I Admit: I am Giddy

02.15.2008 | 11:10 am

The day following the Leadville 100, there’s a 10k running race for charity. It’s a great cause, and it’s a short distance, and as far as I know, nobody takes it very seriously as a race.

And yet, in the eleven years I’ve done the Leadville 100, I have never done this 10k. My reason is simple: I am too beat. I am sore and tired and in no mood for any more exercise shenanigans.

Which makes my new — as of last night, in fact — obsession even more foolish than it otherwise would be.

I want to race the Brian Head Epic, the first MTB Epic stage race in the U.S.

The Essentials
Here’s the idea in a nutshell: four long days of mountain biking, with each day being around 50-60 miles.

Each day starts in or near Brianhead, so I wouldn’t have to pack my stuff and move it each day. Just get up, do the ride, eat, sleep, and repeat.

I think it’s really funny that I began the previous sentence with the word "just."

As I am prone to do when I get all excited about something, I wanted more information, so I called the race organizer, Tom Spiegel. Here’s what he says the four days will be like.

Day 1: Drive out to Navajo Lake, about 25 miles from Brian Head (there might be shuttles available). Ride 25 miles on fire road, then 32 miles on the Virgin River Rim trail. Which, I am compelled to point out, is some of the most incredible forested singletrack in Utah, and therefore in the world. This is the kind of trail you come do just because you love mountain biking.

Day 2: Start in Panguitch, then out to Casto’s Canyon via Mt. Dutton. Back to Panguitch. 60 miles. I frankly expect it will be this second day that will be the hardest for me. I’ve never done two giant rides on back to back days before. I will likely have gone out too hard on the first day, and will be tired on the second day. I’m going to tattoo "Pace Yourself" on the back of my hands. Which won’t do any good because I always wear gloves when I ride, but still.

Day 3: Start at Brian Head and do about 2/3 of the traditional Brian Head Epic 100. Not the full 100 miles of the race, as VeloNews reports, for which I am grateful (for those of you wondering whether it’s VeloNews or me that’s right on this contradiction, I’m the right one).

Day 4: Down to Parowan and back up, which is about 4500 feet of descending, followed by about 4500 feet of climbing, in 50 miles. So the race ends with a massive grunt of an interminable uphill, just the way it should.

I have to say, I have not been so excited for a race since my first Leadville 100. That is not hyperbole, either. I’m always saying that my great gift in mountain biking is to keep turning the cranks. This will be an awesome test of that gift.

More Details
Here are a few extra details from my conversation with Tom Siegel:

  • Cost: The entry fee will be $400. This, to me, seems like an incredible bargain, for a four-day race.
  • Prizes: There will be cash prizes for the pros, and every finisher gets a jersey and a medal. I, for one, look forward to wearing that jersey.
  • How many people? Tom’s hoping for between 200 and 400 people. Beyond that, you’ve got a singletrack conga line situation in several places on the course.
  • Support: There will be fully-stocked aid stations along the courses each day. And — not settled, but possible — breakfast and dinner each day, too. Which makes the $400 even more of a bargain.
  • Who’s the Title Sponsor? Sho-Air, an airfreight forwarder, which also sponsors an MTB racing team.
  • When’s the race? August 21 – 24.
  • Where can I find more info? Team Big Bear will be posting info up on their website around the third week in March, once they get more logistics nailed down.

I’ve talked to Kenny; he’s excited for this race. I’ve talked to Rick Sunderlage (not his real name); he’s excited for this race.

And I, for reasons I simply cannot fathom, am incredibly excited for this race.

Suddenly, I feel a greater urgency about my training and diet. I’ve got a four-day epic to prepare for.

Anyone else thinking about it?

PS: I beat my weight loss goal for this week by 0.6 pounds. I’ve set a goal for next week of another two pounds. The jackpot for next Friday’s weigh-in (i.e., the amount you can win if I don’t meet my goal) goes up to $100.


  1. Comment by colin | 02.15.2008 | 11:23 am

    I am now!

  2. Comment by KanyonKris | 02.15.2008 | 11:32 am

    I’m thinking about it – thinking how insane it is! ;-)

    I too get excited about things that normal people consider insane so I understand your enthusiasm.

    That’s some incredible mountain biking they have lined up there! But Parawon Canyon will killer – I thought my car was going to burst into flames, going up or down.

  3. Comment by Big Bird | 02.15.2008 | 11:41 am

    I’ve been thinking about it. It even looks like it might fit into my season plan. Of course, I’d have to buy a mountain bike first.

  4. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 02.15.2008 | 11:42 am

    I don’t think $400 is a bargain for a 4 day race even if they was and service your bike every night. Unless you get a commemorative ceyring and baseball cap. Then it’s a best bargain ever.

