The Race of Uncertainty

12.12.2011 | 10:00 am

A Note from Fatty About Tomorrow’s Post: Last week when I published the interview I did with Levi Leipheimer, I thought to myself, “I’d be really interested in knowing that rice cake recipe he’s talking about.” So I contacted Dr. Allen Lim and asked him if he’d write a guest post, sharing it with us, and maybe give us some tips on how to eat while riding without getting gross stomach issues. Allen said he’d be happy to, and so will be guest posting tomorrow. He’s then going to join us for a live chat here tomorrow at 4:00pm (ET) / 1:00pm (PT) for a couple hours. It’ll be an awesome chance to ask questions and get advice about nutrition for cyclists from the top expert in the field. Check out Allen’s book at

A Note from Fatty About My Book: I still have copies of Comedian Mastermind: The Best of, 2005-2007 for sale. If you buy it now, chances are — if you’re in the US — still very good it’ll get to you before Christmas. Click here for more info, or to buy. This page now has shipping options for people who want to buy the book outside the US. Not cheap options, but options.

One Last Note from Fatty About the Fat Cyclist Holiday T-shirts: There are still a few of the FatCyclist Holiday long-sleeve t-shirts available, in men’s Small, Medium, and Large sizes. Women’s-sized shirts have (almost) sold out, but men’s-sized shirts work just fine for women– just go down one size from what you’d get in women’s sizing. For example, if you’d get a women’s Large, get a men’s Medium. Click here to buy.

The Ultimate Race Format: The Race of Uncertainty

A week or so ago, when I talked about running in Titus Canyon, I left something out. Something important. I left out the degree to which The Hammer had exposed my personal anti-superpower. When she proposed, cheerfully, that we up the mileage of the run we were currently doing, she had, for all intents and purposes, pulled out a fist-sized Kryptonite nugget and rammed it down my super-gullet.

When I’m suffering — whether I’m on a bike or running — the most certain way to kick my knees out from under me (apart from, you know, actually kicking my knees out from under me) is to change the plan. Because then, my carefully constructed and protected mindset is upended. The way I’ve divided the race up into manageable portions — thereby keeping me sane and strong — is suddenly destroyed.

Instantly, I go from a strong, focused endurance athlete to a total mess. I am not fun to be with when that happens.

But, plodding along in Titus Canyon, trying to assemble a new and acceptable reality where I would be running fourteen miles instead of thirteen, I had an epiphany: this mental brittleness I have about running (and, to a much lesser extent, about riding), is a form of weakness. And I suspect that it’s a fairly common kind of weakness.

And what do endurance cyclists like more than a race that challenges weakness? What do cyclists like more than a race that identifies something you are not good at, and forces you to become good at it?

The correct answer to those questions, for most cyclists I’ve ever met, is either “beer” or “chocolate milk,” but that’s not really where I was heading with my hyperbole. What I really wanted you to focus on is the fact that we cyclists kind of like to meet our weaknesses head-on.

Or at least, we like to imagine ourselves liking that. When we’re actually confronting our weaknesses, experience suggests we may not like it all that much.

Enough. Let’s move on.

As I climbed to the newly-agreed-upon turnaround point, and as my right achilles tendon began aching more and more, I began formulating what I believe may be the ultimate bike racing challenge, The Race of Uncertainty.

What Is The Race of Uncertainty?

The most important thing to know about The Race of Uncertainty is that you just don’t know what’s going to happen. Until it’s too late to do anything about it, you won’t know whether your race will be on mountain bikes or road (so bring both).

You won’t know how long the race will be. Oh sure, you will be given some rough parameters, so you will know how much time to take off work. But it could go for 50 miles. Or maybe 100. Or maybe some people will go 30, while others go 150.

You just won’t know.

You won’t even have more than a general idea of where it’s going to start. Or what your course is. You just show up at an agreed-upon point at an agreed-upon time, where the race director tells you where the starting line is, and that you have a reasonable time to get there, before the race starts.

So if you’ve been planning on a 100 mile road race and have been training and tapering accordingly, maybe that’s going to work for you. Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe you should should have focused more on your sprinting. Or your big-hit descending. Or your barrier jumping.

Maybe you should be ready for anything. And to not be surprised when that “anything” changes, multiple times during the race.

Sample Race

You show up at your local bike shop at 5:00am on Saturday. You’ve got both a road and mountain bike on your car rack. A notice is posted in the shop window. “The race begins at 8:00am. MTB.” And it gives the name and GPS coordinates for a well-known trailhead.

You get there with an hour to spare, plenty of time to pack your Camelbak with a lot of food and water, not to mention lights, tools, and some survival gear. You don’t know which part of it you’ll need.

Then, at 7:30am, the gun goes off. The race has begun half an hour early. You weren’t ready for this and were in fact locking your car up at that moment, but you only lose a minute or so. Just think about all those poor riders, though, who were sitting on a port-throne when that gun went off. Or the guys who went for breakfast. That’s going to be a rough way to start the race for them.

Not your problem.

