Dug Vs. Elden: Race Report

05.29.2009 | 10:09 am

If Dug were a car racing video game, he would be one of those where you have to earn your turbo boost — but once you’ve got it, you get to keep it.

If I were a car racing video game, on the other hand, I would be the kind where you have Nitrous and Turbo Boost right from the first moment of the game, but you only get a finite amount of each. I would also be the kind where somehow the console senses you’re about to press Start and immediately turns on the Nitrous, Turbo Boost, and mashes the Gas button clear into the controller without asking whether you really want to go that fast right from the gun.

And in short, in spite of the fact that Dug clearly explained before we started the race that he was going to hang back and let me cook myself to a crisp, I went right to my redline and kept it there. By the time I got to the bridge that signals the base of the big climb on the first lap — Clark’s — I had already put enough distance between us that I could no longer see Dug.

And I would not see him again for the rest of the race.

Whaddaya know. My total lack of a strategy and boneheaded approach to racing worked. While Dug suffered badly for the big climb, I put enough of a gap between us that even though I knew I had a good chance of completely discombobulating on the second lap, he wouldn’t be able to catch up.

Theory of Subjective Speed

This is not to say that I did not crane my neck around ten thousand times (usually at switchbacks, sometimes where there was a long straight section behind me) to see if Dug was closing in. Because — especially during the second lap up Clark’s — I felt eminently catchable.

Which brings me to a couple of things I noticed during this race.

First, in the absence of any kind of real measuring device (a bike computer, GPS, or even a watch), my sense of speed got incredibly subjective. During the first ascent up Clark’s, my iPod played about three songs: I started the climb halfway through one song, listened to two complete songs, and finished about halfway through another.

On the second time up Clark’s, I was certain Dug would catch me. At several of the mini-summits, I nearly stalled out. I was weaving on the trail. I had nothing that even resembled a cadence.

And yet, I started the climb about halfway through one song, and finished about three complete songs later.

In other words, I did the climb in three songs when I was fresh, and 3.5 when I felt completely broken. Now of course, songs can be of variable length and I might have been more than halfway through a song at the beginning of one of the climbs and blah blah blah, but still: while I felt like on the second climb I was twice as slow, in reality I probably was just a minute or three slower.

By the way, I have just now decided that from now on I shall measure all climbs in Song Units. Please do likewise.

More Subjective Speed Theory

Actual amount of time notwithstanding, it felt like I was crawling during the second climb up Clark’s, and multiple times considered getting off my bike, resting while I waited for Dug to catch up, and then proposing that races are stupid and that we’re both closer to our mid-forties than early forties and what business do we have racing one another?

But I kept going. For you.

During this subjective crawl, I noticed that I was noticing things (which is pretty darned meta, I admit). I noticed, for example, that the distance between trees was greater than I had previously suspected. And that the distance between a couple of landmarks on the climb — a signpost and a gate — is about eight feet, where I had always before thought of them as being within just three or four feet of each other.

Also, I noticed a lot more false summits than usual.

Adrenaline is Not My Friend

Of course, since the course is a loop, it can’t be all uphill (and if a loop course were all uphill, I’d be mighty upset). The big downhill was Ghost Falls, a switchbacky, wide, clean stretch of singletrack with several bridge crossings and a few whoop-de-doos up top.

The first time down Ghost, I was terrible. For two reasons. The first — and most important — reason is that I was still all amped up. I wasn’t riding the trail, I was attacking it. And on a twisty course like that, that just doesn’t work. I kept overbaking the switchbacks, surging in any little straightaway, and in general was a herky-jerky mess.

I’d guess that I was slower than when I just ride this trail normally, flowing with it and enjoying myself.

The Worst Downhilling Song Ever

The second reason I did so badly on the first descent was that my iPod chose to shuffle Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” into play.

Now, let it be known that I love this song. Cash brought soul and an ache to it that makes his version vastly superior to the original (and I like the original too).

