07.28.2008 | 2:08 pm

The Leadville 100 is just a couple weeks away, and I’ve got a problem: I don’t know what bike to ride, or how to set my bike up.

This is not the first time I’ve had this problem. I’ve puzzled over whether I ought to ride the full-suspension bike or the hardtail (not a choice this year, since I no longer own a full-suspension bike). I’ve pondered over whether to ride with a Camelbak, or go with bottles. I’ve agonized over the virtues of low rolling resistance versus good traction.

This year, though, is different.

This year, I’m not sure what to ride or how to set up my bike because my right shoulder is still separated, and still hurts like crazy. I can’t lift my arm above shoulder level, and only barely am able to stand and climb for any length of time (like, I can now climb standing for five minutes).

I’m going to explain the things I’m considering, and would appreciate your feedback.

Which Bike?
This is the biggest decision I have to make, and it’s a tough one. Here’s why I haven’t made up my mind yet.

  • The WaltWorks: If I hadn’t crashed recently, I’d be riding my fully rigid steel 29″ singlespeed, for certain. Dug, Brad and I had this great plan for riding the entire race together, Brad slumming at Dug’s and my speed. But right now I’m not sure that by the time the race begins (August ninth), I’ll be able to do the race on that bike. Singlespeeding requires upper body strength — constant pulling up on the handlebars — that I just don’t have right now. Will I have that strength back by 8/9? I don’t know. I worry about risking it.
  • The Superfly: If I ride a geared bike, I’ll be able to remain seated for more of the race. And this isn’t exactly a slouch of a geared bike. But if I ride this bike, it’ll be just one more year of me riding a geared hardtail, but slower (much, much slower) than usual. What’s the excitement in that? And I won’t match Dug and Brad as we ride along together, wearing our sombreros and merrily singing a tune at the back of the pack.

So, say I decide to go with the WaltWorks…which is what I really, in my heart-of-hearts, want to do. Should I put a suspension fork on it? It seems like that would help my shoulder, but my shoulder usually gets hurt not from the up-and-down of rolling over rocks, but from sudden, unanticipated lurches where I try to recapture my balance after losing traction. A suspension fork won’t help with that.

Or, suppose I go with the Superfly? Is it OK for me to put a basket on the front?

The Real Question
Really, what I’m trying to figure out is: What is the bike setup that will give me the best chance of finishing this race in spite of my total lack of training, and in spite of my messed up shoulder, while still giving me a good, believable excuse in the event that I wimp out and bail?


  1. Comment by BunE | 07.28.2008 | 2:11 pm

    Run it with the Andean long distancers.

  2. Comment by Al Maviva | 07.28.2008 | 2:12 pm

    There is only one way to go: Full suspension fixed gear.

    I recommmend a 40 pound downhill bike, with a rear wheel rigged with a White ENO eccentric hub. If your arm goes dead, you’ll still be able to brake with the fixed drivetrain. If the trail is rough, the suspension (all 10″ inches of it) will cushion the blow. Since you’ll be pushing uphill anyhow, the added weight won’t matter. And if you last more than 20 miles on the fixed gear – no mean feat if you’ve ever ridden a fixed MTB – you won’t need an excuse to quit.

    Plus if you finish, it will be epic, truly legendary. You won’t be Fatty the Token Middle Aged Sport Mountain Biker, you’ll be That Madman With One Arm Who Finished Leadville on a Full Bounce Fixie.

    I don’t see how this could possibly go wrong.

  3. Comment by bikemike | 07.28.2008 | 2:21 pm

    you have to ask yourself if riding the single and pulling up on the bars will do more damage or is it just pain? sounds like torture will be prevelant regardless, might as well make try and take some of the infliction out. better go geared and check your supply of Advil.
    all in all if you pull this off, Dug and Brad will have witnessed a miracle and be eligable for sainthood.

  4. Comment by Robb Sutton (198) | 07.28.2008 | 2:21 pm

    If you blow up your shoulder again…it could equal long term consequences. I would do the geared hardtail and then kill it next year. I am the worlds worst in the patience department, but sometimes it is better to suck it up. I have personally had several of these kinds of decisions to make and every time I over extended myself…I regretted it. Then again…I do enjoy the challenge!

