A couple weeks ago, The Runner and I went on a road ride: up to the summit of the Alpine, down to Cascade Springs, and back home. With — I think — about 5000+ feet of climbing, this is always a great ride, but it’s extra awesome in the short period between when the snow melts and when the gates are opened so cars can drive the roads.
Because for that short week or two, roadies can use both sides of the road, bombing the downhills like we wish we could the rest of the year.
There is one little problem on the road, though: scree. Oh, and there’s usually pine cones, pine needles, and other tree-related debris.
Which means, I guess, that if you want to get fussy about it, there’s more than one problem on the road.
Though I assert that, collectively, it’s still just one problem: stuff that gets in the way of your ride and can potentially wipe you out or at least give you a flat.
By now, you’re probably wondering why I’m arguing like this, when nobody was counter-arguing. You are probably not wondering, however, whether someone got a flat, because otherwise I wouldn’t have spent four paragraphs going on about this.
By the way, it was The Runner who got the flat.
The Runner’s saddle bag had everything she needed to fix the flat: tube, CO2 cartridge, adapter and tire lever. We took care of the flat in a few minutes and finished the ride.
As we swapped in the new tube, though, It was obvious that it was time for a new tire.
The next day, The Runner brought her bike into Racer’s Cycle Service, asking Racer — yes, that’s his actual first name — to put a new tire on. And of course, he did.
And that should be the end of the story, which would not be my best or most interesting blog post of all time (not the worst, either, but perhaps a little more mundane than most).
But there’s a little more to the story.
The Runner and I planned to go on a longish road ride on Saturday — Over Suncrest, along Wasatch Blvd, up Little Cottonwood to Alta ski resort and back home — about sixty miles, with about 7000 feet of climbing.
As I was getting our bikes ready (I often do pre-ride bike prep on The Runner’s bike, because in addition to being remarkably handsome and athletic, I am also very chivalrous), it occurred to me: The Runner’s saddle bag was — and had been, for her most recent two rides — strictly ornamental. No tube, No CO2 cartridge.
Relieved that The Runner hadn’t found out about my negligence the hard way, I went and got a tube and a cartridge, then unzipped the saddle bag.
But there was already a new tube and CO2 cartridge in there.
But not the brand of tube or CO2 cartridge I currently keep in my garage.
Instantly, I realized what had happened: knowing that The Runner had used up her tube and CO2 on the flat, Racer had replaced them when he put on the new tire.
And then hadn’t said anything about it.
So you can kind of see why I travel the extra distance to go to Racer’s. Why I’ve been going to Racer’s since it’s existed. And why I went to the bike shop Racer worked at before he got his own place. It’s because, in addition to being a great mechanic, Racer is just a genuinely good guy.
And I expect that there are a lot of great guys (and I mean the inclusive-of-all-genders version of “guys”) — local bike shop owners and mechanics — out there just like Racer. Guys who love riding, who know their bikes, and who take care of their customers.
Guys who make it possible for people like me to spend our bike time riding, instead of tweaking.
Tell me about them.
A Note from Fatty: Some people have been asking how my Alpine Loop Summit TT went. Well, I got rained out on the day I was supposed to go, but I did it this morning with a group of fast friends. My finish time was 55:56. Slower than my best time last year, but not a bad early-season effort! And I am tired. Check out how my friends did on the newly-formed Alpine Loop Time Trial page, read Grizzly Adam’s report here, Mark’s report here, and Rick Sunderlage’s (not his real name) report here.
I know you don’t need me to give you any incentive at all to join Team Fatty in our 2010 LiveStrong Challenge. You don’t need a reason beyond the important one, after all: you’re making a difference in people’s lives as they fight cancer.
But you know what? Sometimes a little incentive doesn’t hurt. You know, just to nudge you off that fence you were going to get around to getting off any moment now anyways.
Well, I think you’re going to like the nudge I’ve got to announce today.
Team Fatty Is Shimano-Powered
It’s no secret that Shimano has had UBFOF (Ultra-Best Friend of Fatty) status for a long time. They set up the incredible Orbea with Di2 components giveaway. They set up additional team-centric giveaways. They provided components for the Ibis giveaways.
This year, Shimano is going one step further:
They are providing components, wheels, and more and orchestrating the frames from three manufacturers as incentives for Team Fatty to fight cancer with everything we’ve got.
Without going into details about a very private person, let me just say that part of why Shimano is going completely overboard in helping us is because someone there has a loved one who is engaged in a battle with cancer incredibly similar to Susan’s. He and I talk pretty often, and his — and her — courage are phenomenal, as is his ferocity in this fight.
You fight hardest when it’s personal. And for Shimano, this is very personal indeed. I’m proud to fight alongside them, honoring their efforts to turn something hellish into something good.
So this year, Team Fatty is Shimano-Powered.
