (no, seriously, I used the voice I imagine Al Maviva sounds like: big, deep, and dangerously imbalanced).

I couldn’t believe it. Sunderlage pulled over and let us by.

By law, I was required to slap him on the butt as I went by. And who am I to flout the law?

Moments later, I decided we must be near the top of the climb — I wasn’t sure, because the second lap is not the same as the first lap — so I asked the guy in front of me to let me by.

He did.

Which means that I was in the lead.

Time to see if I really did have anything in the tank.

I had been right; there wasn’t much uphill left. So while I managed to gap everyone a little bit in the remaining climb, two people caught up with me during the downhill.

I did not ask either of them if they would like to go by.

Instead, when I hit the brief uphill section of pavement that leads to the finish line, I stood up and sprinted as hard as I could, hoping I could stay ahead of them.

Which I did.

Which means I had just won my first bike race ever, and I had done it on a rigid singlespeed.


I Liked It So Much I Bought The Company
I had an awesome time racing. And I’m not just saying that because I won. In fact, I’d break it down as shown in the following pie chart:


Afterward, I caught up with Mark Nelson, who runs the whole race series (at least I think he does). I told him that I knew that the following week the race proceeds would be going toward raising money for the MS Society, and that I’d like to help by donating some of the cool stuff my Ads-for-Schwag partners — The Banjo Brothers, Twin Six, Ergon, and Matisse & Jacks – have given me.

Turns out that I offered enough stuff that I’m now a platinum sponsor of the series.

Yes, I’m a very important person now. I plan to start putting on airs any moment.

So here’s the stuff you can win from me if you come race next Wednesday. And it’s all raffle-based, so your chances of getting something cool are great no matter what category you race in:

  • 3 Twin Six jerseys (2 Fat Cyclist jerseys, 1 other Twin Six Jersey)
  • 2 Twin Six T-Shirts
  • 1 Banjo Brothers Jumbo Messenger Bag
  • 2 Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack
  • 20 Banjo Brothers Pocket Messenger Bags
  • 3 Sets Ergon MTB Grips
  • 3 Training Videos
  • 10 boxes Matisse and Jacks Bake-at-Home Energy Bars
  • 1 XBox 360 Messenger Bag
  • 1 Toyota - United Cycling Jersey
  • 8 USB Memory Sticks.

And I understand I’m not the only one bringing prizes, either. So if you’re in the area, come race with me this Wednesday.

Sure, I realize that having more people there virtually guarantees I’ll drop into the midpack finisher group, but I can live with that.


  1. Comment by bradk | 06.15.2007 | 12:01 pm

    im not so sure i want to ride the gautlet with you tomorrow.

  2. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 06.15.2007 | 12:16 pm

    Start putting on airs? You’ve been putting OUT airs for quite some time. Someone light a match!

  3. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 06.15.2007 | 12:19 pm

    Oh and as for Superlage, I keep having the feeling that sometime soon, he’s going to say, “you know I haven’t been feeling well this year and I just found out that I have mono. And scurvy. And black lung.”

  4. Comment by coffee | 06.15.2007 | 12:29 pm


  5. Comment by Mrs. Coach | 06.15.2007 | 12:43 pm

    Good job FC! Was Susan super pumped?

  6. Comment by swimmin' at sea level | 06.15.2007 | 12:49 pm

    “Sticks and stones may break one’s bones, but words will never hurt you.”

    It is far less demoralizing to be passed by a skinny, fit guy who has the word, “Fat” printed on his shirt than to be passed by a legitimately fat guy. Fortunately you don’t seem to need this psychological arrow in your quiver as you are quite capable of out riding your opponents. Congrats on the victory. You become more inspiring every day. Robert Redford should be proud.

  7. Comment by Rick S. | 06.15.2007 | 12:53 pm

    Had I known Fatty was hiding 2 spots behind me on the final climb, I would not have let him pass. In fact, I would have done just about anything to prevent it. I let a guy with gears pass me (since I had officially blown up) and somehow Elden slipped by.
    Once that happens, it’s next to impossible to find another spot to pass on the almost 100% single track course.
    Not to mention, I had my left lung removed last week.

  8. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 06.15.2007 | 1:06 pm

    I knew it!

  9. Comment by Badder | 06.15.2007 | 1:09 pm

    Great job Fatty.

    I bet you feel more pride from winning a bike race than you ever did being the Saturday Night buffet king of the Old Country Buffet.

  10. Comment by bikemike | 06.15.2007 | 1:13 pm

    pie charts rule!

    if you actualy throw-up before a race you will go even faster.
    less internal mass or some such thing.

  11. Comment by KT | 06.15.2007 | 1:17 pm

    I noticed on the site that they had 3 pictures of you guys. Pretty cool.

    Nice work, FC! Superstar!

  12. Comment by Mike Roadie | 06.15.2007 | 1:52 pm

    It’s in writing and on the Web, so it must be so!!!!

    Way to go (not so)FC!!!!

    I don’t even know you, and I’m proud.

    I am going to click on

    I don’t think I can even say I’m not sayin……I’m just sayin’

    Happy Father’s Day……….y’all!!!!!

  13. Comment by BrokenSpokes | 06.15.2007 | 1:55 pm

    If you’re offering that much stuff to be a platinum sponsor, you’d think the least they could to is get your logo on their site. I think they just want you for your schwag.

    Now I’m craving apple pie…..with lot’s of ice cream……and a Frosty.

  14. Comment by MTB W | 06.15.2007 | 2:33 pm

    Congrats on winning your first race!

