I Think I’m In Trouble

07.11.2012 | 2:01 pm

2012_T6_FatCyclistv8_F1.jpgA “Hey, Buy This Awesome Stuff I’m Selling” Note from Fatty: We are now smack-dab in the middle of the pre-order week for 2013 FatCyclist gear. And if I do say so myself, this year’s design is the perfect storm of bold, fun, beautiful, and meaningful.

Today, I’d like to point out the centerpiece of the 2013 collection: the jersey itself. It’s a full-zip jersey, and designed to work with a white full zipper perfectly. It’s a bold design, both back and front.

As you drop other riders and they see “FATCYCLIST.com” as you ride away, they will remember you.

Oh yes. They will.

And for those few guys who are balking at the pink: get ahold of yourself. It’s a black-and-white jersey, with a pink accent. And that pink is there for a reason.

If someone dares accuse you of not being manly enough when you’re wearing this jersey, it’s not because of the jersey.

That’s all I’m going to say on that matter.

Men, order this jersey here. Women, order it here. You will be so glad you did.

And so will I. Because you’ll be helping me with some pretty important projects.

A Note to big guys who want a Fat Cyclist Jersey: The Fat Cyclist mens’ jersey goes up to XXXL, and the guys at Twin Six say it should fit a guy up to 320 pounds. Try it out, and if it doesn’t work, return it.

I Think I’m In Trouble

Last year, Burke Swindlehurst launched a new race: “The Crusher in the Tushars.” It wasn’t just a new race, though, it was a new kind of race: “Roadirt,” where you have to plan on covering pavement, dirt road and even singletrack in a single race.

Lots of climbing (10,500 feet). Lots of riding (69 miles). All in an area that is unfamiliar to me, but fairly close to where I live.

Interesting, to say the least.

I wanted to do the race, but couldn’t — I was committed to be the at (sponsoring, in fact) the Tour de Donut.

This year, it looked like the same thing was going to happen. But then The Rotary Club changed the date of the Tour de Donut (for my benefit, amazingly enough), and I was in.

So here’s the thing.

I have friends — Rick Sunderlage (not his real name), SkiBikeJunkie and Grizzly Adam — who have made this the focus of their year. Indeed, I believe that Grizzly Adam has made this race the focus of his entire existence.

And due to the unique nature of this race, they’ve all chosen to ride cyclocross bikes, which makes total sense. Especially since they all race cyclocross.

So you know what? I got myself a Specialized TriCross Elite Disc Apex Compact. The name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but I think it’ll be a great bike for the race:


And here’s my artistic shot, showing off the soft glow of aluminum (and the name of the bike):


This is a beautiful bike, and I’m excited to learn how to use it, and to someday be good at racing it.

But right now, I feel like a complete dope on the thing.

This isn’t the bike’s fault. The bike is just fine.

It’s me. I don’t know how to ride a cross bike, and I haven’t taken the time to learn. So far, in fact, I’ve taken this bike on only one long ride. About 75 miles, a mix of road and dirt, with 10,250 feet of climbing.

You can check it out on Strava if you like, but I’ll be happy to give you the short version instead:

I was a disaster.

Sure, I climbed OK, although I kept wishing I had my hands on flat bars, where I’m used to them being for dirt climbing.

Descending was the real problem. I was insanely cautious and uncomfortable descending on those narrow tires with my hands in the drops. Suddenly, I had a sensation I have not had on a bike in at least ten years: the sense of being a complete and utter novice.

I didn’t know what I was doing. It was that simple.

A Decision

I was staring at a very uncomfortable truth: this is a very good bike for this race, but I am a very lame rider on this bicycle.

So I started doing what came natural. Specifically, I started rationalizing.

“You know,” I said to The Hammer, whose job it is to listen to all of my rationalizations (a more-or-less full-time job), “The bike I really, truly love riding more than any other bike right now is my Specialized Stumpjumper 29er Singlespeed. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so perfect on a bike. Maybe I should ride that bike at the Crusher.”

I continued, looking for a way to turn this from a move of cowardice to something more heroic. “I think this race would be more challenging on a singlespeed anyway,” I said.

“Ride whatever bike you want,” said The Hammer, who is riding her Superfly hardtail MTB, just like she does at every mountain bike race, and isn’t making a fuss about it.