That said, I cannot imagine a worse song to downhill to. However, just for fun, I just took a look at my “One Good Gig” playlist (a carefully-chosen set of songs to fit on a 1Gb iPod), and decided that if my iPod decided it really hated me, it should play the following songs from that list the next time I’m on a nice, long downhill:

  • “Hurt (Nine Inch Nails cover),” Johnny Cash
  • “Loser,” Beck
  • “Under the Milky Way,” the Church
  • “Round Here,” Counting Crows
  • “Baby Got Back (Sir Mix a Lot cover),” Jonathan Coulton
  • “Superstar (Carpenters cover),” Sonic Youth
  • “Pennyroyal Tea (Live),” Nirvana

I am curious as to what songs you have on your PMP (that’s “Personal Media Player” for all you non-tech-savvy people) that you dread having turn up right as you’re turning down.

As long as I’m at it, though, here are the seven songs on my “One Good Gig” playlist I would most like to get shuffled into play during a downhill:

  • “Renegades of Funk,” Rage against the Machine
  • “Don’t Take Me for Granted,” Social Distortion. (As an aside here, I’d like to proclaim that this is my favorite song from my favorite album from my favorite band. This song is the archetype for straight-ahead rock and roll.)
  • “Under My Thumb (Rolling Stones Cover),” Social Distortion
  • “Uncontrollable Urge (Live Version),” Devo
  • “Nice Guys Finish Last,” Green Day
  • “Whisper to a Scream,” Icicle Works
  • “Bad Reputation,” Joan Jett

Also, as a note to myself, I need to do a post about the hardware I’m using to listen to music when riding nowadays, because I believe it may in fact be the most perfect solution for cyclists possible.

I Contemplate Cheating

After climbing up Clark’s, there’s a mostly-downhill stretch of dirt fire road connecting you to Ghost Falls. As I rode along it my second time, I noticed something on the left: new trail — which I hope will be named “J-Line” — has been cut. I already knew that it empties back into Ghost — about two-thirds of the way down.

I had not ridden that trail yet. And I was sorely tempted.

It looked soft and would probably have been slower than taking the route I was on. And it would have been clearly a disqualifying event to head down it.

So I didn’t.

Which means, I’m pretty sure, that my priorities are screwed up.

Defiance of Physics

After climbing Clark’s and descending Ghost Falls, the race course had us doing a short little loop of Singletrack I call “Last Dance” (I’m not aware of whether it has an official name) because it’s generally the last thing we ride before finishing the ride.

Last Dance starts with a climb, and then drops down to the main Corner Canyon artery trail.

It’s that climb that boggles me. For some reason, it’s the easiest climb in the world. Even though my legs are cooked from a hard climb and working descent, I seem to just float up that climb. It only lasts a minute or two, but — even on the second lap of a race, where I was fully out of gas — I zipped right up it.

Later, I asked Dug if he noticed the same thing. He did.

It’s a climb that rides like a downhill. Weird. And wonderful.


I am not, generally, an intense person. But I am when I race. I take each and every race very seriously. So I finished the race pushing myself as hard (albeit much much slower) as when I started, and kept looking over my shoulder to the very end.

Reaching my truck without Dug in sight, I hurriedly put my bike up on the rack, took off my helmet, got out a drink, folded down the truck bed’s gate, and sat down, doing my best to look like I wasn’t in danger of throwing up.

A few minutes later, Dug rolled through the parking lot, no-handed and casual. We sat and talked for a while, while Dug picked off the dozens of caterpillars that had accumulated on his jersey.

Now, the next morning, my throat is still raw from two hours of open-mouthed hyperventilating. I have a hard time walking down stairs. And I find myself worried at the prospect of this afternoon’s group ride to the summit of the Alpine Loop, especially since I told Jill she could borrow my geared road bike; I’ll ride my singlespeed road bike.

Oh, what am I worried about? I’ll be fine. I’m sure it won’t turn into a race.



  1. Comment by dug | 05.29.2009 | 10:15 am

    in keeping with our deal, i will now move to Holden, Utah.

    good riding there, i hear.

  2. Comment by dug | 05.29.2009 | 10:16 am

    and i’m taking my caterpillars with me.

  3. Comment by GenghisKhan | 05.29.2009 | 10:21 am

    Nice post–took me 72 SUs to read it (okay, it was all Blur, Song 2). Way to ride hard, even if it was just for fun and good luck in your recovery–don’t know why you choose a SS climb of the Alpine Loop ad your recovery, but to each his own!

    Song I’d hate to appear just as I head downhill? Hmmm, I’ll have to munge on that one…

  4. Comment by BillG | 05.29.2009 | 10:21 am

    Great job to both you and Dug! Wish the report was up faster so I didn’t have to cheat and read Dug’s account first :)

    Great riding to both of you and have a great weekend.

