Race Report: 2012 Crusher in the Tushar, The Movie

07.16.2012 | 6:50 am

jacket.jpgA “The Pre-Order Ends Tomorrow” Note from Fatty: After the rainy race I just did, the FatCyclist gear item I absolutely positively must highlight today is the windshell jacket. See, on the day of the race we were looking at 60% chance of rain, for the whole day. And in fact, when the race started, it was raining, and pretty windy too.

But I didn’t want to wear a full-on waterproof rain jacket on a day that — even when rainy — was still going to be warm. So I went with my FatCyclist windshell jacket over short sleeves and arm warmers.

And it was the perfect combination.

I started the race wearing the jacket. About eight miles into the race, the rain stopped and — without having to stop or even slow down — I was able to strip the jacket off and stuff it into my jersey pocket.

Later in the day when the rain started again, the jacket went on. And then came off again.

So is this a rain jacket? No. It won’t keep you dry in a full-on downpour. But it’s definitely rain-resistant. I can vouch for that. And it’s great for wind. And since it has a zipper that goes up as well as one that goes down, you can easily unzip from the bottom when you need to get to stuff in your jersey pockets.

If you don’t have a wind jacket, you need one. And this is a great one to get.

2012 Crusher in the Tushar, The Movie

Evidently, I’m very susceptible to peer pressure. I say this because last year after Grizzly Adam and Ski Bike Junkie went on and on about how much they loved the Crusher in the Tushar, I decided I had to do it.

This in spite of the fact that this course — due to its unique mix of pavement and high-mountain dirt roads — is designed for a kind of riding I don’t have a ton of experience in.

And by “riding I don’t have a ton of experience in,” I mean “no experience whatsoever.”

But, gamely (and by “gamely,” I mean “lamely”), I got a Specialized TriCross Elite Disc Apex Compact, knowing that I definitely defintely wanted disc brakes for the monstrous 4000+ foot washboarded descent that is the centerpiece of the race.

Unless it’s the two 4000+ foot climbs that are the centerpieces of the race. I dunno. How many centerpieces can a race have?

Wanting to run at a lower pressure than tubes would allow, I asked Racer to swap out the stock rims with Stans Notubes 340s. He also put on some knobby Hutchinson tires, so I (hopefully!) wouldn’t slide out all over the place.

So check out the bike, sitting warm and cozy in my hotel room, just an hour or so before the race begins:


In particular, check out the cockpit of this bike:

IMG_5282 - Version 2.jpg

It looks a little busy, what with the race plate and the extra brake levers, but I’m actually showing off some pretty awesome stuff the good folks at AceCo Sport Group sent me. First, the K-Edge Computer Mount for Garmin Edge:


I loved how solid this mount locks the computer in place, and centers it just in front of the stem, so you don’t have to look so far down to see the computer. In my case, this was a bad thing, because it meant that I had way too easy a time noticing that I was, once again, climbing at 2mph.


The thing I was really excited about, though, was that I just got a GoPro HD Hero2 as my new helmetcam. I didn’t want the weight of a camera sitting on top of my helmet for the whole ride, though, so I mounted it with a K-Edge Go Big Pro Handlebar Mount:


I then set up the GoPro to film upside down, as well as to do one-touch filming, where the camera begins filming as soon as you turn it on. That way I could conserve battery power during the ride, but not have to take extra steps when I wanted to film. Turn the camera on to start filming, turn the camera off to stop filming. Easy.

The Movie

Okay, with all that out of the way, how about I show you the movie? I’ll embed it below, but really recommend you watch it over at the Vimeo site, where you can see it all not-shrunken-down-like. For the lazy among you, though, here it is:

I captioned the thing pretty much to death, so it doesn’t just seem like a bunch of random bike-riding video sequences.

I love the image quality of the GoPro, and am really digging how easy it is to start/stop filming with the handlebar mount (especially when I run the resultant video through image stabilization); I’m going to start using this in combination with a lot of my rides.

So expect more video from me soon.

PS: Tomorrow, I’ll begin telling the story of the race in excruciating detail.


Free Verse Friday: Panicky Scrambling the Day Before a Race

07.13.2012 | 7:10 am

201207082022.jpgA Note from Fatty: As you may have noticed, we are down to the last few days of the 2013 FatCyclist.com gear pre-order. And there is certainly plenty of nice gear to order.

But what if you don’t have a ton of money to spend on a jersey and shorts right now?

Well, in that case, allow me to recommend you get yourself the FatCyclist Cycling Cap. It’s a nice wicking material — the same material used in the jerseys — that’ll fit well under your helmet.

It looks great with formalwear, too.

And at $25, it costs less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. (Provided the Starbucks is in Disneyland and you get a slice of banana bread to go with it, but you get the point.).