You motor along for the first couple miles of the race, moving up the field as you climb up the jeep road. Then it comes to a fork. One road goes up; the other stays pretty much level. The fork in the road is well-marked; the problem is that arrows point in both directions.

Looks like you’re going to have to make a choice.

Figuring that if you choose wrong you’ll at least have a downhill return trip, you veer right and begin climbing. After going for about 1.5 miles, you see another racer, coming around a bend, heading towards you.

“What’s up?” You ask, hoping to learn what’s ahead.

“You get turned around about a quarter mile ahead,” the guy replies.

“Thanks,” you reply, pulling an immediate U-turn. No point in following this trail any farther (you will find out after the race that at the U-turn spot there was a volunteer who handed racers coupons good for subtracting ten minutes from their finishing time, something the other racer did not feel obligated to tell you).

As you head back to the intersection, you encounter other riders heading on. As a helpful, friendly person with a sense of fair play, you signal a U-turn. Some heed your advice. Others suspect your motives and / or your correctness and continue on.

Back at the junction, you now take the left road. It narrows to singletrack and rolls along nicely for twelve miles or so, after which you arrive at the first aid station.

You continue on; you have plenty of food and don’t need anything yet. You look back, however, and notice that the guy behind you — who did stop — has had his bike taken away and has been handed a largish cube of Velveeta cheese.

You’re pretty sure he won’t get to ride again until he finishes eating that cheese.

Ten minutes later though, another volunteer, standing in the middle of the trail, puts out a hand for you to stop, and hands you a pair of dice. “Roll,” he says.

You roll a nine.

“Sorry,” he says. “You have to wait one minute, then you can roll again.”

On your next roll, you get a twelve. You wait another minute, then roll a two.

“Oooh, snake eyes,” says the volunteer, sympathetically. “You have to wait two minutes for that one.”

The racer who was eating a block of Velveeta approaches and rolls to a stop. He does not look well. “One dice roller at a time,” the volunteer says, and waves the other guy through.

Your blood begins to boil.

Finally, you roll a seven. “Have a good race,” the volunteer says, stepping aside.

By now you’re really beginning to feel picked on, but you know that you’ve just had a run of bad luck. Still, you’re worried when — about five miles later — you come to a volunteer at an intersection.

“Your bike is red,” says the volunteer, “and I’m pleased to tell you that all red bikes get to turn right here, which shortcuts about one mile off the course.”

Never have you been so glad to have purchased a red bike.

Ninety minutes later you pull up to an aid station, glad for the chance to refill your bottles.

“Sorry,” the volunteer manning the station says. “This is a decoy aid station. There’s no drink here, and the only food we have is PowerBars from 2004.”

You decline, but you’re starting to get pretty thirsty. Luckily, there’s a sign up ahead: “Next Aid Station: 2 Miles.” You glance at your bike computer.

Two miles go by. No aid station. Then, after another mile, you see another sign: “Next Aid Station: 2 Miles.”

And then, one mile later, there’s the aid station. And at this one, they’re offering made-to-order sandwiches. And ice cream cones.

After filling up, you ride for the next hour, during which time you notice that the weather has started changing. The wind has begun blowing, clouds are darkening, and you’re pretty sure it’s going to rain.

Sure enough, there’s a volunteer where the single track intersects a paved road. “There’s a severe weather warning,” he says, “so we’re having to shorten the course. Turn right here, and you’ll be directed to a junction where the return track picks up. You’ve got about fifteen miles to the finish.”

Dutifully, you turn, although you’re not so naive that you believe the course has actually been shortened. Surely you’ll be redirected soon.

But as you ride and follow the course markings, it becomes clearer and clearer: You’re getting close to the start/finish line.

You pick up the pace. You long ago stopped having any idea of how you’re doing in this race, but you’re glad to be nearing the finish.

As you get closer, you can hear the crowd cheering. You can see the finish line now, and it doesn’t look like there are many cyclists there. Maybe you’re in first!

You’ve been out for four hours, and while you feel like you probably could have gone another hour or so — you’ve been good about conserving energy — you’re excited to be crossing the finish line before the rain starts coming down hard.

You break into a sprint, giving it everything you’ve got. You cross the finish line, put down your feet, and breathe hard.

A volunteer walks over with a medal. But instead of putting it around your neck, she says, “Congratulations!…you’ve finished the first lap.”

So you go and do another lap.

When you arrive, a volunteer congratulates you, notes that it’s starting to get dark, and asks, “Do you have lights?”

“Yeah,” you reply, “I brought lights.”

“Good,” the volunteer says. “People who brought lights have to do a third lap.”

“You mean you’re going to punish me for being prepared?” You ask, incredulous.

“What makes you think this is a punishment?” the volunteer asks.

Grumbling, you set your lights up, and do the third lap. By the time you pull in, you are pretty much certain that you are the absolute last person to have finished this race.

“You’re the last one in,” the race director says, welcoming you across the finish line. “What’s your total mileage?”

“78.8 miles” you say, barely. Completely beat.

“That’s the most mileage of anyone,” the race director notes. “Which means you won.”

“What?” you ask.

“For this particular race, we’re using distance, not time, as the winning metric. You won.”

