When I heard that Jill Homer — the hardcore endurance cyclist of Up in Alaska fame — was going to be in town, I naturally pestered her to please please please come on a ride with me, so I could find out how I stack up as a cyclist against someone who has raced the Iditarod, ridden the Kokopelli and White Rim self-supported and back to back, and is prepping to go race the Great Divide.
What a huge mistake that was.
What nobody realizes, from reading Jill’s blog, is how incredibly imposing she is. And I’m not just talking about her incredibly overbearing, outrageous, obnoxiously loud personality, either.
What you can never tell, from her photos in her own blog, is how incredibly big she is.
Check out this photo I took of her and Kenny during the ride:
Seriously, she must be 8′11″ tall.
Of course, that’s not the only odd thing this photo reveals, either about Kenny or Jill. For one thing, I wish Kenny would stop always taking off his shirt whenever I try to get a photo of him. More importantly, though, it was about 78 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside, and Jill was still outfitted like she was heading out snowcaving or something.
“I’m not comfortable unless I’m wearing six or more layers,” said Jill.
The next thing you probably don’t know about Jill is that she’s incredibly mean. I mean, about halfway through the ride Brad was starting to drop off the pace Jill had set (and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t about to barf myself).
“Pick it up, Keyes,” said Jill, tersely. Jill calls everyone by their last name.
“I can’t. I’m totally maxed,” whined Brad.
Neither Brad, Dug, nor I would have ever expected what came next from Jill: a blindingly fast spin-kick to Brad’s larynx, crushing it and sending him writhing to the ground.
Dug rushed to give first aid. “Don’t,” said Jill, in a voice that brooked no dissent. “He wanted to whine; now he’s got something to whine about. Let’s roll.”
It’s possible that Brad’s still on the trail. I hope he’s OK.
Knowing that I had no chance of surviving the ride without using dirty tricks, I came up with a brilliant strategy right at the parking lot: I would loan Jill one of my bikes.
This is more brilliant than it sounds, believe me.
Here are the handicaps the loan of the bike provided:
Cleats: Jill’s used to riding flat pedals. But the bike I loaned her is a singlespeed, and it’s very nice to have an upstroke on sustained climbs when you’re riding a singlespeed. So I loaned Jill shoes, too. All of this was new to her.
Fully Rigid: The bike has no suspension, at all. And we were headed to ride Jacob’s Ladder, a trail famous for protruding rock and nasty little drops.
Singlespeed: As mentioned earlier, I loaned Jill — a high-cadence devotee — a singlespeed. It was the first time she has ever ridden one. For a technical trail. 5000 feet higher than she’s used to. With a group of three guys who never ride anything but singlespeeds.
Exoticness: What I have not revealed up to this point is that I loaned Jill the Superfly Singlespeed, which she knows is a crazily exotic bike, thereby causing her untold intrepidation. Nobody drives so slowly and overcautiously as in a borrowed Ferrari.
And yet, Jill rode fine. She fell a few times but — unlike Brad — never made a peep. In fact, I think she smiled biggest whenever she hit the ground. In other words, for her first singlespeed / clipped-in ride ever, she rode up Clark’s, up Jacob’s, down upper and lower Jacob’s, then down Ghost. Without particular difficulty and without breaking a sweat.
Then after the rest of us — exhausted — went home, she went on another ride, climbing a mountain pass.
Something’s wrong with that girl.
As proof of everything I have disclosed here, I present the following video:
See what I mean?
PS: Don’t believe anything Jill says about the ride. Especially the picture she has of the two of us. That’s totally Photoshopped.
PPS: Song credit for the video: “Rough Boys,” by Pete Townshend, from the album Empty Glass.
A 100 Miles of Nowhere Update from Fatty: I got a note from Twin Six yesterday; all 100 Miles of Nowhere kits are boxed and shipped! If you’re in the U.S., they should arrive by Friday. (If you’re outside the U.S., you will probably need to wait a little longer.)
If, by chance, your kit doesn’t arrive by Friday, it should get there sometime soon after. As I consult the official rules which I am making up right this second, I see that if your kit arrives after the race, you are automatically awarded a time bonus of 48 hours! Which makes it almost certain that you will finish the raceseveral hours before you even begin. Congratulations!