(photo of San Jose Team Fatty Captain MattC’s banner from Amgen Tour of California. Obviously, he had a little insider info!)
Three Dream Bikes, Three Manufacturers, Three Different Dreams
Here’s the thing. Not all of us have the same dream for our dream bikes. Some of us love mountain biking. Some of us love touring. Some of us love cruising around in town. Some of us love racing.
Well, I’m going to guess that — whatever your favorite kind of riding — you’re going to be blown away by at least one of the bikes in the fundraising contests this year.
But I’m not going to tell you what the bikes are, yet.
I will, however, tell you that they are all very different frames. And they are all from incredible manufacturers. And they all — naturally — are outfitted with top-of-the-line Shimano wheels and components, and PRO parts.
So when will I tell you what the bikes are? As we get closer to the contests, which will coincide with the LiveStrong challenges.
Bonus Awesomeness About the Bikes
Oh, this is probably worth mentioning: all of the bikes will have some version of the much-coveted Exclusivity Factor. Meaning that each of the bikes will, in one way or another, let you be the first — or only — kid on your block to have such a bike.
Have I teased you enough yet?
The First Contest Starts Next Week
So when will you find out what the first bike will be? Next week. In fact, one week from today.
And the cool thing is, you can get a jump on winning this first bike — and I’m going to drop a hint here by saying that no matter what kind of rider you are, you will want this bike — by joining Team Fatty now and starting your fundraising.
Join Team Fatty, Win Awesome Ridonculous Prizes
I’m going to do prize giveaways a little different this year than last year, to encourage folks to join Team Fatty and get others to donate to their own LiveStrong Challenge accounts. The idea being that the more people we get off the fence and involved in this fight, the better.
Here’s how it works.
First, you need to join Team Fatty, in any of the four cities:
Which city should you pick? Well, if you’re close to one of the cities and think you can make it to the event, pick that one. Otherwise, it honestly doesn’t matter which city you pick, because you’re going to sign up as a “Virtual Participant.”
Let me make it clear: you don’t need to attend one of the events to be part of Team Fatty. When you sign up, just sign up as a Virtual Participant. And the cool thing about being a Virtual Participant is that It doesn’t cost anything to sign up as a virtual participant.
Second, you need to start raising money. Get your friends and family and coworkers to go to your fundraising page and start donating. Explain to them why the fight against cancer matters to you. Make it personal. Chances are, you won’t have to look very far to find someone who is either fighting or has fought cancer.
Third, cross your fingers and hope for the best. When I do the drawing for the bikes, I’ll assign a ticket number to you for each $5 you’ve raised. So if you raise $500 right now you’ll get 100 virtual tickets in the hat for each of the three bike drawings.
Can you see how it’s a good idea to sign up now and raise money early? Yeah, I thought so.
If you’ve got questions about this, ask in comments. I’ll either answer inline, or if the question seems especially relevant or common, I’ll move it up into this post.
I can think of a few questions you might have, so I’ll get started.
Q. What if I’ve already joined Team Fatty and raised money? Does that count toward the Shimano giveaways?
A. It sure does. And thank you!
Q. What if I don’t want to join Team Fatty. Is there a way for me to still win the bikes?
A. Yes, you’ll also be able to enter the drawing by donating to my personal fundraising pages.
Q. Do I need to have a Team Fatty jersey to be in Team Fatty?
A. No, you don’t. The 2010 Team Fatty jersey’s are all sold out and have been for some time. There won’t be a new order coming in, either. The fact is, while it’s cool to have the jersey, being part of Team Fatty isn’t at all about the look. It’s about the fight.
The pre-order for 2011 jerseys will be sometime fairly soon, by the way.
Q. Which LiveStrong Challenge events are you going to, Fatty?
A. My day job has me crazy-busy right now, and I’m wanting to do more with my family with what vacation days I have, so I won’t be able to go to all four LiveStrong Challenges. My current plan — subject to change — is to go to the Philadelphia and Austin Challenges, as well as the NYC Marathon.
Q. I want to join Team Fatty and raise money toward attending the NYC Marathon. What do I need to do?
A. Just sign up with any of the four cities right now; we’ll get your fundraising applied to the NYC Marathon a little later, once we’ve got that set up. And meanwhile, your fundraising may net you the bike of your dreams!
Sign up now. Start fundraising now. At the very least, your work will have helped in the fight against cancer.
And it’s entirely possible you might win one of three dream bikes.
You know how Gary Fisher gave away a Superfly in Fat Cyclist colors as part of the contest I did with Johan Bruyneel last December? AKA the “FattyFly?” Well, there’s a little piece of the story I haven’t been telling you about. It started when I saw the photo (click for a larger version) for this bike:
I wanted one. So. Bad.
