Squaw Peak for the New Year

01.2.2008 | 12:49 pm

A Note from Fatty: I am so sore today I can barely sit down. It’s not my legs. Not my butt, either. I’ll explain where, and why, shortly.


Yesterday was Kenny’s Second Annual New Year’s Day Squaw Peak Ride. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Squaw Peak, I’d first like to apologize for the offensive nature of the road’s name. It is not my fault. 

Next — also for those of you who aren’t familiar with Squaw Peak — I’d like to describe Squaw Peak. It is a 4.3 mile road, with somewhere between 1800 feet (during the summer) and 9000 feet (during the winter) of vertical gain.

During the summer, Squaw Peak is a nicely paved (except for the occasional oil slick) road. During the winter, it’s covered with several feet of snow.

And yesterday, at 10:00am, it was just evil-cold. James Bond Supervillain cold. Someone said that it was 10 degrees out, though he did not specify whether that was in Fahrenheit or Kelvin. With wind chill factored in, I’m pretty sure it was kelvin.

Oh, I loves me some unit-of-measurement comedy.

Anyway, about 25 of us started the climb right around 10am. What was interesting — at least to me — was how many 29″ singlespeeds were in the group. I’d guess that more than half of us were riding this way.

The first mile or so was on pavement — snowplows clear the road up to the gate. As we rode along, my fingers, toes and nose were so cold, I started thinking up persuasive excuses for why I could turn around and go home. Acute hypothermia? Enlarged goiter? A seizure?

Or should I do the unthinkable: admit that I was cold and not having any fun?

No, that would be insane.

We passed the gate and onto the snow pretty much as a group. I knew it wouldn’t last. Still, we got high enough that we were no longer in the shadow of the mountain, and the wind died down.

Evidently, this was a cue for the fast guys to take off.

I was not numbered among them. I knew I wouldn’t be. For one thing, I did not have the eye of the tiger. More importantly, however, I do currently have the mass of one.

I rode on. Or, more accurately, I sometiimes rode, but mostly marched. The snow was soft; finding a good, rideable line was nigh impossible. I thought enviously of the guy with the Surly Pugsley I saw at the beginning of the ride. That said, the Pugsley (and its rider) stayed behind me for the entirety of the ride, so I guess it wasn’t that much of an advantage.

I Cannot Believe My Eyes
Person after person passed me on the way to the top, until I was passed by a guy named Pat. I managed to catch back up to him, and he and I rode / marched the second half of the climb together.

Pat was a great guy to ride with — funny and easygoing — which made me think: here’s another great guy riding a similar bike (he was on a 29″ SS too) on the same ride as me, at the same speed. How is it possible I’ve never ridden with this guy before?

Here we are, marching the final stretch (this picture and all others in today’s post courtesy of Brad Keyes; click here to see more pictures he took during the ride):

Who’s that on the snowshoes just behind us? None other than Adam Lisonbee. Evidently, he’s just as fast hiking up as we were “biking” up.

A minute later, my friend Bill Friedman got to the top. Now, I admit that I was warmed up — even sweating — by the time I got to the top of Squaw Peak, but Bill is clearly insane:

Seriously, Bill. It’s time to admit you need help.

And here’s most of the gang at the top of Squaw Peak.

That’s a pretty excellent photo, I have to say.

We All Fall Down
During the climb, my glasses fogged constantly, until I finally just put them in my jacket pocket. At the top of the climb, I unzipped the pocket and put the glasses back on.

Please note that I did not say, “I then zipped up my jacket pocket, which incidentally also contained my car key.”

I expected the downhill to be tricky, but at first it was entirely impossible, at least for everyone in the group. I’d try to get on the bike and it would sink to its hubs before I could get going.

Eventually, we started riding again. And, immediately, we all started falling. The snow was so soft it was like trying to steer a barge. Through freshly furrowed soil.

On the plus side, however, when the snow’s this soft and you’re falling this often, you usually aren’t going very fast when you turf it. And when you do, you just *poof* into the snow, usually laughing.

A Bad Call
I did make one rather foolish choice, however. One of the times I was heading for a crash, instead of just tipping over like I had so many times — probably ten or more — before, I did a quick clip out and straddled my top tube, trying to stay upright.

This was a grievous error.

My weight plus my speed made both my feet posthole, while my bike still floated on the top of the snow.

You know, no matter how many times you rack yourself, the intensity and suddenness of the pain always catch you off-guard.

I gave myself a few minutes to let the nausea subside before I climbed back on the bike.