Strangely, though, that knowledge doesn’t make you any less tired. But you have learned to ride — and continue riding — in the face of uncertainty.

Final Thoughts

When I first started this post last night, it was just a silly fantasy. But I’ve had some time to think about it and you know what? I would love to be in this kind of race. Or maybe even put this race on. Corner Canyon would actually be a very easy place to put on a Race of Uncertainty, because there are a lot of connecting trails.

I’m curious: if you had a chance, would you participate in a Race of Uncertainty?


  1. Comment by SYJ | 12.12.2011 | 10:18 am

    I’m not entirely sure if I would or not. Apropos, no?

  2. Comment by Michael Dao | 12.12.2011 | 10:19 am

    Oh God YES.

  3. Comment by KM | 12.12.2011 | 10:20 am

    I can honestly say I’d pay a goodly sum to be part of such a race. I’ll suggest you have a spot also where folks have to dismount and perform a 2 minute interrpretive dance prior to getting back on the bike and receive time bonus (or mileage bonus) for a heartfelt performance. Or you make a group of riders dismount and perform a country line dance. The eating challenges sound fun also or carrying odd objects…how about random power tools from one aid station to the next? The possiblities are endless, heck I’ll volunteer to be a course judge.

  4. Comment by Joe in San Diego | 12.12.2011 | 10:20 am

    You gotta love a blog when the right-hand side ads pop up with “” followed by “dznuts”.

  5. Comment by dvhansen | 12.12.2011 | 10:23 am

    Yes…unless this is part of the Race of Uncertainity…are there any time or distance penalties for answering so willingly so quickly? regardless, sign me up!!

  6. Comment by Dingbat | 12.12.2011 | 10:26 am

    Sounds super fun, in a pushing-the-life-is-like-bike-racing-analogy-too-far sort of way. I’d do it.

  7. Comment by Kyle (aka slowcyclist) | 12.12.2011 | 10:26 am

    That would be awesome as long as you had an idea that is was an uncertain race. I’ve done a couple of charity rides with missing rest stops and markers. They are still fun to talk about later.

  8. Comment by muskyhunter | 12.12.2011 | 10:27 am

    Yes, but I don’t own a mtb or lights or have time to train or travel…
    Well, you get the picture.

  9. Comment by Andy | 12.12.2011 | 10:29 am

    This sounds like the worst thing ever. I’m so in.

  10. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 12.12.2011 | 10:33 am

    Umm. Maybe. Would I have to be certain now? Or would it be ok to not know exactly?

  11. Comment by Scott Gilbert aka ScottyG1962 | 12.12.2011 | 10:34 am

    Bitchin idea!

  12. Comment by Gabi | 12.12.2011 | 10:35 am

    I would love to volunteer.

  13. Comment by Mandy | 12.12.2011 | 10:38 am

    Holy crap. Hilarious. But I used to love choose your own adventure books in college so this is like a real life one. Except someone else chooses your adventure. Yup. I think I would do that!

  14. Comment by Christina | 12.12.2011 | 10:42 am

    It’s like Choose Your Own Adventure on a bike! I would bother to air up my mtb tires for something like that. Heck, I’d even go as far to as to say I’d volunteer for something like this too, just to get it off the ground.

  15. Comment by Brian in VA | 12.12.2011 | 10:43 am

    I think I’m becoming a cyclist. My first thought was, “This sounds so cool!”

    As long as I don’t have to give a firm commitment, I’m definitely thinking about saying maybe.

  16. Comment by bikemike | 12.12.2011 | 10:44 am

    You are Dr. Evil.

  17. Comment by Heather | 12.12.2011 | 10:50 am

    Adventure races have a bit of the “uncertainty” aspect. You know you will be mountain biking, paddling and trekking . . . but then you find out you have to do a bucket brigade challenge, cross a mud lake, count monkeys hanging upside down, complete a ropes course . . . And you get to make your own route! Adventure racing is possibly the best kind of race there is.

  18. Comment by asdf | 12.12.2011 | 10:50 am

    did you just invent the alleycat?

  19. Comment by CW | 12.12.2011 | 10:50 am

    Not only would I sign up, I would travel to do this kind of thing.

  20. Comment by Anonymous | 12.12.2011 | 10:53 am

    I’ll finally buy myself a mountain bike, and fly from wherever I am (I currently live in the French Alps) to come do that race. Please host it!

  21. Comment by Christopher | 12.12.2011 | 10:58 am

    I would love to ride it and would really look forward to your race report… and reports from others.

  22. Comment by egggman | 12.12.2011 | 10:58 am

    Yeah, while reading that I had to agree that this is a ridiculous, crazy, unconventionally amazing idea. I want to race this tomorrow at approximately 3:17pm within 45 minutes of my LBS…

  23. Comment by LaFrance | 12.12.2011 | 11:07 am

    Brilliant! Would love to do something like this!

