A Note from Fatty: If you care about cycling, you probably read Red Kite Prayer. The creator and honcho behind RKP, Patrick Brady (aka Padraig) is one of the nicest, fairest, and conscientious cycling journalists you could ever meet.
Well, Patrick had a very serious crash recently
, and could use some help on his medical bills. Over at Red Kite Prayer, they’re asking people to donate $5 to help Patrick. I’d like Team Fatty to show solidarity with RKP and Patrick. Please go over to his site and help him out, or — if you’re the impatient type — simply click the donate button below:
Update: I’m very happy to say that thanks to everyone’s generosity, the fundraiser for Patrick has raised the money he needs. I’ve removed the donation button and links here, and they’ve removed them at Red Kite Prayer, too.
Thank you everyone for being so incredibly caring.
A Note from Fatty: This is part of my race report for the the 2012 Breck Epic. My writeups for all parts of this story can be found here:
It was still raining, and I didn’t want to ride anymore. I had raced for three days, my stomach felt horrible, my knee hurt acutely with every turn of the cranks, and I was just purely miserable.
I wanted out.
So, following the awards ceremony after the second stage of the Breck Epic, I limped up to the race director, Mike McCormack and said, without looking in him in the eyes, “I don’t think I can do this.”
“You do look pretty tired,” said Mike, sympathetically.
“I think I’m going to have to bow our team out,” I said, doing my very best to sound like it wasn’t a decision I was making, but something that had been — alas — forced upon me.
“Why don’t you just take tomorrow off?” Mike replied. “Just take one day to recover, and then come back and finish the week strong.”
“We could do that?” I asked? “If I need to skip a day, we could still do the rest of the race?”
“Sure. You’d be in the ‘recreational’ category, but we want you to see as much of the Breck Epic as you can handle.”
Decision Made by Metal
As we drove back to our condo, I told The Hammer what Mike had told me. Then I said, “Let’s take tomorrow off, OK?”
The Hammer thought for a minute. Then she said, “Look, if you need to take the day off because you can’t ride because your knee hurts too bad, that’s fine. That’s not even a question. But if you want to take the day off because you’re just tired and burned out on racing, that’s different.”
“And besides,” said The Hammer, “I really want those finisher’s buckles.”
“Let’s go home and ice my knee some more, then,” I said.
Settling Into a Routine
By the third day of the Breck Epic, The Hammer and I had a daily routine pretty much figured out. Here it is, in all its glorious, glamorous glory:
- Get up: This was always easy. For one thing, both The Hammer and I are morning people. As in, for us, “sleeping in” means getting up at 6:30. For this race, we’d get up every morning before 6:00. We set an alarm clock every day, but were always up before it went off.
- Get breakfast: Scrambled egg burritos with onions, mushrooms, and bacon. I don’t think either of us ever ate the entire burrito.
- Poop: The Hammer would do this while I worked on making breakfast.
- Work on bikes: I’d go down to the garage and clean and lube the bikes, as well as make sure we had air in the tires. That’s pretty much all I know how to do. Luckily, that was usually enough.
- Put together drop bags: While I got the bikes ready, the Hammer would put together our drop bags for the day, which would include rain clothing, sandwiches, a vast array of Honey Stinger products, and salted nut rolls.
- Take drop bags: The Hammer drove the drop bags to race HQ about an hour before the race start. While she did this, I would…
- Poop: Oh yes, I’ll go into detail on that, shall I? No? OK.
- Suit up: We always took care to wear matching outfits. Yes, we actually did. With about seven versions of the Fat Cyclist kit available to us, we got to look stylishly similar every single day.
- Take Advil: And hope it kicked in before the race began.
- Go to start line: One of the many things we liked about the Breck Epic is that we could ride our bikes from our condo in town to the start line of the stage. There were a total of three different places the race started from, but none of them were difficult to get to; none of them required loading up the bikes and driving.
- Race: I’ll get to that in a bit.
