No, I Insist. YOU Go Ahead.

05.5.2009 | 9:21 am

A Note from Fatty: Congratulations to Heather Gilbert for coming up with the winning name for what we can now call the Kona Cadabra! And equally importantly, thanks to all of you for helping Heather win.

As promised — and talked about on Kona’s winner announcement — Heather’s giving it to me to raffle off for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Heather’s still nailing down the details about timing, sizing, and so forth, so expect this raffle to start sometime next week-ish.

As a fat cyclist (as well as The Fat Cyclist), moments of cycling glory seem to be few and far between.

But every once in a while, I do have one of those moments.

Like last Friday.

The Plan: One Continuous Flowing Descent

The climb up Hog Hollow seemed very difficult last Friday, as it has each time I’ve climbed it this year. Much more difficult than last year, and even more difficult than the year before that. As my knees pressed into my paunch, I tried to figure out why this was so.

Once I made it to the top of Jacob’s Ladder, though, I got the same rush of anticipation I always get when I have a giant slice of uninterrupted downhill ahead of me. Upper Jacob’s Ladder, Lower Jacob’s Ladder, and then Ghost Falls. And since I was by myself, there would be no stopping to regroup.

I planned to do it as one giant, continuous descent.

Really, there’s nothing better in mountain biking.

There’s been so much rain this year that the texture of Jacob’s Ladder is markedly different than usual. Where you can usually count on it to be very loose and gravelly, this Spring it’s been as close to buff as it gets. Which means you can tear down it.

Which I did.

As I rolled across the road that Lower Jacob’s Ladder empties onto, I was thinking the same thing I have thought after hundreds of good rides: “I love riding my bike SO MUCH.”

And yes, I really did think in bold, capitalized italics. When I’m emphatic, I’m very, very emphatic.

I Am Mr. Helpful Friendly Person

There, on the road, about to drop down Ghost Falls, were two more mountain bikers. I could tell several things just by looking at them.

  1. They were younger than I am. I’d guess they were in their mid-twenties. This was one certain indicator that I should let them go ahead. They almost certainly had more testosterone and less to lose than I.
  2. They were in better shape than I am. No paunches in sight.
  3. They had big-hit freeride bikes and were wearing body armor. Clearly, they were cyclists to be reckoned with.

So as a middle-aged, well-paunched, fully-rigidized-singlespeed-riding guy, I stopped, greeted them, then said the right thing.

“You guys go on ahead.”

“Are you sure?” they answered, but I could tell they were visibly relieved.

“Absolutely. I don’t want to hold you guys up.”

And so they took off.

And I followed right behind.

Caveats and Whatnot

There’s a lot of pressure to perform when someone has explicitly yielded pole position to you on a mountain bike downhill. That pressure frequently actually has a negative effect: you think too much, you’re not loose, and you don’t ride as well.

Also, Ghost Falls (as currently constructed) was built to be a cross-country trail. It has a few whoop-de-do’s and such, but I don’t think I ever think to myself as I ride down, “Boy I sure wish I had suspension right now.”

Could I get an “amen” from the locals on this?

And also, a little switch seemed to flip for me sometime last season and I have become a not-half-bad downhiller.

And finally, I have never ever ever been so comfortable on a bike as I am on my Singlefly. I’m going to have to do the complete writeup on my Singlefly thoughts soon, but the short version is: it’s an astoundingly good bike.

The Bottom Line

All these points made, however, the fact remains: these guys were outfitted for serious downhillng. And I’m a middle-aged guy who was riding a rigid singlespeed.

And I fully cleaned their clocks.

So fully were their clocks cleaned, in fact, that I started talking to the guy in front of me as we descended. Telling him about the new freeride trail, and how he should try it out. Telling him about other trails in the vicinity. Recommending local restaurants.

He pulled over and let me by.

His friend yielded shortly after.

And I finished the descent about as happy as I’ve been in months.


  1. Comment by Jamieson | 05.5.2009 | 9:37 am

    That’s a great realization and ride. Congrats on the getting the new raffle item. Time for another donation.

