Talking about Judging, Doping, and The Levi Effect

10.23.2012 | 11:00 am

I was in my early thirties and had been working at Novell for about five years when a recruiter called me, telling me about an interesting local tech company that was making waves with an innovative VOIP product. They were aggressively hiring, looking for tech writers, copy writers, editors, and HTML / JavaScript developers.

They liked that I had experience doing all of these things, and I was ready to move on. So I joined the company (called “i-Link,” which I can comfortably name because it hasn’t existed for years and years.)

It wasn’t ’til orientation that I learned that i-Link’s revenue model was based on multi-level sales. A pyramid scheme.

I came home from work, sick to my stomach. I worked for a company that made money in what I considered a morally reprehensible way.

[Aside: For those of you who approve of and maybe even make a living using multi-level marketing (and that's probably going to include a lot of my Utah neighbors, because it's a very common business model around here), I'm not saying that what you're doing is wrong, and it's certainly not illegal. It just doesn't sit easy with me. Let's not make the comment section be about multi-level marketing today, K?]

So I had a serious decision to make. Stay? Or go?

I stayed. Only for as long as it took for me to find a new job — about six weeks — but I stayed.

I had a pretty good set of reasons for staying: I had a house payment to make. I had kids to feed. I knew it’s much easier to find a job when you already have a job than when you don’t.

I have never been so relieved to give two weeks notice, nor so happy when the HR rep told me money was tight and they’d prefer if I was going to leave, to just walk away.

I was free of that place.

But for six weeks I worked there, writing copy for and coding the public-facing website. Creating a tool to help people leverage a business model that made (makes) me ill. Proving to myself that if the price was right, I’d do something I felt was wrong.


I think about that experience often. For a long time, I thought about it with shame. Now, though, I think about it as an incredibly valuable learning experience.

Essentially, I learned that — like me — pretty much everyone wants to be a good person. Also in my experience, there are times when people — including me — do rotten things. I learned that if I can make serious compromises I’m not proud of and then continue to do them until I find a way out, I should guard heavily against judging others who do the same thing.

Since then, I’ve come to an additional realization: the people who are most harshly judgemental are generally the least likely to have spent time evaluating and rectifying their own poor choices.

I don’t want to be one of those people.

So, when the cascade of doping admissions confirmed that Levi Leipheimer — the pro I’ve had more personal interaction with than any other (including Lance Armstrong, many times over) — had been doping for a big chunk of his career, I did my best to switch from anger to understanding.

To move from thinking “You shouldn’t have done that” to “I’m glad you’re trying to fix the damage you’ve caused.”

Because I can’t see or understand people’s motives for what they’ve done in the past. I can only see what they’re doing right now.

Email Exchange

So I sent Levi this email:

Hi Levi,

Just in case it’s of value for you to know that you’ve still got a friend in a beloved, multi-award-winning, very handsome blogger, I thought I’d let you know: I’m still your bud, and still looking forward to doing something fun and stupid for a good cause with you next year, or maybe sooner.

In fact, let me know the next time you’re in Utah and in the mood for an easy ride. It’s about time you find out how awesome it is to go MTBing on a SS.


I honestly didn’t have any expectation of a reply, but I got one:


I really can not put into words how much it means to me when I receive an email like this, I really appreciate your support- a lot! I’m sorry that we have damaged the sport that you love but I really believe this is the best for the long term. You have supported me personally and my community and I owe you an explanation, if you want to hear it? I’m looking forward to time healing this mess and being able to redeem myself. Thanks again for the email and the support, it really helps right now.


ps I’d still kick your ass on an SS MTB

I thought this was worth sharing, so asked Levi if he was OK with that. Frankly, he was a little bit uncomfortable with it — he thought it would come off as him promoting himself. I let him know that I’d be clear that he hadn’t expected or wanted this to go public. I just tend to overshare, what with being a blogger and stuff.

So, that said, I appreciated his offer of giving me an explanation, and plan to take him up on it. I’ll get back to you on how that goes.   

The Levi Effect

So that’s the backdrop for The Levi Effect, the documentary that is showing across the country tonight.

