Fall Moab 2012 Part I: Fatty and the Horrible, Terrible, No-Good, Very Bad Ride

11.14.2011 | 1:24 pm

Ask anyone who has ever spent any time with me at all: I am a wonderful person. I am friendly. I am thoughtful. I am good-natured and generous to a fault.

I am the the freaking Boy Scout Law, personified.

Except for thrifty. And reverent. I still have work to do on those.

But if you had encountered me last Friday, after — along with Cori, Kenny, Steve, Bob, Paul and Jud — I rode the famous Gooseberry Mesa trail near Hurricane, Utah, you would have found me in a foul mood. A foul mood indeed.

I had my reasons.

Things Start Off Well

The ride started out great. It was cool — but not cold — on Gooseberry Mesa; I dressed in shorts and a long-sleeve jersey.

My friend Bob had flown in for the weekend of riding. Bob and I are cycling doppelg√§ngers — we don’t even have to adjust saddle height to trade bikes — so I had brought along three bikes for the weekend: my Superfly 100, my Superfly singlespeed (aka The FattyFly) and my WaltWorks singlespeed.

For this ride, we wanted to have both a singlespeed and a plush, full-suspension geared bike on hand, to trade around for different moves and different moods. So we went with the Superfly 100 and the Waltworks (because the Waltworks is geared lower than the FattyFly).

Bob wanted to start with the singlespeed, so I went with the Superfly 100.

Right away, I realized that this kind of riding is the natural habitat of the Superfly 100. I hadn’t really fallen in love with this bike until now because I had been riding trails that didn’t really take advantage of suspension.

Fifteen minutes on the bumpy, ledgy, rocky trails of Gooseberry showed me that this bike is, in fact, extraordinary. I was loving it. It made me a better rider: I was cleaning stuff that I normally just don’t clean.

Bob took a turn at the Superfly 100 and came to the same conclusion: this is a remarkable bike.

After riding the Superfly 100 for a while, switching to a rigid singlespeed feels really weird right at first, especially since Waltworks geometry is a lot different than Gary Fisher geometry.

That said, I was still trying stuff, and not doing too badly at it.

In particular, there’s a tricky move where you have to come around a sharp right hand bend, bringing yourself to a near stop as you do so, ride across a short patch of sand, and then suddenly put everything you’ve got into powering up an extremely steep, 20′-long sandstone pitch.

On my first try, I slid out about halfway up, then slid down on my left side, giving me the right to claim first blood for the trip.

On my second try, I didn’t even get as far as my first try. But by then, people were gathering around, watching.

So on my third — and according to the rules, final — try, I put everything I had into it.

And I made it. On the singlespeed.

I could feel a good weekend coming on.

The Importance of Proofreading

We rode to the overlook, where it’s traditional to take a group shot and get something to eat. Here’s the group shot:

Left to right: Cori, Kenny, Steve, Bob, Paul, Jud, Fatty.

And here’s Paul, eating a Honey Stinger Waffle:


I believe it’s possible he’s enjoying that just a little too much.

As I was taking these photos with my phone, I noticed that I had surprisingly good signal. “Now would be a great opportunity for me to text a photo to The Hammer,” I thought. So I had someone take a photo of me, and I sent a nice little “I love you” message along with it, addressed — of course — to Lisa.

Unfortunately, I didn’t check my address very carefully and wound up sending it to Lisa Bearnson, scrapbooking guru and a former coworker of mine, back at WordPerfect Magazine.

“Um,” I texted to Lisa, “That was actually kinda meant for my wife. Not that I don’t love you.”

Wherein I Howl in Pain

I was enjoying the singlespeed now, so was taking an extended turn on it, while Bob tried — and cleaned — move after move on the Superfly 100.

Then, while going up a short — probably only six feet or so — pitch, the chain slipped off my singlespeed.

Instantly, my crotch slammed into my stem.

“Help,” I squeaked. “And also: ow,” I continued, in a high voice.

As soon as the urge to vomit passed, I put the chain back on the bike. Nobody understood why it had come off — the chain was nice and tight, and the line looked good — so we put it down to one of those flukes.

And then, on a much steeper, more difficult pitch — one you need to bring a lot of speed and power into to clean — it happened again, except this time the chain simply broke.

