Ride Report: Frozen Hog 2008

02.3.2008 | 5:57 pm

The first thing I did when I woke up Saturday morning was check out the window to see if it had been snowing. You see, we’ve been getting boatloads upon bucketloads of snow in Alpine, UT this year, and I had given myself permission to not race the 2008 Frozen Hog if there was more than a couple inches of fresh snow I’d have to plow through. So I was hoping for lots of new snow.

There was no new snow.

So suited up, ate breakfast, stripped back down so I could use the bathroom, suited back up, put all my gear in the truck, stripped back down so I could use the bathroom, and then suited up a third, final time.

All business, I headed to the staging area, and got my racing bib. I decided to register as Sport 40+ and race against other guys my age who were on geared bikes, even though I was on my singlespeed. My bike prep was as thorough as ever: I ran a greasy rag over the chain, and checked how the tires felt. Since I’d be riding on snow, I let practically all the air out; I’d do the race with my tires at about 10psi. I then established myself in my rightful place in the pack: about halfway back.

I had a race to lose.

A Study in Differences
A bunch of friends were also at the race — Kenny, Brad, Bry, Chris, Kris (who was taking care of registration and was kind enough to take my camera an take some pictures during the race), Racer, and Riley, among many others. That’s one of the great things about local races: it’s a good opportunity to meet up with your riding buddies.

Dug, for those of you who wondered, declined to come because he doesn’t like riding in the snow. Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) planned to come until he found out that the prize purse was under $5000.

Kris took some pictures at the starting line. Check out Kenny. He’s got his game face on.


And now, check out me. I have my "What have I gotten myself into?" face on.


Also, it looks like my helmet is in a different strata of the atmosphere than my head.

A Warm Feeling
As you might have surmised, the day started out cold. But I was trying out a new thing to keep my neck and trunk warm: A Warm Front Chest Warmer (full disclosure: Warm Front sent me one of their chest warmers at no charge to write about if I thought it was worth writing about, but they’re not paying me anything). It’s a lightweight fleece rectangle that goes over your chest, with a turtleneck-style collar that fastens with a velcro tab at the back.

It worked just like it should. it kept my trunk and especially neck warm the whole ride. I haven’t tried it on a road ride yet, but I can imagine this would be great for cold road rides, where an extra layer on the chest and neck against the wind would be very nice. And when the ride  turns warm, just pull off the velcro tab and stuff the whole thing into a jersey pocket — no stopping required.

A Great First Lap
I felt really fantastic the first lap of the race. I was chatting with the guy ahead of me (Riley), staying on the trail, and feeling strong. Look how happy I am. And, more importantly, look at how nice the trail looks. Some folks put a lot of work into packing that thing down.


Forget about passing in the singletrack section, though.

As I rode, I was thinking to myself, "This is great! I’m having an excellent time! Why didn’t I want to come out here? I’m going to come out and ride this exact same trail again tomorrow, just for fun!"

And yes, I meant each of those exclamation points.

I was feeling so good, in fact, that partway down I passed Riley — a guy who usually beats me at everything — and then closed on Chris, whom I told my plan:

"I’m going to draft on you for the rest of the race, and then nip you in the sprint at the finish."

Yes, I did actually say that. At which point, Chris pulled over and said, "No you’re not."

So I went ahead, passing a few people in the Sport category, and getting passed by nobody but folks in the Expert category.

I should mention, by the way, that this was probably the most cordial race I have ever been in. With only one uptight exception (an expert rearended me on a downhill corner after I slid out, and let out an exasperated, sarcastic "Nice riding") any expert who wanted by would say stuff like, "Yield for me whenever you get a chance, no rush."

Not a lot of angst in this crowd.

Second Lap: Considerably Less Great
The thing riding on a trail made of recently packed snow — snow that hasn’t had a chance to soften and then re-freeze — is when 60 or so riders do a lap on it, it gets chewed up. Chewed up, let’s say, to the point where it becomes nearly impossible to ride on in a climb, or to do a turn, or even to descend on.

So I did a lot of walking. Everyone did. I guess Riley’s a faster walker than I am — or he was better about choosing when to walk and when to ride — because he passed me back.

After the race, I would describe the snow on the trail as "like powdered sugar, with some creamed cheese mixed in. So, it’s like a creamed-cheese frosting."

Bry, hearing me say that, remarked, "You really do think about everything in terms of food, don’t you?"

Yes. Yes I do.

