A Note from Fatty:Team Fatty now has 277 registered team members, and has raised $11,801.00. That is, quite frankly, awesomelicious. If you haven’t joined yet, read Monday’s post for information on how you can. Or, if you’d prefer just to enter the raffle to win any Dura-Ace Wheelset you want, just head on over to my donation page and make a donation. Every $5.00 you contribute on my LiveStrong Challenge page earns you a raffle ticket toward the drawing for the wheels. The Drawing’s Friday, December 12.
I haven’t been on my bike much, lately. And by “much,” I of course mean “hardly at all.” And by “hardly at all,” I actually mean “twice this month.”
Of course, this is partially due to the fact that I spend a lot of time taking care of Susan. But I have other reasons, too. Good reasons. Convincing reasons. Reasons so excellent-sounding that you will want to use them yourself the next time you find yourself with no will to ride. In fact, my reasons are so good that they are very nearly true.
I will detail these reasons at a later date, and will license their use for a reasonable fee.
Right now, though, I don’t want to talk about the fact that I have not been riding much (at all). I want to talk about what has happened on the couple of times I have been riding recently.
Oh, and also I want to take a little walk down memory lane. Let’s start with the memory lane.
How I Decided I Wanted to Be a Fast Guy
As Dug has mentioned on this blog recently, he was the person most responsible for getting me into mountain biking. He was, so to speak, my shepherd.
In those days, though, Dug was a different kind of shepherd. At the time, he was into racing, and so would — along with his fast friends — regularly drop me, making me the guy everyone had to wait for at the top of the climb. And the bottom of the descent. And at major junctions.
And so I had to put up with the reality of riding up to the group at these regroup points and seeing them in various stages of relaxation: some straddling their bikes, some sitting on their top tubes, some laying on the ground, feigning sleep.
At least, I hope they were feigning. I never asked.
As I rode up during one of these regroups, Dug once derisively said (and I remember this clearly, because it scarred me for life), “Did you have a flat back there or something?”
At that moment I decided that I would become a faster rider than Dug.
And I did, too. It took about three years, but I’m really, really good at holding a grudge. Oh, and also by then Dug had stopped caring about racing. Coincidentally.
So anyway, that’s how I decided to become a fast guy: spite.
It occurs to me that I need to come up with a better “origin” story for myself. Something noble, with a really cool training montage. And maybe a car chase.
It Doesn’t Take Long to Become the Slow Guy
It took about three years for me to go from being the slowest guy in the group to being one of the fastest (I never got even close to being as fast as Brad and Kenny, but I never expected to, either).
It seems singularly unfair, then, that it took me only two months to become — once again — the slow guy.
“Oh, Fatty,” I hear you saying. “You’re exaggerating; you haven’t really become the slow guy in just a couple months. Have you?”
Yes, I have. And I don’t mean that I am one of the slow guys. I mean that I am verifiably, literally, the slowest guy in the group. And I don’t mean that I’m just riding at the back of the pack. No. I mean that I am off the back, and out of sight. The slow group tries to ride extra slow to let me stay with them, but they can’t go that slow.
In truth, people marvel that — so slow is my speed — I am able to remain upright.
Ruminations of the Slow Guy
Here is the example that is seared in my mind. I was riding with a large group — about fifteen of us — at Draper’s magnificent Corner Canyon last weekend. The plan was for us to ride up Clarks, then down the brand-spanking-new downhill-specific trail that had just been completed.
(I’ll have more to say about that new trail in a future post. For now, let me just say this: awesome.)
As we began the climb, a couple of people were behind me. And by “behind me,” I mean right behind me, and fighting the impulse to yell “onyerleff!” and ride by. So I did the right thing: I pulled over, mumbling something about needing to adjust my derailleur and catching up in a few minutes.
And then I was alone.
As I slowly (oh so slowly) rode up Clarks — turning the granny gear on a climb I have done countless times on my singlespeed — I contemplated the fact that I am, indisputably, the slow guy in the group again. I asked myself deep, meaningful questions about being slow. Obligingly, I also answered these questions. Here’s how the interview went.
Q: How do I know I am slow?
A: Well, my perceived exertion is just as great — maybe greater — than ever. I don’t feel like I am moving a lot slower. And yet, people I have always been faster than are now way ahead of me, and they aren’t working hard. So — unless everyone is pulling an elaborate hoax on me by having trained incredibly hard and taking EPO for the past couple months without telling me, which would be a pretty darned good joke — then I am definitely slow.
Q: Is it bad to be slow?
A: No, of course it isn’t. The only speed that is bad on a bicycle is the speed at which you are not enjoying yourself. If you enjoy riding your bicycle slow, then it’s good to be slow.
Q: Do I enjoy being slow?
A: No. Decidedly not.
Q: How is it possible I got so slow so fast?
A: We’ll go into that later.
Q: OK. But it hardly seems fair that it takes so much work for so long to get fast, and it takes no work whatsoever for a remarkably short period of time to get slow.
A: Tell me about it.
The Dreaded Regroup
As (ever so eventually) I approached the top of Clarks, I had to consider the probability that everyone would be waiting for me there. They would be in various states of repose: some snacking, some chatting, some napping.
No doubt they would expect me to explain myself when I reached them.
I considered several things I could say:
- “It’s opposite day! I win.”
- “When I write about this in my blog, I’m going to leave this part out, OK? I’ve got $5.00 for everyone who promises not to leave a correcting comment.”
- “I’d have gotten here sooner, but I had to swap out my bottom bracket about halfway up the trail. Oh, and I discovered a hiker in shock with a broken leg; it was a compound fracture. It took a few minutes for me to set the leg correctly and form a good hard cast using nothing but the materials around me.”
- “I hate all of you.” Sometimes the best offense is to be really offensive.
In the end, though, I chose none of these. Instead, when I rolled up to the group I said, “Man, I am so fast!“
Stunned by my audacity and confounded by the contradiction of my assertion to their direct observations, they said nothing.