The Core Team

07.4.2007 | 1:40 pm

An Uneasy Note from Fatty: I admit to being apprehensive about writing this post. I worry that it will come off as overly sentimental about a group of guys who make it their business to avoid sentimentality. The thing is, though, one of the rules I made for myself about this blog is that when I thought about something enough times that I was aware I was thinking about it, I’d write it down and publish it. So here we go.

In my adult life, I’ve lived in three places: Carmel, Indiana; Sammamish, Washington, and Utah County (Provo, Orem, and now Alpine), Utah. I started in Utah, moved out to Indiana, moved back to Utah, moved out to Washington, and am now back in Utah.

I don’t plan to move away again, ever.

The thing is, it’s not Utah per se that keeps bringing me back. As far as places go, I think I could be just as happy in Colorado, Wyoming, or Idaho.

Why I’m sticking around is the Core Team.

What is the Core Team?
 I don’t know if most people my age (41, for those who don’t know or remember) has a tight group of friends who share very common interests. When I look around, I kind of suspect not.

I think, actually, that it’s kind of rare.

But that’s what I’ve got here: a small group of friends, all strong riders, all extremely smart and funny. Most of us have known each other for more than ten years. And when we ride together — which used to be pretty often, now it’s not quite as often — I know it’s going to be a good ride.

Fish Lake
Last weekend, Gary had us all over to his family’s cabin at Fish Lake, near Richfield, Utah. The cabin is at around 9000 feet, sits right beside a little stream and overlooks a beautiful lake. It may be the most perfect spot for a cabin in the whole world.

I had never been there before, and had no idea of whether the riding would be good.

On Friday afternoon, on the way to the cabin, we stopped in Richfield, at Gary’s old dirt biking stomping grounds. Gary then took us on a big ol’ loop where we were the only ones even considering riding bikes — the trail is definitely an ATV playground. Loose and rocky, it was a fun place to test out your ability to lock up both your wheels and ski down a ridiculously steep, powdery slope.

 We ate huge at a place that called itself a Mexican restaraunt but didn’t have any food I would call Mexican, and then we drove to the cabin, crashing out at midnight.

Magically, the snorers in the group — Kenny (worst), Dan (really bad), and Dug (comically bad, as if he were doing it on purpose) — did not snore.

So the next morning, we got up and Gary took us on a scenic singletrack and doubletrack epic — the kind of ride where you see giant vistas and get a sense of how big the world is.

We did a long climb, followed by a fast descent punctuated with dozens of woop-de-doos. We rode across a double watercrossing that was so deep it went up to my toptube — and yet, amazingly, I cleaned it.

I was later given to understand that Bob, feeling the effects of the heat, stripped down and luxuriated in the stream for a while.

Key Ingredient
By the end of the ride, I was tired — but not cooked — and happy and mellow. We went to the restaraunt at a nearby lodge, where most all of us got the double cheeseburger (Bob got some weird chicken plate, smothered in gravy — ick).

We ate, talked for a while, and went home. And that was pretty much that.

 Objectively, it was not the most incredible pair of rides I’ve ever been on. I routinely ride on better singletrack locally.

Subjectively, though, it was a perfect weekend, with perfect rides. Why? Because I was riding with the Core Team — the best group of riding buddies I could ever imagine.

So here’s my recommendation: If you’ve got a Core Team of your own, take a moment to consider how lucky you are. 

And ride with them as often as you can. 

PS: I’ll get to the Ugly Jersey Contest Winners on Friday. I’m still deliberating. Though I must say, there are some jerseys out there that are uglier than I would have ever thought possible. Nice submissions, everyone!


  1. Comment by Tim D | 07.4.2007 | 1:53 pm

    I know what you mean about the core team. I’ve been riding up here in sunny Lancashire for about 19 years. I first dragged Ian into the riding game when he was suffering from persistent running injuries. We then sucked Karl and Simon in with MTB riding, losing a few on the way.

    My best days mtb’ing are still with that original crew or Karl, Ian and Simon. Anyone else adds to the mix. Any one missing is detremental in an unquantifiable and unfillable way.

  2. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 07.4.2007 | 2:08 pm

    I had a core team right out of high school. But time marches on putting high school over 20 years in the past (I’m 40 next month if you’re keeping score).

    It was a 5 man team and we were truly tight. I’m talking 3 of us dating a family of 3 sisters (who were also racers). Several of us dated each others sisters. We went to school together, car-pooled to races, carried each other home from parties.