Anyway, this second lap just sapped me. My left wrist was bothering me from the constant handlebar wrestling. My tights were getting saggy and kept hanging up on the saddle nose anytime I remounted the bike — which was about once every ninety seconds.

And I kept falling down.

2-2-08 Frozen Hog 344

2-2-08 Frozen Hog 345

Now, falls into deep snow don’t hurt at all, but it does take some time to swim your way out. Especially, as you can see in the picture above, if you’re still clipped in to the side of the bike that’s pinning you into four-feet-deep snow, and you have nothing to use as leverage to right yourself..

For those of you who are wondering how I eventually got out, the answer is really quite simple: I didn’t. I’m still there now. Somebody, please come get me.

Eventually, I finished, fourth in my category (all results can be seen in this PDF), which doesn’t sound so bad until you know the first place racer in my category finished 18 minutes ahead of me.

As an interesting note, if I had raced in the singlespeed category, I would have placed 4th in that, too.

I have a picture of me finishing, but the one of Brad finishing is more impressive:


By the way, Kenny took 1st in Expert 40+ (doing most of the second lap on a flat); Brad took 3rd. My friends are fast.

After the Race
After the race, Kenny moped around because while he had won his category, his team would not be taking home the Frozen Hog travelling trophy for the fourth straight year.

"Why didn’t you invite me to be on your team?" I asked.

"Because you’re too fat and slow," Kenny replied.

Thanks, Kenny. You’re a swell guy.

And then we got to the part I’d come to the race for in the first place: giving away the bikes. Here’s me, going on and on and on, while everyone looks on, wishing I’d shut up and draw the winning tickets already.


The local raffle — where you had to be present to win — raised $650 for the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and the winner was Dan Hutchings of Salt Lake City.

The second bike was raffled here on this blog, toward raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Together, you all donated $1410, and the winner is Dan V of Seattle, who donated $50 to the LAF for this raffle — the best $50 he’s ever spent, I’m guessing. Here’s what Dan has to say:

I just moved to Seattle from Pittsburgh. I don’t own a mountain
bike or a singlespeed or a 29er, but after reading your blog for a year, I wanted to.  Especially in a bike friendly area like this.  Especially in a rainy but year-round commuter friendly area like this.

But I ended up spending my part of my relocation signing bonus on
silly things like roof repairs, and my bike acquisition plans were being delayed and might have had to rely on black budget tricks.

Like making a strategic donation.

Congrats to both winners! And a big thanks to Rich W and Racers Cycle Service for donating the bikes for the raffles.

A Day Later
Now a day’s past since I raced the Frozen Hog. Was it worth doing? Definitely. Did I have fun? Half the time.

Am I going to ride the course again as soon as possible? Nope, because another 14" of snow has fallen since then.

PS: A big thanks to Racer’s Cycle Service and UtahMountainBiking.com for putting on a terrific event. Everyone knows that I go to Racer’s pretty much exclusively both for bike sales and service, and UtahMountainBiking.com is an excellent resource to Utah-based mountain bikers, with an incredibly deep catalogue of bike trails in Utah.

PPS: UtahMountainBiking.com now has pictures and their own race report posted on their site. Click here to read.


  1. Comment by Jill | 02.3.2008 | 6:10 pm

    Wow … nice snow bike riding! Good job finishing out that race as well. There’s nothing harder to ride than narrow singletrack covered in chewed-up sugar snow, in my opinion. Well, unless that narrow singletrack is covered in 14″ (14 inches? Really?) of fresh snow. But the course sounds like a ton of fun.

    I also wanted to say … great banner! Sorry I weighed in on the latest design a little late. I haven’t been around as often as I’d like lately. Look at those pasty white Alaskan legs! I almost forgot what summer looked like.

  2. Comment by fatty | 02.3.2008 | 6:16 pm

    jill – yeah, 14″ of snow today at my house, and it’s still snowing hard.

  3. Comment by Born4Lycra | 02.3.2008 | 6:53 pm

    Congratulations for finishing and to the winners.

  4. Comment by je | 02.3.2008 | 7:44 pm

    I must be in the snow vortex.

    My brother, 30 miles north, has 6-foot deep snow walls on the sides of his driveway and you got 14 inches 30 miles south of me.

    I, in the middle of the SL Valley, got two inches and had (dead) grass peaking out yesterday.

  5. Comment by je | 02.3.2008 | 7:46 pm

    Oh, and where did the food posts go?