  5. Comment by GenghisKhan | 05.29.2009 | 10:22 am

    Oh, how ’bout Boingo’s “Pain” for songs to not come on before a gnarly descent? I don’t wanna soak up any pain!

  6. Comment by bikemike | 05.29.2009 | 10:25 am

    there was a rumor floating around about water in the tubes or some such…it was just a rumor, don’t know how it was started. it would explain alot.

  7. Comment by dug | 05.29.2009 | 10:27 am

    the song that came on for me just as i crested (and i use the word crested very loosely here) the top of clarks the first lap–wake up dead man, by U2.

    too little, too late.

  8. Comment by Paul | 05.29.2009 | 10:42 am

    Favorite Downhill Song that is its not playing I sing in my head to myself. “Paralyzer” by Finger Eleven

  9. Comment by Mike Roadie | 05.29.2009 | 10:48 am

    Great ride and great writing. I can do my local loop in one SU—Innagaddadavida

    Please do tell about the riding/listening hardware. My nano and sixfoot long earpod cord are cumbersome–another bad descending song, BTW.

  10. Comment by chtrich | 05.29.2009 | 11:05 am

    You were much more verbose in your race report than was Dug.

  11. Comment by Rob | 05.29.2009 | 11:09 am

    Huh…it took me 17 songs to climb Clarks. I need to switch from Black Flag to Neil Young…On the right live version, I could make it up in 3/4 of a song (but who listens to Neil Young?)

  12. Comment by dug | 05.29.2009 | 11:11 am

    “but who listens to Neil Young”


  13. Comment by Dr Codfish | 05.29.2009 | 11:15 am

    Great write up! How long is this course?

  14. Comment by Jim | 05.29.2009 | 11:15 am

    Worst Downhill Song Evah: Dead Kennedys, Police Truck; anything by Reverend Horton Heat.

    Good downhill songs – Dead: Estimated Prophet, Ripple, Uncle John’s Band; Miles Davis – anything off Kind of Blue; anything by Bela Fleck or Medeski, martin & Wood.

    The point being things come at you plenty fast on a good flowing downhill, you don’t want the sound effects to make it seem faster – but you do want rhythm & flow & calm.

  15. Comment by LidsB2 | 05.29.2009 | 11:16 am

    Very nice, Fatty. But where’s the video??

  16. Comment by Dobovedo | 05.29.2009 | 11:21 am

    She’s Come Undone – The Guess Who: “[I] found a mountain that was far too high, and when [I] found out [I] couldn’t fly, mama it was too late”

  17. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.29.2009 | 11:26 am

    I don’t even understand ‘downhill song’. There is always too much wind noise to hear anything when I descend!

    My lastest most welcome climbing song is Know Your Enemy – Green Day.

    Least fav climbing song currently on my PMP? Angie Mick Jagger/Rolling Stones. I like the song as a song but it is utterly without merit as a climbing song. It won;t even get you into a bad cadence, much less a ferocious one.

  18. Comment by Angie G | 05.29.2009 | 11:29 am

    Great race you two. I would have loved to see video too.
    As far as good downhill songs anything really hard rock with good riffs, Disturbed “Indestructable”, Drowning Pool “37 Stitches or Bodies on the Floor”, Queen “Fat Bottom Girls” or 12 Stones “Broken”.

    Bad downhill songs anything too slow and introspective, James Blunt, John Mayer or Nora Jones. I can appreciate Jims desire for rythm, flow and calm, but the added edge of great rock can also add that little something to a good downhill run.

  19. Comment by sincain | 05.29.2009 | 11:31 am

    Congrats on the win Fatty 8)

    Been there many times, I’ve tried to clear all the slow songs off the riding PL’s.

    Current Fav Uphill Song – Don’t Mind the Pain – Danzig
    Current Fav Downhill Songs – Bullet – Covenant and 60 mph – New Order

  20. Comment by Trail Dog Craigers | 05.29.2009 | 11:40 am

    Worst down hill song on my PMP right now – Genesis “In Too Deep”

    Best down hill song on my PMP right now -
    Liquid Tension Experiment “Paradigm Shift”

  21. Comment by josh | 05.29.2009 | 11:50 am


    If we are now judging our ride time with songs. I am leaving one song on my iPod In a Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly.

