A Glorious Smell: Breck Epic, Day 5

10.30.2012 | 11:42 am

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:

I never would have believed that I could possibly get a more awesome hand-up in a race than a handful of Skittles from Jeff Kerkove at 12,000 feet.

And yet, a mere two days later, in the penultimate day of racing the Breck Epic, it happened.

I shall describe what happened in just a moment. You will not disagree.

This is a Race

The fifth day of the Breck Epic was all about one giant climb up Whistler Mountain, followed by one giant descent.


We started the day from a ski resort, and immediately started climbing. As was our tradition — and frankly, rightful location — we started near the back.

And began passing people. Lots of people.

In fact, we passed the second-place coed team (the Blisses). And then we passed the first-place team (I can’t remember their name, because we never really talked with them). The man of the team was pushing the woman, giving her an assist up the mountain.

I had three reactions to this:

  1. “Hey, that’s totally illegal, but still kind of sweet.” In fact, the winning team had been warned on doing this from the previous day. But you know, when your wife is hurting, you still want to be chivalrous, rules be damned.
  2. “Hey, why aren’t you giving me a push?” As a liberated and modern man of the two-thousand-pre-teens, I am absolutely not averse to a little help from my wife. Hence, I looked over at The Hammer and said, “Anytime you feel like you’d like to give me a push, just let me know.”
  3. “This is an unusual place for us.” For the first time I can remember during this race, The Hammer and I were the lead coed duo team. Frankly, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure.

As a result of our sudden and unexpected dominance among the coed teams, we — for the first time since the race had begun five days ago — skipped an aid station.

This weren’t no time for jibber-jabber. This — due to this strange turn of events — was a race.

Let’s Take Our Bikes on a Walk

Before too long, the steep dirt road we were riding on turned into steep, rocky singletrack. Rocky and steep enough, in fact, that we were forced to walk about as often as we could ride:


Before terribly long, though, we could ride again.

And after that, before terribly long, we’d have to walk again.


But we didn’t care. We were marching in a line, taking in the stark-but-beautiful scenery, and honestly just really enjoying ourselves.


As you can see, the trail gets really stark once you’re above treeline.

What’s That Smell?

As we neared the summit, I caught a whiff of something. Something very good. But it just didn’t make sense. So I kept my mouth shut.

And then I smelled it again.

I had just about made my mind up to go ahead and — crazy as it sounded — say what I was smelling when The Hammer spoke up:

“I swear, I smell bacon cooking.”

“So it’s not just me smelling it,” I said.

“No, I smell it too,” said the guy behind me.

“I’ve never smelled anything quite so delicious,” I remarked. And it was true. While The Hammer and I had a difficult time eating before and after racing, we felt fine and were able to eat without difficulty while we were racing.

Then, as we crested the summit, we saw where the smell came from: A man, crouching by a little fire (it was impressive that at 12,500 he was able to make a fire at all), frying bacon in a little pan.

We rode by, waving. And wishing.

But then the man stood up and ran over to us, handing us each a small piece of freshly-cooked, hot and delicious and smoky, bacon.

My eyes are welling up even as I type this. It was that good.

Many times since then, I have thought about that instant, for a couple of reasons. First of all, because I see it as a perfect example of kind-hearted humor. Because it’s funny, the thought of the surprise and obscureness of handing bacon out at 12,500 feet to mountain bike racers. But it’s also really nice. The kind of joke you’d want to be known for.

The other thing I’ve thought about since then is whether, in the universe of hand-ups, if there exists a hand-up better than hot bacon, freshly-cooked over a campfire at 12,500 feet.

I cannot, for the life of me, think of anything that trumps this.

Hard Descent, Easy Descent

If you look at the elevation profile above, you can see that following our big climb, we had an even-bigger descent. One that started out so incredibly technical that we slowed to a crawl and Team Bliss — by far our superiors, downhill-wise — blew right by us.

Once again, we were not in first place. However, we were at least no longer in last place. Which still seemed like a nice change to us.

Eventually we got down to the end of this rocky, ledgy descent and were met with . . . even more descending. But this time, the descending was completely different than anything else we had ridden the entire race.

It was this:


Yep, a gently-descending bike path.

