Meet Your Competitors: 2013 Salt to Saint Race Report, Part II

09.24.2013 | 6:19 am

A Note from Fatty: Part I of the report is here.

A Note from Fatty About the Salt to Saint Race Format: Quite a few people commented about the racer in the green shirt in the background of a couple of the photos yesterday. Sadly, I don’t know who that is. He does represent, however, one of the things I loved about this race, though: diversity of participants. The Salt to Saint allows soloists (like The Hammer and me and a few others), four-person, and eight-person teams. On an eight-person team, each racer does around 50 miles of racing, with plenty of time between turns. 

Salt to Saint even has an open division, which allows you to propose your own number of racers on your team. For example, this year there was a nine-person team named “18-Wheeler,” which I thought was fantastic.

On another team, I saw a dad with a different one of his children on each of his legs of the race. This kind of team-size flexibility allows anyone  to be a part of the race, instead of just people (like me) who have gone a little overboard with their biking (and racing) obsession. And with the reasonably short race segments (13-20 miles, if I remember correctly), most people don’t have to worry about whether they can complete their part of the race. 

In other words, Salt to Saint is a total relay road race gateway drug. 

Let’s Start Off By Going The Wrong Direction

So here’s what has happened so far, just to refresh your memory.

Our crew — and all our stuff — was stranded with a truck that had decided — for SECURITY’s sake — to not allow anyone to turn the key in the ignition. The race had started, and The Hammer and I had taken off after expressing our confidence to our crew that they would — somehow — either get the truck started or get someone else to the starting line, transfer all our gear over, and then find us on the course.

Well, at least that gave The Hammer and me something to talk about as we rode. Which was a good thing, because I have a problem when I race: restraint.

Or, more to the point, my problem is lack of restraint. Which is to say, I tend to take off as if the finish line is in sight, even — apparently — when the finish line is a ridiculous distance away.

Here, look:


Yep, that’s me on the left, standing up at the starting line, doing everything I can to not launch an attack. 

Yeesh, what a dork.

[Side Note: You'll notice that neither The Hammer nor I have race numbers on these bikes. This is because our race numbers are on our Shivs, which we expected to spend most of the race on (but we wanted to use our road bikes for the first 50 miles or so, mostly because of the four-mile, 1300-feet Suncrest climb).]

But I did not launch an attack. No. We talked about the fact that we were in quite a predicament. And that it was incredibly weird for us because we are both planners and love to nail down every last detail of how we’re going to approach a race and now, here we were, at the beginning of the longest — by a factor of more than two — ride of our lives, and we couldn’t control anything. All we could do is ride, and trust that the people we had asked to take care of us…would actually find a way to take care of us.

And we were so absorbed in the discussion of what a strange start to the race this had been…that two blocks after the start of the race, we missed a turn.

We Meet Russell

In our defense, we were not the only people to miss that turn. We were, in fact, just being sheeple racers: following the line of the racers ahead of us. And about ten of us had just blown through a well-marked turn.

Who knows what would have happened if someone with keener eyesight and less of an inclination to just follow the wheels in front of them hadn’t yelled out? We’d still be out there, man. We’d. Still. Be. Out. There.

As is, we only went out of our way by fifty feet or so, and that would be the only wrong turn (OK, actually there would be one more, and it would be more extensive) of our entire trip; the Salt to Saint guys did a fantastic job of marking the course.

As we rode, we’d look at people’s race numbers. The Hammer told me we should be on the lookout for other racers with race plates from 52 to 54 (we were 50 and 51) — the other solo riders in the race. 

A moment later, we caught up with Russell Mason, racer 54. We wished him luck as we went by, then I said to The Hammer, “Well, at least we’re no longer in last place.”

“Yeah,” she said, “But I wonder if he knows something we don’t. Maybe we’re going too fast and we’re going to blow up before we’re halfway done with the race.”

“I don’t feel like we’re going too hard. Do you?” I asked.

“No. And no matter how slow we go, we’re going to be sore and tired by the end of this race. So we may as well go at least at a medium effort. Let’s just try to never go into the red zone.”

We Meet Jacob and Jason

The Hammer and I kept on going at our nice medium pace, talking about how odd it was to be riding where we trained, but as a race. “We won’t really start counting it as a race ’til we get a hundred or so miles into it, OK?” The Hammer said.

