Rebecca’s Private Idaho Ride Report, Part 3

09.5.2013 | 6:58 am

I forget things. I forget things all the time. There is very likely, in fact, something I should be doing right now, but I’ve forgotten what it is. I forget appointments. I forget to call people back. I forget names (instantly, usually). I forget why I’ve walked into a room.

And until last weekend, riding Rebecca’s Private Idaho, I had forgotten what it’s like to be riding in an event that has a few hundred people in it, rather than more than a thousand.

But now I remember: it’s really nice. 

Another thing I had forgotten: it’s really nice to just ride a big event sometimes, rather than race it.

And that’s what The Hammer and I were doing: riding side-by-side, talking, enjoying the view, and saying “hi” to folks as we passed them, or as they passed us. Which happened pretty infrequently.

And Now for a Word From Rebecca’s Sponsor

I generally don’t drink Red Bull. It’s not that I have anything against it — it’s just not a big part of my life. 

But Red Bull is one of Rebecca Rusch’s sponsors, and there was a nice big ice chest full of Red Bull at each of the aid stations.

And so, as I ate handfuls of baked potatoes and potato chips (as if I were trying to support the local economy or something), I opened a Red Bull. And it was fantastic

My problem, evidently, is that I hadn’t ever had Red Bull while in the middle of a long, hot, dusty ride, while eating a big mouthful of potato chips.

“C’mere,” I said to The Hammer. “Eat some of these, and then drink some of this.”

She agreed. Red Bull, under these circumstances, is even better than Coke. 

And thus, without regard to whether I was leaving any for anyone else, I drank a minimum of one Red Bull at each aid station. But usually two, because the cans aren’t really all that big. 

And also, because I’m a glutton. No, not for punishment. I’m just a glutton.

And I liked the way they made my eyeballs vibrate at a barely-subsonic speed.

I Believe I’ll Pat Myself on the Back Some More

The Hammer and I rode our all-day pace, happy on our bikes, the headwind keeping the day from becoming uncomfortably hot.

We got to the third aid station, which is the beginning of the loop part of the lollipop-style course:


And it was during this part of the course that I went from suspecting the mountain bike was the right kind of bike for me for this course to knowing it was.

It’s a bumpy course. With a lot of loose gravel. And a lot of rocks. And a lot of people on CX bikes, changing out tubes.

And, as the day got hotter and the course got rougher, we could see it in people’s slack faces and dead eyes as they endured yet another stretch of downhill washboards on their CX bikes: they envied me.

And who could blame them?

[Note: For what it's worth, I did not see a single MTB rider changing a flat. And also for what it's worth, I really can't imagine that the Buffalo would have gotten around that course without flatting (and I had no tools or tubes to fix a flat on that bike).]

I Am A Wonderful Husband

We hit that third aid station a second time, just as Greg Fisher — one of the geniuses behind Bike Monkey (and who may be a part-time attorney) — rolled away. My hopes of riding with him were dashed.

Which was particularly hard to bear, considering that based on the group photo we had taken earlier in the morning, we are BFFs. And stuff.


Greg’s the one in the middle. Oh, and also, he stars in this, my favorite bike race ad of all time:

(Greg’s the one doing his toenails, shooting the blowdart, and operating the compressed air horn.)

Well fine. We’d ride without him, then.

According to the way everything should be in a neat and orderly universe, The Hammer and I had a nice, easy 25 miles or so. It was downhill, and we’d had a headwind on this section on the way in, so we should have a tailwind on the way back.

Which we did. For about four minutes. “This is wonderful!” The Hammer exclaimed. We were cruising along at 25mph, without even trying.

And then, in an instant, the wind switched. Somehow, we had a headwind again.

“This is…no longer wonderful,” The Hammer exclaimed, with considerably less enthusiasm in the previous exclamation.

And here’s the part where I show what a wonderful husband I am. 

For the next fifteen or twenty miles, I got out front and did the pulling, with The Hammer only coming around and taking a turn pulling when I was completely wiped out.