Ordinarily, I would roll my eyes if this were included as part of a mountain bike race, but this week of racing had left me beat. I was absolutely overjoyed to be zooming on pavement, ticking the miles off at an unprecedented rate.

And The Hammer was grateful to find a working restroom on the side of the bike path.

Hey, little things mean a lot.

Big Finish

At about 18 miles, we got to the last aid station, where The Hammer plopped herself down and commenced to enjoy her daily picnic. I, meanwhile, remained standing. Eating my sandwich, but also kind of wanting to get going, seeing as how — for the first time since the race had begun — we had a chance at finishing not-last in the coed duo category.

As a wise husband, however, I said nothing. The Hammer would ride when The Hammer was ready to ride.

While we were there, the third place team zoomed in, grabbed something to drink, and flew through — clearly in a rush to regain their not-last position.

The Hammer continued eating, unconcerned. I stood by, wisely silent.

A few minutes later, The Hammer finished her picnic, gave the person working the aid station a hug, and then said to me, “OK, I’m fueled up. let’s go kick their ass.”

I wondered if it would have been more grammatically correct to say “asses,” but wisely continued to remain silent.

The trail turned uphill, which was good for us. It remained moderately technical (without being so technical as to force us off our bikes), which was also good for us.

The Hammer was in the mood to catch this other team, and that — more than anything else, really — was really good for us.

Within two miles, at the base of a steep pitch, we had caught the second-place team. “Have a great ride!” The Hammer called, as we attacked the hill, dropping them.

As far as I know, they did not reply.

For a while, I kept looking over my shoulder, but I never saw them again. (On that stage, I mean. It’s not like they disappeared off the face of the earth or anything. Just in case you were worried.)

We crossed the finish line, strong and — for the day — in second place (although, thanks to my knee pain in days 1 and 2, we had no chance at all of getting anything but third / last place overall) for coed duo.

Almost as if we were really racing.


  1. Comment by FliesOnly | 10.30.2012 | 12:09 pm

    Bacon at 12,500 feet! That’s too cool to imagine. And I really liked how the Hammer let that carrots get a ways up the trail before deciding to “go kick the ass(es)”. You should come to Michigan and do the Iceman sometime…you’d totally kick butt (both of you would, actually).

  2. Comment by Brian in VA | 10.30.2012 | 12:22 pm

    Mmmmmmmm……Bacon. Coolest bacon story ever. I might even ride up that high to taste that!

  3. Comment by TK | 10.30.2012 | 12:30 pm

    Your next fundraiser/contest should be for a chance to win a date with The Hammer. How freakin’ cool is she?! Sub-zero. My wife would totally understand. :)

  4. Comment by George | 10.30.2012 | 12:42 pm

    “The Hammer would ride when The Hammer was ready to ride.”
    I am awestruck by the sheer badassness of that statement alone.

  5. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 10.30.2012 | 12:50 pm

    @TK While the funniest thing read today(how to top MattC’s snakes story) I forsee certain logistical problems in your suggestion. To whit:

    Would Fatty have to chaperone the ‘Date”?
    Would One’s Wife have to chaperone the ‘Date’?
    Would this therefore become a ‘Double Date’ and not really a date at all?

    As for ‘bacon’.
    We have a local Thanksgiving ride here in Marin. 300-500 riders(depending on weather) Ride the local MTB Birthplace. 20 miles or so about 2500ft of climbing. The tour de grace is the guy cooking pancakes and making Hot Toddies for the riders at 1250 FT!!!

    Seems the same to me.

  6. Comment by Clydesteve | 10.30.2012 | 12:52 pm

    mmmm… Bacon! That is hard to top!

    uhh, @TK, you do realize you just asked Elden’s wife for a date?

  7. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 10.30.2012 | 12:55 pm

    @Cldyesteve No he didn’t ask for a date. He was willing to put money up for it. That’s totally different….oh…..that doesn’t sound right.

  8. Comment by Ginger-Schminger | 10.30.2012 | 12:56 pm

    And you didn’t hug the Bacon Hand-Up Saint? I’m disappointed in you, Fatty. Kindness like that deserves a hug. I would’ve hugged him. What am I saying…I probably would’ve kissed him for giving me bacon!

    Bippity – Boppity – BACON!