    The smart move is the geared HT, but I would probably go rigid ss. I would pay for it afterward, but my hard headedness wouldn’t let me go geared!

  5. Comment by Jake | 07.28.2008 | 2:24 pm

    What about getting yourself hooked up with a brace:


    or some such, which would allow you to still pull on the bars, but allow you to still make use of your arm?

  6. Comment by BurkeInTheOzarks | 07.28.2008 | 2:26 pm

    I say borrow a full-squish, geared bike. With a motor.

  7. Comment by Emily | 07.28.2008 | 2:29 pm

    Ride the Superfly but don’t shift for the entire race. Problem solved.

  8. Comment by KanyonKris | 07.28.2008 | 2:34 pm

    What, you want absolution?

    The logical choice is the Superfly. Better chance of finishing the race with your bum shoulder.

    But you want to save face, do the race in style, hang with the other 2 amigos – so that may toss logic out the window.

  9. Comment by Rick S. | 07.28.2008 | 2:40 pm

    Single speed. You should ride your single. I, however, will be riding with gears but you, you should ride single.

  10. Comment by GenghisKhan | 07.28.2008 | 2:43 pm

    Sounds like a good excuse to get a new bike–I’m thinking Ibis Mojo…

  11. Comment by Nick | 07.28.2008 | 2:52 pm

    I’m worried you’re going to jack up your shoulder even more. You might want to consider just having the surgery now and rehab the hell out of it and do it next year.

  12. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 07.28.2008 | 2:53 pm

    Kawasaki 250. Powerful enough to get you up the hills, light enough to flick around on the downhills.

  13. Comment by Jeff | 07.28.2008 | 3:01 pm

    Ditch the bike. run Leadville this year…

  14. Comment by Willie Nelson | 07.28.2008 | 3:02 pm

    Go with both bikes and then flip a coin at the start…

  15. Comment by Lori | 07.28.2008 | 3:12 pm

    Ride a recumbent!!

  16. Comment by Andy | 07.28.2008 | 3:20 pm

    Hi Fatty,

    You say “where’s the fun in that?”; I say “fun is inversely proportional to pain”. Go with the Superfly if you can’t borrow a full springy. The Columbine descent takes, what, 20 minutes? Think about 20 minutes of shoulder-battering, rigid misery; then decide. Oh yeah, there’s powerline and those other nasty little downhills too.

    I wonder if this post is just a setup so you can boast later about how riders you beat… I hope I’m not one of them! :-)

    Win Susan!

  17. Comment by Caloi Rider | 07.28.2008 | 3:22 pm

    So, this is a little off topic, but have you looked into strength-training exercises to strengthen the muscles around that shoulder (and thereby prevent further injury)? I have a rotator cuff strengthener I have to do periodically or I’ll get re-injured too (although my shoulder doesn’t pop out).

    P.S. I vote for the Superfly. Either that or give it to someone who will use it. A bike that sweet shouldn’t be sitting in your garage while you do an epic ride.

  18. Comment by Kent Peterson | 07.28.2008 | 3:25 pm

    Two words: Mountain Unicycle.

    No strain on your shoulder and you’re guaranteed a PR if you cover any distance at all on it.

  19. Comment by Drew | 07.28.2008 | 3:25 pm

    “”Really, what I’m trying to figure out is: What is the bike setup that will give me the best chance of finishing this race in spite of my total lack of training, and in spite of my messed up shoulder, while still giving me a good, believable excuse in the event that I wimp out and bail?”"

    Any Yamaha you can fit on will get you to the finish with your lack of fitness. If you bail, you can always blame the high gas prices…

  20. Comment by Hamish A | 07.28.2008 | 3:34 pm

    Fatty, I feel your pain but sometimes you have to go the sensible route. Superfly this year then kick the Leadvilles butt next year on the Waltworks.

    Another option is to change the front end setup of the Waltworks. Bringing the bars closer and higher will take strain off the shoulder when you have to stand. Perhaps even a slightly lower gear would make it less of a struggle on the ups. Big tire on the front, maybe some nice squishy grips and I reckon you’ll be ok.

    Take it easy & have fun!