To get a sense of how this feels, try one or both of the following:

  • Stand on a platform about three feet above a fence. Jump off that platform so as that you land straddling that fence.
  • Give a large burly man who hates you permission to hit you in the crotch with a sledgehammer.

Without going into too much detail, let me simply say that I rolled around in agony for some time, my (distressingly high-pitched) screams echoed across distant mountain ranges, and my snipe is — for the second time in my life — purple.

Yes, perhaps that is too much information. You’ll have to forgive me for that. My judgment may still be impaired due to the indescribable pain I have recently been traumatized by.

Wherein I Stop Very Suddenly

It turns out that chain had broken at the master link, and was soon set right. Bob volunteered to take a turn riding the singlespeed, asserting — correctly — that I would now be far too timid on that bike to ride it with anything even close to alacrity.

And so it was that I was actually riding the Superfly 100 when — with evening quickly approaching and details of the terrain becoming hard to pick out — I rode by a bush that had grown a sturdy low branch, specifically designed to hook into the spokes of my front wheel.

My front wheel stopped. The rest of my bike — and my body — pivoted over that stopped wheel and I was slammed into the ground.

But not before I had a chance to throw my hands out in a defensive measure that, while completely ineffective at stopping anything else from getting hurt, was nevertheless extremely effective at making both my palms feel like I had executed a perfect dive from a high platform into an empty pool.

My screams rent the fast-approaching night.

“Are you OK?” asked Paul.

“Yeah,” I replied. “But I’m not having fun anymore.”

I got back on my bike and slowly rode back the remaining couple of miles. It was almost entirely dark by the time I got to the parking lot, but I was just glad to have this ride behind me.

IMG_3824.jpgWherein I Discover Additional Damage

I put the bikes up, mounting the Superfly 100 and the Fattyfly on the fork mounts in the BikeMobile’s bed. I put the wheels on the wheel mounts on the truck’s roof.

Then I emptied my jersey pockets of the food wrappers I had with me, as well as my favorite glasses — a pair of custom Oakley Jawbones.

Or rather, I should say, the pieces of my Oakley Jawbones, pictured at right, in happier times. (Oh, by the way, this is the picture I sent to two different Lisas earlier that day.)

Evidently, it’s not a good idea to land with all one’s weight on a pair of sunglasses one is carrying in one’s pocket.

“Well, at least this ride is over,” I said, meaning it. I mean, I had had — in many respects — a fantastic ride, and a lot of fun. But it just felt like I had not had great luck.

We all agreed to meet at a sports bar in town for dinner, and I drove down the rocky dirt road into Hurricane. There, in the parking lot, I climbed into the back of my truck to lock the bikes up.

Which is when I discovered that one of the wheels had come off the wheel carrier. And not just any wheel. A Bontrager XXX carbon tubeless wheel. A very nice, very expensive wheel.

My FattyFly was now a FattyFly Unicycle.

Kenny agreed that after dinner, he’d drive with me, retracing our route back to the trailhead, to look for the wheel. We would not find it. Nor would we find it when we looked again the next morning. So, at this point, I must believe that someone has either found themselves a really nice wheel, or this wheel is somewhere off the side of the road, wondering why it’s been abandoned.

And to cap it all off, the burger I had for dinner was overcooked.


  1. Comment by TomInCO | 11.14.2011 | 1:53 pm


  2. Comment by Tom | 11.14.2011 | 1:56 pm

    Sports bar in Hurricane with overcooked burgers? You must have gone to Ted and Allen’s. Next time drive the other way on the rocky dirt road and enjoy a good meal in Springdale.

    Sorry about your bad ride.

  3. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 11.14.2011 | 1:58 pm

    Dang dude, I feel your pain. Not that I want to experience it first hand mind you! :)

  4. Comment by Liz | 11.14.2011 | 2:04 pm

    Oh my. Feel better soon. Sounds like you got more than your share of war stories out of this trip.

  5. Comment by KM | 11.14.2011 | 2:07 pm

    I’m very sorry for your misfortune. However, even a bad day riding is better than any day at the office. Unless the day at the office involves a gifting of a large sum of money you can then put into your bike. Or getting an extra day off so you can go ride….or I’m letting this get away from me now. I’m sorry for your pain and loss of your wheel.