I’m one of a few people who’s actually seen the movie twice. The first time was a couple hours after the GranDonut race. By accident, the projectionist had put the filename up on the screen, which was something like “levi_effect_short_version.mp4.”

So if that’s the short version, what’s the long version?

Well, obviously (at least it’s obvious now, although I pretty much connected the dots right when I saw the filename back at the Fondo), the long version’s the version that includes about six minutes of Levi talking about doping.

I asked BikeMonkey to send me a copy of the long version of the movie, and they obliged. So I watched it with some friends last Friday night, then filmed a few minutes of our conversation afterward:

Is the movie worth going to see tonight? Well, my point of view is kind of slanted, because I know and like a lot of the people in the movie. And I’m not talking about the “stars” of the film, I’m talking about the folks from BikeMonkey: Greg Fisher, Carlos Perez, Yuri Hauswald. And Levi’s wife, Odessa Gunn.

So, with that grain of salt, I’ll still say “yes.” It’s worth seeing. For one thing, it shows off Levi’s Gran Fondo, which is in fact one of the most amazingly awesome events put on by anyone, anywhere.

And for another thing, you’ll walk out of the theatre with an interesting conversation on your hands. See, once I turned off the camera (of course) in the video above, the conversation kept going, and actually turned a lot more serious.

It’s a good catalyst to talk about doping. And judging. You might, in fact, find that the greatest value of The Levi Effect is that it makes you think about pro cyclists as people (fallible for sure, but good at heart, like the rest of us) again.


Guest Post by Jenni Laurita: 2012 Tour de Pink Ride Report

10.22.2012 | 11:12 am

A note from Fatty: Jenni Laurita was the ambassador for Team Fatty at the YSC Tour de Pink. I’ve asked her to tell her story, as well as give us a video. I think you’ll agree she gets an A+.

Next year I want to ride the Tour de Pink as the number one fundraising team. I’m just putting it out there before we get started.

I love it when a plan comes together. One might say this plan started a year ago when Heather rode the TdP. I was excited and inspired by her ride report and by her story.


Like Elden, I believe I have superpowers. To date, my superpowers have proven to be holding things until they dry, standing in the light (any light source for anyone working on anything important, that is), and being able to sing one song while a completely different song is playing. The mark of a good ride I think forces you to discover new superpowers.

By that standard, this ride was a winner. I discovered two new superpowers: fearless switchback descending and that I lack any knowledge of my personal limitations. I obviously can’t tell you what my personal limitations would be since I lack knowledge of them, but what I can tell you is that I entered this commitment of 206 miles in 3 days and 12,000 feet of climbing without having trained or even ridden very much in the preceding months. I arrived with a fresh bruise on my arm from my most recent blood test and lingering pain from recent biopsies, but none of it would matter in the slightest.

I arrived at the hotel nice and early the day before the ride, and immediately had a chance to start getting to know people. Everyone was super friendly and happy to be reuniting. Organization and information was the best I’ve ever seen on any organized ride anywhere, and that’s saying a lot. I’ve ridden many events around the country–the care for the riders was absolutely top-notch, start to finish, morning to night. In fact, the worst thing I could say about the whole weekend was they were out of sandwiches by the time I finished Sunday afternoon.

Before I flew to California, Giant offered to hook me up with a loaner bike: A TCR. I usually travel everywhere with my pink custom Sweetpea, but I was excited to demo a new bike on what I already knew would be a tough course.

Thursday night, Giant, whose headquarters were just 3 miles away, showed up with trucks of loaner bikes. As I approached my bike, I couldn’t help but notice it was just a wee little thing. I was the Gulliver to its Lilliputian. Ironic it was a “Giant” frame, the XS sticker giggled noticeable at me as I stood and frowned. I’m 5’7”. Not going to work. Val, the amazing bike rep for Giant’s woman’s line, Liv Giant , tried to talk me into riding one of “her” bikes. Unfortunately for me, she used the word “comfort,” which evoked baskets and step-through imagery. I was not a willing participant, I pushed for an appropriate TCR.