    I just got a lot faster.

  22. Comment by Frank Fine | 05.29.2009 | 12:09 pm

    What’s with the Craning of the Neck!
    No Looking back! NO looking back!

    And I go the other way with the music … climbs kill me. The song I don’t want to come up with a big climb in fromt of me is “Hot Rod Lincoln” by Commander Cody. I get all rev’ed up and have no legs to go.

    Great to see you took the friendly challenge, by the way.

  23. Comment by MattC | 05.29.2009 | 12:09 pm

    Wonderful writeup! Loved your “Afterward” too…that is clearly how a true friend would react. Man-club rule #1: when at all possible, RUB IT IN in a very casual yet obvious way. Sitting in a chair casually drinking your swill while ADMIRING a trophy of some sort would also be acceptable (wearing a totally diff set of clothes).

    Fav climbing songs (this month): REO – Keep Pushin On, Collective Soul – Run, Boston – Walk on.

    Fav downhill songs: I’m usually too busy trying to keep the wheels attached to the dirt! I need to hear…I find it WAAAY to easy to overshoot switchbacks with headphones on. Music OFF for downhills. But thats just me. I like to HEAR when my tires are at the edge of holding the line. (that makes it sound like I go real fast…but that would be somewhat misleading).

  24. Comment by Vermont Rob | 05.29.2009 | 12:13 pm

    Fatty…..I assume you were aboard the Singlefly? And I too would like to read about your music setup. I ride w/o music, but could be persuaded to give it a try with the right set-up.

  25. Comment by GenghisKhan | 05.29.2009 | 12:29 pm


    I believe that Fatty has a setup similar to this: http://www.slipperybrick.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/pimped-bike.jpg

  26. Comment by Weiland | 05.29.2009 | 12:29 pm

    Isn’t this a best of 7 series?

  27. Comment by MOCougFan | 05.29.2009 | 12:36 pm

    I would have thought “Numb” by Linkin Park would have been more applicable for you to rigid guys.

    Nice report. I’m with Lids…. I always enjoy the video.

  28. Comment by mikE | 05.29.2009 | 1:16 pm

    ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ by Queen – best riding song, ever.

  29. Comment by Marrock | 05.29.2009 | 1:29 pm

    For “most like to get shuffled into play during a downhill” I’d use Rob Zombie’s “More Human Than Human”.

  30. Comment by evilbanks | 05.29.2009 | 2:02 pm

    “vastly superior to the original”
    Cash is a legend, Reznor isn’t (yet) but……… dude c’mon now. That’s taking it a bit too far. Nice write up…….

  31. Comment by Rider 3 | 05.29.2009 | 2:09 pm

    A shout out to Fatty in today’s blog: Team Two Wheel Blog

    Yesterday’s column was a keeper. Congratulations, but now you have lost the ability to say you have never won a “race”.

    Rider 3

  32. Comment by KanyonKris | 05.29.2009 | 3:02 pm

    The song “Rookie” by Boy Sets Fire takes over my brain and makes me ride faster (up, down, flat, off a cliff). I defy anyone to resist it.


    (I first heard this song on the mountain biking film ROAM by The Collective.)

  33. Comment by Lizzylou | 05.29.2009 | 3:05 pm


    It’s always embarrassing though when you get caught in the middle of your rush to attempt to look nonchalant. Glad you got the bike on the rack in time to look casual.

  34. Comment by buckythedonkey | 05.29.2009 | 3:13 pm

    Try bombing your next descent to “Mr Postman”.


  35. Comment by axel in texas | 05.29.2009 | 3:44 pm

    I am disappointed in Dug’s lack of creativity. If you are on the loosing end, it is time to cheat brazenly.

  36. Comment by Dr. Lammler | 05.29.2009 | 4:04 pm

    There is a definite generation gap here.

    Of all the songs mentioned here, I have heard of only two: Superstar(Carpenters)and Hot Rod Lincoln.

    I am feeling like that Truant Officer in “Back to the Future”.

    To all you young kids and your crazy music: You’re all Slackers.


  37. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 05.29.2009 | 4:05 pm

    Congrats on the big win! Sounds like a great non-race. Much better than the organized one you guys skipped.