Needle in the Haystack
Really, the whole way down (exceot aforementioned racking) was just a big goofy romp. I had a ball. I think everyone did.

I got to the bottom of the hill, rolled up to my truck, and went to unzip the pocket of my jacket…only to find that it was already unzipped.

I knew even before I fished around that it wouldn’t be there. I had fallen so many times I had lost count; the key could have dropped out of my pocket during any of those falls. No way would I ever find it.

I resolved myself to an afternoon of unpleasant logistics. Susan’s not able to drive yet, so I’d need to get a ride home, find a neighbor to drive back to my truck, and then drive home. Probably an extra two hours of driving, all told. Not the end of the world, but not the way I’d want to spend the afternoon (and for sure not the way Susan would want me to be spending the afternoon).

And then KanyonKris rolled up, asking, “Did anyone lose a key to a Honda?” It turns out that one of his crashes had been in the exact spot of one of my crashes, and he had found my key — and my granola bars. An awesome little piece of good luck for me. Kris, next time we ride together, I’ve got a Fat Cyclist bottle for you.

I drove home — by the time I got there, I was shaking and shivering more than at any time during the ride.

You know what may be the best part of a ride in the snow? The hot shower afterward.

PS: If you were planning on nominating me for the 2008 Bloggies but were planning on reading this story first, click here now to go nominate me. Thankyouverymuch.


  1. Comment by will | 01.2.2008 | 12:52 pm

    great photos. Looks like a ton of fun.

  2. Comment by Willie Nelson | 01.2.2008 | 1:04 pm

    It’s good to know I wasn’t the only one who walked or fell onto the top tube. Funnest New Years ride I’ve ever done.

  3. Comment by Don (cyclingphun.blogspot.com) | 01.2.2008 | 1:12 pm

    Wish I could’ve been there man! I will throw a nomination your way, for sure! Please keep me in mind too! *wink*
    Also, if you have a minute check your email re: what I sent you from Aaron and try to get back to me about it when you have a sec. please.

  4. Comment by UtRacerDad | 01.2.2008 | 1:19 pm

    As cold as it was, I would do it again in a minute, it was a great time and a blast.

  5. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.2.2008 | 1:56 pm

    Fatty – this statement:

    You know, no matter how many times you rack yourself, the intensity and suddenness of the pain always catch you off-guard.

    …is one if those types of statements that can just be written down in a “rash quote book”, or said out loud at any time, in any situation, with no clairification, and it will still be “You got nose on me” – funny.

    Best wishes for the new year, and also for the bloggies.


  6. Comment by chtrich | 01.2.2008 | 2:08 pm

    You have to win this year. I hear the pioneer lady got eaten by a rattle snake.

    When does the next B7 (or will it be B8) start?

    Can we set a date in June for the Alpine Gauntlet again? How about June 14th?

  7. Comment by I_don't_have_a_name | 01.2.2008 | 2:34 pm

    Just nominated you and ol’ Harlan!

  8. Comment by sorelegs | 01.2.2008 | 2:39 pm

    In CA we call those skiing conditions.

  9. Comment by Kris | 01.2.2008 | 3:09 pm

    Fatty, good write-up!

    I should have had something better to say before presenting you with your truck key. Something like “Cool! I just won a new Ridgeline!”, or “Fatty, I sense you need a ride home”. But if I could think of clever things to say all the time I might have a wildly popular humor blog like Fat Cyclist instead of my boring blog that reads like a government report.

    I tried the straddle-the-top-tube techniques at the top, but quickly discovered it’s perils and abandoned it making a mental note to avoid any maneuvers that would result in contact (at any velocity) between the top tube and my crotchal region. Fortunately I was able to stick with this brilliant game plan.

    For the record, my car thermometer read 6 degrees at the parking area.

    And ditto on the regenerative properties of a nice, hot shower. I enjoyed one myself and at that moment it was the most opulent luxury in the whole wide world. Ahhhhhh.

  10. Comment by Chris | 01.2.2008 | 3:39 pm

    I went to the award site and nominated you for the most humorous blog category. After that Kelvin joke I am not so sure if I should click on the verification link on the email…

    And I have one other word for you: SKIS

    I enjoy your blog fatty. Thanks for all the great posts and best of luck to Susan in her recovery.

  11. Comment by Marrock | 01.2.2008 | 4:49 pm

    I can’t say that “FatSkier” has quite the same ring to it.

  12. Comment by monkeywebb | 01.2.2008 | 4:51 pm

    My New Year’s ride was also in the snow, but 1-4 inches. After ten miles I had shin guards made of ice glued to my legs and my quads were throbbing (snow riding is HARD) but I can’t think of a ride that made me smile more.