- Come home: Immediately upon crossing the finish line — usually without even slowing dow, much less getting off our bikes — ride back to the condo.
- Clean up: The Hammer gets to shower first, then I get a turn. Because I am a gentleman, that’s why. It’s not a problem, though, thanks to the seemingly endless supply of hot water our condo has.
- Eat – or try to eat: After racing, we’d try to have lunch / dinner. But neither of us would feel like eating very much. The irony that we — two people who love to eat, nonstop — were not able to eat during the entirety of a week where it was absolutely OK and even encouraged to eat as much as we could, was not lost on us. But we didn’t find that irony very funny.
- Take Advil: ‘Cuz it’s been long enough since I’ve had a dose now, right?
- Ice my knee: I wonder how much ice I went through that week?
- Watch Judge Judy: Really. After a hard day racing, there’s nothing quite like watching a cranky old lady dish out judgment.
- Poop: Yeah, again. Our stomachs were completely insane.
- Do laundry: Pretty much a load every day.
- Go get drop bags, attend awards / pre-race meeting: There was an awards ceremony after each stage. We went, but after the first day didn’t ever go stand on the podium again. We felt silly, standing on the third-out-of-three place on the podium, though I guess there was something to be said for the fact that at least we kept showing up and kept making it through the day.
- Go grocery shopping: We’d always need something, in spite of the fact that we weren’t great at eating any of it.
- Try to eat: Sometimes we’d got out, more often we’d just make a sandwich.
- Bed: Typically by 9pm.
It makes for a surprisingly busy day, in strong contrast to the vision I had of the week of racing I had in my head before we got there, which had I pictured as:
- Hang out and lounge around tthe town, enjoying the sites for three or four hours
- Eat some more
So you’ve probably figured it out by now, but yeah. By the time the third day of the race rolled around, I had agreed — a little bit reluctantly, a little bit sheepishly — to keep going.
And I was so glad I did.
For one thing, my knee started feeling better. I don’t know how or why, but it did. I could ride again, with some power even.
And the weather was good again. In fact, it was beautiful. Astonishingly, the trail was good too; I don’t know how that was possible, considering the extraordinary amount of rain that had fallen the day before, but it was true.
And with that, my entire perspective of the race changed. I started having fun. I started enjoying the climbs. I started looking around and thinking about the remarkable fact that I was riding — for six days straight — in some of the most incredible singletrack I had ever seen.
And I got a chance to interview Rich Dillen — a famous (though not nearly as famous as I am) cycling blogger:
I am such a fine journalist.
What I really should have got video of, though, was the fact that The Hammer and I actually caught and passed one of the other coed team — Team Bliss — during the climb up to French Pass.
So, briefly, we had a chance at moving up a spot on the podium, and on a day when there was a reasonable chance that my knee would bend well enough for me to step up onto that podium.
Alas, Team Bliss blew by us as soon as the climb turned into a descent. We never had a chance, really.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, because the second-most awesome thing of the entire Breck Epic happened at the summit of French Pass:
Endurance MTB god Jeff Kerkove was there, doing a Skittles handup for racers, at 12,000 feet.
Yep, that’s right. One of my MTB heroes was hanging out at 12,000 feet with a big bag of Skittles (The Hammer and I show up about 6:15 into Jeff’s video), pouring them into racers’ outstretched hands.
They were the best Skittles ever.
Climb and climb and climb and descend and descend and descend.
From French Pass forward, the day was just amazing. Lots and lots and lots of climbing, followed by — more than once — half an hour or more of singletrack descending. Forested, rooty, rocky stuff. Sometimes flowing, sometimes so technical that I had to get off my bike (at which point the downhill artists would blow right by me).
By the end of the day, we had done 40 miles of riding, and about 6800 feet of climbing.
We crossed the finish line in the same place and about the same time as the previous day.
This time, though, we were talking about what a great day we had. And how wonderful it was to not be hypothermic.