I was given a less diminutive full-carbon/ultegra TCR and enough adjusting of saddle height to make me feel ready to ride. I happily told the mechanic my crotch was going to friend him on Facebook, I was so grateful for the care he took making sure I was comfortable.

The skies had finally stopped raining and everyone was astounded by an extremely rare (for SoCal apparently) double rainbow. Here’s my new friend, Val.


I made quick work of outfitting my bike with GoPro, Garmin, and an amazingly reassuring and motivating message from my sweetheart.


I totally got caught by surprise singing these words out loud as I rode up some huge hill and a pack of riders passed me. Awwwkard.

I can’t count the number of times I looked down at this, knowing people were pulling for me while I was pushing myself really made so much of an impact- this note stayed taped securely to the top tube of the bike all weekend. I loved watching people walk over to the bike to read it, more than one woman teared up at its awesomeness. I highly recommend before embarking on a tough ride to tape something inspirational to your handlebars or top tube, or surprising a friend and doing it for them.

Day 1

The first day’s ride was relatively flat except for a massive downhill on some of the best switchbacks I’ve ever ridden. Ok, they’re the only switchbacks I’ve ever ridden but that’s where I discovered my superpower of downhill bombing. We were told to go only one at a time on the switchbacks, but I quickly realized I had to pass, and pass I did, with aplomb.

Many years ago I famously missed the century cut-off time on the Austin Livestrong course because I stopped to pet the llamas. It has been a recurring joke in my core group that I am not to pet llamas anymore, and I was determined this time to make good time. I was nervous about being able to finish such an ambitious course each day, sagging out just wasn’t an option, but then I found too many reasons to stop. There were fields of red peppers . . .


There were interesting people with unique ideas of where to store what clearly must be an extra helmet or perhaps a woolen sweater…(how YOU doin’?)


There were diversions aplenty…


Fortunately, I made good enough time to enjoy myself every step of the way throughout all days.

Day 1 finished with a horrific climb up to the night’s hotel; on this organized ride, hotel stays are included each night, along with all food. An absolutely incredible joy, you really only have to worry about riding your bike.

Day 2

Today was going to be a tough day, it was the longest and contained an optional massive climb. I was fortunate enough to have roomed that night with Val, that rep from Giant. We discussed how unhappy I had become on the TCR. It’s a fantastic bike, but completely wrong geometry for me; I was in a lot of pain. The handlebars were too wide and with an exceedingly long stem, I was reaching and suffering the whole day.

She offered me Giant’s AMAZING “Avail”- full carbon, Di2 shifting, women’s geometry- it was the “comfort” bike from day one, and I have to say I was never more comfortable. It’s absolute dream bike I started instantly planning to steal. On more than one occasion I was so impressed with the stiff response to my efforts I thought surely the electronic assist was helping to pedal.


It was on this day that I realized there is an absolute science to understanding route advice from other riders. I overheard one woman telling another that the beginning of this ride was going to be “brutal”, which scared me and likely the woman receiving this information.

After riding the decidedly not-brutal-for-me beginning of the ride, I started to qualify people in their ability to give route advice. I’m from New York, we have hills and mountains all over my base riding area. Another New Yorker needs no qualification, I’d accept their route advice point blank (unless of course they’re not a cyclist, I’ve fallen for that one before). If you’re from Iowa, or say, Kansas, your route advice comforts me, knowing full-well a brutal hill in Iowa can be the highway overpass. If you’re from Colorado and your route advice includes the word brutal, I’m going back to bed.

In any case, I got through the initial ride and set my sights on the who-was-I-kidding-it-was-never-actually-optional mountain.

At the decision point, my bike instinctively turned toward this climb, it was something like 1000 to 1400” climbing in just under 4 miles. Lacking knowledge of my limitations served me well here through the 6-13% sustained inclines. Along the course the organizers arranged for us to be riding with a team of professionals, the team name escaped me partly because I’m forgetful and partly because I sucked wheel so closely I could only ever focus on the space between my bike and whomever was fortunate enough to be pulling for me.

Cry O’Clock

The point is, on this climb there were a few pros peppered throughout the climb to help us along. Gil first came to me, and I told him to go away, I prefer to climb alone, partly because I was going just fast enough to stay upright, and partly because I was entering what I like to call, “Cry o’clock”.