  6. Comment by UtRacerDad. | 02.3.2008 | 8:01 pm

    And Kenny’s team only lost by 1 point :), if it hadn’t been for a flat tire on one riders bike (no not kenny’s) but rather the one girl that was on the team (Kellie), she flatted as she started the second lap, but so wanted the trophy that she hoped that just finishing would give them enough points to win (it almost did). she finished the last 3 miles of the lap pushing her bike, she actually rode on the flat front tire for about 3/4 of mile. She said that it actually worked really well on the snow, then the tire came of the rim and the rest of the race was a hike to the finish, but she finished just as everyone was leaving and going home. well I guess second isn’t so bad :). And I’m sure Kenny will get the trophy back next year.

  7. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 02.3.2008 | 8:02 pm

    “You really do think about everything in terms of food, don’t you?”

    “Yes. Yes I do.”

    It’s been said that people give directions in terms of different terms of reference based on their own comfort zone or preferences: such as pubs, gas stations, clothing stores or food outlets.

    Here’s a hypothetical conversations between you and, um, anyone…

    “Hi Fatty, where’s the blah blah blah?”

    “Hi there stranger, go down past the Crispy Creme, take a left at Dunkin Donuts. Go straight at Maccas until you get to Sizzler. Then it’s on your right at the vending machine just before Starbucks.”

    Don’t feel bad. I can navigate a blind man 50 miles in any direction using nothing but fried food outlets.

  8. Comment by JohnO | 02.3.2008 | 8:02 pm

    I don’t think I’m fast enough on a bike to wear George Hincapie’s sunglasses.

    Seriously though, seeing people out on bikes having fun makes me hate graduate school. (As if I needed another reason for that feeling.)

  9. Comment by northernbiker | 02.3.2008 | 8:12 pm

    Sounds like fun…right now where I live we seem to be snow deprived or at least more than usual whats getting in the way at the moment is the weather this past week has been -40c not counting windchill gotta love the yukon ;) great post keep up the good work!!

  10. Comment by Bren | 02.3.2008 | 8:20 pm

    Nice race writeup, sounded like a super fun race! And that warm front thingy? It’s a dicky, man! A fleece dicky!

  11. Comment by cheapie | 02.3.2008 | 9:01 pm

    hey…you know what might help those wrists? a suspension fork!!!!


  12. Comment by KanyonKris | 02.3.2008 | 9:03 pm

    Fatty, you did good on the mic – what you said was heartfelt and you didn’t go long.

    I saw that grin on your face as the bike was given away – I think you really like giving stuff away (who wouldn’t?).

    Do they make one of those fleece dickys for the, um, lower half? To use a word I learned from Fatty: I don’t like a cold crotchal region. Hmm, the tear-away feature might look a bit risque though. ;-)

  13. Comment by KanyonKris | 02.3.2008 | 9:07 pm

    BTW, the bike winner (Dan Hutchings) is in the last photo with Fatty – he’s the guy on the far left in the black coat, knit cap and sunglasses.

    Oh, and I fell over too during a pre-ride of the course Friday evening. I landed so soft with powder snow going everywhere – I just laughed. It was like being a kid at play.

  14. Comment by fatty | 02.3.2008 | 9:24 pm

    je – the “rescued from msn spaces archive” pieces go to their proper space in the chronological archive after they’ve spent the weekend front and center. so the one that was up front saturday is now in the september 2005 archive. the one that was posted this morning is now in the may 2005 archive. make sense?

    bren – fleece dickie. got it. good to know the right term.

    northernbiker – i’ve lived in -40 before. it’s just awful. can’t breathe through your nose. can hardly breathe at all it hurts so much.

  15. Comment by BigBruce | 02.3.2008 | 9:42 pm

    Just finished a video of the race. It’s a 9-minute download by broadband on utahmountainbiking.com.
    Next year might be a big letdown after this year’s challenge. Maybe we can shovel snow ONTO the trail and hold it at night.

  16. Comment by buckythedonkey | 02.4.2008 | 12:37 am

    How brilliant that the Fickle Finger of Fate picked out a raffle winner who actually needs a bike!

    And I wonder what Jill makes of your sugar-and-cream-cheese snow type…she’ll have a name for it. In the Southern reaches of the UK we only have two types of snow: “gone by lunchtime” and another kind that we haven’t seen in years.

    Finally, who is the angry looking geezer standing behond you in the fatty-with-the-mike photo? He looks like he’s giving the laser beams of death treatment to whoever is behind the camera. Either that or he’s pushing one out.

    Caption competition?