We climbed up Wasatch Boulevard, a popular road for riding in our area, and that’s when we came across racers 52 and 53, Jason and Jake. “Hey, check us out. 80% of the solo riders are bunched up together!” I exclaimed.

“Are you riding together?” The Hammer asked.

“Sure, let’s work together, either Jake or Jason answered, misunderstanding her.

Still, it was a good idea, and we would have been happy to be part of a rotating paceline of four solo riders.

Except The Hammer’s chain chose that moment to fall off.

“Go on, we’ll catch you in a little while,” I said as they went by, although I had no expectation that we would actually catch them.

It took The Hammer only a few seconds to get her chain back on, although the fact that it had happened at all made me nervous. First the truck, then the wrong turn, then what could well be a problem with her front derailleur.

“This day isn’t starting out at all well,” I said. “A whole day’s worth of bad stuff has happened during the first hour of this race.”

And five minutes later, another whole day’s worth of trouble would begin.


  1. Comment by Andrew | 09.24.2013 | 6:43 am

    Everyone else must be asleep, I am the first comment. WOW!

    Now I have to ask with 180+ points to make how can you tease us so with sutch a short post?

    Do have to admit I am everything from envious to inspired. Luckily for me the good cycling weather is heading my way as we head intro spring and summer.

    With that in mind when will my New Jersey arrive down under?



  2. Comment by john | 09.24.2013 | 7:50 am

    Just how many editions is this story going to take to tell- I am thinking it is the same number as cliffhangers our Fat friend can create – there are sure to be 7-8 in such a long race.

  3. Comment by Mark | 09.24.2013 | 8:24 am

    Can’t wait to read the next report. You have certainly got the “tease” down to an art.

  4. Comment by Rose | 09.24.2013 | 8:50 am

    Arrggghhhhh! I could barely handle all the thunderstorm/landslide cliffhangers. Now this. You are killing me.

  5. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.24.2013 | 8:54 am

    @Andrew Thank you for taking New Jersey…as long as we keep Manhattan. Remember you get Snookie with New Jersey.

    @Fatty, you should save the last installment for this story for The Gran Fondo. Either around the campfire the night before, (sure we’ll build a campfire), or as a rolling blog on the ride. Imagine other Fatties trying to hold your wheel listening to you tell the story.

    Foreshadowing, tension, plot development. This story has it all, and it’s still early! Maybe mid way through this story we could get a review from your High School English teacher as a Guest Post! Can that be done?

  6. Comment by bikemike | 09.24.2013 | 9:03 am

    Well now, that’s very comical in that those were the words out of my mother’s mouth the minute i was born. “Another whole day’s worth of trouble is about to begin.”

  7. Comment by Turn The Damn Cranks | 09.24.2013 | 9:37 am

    I think bikemike just won the internet. But if not, Fatty, please keep in mind that there’s no law against two posts in one day. And there’s no law requiring you to stick to your usual Wednesday day off. Just sayin’

  8. Comment by wharton_crew | 09.24.2013 | 9:37 am

    Friends of Fatty unite!! With this ‘open format’, we should form a team of 20 FoF, and ride 1 segment each (average of 20 miles per person)!

    I will volunteer for the downhill section into St. George from Cedar City. ;-)

    I’m sure we can arrange pie for each stop.

    Who’s in??

  9. Comment by Jerry Pringle | 09.24.2013 | 10:59 am

    I laughed, I cried. Lovin the cliff…

  10. Comment by SteveB | 09.24.2013 | 11:07 am

    That would be the ‘Cliffs of Insanity’, which is where I’ll be around post #20 of this story… still, a teaser a day keeps the mouse clicks in play…

    Also this: next year at Davis, I’m definitely rigging up the ‘MattC Trademark Bungie Assistant’ to Elden’s seat post so that I too can benefit from the patented Fatty Rabbit Start.

  11. Comment by Geo | 09.24.2013 | 11:13 am

    You must have been watching a lot of soap operas to get the cliffhanger down to an art form.

  12. Comment by andy@wdw | 09.24.2013 | 11:16 am

    For me, I’m afraid the 100 Miles of Nowhere is the gateway drug. You lure me in with promises of helping people and BAM next thing I know I’m googling century rides and fantasizing about what the best bike for the Leadville 100 would be.