“OK,” I said. “I’m going to ride the singlespeed.”

An Un-Decision

And I was comfortable with that decision. That SS and I belong together. I am comfortable on it, I climb well on it, I descend reasonably on it.

Then, yesterday while The Hammer and I were out on an early morning ride, I started thinking.

This course is completely new to me. I don’t have anything to prove on it, apart — maybe — that I can finish it.

Also, if I want to learn to ride a different and new kind of bike on a different and new kind of course, then I’m actually going to have to go out on that new bike and ride it on that new course.

And then, finally, the thing in the back of my mind came to the front of my mind:

I’m racing on the singlespeed because I’m chicken.

Specifically, I’m chicken to be new at something, to be at the bottom of an uphill climb. I’d rather ride a bike — a singlespeed mountain bike — that is about as unperfect for the ride as possible than be a novice again.

I’ve become so used to being an old hand at riding that I’ve become fearful of what it would be like to be a novice again. To go back to the beginning.

How can I be that way and at the same time be the guy who constantly encourages people to start riding, to do this new thing in spite of the difficulty and probably embarrassment they’re going to encounter?

How is it possible I just wrote such a long and convoluted sentence?

So I reversed myself. I’m going to ride this CX bike I’m still new and clumsy on. I’m going to be passed by scores of people on the first downhill, and will never see them again during the race.

Instead of being the pretty-good, experienced, sport-level racer, I’m going to be a total goofball novice. Again. And I’m going to make big, stupid mistakes and basically learn to ride a bike.

I’m going to own my inexperience. Embrace it, even. All while I’m riding 70 miles, and doing 10K feet of climbing.

I believe that I will come back with quite a story.


  1. Comment by Rick S | 07.11.2012 | 2:23 pm

    I’ll see you in Beaver….hehehe.

  2. Comment by 7d brian | 07.11.2012 | 2:33 pm

    7 donuts – you see that – much better than 3!

    Hmmm, Fatty predicting before a race how poorly he is going to do at it…

    Never seen that before!

    Congratulations on overcoming your fears and riding the cyclecross machine – I think all of us are intimidated exactly by that sort of thing and hold ourselves back.

  3. Comment by ScottR | 07.11.2012 | 2:35 pm

    I’m hoping to do some cross racing for the first time this fall, if my son gets fully off the vent. Excited by both ideas.

    Nice looking setup.

  4. Comment by AKChick55 | 07.11.2012 | 2:35 pm

    Yay! I’m so excited. I LOVE MY CROSS bike. LOVE. More than I should love a bike. I rode it in Davis. When I tested it, it felt FAST. My bike is a women’s specific Giant TCX-W (no disc brakes – boo hoo). I ride with 700×28 tires – pretty wide for a riding on roads, but oh so much more comfy. I haven’t ridden it offroad much cause I’m a novice at offroad and I also have some of the same fears you do about being clipped in on a bike with road handlebars and skinny tires (lets face it, 700×28 doesn’t compare to 26×1 or 2 that I run on my Gary Fisher Tassajara mtb). And no disk brakes. I don’t trust little rubber pads on aluminum rims to stop very well when wet or muddy. But I do plan on going to some local cyclocross races this fall because I hear the same thing – everyone has fun no matter what their skill level. Everyone finishes, usually muddy and always grinning ear to ear. I originally bought a cross bike because we travel to Hawaii every year and I wanted a road and off-road bike. The cross was the perfect solution – change out the pedals and tires and off you go. Plus, with the compact crankset, I can climb almost as well on my cross as I can on my mtb (though I’m not good a climbing – at all).

    Can’t wait to hear how you do. I suspect that you’ll probably get used to the cyclocross bike and love it. I can’t wait to hear about the race. :)

  5. Comment by Dingbat | 07.11.2012 | 2:36 pm

    Crash on it a couple times; you’ll learn all about it! In seriousness, I’ve found that my cross bike behaves a lot better if I consciously/deliberately initiate turns with countersteer.

  6. Comment by Jeremy G | 07.11.2012 | 2:37 pm

    Don’t take this wrong Fatty, but the only other people who rationalize performing well in a sporting event- before the event- are the French.

