Kokopelli 2010, Part II: Enforced Leisure

06.23.2010 | 11:20 am

Every time I’ve ever ridden the Kokopelli, there’s been some big central event that winds up being the standout memory for the whole trip. After the first day of riding, I wasn’t sure what that standout memory was going to be. The heat and thirst? My pride in the way Lisa powered through the first day, getting stronger as she went? Jumping into the Colorado after the ride? Relaxing and eating in the shade at our camp?

All good memories and stories. But none of them would wind up being the big standout. That would — surprisingly — come on day two of the ride.

Why “surprisingly?” Well, provided you ride the Kokopelli Trail the way we did — start from Moab, camp at Dewey Bridge, finish in Loma, CO — the second day’s riding is much easier than the first day’s. Where the first day feels like nothing but huge climbs — 9000 feet of climbing in 60 miles or so — the second day has only a few thousand feet of climbing, spread out over 80 miles.

So the second day should be the day where we just spin along, taking in the big desert views, putting lots of miles on our bikes.

As it turns out, things sometimes don’t go as you’d expect.

Good Start

We got started fairly early in the morning and began the day with some of the funnest trail on the Kokopelli; the section right after Dewey Bridge is rolling hard-baked desert doubletrack with occasional short, technical, ledgy climbs.

On a singlespeed, you have to go full-tilt into these kinds of moves; you won’t get to the top without considerable momentum at the bottom. So, as I attacked one of these moves, the move . . . counterattacked. Specifically, I took the left line and misjudged the flexibility (or lack thereof) of a scrub oak’s branch. I hit the branch with my left arm; the branch didn’t give, and I bounced to the right, madly pinwheeling my arms and kicking out of my pedals.

It was a decidedly ugly save, but I celebrated anyway. I remained on my feet, with nothing but a trivial cut on my arm.

Sadly, my new FattyFly SS — my beloved bike with the custom paint — took a little more damage than I did.


When this happens, you have the choice of getting upset, or not. A long time ago, I developed the philosophy of not. It’s a bicycle. A tool. A means to an end, not the end itself. It will get beat up as I use it the way I like to ride it.

So I only cried a little bit.

Fateful Moment

We crossed the pavement that led back to camp — our 90-minute ride on dirt could have also been an easy 10-minute downhill road ride, but what what fun would that be? — and started yet another section of desert singletrack. As Kenny and I rode side-by-side for a few minutes, I asked: “So, now that you’ve had it for a while, what do you think of the belt drive instead of a chain?”

“I like it, but I don’t love it,” said Kenny. While you don’t have to lube it, he went on, you do have to maintain it in other ways, and squeaking and popping were a problem for him.

By the way, that’s foreshadowing right there.

Lisa and I rode ahead for a little while. After losing sight of Kenny and Heather, we stopped and got something to eat while we waited.

In a few minutes, Heather rode up to us. Alone.

“Kenny’s belt just broke,” she said. “He has another one, but it’s probably not the right size. He’s trying to make it work, but if he’s not here soon, he’ll have to go back to camp for a different belt.”

“Don’t worry,” I replied. “I’ll use The Secret to bring him here.

And sure enough, Kenny appeared, about ten minutes later. But he wasn’t on his bike.

Which goes to show, I guess, that I needed to be more specific when using The Secret.

But Kenny had used his time running over to us to come up with a plan. A really good plan.

Kenny’s Plan

You should pay attention to this part, because the plan’s a really good one, as I believe I have mentioned.

“I’m going back to camp to get a new belt for my bike,” Kenny said. “I’ll fix my bike, then drive Elden’s truck over toward Westwater. You guys go on ahead and I’ll meet you there, we can fill up with water from the truck, and we can keep going from there.

Kenny then elaborated, “I’ll drive to the railroad trestle right before the ranger station — since that’s where the trail meets the road — and then get on my bike and ride on the Kokopelli back toward you. But if you get to the trestle before me, continue on to the Ranger Station so you won’t have to wait to get water.”

Here, I’ll draw a helpful map, for those of you who like hand-drawn maps:


So, Lisa and I were to look for Kenny at Meeting Place #1 (or just be intercepted by him along the trail), and if we beat him there, take the 3/4-mile-long road (or, for those of you who prefer metric, that’s 2640 cubits) to Meeting Place #2 and wait there. Kenny would check Meeting Place #2 before coming back to Meeting Place #1 and riding up the trail.

We all agreed this was an excellent plan.

Heather volunteered to go along with Kenny; Lisa and I took off.

My Math Skills Are Defeated By My Exaggeration Skills

My two sons are both extremely gifted in math and sciences. I am very proud of them. I, on the other hand, am gifted at the opposite end of the spectrum: I am good at making things up and exaggerating.