Also, I am hard at work designing theWinner’s Certificate, which means it’s going to look every bit as good as everything else I make in Photoshop. which is…not very good. So when you frame it and hang it on your wall and people ask why you have such an ugly certificate, I’d like you to please respond that it’s an ironic, post-modern thing, where oneintentionallydisplays things that areintentionallyugly, in defiance of conventional aesthetics. Hence, by displaying your certificate, you will be simultaneously demonstrating your keen sense of irony and your willingness to do something entirely pointless. I’d make it the centerpiece of my household, if I were you.
Information and instructions on how to send me the info that goes on your certificate will be available early next week, because by then I should have it figured out.
Once in a while, a neighbor will ask me to show them a favorite trail or road ride. And once in a separate while, someone who reads the blog will email me, saying they’re going to be passing through the area and would like to go on a ride.
You have no idea the state these kinds of requests throw me into.
It is not easy at all to figure out what ride I should take them on. Apart from the question of road vs. mountain (I usually know the answer to that), I have to consider what they’re most likely to enjoy — something relatively easy, or the very most challenging thing I have to offer? And which of those trails / roads are in good shape? And will result in a ride of the right length?
It may sound like I’m just an anxious-to-please host (possible), or perhaps it just sounds like I’m a hyperactive dork (probable), but it goes much, much deeper than that.
You see, what I really want is for you to like, admire, and hopefully envy me.
Pride of Ownership
You see, when I take you out on one of my favorite rides for the first time, from my point of view we’re doing much more than going on a ride. I’m sharing an intimate, key component of my identity with you, and anxiously awaiting your verdict.
If you love the ride, I take it very personally. You have just validated me as a human being. You like something I have chosen to spend hours and hours and hours with, so I can sigh a deep sigh of relief. We’re going to be friends.
Likewise, if you seem ambivalent or unimpressed, I’m going to do one of two things:
Feel crushed and reassess my opinion of the road / trail and of myself. This happens if you’ve shown in the past that you are an excellent judge of ride quality. I make this determination based on trails you have shown me. If you don’t like a ride I heretofore thought was fantastic, I may mope for days.
Reassess my opinion of you. Some of the rides I love have proven themselves sufficiently. If you don’t like them, it says something about you, not the trail. Saying “I don’t like Tibble Fork” is like saying “I don’t like the Beatles.” Tibble Fork (and the Beatles) are unaffected. Only the naysayer is diminished.
Special Circumstance: The Home Ride
This puppy-like anxiety I experience in sharing a ride is magnified tenfold when I choose to show off a ride I can do from my house. Right now, for example, I love to show off the fact that The Alpine Loop (road), Lambert Park (dirt), and Hog Hollow / Corner Canyon (dirt) are all rides I do right from my front door, without needing to get in a car at all.
I expect, though, that the folks living at Suncrest might feel that way about Corner Canyon even more intensely than I do. Last Saturday, for example, I drove to Dug’s house, from which Rick Sunderlage (not his real name), Sam, Dug and I embarked on a three-hour singletrack tour of Corner Canyon, starting with the new freeride trail.
I captured the freeride part (and at the very end, the part where I nearly overshoot a corner, narrowly avoiding flying off the trail — you can hear Dug laughing at me as he goes by) on video:
Yes, Dug (and a lot of other people at Suncrest) have mile upon mile (and many new miles on the way) of singletrack within seconds of their homes. My guess is that this probably would accomplish the “envy” objective of showing off your trail rather nicely.
Double-Extra Special Circumstance: Showing Off a Trail to Someone Who Can Crush You
And I am fretting like mad, trying to decide which of my rides is going to be challenging enough to interest her. ‘Cuz, when someone like that offers an opinion on your trail, you kinda have to take it seriously. She’s got some context.
I shall wear the helmetcam, though that won’t do any good once she rides away from me.
So I can’t help but wonder: is this anxiety about introducing a trail / ride to someone common? Or just another neurosis?