Cry o’clock happens on every cancer-focused ride, and it’s probably the main reason I subject myself to suffering on the bike; cry o’clock gives me the opportunity to release what I’m holding and experiencing about the pain of cancer. As I struggle, I’m able to leave it all on the road. Sometimes I cry for myself, sometimes it’s for someone I know, but I always cry. I did not want someone with me for cry o’clock, it’s a somewhat sacred time. Admittedly, more than one Team Fatty member has helped me (or joined me) in cry o’clock, and I’ve always been grateful for them.

After finishing the — ok I’ll say it — brutal climb, we had time for a few pictures before zooming back down. The view was fantastic, but the people were better. What a great bonding moment to stand with other hypoxians.

SAG met us at the top and refreshed our water, and everyone was off again.

We continued on more or less together until we arrived at the hotel, which — we were not told — was on a cliff. At the end of the day where I climbed thousands and thousands of feet, the last .1 mile was straight up the driveway at easily 12% grade. It was like a fart in your open mouth. Just nasty. I cursed the whole way, and I was not alone or unjustified, but seeing the other women standing and cheering at the top made it almost worth it.


Day 3

Day 3 seemed to be sketching a lot of people out- it was the shortest ride, 53 miles, but was supposed to have over 5000 feet of climbing up and through a canyon. At the morning mandatory meeting the organizers shared two short-cuts with us; one would end at about 35 total miles and cut all climbing, one would cut 8 miles and route around the worst of the climbing.

I really wanted to finish the whole course, but at this point my body was hurting, my energy was zapped, and I wanted to take the shorter routes. I had suffered enough, I did well enough. But something in me wouldn’t have it. There is such a beautiful synergy between battling whatever is going on in your life to battling against yourself on a bike. Perseverance takes over where physical ability wanes. Fortitude develops where fatigue festers. So, at each marking on the course, I put my head down into the wind and fought forward.

Fortunately I’ve ridden long enough courses through my life to know I can handle 53 miles of just about anything. Well day 3 was all of the above; it started with having to climb a large section of the previous day’s “optional” climb, it had fierce headwinds AND rounding out the hat-trick of awesome, the temperature eventually read 100 degrees.

I rode mostly alone; climbing just isn’t conducive for me to stick with someone. I employ the JenniMethod™ of riding my friends have come to know as yo-yo riding. Sometimes I’m very fast, sometimes I’m incredibly slow. I have no interest in altering this method to try to stay on someone’s wheel. So day 3 was me and the road.

And one by one I watched seemingly everyone around me sag out. At one point the sag wagon came along side me (not unusual, they gave us encouragement the entire ride, it didn’t necessarily mean they were trying to get me in) and in the most lady-like tone I could muster, I declared I would not be getting in their pretty wagon, though I’m pretty sure instead of pretty I said muttered a vulgarity.


Somewhere after oh you know, the 20th mile of climbing, I got to enjoy the gorgeous sweeping downhill, and met up just at the end of the course with another survivor. We rode in the last few miles together, to (wait for it), ANOTHER uphill finish, where I first collapsed…


And then realized there was only one good use left for the buckets of then-ice water used to soak towels for our heads (by this point, the party was breaking down).


I quickly hatched a plan to steal what has become one of my favorite bikes of all time…



And finished out the night with lots of hugs and friendship, especially from Team Fatty sister, Heather, one of the sweetest people I could have ever been blessed to meet.



  • Sisterhood from everyone- this is after all the Young Survival Coalition. I was perfectly in place to share my story and hear the stories of every other young survivor, and for once, I did not feel so alone
  • No mechanical problems at all
  • Getting to ride Giant’s Avail
  • Knowing I contributed to an amazing cause I will be supporting for many years in the future


  • Not actually coming home with the Avail
  • Meeting and loving new sisters who are currently battling cancer- as joyful as I became to meet and bond with them, I was concurrently saddened that they are still battling breast cancer, or other kinds of cancer
  • My stupid GoPro mount snapped for no reason and my GoPro camera went hurtling into traffic- the case was run over, the card flipped out, the brand new wifi attachment scratched
  • Never actually got to set foot in the ocean
  • Not having enough space here to write about each amazing woman or every incredible part of the weekend.