But I wanted something a little different. And so I used my most extraordinary and useful superpower — asking people for stuff — in a rare and ethically complex way: I started asking if they could make me a Superfly SS, in Fat Cyclist colors.
A FattyFly SS.
And, well, take a look at the photos Travis Ott sent me yesterday (click for larger versions). Here’s a shot from the front:
And here’s one from the top:
It’s shipping today. It should arrive sometime next week, at which point there will be a “This One’s For Me, Part II” post.
I already own most of the components for this bike; they’ll be transferred over from my old Superfly SS (for those of you about to ask, I already sold the frame to a friend). With a couple changes, naturally. I smell a sub-18-pound bike in my very near future.
There will be no fundraiser. There will be no giveaway.
This will be the world’s one and only FattyFly SS. And it is mine.
PS: Full disclosure: I paid for this frame, but below retail.
After work today, I’m going to go ride to the top of the Alpine Loop. I’m going alone, and I’m going hard. As hard as I can, in fact. And I can’t help but wonder:
How fast (or slow) will that be?
Last year, at the fastest and lightest point I had been in years and years, I did the climb — 10.5 miles, 3000 feet of climbing — in 53:11.
Of course, I weighed 156 pounds back then — as opposed to 162 right now. That’s not going to help. And that was back at the end of the season, when I was as strong as I get. This time, it’s early in the season.
So I’ll be slower, certainly. The best I can hope for, really, is a 56-minute climb. I’d be very happy with that, in fact.
Heck, I’d be happy with a 58-minute climb right now.
Obviously, The American Fork side of the Alpine Loop (from the toll booth to the beginning of the parking lot turnoff at the top) has become one of my most important personal yardsticks — a measuring device to help me get a sense of what kind of cyclist I am right now.
My Collection of Yardsticks
The Alpine Loop, though, is only one of my yardsticks. In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to go as hard as I can up a number of different local climbs:
- North Side of Suncrest: 3.6 miles, 1300 feet. It’s as brutal as it is brutish. Last year, my best time was 18:57. Which tells you that during the last three minutes I was genuinely at my limit. You don’t come that close to under a minute mark without feeling like you are about to barf. Or explode. Or barf, explosively. If I recall correctly, I cried when I got to the top of this climb. If I can beat this time by even one second sometime this year, I will be very proud.
- Clark’s: This one’s a mountain bike trail. I don’t know what the distance is, and I don’t know what the altitude gain is. But I do know that when I finished it in under ten minutes last year (9:50), I texted every single friend I have letting them know what I had just done. This year, the trail’s been rerouted; people are guessing it’s about 30 seconds longer of a course. Which means I may never see a sub-10 time on that trail again. Alas.
- Sundance: This is a peculiar yardstick. I try to do the road climb from the Provo Canyon turnoff to the Sundance ski resort without ever dropping my speed below 8mph. I have succeeded in doing this exactly one time. This is also an interesting yardstick because I haven’t actually tried doing this in more than six years — when I was in my 30’s. Now that I’m in my mid-40’s, I wonder how I’ll do. Honestly, I feel like I’m no slower than I was five years ago, but I don’t know if that’s true.
- Squaw Peak : This is another climb I haven’t actually timed myself on in at least six years or so. In fact, it’s been so long since I’ve kept score of my speed up this road — 4 miles, about 1800 feet if I remember correctly — that I don’t even remember what my best time was. I’m pretty sure, though, that I was always trying to get up in under half an hour, and I never did. Judging from this year’s best times, though, it looks like Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) has easily eclipsed that half hour mark. Which just goes to show something I knew anyway: Rick is much, much faster than I am.
Of course, all of these yardsticks are just ways I track how I’m doing as I get ready for what is in fact my most important annual yardstick of all: The Leadville 100. This’ll be my 14th start…and hopefully, 13th completion.
I’ve wanted sub-9 for so long — more than a decade — on this race. Never got it, though I’ve been close — 9:13 once, 9:14 another time — a couple times.
“Maybe,” I think every year, “This is the year.”
And this year, it may even be true. I think I’ve got a good enough start to the season that I may be able to drop the remaining winter blubber, get fast, and finally get that big belt buckle — you know, the one Kenny has almost a dozen of — instead of yet another little belt buckle.
It’ll be close, that’s certain. Close enough that I’m thinking I may go ahead and go with a geared bike instead of a single speed. Close enough that I’m thinking hard about whether a suspension fork buys me more than it costs me, time-wise
Yes, these are the things that keep me awake at night.
The Yardstick Doesn’t Matter, Except It Does
The thing about having these yardsticks is, they’re scary. I’m nervous for my Alpine Loop Climb TT right now — like for a big race — even though it’s just me. And there’s no prize. And honestly, nobody in the world (except Mark, because I know he’s going to try to outdo me) cares about how I do.
They’re totally meaningless, really.
But they also couldn’t be more important.
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