Close But No Cigar, Part II: Fatty Has Fun, Works the Crowd, and Gets Cocky

08.13.2007 | 9:50 pm

A Note From Fatty: I am happy to announce that today is Susan’s and my 19th wedding anniversary. Yep, nineteen. Pretty darn cool, if you ask me. Those of you who think about this kind of thing (i.e., women) will most likely note that this means I have been away from my wife for nine of our most recent eleven anniversaries, either racing in or coming home from the Leadville 100.

And yet, Susan and I remain married. This must be because I am such a wonderful husband.

You know what’s cool? Riding with your friends during an epic race is cool. I had almost forgotten how cool this is, because I haven’t done it in years and years. All my friends are either much faster or a little slower than I am.

This year, that changed, at least for a while.

After — as I mentioned yesterday — I passed Kenny, it occurred to me: Of all my riding buddies, only Brad was ahead of me. And I could see him no more than ten yards ahead of me (Brad’s sleeveless Fat Cyclist jersey made him easy to pick out of the crowd).

By the time I descended the pavement of St. Kevins and rode along the brief paved flat section, I had caught Brad, too.

Yes, that’s right: for an all-too-short moment, I led all of my friends, including the crazy-fast ones.

Two minutes later, Brad passed me. And then Kenny passed me, politely saying, “On yer left, Fatty,” as he went by.

Frequently looking at my bike computer, I could tell: I was doing great. I had climbed so well that even with a conservative descent down the treacherous Powerline section of the trail (where, unbeknownst to me, Floyd Landis had turfed it earlier in the day), I’d hit my target first split time of two hours at the Pipeline aid station.

I felt good on the downhill. Loose and comfortable. Didn’t mind the rigid at all. And in fact, when I got to the bottom, a rider came around and thanked me for riding a clean line for him to follow. “I don’t know if you noticed,” he said, “But the guy right between us was trying to do an aggressive pass around you, caught air, nose-wheelied, and totally wrecked,” he continued.

Yikes. I hate to think that I ended someone else’s race, especially unintentionally. All you had to do was ask for my line, whoever you are. I would have pulled to the side.

Riding With Sunderlage
As soon as I reached the bottom of the Powerline Descent and started motoring along the flat section leading up to the Pipeline aid station, Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) caught up to me and joined the paceline that was rapidly forming. “That is one sexy jersey,” Sunderlage said, as he took his place in line.

I should mention here that the paceline I was in was — very briefly — a perfect machine. Though few of us had ever ridden together, most of us knew how to pull and then drop back. And since we were all pushing it, everyone pulled strongly — without surging — on the way to the front of the line, then pulled smoothly over to the right to drop back.

It was a perfect clockwise rotating paceline. Which lasted only maybe two rotations before it disintigrated. Oh well, nice while it lasted.

Eat Up
I’ve been using a very effective eating strategy on the bike, lately. I’ve set my Forerunner 305 to beep every half hour, which I use as a signal to eat a pack of Shot Bloks. I started with the Cran-Razberry flavor, which are nice and soft, though they do require you to hock up one monster loogey after finishing off a packet.

After the first couple hours, though, I switched to Margarita flavor, figuring all the extra sodium would do me good.

There was a little problem with this, though: I hadn’t considered how difficult it would be to eat something that salty in very high altitude, in very low humidity. As in, it took ten minutes to chew and swallow a pack of Shot Bloks. By which time, the inside of my mouth was completely mummified. Pickled, if you will.

That was foreshadowing, by the way.

Work the Crowd
Rick and I continued riding and working together as we flew through the Pipeline aid station. Two hours even. Perfect.

It was here, as we flew through the crowd, that I exercised a trick Jolene had told me about:

I yelled at them.

Specifically, I yelled, “Huzzah!” and pumped my left arm into the air (I’d have pumped my right arm, but my shoulder probably would have popped out of its socket).

The crowd, to my delight, went wild.

For the rest of the race, any time I went through an aid station, I’d either shout, do a trill-shout, or otherwise make euphoric, loud noises. All worked equally well. It turns out, the crowd — who cheers everyone on — really loves a racer that cheers back at them.

