A “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.
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.
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.”
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.