  21. Comment by bubbaseadog | 07.28.2008 | 3:47 pm

    skip leadville this year spend the time with susan,and her new scooter or did you get it yet.if not get it now and listen to your buddies tell of leadville.win susan

  22. Comment by Barturtle | 07.28.2008 | 3:47 pm

    What you need here is a Whizzer


  23. Comment by Chole | 07.28.2008 | 3:51 pm

    Man, I know what it feels like to be injured… :(
    At least you didn’t break anything.

    I’ve got a race on Saturday in the track and my knee is being a brat. I’m trying to figure out whether to still race, since I’ve essentially been off the bike for 4-5 days nursing it. I’m stubborn so I’ll probably still race, and just be terrible.

    Good luck w the shoulder!

  24. Comment by chtrich | 07.28.2008 | 4:01 pm

    I’m going to say…..a motorbike. Maybe a nice dirt version.

  25. Comment by Bob | 07.28.2008 | 4:04 pm

    I’m torn here. I think you should ride the geared bike because your shoulder is too messed up to pull a single-speed for 11+ hours. Then again, I want to ride your geared bike instead of my full-suspension bike, which is comfy but slow.


    I’ve reached a decision. You’ve done it 12 times on a geared bike, but never on a singlespeed. You can’t break 9 hours this year, so try the singlespeed. If you make it, you’ll have a great story to tell. If it hurts too bad, you can bail early with Dug and sing Mexican songs at the finish line.

  26. Comment by DougG | 07.28.2008 | 4:04 pm

    get a full suspension geared bike. Would you do a hundred miles over any terrain in a car with one gear and no suspension? Or any vehicle for that matter?
    Why make it harder than it needs to be?

  27. Comment by Moishe Lettvin | 07.28.2008 | 4:08 pm

    Ride the Superfly, but drag a BOB trailer with something free and amusing to dispense (Dubble Bubble or Clif Shots or Circus Peanuts or something). Finish in 11:59, thus getting your money’s worth by being on the course having fun as long as possible :)

  28. Comment by steve sax | 07.28.2008 | 5:02 pm

    Hey Fatty

    How about we trade bikes for that weekend? You can ride my ancient fixed gear Bianchi. I have cross tires for it and everything. Any distance on that will be epic.

    Seriously, why are you even asking the question? You already gave the answer…

  29. Comment by rexinsea | 07.28.2008 | 5:17 pm

    Ride the Superfly. The basket will look great – especially if it’s pink.

    You don’t need an excuse for riding at whatever pace you choose or for pulling out if you need to. Ride the bike that will allow you to have the most fun with your buddies. This year (above all previous years) is about having great experiences with your good friends.

    Just my $.02. But you get what you pay for.

  30. Comment by cheapie | 07.28.2008 | 5:26 pm

    dude…the superfly. don’t get crazy and get hurt worse than you already are just to prove a point. it’s already a hard enough race without a bum shoulder. don’t go overboard trying to make it epic.

    or do. it will make for better reading.

  31. Comment by Flyin' Ute | 07.28.2008 | 5:36 pm

    Bro. I think you should go for sub nine hour on your superfly and quit sandbagging.

    Once again, no silly comments when you pass me.

  32. Comment by El Animal | 07.28.2008 | 6:00 pm

    SO you have to choose between a Waltworks and a Superfly? You %$#^@&#^#&#

  33. Comment by eclecticdeb | 07.28.2008 | 6:14 pm

    Just what are you trying to prove? And to who?

    Ride the Superfly already. Who cares what your time is? Sheesh, the the fact that you are considering riding this year is proof of your lunacy.

  34. Comment by Roadie34 | 07.28.2008 | 6:17 pm

    Dude….you keep hurting it falling off and reaching for the ground,right?
    IT’S SIMPLE!!!! Have Dug and Brad Duct Tape that hand to the bars! Then it won’t matter what you ride. Just make sure you use the Camelbak and have the Margarita Clif Blocs unwrapped before the event. After unwrapping all those blocs, you will choose some variety thus solving last years issue of too many of the same flavor!

  35. Comment by montanapat | 07.28.2008 | 6:44 pm

    Go with your passion…Waltworkx is where it seems to be. Can’t go wrong with passion.