  24. Comment by AK Chick | 12.12.2011 | 11:12 am

    This sounds absolutely terrible. However, if I had the funds to be able to travel to participate AND this race was put on by you, I would do it. Against my better judgement. Even though I’d break new cursing records. And probably really hate you for awhile. But when all was said and done, I’d be signing up to do it again. :)

  25. Comment by AK Chick | 12.12.2011 | 11:14 am

    Shoot hit post to soon. I ordered two books, one signed and one full-fledged signed with a personalization. I received the personalized book (ordered after the just signed book) and haven’t seen the just signed book yet… Anyway to check to see if you sent me two books? My real name is Sasha Prewitt. :) Not sure how else to get in touch with you…maybe Twitter? ;)

  26. Comment by George T. | 12.12.2011 | 11:30 am

    A ‘Race of Uncertainty’ as one stage in the middle of a multi-day tour race would really change the standings on the podium.

  27. Comment by Daniel | 12.12.2011 | 11:30 am

    I’d do a race of uncertainty in a heartbeat! Sounds like tons of fun. :)

  28. Comment by Jank | 12.12.2011 | 11:38 am

    I like the idea; the toughest hurdle would be scheduling time with the wife (significant other) to do the race: “Honey, I’m off to race.” “When will you be home?” “Sometime this month…”

  29. Comment by James Z | 12.12.2011 | 11:42 am

    would I participate? Definitely. would I travel across the country to do so? Probably not. I’m not so certain I would drive 24hrs or buy a plane/train ticket if the race has the CHANCE of only lasting 5 seconds over a distance of 6 feet. If it were something epic (like 100 miles of Rocky Mountain Single track), definitly, but that would be putting constaints on and uncertain race…And that would just be unethical.

  30. Comment by Ryan | 12.12.2011 | 11:42 am

    I have a red bike, and I like cheese. I am totally in.

  31. Comment by Lorraine | 12.12.2011 | 11:44 am

    Congratulations, you have now reproduced in blog form, the basic meat of my most common race nightmare!

    I currently don’t have a mountain bike, so participating might be out for me, but I’d love more than anything to help plan a race like that!

  32. Comment by Tracy W | 12.12.2011 | 11:49 am

    You know, if you translated that to a road ride, it might just describe some of the adventures I’ve managed to get into over the past few years.

    You can accomplish just about the same thing with a half-assed plan for your Saturday ride!

  33. Comment by aBradAbroad | 12.12.2011 | 11:52 am

    I’m in. Its like a slightly civilized version of the Death Race. Don’t forget to include something that makes you do some maintenance on the bike and then portage it.

  34. Comment by Jesse | 12.12.2011 | 11:54 am

    I’d totally do it! …on foot. I can’t go 78 miles on a mountain bike. Or on foot, really, but I could probably go the equivalent time running.

  35. Comment by traildiva | 12.12.2011 | 11:59 am


  36. Comment by sllym | 12.12.2011 | 12:00 pm

    This sounds AWESOME!! As long as I knew anything could happen – I’d be all in.

  37. Comment by Paul Guyot | 12.12.2011 | 12:00 pm

    If there was a road version – which I KNEW was to be a road version – I would do it. I would drive 200 miles to do it. Maybe even fly 1000 miles.

    But I would do it.

    But I don’t have a mtb, so if I got there and it “became” a mtb race, I would have to abandon, which would suck.

    Unless all riders abandoning prior to the start were considered top 10 finishers.

  38. Comment by Rumpled/Jim | 12.12.2011 | 12:02 pm

    Sounds a bit like Hash House Harriers. W/o the beer.

  39. Comment by Mike Kirkham | 12.12.2011 | 12:12 pm

    Wow, this reminds me of Calvin Ball (Calvin and Hobbes)( wiki/Calvin_and_Hobbes#Calvinball)

    I want in.

  40. Comment by Dave T | 12.12.2011 | 12:14 pm

    This has to be the worst idea for a race I have ever heard of! I’m in.

  41. Comment by m burdge | 12.12.2011 | 12:15 pm

    Sounds like a Mysterious Benedict Society event. Which would be cool. Not for me though.

  42. Comment by Jamieson | 12.12.2011 | 12:19 pm

    Join this with the 100 miles of nowhere and you have an epic 2-day stage race.

  43. Comment by Cheree | 12.12.2011 | 12:20 pm

    YES I would. But for runners.

  44. Comment by ClydeinKS | 12.12.2011 | 12:21 pm

    This “race” would be my only chance for a win as I have a Clydesdale engine that is built more for towing weight over long periods of time, not built for speed (except for downhill, of course). I also lack a MTB but would consider some wider tires and give it a go, “don’t give up, don’t ever give up” – Jimmy V.
    Awesome idea!!

    Jeff D

  45. Comment by George | 12.12.2011 | 12:21 pm

    I think I had an anxiety dream just like that recently. Boy, was I happy to wake up!

    Would I participate in a race like this? Sure. Well maybe, gee i don’t know, oh yeah I am in, sorta, perhaps, can I get back with you on that… oh sometime soon, OK?

  46. Comment by 3d brian | 12.12.2011 | 12:22 pm

    I’m not sure…

  47. Comment by Jenni | 12.12.2011 | 12:29 pm

    Absolutely. Positively. Without a doubt. But I don’t mountain bike, so make sure to build in some form of incentive for us newbs should there be a mountain biking portion.