So it shouldn’t really come as too big of a surprise when, after making good time on the trail, Lisa and I rolled up to the “Meeting Place #1″ and she said, “Oh, I thought you said that was supposed to be 40 miles away from camp. It’s only been 33.”

“I may have rounded up,” I replied.

In any case, Kenny and Heather had not yet arrived. So we continued on to “Meeting Place #2,” where we filled up our Camelbaks and bottles (each of us carrying extra water this day, not wanting to relive the stress from the previous day of not knowing whether you have enough).

Kenny had not shown up yet. Not that we had really expected him to. It could take a while to make that repair, and we didn’t know how long it would get back to camp anyway. Plus there was the drive.

So we took off our shoes and walked down the boat ramp, standing in the Colorado River. 61 degrees (12.89 Reaumur, for you fans of the metric system). Heaven.

No Kenny yet, so we sat at a picnic table and had lunch.

A Quick Aside About Eating

You would think that as a cyclist with years of experience on long rides, I would be very smart about food to eat during big ol’ epic rides.

I have just discovered that I have been a fool.

While I have always loaded my pack with things like energy bars and energy gels and energy inhalants (OK, I haven’t actually heard of energy inhalants, but the idea is interesting), Lisa brings things like turkey and swiss sandwiches. And salt and vinegar potato chips. And Swedish Fish. And Mountain Dew.

Her food is better than mine. And so I’m very happy to report that it was her job to put food together for us for the day, which means that when we sat down to eat at the picnic table, it was not too different from actually having a picnic.

Though I’m a little disappointed she didn’t pack potato salad or a watermelon.

Enforced Leisure

We finished eating. An hour had elapsed since we arrived.

“I’m ready for Kenny to show up,” Lisa announced. But we had no phone signal — which we knew was also the case back at our Dewey Bridge camp — and so there was no way to find out where he was.

Stubbornly, Kenny continued to not show up.

We laid down on the picnic table and took a nap.

Kenny did not show up.

Two hours had now gone by, and began to speculate on what could have gone wrong. We considered the following possibilities:

  • Kenny had needed to drive into Moab to get a part for his bike.
  • Kenny had discovered that The Bikemobile is a fantastic vehicle, and had stolen it.
  • Kenny had been in a car wreck
  • Heather had poisoned Kenny

We gave each of these the serious consideration they were due, then tried to figure out what — in the absence of any information at all about where they were and what had happened — we should do.

Should we get on our bikes and ride to the freeway, where we might be able to make calls or check voicemail? No, if we did that, Kenny might show up at Meeting Place #2 while we were gone, compounding the problem.

Should we go to Meeting Place #1? No, there’d be no point to that — Kenny knew to come to this place, which — after all — had trees and picnic tables and drinkable water and a river to cool ourselves off in whenever we wanted.

How did anyone ever connect up with anyone else before cel phones existed?

The thing is, apart from growing concern about Kenny and Heather, we were actually having a really nice afternoon. As two usually-antsy people who are normally incapable of just sitting around, there was literally nothing for us to do, so we relaxed. We opened the Kindle app on Lisa’s iPhone and read aloud several chapters of A Race Like No Other, a book that talks about the NYC Marathon.

And in short, we basically had an enjoyable, lazy afternoon. Exactly the opposite of what we had expected from the day, but awesome in its own way.

Grand Reunion

By the time three hours had elapsed, we had become worried. I persuaded Lisa that we needed to start making calls and figure out what’s going on before it got dark.

We decided we’d ride our bikes out toward the I70 freeway, where I was pretty sure we’d get reception.

Then, just as we were putting on our helmets and strapping on our Camelbaks, Kenny drove up. Looking visibly relieved to find us.

The Second-Hand Part of the Story

When Kenny and Heather left us to go repair Kenny’s bike, Kenny rigged a tow-rope made of his busted belt and an inner tube, and Kenny and Heather took turns pulling each other on the road back to camp.


They got to the camp in good time, fixed Kenny’s bike, and drove out to the trestle (Meeting Spot #1).

“There’s no way they could have gotten here yet,” said Kenny (except, of course, we had).

“No,” agreed Heather. “They’d have had to ride 30 singletrack miles in less than two hours.”

Unfortunately, Heather was working from my “40 miles from Dewey Bridge to Westwater” assertion, instead of the actual distance: 33 miles or so. My superpower — exaggeration — was biting me in the butt.

“Then there’s no point in us checking the Ranger Station (Meeting Place #2) to see if they’ve arrived, is there?” said Kenny.


