Breck Epic Day 3: I Quit. Briefly.

10.24.2012 | 2:47 pm

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:

  • Race
  • Eat
  • Hang out and lounge around tthe town, enjoying the sites for three or four hours
  • Eat some more
  • Bed

Day 3

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.


  1. Comment by Northern Neighbor | 10.24.2012 | 3:08 pm

    Hey Fatty,

    I spotted you in a brief scene in Levi’s movie last night. Looked like he was trying to break your neck again!

    That guy is always trying to attack me. The restraining order hasn’t helped at all. – FC

  2. Comment by Alan | 10.24.2012 | 3:36 pm


    I have an almost uncontrollable (I am on Atkins) urge to go and get some Skittles now. But alas I want to fit into my new 3X Fatty Gear.

  3. Comment by Christina | 10.24.2012 | 3:44 pm

    I went and bought two beers for Patrick! I hope Team Fatty exceeds their expectations and it’s an awesome site.

    This whole race series has made me cold and now I want Skittles. Luckily, I don’t need to deuce.

  4. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 10.24.2012 | 3:58 pm

    “Look, if you need to take the day off because you can’t ride…”

    That’s why they call her the Hammer!

    Though I think the italicized words should have be “you

  5. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 10.24.2012 | 4:07 pm

    Proof, proof, and then proof some more…

    ….should have been “you

  6. Comment by nh_joe | 10.24.2012 | 4:40 pm

    Have you ever tried a race diet of less veggies/protein/fat and more simple carbs like rice, pasta, oatmeal, and bread? Also using juice and jams?

    I know carbs get a bad reputation in American society, but your stomach will feel better, you’ll have better aerobic capacity at altitude, better anaerobic power, less pooping, and it’s way easier to eat.

    It may be worth a shot. I highly recommend ‘Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes’ by Monique Ryan.

  7. Comment by Jeff Kerkove | 10.24.2012 | 4:53 pm

    Video of said glorious Skittle feed is here:

    Thanks for the mention!

  8. Comment by Clydesteve | 10.24.2012 | 6:00 pm

    “And how wonderful it was to not be hypothermic.”

    Whew!, for a second there, i thought you said: And how wonderful it was not to use a hypodermic!”


  9. Comment by spence | 10.24.2012 | 6:25 pm

    Interesting reading, liked the interview but wanted it to be longer more of an interview. Thanks.

  10. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 10.24.2012 | 6:43 pm

    Love the ‘Rainbow’. Fascinating that Fatty’s cameo comes right after the ‘bejeweled’ rider drops the ‘f’ bomb calling it ‘resort riding’.

  11. Comment by Obstinate Roadie | 10.24.2012 | 7:39 pm

    I second nh_joe’s suggestion to eat lots of carbs during a stage race. Paleo/Atkins/low carb diets are great except in the middle of a big week of cycling.

  12. Comment by nh_joe | 10.24.2012 | 7:46 pm

    ^Yeah, eggs, mushrooms, and bacon are great for a recovery day, but on workout/race mornings it’s all about carbs.

  13. Comment by sunnyhello | 10.24.2012 | 7:56 pm

    “Pretty much a load every day” is a fantastic tag line. Great teamwork!

  14. Comment by Irnldy | 10.24.2012 | 8:12 pm

    If I had that bad a day, it would be a four beer night. I donated that to Eric. What’s four beers between bike friends? (Or as I prefer to see it, we shared a pitcher). Thanks for letting us know Fatty. I had no idea he had been hurt.

  15. Comment by Eric Little | 10.24.2012 | 9:22 pm

    Just wanted to say thanks to all for heading over to RKP and sending a few beers Padraig’s way. I have had a number of email and phone conversations with him today alone. I have never known Padraig (a writer by trade) to be at a loss for words.

    I think I understand how he feels and can appreciate how overwhelmed he is by the generosity. Thanks to all for making this vision of helping him out a reality. You are all incredible people.

    Thank You
    Eric Little

  16. Comment by AKChick55 | 10.24.2012 | 9:47 pm

    Brewskis bought. Check. :) I love doing this kind of stuff! Thanks for including the link!

    Love Jeff Kerkove’s video of the Great Breck Skittle Handout!!! He also is on the same team as my FAVORITE MTB rider – Sonya Looney! She’s the one who rode Leadville with a broken wrist. :) I LOVE how you were talking about a Ben and Jerry’s aid station (hey, do you think LIVESTRONG could arrange that for Davis?). And loved your deadpan, hey, I’m gonna taste the rainbow. So funny! I also noticed, ahem, that the Hammer was in front of you. :) GRRL POWER!

  17. Comment by ScottR | 10.24.2012 | 10:37 pm

    Looking forward to the rest of the series, as always….

    But I’d really love to become a morning person – how do I do it? Was that just always the case for the two of you? It can’t just be a ‘born that way’ thing, can it?