    Also, this idea is somewhat similar to the Spartan Death Race:
    The Spartan Death Race is designed to present you with the totally unexpected, and the totally insane! This endurance race is comprised of mud runs, obstacle racing, trail racing, physical challenges and mental challenges all in a +48 hour adventure race. 90% of you will not complete this endurance race.

    A portion of the Spartan Death Race last year required participants to translate directional signals in Latin (or was it Chinese?) using a dictionary they were required to carry for the entire race. Also, they had to retrieve a hundred pennies from the bottom of a lake. BRILLIANT!! And participants too never know when the race actually starts or ends.

  48. Comment by Kqadams | 12.12.2011 | 12:45 pm

    i wouldn’t go anywhere near it. but a very entertaining account!

  49. Comment by chad | 12.12.2011 | 12:45 pm

    Yes. I would do such a race, and I would hate almost every bit of it…until I forgot all the parts that sucked, then I would look back on it as the best race I had ever done.

  50. Comment by roan | 12.12.2011 | 12:45 pm

    EVIL !

  51. Comment by Dan | 12.12.2011 | 12:47 pm

    We all do this race every day…it’s called LIFE! But the signs are usually better. Great idea for a way to break out of a rut.

  52. Comment by skippy | 12.12.2011 | 12:53 pm

    @Rumpled/Jim it is the Hash House harriers on a bike because ” Fatty” would get a Brewer as Sponsor !
    Good place for this to be set is either at the start of the Giro d’Italia in Denmark or the Le Tour in Belgium , since there will be droves of sponsors and media there and of course the actual racers to participate .
    Scored 10kg of Power bars on TDS in 2004 and they still taste good , my problem is i don’t bonk whilst out riding so don’t chomp on them just to use them .
    Choice of Alpine Skiing or Riding the road race bike since there is not enough snow in the valley to ski tour makes for interesting days recently .
    Georgethecyclist.blogspot did a good post on Fatty’s ” What would you ask the Pro ?”

  53. Comment by DonQuix | 12.12.2011 | 12:56 pm

    Absolutely, The race of uncertainty is also called the Oyster Adventure race and everyone should try it!

  54. Comment by Fliesonly | 12.12.2011 | 12:57 pm

    That’s a tough question. I would assume that you’d have no way of knowing that you’re actually entering a “race of uncertainty”, otherwise it kind defeats the point…no? However, if I found myself in a “race of uncertainty”, I’d like to think that I would absolutely have hated the living crap out of the stupid thing…and would have been cussing a swearing like a sailor the whole time…but also likely would have had a total blast..once I finally crossed the finish line…for real…for the last time.

  55. Comment by roan | 12.12.2011 | 12:58 pm

    Just minutes ago I said “evil”, having thought about it for hummm maybe a nanosecond or few…this sounds like a Team Fatty TransAmerica Ride. OR maybe a large loop lasting…say week, or 2 weeks, or maybe 3. AND non-support volunteers for redirects. The non-support volunteers are there to check that you haven’t pulled a Rosie Ruez.

  56. Comment by eclecticdeb | 12.12.2011 | 12:59 pm

    I’m too much of a wussy-girl (as well as slightly type-A) to do stuff with that much uncertainty. However, that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t like to WATCH people deal with their pain…I’m with Gabi — count me in as a volunteer.

  57. Comment by Geoffrey | 12.12.2011 | 1:08 pm

    Not only do I want to participate, I believe I need to figure out how to run the event locally (I’m in San Diego). I would likely remove some uncertainty leading into the race (start location, for example, and minimum distance), and make it fairly small to start. Also, no pre-reg. That way I would get to enjoy the uncertainty aspect as well (will anyone do this?). There would be an entry cap, maybe.

    This also reminds me of the fun of following gourmet food trucks. Twitter racing? You get tweets of what to do next?

    Sounds fantastic, and a whole lotta fun.

  58. Comment by Onofrio | 12.12.2011 | 1:21 pm

    Already am, it is the biggest race of all. It’s called “Life”.

  59. Comment by Rick | 12.12.2011 | 1:22 pm

    I recently ran a trail race series in September that was similar to your race of uncertainty. Each race had a different challenge that made it unique and a lot of fun.

  60. Comment by hank | 12.12.2011 | 1:27 pm

    After reading your first paragraph, I had the same idea. I would take part in an instant if I wasn’t a poor college student in Appalachialand. You should totally do it. :-)

  61. Comment by Beth | 12.12.2011 | 1:32 pm

    I feel like a kindred spirit with you, as I also freak out when ride plans change mid-ride. I would love to do the Race of Uncertainty! At least you can be certain that you don’t know what’s certain.

  62. Comment by wishiwasmerckx | 12.12.2011 | 1:33 pm

    Only one little problem with your event. ALL powerbars are from 2004.

  63. Comment by Hunter | 12.12.2011 | 1:40 pm

    as long as we can subsitute the velveeta for ANY other kind of cheese, i’m in!