  5. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 02.15.2008 | 11:46 am

    Does anyone know where I can hire a good secretary. I just fired the last one. Everyone knows there’s a “h” in wash except my secretary. IDIOT.

  6. Comment by Clydesdale | 02.15.2008 | 11:46 am

    I wish!

    (Sigh) maybe some day…..

  7. Comment by UltraRob | 02.15.2008 | 11:46 am

    The reason I’ve never done the 10k after Leadville is I avoid running. I did take Ken’s ATV out on the 10k course one year to hand out water. That was an excellent way to be involved in the 10k.

    The Brain Head Epic sounds really cool. There was supposed to be a MTB stage race this year in Colorado but they moved it out to next. I’ll have to see how my fitness starts coming around or maybe I should just sign up and use it to force myself to get fit.

  8. Comment by Mike Roadie | 02.15.2008 | 11:49 am

    I am giddy, too!!!
    My brand new fat Cyclist T-Shirt(glad my secretary knows there’s an “h” in shirt) just arrived!!!! I’ll be wearing it out at the rides this weekend…..Huzzah!!!!


  9. Comment by Noah | 02.15.2008 | 11:49 am

    I’m thinking about it!

    Okay, I’m done thinking about it. That would kill me 3/4 through the first day.

  10. Comment by Clydesteve | 02.15.2008 | 12:04 pm

    I will 2nd Mike Roadie’s giddiness. I just got my new FC tee and two T6/FC water bottles. All beyond awesome.

    It has been a while since I bought a new water bottle. Get this – the lids do not leak, and the nipples do not seep, and they are soft, not hard and cracked. (Did that come out right?)

    anyway, I like ‘em!

    And, my wife agreed to drive me through Portland, leave a car, & drive me to Seattle for the STP. I am excited for that.

    Happy for you about the Brain Head Epic, Fatty. But for myself, I am closer to Noah’s camp.


  11. Comment by graisseux | 02.15.2008 | 12:05 pm

    Mike Roadie, you can be even more grateful that your secretary knows there’s an “R” in shirt. Terrible joke–I know. But as hard as I tried I just couldn’t let that one by.

  12. Comment by colin | 02.15.2008 | 12:10 pm

    I don’t think $400 is a bargain for a 4 day race even if they wash and service your bike every night.

    Why not? Seems like $100 is a reasonable entry fee for an endurance mtb race, I paid $95 for the VT 50 this year and $100 for the Jay Winter Challenge. So four days of endurance mtb for $400 seems about right to me…is New England ripping me off? Are supported long-distance mtb rides cheaper out west?

  13. Comment by judi | 02.15.2008 | 12:13 pm

    Fatty – I think you should also do the 10K run the day after Leadville. Just go for it! I’ll be thinking of you on Aug 24th, your last day of the race. I am doing a half IM that day. Whew.

  14. Comment by Miles Archer | 02.15.2008 | 12:29 pm


  15. Comment by Yeagermeister | 02.15.2008 | 12:56 pm

    I’m all for serious self-punishment of the epic MTB type.

    It appears I won’t be making my normal spring training trip to CO this year, so maybe a late-summer trip to UT would be the next logical option. Of course, this would only leave me with a 7-day recovery before the Shenandoah Mountain 100… Hmmmm…

  16. Comment by MTB W | 02.15.2008 | 2:54 pm


    Congratulations on making your weight goal this week.

  17. Comment by Chris | 02.15.2008 | 4:02 pm

    All that cycling and running makes you sound a lot like a triathlete.

  18. Comment by mbonkers | 02.15.2008 | 4:43 pm

    I think Fatty is already a triathlete.
    He Eats or does’t eat (diets) like it’s a sport. I mean there’s contests and everything!
    He mountain bikes.
    He road bikes.

    Sleeps might be in there somewhere too but he’s definitely a multi-sport type in my estimation.

  19. Comment by mbonkers | 02.15.2008 | 4:44 pm

    Oh and he also wins awards at writing like it’s a sport.

  20. Comment by yukirin boy | 02.15.2008 | 4:51 pm

    I’m excited about it now and from the other side of the Pacific there is no way I could even do it.

    Congratulations on making your first weight target.

  21. Comment by Nick | 02.15.2008 | 9:38 pm


    You are doing the Epic on your single speed, right?

    You know you should be doing the BC Bike Race.

    I am using it as a warm up for Leadville.


    Congrats on the weight.

  22. Comment by Cheasty | 02.15.2008 | 9:39 pm

    Way to go, Fatty. I keep forwarding your posts to my Dad (also a Fatty, trying to lose weight), and he loves reading them. Race on!