  17. Comment by Wendy | 02.4.2008 | 1:47 am

    Hi Fattie. Pioneer Woman said to come over here and see your blog … so I went into this trance and just came over here. YOU BIKE IN THE SNOW? That’s CRAZY COOL. I have a bike. It’s in my garage … here in CALIFORNIA … waiting for me to RIDE IT AGAIN. I guess the perfectly snowless streets and the warm climates are just TOO much for me, ha. And there you are biking through SNOW. You make it look fun.
    I enjoyed my visit. PW was right. You have a cool blog. No … let’s not play up the pun (snow ride … cool … let it go) … it’s just *cool*.
    Wendy … a former biking enthusiast turned lethargic mother of four children. Oh my. And I love my bike so…. my lovely fast Dacordi … maybe you will motivate me to turn that all around? I sure could use the exercise.

  18. Comment by Mike Roadie | 02.4.2008 | 4:19 am

    Last night’s Super Bowl(TM) menu:
    Mini Burgers (plain and cheese)
    Seasoned Fries
    Chicken Tenders with various sauces
    7-layer Bean dip (with only 4 layers)
    French Onion Dip
    Hummus and veggies
    Chips, chips and more chips
    Homemade BROWNIES

    I was serious about running out of willpower during the weekend. BTW…there were only three of us watching the game!

    The HOG looks like so much fun. It will be 82 again here today.

    Start the week off right, everyone……

  19. Comment by Born 4Lycra 43 11 N 2 32 W | 02.4.2008 | 4:21 am

    Oh yeah forgot to mention earlier Congrats to Kenny for flying the Win with Susan Flag not only had his game face on but his winning top as well.

  20. Comment by Al Maviva | 02.4.2008 | 6:58 am

    Snow mountain biking is a lot of fun but even though I enjoy it, I’ll admit it makes about as much sense as fully clothed sauna sitting. You spend a lot of time crashing, and you also find out that, unlike the Rockies, most parts of this great land typicallly do not have 24″ of champagne powder just lying around on the ground. This makes the tipping over portion of the riding a tiny bit less like “kid’s play” and a bit more like “mean kid beats you up and takes your lunch money.”

  21. Comment by Bitter (formerly known as Lissee) | 02.4.2008 | 7:01 am

    Ahhh, snow. Mmmmmm.

    I wrote a blog post about snow on Friday, but didn’t post. Now it’s snowing here in NYC, but it’s not going to stick….

    Big Mike, you crack me up! :)

  22. Comment by Lori | 02.4.2008 | 7:10 am

    I just found your blog – I love it! I am new to cycling but I love it more and more each time I ride. But riding in the snow?! Man, I am a wimp. I get cold just thinking about it.

  23. Comment by KanyonKris | 02.4.2008 | 8:13 am

    For Mike Roadie:

    Superbowl Food trivia:

    The amount of guacamole consumed during Superbowl Sunday would fill a football field waist deep.

    I think they should play the next Superbowl in waist-deep guacamole. Slow things down so you don’t need instant replay. ;-)

  24. Comment by Mike Roadie | 02.4.2008 | 8:25 am


    That would be better than playing on that junk at Heinz Field!!!!

    Sorry, just finished a pre-gym PB and Banana sandwich and I couldn’t peel the banana from the bottom!

  25. Comment by Bobby | 02.4.2008 | 8:40 am

    Um…isn’t “Warm Front Chest Warmer” is a euphemism for a Dickie? Best worn under a very thin white v-neck sweater.

  26. Comment by Cousin Eddie | 02.4.2008 | 9:07 am

    Catherine bought me one of those chest warmer things for Christmas a few years ago. I like to wear it when I drive the RV.

  27. Comment by cincy_14 | 02.4.2008 | 9:22 am

    That’s hilarious, you should use that fallen picture whenever you make a new banner. I wish you could send a little snow my way, we haven’t had near enough in Ohio.

  28. Comment by Rick S. | 02.4.2008 | 10:28 am

    Sorry I missed the race. I showed up at noon and was going to ride the course after it was packed down but after talking with Racer, Brad, & Kenny, who all said the same thing…the course was chewed up, I opted for a road ride on my single speed (still better than the gym)

  29. Comment by KT | 02.4.2008 | 10:35 am

    That’s a lot of snow, man. And you RODE in it. With a SMILE on your face.

    I knew there was something wrong with you, and now I’ve figured it out.

    We got snow here in Portland again over the weekend, but only if you were at the 250ft plus level. NOAA forecasted snow above 1000ft, that just goes to show you that you can’t trust weather people anywhere.

    Of course, it was the “gone by lunchtime” snow… which this year in my neck of the woods we’ve gotten a lot this winter.