  64. Comment by Golden | 12.12.2011 | 1:42 pm

    It’s like the Haunted House of Races…

  65. Comment by Mateo | 12.12.2011 | 1:43 pm

    Sadist. I could never get my OCD under control enough to deal with it, but would love to spectate. I guess that makes me a sadist-enabler. So be it.

  66. Comment by EternalFootman | 12.12.2011 | 1:53 pm

    I love the idea! Sounds like a ton of fun.

    Actually, it’s a lot like what we do during SCCA winter road rallies (but in cars). You get to the starting point, you’re given directions (line-by-line, not a map!) and you and your co-driver must navigate roads that are often unplowed and rough. But the uncertainty makes it a ton of fun! That’s my winter “sport”…

    So I’d love the opportunity to do the same thing on a bike! (Or running) Love it! Hopefully it’d be close enough…

  67. Comment by Kukui | 12.12.2011 | 2:12 pm

    100% yes! I’m a huge fan of the completely random, and I’m pretty sure this race would rock! =)

  68. Comment by Jeff Bike | 12.12.2011 | 2:13 pm

    I recommend including a little of all sorts of bike racing. Have a little of Road bike, Mountain bike, Cyclecross, Sprint, Timetrial and downhill. The course will include some of all of the types of racing. The rider would be allowed only one bike so it better be able to do a little of all of it. It would be interesting to see what riders will judge to be the best bike for them and their own strengths. For example a road bike may not do too well on cross mountain and a down hiller may be in trouble in a sprint.
    You bring one bike and hope you made the best choice.
    I just don’t know about doing such a race.

  69. Comment by Mark in Ottawa | 12.12.2011 | 2:15 pm

    This is awesome! It’s like the “Choose your own adventure” of bike racing!

    This would totally put the fun back into racing…since there’s no clear goal! I’d so try this (at least once)!

    Mark (in Ottawa, Canada)

  70. Comment by Jeff Bike | 12.12.2011 | 2:18 pm

    By the way South Texas is good racing weather in the winter. From sunny and hot to snow.

  71. Comment by Rich | 12.12.2011 | 2:18 pm

    Actually somebody already does this. It’s called adventure racing. I do these during the summer:

    I’m sure there are some anywhere you can find people who like getting lost in the woods.

  72. Comment by Andy | 12.12.2011 | 2:24 pm

    Absolutely, as long as I had the certainty it would be on road bikes, because I don’t, well, have a mountain bike.

  73. Comment by Mike | 12.12.2011 | 3:02 pm

    Brilliant AND evil, what’s not to love. I’d do it in a heartbeat!

  74. Comment by SFC_MattB | 12.12.2011 | 3:27 pm

    Oooh, and add the “uncertainty” of a Sag Wagon. If you’re in, you’re in! Dunno if I could hack it, but I would sure give it a try…once.

  75. Comment by Cali_Lady | 12.12.2011 | 3:53 pm

    This sounds so wacky and fun! Fatty, it looks like you have plenty who would do this Race of Uncertainty with you. And like other commenters, I would love to be a volunteer. I’d enjoy handing the Fatty-racers their coupons, cheese, dice, and metals! And my favorite would be telling them what their next move is, based on what color their bike is!

    P.S. I’m loving your book! You always crack me up, and your friends on the “Core Team” are a riot! And your footnotes make me laugh out loud hysterically! Hey fellow fatties…if you haven’t purchased his book yet, seriously, you SHOULD! :-)

  76. Comment by Pat from Littleton | 12.12.2011 | 4:00 pm

    I’m in. When and where? This sounds like my training rides, have a general course direction and good luck. Usually 20-25 miles longer than planned.

  77. Comment by Susie H | 12.12.2011 | 4:12 pm

    why, i believe i might be into this…would there be levels??? you know, to separate the beginners from the seasoned???

  78. Comment by Dirk | 12.12.2011 | 4:19 pm

    Sounds awful. Nope.

  79. Comment by Todd | 12.12.2011 | 4:38 pm

    Very novel idea. I’d give it a go. After all the fun is in the adventure.

  80. Comment by Patty | 12.12.2011 | 4:51 pm

    I rode my bike across the country this past summer to raise money for clean water in Africa. Even though it wasn’t a race, every day was a day of uncertainty. We all received maps every morning but, since none of us had done the route, no one knew what to expect or exactly where we were going for the day. Good times.

  81. Comment by TK | 12.12.2011 | 5:19 pm

    Negative. I’d be ticked to go through all the prep work and then find out that I didn’t need most of it. Competition is fun, but only on an even playing field. I’d want to kill someone if I was close to actually winning something and then saw it slip away because I couldn’t eat enough cheese or had a unlucky color of bike. It would be more fun to volunteer (or just be lazy and read the race report) than it would be to actually compete in such and event.

  82. Comment by CaliLori | 12.12.2011 | 5:19 pm

    Sounds like fun-you might be on to something!