  38. Comment by dougg | 05.29.2009 | 5:26 pm

    Good list your have on your pmp. I tried my pmp while riding once, and only once. I hated it! Couldn’t hear the normal sounds of nature. Most of my riding is done in forests, so I’m used to birds, chipmunks, squirrels ect ect ect. I last about 5 minutes into the ride before i just turned it off.

  39. Comment by donbiker | 05.29.2009 | 7:14 pm

    How about “Rock around the Clock” Bill Haley and the Comets? Or the William Tell Overture? I think we have at least two generation gaps here?

  40. Comment by Mary | 05.29.2009 | 7:18 pm

    Rev on the Red Line — Fatty, Foreigner is singing this song specifically for you and your adrenaline rush. Tell me it’s on your playlist. (Aerodynamic and ready to roll!)

  41. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 05.29.2009 | 9:36 pm

    You’ll be fine at Alpine (no rhyming intended). Just be sure to swap the 81″ for a mid 60. Remember, your knees aren’t as young as they used to be.

  42. Comment by Black Cat jason | 05.30.2009 | 6:40 am

    Best downhill song- “Reign in Blood” Slayer
    Worst- “I fall in love to easily” Chet Baker

    as a bonus

    Best Uphill song- “Anvil of Crom” Conan the Barbarian soundtrack (trust me on this one)
    worst up hill song- “Vicar in a Tutu” The Smiths

  43. Comment by Boz | 05.30.2009 | 7:11 am

    Fav for climbs – Drive by REM

    Chasing back after getting dropped on the same climb – Linger Fickin’ Good by the Revolting Cocks. An infectious bass line sure to make you dance on the pedals, as PL would say. Other good riding tunes – Nobody’s Fault But Mine-Led Zeppelin, Satellite Radio-Steve Earl. What It Is Kid and Crunchy-ZZ Top, Third Uncle-Bauhas, just to name a few.

    Fun post today, Fatty. You never fail to amaze in your varity and quality.

  44. Comment by USAFANARC | 05.30.2009 | 2:43 pm

    Marrock! You beat me to it. “More Human Than Human” by Rob Zombie is the best all-time downhill song. For those tough climbs, I prefer Limp Bizkit’s “Keep Rollin”. Another good for downhill is Blood for Blood – “Anywhere But Here”. BTW, Fatty, I removed “Hurt” from my iPod Shuffle for that exact reason. Love the song, but I would be in a great groove, and that song would come on and completely deflate me.

  45. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 05.30.2009 | 3:15 pm

    I mean to cast no dispersions on the fitness level of either of you, but I suspect that the results of this race could be altered by about two weeks of training.

    I think it was more of a, “when we’re both in bad shape, who’s slower” kind of answer, rather than “whose fastest”.

  46. Comment by Bjorn 4Lycra | 05.30.2009 | 6:50 pm

    Does Jeff Wayne’s war of the Worlds equal one song? If so I’m quick. Dr Codfish not sure if anyone answered your question regards the length of the race. Did you mean in miles, kilometres or songs?

  47. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Good Moments of a Hard Weekend | 05.31.2009 | 5:09 pm

    [...] « Dug Vs. Elden: Race Report [...]

  48. Comment by Rocket | 05.31.2009 | 7:57 pm

    At last some class enters the musical world, the church, i’m impressed and will immediatly refer to you as Mr Fatty.

  49. Comment by km | 06.1.2009 | 2:16 pm

    Favorite uphill songs “The Memory Remains”- Metallica big gear grinder for hills!!!…until I blow up. For spinning up a hill “Beautiful Day”- U2 or “Red Barchetta”- Rush I like any Rush song for spinning up hills or motoring on flats/singletrack

    Favorite downhill songs “Prisoner of Society”- The Living End, although I wreck a lot when I listen to this or “Stars”- Switchfoot..it’s long enough for almost any downhill and flows well

    Best Sprinting/intervals song “Speed Girl”- Electric Frankenstein or “Pretender”- Foo Fighters

  50. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Vote for Fatty…Or Vote for One of Fatty’s Friends | 01.22.2010 | 10:14 am

    [...] But then I considered: on a bike, do I race if a friend is in the race? Of course I do. And if I beat that friend, is our friendship damaged? Of course not, unless I really rub it in and blog about it and perhaps have a T-shirt made saying “I Kicked Dug’s Butt in Our 1:1 Challenge.” [...]


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