    Glad you had such a good ride – nothing but rain here in NY for the last week and it has made the trails into an unrideable slop-fest.

    Even the road is uncomfortable with the cool rain.

  2. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.5.2009 | 9:38 am

    it is a beautiful thing for an old fat guy to be able to parley his experience into a clock-cleaning! well done Elden.

  3. Comment by Paul H | 05.5.2009 | 9:43 am

    Awesome, no one deserves it more!

  4. Comment by Kevin | 05.5.2009 | 9:52 am

    You are a God for the “older” guys. I have felt that same euphoria before, both skiing and biking. It’s like no other! Kevin

  5. Comment by 29er | 05.5.2009 | 9:55 am

    I may be shy, but I am not stupid. Still so glad I declined to go ahead of you and your video camera down Rodeo the other day. Have a blast riding – I know I will!

  6. Comment by Onan the Barbarian | 05.5.2009 | 9:57 am

    As I have discovered, the heavier one is (gravitationally enhanced??), the faster one can descend.

    Of course, controlling said descent is another matter which leads into my personal quote for biking:

    “Never underestimate the stopping power of a tree.”

    Well done, Fatty.

  7. Comment by rookieroadracer | 05.5.2009 | 10:00 am

    Hahaha… that is absolutely AWESOME! I’ve been on both ends of that. When you’re the guy who’s a bit out of shape on an older hardtail chatting with the DH guys as they go like mad down a trail they expected to kill you on, you feel like a god. When you’re out breaking your hump, riding to your limits and some dude pulls up alongside and starts to chat with you like it’s no big thing as you struggle to hold your line and not faceplant, it’s a serious serving of humble pie, and a reminder to get out and ride more. Both are great feelings, but in very, very different ways. Rock on!

  8. Comment by Lochness Ronster | 05.5.2009 | 10:12 am

    Further evidence that you can’t judge a good downhill rider by the thickness of his/her wallet. Or bodyplate armor. Or rear suspension spring.

    Tee-hee, recommending local restaurants. Too good.

  9. Comment by MikeonhisBike | 05.5.2009 | 10:14 am

    Now that’s got to make your day. This is a perfect example of gear doesn’t always indicate what kind of rider you are. Glad you were able to give them a good whoopin.

  10. Comment by MOCougFan | 05.5.2009 | 10:19 am

    Thanks for making us old guys look good.

  11. Comment by Rick S. | 05.5.2009 | 10:21 am

    It’s always good to pull a “jamie” and buzz their tire a few times before you come around for the pass. A good tire buzz usually gets your point across better than words.

  12. Comment by Linda | 05.5.2009 | 10:23 am

    Sounds like you had a great ride! Good that you came out on top of that little meeting. Had you decided to give them directions the pendulum would have surely swung the other way. :o)

  13. Comment by buckythedonkey | 05.5.2009 | 10:27 am

    …and the last thing they saw was “FATCYCLIST.COM” emblazoned across your backside! :-D


  14. Comment by Brandy | 05.5.2009 | 10:33 am

    I want a Superfly now. I just got a new Hoo Koo E Koo. But my first 29er for sure will be a Superfly !!

  15. Comment by bikemike | 05.5.2009 | 10:38 am

    i read an article in The New York Times, a few months ago, apparently, there is HUGE money to be made in clock cleaning. just so you know.

  16. Comment by WheelDancer | 05.5.2009 | 10:43 am

    Selfless has a new name as in “She was just humble and Dr. Heather about it all.”

    Like rookieroadracer, I’ve been on both ends of your trail experience and since it always happens while I’m on my bike, it’s all good.

    Great to hear you out having some fun, you deserve it!

  17. Comment by Newt | 05.5.2009 | 10:54 am

    From one fat older guy to another, well done. Equipment and youth can go a long way, but not in dealing with the experience and strong will of a family man that is on an escape-from-life ride. Keep it up, Elden.

  18. Comment by rexinsea | 05.5.2009 | 11:00 am

    I like to refer to my middle age as experience. It’s soooo great when experience wins out over youth! Sounds like an awesome ride.