One size fits most. (And if you get it and it turns out you’re not one of the “most,” you can either return it or rejoice in the fact that you have just done some of your Christmas shopping really early and without even really trying.)

Click here for more info and to order, if you’d be so kind.

Panicky Scrambling the Day Before a Race

Tomorrow is the day
The day of the race
The Crusher in the Tushar
The first important endurance race
Of the year
Let us celebrate with song!


I am a fool
Such a fool
How is it possible that I am such a fool?

Have I not known?
Is not the date on my calendar circled?
Have not my friends
And my wife
Talked and written of little else
For nigh on many months?
(In Grizzly Adam’s case)
Or at least weeks?
(In everyone else’s case)  


If I have known
Then why is it
I have not begun packing
Why is it
I have not studied the course?
Why is it
I sit here
Writing poetry
Poetry which I well know
Has no artistic merit

Why do I sit here still?
I should be
Making a pile
Containing the things
I need for the ride!

(For the love of all that’s good in the world do not forget the jersey!)
CarboRocket 333!
(I cannot believe that for a moment I forgot glasses)
GoPro Hero 2 Camera!
(Yes! I have a new helmetcam!)  
K-Edge mounts!
(Yes! I got some nice aftermarket mounts!)
HoneyStinger Waffles
HoneyStinger Energy Chews

And I’m pretty sure
There is something else
I have forgotten


I am sure!
That is
I am sure there is something
Something important!
That I have forgotten
For I know myself
Well enough
To know
There is always something
I have forgotten
The only question
Is how important

So why do I sit here
Typing, typing
As if I have nothing better to do?

Is it because I fear this race?
I do not fear this race
For I do not know enough to fear it
And perhaps
That is what I fear
I will line up
Dumb and happy
And then be crushed
Utterly and completely
By all and sundry
And by “sundry” I of course
mean the course.


That is what I had forgotten
The bike.
Or at least
That is one of the things I had forgotten
You know
As well as I
That if you remember something
Before you leave
It was not really
The thing you have forgotten

I am not prepared
I am not prepared
I am not prepared
I am screwed.

Thank you.  

After the Fire

07.12.2012 | 11:13 am

bibs.jpgA “The FatCyclist Gear Pre-Order Is Ending Soon” Note From Fatty: I really can’t overemphasize how important a good pair of bibshorts is to making your ride more comfortable.

OK, that’s not strictly true. I could overemphasize it pretty easily, to be honest. I could say something like, “The only way you will ever have fun riding a bike is if you wear a good pair of bibshorts! If you don’t wear bibshorts, you are bound to suffer horribly, even during the shortest rides! And people will make fun of you and your friends will never call you again!”

And I could go on.

But my point is, a good pair of bib shorts — whether you’re a man or woman — does some really good things for your riding experience:

  • They don’t have anything cinching around your waist, which is really nice
  • They keep the chamois snug against your butt
  • They de-muffintop you, which is really really nice for some of us
  • They make it so that you never have a gap between your shorts and jersey, showing off your no-doubt beautifully pale midsection.

Every pair of bibshorts I own are FatCyclist.com bibs. And they’re all fantastic. The ones I have that are four years old are still going strong. They’re comfortable and they’re long-lasting. I’ve been out on many all-day rides with these, and have never had a problem.

Seriously, these are good bibs. And they’re a good price, too. Men, order your bibs here. Women, order your bibs here.  

And while you’re at it, be sure to check out the other 2013 FatCyclist gear available for pre-order now.

After the Fire

Lambert Park isn’t all that big, as far as mountain bike parks go. But it’s close to home, it’s rideable about ten months out of the year, and it has an amazing amount of fantastic trail packed into the space available.

It’s where I filmed one of my favorite videos of all time:

It’s a great place to head out on a family hike:


And it’s also where the fire that scorched the mountain close to my house started. Here are a few pictures, taken from my back porch over the course of just a couple hours, as the fire worked its way across the side of the mountain:




The fire looks especially freaky as night comes on:



We were lucky, though. After just two days of the fire we got a good rainstorm, which — along with the amazing efforts of the firefighters — pretty much stopped the fire in its tracks. No (human) homes lost.

Of course, now the mountain looks like the Crack of Doom:


But that’ll all — eventually — grow back. And the smoke smell that dominated the area has faded nicely into the background. Or maybe we’ve just gotten used to it.

Anyway, with the fire mostly out (on a windy night earlier this week, we could see a couple of flare-ups), we wanted to see:

What’s Lambert Park like now?

Well, it’s pretty weird. And instructive and interesting, in its own way.

It’s So . . . Small

Until now, Lambert Park was always really thick with scrub oak, so you could never see more than a few yards ahead of you. Strangely, having those bushes and trees all around you made you feel like you were in a really big place. Because you couldn’t see very far — but everywhere you looked there was trees and trail — your mind tricked you into the feeling that they went on forever, in every direction.