  83. Comment by Elisabethvi | 12.12.2011 | 5:45 pm

    I’m having a panic attack just reading about the sample race.
    I’m the type of rider who asks a million questions before the weekly ride: who’s riding, what’s the route, how many miles, how long will we be riding, how many Honey Stinger Waffles do I need to pack, what will the temperature be 40.5 miles into the ride, 1 or 2 water bottles, etc.
    Maybe I could organize registration…you know…alphabetize something, or line up swag bags.
    Gah! I need to plan next weeks ride just to recover from this blog post!

  84. Comment by Rio | 12.12.2011 | 5:47 pm

    Yes! But how about the east coast? Specifically Pennsylvania?

  85. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 12.12.2011 | 6:03 pm

    Not a chance in the world that I would do this event.

  86. Comment by Clydesteve | 12.12.2011 | 6:49 pm

    i dunno…

    I am with Hunter – drop the Velveeta and add a nice swiss or a medium cheddar, plus beer. Then i’m in.

  87. Comment by Bex | 12.12.2011 | 7:35 pm

    This sounds like the Calvinball ( of bike races. I would definitely participate if someone in NYC organized this.

  88. Comment by Ronna | 12.12.2011 | 8:27 pm

    It sounds great! But I don’t see why people are opposed to Velveeta.

  89. Comment by Mike | 12.12.2011 | 9:16 pm

    Do it! Do it!

  90. Comment by Alex | 12.12.2011 | 9:29 pm

    Excellent idea. I love it.

  91. Comment by BamaJim | 12.12.2011 | 9:36 pm

    As others have noted, this does sound like adventure racing, which, in my limited experience, is a really good time. I’d be inclined to put my engineer “I like order” personality on hold and join in the chaos.

  92. Comment by Matt Rose | 12.12.2011 | 9:46 pm

    There’s a running club with groups all over the world. Like, everywhere from Mogadishu to NYC that has a weekly run that kind of follows this philosophy


    At a Hash, one or more members (Hares) lay a trail, which is then followed by the remainder of the group (the Pack or Hounds). The trail often includes false trails, short cuts, dead ends, and splits. These features are designed to keep the pack together regardless of fitness level or running speed, as front-runners are forced to slow down to find the “true” trail, allowing stragglers to catch up.
    Members often describe their group as “a drinking club with a running problem,” indicating that the social element of an event is as important, if not more so, than any athleticism involved. Beer remains an integral part of a Hash, though the balance between running and drinking differs between chapters, with some groups placing more focus on socialising and others on running.

    I’m sure there’s a group near you, you should check it out.

  93. Comment by Jenni | 12.12.2011 | 10:14 pm

    I vote for the inclusion of a zombie field where participants must navigate zombies. I also volunteer to be a zombie.

  94. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 12.12.2011 | 10:16 pm

    Wow Fatty, you’ve definitely hit this out of the park!!!!

    You know that we’ve been asking for a Fatty Festival for some time, I hope this is just one component of a multi day event.

    For those who don’t have MTB’s I’m sure there are enough of us who would bring our spares. {Fatty- add the component that riders switch bikes for a spell- you can ride my 63cm road bike and I’ll clown myself over someone’s 52 ride}(and the MTB equivalent of course, singletracks, rigids, xlrg to xtra sml frames)

    @Rumpled If Fatty sets this up rest assured we’ll be bringing our own beer to Utah.

  95. Comment by MattC | 12.12.2011 | 11:10 pm

    I like it Fatty. You could add in things like “the spinner” (such as from the Twister game…oooh…does that make me OLD knowing that?)…anyway…instead of colors, you get a ‘turnoff’, and at that turnoff you spin again, or draw a card (adding elements of Monopoly…”chance”…the card gives you something to do such as repeat the last segment, or a good thing like a shortcut, or cheesecake (pie?). Or you need to wear your jersey inside out and backwards. Just strange random things. Penalties and gifts throughout…you never know what you are going to get. So along with being a ‘bike race’ of some sort, it’s got tons of pure chance elements. I’m sure you (and us) could come up with thousands of things to possibly add. It would be very strange, and fun, and sadistic/maddening. All in one. Or maybe two? I like David’s idea of switching bikes with some totally random one (meaning cleated pedals would be meaningless…everybody should put platforms on all bikes for this race of uncertainty). Some poor dude could actually end up on a girls bike with a basket on it, maybe riding with Lance even, yet totally looking stylin’! (GRIN!)

  96. Comment by Sylvia | 12.12.2011 | 11:14 pm

    Nope. I ride for fun and to challenge myself. Your game sounds too much like life. Sorry Fatty, it kinda bummed me out.

  97. Comment by MattC | 12.12.2011 | 11:18 pm

    Ya’ know, if you had things like ‘carry a water balloon (or egg) for a segment of required pushing your bike (so you don’t crash riding one handed and have to sue Fatty for his stable of steeds), then when you get to the next ‘checkpoint’ (spin/draw-point?) you have to wait until someone else spins/draws the ‘balloon’ and you give it to them. Unless they had already spun that and were waiting for one to come in…stuff like that. Gosh…this could revolutionize bike racing. Total uncertainty and insanity. On bikes. Sort of.