PS: My extra pictures of the trip are on my flickr page.

Autumn: A Lament

10.19.2012 | 10:26 am

I have ridden a’plenty this year
And I have become fast
I have stood atop podia
(sometimes rightly, sometimes not)

And in short
This has been
A fast year

Explain to me then
I say to myself
Staring at my legs
What the hell has happened
In the past couple weeks?

How is it possible
I continue
Aghast and befuddled
To have gone from fit and fast
To fat and slow
And frankly unmotivated

I blame the weather!
I blame exhaustion!
I blame all and sundry
But I do not blame myself.

Thank you.

Soaked: Breck Epic Race Report, Part 2

10.17.2012 | 3:19 pm

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:

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

If I had known it was going to be a day like this, I’d have stayed in bed.

In fact, I nearly did anyway. My knee felt ok — I could walk with only a slight limp — but it sure didn’t feel great.

We checked the weather: 40% chance of rain, pretty much through the day. That was actually good news, for two reasons:

  1. 40% was lower than the 60% the forecast showed when we went to bed the night before.
  2. 40% is better odds than a coin toss.

So we started getting ready. We put food and rain clothes in each of our two drop bags, figuring it was best to be safe. We made breakfast burritos, again, hoping they would be easier to eat that day.

They were not.

The profile and distance for the day weren’t too dissimilar from the first day of the race.


42.4 miles of singletrack, with 6322 feet of climbing.

We got to the starting line, which today was in the heart of Breckenridge.

We stared at the sky, which was dark and grey. In my mind, I increased the odds of rain sometime during the day to 100%. The only question was when. And how much. So I guess that’s actually two questions.

The starting time arrived. And then it passed (the only day the race started late). We continued to look at the sky, worried.

It began to rain. Big, slow drops. The kind of rain where you don’t get hit often, but when you do you can feel it.

The Hammer and I decided we’d better get the windbreakers (because we each have two rain jackets, which were in our drop bags) we had with us out and put them on.

As we did so, the race started.

And so we got to have the peculiar experience of standing at a starting line, struggling into jackets, while watching every single other racer ride away from us.

To Aid Station 1

The first few miles of riding in the rain are always wonderful, because they allow you to picture yourself being hardy and steely-eyed.

The Hammer and I found ourselves in a good-sized group of people, all laughing about how muddy and wet we all were already, as well as how grity our drivetrains already sounded.

None of us were thinking — at least out loud — about what the day would be like if this rain continued. And especially, none of us were talking about what it would be like if it got worse.

And why would we? After all, the rain was letting up a little bit, to the point that The Hammer and I took off our semi-soggy windbreakers and ride in short sleeves. We were wet, sure. But we were climbing, so we weren’t cold.

As for my knee, well, it was doing OK. I wasn’t riding fast, but I was riding. Plus, I had loaded up on Advil, and had more in my jersey pocket. Which I would take later in the day, kidneys be damned.

Then, shortly before we got to the first aid station, the rain picked up. So we arrived at the first aid station completely soaked. We swapped out to our full-on rain jackets. Unfortunately, because we thought that rain would become a worse problem later in the day, we had put our best rain gear in our second drop bags.

For example, the gloves I had put in this drop bag were $10 semi-winter gloves I had bought at Kohls a couple years ago. And the jacket was something I had bought at a tourist trap during a hiking trip about ten years ago.

To Aid Station 2

We headed out of the first aid station . . . and into hell. A very, very wet hell.

The rain went from “hard” to “torrential.” People’s faces were completely black from mud. Several times I was especially glad that I had two eyes, because a gob of mud would fly into one eye; I could blink blindly with that eye until vision cleared, while I used the other eye to continue riding.

Because we never stopped. We just didn’t ever want to stop.

Somehow, we knew that if we stopped, we’d become even colder. That the shakes would hit us even harder. That the rain would feel even fiercer.