The next time you’re racing, try it out. You’ll see what I mean.

Hi, Brad
Rick and I continued working together, and the one relatively flat section in the race just flew by. Before long, we caught up with Brad, who was incredibly happy to see us. “Dude, we get to ride together! How cool is that?” wondered Brad.

Too cool for words, that’s how cool.

Rick, Brad, and I rode together as we neared the Twin Lakes Dam aid station — the spot where Susan was supposed to be meeting me — so we arrived within just a few seconds of each other.

Meanwhile, Bry was catching up, so he dropped in at the same time too. The net result being that four guys in Fat Cyclist jerseys hit the 40 mile aid station within a minute of each other.

That, my friends, rules.

 I Freak Out
We hit the second aid station (40 miles into the race) in perfect time with my target splits: right at 2:45.

There was just one problem: I couldn’t find Susan.

I could see the area where Susan was supposed to be. I could see all of my friends’ crews — many of them wearing the Pink Fat Cyclist jersey. I could see everything but Susan or my truck.

Was something wrong with Susan? Was I on my own for the race? Was she too sick to come out? What was going on?

“Where’s Susan? Where’s Susan?! Where is Susan?!” I started shouting at everyone.

Looking alarmed at the foaming, screaming maniac I had become, several people pointed. “There she is. Calm down.”

It turns out Susan was right where she had said she’d be, and had my stuff all set to go. In my adrenaline-fueled rush to keep moving, I had simply just not seen her.

 As I slugged down a can of Chicken soup, Susan emptied the debris out of my jersey pockets — noting, approvingly, that I had eaten everything I was supposed to — and swapped out my water bottles in record time.

No seconds lost. I was back on my bike in no time.

Brad, Rick, Bry and I all left our crew at about the same time.

At which point, I suddenly realized: I was still wearing my arm warmers.

Crap. The day was getting hot; I didn’t want to wear those for even one more second. So I tore them off with my teeth, bunched them up, and then — the next time I passed a random crew’s tent, I tossed my very nice Castelli arm warmers to a surprised, confused person. “Free arm warmers!” I shouted, and kept going.

It was time for the Columbine Mine section: 10 miles that would take me to 12,600 feet. I was feeling strong, climbing well, and hitting my conservative split times. How could I not get that sub-9 time I had been focusing on so obsessively?

Well, that’s where I’ll pick up the story tomorrow.

PS: Bob gives an incredibly engaging telling of his race over at his blog. It’s so good, I read it twice.

PPS: Give it up for Dug. He was every bit as excited for this race as I was, but got crashed out of it by a nervous rider who exactly misinterpreted what “On your right” means. I’ll post his story soon, but meanwhile, I think he’ll be glad to know that of every picture taken at the Twin Lakes Dam aid station, I’m certain that the one Susan got of him was the very best:


  1. Comment by Chris | 08.13.2007 | 10:06 pm

    Thanks for the next installment, get back to writing! (great picts to, fyi)

    Seriously, congrats on finishing the ride at all, never mind doing 100miles in 9.25 in colorado where they don’t stock oxygen at levels humane.

  2. Comment by Argentius | 08.13.2007 | 11:53 pm

    “Free arm warmers.”

    Crap, I wore arm warmers throughout the remaining 65 miles of a race I didn’t need ‘em, just because I forgot to chuck ‘em at the feed zone. I’m too cheap for them shennanegans. Of course, I put empty water bottles down my jersey, sometimes, to keep them, rather than throwing them…

  3. Comment by buckythedonkey | 08.14.2007 | 1:15 am

    I am so happy to hear that the “cheer at the crowd and they will cheer at you” rule holds true. That is just great.

    Sorry to hear about Dug’s awful luck. I have a mate who calls “I’m coming past you on your right hand side” yet still the zombies home in on him. Me, I persist in carrying a bell and I ping ‘em from miles out. :-)

    Happy Anniversary guys!

  4. Comment by eliel | 08.14.2007 | 1:59 am

    Epic ride, epic write-up. Fatty, you’re the best!

    Happy Anniversary!