  98. Comment by LoPhat | 12.12.2011 | 11:19 pm

    This is brilliant. My lack of off-road prowess would prevent me from attending, but I would consider a road version.

  99. Comment by James | 12.12.2011 | 11:22 pm

    Sounds like a great idea – do it!

  100. Comment by Cookster | 12.13.2011 | 2:21 am

    Once you run it in the states, take it on tour. I’ll be the first to sign up for the australian leg.

  101. Comment by Cookster | 12.13.2011 | 2:35 am

    If you can’t take it on tour let me know and a state side holiday might be in order. I need a new MTB, know a good bike shop where I could pick one up?

  102. Comment by John | 12.13.2011 | 4:16 am

    Like Mike and Bex, Calvinball was the first thing I thought of.

    It sounds like fun, but also like a logistic nightmare for the organiser.

  103. Comment by Stephen | 12.13.2011 | 7:22 am

    I’d do it. Once.

  104. Comment by Gretchen | 12.13.2011 | 8:04 am

    In a heartbeat. Love the idea. Life is so uncertain. You have to be prepared mentally to endure life’s twists and turns. Count me in.

  105. Comment by Chad | 12.13.2011 | 8:32 am

    Love the idea! I want in!

  106. Comment by Jess | 12.13.2011 | 8:40 am

    Sounds a bit like this:

    Except this was real…

  107. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 12.13.2011 | 10:56 am

    @MattC Twister and water balloons, cleated, or bikes with baskets. Rest assured it would be a ride(race) where everyone was a winner! (or is that whinner?)

    Surprised how many Fatties out there pedal only ‘one way’. For those Fatty Festival Fun-ten-dees out there who opt out of the RoU, maybe the twins could conduct some MTB skills classes.

    And since we all have opinions of what to have in this event, how ’bout a Hammer component: ‘OFF YOUR BIKE! We’re going for a little run, let’s say 13 mi….make it 14mi.

  108. Comment by plutosdad | 12.13.2011 | 11:22 am

    OT, but i just found this and wanted to share it, it is hilarious. “A bike rider rides for fun, a cyclist rides to feel pain”

  109. Comment by Brett | 12.13.2011 | 12:24 pm

    I like your creativity but that actually sounds terrible. Every occasion when I’ve been in a race and ended up “off course” has made me instantly loose all motivation. Maybe make a scavenger/orienteering race out of it, then it is clear that the course is up to the rider.

  110. Comment by plutosdad | 12.13.2011 | 12:43 pm

    I remember a few years ago the Lake Shore Marathon was marked with the wrong distance, had missing water stations, and was basically horrible. That marathon is not around (since it was never run very well) but i read a funny editorial by Hal Higdon that said basically “when I was running all races were like that”

  111. Comment by Chromatonic | 12.13.2011 | 1:21 pm

    How about: only 1 bike can be brought to the start, and it must have only 1 gear. Make it part CX, part alleycat, part alpine stage, part desert scramble. I know just the place…

  112. Comment by Chris | 12.13.2011 | 2:26 pm

    all of our life is a race of uncertainty.

    Last year I had a tough off-road triathlon, so tough I wanted to quit the sport. I finished only 1 of 2 cycling laps and 1 of 2 running laps. This was a training race for a more difficult one later in the summer. I almost quit but I gutted it out. It felt like the worst performance ever. A couple days later, money showed up in my bank account and I got a second place medal in the post. You just don’t know the ending until the whole story is written. 2010-08-28%25252014.29.57.jpg

  113. Comment by Suzanne | 12.13.2011 | 4:07 pm

    absolutely, sounds somewhat like an urban assault ride. what a blast

  114. Comment by davidh-marinca | 12.13.2011 | 4:30 pm

    @plutosdad Thanks for the link. While rather long and in need of an editor, it definitely sums up the life of a cyclist. (surprisingly my tandem partner just told me about this video on our ride this morning)

    Also, I hope Pluto is the dog????

  115. Comment by Michael | 12.13.2011 | 5:21 pm

    I’d be in if you did multiple categories (Beginner/clydesdale ~10 miles), or I’d volunteer to help out. Corner Canyon would be the perfect place! And from there you could start out either road or MTB.

  116. Comment by GrizzlyAdam | 12.13.2011 | 5:45 pm

    The Race of Uncertainty would very quickly become The Race of Profanity.

  117. Comment by The Bike Nazi | 12.14.2011 | 9:26 am

    Please please put this race on! And ask racers to do guest posts! Great idea and so entertaining! Would I do it? If there was one in PA, NJ, MD, or DE yes!

  118. Comment by evil3 | 12.14.2011 | 2:49 pm

    I would sell my soul to take part in a race like that. Although I do know that if you (fatty) were to put it on, I would have about a 90% chance that it would be a MTB race. ;)

  119. Comment by Graham | 12.15.2011 | 2:34 pm

    I’m strictly a transpo and recreational rider, but this sounds like a hilarious event. Calvinball, indeed! If I could participate in this ride, I promise to do it on my beach cruiser and wear my Calvinball mask so that everyone would know that I was serious.


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