And so they got on their bikes and rode up the Kokopelli Trail, on what they thought was an intercept course with us, but was actually in the opposite direction.

After riding for two hours — almost all the way to Cisco (about 5 miles from where Kenny broke his belt in the first place) — they agreed Lisa and I could not have been that slow and turned around. At which point they discovered how much faster that trail was in the opposite direction.


Even then, they didn’t think Lisa and I would be at the Ranger Station. Kenny only came and checked it as a “cross your T’s” type measure.

We all agreed, once we were together again, that it was too late, too hot, and too windy (and I had become too lazy) to try to finish the ride, so we headed back to camp.

As we drove to Dewey Bridge, Kenny looked at me. Questioningly. Beseechingly, even.

I knew what he was asking. And I had my response ready.

“Damn straight this is going in the blog.”


  1. Comment by nunk | 06.23.2010 | 11:53 am

    ah – the old they couldn’t be here yet . . .

    nice tow strap – will add the the list of ways to save the ride.

  2. Comment by bikemike | 06.23.2010 | 11:54 am

    Funny stories are funny to everyone except the one that’s the butt of the joke. kinda like it’s all fun and games until you put an eye out, or some such. I’ll bet if WE were to ask Kenny he’d say you were seriously exaggerating somewhere along the line.

  3. Comment by Kovas Palubinskas | 06.23.2010 | 11:54 am

    Decent ride, picnic, lazy afternoon, sounds like the perfect combination.

  4. Comment by Todd | 06.23.2010 | 12:00 pm

    Amazing post! I love the list of possible scenarios for what happened to Kenny and Heather.

    I’ve noticed that you haven’t been referring to The Runner as “The Runner” lately…has the name worn off since she is clearly a Queen of all trades, and not just running?

  5. Comment by dug | 06.23.2010 | 12:02 pm

    hey . . . cubits aren’t metric.

    they’re reformed egyptian.

  6. Comment by Mike | 06.23.2010 | 12:10 pm

    Hope your new FFSS isn’t too badly damaged!

  7. Comment by RP in SLC | 06.23.2010 | 12:24 pm

    Can we look forward to a T6 line of “Fast Fatty” gear sometime soon?

  8. Comment by centurion | 06.23.2010 | 12:57 pm

    So Kenny devises a plan, and a good one, then doesn’t follow said plan, and then expects you to not write about it. Kenny aint to bright is he?

  9. Comment by roan | 06.23.2010 | 1:04 pm

    Y’all get exactly what we did before cell phones…relax and wait. How long to wait is nerve racking though.
    I did miss the pics of wadding in the river, shade of the trees for a picnic AND of course you snoozing on the picnic table. Hey don’t you have one of those P/U truck with the hidden storage locker on the bed ? Great place for ice and a watermelon.

  10. Comment by frank | 06.23.2010 | 1:12 pm

    The important question is weather Kenny and Heather were wearing cut off jeans?

  11. Comment by Alon | 06.23.2010 | 1:14 pm

    Dude! You’re gonna wreck that bike before you even replace the chain!

  12. Comment by Darth Vader | 06.23.2010 | 1:21 pm

    I see you are referring to “The Sekret” again. Very good indeed my friend.

  13. Comment by randy | 06.23.2010 | 2:00 pm

    I could you not use, “Those bastards killed Kenny!” in this entry. I suppose that joke is a bit played.

  14. Comment by randy | 06.23.2010 | 2:01 pm

    Correction: How could you not use, “Those bastards killed Kenny!” in this entry. I suppose that joke is a bit played.

  15. Comment by rich | 06.23.2010 | 2:18 pm

    I’m with you on the bike is a tool mindset, but I still cried when I crashed my SS the first time…

  16. Comment by D n S | 06.23.2010 | 2:21 pm

    Reminds me of the time I blew up a crank arm and after searching the trails finding our other duo at the car.

  17. Comment by Drdave | 06.23.2010 | 2:49 pm

    The ol exagerRATOR fault eh!

    Yeppers, it will bite you in the butt every time. I know because I suffer the same disorder. I just don’t see it as a fault.

  18. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 06.23.2010 | 3:37 pm

    Classic! And wonderfully told yet again – thanks for making me smile!

  19. Comment by cece | 06.23.2010 | 4:39 pm

    Fantastic! Loved,love loved it! Poor Kenny!

  20. Comment by Andrew | 06.23.2010 | 7:23 pm


    Another great post – I swear the metrics on your blog must be distorted I know I went to your site atleast 5 times looking for part two.

    When’s the next post?? Quick quick I want to read more.



  21. Comment by MrDaveyGie | 06.23.2010 | 7:26 pm

    awwwww yes, the bestest of times, being on bicycles does that.