  5. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 08.14.2007 | 3:17 am

    I’m not so sure of the origin of Dug’s crash… they are very un-cyclist pants he’s displaying. I know some gentlemen have an aversion to wearing the tightly hugging lycra of the traditional cycling garment, but really, you’re at a bike race Dug. Everybody’s doin’ it.

    It is a great photo though.

  6. Comment by TIMK | 08.14.2007 | 3:51 am

    Dude, you are awesome. You even give schwag away while you are riding. You know it’s why most of use surround you (some of us virtually) right? We’re hoping to get free stuff.

    Looking forward to part the third – and hopefully one of these will have some cartoon work from Fatty, Jr.

  7. Comment by Mike Roadie | 08.14.2007 | 4:00 am

    Free Schwag!!! Free Schwag!!! Makes the perfect Anniversary gift! Congrats on hitting a mark that nearly enough couples do anymore! And many, many, many more…..if you catch my drift.

    Now, on your left!!!!!!………..

  8. Comment by cheapie | 08.14.2007 | 4:20 am

    Ouch…this has to hurt…

    according to bob, “All that training, all that sacrifice for what may have been his last realistic shot at breaking 9 hours, and it just wasn’t his day.”

    say it aint so fatty!

  9. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 08.14.2007 | 4:22 am

    You know there are just so many wins coming out of this epic as alluded to by Monkey and Keepyerbag (I think it was them) yesterday that your close but no cigar time starts to fade in relative importance. Sure you are a bit peed off but there is so much good stuff going on. Congrats and best wishes on your 19th wedding anniversary to you both.
    P.S. Rick S was right that is (especially under race conditions) a very sexy jersey in a manly, muscly, sweaty sort of way of course.
    Way to go Team FC

  10. Comment by Lowrydr | 08.14.2007 | 4:33 am

    One big CONGRATS to the both of you on the Anniversary, with many more in the future. Also looking forward to the next installment with maybe some help from Shadow Scythe-de-mille adding his take too.

  11. Comment by Lowrydr | 08.14.2007 | 4:36 am

    Oh, and you look stunning in that bandana Susan. More up hill progress Karma coming your way!!!!!!!!!

  12. Comment by regina | 08.14.2007 | 4:47 am

    Happy anniversary, and Elden 14:13 means nothing to me, I am so proud of you. In fact mathmatically, all rules applied this number rounds down.

  13. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 08.14.2007 | 5:29 am

    So jealous.

    regina, that’s brilliant.

  14. Pingback by » Links Of The Day: 14 August 2007 | 08.14.2007 | 5:37 am

    [...] Close But No Cigar, Part II: Fatty Has Fun, Works the Crowd, and Gets Cocky [...]

  15. Comment by Kathy | 08.14.2007 | 5:40 am

    Happy Anniversary! I think the traditional gift for 19 years is … new arm warmers.

  16. Comment by Mrs. C. | 08.14.2007 | 5:42 am

    Happiest of Happy Anniversaries to you two!

    Ok, I’m thinking that what Fatty did was great but what Susan did was AWESOME! You guys rock.

    I second the request for a Small-Fatty-Cartoon…those just crack me up!

  17. Comment by Clydesteve | 08.14.2007 | 6:18 am

    Well written, Fatty. I exhaled in exasperation when you said: “,i>Well, that’s where I’ll pick up the story tomorrow. You actually ticked me off by not continuing. That is the sign of a good cliff-hanger. (I hope the next installment does not involve falling off any cliffs.)

    Happy Anniversary, Eldon & Susan. Doing life as it is intended to be done.


  18. Comment by Clydesteve | 08.14.2007 | 6:20 am

    It is always good for a few laughs to see some schmuck who is sloppy with his HTML.

  19. Comment by UltraRob | 08.14.2007 | 6:37 am

    My anniversary is on the 14th. Today is our 9th. The last 6 years I’ve either raced or crewed. This year I didn’t do either but still went and helped out the night before and then was a spectator and cheered people on. I saw lots of Fat Cyclist jerseys.

  20. Comment by miles archer | 08.14.2007 | 7:05 am

    I expect dog walkers to turn to the right when you shout out “on your right”, but not an experienced mountain biker.