Which, if my calculations are right, was no more often than 50% of the time.

Yes, you read it right. I pulled at least half the time on the way back, in spite of the harsh headwind.

It’s possible I even pulled more than that. 

I Am Very Strategic

As we worked our way back to the Trail Creek Summit Aid Station — the first and final one, as well as the end-point of the first and last KOM segments — I started looking forward, trying to see where the timing mat was.

I had heard reports that the start of this segment was anywhere from two to four miles away from the summit, which meant that once I hit the mat, I needed to go at the hardest pace I could sustain…pretty much indefinitely.

But I had a theory that made me think I was going to do OK in this segment. And my theory was this: I had been going below my limit most of the day (except in the first KOM segment). Which meant that I still should have quite a bit of gas left in my tank (figuratively). 

I was thinking that this might give me an edge over the guys who had been going at full-tilt for their whole rides. They might have a much faster finishing time than I’d have, but I’d be fresher for the second KOM segment. 

And there it was: the timing mat. “Bye, Hon (I call The Hammer “Hon,” which I know is a very unusual nickname for a spouse),” I yelled, then stood up and attacked as if I were doing something meaningful. 

The first two miles went by. I had passed a lot of people, but the summit was nowhere in sight. 

There was Greg. I passed him and yelled at him to come ride with me. He declined, possibly because he didn’t understand my invitation, which might have sounded like, “Grggcmmmrrrrmm!”

I kept going. 

Three miles had gone by. I was in an ugly place. A place where I was going as close to a sprint as I could without blowing up. And I had no idea how much longer I’d be riding before I hit the summit. I had no idea whether I was going as fast as the fast guys, or nowhere close. 

I didn’t turn around and look to see who was behind me, because I was worried that as I did so, someone would ride right by me.

Then. There it was: a flag indicating the summit, and the timing mat right by it. I stood up and went through the motions of a final sprint, though I’d bet pretty much anything that I didn’t actually accelerate.

3.9 miles, 446 feet of climbing, in 16:07.

I pulled off to the side of the road and went and had what probably my fifth Red Bull of the day. 

Within five minutes, The Hammer pulled across the mat, looking beat. She dropped her bike and came and got a Red Bull too.

Moments later, Greg rode across the mat, gave us the backhanded V flip-off and continued on his way. 

Greg rides alone, man. Greg. Rides. Alone.

The Hammer Is Very Strategic, Too

Rebecca had done a very smart thing when organizing this event: she put the timing mat for the finish line out of town. That way there wouldn’t be a bunch of attacking cyclists barreling into the center of town where the ceremonial finish line was. 

This resulted in an extraordinary opportunity, which The Hammer pointed out to me: the condo where we were staying was between the timing mat and the ceremonial finish line. Which meant we could get our finishing time, then take a shower, then ride across the ceremonial finishing line. 

Which was a good thing, because after a day of riding on dusty dirt roads, I looked like this:

IMG 7257

The stripes on my head are particularly attractive, wouldn’t you agree?

We showered, put on comfortable clothes — cuz we were planning on staying at the finish line party / festival for the rest of the day — and got back on our bikes, startling everyone there with our extraordinarily dirt-free faces.

I Am The Fastest Guy Except The Guys Who Are Faster Than I Am

The Hammer and I dropped off our bikes with the bike valet, then saw Levi and Odessa having lunch at a nearby restaurant. We invited ourselves to sit with them and eat. Knowing Odessa is a vegetarian, I looked carefully at what Levi was eating before ordering myself. 

Elk burger. I was safe.

We sat around, eating and telling stories about the day. Levi asked why I didn’t come up and ride to the lead group at the start of the first climb. “I wasn’t going that much faster than you,” he said.

“I was going my very fastest,” I said. “I wasn’t holding anything back.”

“Huh,” Levi replied. He then opened his mouth as if to say something, and then refrained. Which, I’m pretty sure, was an act of kindness.