  13. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 09.24.2013 | 11:29 am

    Fatty tells us he has some 180 plus points to make in his posts about this epic race. Methinks we will be reading about the Salt to Saint long after the Grand Fondo is complete and a somewhat distant memory. I sense a backlog of post-to-be piling up.

    That said, please keep them coming. The suspense at the end of each installment is hard to bear, and keeps us coming back faithfully for more and more.

    An epic ride desrves an epic story.

    My Twin Six jersey order came in over the weekend. Beautiful jersey, I must say. Totally suitable for a group ride with other FoFs in full daylight. Totally unsuitable for an early morning commute with the lights – but that’s not why I bought it, so I am totally happy.

  14. Comment by iRide | 09.24.2013 | 1:02 pm

    I stand at the beginning of rides also but it has nothing to do with speed. Usually I’m cold, tired, lazy and sore so it’s easier to just stand and pedal for awhile.

  15. Comment by SusanW | 09.24.2013 | 1:33 pm

    A-N-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N … I’m loving it!

  16. Comment by Anonymous | 09.24.2013 | 1:41 pm

    Oh! I’m already dreading this ride. 1. It’s long and 2. It’s not starting off well.

    The story, though, is starting off splendidly!

  17. Comment by GregC | 09.24.2013 | 1:46 pm

    As I count the blog points covered in the entry, I couldn’t come up with more than about 6, so if we had 12 in episode 1 and 6 in episode 2, we have at least 171 points left – lots of good reading to look forward to. (hey, I’m an engineer, we need metrics to track progress!) Keep the good stuff coming!

  18. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.24.2013 | 1:58 pm

    @GreggC as a long time reader and first time commentator, you should know better than anyone that Fatty is soon going into bicycle hibernation. That is unless he get’s his 9Zero7 that Ak CHick is lobbying for.

    So these multi part stories, with an intermission for The Gran Fondo (you really should come) and another for 25hrs of Frog Hollow (late October or Early November) sets us on pace for the dramatic aria in Act III sometime around Christmas (cue the Valkeries)

  19. Comment by Wife#1 | 09.24.2013 | 1:59 pm

    Do we have to wait to find out what the deal was with the mileage discrepancy between your trackers (at +/- 454 miles) and the original route distance which you posted as 420?

    If that’s not one of the big moments of the ride, feel free to have ONE thing that doesn’t leave us in suspense for weeks on end. ;-)

    Sure. The ride distance that was advertised in the race bible was 423 miles. Our total mileage came in at…423.6 miles. The 454 miles thing on the live tracking is a glitch in the tracking software or something; I don’t know where it came from. – FC

  20. Comment by Kukui | 09.24.2013 | 2:18 pm

    Fatty, you are a mad genius.

    You could write a “Cliffhanger’s Book of Cliffhangers” and then draw it out into three parts…

    You come back from rides with amazingly amazing stories to tell (I come back from rides exhilirated and exhausted, but lacking in any creative words)…

    AND you keep us coming back everyday, hoping for more!


  21. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.24.2013 | 2:23 pm

    well, that was succinct.

  22. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.24.2013 | 3:21 pm

    So Fatties, we have a favor to ask.
    100MoN 2013
    #1 Son, Rune is in the 5th grade. Several of you met him in June when we rode the Livestrong Davis Century together. Rune’s class has a major assignment this year to send a journal around the United States collecting stories about different parts of the country. Recipients are asked to write at least one page in the journal (it arrives with an outline of ideas to include) and to then send a post card to the school from their area that is then posted in the classroom, building a mosaic of images from around the country. Then forward that journal on to someone else.

    The thing is, we did this two years ago for our daughter Sage, and of course used our own immediate family and friends. But, truth is though, we don’t actually have that many family and friends outside of California (and this needs to be outside CA only), so then Rune and I thought of another family, you!

    I would like to get a list of FoF’s willing to help with this project. You would be asked to write in the journal about yourself, send the postcard, and forward the journal packet onward to the next FOF on the list. It’s a big request and we appreciate the time involved, and that there will be a nominal cost to mail to the next recipient and send a postcard, so I’ll make you an offer….

    I will donate $25.00 under YOUR name either to the next Fatty Contest in your name (you win the prize) or to the charity of your choice in your name.
    (but let’s set a cap of 20 people since the kids always need new riding shoes)

    We’d love to hear about Alaska, Upstate NY and Manhattan, Kansas, Minnesota, Florida, heck, just about anywhere but California(sorry Gregg and Matt) I know over the years I’ve read numerous stories from lots of Fatties all over the country. Care to share with some 5th Graders?