So we kept going, actually passing a lot of people that day. I noted to myself — more than once — “that person looks even more miserable than I feel.”

Now that I think about it, though, I expect other people were thinking the same thing about me.

My knee began hurting. The rain came down, harder. The climbing remained steep, and technical singletrack became running streams.

And I confess: I began to complain. But only in my mind. See, I would have complained out loud, but The Hammer was still smiling and being positive and riding along like this was some kind of exciting adventure. Even though she was just as wet and muddy as I was.

And she was quite a bit colder than I was, judging from her shaking and chattering teeth.

Yet, The Hammer abided, riding strong and staying positive.

So I kept my trap shut. Most of the time.

Survival Mode

We made it to the second aid station. The Hammer quickly switched into her better, warmer, drier rain jacket.

I did not.

Nor did I change into my water-resistant gloves.

I have no reasonable explanation for this, other than to try to describe what I was thinking, which kind of went like this:

  1. I’m really cold. And wet
  2. I wish I had my better jacket and gloves on.
  3. But in order to put my better clothes on, I’ll first have to take the (completely soaked and basically useless) coat and gloves I’m currently wearing off.
  4. If I take my jacket and gloves off, I’ll be even colder than I am.
  5. I don’t want to be colder than I am. Not even for a second.
  6. So I’m not going to change clothes.

Yeah, it’s possible I wasn’t thinking at my very very best at that moment.

As The Hammer changed and I stood around constructing addle-brained syllogisms, other cyclists arrived, some looking even colder and wetter and worse than I felt.

A volunteer got on the radio and made a call to Mike McCormack, the race director.

“Racers are starting to look kinda sketchy as they come in,” the volunteer said.

Mike replied, “Give them the option of pulling out of the race. If the weather keeps getting worse, we’ll make it compulsory.”

The part of my brain that still processed language noted how awesome it was that Mike had just used the word “compulsory.”

I looked at The Hammer to see if she had heard what was going on. She had.

“We’d stand around waiting and shivering and freezing longer if we stopped here waiting for a ride back to town than if we just finished the race,” The Hammer said, pragmatically.

So we kept going, hoping that the last big climb of the day — which was coming right up — would help us warm up. And it worked. We both felt warmer, although we had to slow way down because my knee was such a mess.

And then we hit the singletrack, which was now a fast-flowing river. The Hammer took a fall in this, splashing hard and smacking her hip into a rock.

Meanwhile, I could no longer use my left leg to pedal at all.

Then came the downhill to the finish line, chilling us both to the bone. But we made it. We got to the finish line.

The problem was, we then had to ride — downhill — another three miles to get to our condo.

It was the worst, slowest, three miles of my life. I could barely turn the cranks; The Hammer kept distancing me.

I began to wonder if I would make it back to the condo at all.

But we did. Somehow, we did.

Back at the Condo

So we parked our bikes in the underground parking, not even bothering to lock them up. Hoping, maybe a little, that someone would steal the bikes and let us off the hook.

We went up the hall to our condo, got out the little plastic keycard, and swiped.


I swiped again.

Nothing still.

I swiped and swiped.

More nothing.

The Hammer got out her keycard and swiped.

Nothing continued to happen some more.

We began to fret. If our keys didn’t work, we’d have to bike to the center of town to get replacement keys. And we did not want to leave the house.

I started machine-gunning the card in and out and in and out and in and out of the key slot.


Finally, I looked at the card, which was wet and slightly muddy. Maybe if I wiped it off? Dried it?

But we had nothing to dry it on. We sere altogether soaked.

So I peeled up my bike shorts and rubbed the card on my relatively clean thigh, then waved the card around madly in the air for a minute.

I swiped the card, and it worked.

Never have two people laughed with more sincere relief.

We stepped into our condo. I planned to immediately strip down — get out of these freezing soaking clothes as quickly as possible.

“Wait, there’s the camera,” said The Hammer. “Let’s get pictures real quick.”

And I am so glad we did. Here they are. All of them.







What I love about all these photos is that The Hammer’s got her teeth clenched exactly the same in every single shot. Like her moth is frozen in that position.