Then it was time to find out how I had done in the KOM segments. And I’m happy to report, I WON. Check out the green bar about midway down this image, indicating the winner of the men’s KOM contest:

IMG 7268

Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that unbelievable?!

Unfortunately, it was unbelievable. In reality, there were at least a few people who did those sections faster. Levi did, for one thing — it’s just that he had ruined his timing chip by putting his race number on all wacky (and evidently not putting the redundant timing chip that attaches to the seat post on at all), so he didn’t show a time for those segments. But he did have Strava going, so they were able to get his time posted, moving me down a notch:


But wait a second. What about Burke Swindlehurst, who had the fastest time for the overall event? As it turns out, he had done something wacky with his timing chip too. But he didn’t Strava the ride, so he didn’t have a time show up on the KOM results.

Pros. Pffff. I tell you.

Oh, and what about Yuri Hauswald, whose time was the second fastest for the whole event? Well, Yuri did in fact have his timing chip set up correctly; he just was too focused on racing the whole thing and didn’t bother with the KOM timing mats. 

And there were probably more people who had faster KOM segment times than me who didn’t get recorded, due to not following directions. But I think I can safely declare myself: KOM Champion: “People Who Are Not Flummoxed By Technology, Attended the Pre-Race Meeting, and Followed The Directions” Division.

Hey, I’ll take whatever I can get. 

Levi still got the KOM hat, though:


Taking silver (or bronze, or whatever it is I actually got) to that isn’t so bad.

Most Awesome Moment of the Day

With racing and awards out of the way, we moved on to eating, hanging out, and — for those who were brave enough to try — Gelande Quaffing, the rules of which I never understood, and also the rules of which I don’t think are very important, because it results in photos like this:

RebeccasPrivateIdaho 5421

But to be honest, I didn’t care much about that, because I saw a guy finish the ride on the absolute coolest bike in the world, which he let me try out:

IMG 7264

A fat bike with aero bars. 

I can now die happy.


  1. Comment by rob W | 09.5.2013 | 2:03 pm

    Yo Fatty
    Are elk burgers good?
    Looks like a great event! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Comment by Rob George | 09.5.2013 | 2:14 pm

    Greetings from Wales. Great write up, well done to all involved. :)

  3. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.5.2013 | 2:14 pm

    Selective quoting allows for scenarios like this:

    Another thing I had forgotten: it’s really nice to just ride a big event sometimes, rather than race it.

    And that’s what The Hammer and I were doing: riding side-by-side, talking, enjoying the view, and saying “hi” to folks…

    …“This is wonderful!” The Hammer exclaimed. We were cruising along at 25mph…

    Next year Buffalos, so we can at least hold your wheel.

    Part I comments has a GREAT comment from Josh Kline:
    I would argue that the Buffalo is a perfect ride for a long haul. The gear-ratio is fantastic and worked well for me in the flats of Chicago and the foothills of the Cascades. Slight-to-no risk of a mechanical. The steel bell works well to signal a pass of $10,000 Pinarello Dogmas during climbs. ;) –

    I would suggest you are capable of ‘ringing the bell’ quite often!

    See more at:

    Love this report, this event, and hope next year we can make a Team Fatty round up, much like Davis, or Levis GF. There’s worse places to get together than Sun Valley.

  4. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.5.2013 | 2:35 pm

    A Fat Bike with aero bars: It ALSO has disc brakes, rigid hard tail, and apparently a little compartment between the top bar & down tube that must contain a little electric motor.

    This thing almost qualifies for BSNYC Lone Wolf status!

  5. Comment by Adventure Monkey | 09.5.2013 | 3:26 pm

    That’s my fatbike! It was great finally meeting you and getting you, Fatty, on a fatty. Nope, no motor and I finished the race with busted ribs and a terrible head cold that almost took me out of the race. Oh and I had open heart surgery last year… no biggie. I do run Adventure Monkey so I had to do it!

