Kenny’s Cascade Cream Puff Race Report

07.10.2007 | 9:16 pm

A Note from Fatty: Last weekend, Kenny and Chucky did the Cascade Cream Puff, one of my very favorite races — its incredibly climby uphill (around 18,000 feet of climbing) is matched only by its awesome singletrack downhill. I didn’t get to go this year, so was anxious to live the race through Kenny. As usual, Kenny does not disappoint.

I’ve wanted to do the Cascade Cream Puff ever since Fatty told me about
doing it about 4 or 5 years ago. Don’t let the name fool you, this race has
it all. Eighteen thousand feet of climbing and singletrack descents that
last over an hour.  This course is by far my favorite endurance course I’ve
ever attempted. 

The race fills up fast because they only allow 130 riders. The race directors feel that anymore than this would be too damaging to the trail.   It’s refreshing to see someone put on a race whose sole objective is not to make money. For our entry fee we got three meals, free camping, a raffle with lots of cool swag, great aid stations with lots of helpful volunteers and a finisher’s hat. Not bad at all.

A Little History
Last year, I signed up for this race with my friends Chucky and Brad. Two weeks before the race, I was following one of the kids I was coaching off a small kicker, came up short, turfed it and suffered a compression fracture in my spine. Besides being really embarrassed and hurt, I was bummed that I missed the race, so I made sure that it was top priority on this year’s race schedule. 

And so, naturally, this year it was Brad’s turn to suffer an injury, with a hurt
knee, so it ended up being just Chuck and me driving up to Oregon for the big race.  

Side note:  If you ever want to become faster or more skilled on a bike, find the fastest cyclist you know, become his friend and ride with him as much a possible. For me this person is Chucky. He’s taught me more about bike racing, off season training, and all around biker lifestyle than anyone.  Even though he’s more than a decade younger, I look up to him as my biking mentor.

Fancy Pro Guys
We pulled up to the school – where everyone was camping – in the Gary Fisher/Subaru team car.  It was pretty cool because everyone was looking at us like we were factory pros showing up to kick some butt.  After pre-riding some of the climb we went to the mandatory race meeting/dinner/raffle. 

We filled our bellies with as many calories as humanly possible and I scored the coveted prize with my raffle ticket; a red pair of Chris King disc hubs. I’m still torn on whether I should build up some wheels with them or sell them on ebay. I think they’re worth about 600 bucks. [Note from Fatty: If you sell them on eBay, you suck.]

The race started at five in the morning, in order to give everyone as much daylight as possible to do the race in.  Once it’s dark they don’t allow anyone on the course.

Let’s Go
The pace started out fairly slow…which is great when you’re riding a single speed on a flat road.  The pace gradually quickened as the road got steeper.  I found I was able to stay with the lead group of about 5 or 6 for the first hour.

I felt good.

No, scratch that. I felt fantastic. 

I was hammering the pedals and my legs felt strong.  I wasn’t going anaerobic and I was keeping pace with the race leaders.  I started checking out the competition.  There was one single speed rider just behind me and I was pretty sure there was one up front, by the slower cadence he was turning.  I looked around and Chucky was nowhere to be found.

That was strange. 

I knew he was well-rested and ready for this race.  I supposed he was just being smart and saving himself for the next two laps.  This was a ten hour race, after all.  Nobody wins in the first lap. It’s all about the last lap. 

About a half hour later, Chucky and one other rider came up on my left and passed me.  He seemed great, chit-chatting with me and the other rider as he went by.  I had slowed my pace a bit, but still had the lead group in my sites. I thought about holding Chuck’s wheel, but decided that I had to race my race.  My pace felt right, and Chucky belonged in front of me anyway. 

At the top of the long dirt road, the singletrack climb started.  I was loving it. The trail weaved in and out of some of the biggest pine trees I’ve ever seen.  The dirt was soft, but not too dry or powdery.  It was cooler in the shaded forest with huge patches of moss covering downed logs.  I kept expecting to see those Sesame Street teddy bear aliens from Return of the Jedi [Note from Fatty: Uh, those are called "Ewoks," Kenny], with their stupid leather hats and their squeaky voices. 

What I did see were 5 or 6 riders whip past me as I tentatively descended the slightly technical down hill.  I consider myself to be pretty good at descending, so this was a surprise to me.  Maybe I was being overly cautious. Or maybe I was just getting schooled by the local boys.