    WIN Susan!

  36. Comment by Rox | 07.28.2008 | 7:02 pm

    Stop being such a boy and suck it up. You need to ride the Superfly, who cares that you want to ride your single speed. You’re hurt. Remember when you fell and all you could think about was being mature and that you have a family that needs you? Do you really want to go all manly-like and seriously injure your shoulder more? Just the fact that you are going this race should be enough. Maybe you could put some duct tape on your back that says something smart-assed, that way you won’t feel like you look like a weinie and you can still ride and have fun with your buddies. Def put the basket on the bike and maybe tie a stuffed pink bunny-rabbit or something to it. You rock either way so who cares what you ride. Just survive this year, get the shoulder fixed and come back next year and kill it on your single speed.

  37. Comment by karen | 07.28.2008 | 7:28 pm

    What Al said

  38. Comment by Don | 07.28.2008 | 7:38 pm

    Superfly and you could rock out the basket on the front BUT! you MUST also rock out streamers from the grips, and you MUST also rock out the lamest bell you could find. Unless you could find a bell, preferably lighted, with a clown face, dinosaur, or something else whimsical. Oh yes… I said whimsical.

  39. Comment by Lifesgreat | 07.28.2008 | 7:39 pm

    Since I know ZERO about MTBs, I will offer you the use of my ATV. It doesn’t have power steering like the new ones have, though. Should be interesting on singletrack. . .

  40. Comment by Aaron | 07.28.2008 | 7:46 pm

    You may as well make it memorable. Singlespeed.

  41. Comment by born4felt | 07.28.2008 | 8:03 pm

    Sorry dude, but take the superfly. Pain isn’t good for you, and it doesn’t make you stronger. It’s just evidence that you’re messing yourself up. There’s nothing heroic about increasing your suffering by aggravating an injury. It’s just dumb. And it takes more courage to admit that you can’t do something than it does to destroy your shoulder for 9 hours.

    just my .02 cents, as they say. Have a great ride whatever happens.

  42. Comment by Stephen | 07.28.2008 | 8:42 pm

    Superfly, for certain. No need for machismo, could you pull it off, anyway? You don’t want to be having to schedule your rehab around Susan’s appointments.

    Win Susan!

  43. Comment by Jaime O. | 07.28.2008 | 8:59 pm

    I recommend staying home with the family and letting yourself heal. Since you won’t do that, ride whatever gives you the least chance of making that whole side of your body useless for helping Susan.

  44. Comment by hoggy | 07.28.2008 | 9:14 pm

    having had a serious crash that affected my family in a big way, i would say stay home and dont mess up the shoulder cos even though i imagine Susan is supporting you in this endeavor, if you become ineffective at home it will hurt much more than missing a ride. sorry to be the voice of gloom but whats the point of experience if you dont get to share it.

  45. Comment by Susan | 07.28.2008 | 9:42 pm

    Well, I’m a wimp. There’s not much that would make me endure more pain just to say I’ve done it. I’m also a firm believer in taking care of yourself. You’re not a wimp, but you really should take care of yourself. Just for you. Stay home. Heal. You’ll enjoy the ride afterwards so much more. But what do I know?

  46. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.28.2008 | 9:50 pm

    superfly. basket, streamers, bell, white tires if available, and a bandana to go with the sombrero. I’me sure Brad & Dug would give you a pass.

    Also, is is possible to scare up some athletic trainer to tape your shoulder in place? At least get one of those white mesh roadburn sleeves that Big Goerge was sporting after his crash.

  47. Comment by Carl | 07.28.2008 | 11:22 pm

    Who wants to wimp out and bail? Even when you have talked about it you never do it. Bailing stinks and you love Leadville!
    Your shoulder sounds bad enough that you probably shouldn’t even be riding a bike right now.
    So ride the bike you know you can finish on…the one with gears.

  48. Comment by Kathleen | 07.28.2008 | 11:55 pm

    You don’t know me but I’m with your friends who want to see you through another day with fewer, not more, injuries. Superfly baby!