    And to be clear, I wasn’t kidding about the awesomeness of that bike. Thanks for letting me borrow it for a spin around the parking lot. – FC

  6. Comment by roan | 09.5.2013 | 4:18 pm

    Great write up, I luv non-race, small number of riders events too. Ah, I’ve lost my speed toggle somewhere.
    Adventure Monkey, luv the aero bars, you probably use them in winter for gear bag attachment. But having them on a snowbike in summer conditions sure makes for a good head turner.

  7. Comment by AKChick55 | 09.5.2013 | 6:50 pm

    I love the fatbike! I see one in your future! Not sure about aerobars though.

    That commercial was so awesome! Very well done. How do the bike monkeys end up in her tree? :)

    I’d have to say that CX bikes are really made for shorter events. I would have ridden my heavy hard tail MTB if I’d been lucky enough to win the contest. I want to do this event someday. Looks like so much fun!

    Thanks for chronicling it for us!

  8. Comment by Jesse | 09.5.2013 | 7:32 pm

    The last time I ate an elk sandwich (mine was sausage), I hit one with my car 8 hours later. Karma? Hope Levi made it home safe.

    Sounds like you and The Hammer should pick up a coupla Salsa Fargos for next year’s ride.

  9. Comment by Diane | 09.5.2013 | 9:40 pm

    The probability of a Fatty meet-up could entice me to cough up and register for the Levi’s Grand Fondo.

    Seriously, how does everyone afford to race every weekend? Or is that just Fatty?

  10. Comment by UpTheGrade SR CA | 09.5.2013 | 10:04 pm

    Fatty, if you’re getting times close to levi, you are indeed super fast. I am also amazed at how fast the Hammer went, faster than most of both sexes! You are both incredible.

    It would be nice of you to let us know the answer to the puzle you posed us yesterday – what was wrong with the photos – I need closure;-)

  11. Comment by ScottyCycles | 09.6.2013 | 12:11 am

    Once again a great write-up!Is there going to be a Team Fatty meet up at Levi’s Gran Fondo this year? I’m willing to take my pulls to keep us out front.

  12. Comment by MattC | 09.6.2013 | 9:07 am

    Still think you should have ridden the buffalo…sure, I know…easy for me to say…but you KNOW we all revel in hearing about your suffering. I’m sure there are little girls down in Africa right now reading about your ride (on their wi-fi i-pads) thinking ‘what a wuss’ as they outrun charging water-buffalos and stalking lions and such on their prized buffalo bike (which is more than 50% of their body weigiht btw) while carrying 10 gallons of water and their brother.

  13. Comment by Greg | 09.6.2013 | 10:58 am

    Fatty (and the Hammer, by way of extension) left a few things out here. I would have loved to ride with them and we have much to discuss, but seeing those dreaded pink racing stripes meant that I was operating on a thin margin. While I spent most of my day at RPI as a cracked little bantam egg, I knew that cycling’s latest power couple would crush me into powder if I didn’t stay as far in front of them as possible. For all FC’s self-effacement, he and H-Rock are waaaay capable on the bike. I needed to stay off that knifepoint as long as I could or I was going to wither. When Fatty, and later, the Hammer, blew by me on the last KOM segment like I was knitting a sweater of sadness with my pedals, this was confirmed.

    Greg does ride alone. Because he’s scared to death of Elden Nelson.

  14. Comment by Christina | 09.6.2013 | 11:35 am

    ^ I sense a new T6 t-shirt featuring a quote.

    I go 25 mph with a significant tailwind. I never cruise along at 25. You guys are bike gods.

  15. Comment by Libby | 09.6.2013 | 11:49 am

    Yes! What ARE the answers to the photo quizzes? Depth of field? Your pretty mug not in them?

    Love the dirt stripes…tres chic.