A Note from Fatty:I just got finished standing out in front of my house for fifteen minutes, where I was trying very hard to do the following:
Not stare into the TV crew’s camera. I was told to look at the reporter instead.
Not say “uhm” more than ten times per minute. I’m pretty sure I failed at that.
Describe what this blog is about. Which gives rise to an interesting question: what is this blog about?
Explain why we’re raffling off a Kona Cadabra, a bicycle so desirable and rare that it won’t exist for another half year or so.
My understanding is that KSL — the Salt Lake City NBC affiliate — will be running this story today, and there should be an online version of it available tomorrow. Which I will link to, unless it’s horribly embarrassing.
So now — true to her word — Heather Gilbert, a cancer doctor and the inventor of the name “Cadabra” is going to donate her prize — a Kona Cadabra — to some lucky random person who either raises money in their own Team Fatty LiveStrong Challenge page, or donates to mine.
Show ‘Em What They Can Win, Johnny
The Kona Cadabra…well, it doesn’t exist yet. There aren’t any prototypes. There’s not even a final drawing. But we do know that it’s going to be a lighter, climbier cousin to the $5799 Kona CoilAir Supreme:
Yeah, I think that’ll absorb the bumps quite adequately.
So, while we know you won’t get your Kona Cadabra until December at theearliest, we also know it that the Cadabra is designed to be the ultimate trail bike. Super light, a wicked climber, with enough rear travel to deal with rough terrain and make long epic rides sweet, fast and super comfortable.
So How Can You Enter?
The really cool thing about how you can win the Kona Cadabra is that you will be helping the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) fight cancer with your donation. When my wife’s cancer came back, I contacted the LAF and got terrific, personalized help right away. And since then, I’ve directed a number of people who email me with cancer questions and concerns to the LAF, which is always prompt, caring, and — above all– helpful.
So, here’s what you do to fight cancer and — just maybe — win a Kona Cadabra: just click here to go to my LiveStrong Challenge page, and donate any multiple of $5. The more you donate, the more random numbers you get, and the better your chances of winning.
Yes, it’s really that easy.
What If You’re a Member of Team Fatty?
If you’re a member of Team Fatty and are working to raise money for your own LiveStrong Challenge, donate money at your own page! And get other people to donate at your page, too. Every $5.00 you raise on your page between now and May 25 will earn you a chance at winning the Cadabra.
In other words, those of you who have joined Team Fatty but have not yet felt the urgency to start raising money, this should be a terrific incentive for you to get started.
When Does the Contest End?
It ends at Midnight, MDT, May 25. In other words, one week from today. So don’t dilly-dally. Go donate now.
Of course, the winner won’t actually get the bike until it exists.
Got any questions? Ask ‘em in the comments section and I’ll answer the best I can.
PS: As of today, Team Fatty has raised more than $200,000 this year toward fighting cancer with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. We’re making great progress toward that goal of $500,000. Thanks, and congratulations!
This is Ricky, the core team member voted “Least Likely to Call Elden and Suggest Going on a Ride.”
He does not usually look like this.
Yesterday, Ricky rode Dry Canyon, a terrific singletrack trail of the Bonneville Shoreline. The trail ends with a set of stairs, each step of which is not quite as long as a mountain bike’s wheelbase.
He has ridden this trail — including the stairs — scores of times. Maybe a score of scores.
In Ricky’s own words:
After ~9 miles, with my car in sight, the stairs at the base of Dry got the best of me. I don’t remember the crash but from the looks of things, I landed on my face.
I kind of think Ricky’s going to grow a beard for a while.
At approximately the same time Ricky was tilling the soil, Dug and I were riding in Corner Canyon, riding the Clarks-Jacob’s Ladder-Ghost Falls loop.
We reached the Hog Hollow saddle and began traversing what is usually the least memorable section of the ride: a nondescript jeep road that connects Clark’s to the Hog Hollow climbs.
And then we were swarmed by bees.
Nothing was happening, and then suddenly the air grew dark with them, surrounding us, bumping into us, and attacking.
I was not stung, due to the fact that I made myself very small and sent out powerful thought waves, causing the bees to think I was an overweight, slow-moving, rock. Which is mostly true anway, so the bees bought into it.