  6. Comment by eclecticdeb | 11.14.2011 | 2:11 pm

    Oh Dear…we’ve all had bad luck days. Yours sounds particularly bad. And painful. Ooooog.

  7. Comment by Eric T. | 11.14.2011 | 2:14 pm

    Fall 2012 Moab? Are you having visions of a really bad trip that will be happening next year? If so, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by having some of those “real life” commitments pop up so you can sit it out. In all seriousness, hope Part II of the report turns out better, but at least you did get some good stories out of it.

    Fall Moab is always described by fiscal years. (Also, it wasn’t in Moab this year.) Oh, and part 2 is much, much happier. – FC

  8. Comment by roan | 11.14.2011 | 2:27 pm

    Not surprised you didn’t find the runaway wheel. Driving & looking in the dark…useless. I don’t think it laid down on the side of the road to gather any moss. A ride (not drive) in daylight ‘might’ work. You woulda seen it if it was roadkill. Guess you will be working on the reverent part before the thrifty.

    Yeah, I didn’t think it would work, driving in the dark. But I harbored hope that I had somehow just left the wheel in the trailhead parking lot, so wanted to go up there anyway, just to check. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to sleep that night, wondering and worrying about a wheel I might’ve just left there, sitting around for someone to take. – FC

  9. Comment by Terry | 11.14.2011 | 2:31 pm

    I think that place is cursed. I broke my wrist on Gooseberry two weeks ago, and my brother in law broke his chain about an hour later.


  10. Comment by aussie kev | 11.14.2011 | 2:32 pm

    I love you !!!
    i once ended a conversation to the secretary of our cycling with a “i love you” before i hung up – quicky realising my mistake a called her straight back and explained what had happened….. she hadn’t heard me say it !!!! – ooooops !


  11. Comment by Heidi | 11.14.2011 | 2:44 pm

    List Lisa in your address book as The Hammer. (It isn’t likely you know more than one…)

  12. Comment by Clydesteve | 11.14.2011 | 2:50 pm

    Stand on a platform about three feet above a fence. Jump off that platform so as that you land straddling that fence.

    Perfect description. It made me wince. Well, and laugh. sorry.

  13. Comment by m burdge | 11.14.2011 | 2:55 pm

    Sorry to hear about the overcooked burger.

  14. Comment by Rob | 11.14.2011 | 2:58 pm

    Fatty, you are a man with many, many expensive bikes. And apparently a cheap-ass bike rack built in the mid-90’s that requires you to remove wheels to use it. Do yourself a favor and get a new bike rack. A really good one. I highly recommend these: http://www.ratracks.com

  15. Comment by Jenn | 11.14.2011 | 2:59 pm

    I’ve never suffered so much on a bike as when…

  16. Comment by Mary | 11.14.2011 | 3:31 pm

    So sorry to laugh at your misfortune…snipe? Yes, I did go back and read the older post. Funny. I have 5 sons, 12 and younger. I always make them use the anatomically correct names, something about the nurse in me–but that is hilarious and I may have to teach it to them. Hopefully, they will never end up with a purple one!

  17. Comment by JLB | 11.14.2011 | 3:33 pm

    There is the old addage that a bad day fishing is better than the best day working. I always thought the same was true of a bad day cycling. Not true. Your day was terrible; much worse than my best day in the office. Happy healing!!! So sorry.

  18. Comment by zeeeter | 11.14.2011 | 3:40 pm

    Thought for a horrible moment that the SNIPE hyperlink was going to connect to a picture! Some things you just can’t un-see! I have to agree with JLB though, under normal circumstances the worst day riding is still way better than the best day working . . . .

  19. Comment by janey | 11.14.2011 | 3:57 pm

    Okay, since this is just Part I, I’m assuming additional photos are in the works for Part II. Some of the injuries you were describing are just to difficult for me to picture without some kind of illustration/photograph.

  20. Comment by Geo | 11.14.2011 | 4:14 pm

    Sounds like a good day until the overcooked burger.

    And I once sent an instant message to the wrong dialog box thinking it was my wife. My work contact was wondering why I was addressing him as “Sweetie.”