  16. Comment by AKChick | 09.6.2013 | 2:26 pm

    No! Fatty and H-Rock (is Greg not the most awesomest at prose?!!!) need 9:Zero:7 fat bikes!! They need to ask Levi to let them try his 9:Zero:7 when they travel to his Gran Fondo! They are the bestest and Bill (one of the co-owners and creator of said bike) is one of the coolest cyclists I know! He used to race in the Iditabike (which is where the fat bike idea and 9:Zero:7 were born).

  17. Comment by AKChick | 09.6.2013 | 2:27 pm

    Bestest fat tire bike ever (they now come in CARBON framesets!!!)

    You guys and gals know you want one!

  18. Comment by AKChick | 09.6.2013 | 2:31 pm

    Annnddd just to confuse me – there are two websites: this has the carbon frameset (one of which has Fatty colors – destiny?)

  19. Comment by Nancy_in_MN | 09.6.2013 | 2:36 pm

    @FC, Loving this race/ride report and I adore hearing about the fun side of serious racers (among which I count you), But I’m just a little miffed about rolling in to the weekend without the answer to the mysterious wrong thing in the pictures. For all the kind and wonderful things you do, I think there is a teensy little mean streak in you.

    @Greg Love this! “Knitting a sweater of sadness with my pedals” Klickity Klack!!!

  20. Comment by Wife#1 | 09.6.2013 | 4:01 pm

    Me too, me too – LOVE “Knitting a sweater of sadness with my pedals”

    I want that on the front of a t-shirt and “riding “sweep” on the back. :-)

  21. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.7.2013 | 1:10 am


    “Will Knit for GU”.

  22. Comment by Wife#1 | 09.7.2013 | 11:45 am

    @husband#1 – I don’t get it. :-)

  23. Comment by Richard | 09.7.2013 | 3:27 pm


    Another Great entry! Question what did your run training look like during your Ironman?? I am looking to just cycling next year and IM in 2015 and was curious.

  24. Comment by Susie H | 09.7.2013 | 6:25 pm

    Is it me or did the Hammer beat Rebecca??? :-)

  25. Comment by Sunny | 09.8.2013 | 1:46 pm

    Favorite line of all…”I liked the way it made my eyeballs vibrate at a barely sub-sonic speed.” hilarious!

    BTW…Congrats to both of you. Sounded like an amazing event.

  26. Comment by Daniel Simon | 09.9.2013 | 5:10 am

    Hope everything is OK out by you Sir.
    Saw what went thru Alpine.

  27. Comment by Rebecca | 09.9.2013 | 8:32 am

    Mr. Fat T and The Hammer-
    Why yes, both of you beat me and shredded the KQOMs! To Susie H, while I won’t take anything away from their achievements, they were my invited guests and I was stoked to share my training ground with them. However, I was not racing Rebecca’s Private Idaho. I was the hostess. In fact I only completed about 70 miles of the Big Potato route, which is why my name does not appear on the overall results. My job out there was to ride and chat with as many folks as I could, socialize at aid stations, fix flat tires along the way, offer moral support and really make sure all my guests were having fun. Like Fatty, I absolutely LOVED riding this way. So much of my time is spent racing my guts out, focusing on power, speed, HR etc. I was really basking in the joy of just riding with over 200 friends in my own back yard. I will also say that launching and hosting a first year event is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I literally did not do one regular workout or significant ride since Leadville. If I had been forced to race my own event, I’m not sure I could have made it in the condition I was in. I’m still recovering and relishing in the joy of such an awesome event. Thanks FC and The Hammer for being part of year #1. I had a blast.

    You put on an incredible event, and I LOVED the way you were out there on the course. I swear, you were EVERYWHERE, talking with everyone and obviously soaking up the success you had earned with this event. More than once, I thought to myself, “Reba is doing this just right.” You can (and do) race any day; you only get to throw your own Private Idaho once a year! – FC

  28. Comment by MattC | 09.9.2013 | 9:27 am

    I also agree on a new T-6 Fatty T-shirt:

    “I’m not going slow, I’m Knitting a sweater of sadness with my pedals”.


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