Team Fatty Cannot Seem To Catch A Break: 2013 Salt to Saint Race Report, Part III

09.25.2013 | 6:45 am

A Note from Fatty: I’ll be doing a spreecast tomorrow. More details in tomorrow’s post, but allow me to recommend you clear your calendar tomorrow at 7pm ET / 4pm PT.

A Note from Fatty About Today’s Post: This is the third part in what promises to be a series with at least nine parts. But probably more like nineteen. Find Part I here, and Part II here. 

Until last weekend, the greatest distance I had ever ridden my bike at a stretch was in the Seattle to Portland ride, which is right around 200 miles, is at sea level, and has virtually no climbing.

The Hammer’s previous longest ride was a popular regional race called “Logan to Jackson,” better known as “LoToJa.” It’s 206 miles.

Neither of us had ever ridden the Salt to Saint route, and neither of us had experience with the kind of distance we were trying out: 423 miles. 

We didn’t know how we’d do with this kind of distance as far as food. Or hydration. Or exhaustion. Or clothing.

On top of this, I had had so little time to prepare for this race. 

And so far, things were going so badly. We didn’t have a crew. We seemed to be prone to missing turns. We’d had one slight-yet-ominous mechanical. 

So I thought I’d try using The Secret in conjunction with other superstitions to make things better.

“These kinds of things happen in threes,” I said. “And three bad things have happened. So now everything’s going to go smoothly.”

I did not, however, say this out loud, because it’s patently ridiculous.

Jake and Jason, Part II

As The Hammer and I reached the end of Wasatch Boulevard, we caught back up with Jake and Jason, two of the three solo racers who weren’t The Hammer and me (that was clear, right?). We struck up an easy conversation about how none of us had any idea of what we were in for, and that a nice easy pace was the order of the day. And hey, maybe we’d ride a bunch of it together, cuz here we were, riding at the same nice pace as each other, right?

Then we hit the end of Wasatch Boulevard. Which is worth mentioning for two reasons. First, the awesome thing about riding south on Wasatch Boulevard is how it ends: with a rocket-fast and arrow-straight descent. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I got my highest speed of the day coming down it. But Jake — who looked like a very fit six-foot-and-a-lot-of-change — flew right by me. Then Jason did too. 

We regrouped at the bottom of the hill and started riding together again. 

Which is when The Hammer’s bike started ticking.


“My bike just started making a ticking sound,” The Hammer said. I could hear it.

“Stop pedaling for a second,” I said, wanting to see if the rhythmic clicking came from the drivetrain or the wheels.

She stopped pedaling. The clicking continued.

“It’s a wheel,” I said. “Maybe it’s something in your spokes or….” I trailed off, not wanting to even mention the possibility of a broken spoke.

“No, I see it now,” The Hammer said. “There’s something stuck in my front tire.”

We slowed and stopped, waving Jake and Jason on. It seemed that there was some astral force that was absolutely positively against us riding with these really nice solo riders, and was going to do whatever it had to in order to keep us away from them.

I looked down and could immediately see what was sticking in the tire. 

A goathead. Perfect.

“Maybe it didn’t go into the tube,” I said, hopefully, and pulled it out.

The rush of air out of the tire let me know that I was wrong. 

The Hammer began apologizing. In a very formal voice, I accepted her apology (“I accept your apology; let us never again speak of this harm you did to me”), because I find that accepting peoples’ apologies when they don’t actually have anything to apologize for is strangely satisfying. 

The nice thing about pulling out a goathead was, at least I knew exactly the cause of the flat, which meant I didn’t have to play detective, inspecting every square millimeter of the tire for the source of the flat.

I just took off the wheel, zipped the bead off the rim, pulled out the tube, put a new tube in — I was very glad I had taken the effort the night before to ensure that our saddle bags each had a tube and two CO2 cartridges — and inflate it.

But something went wrong with the first CO2 cartridge. The tire didn’t inflate. “Oh well, good thing I brought extras,” I said, then screwed in another cartridge and tried again.

This time I was watching more closely and saw: the CO2 cartridge worked fine. The new tube was at fault. 

The tube was defective.

“This is not good, I said, because I had only one more tube with me: a road tube with an 80mm stem, for my deep-rimmed ENVE wheels. I wasn’t excited about using it on The Hammer’s wheel, cuz I didn’t have a huge number of these long-stemmed tubes.