  49. Comment by Travis | 07.29.2008 | 1:06 am

    Ride the WW, that way, when you don’t beat 9hours, you can complain that you have a seperated shoulder, the hills where a total nightmare because everytime you stood, and pulled on the bars, you could feel it slowly and ripping apart again.
    You also know that it’s going to be one of the longest and most painful days of your cycling life, so you might as well make it really hurt, and go full rigid and don’t put any FS on.
    Then when you get home, you can look at Susan and not say a word about pain.

    Or you can fully deck out the Superfly, take your time, enjoy it, as you know you’ve had a tough year, no time to train properly, and hell… your still doing the Leadville with a seperated shoulder!

  50. Comment by ~e~m~e~ | 07.29.2008 | 3:28 am

    Seriously. Do not ride. One unexpected or jerky movement and you will black out from the pain, or not be able to physically control the bike and crash.

    Use your head. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world (I don’t need to tell you that), but one thing that is certain, this ride will be there next year when you’re well.

    Be smart and don’t ride. There is absolutely nothing to be gained and quite a lot to lose.

  51. Comment by Lizzylou | 07.29.2008 | 4:51 am

    I am glad there are a few voices of reason on here, but I doubt they will be heeded. No matter how much a pain a person is in, you are still going to want to ride the ride that you dream about the rest of the year.

    However, there is a reasonable alternative. A quick search on the internet will give you directions on how to set up a bike to be ridden with just one arm. This would give you an excuse to tinker with components too. But before the raise, have somebody strap your extra arm to your side so you won’t be tempted to use it.

  52. Comment by Donald | 07.29.2008 | 6:24 am

    Get Well… Go and support your friends.. have a great time… and be ready and fully healed for next year’s event. Like the comment just above… the ride will be there next year and so will you. Then… you can confidently kick ass on whatever bike you choose.

  53. Comment by Swedoz | 07.29.2008 | 6:43 am

    I’m with the lunacy group. Crazy, but that’s what I’ve come to expect when I read this – totally crazy in the best possible way. 100 miles in a single speed with a seperated shoulder – they should have thought of that as a torture method in Gitmo – that’s a bit too crazy. I vote for the superfly with pink basket, ribbons and those coloured things you used to find on the spokes of kids bikes that rattle up and down. Send a photo to Trek and see how quickly they raid your house and steal your bike for ruining all their cred!

  54. Comment by George McNally | 07.29.2008 | 6:55 am

    If your shoulder is still screwed up when it’s time to race….bag the race.

    There’s always next year.

    Your family needs you 100% healthy right now.

    Sorry to be a downer.

  55. Comment by Ka_Jun | 07.29.2008 | 7:09 am

    Superfly, hands down. Go conservative this time, because the long term cost if you crank that shoulder will be considerable. No basket, but deploy a bell, preferably a pink one with streamers.

  56. Comment by Paul | 07.29.2008 | 8:00 am

    Fly with the Superfly, basket, streamers, bells, rearview mirrors, rack, take a http://www.spokester.com/ for the downhills.

  57. Comment by FliesOnly | 07.29.2008 | 8:47 am

    Ride the WaltWorks (because if you don’t you will do nothing but second guess your decision the whole ride) and send me the Superfly (thus completely removing any possible chance of temptation getting the better of you, and you switching out to the Superfly…cuz it’ll be at my house…in Michigan).

    Brilliant, if I may say so myself.

    Seriously though, even if you decide to not send me the Superfly…ride the WaltWorks. It’s what you truly want to do…it’s what you’ve hoped and planned for since last year. And like you said, it should be no more problematic to ride the WaltWorks than it should be to ride the Superfly.

    Personally I think you’re nuts either way, but good luck nonetheless.

  58. Comment by Daddystyle | 07.29.2008 | 9:03 am

    Eletric bike, uh no, not on the list.

    I say the super fly with basket and water/food c/w goofy outfit so nobody thinks your taking youself to seriously.

    At 1oo miles nobody will think any less of you except Dug and kenny.
    Ride on, either way have a blast

  59. Comment by Anne | 07.29.2008 | 9:22 am

    C’mon, be a wimp for one crummy year ~ and it has been crummy! Use your head – you have a wife and family that needs you, and, as it has been said, the race will be there next year. And if you MUST ride, do the one with the streamers, baseball cards in the spokes, free goodies to give out along the way, etc.