Now, however, big chunks of the mountain and the trail are laid bare:


You can see the trail and the direction it goes all the way up — or down — the slope. Suddenly, instead of the sense of riding in a big forested area, you see how close the switchbacks are to each other, and what a short distance it is from where you are to where you’re riding to.

The illusion of “bigness” is gone.


I don’t normally spend a lot of time thinking about plants as living things. I just think about them as plants.

That changes, though, when you see a bunch of them together, burned and black:


It’s spooky. And sad.


Thanks to dividing trails and roads and — as far as I know — efforts of firefighters, there are big chunks of Lambert Park that haven’t been burned at all. Including my favorite parts: Rodeo and Spring. This is from yesterday:


When you’re in this part of the park, it’s like nothing ever happened.


One of the very oddest things about riding through Lambert Park after the fire, though, was seeing what the fire took, and what it left behind.

Something as narrow as a dirt road or a trail seems to have been enough, sometimes, to stop the fire, so one side of the trail would be completely burned away, while the other side would still be green:


The sudden changes, as we’d cross over these barriers between green and burnt mountain, was really startling, every time. Like when you jump into a pool.

But in reverse.

You’re in one world, and then you’re in another.


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.

2013 FatCyclist Gear: Available for Pre-Order Now

07.9.2012 | 8:10 am

My annual meeting with the guys at Twin Six was heating up. “We need an awesome idea for the 2013 FatCyclist jersey design,” I said, between bites of ice cream. “Something that looks awesome and modern, yet resonates with the Friends of Fatty.”

I ate a spoonful of vanilla ice cream. Delicious.

“How about something with flames?” I suggested.

The dead silence on the other end of the phone told me everything I needed to know. I ate a spoonful of chocolate ice cream, and wondered which I preferred: vanilla or chocolate?

“You know, we could put a horn on the horse and call it a unicorn, then say the jersey has magical slimming properties.”

The Twin Six guys chuckled, politely.

I had another bite of vanilla. Just to see whether it was better than chocolate. But honestly, there was no way to tell. They’re both perfect.

“Maybe this year we should have the jersey feature a big picture of me on the front,” I said. “After all, I’m quite famous and award-winning, not to mention handsome.”

No,” replied Brent and Ryan, emphatically.

I had a bite of strawberry ice cream, thinking about the strange fact that in a carton of Neapolitan ice cream, it’s always the strawberry ice cream that gets eaten last.

“All the more for those of us who like every flavor,” I thought to myself.

And that’s when it hit me.

“Guys,” I said. “I’ve got it.”


“The 2013 jersey,” I said, impressively, with dramatic pauses placed appropriately, “will bring back pink, and it shall be known, far and wide, as the Neapolitan.”

2013 FatCyclist Jersey (Men’s Version and Women’s Version)

OK, actually I just made that whole story up. I didn’t notice the Neapolitan connection ’til someone mentioned it in Friday’s blog post. But it’s a good one, so I’m going to do my best to adopt it as my own.

But whether or not you’re a fan of Neapolitan ice cream, you’ve got to admit that the new 2013 Fat Cyclist jersey looks pretty darned cool (like ice cream is cool, get it? Ha). Here’s the front:


Seriously, the reason I brought back pink for the jerseys is that I’m planning on making the fight against cancer a massive focus in my life in this upcoming year, in particular with a couple of big book projects: Fight Like Susan (the book about Susan’s fight with cancer), and The Caretaker’s Companion (the  writing and fundraising projects.

When you buy any of the FatCyclist gear here, you’re helping me out with those projects. So thank you. In advance

Anyway, check out the back of this year’s jersey:


And here are the details:

  • 100% Soft Polyester Microfiber
  • White full zipper
  • Three deep back pockets
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Inside collar reads “FIGHT LIKE SUSAN”

So, you want to get one, don’t you? Wonderful. Here’s where to order:

2013 Bibshorts (Men’s Version and Women’s Version)

As a rule I am opposed to telling stories without heavily embellishing them (i.e., without lying). In this one instance, however, I’ll make an exception: For the past three years or so, the only bibshorts I have worn are ones I’ve gotten from Twin Six. I wear them, without difficulty or discomfort for 100-mile road bike rides pretty much every week.

I wear these shorts for the Leadville 100. And the Rockwell Relay. And for everything else.

Furthermore, I wear these shorts without ever using any kind of chamois cream. And I’m not doing it to make a point, I’m just doing it because these shorts are plenty comfortable as-is.

In other words, these are really good bib shorts, for a really good price. Here’s the design for 2013:


Just in case you can’t tell, the “WIN” logo goes right above your butt.