  22. Comment by Chris from Aus | 06.23.2010 | 7:39 pm

    Having suffered a similar fate after crashing on my first ride of my new road bike, I realised it is only new until you take it out of the box, them whatever happenes will happen.

  23. Comment by AK Chick (from Alaska of course) | 06.23.2010 | 9:15 pm

    Love it! What a great adventure. I’d love to come except I most certainly do not excel on hills (9000 feet of elevation – blech) and I’m slow, and since I live in Alaska, I’m quite certain that 95 degrees would kill me. And that wouldn’t be fun. I think you should start doing Fatty (Skinny?) & Hot (as in smokin hot attractive) Lisa should do tours for your followers. :) How FUN would that be??? Where do I sign up?

  24. Comment by Andrew | 06.23.2010 | 9:51 pm

    I was wondering where the ‘Runner’ was until it finally clicked ‘Lisa’ was the runner. Have you submitted to wifely pressure from the ‘Runner’ or should a new monicker be established something like ‘The Muse’ as in fatty’s motivator. or ‘The all-rounder’?

    I’d be in on a “Fatty & Hot” tour anytime the couple of photo’s provided in the post are spectacular, I’m definitely going to have to find some Australian equivalents.



  25. Comment by louisbaker | 06.23.2010 | 10:33 pm


    You aren’t blaming me for one of your crashes?

  26. Comment by Lindsay | 06.24.2010 | 12:06 am

    AWWWW so sad about your bike! Love the way you looked at it though.

  27. Comment by Cardiac Kid | 06.24.2010 | 5:52 am

    They Killed KENNY!!!! is never overplayed….ever YOU BAST$#@S!!

  28. Comment by Norm | 06.24.2010 | 7:08 am

    Eldon, You have officially become my favourite American (although I’m not that sure I know any others). You bring a smile to my non-smiling face. keep it up, hopefully this recession will be over soon!!! (although I guess that would mean not riding my bike so much…)

  29. Comment by George | 06.24.2010 | 9:13 am

    “It’s a bicycle. A tool. A means to an end, not the end itself. It will get beat up as I use it the way I like to ride it.

    So I only cried a little bit.”

    A line I need to repeat. May I quote you on this in common conversation?

  30. Comment by L'Hippo | 06.24.2010 | 10:28 am

    I live in the wrong place. Our local state park has a 10 mile loop but pales in comparison. We do have heat; that we have plenty of and humidity, too. So, scoreboard!

  31. Comment by SuomiTri | 06.24.2010 | 11:27 am

    wait– instead of driving 3/4 of a mile to check the ranger station first, they decided to ride for 2 hours? oy vey.

  32. Comment by Doug (WAY upstate NY) | 06.25.2010 | 7:04 am

    Exciting start for your new bike. Wonder what will happen the third time you take it out :)

  33. Comment by deepbrook | 06.25.2010 | 7:54 am

    Probably obvious, but an improvement to the plan would have been for you to leave a marker (three rocks stacked?) at Meeting Place 1.

  34. Comment by evil3 | 06.25.2010 | 7:51 pm

    That belt/tube tow system looks like fun, and now he can say that his tandem bike is the most bad ass one on the planet.

    Also I just had a crazy idea when I was on a different site dealing with rc cars. Anyways a rear derailleur would come in handy as a luxury can opener when out on the trail (and of course it would be the center piece at the dining table).

    (on a side note, I finally stopped laughing enough to post something (I have gone back and read just about all of your old blog posts after discovering the site about 2ish 3ish months ago)). ^_^

  35. Comment by Ruttgen | 06.27.2010 | 10:20 pm

    solid writing skills Fatty…..

  36. Comment by TheChief | 06.27.2010 | 11:11 pm

    Leave a little slack in that belt Kenny! The gates belts should not break. They are the same belts that are used on car engine for over 60,000 miles. The most likely reason this happens is people like the belt on the bike to look super tight. When the belt heats up and actually shorten a bit, and without a tensioner in play; snap. So leave a little slop in the belt next time and this will never happen again.

  37. Comment by Mike M | 06.28.2010 | 7:24 am

    it seems like you only post once a week now fatty. Blogs are tough to sustain

  38. Comment by Ryan | 06.28.2010 | 10:05 am

    Fatty, it might be tough to continue to garner readership as well as blog awards if you don’t post more than once or twice a week. I know you don’t write for me, but I’m sure others are also losing interest in your previously well written blog. Honeymoon’s over, time to get back to work.

  39. Comment by Ryan | 06.28.2010 | 11:43 am

    that last comment sounds much more harsh than I meant it. What I meant to say was, we like the work you’re doing, do more of it please.


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