    But it’s rare for something like that to last. Of the 5 I’m the only one still living in the original region. I regularly shed a tear and say a prayer for the one who didn’t make it to 21. One moved interstate and owns 2 bike shops in Sydney. One stiffed me out of the best part of $20,000 and moved interstate to an undisclosed destination. And contestant number 5 set a national record in the 4000m individual pursuit and then promptly gave up cycling for the church. I saw him last Christmas. He had just returned from 2 years in Kazakhstan. A week later I tried to call him to arrange a BBQ but his parents said he’d had a phone call and had to fly to Uzbekistan immediately.

    I’ve got a new crew but it’s not as tight or intuitive or robust as the original group. But it’s still nice to get a call at 8am on a winter day and be invited for a 5 hour, 4 coffee pedal along the coast road. Yesterday.

  3. Comment by bruno | 07.4.2007 | 2:08 pm

    core group- nothing can top that. i have a fluctuating core group (if thats possible) and its always a good ride anytime I go out for a ride with any/all of them.
    also, who is the dude in underwear!?! gotta say I wasnt expecting to see that in a all guy group ride!! He’s probably not gonna be to happy to see himself exposed like that for the whole world to see!!

  4. Comment by MTB W | 07.4.2007 | 2:13 pm

    It is definitely appropriate (and even necessary) to occasionally recognize the other reason we ride – the time spent with friends. It gives it much more depth and meaning. Whenever I think about trying a new trail or going on a road trip to ride, I think about which friends would like to go (and miss those who can’t). And, of course, we do the obligatory post ride beer (or root beer float) to relax and shoot the breeze, an important component of riding with friends. (OK, I was going to harass you about being old and getting sentimental, but since I am not too far behind, I will give you a pass but only this one time!)

    BTW, I give my vote for the Ugly Dutch Jersey #1. It gives me a headache.

  5. Comment by MTB W | 07.4.2007 | 2:51 pm

    Yeah, whatsup with the no pants shot?

  6. Comment by Born4Lycra | 07.4.2007 | 2:52 pm

    I often wonder how people can go through life without developing a core team. Mine was developed at High School while playing Football (Soccer). A number of like minded lads coming from all over Britain moved halfway around the world and all meeting up as 13 year olds. We played Soccer together as lads, surfed, did the motorbike thing, went to Uni moved on to varying degrees of success as Adults (both as Soccer players and career wise) but nearly always gravitate back to each other such that after completing contractural obligations we all played together for one more season before most of us retired. Wives and girlfriends have been introduced into the group and been accepted easily, the kids have come along and are all great friends. It’s nearly 40 years now and in that time we’ve formed an informal golf club, alcohol appreciation society, developed a mutual dislike of people in HR, put together soccer teams after retirement to play in various charity and social games and more recently I have started to get some of them but not all onto bikes. Can’t imagine my life without them fortunately we have not lost anyone yet.
    P.S. Regards the ugly tops my daughter chose mine made me model it took the piccie and she reckons I am a shoe in to win because it’s only really ugly when I am wearing it otherwise it’s just bad. For sale – one daughter!

  7. Comment by fatty | 07.4.2007 | 3:04 pm

    everyone – the guy in the underwear is kenny. the women readers raised enough money for this shot; what can i say?

  8. Comment by Rocky | 07.4.2007 | 3:18 pm

    You are likely going to take some heat for this. But it’s a nice post, none the less.

  9. Comment by Born4Lycra | 07.4.2007 | 7:12 pm

    Not that I am complaining but between breakfast and lunch checking the blog the underwear or Money shot has gone missing. I’m with Rocky it is a nice post.

  10. Comment by Tg | 07.4.2007 | 7:17 pm

    Underwear shot??? Teach me to miss my daily read time. How much to put it back??

  11. Comment by dug | 07.4.2007 | 9:27 pm

    you made rules for this blog?

  12. Comment by fatty | 07.4.2007 | 9:39 pm

    dug – they’re actually more like guidelines than rules.

    everyone who’s wondering what happening to the underwear picture: kenny demanded more money and started getting all snippy, trying to renegotiate his contract. i had to pull the photo to stave off possible litigation.

  13. Comment by Lins - Aust | 07.4.2007 | 11:05 pm

    Underwear shot? Don’t get snippy, Kenny. From a female point of view: as long as you weren’t wearing Budgie Smugglers, it’s okay.