    All the best New Year’s wishes to you, the family, and the bloggie effort.

  13. Comment by monkeywebb | 01.2.2008 | 4:52 pm

    And how incredibly useless are SPDs once they get packed with ice?! Aye carumba!

  14. Comment by bikemike | 01.2.2008 | 6:02 pm

    i’ve officially voted for you so, you’ll win. no, seriously, you’ll win.
    hey, stop bugging me, i told you, you’ll win. ah let it go will you.
    o.k. i’m busy now, so, go away and quit bothering me. sheeesh!

  15. Comment by saywhat? | 01.2.2008 | 6:08 pm

    What kind of SS 29ers did the crew have? We want an inventory.

  16. Comment by sans auto | 01.2.2008 | 6:31 pm

    I just want to say that Fatty is one of the nicest guys ever. Last year I did this ride and met Fatty for the first time. We spoke very briefly before I sped up to let a car pass and I only saw him again at the top when I made some sarcastic comment that I shouldn’t have about me being faster than him. This year, he really should have ripped into me about my performance. I deserved it after my sarcasm last year, but he didn’t. He didn’t mention that I never made it to the top and he didn’t bring any attention to what was really a pitiful performance on my part. So for all those who have never met the guy, Fatty not only plays a nice guy on the internet, but he’s a nice guy in real life. You should all ride with him, it’s a blast… Even if it’s early and cold and you’re out of shape.

  17. Comment by cyclingphun.blogspot.com | 01.2.2008 | 6:32 pm

    I just got through voting for you… and a couple of other blogs Im really into. Wonder which ones?

  18. Comment by Undomestic | 01.2.2008 | 6:42 pm

    You ride bikes in the snow?

  19. Comment by randomhigh | 01.2.2008 | 7:11 pm

    happy new year!! I just voted for your blog in a bunch of categories… had to seriously rack my brain for other webblogs to nominate cuz I don’t read any others since randomreviewer stopped (good thing you had that post about other biking sites… )

    try rubbing some spit on your glasses to prevent fogging next time (supposed to work for the goggles in scuba diving)… ok, I’ve never tried this and it sounds gross but hey, might work… if not, uh, your glasses will be really clean??

  20. Comment by UltraRob | 01.2.2008 | 8:25 pm

    I was racing about 10 years ago at Fruita and thought I’d take the short cut through the rocks instead of going around like everyone else. I didn’t make it. I still have a lump from where I hit the top tube. My doc said I broke some blood vessels and it’s nothing to worry about.

  21. Comment by buckythedonkey | 01.3.2008 | 1:48 am

    Ouch! These tales of, er, Men’s Accidents bring tears to my eyes.

    I took a top tube in the nuts a while back. Just as the urge to chunder was turning to plain old pain one of my mates helpfully asked “where does it hurt?”. I swear I actually threw my bike at him (it missed, but it flew plentysomething feet into a large rhododendron bush). I felt better after that.

  22. Comment by flossy | 01.3.2008 | 3:02 am

    That’s insane! I’ve only ever seen snow a handful of times and can’t imagine being that cold. But it looks like you had a great time.

    Happy New Year, here’s hoping 2008 is a good one

  23. Comment by Big Boned | 01.3.2008 | 3:12 am

    That’s only worth a water bottle? Sure, Kris did what anyone would have, but a water bottle as a reward? I can snitch on my neighbor growing pot in his back yard and get $1000 from the Feds. Kris saves you hours of misery and the disdain of your wife and gets….a water bottle?
    I don’t know Kris, never met the man, but I’m guessing he’d think a Waltworks would be a MUCH better reward!
    Glad to hear you all had fun. Looking forward to getting on one of the rides (from DC) at some point this year.
    Happy New Year all. Best to Susan.

  24. Comment by Lowrydr | 01.3.2008 | 5:23 am

    Nice looking ride you had there Fatty. You do know that they make this little thing called a seat bag. Sorta a great place to put patch kits, tools and of all things KEYS……. I’d probably have just dropped the key into a water bottle on the way down and then handed you the chunk of ice just for giggles. But that’s just the way the friends and I would potshot at each other.

  25. Comment by Lowrydr | 01.3.2008 | 5:27 am

    Oh yea, votes on the way and what’s up with the blog today? Maybe the over sized pics? Had to highlight everything with the left mouse button to read it.

    Peace and continued progress in the New Year for you and the family.