    From the pics on the racing site, it looks like Rick S. (not his real name) shaves his head too. What’s up with that? Kenny, FC and Rick S. all have shaved heads? Team Fatty is bald? Botched and Dug are next?

  15. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 06.15.2007 | 3:14 pm

    It just seems such an obvious combination the FatCyclist using PIE charts and so effectively too. Maybe the 15% slice of being with other riders could have been further sliced so Rick S (not his real name) could get a little credit individually for talking you into racing which then lead to you winning for the first time. He did also don the Fc top. I’m not talking much credit just 1 or 2%. Did Mr S finish in the top 3? In the photos I was looking forward to a podium with an FC top in Gold position being worn by FC himself but alas there was not one.
    Well done sir sunburnt scone and all.

  16. Comment by rbrigman84 | 06.15.2007 | 4:16 pm

    Congrats on the first place finish!!! Way to not let the suckers by…if they wanted it that badly, they would have asked!

  17. Comment by Rick S | 06.15.2007 | 5:15 pm

    Bald, fat cyclists are pretty damn cool these days. MTB W- It’s your turn to join the club. I’ll bring my razor and meet you an extra 15 min early before the Gauntlet ride tomorrow.

  18. Comment by Lins - Aust | 06.15.2007 | 6:24 pm

    Winning a race without maximum energy expenditure: that’s my idea of nirvana. Well done FC

  19. Comment by dblink0 | 06.15.2007 | 6:29 pm

    Way to go FC.

    Did anyone use your cheering phrases for you? Any chance they let you win. What’s the phrase I’m not saying … Guess we will have to wait tell next week to find out.

  20. Comment by dblink0 | 06.15.2007 | 6:46 pm

    FC – Anyway I can buy a raffle ticket through your account used for the jersey’s. I’ll pay for shipping if I win.

  21. Comment by Yukirin Boy | 06.15.2007 | 7:28 pm

    Congrtulations on your win!
    Great story too.

  22. Comment by Al Maviva | 06.16.2007 | 2:21 am

    If you don’t like the term ’sandbagging,’ you could call it ‘too low class.’ Just kidding, nice racing.

    I will ask for water, food, or for room to get out of the gutter, but have never asked to pass. The roadie ethos – at least for my kind of surly, burly rider – is to never ask, just to take in that situation, usually by riding by on some impassible terrain, then just elbow in. Sidewalks, gravel, grass, these things work fine. I normally just squirt into places that are tiny gaps, then take a deep breath and push my elbows out. It clears a path through the peloton like a profane Moses at a brightly colored and highly commercialized Red Sea. I am good at fitting into places that are too small for me (lifetime of practice, eh?).

    In the interest of comity I try not to talk during races except to make pleasant small talk, or to advise people about road hazards, especially road hazards I’d like them to avoid on the last lap so I can take a superior passing line by the hazard. If some incompetent is blocking my way, on rare occasions, I have been known to say things like “#%$@ #$@ &*#@*^ing #@#es!!!” When I’m pissed, my voice goes up an octave (to about middle C) and I slip into the Military Command Voice. It scares civilians.

  23. Comment by Marty | 06.16.2007 | 3:20 am

    Very cool winning on a Single speed, but I really wanted to tell you I got my two Fat Cyclist shirts two days ago and at a distance of 9,765 miles or 15,715 km (9,234,104 Smoots) I am probably the furtherest (from you) fat cyclist fan. Nice shirts!


    PS. My other website is

  24. Comment by Rob | 06.16.2007 | 4:36 am

    I’ll start looking to see if I can get Susan a Head Deflation Kit fedexed in on Monday. Cheers on the win…..Love the pie chart.

  25. Comment by bikemike | 06.16.2007 | 6:24 am

    Al M.
    what a great name for a group you just came up with, The Profane Moses.

  26. Comment by Bob | 06.16.2007 | 7:44 am

    I don’t remember what the rule of thumb is on when riders should move up from Sport to Expert class. If you win next week, I think it’s safe to say you should move up to the Expert category. That’s pretty cool for a 41-year-old guy to become an Expert for the first time. Maybe you should think about keeping that weight off.

  27. Comment by Clydesteve | 06.16.2007 | 2:21 pm

    Pie Cahrt error: There should be a [significant] % labeled: Satisfaction of schnooking Rick S. (not his real name) into letting me pass, and then mocking him by slapping him on the @ss

  28. Comment by Caloi Rider | 06.16.2007 | 6:38 pm

    Congrats, Fatty! Now you can scratch that off your list of things to do before you die. Local race or not, you can always tell the story of the mtb race you won.

  29. Comment by Mike Roadie | 06.17.2007 | 8:29 am

    Happy Father’s Day Everyone.

    Enjoy and cherish this day!!!!!!!

    I spent every Father’s Day with my Dad until he passed away from Cancer two years ago. That’s why I started my project with the Lance Armstrong Foundation:

  30. Comment by MAJ Mike | 06.17.2007 | 12:27 pm

    Hey, thanks for pitching in on the MS cause.

  31. Comment by aussie kev | 06.17.2007 | 2:14 pm

    you never forhet your first win – make sure its not your last !!!!

    as for the “slap him on the butt” is the law – i rember getting dq for doing a bit of butt slapping in a ttt about ten years ago – the rest of the team were not very happy with me but(t) i still smile about it quite a lot !!!

  32. Comment by bek | 06.17.2007 | 3:50 pm

    I have not seen a pie chart quite like that before but I like it. Nice site – it makes me laugh – hard.

  33. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Not So Fast | 06.21.2007 | 11:00 am

    [...] Last week, I posted a story about how I had won the Sport class in the local weekly race. It was my first win ever, so I was ecstatic. How could I not be? [...]

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