You want more details? Of course you do:

  • 8 Panel Construction
  • 8 oz Micro Denier Knit Poly/Lycra
  • Twin Six Silicon Grippers
  • Super-soft, completely seamless and fully perforated gender-specific chamois

Here are the ordering links:

2013 Fat Cyclist / Specialized Hydroflo Bottle

I have a little bit of an obsession about water bottles (I have, ever since the blog was young). Now, it’s not like I want ridiculous, impossible things from my bottles. I just want the following:

  • No taste, plastic or otherwise
  • An easy-to-use valve
  • A non-leaky valve
  • An easy-to-squeeze bottle
  • Fast, easy flow

For the past few years, bottle makers have been steadily making improvements on what, ’til this point, has been a sadly-neglected part of the cyclist’s universe.

Finally, I think a perfect water bottle exists. Really: perfect.

It’s the Specialized Purist Hydroflo. It doesn’t have a plastic taste, nor does it hold on to the taste of whatever you most recently put in it. The valve flows fast, doesn’t dribble, and locks shut just by being pushed down.

And the plastic is so flexible you can squeeze fluid out of it faster and easier than ever before. Really, you will find that drinking while riding is much faster and easier than ever before with these bottles.

After Specialized sent me one to try out, I went and bought a dozen more. They’re seriously that good.

So, obviously, this is the bottle I’m putting the FatCyclist logo on this year:


Oh, and I did a little show-and-tell video talking a little bit more about why.

Normally, $12 might seem like a lotta money for a bottle, but this is actually a killer deal on Hydroflo bottles — they retail elsewhere for $15. So maybe you should click here to get one.

Or a dozen.

2013 Fat Cyclist Cycling Cap

Hey, go back and watch that video of me talking about bottles again (or for the first time, if you skipped it earlier). Notice the helmet tan pattern on my head.

That looks pretty darned dorky, doesn’t it?

Well, just because I look like a dope doesn’t mean you have to. No indeed. Instead, use my dorkiness as a cautionary tale and start wearing a nice wicking cycling cap under your helmet.

And if you’re not bald, wear one just because it looks cool.

Here’s what it looks like from the front, left side, and right side:


And here are the details:

  • Sublimated microfiber
  • One size fits most
  • Made in California

Click here to order the Fat Cyclist Cycling Cap.

2013 Fat Cyclist Socks

You know, if you buy the right kind of socks, those can be the only kind of socks you wear. Specifically, if you get black 5″-cuff merino performance wool socks, you never have to wear any other kind of socks.

By which I mean to say that in addition to cycling, you can wear these socks to work, to fancy dress-up dinners, even — if you have the boldness to do so — with sandals.

Hey, why not?


That’s what I do, and I’m obviously very very fashionable.

Click here to order the 2013 Fat Cyclist socks.

2013 FatCyclist Cold and Windy Weather Gear: Long-Sleeve Jersey (Men’s and Women’s), Windshell Jacket, and Windshell Vest

I am entirely unwilling to be cold when riding. I simply will not put up with it. Nor should you. And while you are not putting up with being cold while riding, you really ought to set yourself up with something that looks good.

I believe I can help you. In quite a few ways.

First, if the day’s cold enough that you’re going to want long sleeves for your whole ride, the Fat Cyclist Long-Sleeve Jersey is going to be your best friend, ever. Except me, I mean. I’m your real best friend.

Check it out, for crying out loud:


It sports the same general awesome design as the short sleeve jersey, but with a thicker, fleecier fabric (which is still nice and breathable). Like it’s short-sleeved sibling, this long-sleeve jersey has a full zipper, three deep pockets, and is made in the U.S. Nice!

The long-sleeve jersey is available in both a men’s cut and a women’s cut.

If wind is your problem, you need to look into the windshell jacket and windshell vest. Here’s the vest:


And here’s the jacket:


What I love about these is that they roll up into practically nothing, so they fit easily into a jersey pocket. This comes in really handy if you want to take them off partway through a ride, or to put them on partway through a ride, for that matter.


If you’ve got questions, ask in the comments section, and I’ll do my best to answer. Better yet, I’ll do my best to get the Twin Six guys to hang out on my site today to answer questions, too, because they’re generally a lot more knowledgeable and helpful than I am.

I’ll get started with a few questions I expect you to have:

Q. When will I get my order?
A. In September.

Q. When do I have to order by?
A. July 17.

Q. I live outside the U.S. Can I still order?
A. Yes, but shipping’s going to be kinda expensive.

Q. What’s going to be behind the center pocket?
A. You’ll have to wait and see.

Q. Why no t-shirt?
A. We’re still thinking about what would make for a sufficiently awesome t-shirt.

Thanks tons for ordering your FatCyclist gear. I look forward to hearing tales of your uncontrollable urge to buy and consume mass quantities of Neapolitan ice cream while suited up.

« Previous Page« Previous Entries     Next Entries »Next Page »