  14. Comment by mark | 07.5.2007 | 2:51 am

    I will refrain from snarky comments about the post and, more appropriately, the comments, because I like my friends too. I doubt, however, you will get such a pass from Al M. I’m just glad you didn’t post any pictures of man hugs.

  15. Comment by Al Maviva | 07.5.2007 | 4:25 am

    Mark, if you’re trying to goad me into making a reference to Brokebike Mountain, or the English [Threaded] Patient, I’m not going to do it.

    I’ve noticed this core group thing with MTB’ers. It seems to be a function of hanging out and riding a lot together. Roadies… I’m not so sure there’s a universal rule. Touring and rec riders kind of sort of do it, but strike me as a lot more individually isolated, usually preferring to suffer alone most of the time. The core groups I’ve noticed among roadies tend to be guys who were friends who then took up riding together, rather than a bunch of riders who became great friends. Roadracers… yeah, you have a core group. It’s called a team. The weird training and dietary demands roadracing requires, even at a fairly low level of competition, constricts your circle of acquaintances to people who wear the same jersey, or for that most unusual breed of cat, the Guys From Another Team Who Everybody Likes But For Some Reason Always Train With My Team. The weird thing is people can drop in and out of the core group, and you don’t necessarily hang on to them as real close buddies when they leave – their new team does a 10:00 AM training ride on Saturdays, your team goes at 7:00, their hill training is on Tuesdays, your team’s is Thursdays – so your schedules just don’t mesh any more.

    It’s a pretty weird dynamic but then the nature of roadracing, even at low levels is weird. Unlike MTB’ing, you don’t say ‘come on out, we’ll have fun, hang out, ride as well as you can.’ It’s more like, “hey, c’mon out to the _____ crit. You an 5 other guys are going to suffer like hell and kill yourselves for at least an hour, and if you suffer enough, one other guy will get a shot at winning the bunch sprint, if he doesn’t crash out.’ You get a certain real closeness but it’s more like the closeness in team sports or a military unit, where people come and go, the mission lives on, and the guy next to you is your battle buddy. In brightly colored skin-tight lycra, of course.

  16. Comment by barry1021 | 07.5.2007 | 4:33 am

    I have never had a core group. Actually I have never had friends. I am beginning to think it’s me.


  17. Comment by Mom | 07.5.2007 | 5:42 am

    He who has 1 real friend in life is fortunate. He who has 3, exceptional. But 10 – blessed.

  18. Comment by Mom | 07.5.2007 | 5:42 am

    He who has 1 real friend in life is fortunate. He who has 3, exceptional. But 10 – blessed.

  19. Comment by Mom | 07.5.2007 | 5:42 am

    He who has 1 real friend in life is fortunate. He who has 3, exceptional. But 10 – blessed.

  20. Comment by Big Boned | 07.5.2007 | 6:10 am

    Wow! A double shot of Aspritzen from Mom. Does it get any better than that?

  21. Comment by Bitter (formerly known as Lissee) | 07.5.2007 | 7:20 am

    dug and fatty, Aaarrrrr me matey’s, methinks ye should stick to the code.

  22. Comment by barry1021 | 07.5.2007 | 7:35 am

    Big boned

    Not to be picky here but I believe the original accepted misspelling was azspritzen. But good for you, I think this is the first noted azspritzen on the spanking new server that is supposed to eliminate such things. BTW, for your geeks that care deeply about history, here is an edited brief about how the original name ashspritzen began on a defunct NYT forum from a poster on another forum
    “Back in the late 1990’s the Times hosted Q & A sessions on its boards (for the most part) with its beat writers. I joined it after a period of lurking as I found it to be comprised of posters the majority of whom were unique …….

    …..Among the questioners participating in one was someone with the
    handle “ashpritzen” who made a habit of entering the same post over and over, ad nauseum after his initial entry, by hitting first the back key on his browser and then the “post” button causing countless repetitions of the same question.

    He was with us for only that one session, then disappeared into the pitch black of cyberspace from whence he came.

    The Times’ server was famous for its inefficiency and suffered numerous breakdowns. It also, at times, duplicated posts on its own which came to be referred to as “ashpritzen(s)”. In addition it was also not unknown for it not to process a post thereby forcing the poster to reenter multiple times and then, without warning, it would display each and every one of them.