  26. Comment by Jot | 01.3.2008 | 7:01 am

    Imagine how bad it would be if Squaw were really the insult that it was pretended to be. :)



  27. Comment by Canadian Roadie | 01.3.2008 | 8:13 am

    Okay, am I being stupid? I tried to submit a nomination but it keeps telling me to revise my ballot and try again. I filled in all the spots for the two categories I was submitting for and it won’t work. Argh!

  28. Comment by Kris | 01.3.2008 | 8:22 am

    Big Boned: Should our little public humiliation / extortion scheme work, I’ll be sure to get your check to you the day I received the Walt Works. ;-)

    Lowrydr: Present the key frozen in a water bottle – brilliant! See my post above about my inability to think of clever things in the moment.

  29. Comment by Kris | 01.3.2008 | 8:28 am

    Canadian Roadie: You’re forcing me to admit that I had the same problem (over and over and over), until I FINALLY noticed at the bottom of the page you need to fill in your e-mail address AND enter the word(s) shown in the image (CAPTCHA – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captcha). And I’m the guy all my friends, family, co-workers turn to for computer / Internet help – sigh.

  30. Comment by axel | 01.3.2008 | 9:43 am

    if you win the bloggies and accept the award in austin, I can show you around a few nice trails.
    I’d like to help with the voting, but I read only one blog… I think 3 is the minimum needed
    Fatty, can you help with a list of blogs that are worthy of a vote, yet not quite as good as yours?

  31. Comment by TIMK | 01.3.2008 | 10:11 am

    You are nominated in a few categories. I also nominated BSNYC for a few although I imagine awards may be beneath him. (A Bloggie for me to poop on!)
    Also nominated 43 Folders http://www.43folders.com and Lifehacker http://www.lifehacker.com for a few to round it out.

    Hope you win the $20.07 I am sure that you would put it to good use.

  32. Comment by Judi | 01.3.2008 | 10:47 am

    Fatty, you changed the colors and now I can’t see the left half of the screen over that blue. :(

  33. Comment by Judi | 01.3.2008 | 11:06 am

    Ok, now after being up close and personal (think 1 inch) from my computer moniter, I’ll say your ride looks cold and no fun at all. But I liked the pictures!

  34. Comment by jill | 01.3.2008 | 11:38 am

    To cool. From the looks of that tracked-out trail, that’s the kind of soft snow that will really jerk you around, both up and down. You should form a Utah Snowriders bike club and coax a few members with snowmobiles to groom it.

    I can’t believe you tricked that many people to go riding with you on New Years Day. It does look like a blast, and a great group of people. No shirt at 10 degrees? That Bill guy is tough.

    Happy New Year!

  35. Comment by fatty | 01.3.2008 | 11:59 am

    judi – i had sized the pictures wrong and that was messing the layout up on some browsers. Should be OK now. Thanks for the heads-up

  36. Comment by jill | 01.3.2008 | 12:19 pm

    Oh yeah … I nominated you for a Bloggie as well. In every category. Hope you don’t mind competing ifor “Best New Zealand Blog.”

  37. Comment by Judi | 01.3.2008 | 1:32 pm

    Thanks Fatty! I can read it now! :)

  38. Comment by Big Boned | 01.3.2008 | 1:57 pm

    Kris – He’s ignoring us…I think that means he’s considering it…

  39. Comment by eatsleepmtb | 01.3.2008 | 2:59 pm

    Crap, I was planning on this ride, overslept. I do know Kris, and if he hadn’t of found your keys, he would probably have gone back up with a rake to look for them.

  40. Comment by Canadian Roadie | 01.3.2008 | 3:26 pm

    Kris, Thanks! I tend to ignore random looking boxes on web pages. I always think it’s some stupid advertising. Yay, nominations in!

  41. Comment by barry1021 | 01.3.2008 | 4:19 pm

    Have to admit, after all this time reading the blog I was expecting a bigger finish like

    “It just so happened after I found out I dropped my keys, that I saw this guy Kris blowdrying his hair with a cordless blowdryer in the parking lot. I promptly borrowed it, jerry-rigged it on the front of my bike and ascended the mountain again, melting the snow ahead of me until, after another 3000 feet of climbing, I found the offending notched pieces of metal. I then finished the ascent, reversed course, careful not to go in the clear trail I made with the dryer, because that would have not been a challenge or in the spirit of the day.”

    I think I’m spoiled.


  42. Comment by David | 01.3.2008 | 5:12 pm

    I nominated you for that blog award, it’s a good thing I enjoy reading you, because it was kinda painful.

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