    Let Us know, and thank you.
    DavidH-Marin, Ca
    Favorite Daughter
    aka The Houstons
    homerhouserugs at yahoo dot com

  23. Comment by GregC | 09.24.2013 | 5:19 pm

    @Davidh-marin,ca: some have suggested that Southern California is a completly be a differnt country (not just state) than Northern California. I did grow up in a different state too?

  24. Comment by Doug (way upstate NY) | 09.24.2013 | 5:34 pm

    This ride is like the training ride!

    @David & wife#1 check your email…I can help!

  25. Comment by Kukui | 09.24.2013 | 5:37 pm

    @Davidh-marin,ca: What a fun project! I’m sending you an email (from Seattle, WA).


  26. Comment by Donnie Barnes | 09.24.2013 | 6:17 pm

    Where do I subscribe to the version of this blog that gives me the entire race/ride report all at one time, and on the SAME DAY that everyone else sees just the first part?

    These teasers are killing me.


  27. Comment by Nancy_in_MN | 09.24.2013 | 8:46 pm

    @FC! Did you pick up your very own copy of “Cliffhangers for Dummies”? Or will we discover that you were a major contributor in it’s writing?

  28. Comment by AKChick | 09.24.2013 | 10:58 pm

    DAVIDH!! I’m SO in for Rune’s journal! Pick me for Alaska!!! :) Please, please, please! Wife#1 and I are soulmates so that has to count for something right? :)Sending an email from Alaska!

    Also, I ask you, my dear friends of Fatty or FoF if you please, isn’t this beauty custom made for Fatty? You have to click on the orange and black frame to enlarge it. It SCREAMS Fatcyclist! He would amazing riding that bike at Rebecca’s Private Idaho…I’d say Leadville, but I’ve heard they aren’t the best climbing bikes.

    Also, wharton crew, I wish airfare wasn’t so expensive as I’d LOVE to do this ride as a relay, but I think I’d need to do 100 miles so would want to be part of a mixed crew or a women’s team (Wife#1? Jenni?). It’s probably insanely expensive to enter, but very tempting!

  29. Comment by AKChick | 09.24.2013 | 11:05 pm

    I think I figured out how to get the large photo of Fatty’s next bike to post…here goes:

  30. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 09.25.2013 | 4:59 am

    Salsa is making a sweet fat bike too. If this one doesn’t make you want to ride, for a long long time, nothing will:

  31. Comment by roan | 09.25.2013 | 5:09 am

    Part 2b, gonna be a long read.

  32. Comment by ClydeinKS | 09.25.2013 | 7:05 am

    @Davidh – consider KS covered, or at least a part of KS covered. That sounds like an awesome project. Have @wife#1 check her email – I’m in!

  33. Comment by slo joe | 09.25.2013 | 7:12 am

    Keeps me virtually cycling in not so cycle friendly Sao Paulo!!

    @Davidh: Want something from Sao Paulo Brazil? Let me know

  34. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.25.2013 | 8:50 am

    @Doug (way upstate NY)
    That’s one awesome bike. (even Rune thought it cool) But obviously you have now transcended into that higher plane of Ti…everything. Consider a Ti wedding band like mine. Shave weight where you can, and almost indestructible.

  35. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.25.2013 | 8:55 am

    @slo joe A story about cycling in Sao Paolo!!!! Now there’s an adventure story.

    Thanks for the offer for the 5th Grade report, but they need a US based tour.

    @Jeff, Nancy, Doug, Ken, Akeyla, and Sasha. Thank you so much! #1 Son is building a fine road map for the US, hope others will join in.

  36. Comment by Diane | 09.25.2013 | 10:20 am

    @Davidh-marin,ca – I would love to be able to help with Rune’s journal (no donation required-it sounds fun) but like Greg and Matt I too live in California.

    @AKChick -you rock- the Alaska segment is in good hands.

  37. Comment by Rabi | 10.6.2013 | 7:04 pm

    Just found your blog – loving this read. I totally hear you on the weird feeling of racing where you train. Last weekend, probably 180 miles into a double century through unfamiliar territory, I hit a stretch I ride a couple times a week. Ironically disorienting when you’re used to riding roads you don’t know.


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