  9. Comment by Curtis | 10.30.2012 | 12:59 pm

    Cool story. Makes me want to do this race.

    Side note: Fatty, I have noticed a lot more cursing in your stories lately. While it is your right to do that if you want, I personally enjoyed your stories much more without it. I’m not going to boycott or anything, just wish it wasn’t there.

    Thanks for that feedback. I recently stopped worrying about writing around the occasional word like that when I realized that my kids don’t read my blog AT ALL. But if the language bothers my readers, it’s not a lot of work to go back to a strict Rated-G language policy. – FC

  10. Comment by AKChick55 | 10.30.2012 | 1:00 pm

    Love it!!! Your description (in spite of your painful start) makes me want to ride this race! Except I live at sea level and I think I would most probably suffer from altitude sickness and die if I did that ride. So I’ll just ride vicariously through you two. :)

    Also, The Hammer is AWESOME! :) It’s even better having met her since I can hear her when you quote her. :)

  11. Comment by TK | 10.30.2012 | 1:37 pm

    I was kidding about the date fundraiser. My wife said she would totally not understand. Just curious, does anyone have a recommendation for a good place to buy my wife some flowers and dark chocolates?

  12. Comment by toxic | 10.30.2012 | 1:58 pm

    I read through it again, looking for the seven words.

    Damned, ass, asses? Did I miss anything?

    If it can make it on prime time network TV without getting bleeped you shouldn’t worry about it. While nobody would say anything about it, it would be a lot more annoying to more people if you had the Hammer saying she wanted to kick their tushes or something like that. It’s hardly gratuitous, and if anything mild. If adds a conversational tone to things.

  13. Comment by Barton | 10.30.2012 | 2:14 pm

    @TK – may I, as a female, recommend something that sparkles for your wife, and not just dark chocolate (which is, of course, nirvana, but it doesn’t say “oops, my bad” the way sparkles do!).

    And Fatty, your write up in the fourth article/blog/whatevs I’ve read today that is waxing poetic re: bacon. I will now be stopping at the butcher shop on the way home for my own bacon – the universe is obviously trying to tell me something…..

  14. Comment by BJH | 10.30.2012 | 2:16 pm

    The Hammer will when The Hammer is ready to curse.

  15. Comment by Brian in VA | 10.30.2012 | 2:34 pm

    @TK – Dude, it’s wine, chocolate, and baubles. Based on the offense, I’d go with at least the first 2. The last maybe soon, as a “just because” gift when she’s not expecting it. Always a crowd pleaser.

    You’re welcome!

  16. Comment by Christina | 10.30.2012 | 2:48 pm

    I felt really fast reading this part. I like that.

  17. Comment by KevinM_Ind | 10.30.2012 | 2:49 pm

    Got to love The Hammer ….. and who doesn’t like bacon …. especially whilst mountain bike racing!

  18. Comment by the Putti | 10.30.2012 | 3:19 pm

    I agree that Fatty’s race write-ups are motivating and fascinating and entertaining, I mean he is a beloved award winning cycling blogger.

    So… here’s my question for all of you (okay, maybe just the 17 +/- .5 mph crowd)…. do you all race?

    Since I am a Clydesdale and slow, I am so afraid of being in the way that I tend to avoid races. I have done 2 cyclocross races, and they are a blast, but I do the C races (there are A &B races for the more talented), which are shorter, tend to be less intense, and the courses offer enough room for me to get out of the way of the faster riders.

    It’s sort of like howI run 5K’s, where my “strategy” is to go to the back 1/3 of the racers so I am out of the way of anyway with any kind of real ability.

    So, am I just being paranoid?

  19. Comment by iRide | 10.30.2012 | 4:19 pm

    It was at the end of a 130 mile ride so it doesn’t count as a hand-up but my spouse had a bag of Doritos and a 6-pack waiting for me. A million calories burned and all were replaced.

  20. Comment by Wife#1 | 10.30.2012 | 5:39 pm

    In general I find Fatty’s tone pretty pg.

    But here’s a question for the group…do we really need E.D. Ciallis commercials as a sponsor for the World Series? or was that ad just running in my market area.

  21. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 10.30.2012 | 5:46 pm

    Ooops, I was writing the above on Wife#1’s computer. @TK let me know where you found the best ’sparkly’ things.