    (Posting at 11:30 pm Central, about to go do dishes (washing bottles, trach ties, apnea belts, etc) now that my vent-dependent son’s night nurse is here… so possibly I won’t be able to leverage the advice for a while, but I’d still love to have any you’d offer)

  18. Comment by Kari | 10.24.2012 | 11:44 pm

    Something to consider in regard to your knee is how much muscles naturally tighten up when it’s cold and because they are so pivotal to our power on the bicycle (no pun intended) knees seem to feel it more than other muscles less heavily depended on. In any given incidence of knee problems, while cold is not the cause of the pain or injury it can still do quite a bit to excacerbating the problem. Cold only really helps short term to numb injury or pain sites; long term like multiple hours of racing per day in the rain, wind and chilling temps tends to backfire on riders. For this reason many find a suprising amount of relief in applying heat (think electric heatig pad or microwavable warm pack). Just a thought…

  19. Comment by AP | 10.25.2012 | 8:35 am

    what kind of primitive country do you live in where you have to find money to pay hospital bills after an accident ?

  20. Comment by Christina | 10.25.2012 | 8:43 am

    Did anyone see that the fund is up to $4000 already? Never doubt the power of a bunch of people who read the same blog, eh?

  21. Comment by centurion | 10.25.2012 | 8:47 am

    Save time and water and energy, shower at the same time.

  22. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 10.25.2012 | 9:14 am

    @centurion while many of us would second your advice I think The Hammer would disagree. Fatty refers to himself as a human ‘chia pet’.

    Fatty I don’t consider myself the ‘impatient type’. I just appreciate the simplicity of your link. I went to the site yeasterday and got caught up reading the posts. That’s all I need.

    @AP Well put. Luckily you don’t have to watch us make

  23. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 10.25.2012 | 9:17 am

    @AP …watch us make a political decision. Like sausage, you don’t want to know what’s in it. Now that’s primitive.

  24. Comment by pedalpink | 10.25.2012 | 9:34 am

    A great opportunity to do good (and feel good). Just bought RKP, one of my favorite bloggers, a beer. And the fact that Patrick’s fund is already over $4,000 supports my last post, that cyclists are the best people.

    Hope at end of year you’ll post a summary of how much $ we’ve raised in 2012, and for so many different causes and people.

    That’s a good idea and one I would gladly execute if it did not require that I do math. – FC

  25. Comment by bikemike | 10.25.2012 | 9:36 am

    That interview was not awkward…at all.

  26. Comment by ScottR | 10.25.2012 | 10:15 am

    Fatty – any plans for Movember?

    Great video from ‘Ron Swanson’:

  27. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 10.25.2012 | 11:50 am


    I thought you worked for an ‘Analytics Company.

    I bet there’s someone there who could make a spreadsheet with graphs and charts that would make us all swoon.

    And if you are any example of their talent it should take 10 minutes…including powerpoint.

  28. Comment by TominAlbany | 10.25.2012 | 12:18 pm

    Fatty, Thanks for letting us know about the fund raiser. I’ve been reading RKP since Charles Pelkey landed there – that’s how I discovered it’s existence.

    I dropped a tenner since since Padraig’s on the west coast and can buy bombers of really great stuff like, Pliny the Elder!

  29. Comment by MikeMac | 10.25.2012 | 12:22 pm

    Elden – you’re way tougher than you think you are. So glad you stuck it out.


  30. Comment by Barton | 10.25.2012 | 12:46 pm

    A couple pints bought.

    I must say, your routine list had me worried. Thanks for not listing all things that had to be expelled beyond “poop.” The condo sounds fancy, but only one bathroom/shower? In a resort town? Tragic.

  31. Comment by Clydesteve | 10.25.2012 | 1:56 pm

    @AP – the kind of country where we don;t get taxed as much, and pay our own way.

    Voluntary chairitable assistance like the donations for Patrick are WAY better than involountary ones to a government that wastes half of the donation before it gets to the one in need.

  32. Comment by Andrew | 10.25.2012 | 3:03 pm

    By not standing on the podium, you were kinda robbing the 2nd place team since they were now standing 2nd on a podium of 2. Just saying. :)

  33. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 10.25.2012 | 4:42 pm

    “I’m gonna taste the rainbow!”

    Classic. That you can even think of these things as you push your bike up a hill at 12,000 feet is yet another example of why you are THE man.

  34. Comment by Michael | 10.25.2012 | 8:49 pm

    It’s probably just because it’s snowing outside right now, but I’m SO JEALOUS. Riding buttery singletrack for six days in a row sounds divine! This must be what dieting feels like.

  35. Comment by Anonymous | 10.26.2012 | 9:23 pm

    The Hammer is tougher than you are!!

    @Alan: how goes the Atkins? I did that about 10 years ago and blew 40lbs off like nothing so I hope it works for you!

  36. Comment by bob | 10.26.2012 | 9:23 pm

    bob was here. Specifically right above.


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