  19. Comment by cheapie | 05.5.2009 | 11:00 am

    great. looking forward to a review on a bike that NOBODY BUT THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE CAN BUY!!! aarrrggghhh!

    but yeah. i’d like to read it.

  20. Comment by Big Boned | 05.5.2009 | 11:08 am

    I have to believe that “they” aren’t telling this story to their friends…
    Chalk one up for the old fat guys.

  21. Comment by rookieroadracer | 05.5.2009 | 11:27 am

    A bit OT here (OK, WAY OT) but a while back there was a FC post on how to have a sucessful blog, right? Anyone have a link to that, by any chance?


    rookie blogger, er… I mean rookie roadracer

  22. Comment by Dr Codfish | 05.5.2009 | 11:33 am

    Fatty said:

    ” …So fully were their clocks cleaned, in fact, that I started talking to the guy in front of me as we descended. Telling him about the new freeride trail, and how he should try it out. Telling him about other trails in the vicinity. Recommending local restaurants.”

    This is not appropriate ‘old guy’ behavior. This is just a kid’s attitude in an old fat guy’s body, and you shame us all. It’s the bicycling equivalent of the chicken dance in the end zone. maybe at the end of their ride those two youngsters were thinking “Boy that fat old guy was sure awesome, and he added so much to my ride, chatting in my ear as I was riding the trail, really that’s what I was hoping to find out here on this ride”. For a minute there I was hoping you were going to show some class. Don’t just grow old, grow up, at least a little.

    Yr Pal Dr Codfish

  23. Comment by CLBlood | 05.5.2009 | 11:37 am

    I’m looking for a shirt with “AARP” printed on the back so that the punks who pass me get zero points.

  24. Comment by Sam | 05.5.2009 | 11:42 am

    Good for you. Way to rip it up.

  25. Comment by KanyonKris | 05.5.2009 | 11:49 am

    Savor the sweetness.

    Yes, the new Ghost Falls with it’s mild grade and tight corners doesn’t favor a DH bike like the old steep and straight trail did. Still, you were on your game to hang with them.

    Dr Codfish – Remarkable events come less frequently with age, so I say relish them.

  26. Comment by (California ) Matt | 05.5.2009 | 12:45 pm

    Doing a thorough ‘clock cleaning’ is a rare and treasured feat for most of us (I’m a skinny old guy…so you guys at least have gravity on your side. I’ve got nothing…except that I get to haul less UP the climbs).

    And Dr. Codfish…I believe that sometimes the “chicken dance in the endzone” IS called for. Sure, it’s way-classy to just pass with a ‘on your left’…and then BE GONE in a poof of dust while’st they wonder “who exactly WAS that masked man?” But other times call for the extravagent celebration. Had they been on Huffys wearing hiking boots and T-shirts, then surely no taunting would be called for. However…it’s like when I passed a few totally decked out Roadies (full team kits) a few months back on a 1400′ road-climb (riding my full suspension Mt bike WITH full-on camelback…2 liters of water, full complement of tools, pump, etc). Passed them about half a mile from the top and didn’t look back. Nearly killed me to HOLD that pace to the top though…thankfully I turned right and they all turned left. The Chicken Dance was TOTALLY called for. In fact I believe it was required by state law. Only there was no one else there to see it. But oh-yes, it was done. On the moving bike no less. With only the trees to bear witness. But I know. And so do they.

  27. Comment by pedalgr | 05.5.2009 | 1:17 pm

    Fatty, have you read the description of you on your advertiser’s sales website? I found it quite amusing:

    “Use a humorous blog to put a positive spin on your marketing efforts to cycling enthusiasts. is the two-time prestigious Bloggie-winning (“Best Sports Blog,” 2008, 2009) blog hosted by Elden “Fatty” Nelson. Fat Cyclist talks about all things cycling in a humorous and lighthearted way. From professional cycling to personal adventures to local races to cycling satire to surprisingly insightful product reviews, Fat Cyclist entertains and engages its large and committed audience.”

    Perhaps the funniest part is that you have “surprisingly” insightful product reviews! Because a humorous columnist could NEVER insightfully review a product! Should you be insulted? I don’t know.