    Saying you’ll do poorly on a bike in a bike race is just like the French swimmer saying they don’t think they will swim well in the Olympics because they have to swim in water.

    Just do it… tell the story when you’re done and man up.

    PS: Can’t wait for my new jersey to arrive.

    Don’t take this the wrong way, Jeremy, but the “man up” thing makes no sense at all here. I’m describing a thought process, as well as how and why I came to a decision. – FC

  7. Comment by AKChick55 | 07.11.2012 | 2:38 pm

    Also, I tried all the cross bikes Specialized made when I was searching for a cross bike. The only company that made one small enough for me was Giant. And the Specialized just didn’t FEEL right. It felt large and clunky and I felt large and clunky on it. No offense to them. They should come out with a women’s specific bike. :)

  8. Comment by Jeremy G | 07.11.2012 | 2:38 pm

    Don’t take this wrong Fatty, but the only other people who rationalize NOT performing well in a sporting event- before the event- are the French.

    Saying you’ll do poorly on a bike in a bike race is just like the French swimmer saying they don’t think they will swim well in the Olympics because they have to swim in water.

    Just do it… tell the story when you’re done and man up.

    PS: Can’t wait for my new jersey to arrive.

  9. Comment by Clancy | 07.11.2012 | 2:40 pm

    Love it!!

    Here’s some ideas: Lend your stumpy SS 29er to someone who lives far away so you can’t ride it and then make yourself ride the cross-bike (instead of the other half-dozen mtn bikes you have).

    And when you do ride your regular road bike, make an effort to spend more time in the drops. I’ve been doing that on my road bike and was shocked at how different it felt on high-speed descents – BUT I’m starting to prefer being in the drops now.

    I wanna try cross, but I’ve been afraid.. I think you may have just motivated me. :)

  10. Comment by rrose | 07.11.2012 | 2:41 pm

    Is it possible to not adore Fatty? I think not!*

    *thanks, Johan.

    Ride whichever you want, be a novice (hah, as if that’s even possible!), have a hoot, bring back a great story . . . we’ll all thank the Rotary.

  11. Comment by NW Biker | 07.11.2012 | 3:05 pm

    I thought that picture looked familar! I have that bike…well, I mean I have one, too. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. When I bought it last year, I took it out for a test ride and didn’t want to go back. It’s that much fun to ride. I bought it for riding in the Oregon winters (think rain), so now it has shiny silver fenders and good lights on it. It’s sort of a shame to have a cross bike that doesn’t get to ride a cross course, but maybe someday….

  12. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 07.11.2012 | 3:07 pm

    You’re welcome. Good job on the Tri-dem by the way!

  13. Comment by TK | 07.11.2012 | 3:13 pm

    Unless you have a realistic shot at winning the event, the best reason to ride such course is to have a great story to tell afterwards.

    Since you probably don’t have a shot at the title (based on the riders I have heard are planning on being there), go with the bike that will give you the most entertaining/memorable story.

    The Hammer should ride whichever bike she rides fastest, because she might be able to win it all.

  14. Comment by TK | 07.11.2012 | 3:15 pm

    By the way, that aluminum fork looks like it is brutally rigid. My wrists ache just looking at it. Are there any carbon forks out there with disc mounts?

  15. Comment by Hergules | 07.11.2012 | 3:50 pm

    10k of climbing on a SS…. Does it have a motor in the seat tube?

    You’ve got to haul the bike and yourself up the mountain one way or the other. Once you get used to a particular gearing, it’s not any harder to do it that way than in a lighter gearing.

    This is only true up to a point, of course.

    - FC

  16. Comment by FujiPixie13 | 07.11.2012 | 4:10 pm

    I think this post makes you amazing, FC. I love your thought process and how you describe it, including the “behind the scenes” peek into your mind. I cannot wait to read the story you come back with from this ride with the Specialized TriCross. You simply ROCK.

  17. Comment by GrizzlyAdam | 07.11.2012 | 4:23 pm

    Good choice.

    And guess what? That first descent of the race, is the only descent!

  18. Comment by NW Biker | 07.11.2012 | 4:34 pm

    As for the pink, there’s a guy around here somewhere that I’ve seen several times riding a hot pink bike. I think that thing probably glows in the dark, it’s that bright. So what’s a little pink on a jersey, especially since it’s there for a reason.