    Great story, and thanks for linking to Bob’s. I liked the elevation map on his site. Puts the ride into perspective. From looking at the elevations, I can safely say that there’s no way I’d ever attempt that ride – regardless of fitness level. I have an operational ceiling of about 10,000 feet.

  21. Comment by ChinookPass | 08.14.2007 | 7:08 am

    I don’t know the whole story of Leadville ‘07 but this has got to be much harder than I imagine given the shape you are in. Don’t sweat it, tomorrow is another year. Though I’m disappointed that my sleeping in the FC jersey didn’t do it for you.

  22. Comment by Bitter (formerly known as Lissee) | 08.14.2007 | 7:14 am

    Sorry for being AWOL during Leadville, but I’m back now. (My mom just got re-married. :)

    Congratulations on 19 years Susan and Elden!!

    And congrats on the time!!! You did fabulously and you should be proud.
    I remember last year when you interviewed people along the way and finished significantly longer than this year. That was definitely a great epic read in a comedic fasion. This year is just plain full of suspense!! It’s all I can do to not google the race results and have closure now. lol

    Can’t wait for the next installment, the way you tell it is worth the wait.

  23. Comment by Philly Jen | 08.14.2007 | 7:20 am

    Crap. We were supposed to sleep in our jerseys? NOW you tell me. Well, then this is all my fault.

    Had I known, I would have donned my Pink Lemonade jersey to my cousin’s wedding on Saturday. I’m sure it would have looked great with black pumps and pearl earrings.

  24. Comment by Al Maviva | 08.14.2007 | 7:30 am

    Shout at the crowd? I suspect most of them wouldn’t want to hear what *I* would say during the bad parts of a race. Not to mention that they’d get splattered in drool and snot, and on a bad day, maybe some blood too.

    You must be made of nicer stuff than I am, Fatty.

  25. Comment by KT | 08.14.2007 | 8:09 am

    PhillyJen: You’re not alone, I didn’t sleep in mine. But that had to do more with the fact that I rode in it, and it was a bit… ah… sweaty. And a bit stinky. So it’s both our faults.

    Elden and Susan: Happy Anniversary! Your friends here are correct, 19 is bike accessories (arm warmers, shorts, bells, what-have-you).

    Susan, you are TOTALLY rocking that bandana. Looking good! Here’s some more good karma heading your way…

    Elden, great writing and riding. Free swag (it’s an acronym, people) is great, I’m sure whoever caught your armwarmers is really appreciative.

    Dug: your arms are about 1000 feet long. What’s up with that?

  26. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 08.14.2007 | 8:26 am

    dug is descended from apes. that explains the long arms. and the smell. and the poo throwing.

  27. Comment by Sophia | 08.14.2007 | 8:30 am

    I love reading about Leadville. Can’t wait for the next installment.

    P.S. I thought D(o)ug was joking about the tassles and the basket on his bike. Awesome.

  28. Comment by chtrich | 08.14.2007 | 9:08 am

    Happy Anniversary!

  29. Comment by Clydesteve | 08.14.2007 | 9:29 am

    All this talk about Dug gives me fashion ideas. The cowboy-style bandana Susan was wearing does, indeed rock. But for pit crew on Team FC, should not she have been equiped by the team leader with a custom Pink Fat Cyclist do-rag?

    Twin-Six – this could be another killer fashion statement.

  30. Comment by Fan of Susan | 08.14.2007 | 10:15 am

    I lurked here happily (and silently – that’s probably redundant with lurking, isn’t it?) quite awhile ago but then life got busy and I drifted away for about 10 months till I was out one evening a couple of weeks ago and someone mentioned Leadville and I thought….Fatty! I miss him. This resulted in a marathon, till the wee small hours reading session, made more marathon-like b/c my husband wanted me to read all the posts (and many of the comments) aloud to him. We even had to re-visit Leadville 2006 and poor Rocky, the Karmic Black Hole. I was rather hoarse by the end, and my face muscles hurt from laughing (I am very out of shape). Anyhow, all of that is to say, I must have checked this blog a zillion times on the weekend to see how Leadville went and how Susan fared, and I eagerly await the next installment. In the meantime, I wish the two of you a fabulous anniversary!!!!! And in the spirit of fashion ideas, any chance there will be a pink lemonade t-shirt? I’m afraid I don’t cycle (see out of shape comment above) but four colleagues were diagnosed with breast cancer last year (they called themselves BC 2006) and but for a very lucky biopsy I almost joined them. So, I would love to contribute to the cause in some way…..