We left our clothes and shoes and helmets on the kitchen floor, in a soggy muddy mess. Later, we’d take them to the carwash, where we’d hose them off, along with our bikes. And then we’d wash them (we had been smart enough to rent a condo with a washer and dryer). Twice.

For now, though, we just wanted to get warmed up, via approximately an hour in the shower. Thank goodness for a hotel-sized water heater.

Even so, we continued to shake violently through two episodes of Judge Judy. I refused to ice my knee, saying I would go near nothing cold until I stopped shaking.

We didn’t go out to eat, opting instead to stay inside and make spaghetti — which we both agreed was the best thing we ate that week.

“If it’s raining tomorrow,” I said, between mouthfuls, “I quit. I will not get on my bike.”

The Hammer did not argue.

PS: At the award ceremony that evening, I talked with CyclingDirt. Here’s the interview:

PPS: Did you catch my lie in the interview? Did I sound convincing?

A Weekend With Ed

10.15.2012 | 1:03 pm

Waaaaay back in May of this year, I launched a contest to raise money for LiveStrong: An Ibis bike of your choice, outfitted with awesome Shimano components, and then a trip out to Utah, where SLC Bicycle Company would professionally fit the winner for that new bike. And then we’d head out for a weekend of riding.

On June 23, I did the drawing for this contest, which I won. Sadly, I was not eligible, so I had to do another drawing. Ed Perrey of Austin, TX won, and then waited — oh-so-patiently — while I tried to find a weekend where I was both home and available to go riding.

Last weekend was — finally! — that weekend.

Where to Ride?

When we talked about where we ought to go riding, Ed had initially wanted to go to Moab. Then he saw my recent videos of rides I’ve been doing right at home. “Let’s just ride your local trails,” he said. “The singletrack you’re riding is like nothing I ever get to ride in Austin.”

An excellent choice, if I say so myself. Not to mention one that made my life considerably easier. And, as it turns out, cheaper, since we just had Ed stay in our guest room. In my defense, it’s a really nice guest room, with a bed and electricity and everything.

Oh, and free wifi, too.

Getting Fitted

I picked Ed up at the airport and we went straight to SLC Bike, where Ed’s bike was all built up and sitting on a trainer, ready for him to be fitted on.


Ed and I took a moment to just stare at it, giggling. The Ibis Mojo SL is a beauty, especially up-close and in real life.

I got a picture of Ed with his new bike before the fitting got going:


If you look closely at my reflection in the mirror, you can see that I was wearing my Ibis t-shirt (which is 18 years old, for reals), special for the occasion.

Then I took a couple minutes to get some close-up shots:


The current Mojo frame design has been around for about seven years. I’d say it’s aged pretty darned well. It’s just gorgeous.


Mmmmmm. XTR.


Mmmmm. More XTR.

And then the pro bike fitting — expertly done by John McCool — began. Ed talked with Joe about what kind of riding he did:


And got measured:


And got his cleat position tweaked:


Then John made adjustments to the bike, got Ed comfortable on it, and told him he was ready to ride.

As a testament to what a great fitting John had done, Ed was instantly more comfortable on his new Mojo than he had ever been on his previous mountain bike, and remarked as he was riding that he was easily cleaning things he would have had trouble with before.

So was it the fitting or the new bike that was responsible?

I’m going to go with the obvious (and probably correct) answer: both.

Bad News

My original plan had been for Ed and me to go from the bike shop straight to Corner Canyon and get a ride in right away.

But as we started driving south toward the trailhead, the rain began. And by the time we got to where the exit would be, it was raining hard. Riding would have been bad for the trail, and I’m a fair-weather rider anyway.

“Let’s put the first ride off for a bit,” I said, and we headed to my house to wait out the storm.

Bad News Becomes Good News

I was scared. Scared because I had brought this guy out for a weekend of riding, just in time to be here for the firs serious rainstorm in 60 days or more. Would the rain let up in time for a ride his first day here?

Would the rain let up at all?

And even if it did, what kind of condition would the trails be in?

I tried to calm myself the best way I knew how: with food. “While we wait for the rain to stop,” I said, “Let’s get started on boiling some brats in beer. We’ll grill them for dinner tonight.”