  21. Comment by Gillian | 11.14.2011 | 4:19 pm


    Glad to hear that Fatty perks up in the next installment. Also, stories like these are why I’m too chicken to actually bike on mountains with my mountain bike. (Although the lack of mountains down here in New Orleans also contributes.)

  22. Comment by Bragi Freyr | 11.14.2011 | 4:28 pm

    Jud has a seriously awesome jersey. Might I ask where he got it? Seriously awesome.

  23. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 11.14.2011 | 4:35 pm

    @Jenn: … I ended up with a purple snipe. :-)

  24. Comment by Uni-Tom | 11.14.2011 | 4:44 pm

    Well I’ve been advocating your move to a unicycle for some time now, but that’s a tough way to get there.

  25. Comment by Tracy W | 11.14.2011 | 4:50 pm

    Ouch! It’s bad enough to break things or hurt things, but the icing in the cake is to LOSE them. Glad to know that Part 2 has a happier ending.

  26. Comment by Team Coffee Nook | 11.14.2011 | 5:40 pm

    I find it’s not so much the impact to the Snipe as it is to the Stitelecs.

  27. Comment by Charlie | 11.14.2011 | 5:41 pm

    schadenfreude – I just developed it. More fun to read about your crashes than experience them.

  28. Comment by Ben | 11.14.2011 | 5:41 pm

    I realize it is not a perfect analogy, but, having lost your front wheel, you might be in the mood to enjoy it.

  29. Comment by Heidi | 11.14.2011 | 5:43 pm

    Here’s a video that has to do with running rather than riding, but boy, is it inspirational!


  30. Comment by Jeff in Huntington Beach | 11.14.2011 | 6:53 pm

    Crap, i was there the next day-It would have been cool to bump in to your crew!

  31. Comment by nh_joe | 11.14.2011 | 7:35 pm

    I always ask myself: Was it better than a day at work? Yes, most certainly yes.

  32. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 11.14.2011 | 9:48 pm

    In your first snipe story you were showing it off. I hope you’ve grown wiser and more reserved, but I doubt it. And what’s with Kenny? Where’s the Daisy Dukes, and where’s your ’soul patch’ (you could have stenciled one on).

    I hope the burger situation reminds you that you need to stay close to your roots. Next year Brats!!!

    Looking forward to the video…. of the ride only please.

  33. Comment by 3d brian | 11.14.2011 | 11:25 pm

    I wondered when you were going to continue your unicycle chronicles…

    Sounds like your post should have been labelled Fatty and the super expensive very costly ride.

    That is a fact. – FC

  34. Comment by Dan | 11.14.2011 | 11:43 pm

    Ok, I haven’t laughed (and winced) so much in a long time. Snipe hunts is no longer a term I can use again. :)

  35. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 11.15.2011 | 12:42 am

    Bummer Fatty. Here is to some better cheeseburger’s soon. Oh and I hope your Snipe has healed.

  36. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 11.15.2011 | 8:10 am

    Wow that makes my weekend adventures in self bruising through sports I love seam tame. I’m going to limp to class now and feel glad that my pain is in my leg and not in an unmentionable region.

  37. Comment by Jenni | 11.15.2011 | 8:11 am

    Last night a first grader in our neighborhood and friend to my son was killed by a car.
    Buy another wheel and rejoice.

    Here’s to better days.

  38. Comment by Noel | 11.15.2011 | 8:54 am

    This must mean it’s time to bring out the FattyTorkerLX.

  39. Comment by Andrew | 11.15.2011 | 9:16 am

    I was expecting the punch line to be a cracked chainstay on your bike – explaining the odd dropped chain problems.
    A ditched wheel as a nice surprise twist!

    Here’s a free lesson, one I learned a long time ago – never ride a bike that you are not willing to lose. If your bike (or any of its associated parts) is too nice that you are scared to ride it for fear of it breaking, getting scratched, getting lost, getting stolen, bouncing off a roof rack, getting smashed on a toll booth/overpass/garage door while on the roof rack, etc., the it is too nice to ride. If it is too nice to ride, then why have it in the first place?

  40. Comment by Charlie | 11.15.2011 | 11:26 am

    Jenni – that’s horrible and puts everything in perspective… hug your kids everybody!