  31. Comment by bikemike | 08.14.2007 | 10:35 am

    wow, this is just like Alias, only without
    Jennifer Gardner.
    congrats and happy anniversary stuff guys!!!!

  32. Comment by Jason | 08.14.2007 | 10:59 am

    Happy Anniversary and congrats on the race!

  33. Comment by axel | 08.14.2007 | 11:07 am

    did anyone notice that the conditions of the bet with Dug do not include DNF.

    If I finish Leadville next year in less than ten hours on my crappy, “Brad Keyes maintained” Surly Karate Monkey rigid singlespeed YOU will give ME whatever bike you ride in Leadville.
    If I finish in Leadville in more than 11 hours, I will give YOU the bike I ride in the race.
    If I finish between 10 and 11 hours, we’ll call it a push. You keep your bike, I keep mine. But, in this case, since I’ll have finished (and you contend I won’t finish), you’ll have to maintain my bike for me for the rest of calendar 2007.

    could it be that dug’s exit was intentional?
    But what a great job as the i-phone reporter!

  34. Comment by monkeywebb | 08.14.2007 | 11:21 am

    As someone who “got to” spend their vacation in Rhode Island this year because his wife of one year “inadvertantly” scheduled her visit with her mother to coincide with our anniversary, I have a deep appreciation for for both the 19 year accomplishment and the willingness to do things you love away from each other on your anniversary. I’ll be sharing sharing these few facts with the love of my life this evening:
    -Fatty loves Susan and Susan loves Fatty.
    -Fatty has spent 9 of his past 11 anniversaries either participating in or travellling to/from an epic bike race.
    -Fatty still loves Susan and Susan still loves Fatty.
    -Fatty and Susan have a lovely family, and their relationship is what all relationships should aspire to look like.
    -I love you and you love me (I hope), but I’d really like to go for an epic bike ride.
    -They don’t have epic bike rides in Rhode Island.

    Let me appologize in advance for the nasty emails you are about to receive from the second most beautiful person on the planet (somebody mentioned Jennifer Garner…).

  35. Comment by becomingblue | 08.14.2007 | 11:25 am

    dug, the more I see those pants the more I have to have a pair. Were did you get those?

  36. Comment by Eero | 08.14.2007 | 2:04 pm

    Dear Fatty,
    Love your writing, love your descriptions on cycling! I’m a cyclist in AK. I’m linking Fat Cyclist to my blog under “Adventurers.”

    No, you didn’t do the time you wanted, but it sounds like you had a great ride.

    And Happy Anniversary!


  37. Comment by Mike from Melbourne | 08.14.2007 | 2:24 pm

    Well done Elden and happ anniversary to you both.
    Thanks for the race report and well done to you and all the FC crew.

  38. Comment by dug | 08.14.2007 | 6:23 pm

    becomingblue, the shorts are just Quicksilver polyester shorts worn over lycra shorts. i had to compromise, the manpris were perfect for short local races but a bit wearying on anything over 5 hours or so. i would have stripped them off at the five hour mark and been riding in nothing.

    but these Quicksilvers are perfect, super light, such that you don’t even notice them, lots of pockets (best for the ipod, which i prefer to keep in front pocket over back jersey pocket, and quick access to shotblocks), and they go on easy over lycra.

    no bibs underneath. bibs on long rides over 5 hours make my nipples bleed. sure there are things you can to to prevent that, like bandaids, but for what? bib fashion?

  39. Comment by Yukirin Boy | 08.14.2007 | 7:59 pm

    Happy Anniversary !
    As always the tales and stories you weave demand second (or more ) readings.

    congratulations too to all who rode for “Team Fatty”

  40. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Close But No Cigar, Part III: Discombobulation | 08.14.2007 | 8:05 pm

    [...] « Close But No Cigar, Part II: Fatty Has Fun, Works the Crowd, and Gets Cocky [...]


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