    But, if I did have a cool bicycle product, I’d probably advertise on your blog.

    P.S. Did you know you avg 320,580 “impressions” per month!? That’s crazy! Go Fatty! :)

    P.P.S. I’m glad that this blog is not strictly “lighthearted”

  28. Comment by Rantwick | 05.5.2009 | 1:27 pm

    “I love riding my bike SO MUCH.” Strange how simple and true that feeling is when you have it. I haven’t ridden mountain in years, in fact most of my riding is fast commuter street or paved path these days; the nice part is, I still get that same feeling/thought all the time, despite definitely being fatter and possibly being older than you. Well done Fatty. Really, how is it that such a simple machine can give us so much? It’s unbelievable!

  29. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 05.5.2009 | 1:59 pm

    Good work sir!


  30. Comment by Phil | 05.5.2009 | 2:00 pm

    That’s pretty… pretty badass.

  31. Comment by Bob | 05.5.2009 | 2:53 pm

    Rock on brother

  32. Comment by Dobovedo | 05.5.2009 | 3:42 pm

    “youth is wasted on the young”

    From now on the lads must refer to you as MISTER middle-aged, well-paunched, fully-rigidized-singlespeed-riding guy.

  33. Comment by Hilslug | 05.5.2009 | 4:10 pm

    Being a fellow forty-something with some extra weight, I loved your post. You can’t buy age and experience, that’s for sure.

    I, too, love riding my bike SO MUCH! South Fork was beautiful today.

  34. Comment by bubbaseadog | 05.5.2009 | 7:02 pm

    now thats heavy fatty….win susan

  35. Comment by CostalRider | 05.5.2009 | 7:55 pm

    “Remarkable events come less frequently with age, so I say relish them.” KanyonKris you do have a way with words! As do you Fatty, thanks.

  36. Comment by Jason | 05.5.2009 | 8:28 pm

    AMEN! Nothing like killing it on the downhill!

  37. Comment by jen | 05.5.2009 | 8:30 pm

    I own a Kona and I love the company and the work they do in Africa – looking forward to the raffle!

  38. Comment by Triflefat | 05.5.2009 | 10:08 pm


    I think you missed an opportunity when you wrote
    “As a fat cyclist (as well as The Fat Cyclist)….”

    I might be getting myself a bit lost but it seems you could have written:
    “As a fat cyclist (as well as AS The Fat Cyclist)…”

    Someone as emphatically emphatic as you could have revelled in a sentence that started AS WELL AS that!

  39. Comment by GenghisKhan | 05.5.2009 | 10:36 pm

    Great story. Well, for you, of course. Those guys probably won’t be telling it–at least not the same way! Maybe they are readers of your blog? Might be interesting to hear their side of the story. :o)

  40. Comment by Ka_Jun | 05.6.2009 | 6:40 am

    Young dudes, schooled by Fatty. Awesome! Middle-aged, well-paunched, fully-rigidized-singlespeed-riding guys, represent!

  41. Comment by sparkyr | 05.6.2009 | 7:29 am

    You have sparked the lyrics for Hot Rod Lincoln in my head with the line “He pulled over and let me by.”

    “I said ‘watch out boys
    I’ve got a license to fly’
    and that Caddy pulled over
    and let us by”

  42. Comment by Daddystyle | 05.6.2009 | 9:47 am

    I love it, good for the ego. That happens herr on occasion.

  43. Comment by Corey | 05.6.2009 | 10:57 am

    I was just served in this fashion in Moab…one of the guys in our group is a big guy, a really big guy, and he walked almost all of the uphill portion of Porcupine Rim, arriving at the top in need of a defibrillator.

    And then….

    He literally floated down the other side on his older Cannondale Jekyll, leaving all the rest of us way behind. I’ve never seen someone so big move so effortlessly and gracefully on a bike, it was awe-inspiring.

  44. Comment by Bill F. | 05.6.2009 | 2:53 pm

    Wow. I fully enjoyed this. Well played. So satisfying.


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