I dumped bratwurst and chopped onions into a pot, while Ed poured in can after can of PBR.

By the time the brats were done boiling, the rain had stopped.

“I think Lambert Park might be OK for riding,” I suggested. “It’s sandy soil and drains fast,” I continued, exuding a confidence I didn’t feel.

We headed out. I was stressed out about the possibility of mud bogs that would swallow bikes and passengers whole; Ed was just stoked to be riding his new bike.

As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. The rain had served to turn the previously dusty trails into perfect, tacky, grippy trails. And to cause most of the leaves on the trees to fall, creating an unbelievably beautiful carpet for us to ride on.


Looks like The Hammer was enjoying the ride too.


We got in ninety minutes of riding before it started getting dark. Time enough for us to ride most of the good trails in Lambert Park, time enough for Ed to absolutely totally fall in love with his new bike, and time enough for me to consider how lucky I had been in my random selection. Not only is Ed a strong rider who could appreciate a good bike and a good trail, he’s also an incredibly easy-going guy who was stoked to get in as much riding as was humanly possible during the weekend.

After finishing the ride, we ate bratwurst. Lots and lots of bratwurst.

I then forced him to join my family as we watched the second half of the second movie in The Lord of The Rings.

Sadly, Ed fell asleep. Which was probably a good thing, since — weather permitting — we had a big ride ahead of us the next day.

Day 2: The Big Ride

I woke up at 1:30am, to the sound of rain. I knew that American Fork Canyon was simply out of the question. We wouldn’t be riding there.

But — but — Corner Canyon was still a possibility. At least I sure hoped it was, because the thought of having someone fly all the way out to Utah to then go riding nowhere but in Lambert Park seemed a trifle . . . underwhelming.

I figured the trick would be to stall a little bit. Give the trail a little time to dry out.

So we went to Kneaders for breakfast and got their famous Cinnamon Bread French Toast, which — on Saturdays — is an all-you-can-eat proposition.

“I had kind of thought maybe I’d lose a little bit of weight during this trip, what with all the riding,” said Ed.

I snorted in reply. “Nobody loses weight when they hang out with me.”

We put Ed’s Mojo — no longer looking like a brand-new bike — on the Bikemobile’s rack (I have fork mounts for only two bikes in the truck bed).


It was overcast and cold, even though the forecast had promised us no rain for the rest of the day.

We got started on the trail, with me staring suspiciously at the trail, which was wet, but not muddy.

And that’s the way it stayed, getting better and better as the hours went by. Up Anne’s Trail, which is unfortunately very ugly right now, due to the fall colors:


And then Rush, followed by Canyon Hollow and Ghost, finishing up with Creek View:


Oh, and while I had the camera out, I took a self-portrait, too:


I like this picture mostly because I look very handsome in it. And also because it looks like my helmet is the exact same color as the sky.

In the end, we did 3800 feet of climbing in one big ride. Not at all a bad day for a flatlander / sea-level-dweller.

But that wasn’t enough for Ed.

After we got home, I grilled burgers, after which Ed suggested we head back out to Lambert park for a quick ride before it got dark.

I believe that Ed may like that new bike of his.

I’m happy to report, however, that after we got back from that second ride of the day, I countered any calories burned with The Best Cake in The World, topped with homemade ice cream.

We then watched the first half of the third movie in The Lord of The Rings, during which Ed fell asleep.

Last Day

Ed had a flight to catch in the early afternoon, but we still had time for a quick ride in Corner Canyon. We rode up Clark’s — the only trail Ed hadn’t been up the previous day — with the intent to continue on up Jacob’s Ladder, then down Ghost and back to the parking lot.

To my delight and relief, when we got to the top of Clark’s, Ed reported he’d had enough climbing. He was tired out.

Which was pretty much exactly the measure of success I was looking for.

We bombed down Rush one last time, Ed catching all kinds of air on the hundreds of whoop-de-doos on the way down.

We returned Ed to the airport on time and uninjured.

I’ll ship his bike to him once I’m finished riding it myself for a couple months.

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