Lap 2: I Am Invincible
I finished my lap, rode into aid station 1, chugged a protein shake, grabbed
three more packs of shot blocks two new water bottles and headed out for my second lap. 

I started climbing and realized, as I passed everyone back who had just showed me up on the DH, that I felt great. 

In fact, I felt like Superman. 

Towards the top of the second lap, I passed the single speeder, who was riding first in my category.  I must have been about 6th place overall, and still Chucky was where he was supposed to be, somewhere ahead of me.

It wasn’t until about hour 6, somewhere on the single track before a big grassy field that I saw a tall rider wearing red.  I hoped it wasn’t Chuck, but as I got closer I could make out the Felt logo on his jersey and shorts.  I said, “Are you hurting?”

“Yeah, you go Jones,” he said, encouraging me as I passed.  I knew his back had been bugging him from lifting something at work. I figured it must have really started hurting him on that last climb.  I was bummed for Chuck, but I was having the best race of my life.  I was in first place in my category and I still felt great. 

I descended much better my second time down and only got passed by one rider — the other single speed guy.  I wasn’t worried. I was confident that I was climbing better and would be able to pass him with enough time to put a lot of distance between us before the last descent to the finish.

One More Time
I rode into aid station 1 and did my routine; Shot Bloks, protein shake, new water bottles.  Everything seemed the same as lap two, but it was slightly hotter.  I was climbing at a strong pace, but not too fast. 

I was on the hunt for one guy, but it seemed like I was in a race by myself. There was no one in sight.  I started darting from one side of the road to the other–whereever there was shade.  I realized my top tube on my bike was covered in the sweat, dripping off the top of my helmet.  At last I spotted the rider I was stalking. With each turn I was a little closer.

As I passed he said, “Dude you’re a motor.” This in mountain bike lingo means “You are climbing very well.”  I think he expected me to catch him. 

I was feeling confident. I was where I wanted to be.  I had completed about a third of the climb on the final lap and had a lot more climbing that I could put distance between us before the downhill. 

It was a rush.  I was going to win.  I knew it. 

Head Games
I continued to climb at about the same pace that I had been.  My plan was working. I got ahead a little bit.  If I could just get out of sight, it would be harder for him to keep going.  I needed to make him crack while trying to keep up. 

I increased my effort. 

As I went around a couple turns I looked back, expecting to be alone. 

I wasn’t.  He was keeping pace. I tried to go a little harder, but he was actually gaining ground. All of a sudden, he was on my wheel and then I was on his wheel. 

Wow, he was turning the tables on me. 

He started to pull away, and I realized I was cooked.  I had nothing in the tank. 

I tried to push the pedals and the power was gone. This transition was amazing.  I went from “I’m going to win this race!” to “Am I going to be able to finish this race?” all in a matter of minutes. 

To make things worse as we rode by the water tent, the volunteer gave a full water bottle to the current leader and when I came by right after he said, “wait, I only had one, I’ll fill one up for you.”

Foolishly, I didn’t wait; I was too worried about getting dropped. Well, I got dropped anyway and I ran out of water for about a half hour before the next aid station. 

At this point my goals changed. 

I just needed to keep rolling and try to get a respectable finish.   I suffered through the next hour of climbing, then started the huge descent.

Descending while you’re totally bonked feels like someone is hitting you in the back of the neck with a big stick on every little drop or bump.  My vision was foggy. I stopped briefly for some peanut M&M’s and a glass of cold chocolate milk, which I pretty sure got me to the finish line.  While I was stopped however, I got passed by some more riders, one of which was in my class.

It seemed like the downhill section of the course was twice as long as the last two times I came down it.  As I finished, the race promoter, Scott, gave me my finisher hat and a wall clock with “3rd Place Single Speed” printed on it. 

Where’s Chuck?
I rode back to camp, thinking I’d find Chuck there asleep in the shade, but he was nowhere to be found. 


I showered, packed up the car and went back to the finish line.  I waited for awhile.  When Chuck still hadn’t finished, I decided to talk to the time keeper in the finish tent.  I asked him if Chucky Gibson had DNF’d.  He said that he had pulled himself out of the race after two laps. 

Scott, having over heard the conversation, laughed and said, “No he didn’t.”  he explained how Chucky had quit, went back to camp, showered, took a nap and had come back two hours later and gone out for his final lap. 