  41. Comment by Susie H | 11.15.2011 | 11:44 am


  42. Comment by The Bike Nazi | 11.15.2011 | 1:58 pm

    Wow, that ride sounds like the kind of ride my husband often has. I swear, some people are magnets for bad rides. I think it’s a testament to mountain biking, that in spite of a bad ride, we riders always get back on the bike the next time. Here’s to hoping you don’t have anymore of those bad days.

  43. Comment by AK Chick | 11.15.2011 | 5:52 pm

    Wow. What a ride! I have been having a very, very, very bad month since I returned from Austin. My mom was in the hospital and almost died. Now I’m having to try to find temporary assisted living facilities for her while my uncle and I and home health care try to keep it together until we do. It has been a long hard process. However, I remembered that I hadn’t ready Fatty’s blog this week. I read this and for the first time in a while, I laughed, almost out lout which would be embarrassing since I’m at work and live in a cubicle 8+ hours a day. It was SO SO SO needed. Thank you for these wonderful tales to help bring the healing wonderfulness of laughter to someone who could really use it. I’m so, so sad to hear about the little boy that was killed by a car. I’m grateful for Fatty’s blog to help bring laughter back into a stressful situation (mine). I had forgotten about the purple snipe. :) Laughter truly is the best medicine. Thanks, Fatty! I’m on to read part 2.

    Thanks, AK Chick. I’m glad my blog gave you a good moment during a bad time. – FC

  44. Comment by AK Chick | 11.15.2011 | 5:54 pm

    Shoot, that should have read “laughed out loud.”

    Also, to clarify, my mom is/was a long time smoker with COPD and had pneumonia. Please, if you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.

  45. Comment by CKee | 11.15.2011 | 9:27 pm

    How many bikes do you actually have at the moment? Maybe you wanna line them up, together with the rest owned by your extended family, and take a photo of all that just like jersey one. That would be an awesome picture!
    (@AK Chick. Exact same thing with my dad recently – hardcore smoker, COPD, pneumonia, nearly died… smoking kills!!)

  46. Comment by Kari | 11.16.2011 | 3:13 am

    I can remember injuring myself in a similar area as a preteen although I am not equipped with a snipe. I ended up having to expain to my mother when she walked in on me while I was changing that day by mistake. Curious as to why I was wearing purple underwear when I did not own any purple garments I had to explain that it was, in fact, bruising of a bike crash. Not content with this shortened version, she made me tell it in detail as to how I had gotten in a bad enough bike crash on the way home from school when it was only a mile away, all flat and I was not stong enough to get up to the higher speeds as our neighbor (who rides semi-pro in the local races).

    To this day I still cannot figure out whats the worst part of it all: the pain itself, the…er…witnesses to the crash, or having to explain to my mother that I had tried to show off to a cut boy from class that lived along my route home by vooming down the only short hill in the area with no hands as I often did. Instead of waving sweetly as I zipped on by and impressed him with my prowess on a bike, I looked away at the wrong moment and ran into a parked car, onto to look up and catch him failing as he (and his four closest buddies) convulsed with hysterical laughter.

    Then again, the most painful part was when I had to retell it all over again the next day, this time to a whole locker room full of girls because someone had seen the bruise that by then had spread to my upper legs too and was clearly visible when we had to change into our gym clothes for PE. The entire class was late because they too could not control their laughter enough to finish getting into their gym shorts, and resulted in my being forced to explain it all over again to the (female) PE teacher who was who was thankfully more merciful about it than everyone else had been. Needless to say, I was glad for the excuse not to ride when the weather turned rainy that night and for the next several weeks.

  47. Comment by Andrew | 11.16.2011 | 10:44 am

    My worst mountain bike ride was also on Gooseberry. I also enjoyed first blood and ruined gear, but thankfully escaped any snipe damage. One of these days I need to go back and make some good memories there.

  48. Pingback by Fail Moab « brad keyes | 11.16.2011 | 10:51 am

    [...] missed Fail Moab Fall Moab this year for no good reason.  I so wanted to get back to the desert and ride with the team but [...]

  49. Comment by Mark in Ottawa | 11.16.2011 | 11:56 am

    I’m really sorry to hear about such a craptastic ride. It seems like it was truly epic suffer-fest – during and after!

    Better days ahead!

    (also, where’s your ’stach? You not doing Movember this year?)

    Mark (in Ottawa, Canada)


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