  23. Comment by fatty | 02.15.2008 | 11:03 pm

    nick – i would’ve loved to do the bc bike race, but this one is a lot closer and cheaper and won’t cost me anywhere near as many vacation days.

  24. Comment by Tim D | 02.16.2008 | 3:09 am

    I rode up Brian Head once, from somewhere on the west side (Cedar City?). It is the highest I’ve ever been without being in an aeroplane. Then we did 35 miles of downhill down the other side. This race sounds insane.

  25. Comment by Born 4Lycra 43 11 N 2 32 W | 02.16.2008 | 3:21 am

    Big Mike there is also a K in keyring but hey if she looks good – give her another chance.
    Not bad FC yesterday down in the dumps regards cholesterol today hyped up and excited about a 4 day torture fest with views apparently. Sounds like you are cured.

  26. Comment by DerekB | 02.16.2008 | 6:14 am

    First of all. . . to go from “Chest Pain” to “4-day MTB Epic Race” in two days of posting is why I keep coming back to this soap opera of riding. . .

    Secondly, for those of us in the East, I saw this race and thought it looked awesome. . . I have in-laws living in Utah and could easily make it out there to ride. . . BUT, isn’t it crazy to have a race in the desert in August? Won’t it be 145 degrees during the day? If you fall during the race, does your skin start to sizzle upon contacting the ground? Or is the elevation enough to keep things to a cool 120 degrees? Let me know. . .

  27. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 02.16.2008 | 11:36 am

    Derek B, Brian Head is at about 7000 feet. I don’t know about all of the stages, but I know that 2 of the 4 are sufficiently high that it won’t be 145 degrees. It could be 95 if there’s a real heatwave…

    I’m pretty sure I could finish one of the stages of this race. If I got into really good shape, I could finish two of the stages. If I got into the best shape I’ve been in for the last 15 years, I could probably finish 3 stages. If I got into the best shape of my life…who am I kidding; I probably won’t even get into ‘really good shape’ this year.

  28. Comment by TheNeil | 02.16.2008 | 4:18 pm

    Botched, the town of Brian Head sits right under 10,000 feet, I think the base of the resort is at 9,800′.

    Fatty, did Todd say anything more about the last day? do they have a trail down to Parowan and back, or are they going to make all the mtbikers ride the road down and back? In that case, can you have a second bike?

  29. Comment by TheNeil | 02.16.2008 | 4:19 pm

    …and by Todd, I meant Tom.

  30. Comment by Don (cyclingphun.blogspot.com) | 02.16.2008 | 6:59 pm

    So I may have missed it, but has the “Rick Sunderlage (not his real name)” thing ever been explained? Could you explain it for me?

  31. Comment by deepersouth | 02.16.2008 | 10:13 pm

    Fatty, I rode the Cape Epic in 2005 – 8 days of stages between 70 and 90 miles, not that much singletrack, but extraordinary landscapes, brilliant race organisation, and bucketloads of pain.
    Each morning it became a little harder to get going – from planting the dollar-coin-sized raw patches on my ischial tuberosities on the saddle, to turning the cranks with legs that felt as if every artery had been injected with latex. It was particularly entertaining when I developed tendinitis in my left thumb and couldn’t work the shift lever anymore without using the heel of my hand (which of course meant taking it off the bars).
    And then,on day 5, suddenly, miraculously, the agony began to ebb. I even took the strapping off my knee, and barely grimaced on the massage table at night.
    Anyway, the point I am making is the Brian Head Epic stops after four days, just when, for me, the pain would likely be at its apex. But your results may vary.

  32. Comment by fatty | 02.17.2008 | 6:54 am

    TheNeil – Tom did explain the route, but my note-taking abilities are poor and I didn’t get it down properly; it makes no sense to me when I read it back. However, nearly the whole thing is on dirt. The only pavement is to connect dirt segments. So no road bike.

  33. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 02.17.2008 | 7:51 am

    Yeah, I should have said 7000+.

  34. Comment by Kaapie | 02.17.2008 | 11:00 pm

    Fatty, pencil the Cape Epic – A 8 day Mountain bike stage race in South Africa, into your diary. Check out their website if you need confirmation http://www.cape-epic.co.za. It is the most awesome event I think I will ever do. That being said, the first four days were hell, then it just got fun.

  35. Comment by Boz | 02.18.2008 | 5:21 am

    I didn’t comment, so I didn’t make any mistakes.

  36. Comment by emily | 02.19.2008 | 11:33 am

    how do you train for something like that?

  37. Comment by Bob | 02.19.2008 | 4:59 pm

    Train=ride alot, sleep alot, eat alot.

    Weather, I guarantee thunderstorms, some snow and some sleet.Yep. That is Brian Head in August, awesome.


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