    Although no official records were kept it is believed that shortly before the discontinuance of forums by the Times, the honor of being responsible (but not by design) for generating the most ashpritzens belongs to poster EdKelly1 who with many other posters migrated here.
    To put it in perspective, Ed’s achievement via collaborating, however innocently in the appearance of the most ashpritzens – a whopping eight – is the ashpritzen equivalent of consuming 60 franks in the Coney Island hot dog-eating contest. (A major difference of course is that there’s no chance whatsoever of throwing up in the case of the ashpritzens.)

    Also, as far as I know, “ashpritzen” (and all its varients) are in the public domain so feel free to refer to them.”

    So you can see, in some small way, I feel that I have helped carry on a fine cyberspace traditon. It makes me feel all gooey inside, so much so I almost feel like hitting “Submit” twice. But I won’t.


  23. Comment by kenny | 07.5.2007 | 8:01 am


  24. Comment by MTB W | 07.5.2007 | 8:25 am

    Al, you are right. As a generality, I think mtbers, when riding together, ride differently than roadies, for instance, stopping after a hard climb, fast descent or rocky area to talk about it (read as “talk smack” or “commiserate”) or go back and do the same section while your buddies watch to see if you can top them (see fatty’s moab video as an example). Or occassionaly stop to take in the view. You can then talk about your victories/defeats after the ride. I think this creates more of a bond. Roadies, on the other hand (from my limited experience), seem to ride with less stopping and talking (i.e. less of a bond). However, the post ride beers/pizza (at least for rec riders) seems to similar between roadies and mtbers. Maybe with mtbers, is sometime seems like us v. the trail (if everyone cleans a hard section, its high fives all around) where with roadies, its sometimes seems like me v. you.

    FC, I think my girfriend wants her money back. If Kenny isn’t doing the underwear shot, she (along with the other Kenny groupies) is going to file a formal protest (but is willing to settle for a signed photo).

  25. Comment by Lisa B | 07.5.2007 | 9:13 am

    WAH! Kenny, you break our hearts!

  26. Comment by buckythedonkey | 07.5.2007 | 9:28 am

    Censorship? Shame!

  27. Comment by KT | 07.5.2007 | 10:30 am

    Man, I missed the picture. Blast. I’m with Lisa B on that.

    Kenny! You tease!

  28. Comment by TRW | 07.5.2007 | 10:56 am

    You have discovered one of the secrets of enjoying and coping with life. You have to have some close friends to bounce things off, to talk about things that disburb you and to look out for you when you big head is not doing the thinking, or you have gone off the deep end on something. They can’t just be drinking buddies because those guys are just drinking buddies and worthless elsewhere. You need to have some guys you can do things with and to assure you that you are OK. So they have to be a crew of people who care about you and not just good times, they care about having good times with you in the group. Lot of marriages have survived because there was a best friend to tell a guy to dust himself off and get back in that marriage. If have friends who can share something like trail biking, kayaking, lifting fishing or something where you can get away it makes you that many times stronger. You know that now with Susan on the mend I know. It has saved me several times too. Hey man you inspire us to think, what up wid dat?

  29. Comment by Ricky | 07.5.2007 | 10:59 am

    Just getting up to speed on yesterday’s post. By the way, happy Independence Day everyone! Anywho, evidently you had a picture of Kenny in his precious panties up, then you took the picture down. I’m going to have to ask you, rather, I’m going to have to demand that you put the picture back up. After victimizing me on the Fall Moab 2006 poster by placing a picture on it of my buddy and me snapped at Fall Moab 2005 (reference, Kenny is in no position to censor. To date, I am still fielding questions about that poster and the Chicken of the Sea tuna can. My dear wife will not look at the poster, where it hangs in my office along side the other Fall Moab posters from years past. I think she is secretly jealous of Bobby. Please repost Kenny’s picture so that we can all enjoy. Something that wonderful should not be kept only to the core team.

    Speaking of the core team, it was super nice to be with you doing what we love to do most—watching Kenny relax in his panties. GBrown, thanks for putting the trip together and for the luxurious accommodations. For those who haven’t been to Fishlake, Utah, find a way to get there!

    To all core teams!

  30. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 07.5.2007 | 10:59 am

    Does this mean we all have to hug before our next ride?

    Bob: Why doesn’t Bob move back to Utah? Bob’s funny. Bob went from 0 feet of elevation in Seattle to 9-11K feet of elevation during the Fish Lake trip. And he didn’t die. I really hate Bob’s bike.

  31. Comment by bikemike | 07.5.2007 | 11:07 am

    anymore than three really good core friends is like chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and sprinkles on top. oh, wait, nevermind.