  22. Comment by Alan | 10.30.2012 | 6:51 pm

    Dear Fatty,

    I haven’t heard you mention this product in the past, so

    I assume you don’t already know about it.

    But I’m sure its a product that you would like to know about.

    I think its just wonderful and I’m sure you will think so as well.

    Here is a link to Uncle Buck’s Bacon Jerky from Bass Pro Shops, they deliver!


  23. Comment by Liz M. | 10.30.2012 | 7:39 pm

    Wow, that is just beautiful scenery . . . but I will enjoy it from the comfort of my sea level home, because I would probably keel over and die in that thin air. Thanks for taking us along for the ride, Fatty and Hammer!

  24. Comment by Liz M. | 10.30.2012 | 7:42 pm

    P.S. I hope Elden’s sister and all the other Team Fattys in the path of Sandy are okay today. Take care, everyone.

    Yup, my sisters are good. My sister Jodi’s post. – FC

  25. Comment by Joe | 10.30.2012 | 8:32 pm

    At my last cyclocross race, I got a beer, cash, & gummi worm handup–all at once!

  26. Comment by AKChick55 | 10.30.2012 | 9:43 pm

    Just a comment on cursing and Fatty’s blog – I would hate it if you censored yourself. I don’t think you add unnecessary swearing and if you’re quoting someone, it’s not okay to change what they said to make it more PC. That’s my two cents worth.

  27. Comment by Mark | 10.30.2012 | 11:03 pm

    Bacon at altitude – Heaven! From years past, climbing Colorado’s 14ers, almost anything tastes better at altitude. Hot jello is the best recovery drink ever! I better quit reading these great posts, or I’ll sell my house for the price of a MTB and move back.

  28. Comment by GJ Jackie | 10.31.2012 | 3:42 am

    Wow – the logistics of getting bacon at 12,500 ft astound me. I assume this saint could not drive all the way to the summit so had to hike it to the top. You said a campfire, but there’s no wood up there. Did he cook a few pieces for just for a handful of lucky riders, or for all the riders?

  29. Comment by Irnldy | 10.31.2012 | 9:38 am

    Dear Fatty
    I thought you and your readers should know – you posted about Patrick Brady and his accident. I’m sure like many of your readers, I went and bought Patrick “a few pints’ to help with his medical bills. Today I woke up to the loveliest thank you letter ever. I am impressed with what a class act he is, and the class act you continue to be. I have moved on from the other issues. I love that we will continue to move forward and ‘do good’. Something I hope I am teaching my children along the way. And bless Patrick, the time stamp showed it was close to 2am when he sent it, which means the poor guy must have been up all night writing individual thank yous to people. I hate that I am such an inner cynic much of the time. Not feeling that way today.

  30. Comment by Jenni | 10.31.2012 | 9:52 am

    I can report from just outside NY city, this Team Fatty member is ok. Sandy was NO JOKE.

    I’m a vegetarian and I think I would have eaten the bacon on this ride.

  31. Comment by Paul Guyot | 10.31.2012 | 10:50 am

    Next year’s race with Tommy D, Queen of Pain, Dempsey and Levi, should involve bacon.

    Bacon instead of donuts?

    Bikes made out of bacon?

    A bacon trophy to the winners?

    Each rider must fry a piece of bacon to proper crispness and flavor at every lap? (I would be the judge, of course)

    All of the above?

  32. Comment by Paul Guyot | 10.31.2012 | 10:51 am

    I forgot Kristin!!! I suck.

  33. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 10.31.2012 | 11:53 am

    Well said Paul, but I’m going to blow your mind. A little. Bacon, wrapped around DONUTS!

    You may thank me next year in person at the Fondo. :)

  34. Comment by Bo | 10.31.2012 | 12:35 pm


    Seriously? It is sad that we give certain words a mystical “power”. They are just words, get over it. Seems as if people become bigger babies each and every day.

  35. Comment by Anonymous | 11.1.2012 | 1:14 am

    @RodNeedstoRide @Paul Guyot
    Just a little teaser for next year’s event. I’m sure we can get Paul and his Portland Team to round up Voodoo Donuts as an official sponsor, and supplier.


  36. Comment by Anonymous | 11.1.2012 | 1:17 am

    Maybe this?


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.