  19. Comment by Steven | 07.11.2012 | 4:58 pm

    Aside from silly discussion of how “manly” it is to wear or not wear pink, I simply do not like the color. I also don’t like the color red. Therefore I do not own any red or pink clothing and I am not sure not buying a jersey can be used as an indictment of one’s personality.

    You’re absolutely right; it’s silly to discuss the manliness of a color. If you don’t want pink on your jersey cuz you just don’t like the color pink, that is not even something that can be argued. However, you need to reconsider your thinking on not liking red, because that’s the color of winning. – FC

  20. Comment by Amy | 07.11.2012 | 5:01 pm

    This post is giving me courage to buy the kit. I’ve been cycling less than a year and was worried someone would mistake me for a serious athlete if I showed up in an actual team kit. But if you can ride like a total goofball novice in the kit – why can’t I?

  21. Comment by Steven | 07.11.2012 | 5:33 pm

    When I exercise I turn the color red, wearing red compounds this in a way that is beyond unflattering. Ever seen a lobster wear a red sweater? Didn’t think so.

    Well, if you yourself are red, that should be sufficient. – FC

  22. Comment by EdwinH | 07.11.2012 | 6:10 pm

    Following up on TK’s remark about the rigid fork and aching wrists: how’s your elbow Fatty? Or was it the computer mouse? Anyways, hope it’s back to 100%

  23. Comment by Spiff | 07.11.2012 | 6:39 pm

    Some thoughts on bike set-up:
    - Swap out the stem for one with more rise. It’ll move the drops up higher and you’ll have less of the over-the-bars feeling.
    - You might try a handlebar with some flare to it, e.g. Salsa Cowbell, Ragley Luxy, etc. They tend to be a bit wider than a normal drop bar and wider = better on singletrack.
    - Go tubeless with wider tires, if you haven’t already.

    Of course, the race is just a few days away, so now’s not the time to be monkeying around. But maybe for next year…

  24. Comment by Rob | 07.11.2012 | 6:44 pm

    Spiff said it, get a stem with more rise, set the bike up so when you’er in the drops your hand position is closer to what you’d have on your mtb bike. A CX bike set up like a road bike is going to suck big time in a long off-road race.

  25. Comment by MattC | 07.11.2012 | 7:42 pm

    Fatty, you (and by you I mean Racer) can flip the stem and if possible add a spacer or 2. That will very quickly get you a a nice bit of rise in your hand position in the drops.

    Nice looking bike…this is what, #27 in your stable? Sheesh…I’m doing something horribly wrong.

  26. Comment by MattC | 07.11.2012 | 7:45 pm

    And uhmmm, your front disc cable is looking rather dangerous w/ no zip-tie hanging that close to the spokes. LOVE the internal cable routing…looks very aero! (and aero is COOL!) Are you sure you don’t own a bike shop?

  27. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 07.11.2012 | 9:39 pm

    @Amy at 5:01 pm. Get the kit,enjoy! No one’s ever mistaken me for a “serious athelete’ while kitted up. I smile with pride when someone shouts “GO FATTY” while I’m riding along….slowly.

    Fatty, if you don’t feel comfortable on that new bike try the Unicycle.. you’ve had that a lot longer, I bet you’re an expert by now. :-)

  28. Comment by Michael | 07.11.2012 | 10:03 pm

    I guess that’s the question: Is it set up more like your road bike or your mountain bike? Because, obviously, you aren’t going to descend on it like you would a road bike (even though they both have drop bars); you’re going to need to descend like it’s a mountain bike—with your rear hanging off the back of the seat. Heck, maybe racer could engineer some kind of last-minute flatbar setup(?), or perhaps a wider drop bar(?). Otherwise, I think your best bet is to take the bike to some singletrack (assuming your trails aren’t all scorched) and teach yourself to handle it on some loose corners.

    It has those brakes on the tops. Maybe you should be trying to use those instead of your regular brake handles. I would think the drops would put your center of gravity over your front wheel—particularly with the way you have them rotated forward. On loose ground, you want your weight over your rear wheel—particularly since you don’t have any suspension to rely on.