We all chuckled about that and I settled in and waited for Chucky to finish. 

He came in shortly after in really good spirits.  He said he woke up from his nap and just had an epiphany. He thought, “This is stupid, how can I quit after all this preparation and travel?  I’m not so good that I can’t finish 50th place.”  So he put on his biking clothes and finished the race.

I’m not sure, but I bet he was about 50th place — about midpack — after a
shower and a two hour nap. I was super impressed that he would make that decision after going through the emotional roller coaster of quitting. 

On the way home, he kept saying over and over what a great race it was and we have to come back next year.  I asked him, “Why do we do this?”  He said that for him it was a cure for boredom. What else can you do that in the course of 12 hours you can feel so many highs and lows? 

That’s as good an answer as any, I guess.

I teased him by saying, “Now that I’m faster than you, is there anything I can do to help you be better?”  I told him I would be posting the results at the bike shop and then I repeated what he always says: “You’re only as good as your last race.”


My Life Can Be Easily Summarized With a 30-Second Cartoon

07.8.2007 | 9:00 pm

Q. How do you know for absolutely, postively certain that your rollercoaster weight gain-loss lifestyle is a ridiculous, predictable pattern?

A. When your 13-Year-Old son accurately lampoons the story of your life in a cartoon he made over the weekend.


PS to My 13-Year-Old: You’re grounded.

Hmmm…Something’s Happening Tomorrow…Can’t Seem To Recall What It Is…

07.6.2007 | 10:53 am

I know there’s something happening tomorrow. Something that’s supposed to be a big deal. Something I’m supposed to remember. I think it’s even something I’m supposed to care about. But I just can’t seem to remember what it is.

I hate it when that happens!

You know, my memory’s usually pretty good. If something’s worth remembering, I generally have no problem at all keeping it in my head.

Did I leave the iron on? No, I haven’t ironed anything in months. Is it the big project I’m about to kick off at work (the one that’s made it difficult for me to post on a frequent basis for the past couple weeks and will continue to make it difficult for me to post daily for the next couple months)? No, that’s for sure not it — I can’t get that thing out of my mind even when I want to.

Oh, I know what it is. I need to do my B7 Challenge weigh in and Time Trial! No, that wasn’t it (though I definitely do need to do it, and so do all the other people in the B7 Challenge). It feels like maybe I’m getting close, though.

Maybe it has to do with the race I was thinking about doing tomorrow. No, that’s not it. Although that kind of rings a bell.

Oh, I’ll bet it’s that I need to renew one of Susan’s prescriptions. No, that can’t be it; I’ve got the prescription right here and I haven’t forgotten about it. Though that does strike a chord, like it has something to do with what I’ve forgotten.

Sheesh, what can it be?

Oh well. It must not be very important, or I wouldn’t have forgotten it.

Does anyone have any idea what’s going on tomorrow that I ought to remember and possibly even be excited about? I could sure use some help here.

PS: Congratulations to the Ugly Jersey Contest Winners! Here are the jerseys I’ve chosen:

Grand Prize: “PAC Tour Photo Album Jersey”
It’s two different shades of neon green. It’s got black and white photos. It’s got teeny-tiny text captions.

It is, in fact, the ugliest jersey I have ever seen in my life.

Congratulations to jeelmblad, who gets either a cool Fat Cyclist Special Edition Banjo Brothers Messenger Bag or Commuter Backpack. Email me with your address and which size you want.

Oh, and I’m not advocating anything, but I’ve always been curious: I wonder how small of a lump of material a jersey would make if melted down into a blob? Just curious. Oh, and be sure to send pics.

First Prize: “Really Tacky Skinsuit With Haphazardly-Placed Logos”
When I go to a bad movie or read a lousy book, I often find myself trying to imagine the meeting in which the ill-fated project was greenlighted. This truly-horrible skinsuit causes me to do the same thing, but I find myself flummoxed. How did someone decide this gauzy white material would make a good jersey in the first place? And then how did they decide to arrange the logos? Random X/Y coordinate generator perhaps? Remarkable.

Congratulations to rkay122 who both posted this picture and sagely observed that “This should just be downright illegal.” You, my friend, win Julia’s really awesome “Fat Tire Journal” jersey, which inspired this contest. Email me and I’ll have her send it to you.

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!

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