    And I didn’t ride at all this weekend. I did laundry, did some work, went to the bookstore to buy some paperbacks, and watched the Superbowl for the commercials. I think we hit the fast-forward button for most of the game, except for the last quarter which took FOREVER, what’s up with that.

  30. Comment by Little1 | 02.4.2008 | 10:39 am

    snow… how cool is that! sorry being in sub-saharan africa…we see more sun than snow!

  31. Comment by kenny | 02.4.2008 | 11:00 am

    Sorry I called you fat….and slow. That was mean spirited. What I meant to say was that you are so good looking and famous that by the time you were done signing autographs at the start line, everyone would have a ten minute head start. Normally this would not be a problem for you, but with the course the way it was, there was no place to pass for you to catch back up to the front. Next time, I’ll for sure save you a spot on the team.

  32. Comment by Clydesteve | 02.4.2008 | 11:20 am

    Fatty, I loved your pre-race picture. “…And now, check out me. I have my “What have I gotten myself into?” face on. Also, it looks like my helmet is in a different strata of the atmosphere than my head.”

    The piture here: http://portland08.livestrong.org/stevpete

    is from my rainy ride last year in the Portland LIVESTRONG ride. I disingenuously called it my race face, but it really looked more like what you said. With the same comment about my helmet in a different strata of the atmosphere than my head.

    So your comment cracked me up. I am sure you probably could have selected a more glamorous shot, (though I assure you, I had no glam shots from the cold rainy Portland Livestrong from last year!) but you chose one with a weird expression – Got to hand it to ya, fella.

  33. Comment by Big Boned | 02.4.2008 | 12:49 pm

    I gotta ask…I’ve seen a bunch of pictures of you riding and you always have the same “attractive” sunglasses that appear to be circa 1997. Any reason for that? You’ve got plenty-six bikes, a gob of jerseys, several helmets, a beautiful home, the ultimate bike carrying truck and….one out of style pair of shades. What gives?

  34. Comment by fatty | 02.4.2008 | 1:29 pm

    big boned – that’s an excellent question. i always wear these same glasses because they fit comfortably, take my prescription, and have lenses that change to suit the light (or lack thereof). i’m actually on my third set of lenses for these frames.

    oh, and also i haven’t figured out the right person at oakley to wheedle a free set of radars out of.

  35. Comment by Jodi | 02.4.2008 | 1:38 pm

    Elden don’t you listen about the glasses. You are a handsome devil and 1997 was your best-looking year ever. Don’t stop living the dream.

  36. Comment by Co | 02.4.2008 | 10:13 pm

    Did you body-check Kenny? It would be just great if a guy who wears pink wins despite being body-checked times.

  37. Comment by Primal | 02.5.2008 | 1:37 am

    Coming from a warm tropical climate I can’t even start to imagine racing in snow. Looks like a good day out on the MTB. Nice pics. Head to Aus, you’ll only ever get rain a few days of the year and a slight chill in winter.

  38. Comment by Big Boned | 02.5.2008 | 3:25 am

    Ahhhhhh….yes, the prescription! I’m cursed by the same fate! I’ve been wearing my Oakleys for a number of years now that I think about it. My friends may wonder the same thing about all the biking shots of ME!
    My prescription makes it hard for me to find good shades too, and the “insert route” just doesn’t work for me.
    When you find the right person at Oakley, let them know I’m waiting for your review before my next purchase!

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  40. Comment by Albert A Rasch | 02.7.2008 | 2:24 pm

    came here via the Pioneer Woman, and sure am glad I checked you guys out! Cycling in the snow! That is absolutely crazy. Though I do remember riding through dirty slush in New Jersey back in the day.

    More important though is you commitment to helping others through your blog and the raffle. I’ll be on board for the next,

    Albert A Rasch
    The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

  41. Comment by Jennifer | 02.8.2008 | 4:26 am

    Just found your site. It’s wonderful. A friend sent a link yesterday and I’m hooked. I’ve got a road bike but am saving towards a mtn bike. No snow to deal with here in FL, thank goodness.
    Just an FYI, Kenny’s hot.

  42. Comment by Jedd | 02.8.2008 | 12:02 pm

    After reading the Frozen Hog 2008 Ride Report, I wondered if you or any of the fat cyclist followers are familiar with Ktrak and/or have tried the product.


    I wouldn’t mind a report of the product, to see if it actually works and is worth purchasing. Perhaps Ktrak warrants one of your famous letters to the CEO.

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