  60. Comment by mair | 07.29.2008 | 9:40 am

    I second whoever asked about permanent damage:

    regretting it for the rest of your life would suck… but regretting it for the rest of the week just gives you a good story for the rest of your life…

  61. Comment by mark | 07.29.2008 | 9:41 am

    Just ride the superfly and be done with it. Unless you want your first DNF.

  62. Comment by KT | 07.29.2008 | 9:55 am

    Ride the Walt with basket, streamers, and dorky bell. Or an “a-ooo-gah” horn (that’s the sound it makes, so there).

    Or, ride the Superfly, with basket, et al. And bandana. And speak in a fake british accent. Why? Because.

    WIN, Susan!!

  63. Comment by Jake | 07.29.2008 | 9:55 am

    Gears. Why would you risk it with all of the single speed rowing? Wear the sombrero anyway. It’s gitchy.

  64. Comment by buckythedonkey | 07.29.2008 | 10:32 am

    Yep, he is going after that recumbent with gusto, isn’t he?


  65. Comment by dug | 07.29.2008 | 10:41 am

    single. rigid. lots of ibuprofen. otherwise you’ll have to ride with bob. is that what you want?

  66. Comment by buckythedonkey | 07.29.2008 | 10:42 am

    Sorry for the double post but, oh my dear goodness, I’ve just been passed this spy shot of the Weapon of Choice 2008:


  67. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.29.2008 | 10:51 am

    Sometimes it is amusing to quote people out of context:

    ..control the bike and crash. Use your head. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world..

    …which leads to wild speculation about how Elden is going to be better off using his head to crash on.

  68. Comment by L'Hippo | 07.29.2008 | 11:26 am

    1971 Schwinn Apple Crate. Nice upright seating position, shock on the front, and 5 gears is almost a fixie. Tiny wheel on front and cheater slick on back might make for some interesting descent and traction issues. All that and it probably weighs 45#!

  69. Comment by jsv | 07.29.2008 | 11:31 am

    Jeez fatty better to live and fight another day. Have to think long term on this one. Can you imagine for one minute really screwing up that shoulder for good…

    Leadville will be around a long time!

  70. Comment by axel | 07.29.2008 | 1:45 pm

    I think bob can help you out – he has an electric bike!

  71. Comment by Jay Peitzer | 07.29.2008 | 4:56 pm

    Well you obviously didn’t read my comment about testosterone poisoning. This falls into that category. I’d say to give it a go only if you’re not going to permanently damage your shoulder. Obviously you’d like to ride the Waltworks but at least at this point you probably wouldn’t get very far on it. The thing to do is strengthen the shoulder as much as possible before hand and make the bike descision based on how the shoulder is feeling at the time of the ride. If the ride was today I’d highly recommend against doing it at all but in two weeks you’ll probably be feeling at least somewhat better. We all know you’ll be out there trying. No one here thinks you’re a wimp…….LOL.

  72. Comment by Dobovedo | 07.29.2008 | 10:16 pm

    Well, I really like all the calm voices of reason that are telling you to give the race a skip and not risk doing more serious injury. You have to keep your priorities in check and yes, the ride will still be there.

    If it were me though… I’D DO IT! C’mon… Tyler rode the nearly the whole ‘03 Tour with a broken collarbone and won a stage!

  73. Comment by Lowrydr | 07.30.2008 | 8:58 am

    Use the Super with a Pink basket your Pink jersey and don’t forget the Pink pleated skirt.

  74. Comment by Frank | 07.30.2008 | 3:02 pm

    Now that Lance is confirmed to be in the race, can we expect another famous interview?

  75. Comment by Donald | 07.31.2008 | 6:29 am

    Fatty… I withdraw my earlier suggestion that you stay home and rest the shoulder. Shoulder–schmoulder… you got another one. Now that Lance has confirmed he’ll be in the race… you MUST GO. And yes… we can’t wait to read about your experience and the interview with Lance. Thanks!

  76. Comment by TW | 07.31.2008 | 1:11 pm

    With THE Lance Armstrong riding YOUR big race – it can only mean good things!


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