  32. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 07.5.2007 | 12:18 pm

    Kenny – I wasn’t going to say anything, but since the photo’s gone I’m gonna use it as leverage for all those who were too slow to see it. It wasn’t too provocative, yet it wasn’t too bland. It wasn’t too revealing, yet it showed quite an area.

    I think the censorship board would give it a PG13. Thoughtful, without pushing the envelope. Tasteful, without inciting a riot.

  33. Comment by Bob | 07.5.2007 | 1:06 pm

    Fatty, you failed to include the dynamics that keep a core group together. A lot of people think that a bunch of similar guys can just hang around and get along, but that isn’t the case. Guys need to fit into predictable roles. In our group, Dug is the Appointed Leader, Gary is the Clown, Kenny is the Rebel, I am the Covert Leader, Rick is the Enforcer, and the other guys plays various Follower roles that involve providing information and offering support to one of the leaders or to the Rebel, if change is necessary. Think “12 Angry Men.” I’m the Henry Fonda characcter. As long as we follow our roles, we can continue to achieve successful group interaction through the medium of mountain biking.

  34. Comment by Tim D | 07.5.2007 | 1:10 pm

    TRW, “lifting fish”? Is that some special weights regime or just a euphamism?

  35. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 07.5.2007 | 1:50 pm

    I get the feeling that due to the time difference Kenny’s picture was mainly seen Down Under which seems quite appropriate. Big Mike in Oz is about right with his observations and censorship rating but my thought was that it was never really going to be a crowd puller. However the story on why Kenny needs to rebel (see Bob’s bit) by wandering around in his jocks while the rest of the riders are clothed appropriately might be of more interest.
    Bob surely you didn’t mean to say that FC is not a leader in his Core Team did you. He’s the only one with his name on your tops.

  36. Comment by Al Maviva | 07.5.2007 | 2:29 pm

    >>>>As a generality, I think mtbers, when riding together, ride differently than roadies, for instance, stopping after a hard climb, fast descent or rocky area to talk about it (read as “talk smack” or “commiserate”) or go back and do the same section while your buddies watch to see if you can top them (see fatty’s moab video as an example). Or occassionaly stop to take in the view. You can then talk about your victories/defeats after the ride. I think this creates more of a bond. Roadies, on the other hand (from my limited experience), seem to ride with less stopping and talking (i.e. less of a bond)

    Yeah, it’s a different dynamic entirely among roadracers. Instead of friends who ride, it’s riders who are friends. It’s all about the suffering and the competition for roadracers, even on “easy” group rides, which never turn out to be easy, ever ever ever. I am starting to understand why people consider it the ‘purist’ version of bicycling, it’s all about the bike and the ride and all of us who participate are just there gathered around the rolling altar.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some great friends through road cycling, and the journey’s young yet… just that if you’re looking to make friends, buy an MTB, don’t join a velo club. You’ll make friends at the velo club, but it’s a bug, not a feature. MTB’ing is the other way around. Cyclocross may actually be a better example of that type of thing, BTW… you find elite riders hoisting beers with novices, and everybody is relatively supportive. Around ‘cross, eople who are merely polite and sorta friendly are kind of the lowest common denominator… This is probably why so many roadies love to ‘train’ in the off season doing cross – our emotionally starved inner selves enjoy the experience. Once a week for two months, anyhow.

  37. Comment by Jeremy | 07.5.2007 | 3:21 pm

    First rule of bike club…

  38. Comment by Boz | 07.6.2007 | 6:17 am

    One thing I see on my return to competitive cycling, both road and mtb, is MTB riders are more about the fun while being competitive. Roadies, on the other hand, are more serious and in the zone. Chasing down a break or hammering in a pace line preculdes goofing around and trying new moves, so the game face needs to be on.
    If a guy on another team flats and has no tube, I’m not too likely to toss him my spare in a road race, unless I know him well and he’s no threat in the sprint. OTOH, I’d help out some one in an MTB race, because he might have a good, crisp pilsner in his cooler to pay me back after the race. I think Al M and the Jack Mormon Malitia would agree, sometimes, it’s all about the beer. At least I think so.

  39. Comment by matt | 07.9.2007 | 8:41 am


    The other “Core Team” members should tell the one “Core Team” member to get rid of the Hummer with the Bling-Bling wheels. C’Mon! Way to be a “cyclist” and drive a Hummer to the trailhead.


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