    Just brainstorming. Good luck, regardless.

  29. Comment by Kristina | 07.11.2012 | 10:56 pm

    Awesome race! Though I wonder if I should point out a key sentence in the Grizzly Adam post you linked to… “That is, the best bike for the Crusher is the bike that each rider was most confident and comfortable riding.”

    Then again, since when does the beloved, award-winning FC follow the conventional, tested, recommended path?! Good luck, and have a GREAT time!

  30. Comment by Jenn | 07.12.2012 | 12:21 am

    You only learn or grow when you’re outside of your comfort zone, my friend. Good on ya. I look forward to hearing an injury-free, growth- & learning-infused race report!

  31. Comment by Bicycle Bill | 07.12.2012 | 3:15 am

    Fatty — come with me, back in time.  Back to when we were both kids (OK, I’m going to be going back a bit further than you are; let’s not belabor the point).  But remember when you got your first bike? It wasn’t specific; it was just a bike.  It might have even been a hand-me-down from an older brother.

    But it was *YOUR* bike.  You rode it over all kinds of surfaces, in all kinds of conditions.  It might even have gotten left outside overnight and got rained on.  So you squirted some 3-in-1 oil on the chain until it stopped squeaking, got back on, and rode it some more.

    But do you also remember just how much dambed fun it was?

    Approach this new challenge with that same sense of adventure.  Release the young Fatty that still hides in you, and just have fun with it.


  32. Comment by bacmapei | 07.12.2012 | 5:53 am

    Thanks for another piece of inspiration. I commute on a ‘08 Tricross Comp (carbon fork and seat stays back then). Just bought a base Stumpy Comp 29 this spring as I have never mountain biked. Flipped over my handlebar on my second trail. Age 39 and getting passed by kids on 16 & 20″ wheel rigids. I love time on my bikes and your post will help push me to keep trying the trails and gaining confidence on my Stumpy.

  33. Comment by DanD | 07.12.2012 | 7:47 am

    Let me add my voice to the “raise the bars” crowd. My “do everything” bike is an older tri-cross with the bars up (flipped stem and spacers), and I have yet to find conditions I can’t ride it in. With the cross brakes and wider bars, you can ride it on the flats if you need to, or drop into (most of) a tuck for some speed.

  34. Comment by Christina | 07.12.2012 | 8:00 am

    I recently got a new bike that forced me to balance in a whole new way. I spent a lot of time jamming my foot into the ground, because I was nervous. I felt like I was five again. I ended up using that bike for 100MoN and I was forced to get over the screaming sensation in my throat. It’s not perfect; I still close my eyes when it gets scary.

    Ride well. You always do.

  35. Comment by Steve Lovejoy | 07.12.2012 | 10:27 am

    Fatty, I am right there with you. I’m your age. Been riding road bikes forever. Just bought a used mountain bike to ride with the kids around the neighborhood. Took it out last Friday to try single track. Way different that calm asphalt. I am learning body-positioning on hills, better balance and more shifting gears. I crashed and bled. Part of learning. Good luck!. I know I’m going to need it.

  36. Comment by Eric L | 07.12.2012 | 10:59 am

    Pink = Giro Leader. Given how tough and hazardous the Giro’s become in the last few seasons, pink is now a hard-man’s color.

    Have fun on the cross bike Fatty, it’s a fun change – like Mtn. Bike lite. Sounds like you could use an antique Hite Rite for your descents. I’ve got one on my ancient mtn bike and it works simply and effectively. You rarely seem them anymore.

  37. Comment by Jeremy | 07.12.2012 | 12:49 pm

    Old, broken-in shoes vs. new shoes. One pair you are used to and have formed to your gait and your gait has formed to them; the other will provide new experiences and new life to your runs, but might hurt a little the first few times out. Wait, I just made a running analogy to bikes. I need to go self-flagellate.

  38. Comment by mwmike | 07.13.2012 | 8:09 am

    Get your ass out and practice a little. “It’s like riding a bike”.

  39. Comment by Rob | 07.13.2012 | 10:37 am

    Throw some flat bars on that bad boy and rock it. Cross bikes have finally caught up to disc brakes, flat bars need to be next!


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