I mean, I wouldn’t have many of them if our crewing vehicle were with us. As things stood, this was the only tube I had left to use.

So in it went. As I worked, I did the best I could to ignore the riders and crews zooming by as we dropped down to either last place, or something like it. 

“You know,” I thought to myself as I finished up, “An 80mm stem poking out of a traditional box-type rim looks downright comical — as if a stem looked around and decided it wanted to grow up to be a spoke someday.”

The Crowd Goes Wild

Finally, we were at the base of Suncrest — the four-mile, 1300-foot climb that is, indisputably, the toughest pitch of the race. 

Except the other side of it is about two miles from our house, so we’d been up this climb scores of times. In fact, since we went up it nice and gentle — honoring our promise to each other to never go into the red zone on this ride — this was the easiest climb up North Suncrest I’d ever had.

And so it felt very strange — although also really generous and nice — to have crews and family from other teams cheering for us and giving us encouragement. 

“I don’t feel like I’m earning these cheers,” I told The Hammer. “Should I stand up and race hard up this hill?”

The Hammer just shook her head. That poor woman puts up with a lot.

The Person I Blame For This

As we rode up Suncrest, a guy pulled up alongside us on his motorcycle and matched speed with us. It took a moment for me to place him, because I’d only seen him on bicycles before.


As in, “Troy, The Hammer’s friend who planted the idea of us doing this solo in The Hammer’s head.”

I knew that, twenty-four (or quite possibly fewer) hours from then, I’d resent Troy pretty strongly. But for now, it was great to see him and — since he had himself done the race solo in 2012 — pick his brain.

His strongest piece of advice: “Make sure you get plenty of warm clothes on for the big night descent.”

“I hope we have a crew by then,” I joked. At which point he volunteered his wife to be our temporary crew. 

“Nah, our crew’s bound to catch up to us soon,” we said, hoping that our crew would catch up to us soon.

We reached the top of Suncrest. Now all we had to do was bomb down the 1200-foot, four-mile descent, ride a couple of easy miles to the aid station, and swap out to our Specialized Shivs, which we’d be riding for the next 70-ish flat miles, all the way into Nephi.

Except, of course, we had no idea whether our crew would be there.

And also, we had no idea that, three minutes into the descent, The Hammer would find out that her streak of bad luck was not over. 

And this time, the bad luck was going to hurt


  1. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 09.25.2013 | 7:01 am


  2. Comment by iRide | 09.25.2013 | 7:09 am

    Crazy.bad luck.

    I must say it was a pleasant surprise to find this posted so early.

    Thank you! Tomorrow’s post should be up early too. – FC

  3. Comment by PBRMEASAP | 09.25.2013 | 7:12 am

    “GOATHEAD” actually made me LOL.

  4. Comment by Andrew | 09.25.2013 | 7:39 am

    I missed the opportunity to be the first comment… Simply cause I went back to read yesterday’s comments…. Bugger…

    At least I know I could’ve made the first comment. Only disadvantage is I also know it’s another 24 hours before I get to read the next post…. That’s if fatty doesn’t take a day off.

    What gran Fondo is everyone referring to? Is it possible that fatty’s cycling capacity, spend and strength is outstripping his writing capacity, speed and strength?

    Again when will the new jerseys hit Oz? Note I have a 2011 jersey that still looks new, it is the best quality jersey I have ever owned.

  5. Comment by Jim Tolar | 09.25.2013 | 8:12 am

    Props for the Goathead reference. I thought we only got those in AZ.

    I’m not sure which I’m more impressed by, the fact that you guys actually road 420+ miles in one big gulp, or your ability to remember the minutiae that you’re now reporting. When I do any of my “epic” (lower case intended for anti-emphasis) events, it all immediately smears together in one big, red, haze. Do you dictate notes to yourself? Keep a journal (obviously not in this case because, duh, riding a bike)? I’m pretty sure that by the time this series is over, I’ll be more impressed by your memory skillz.



  6. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.25.2013 | 8:42 am

    The Hammer just shook her head. That poor woman puts up with a lot
    Understatement of the year(s) award!

    @Andrew Levis Gran Fondo, Santa Rosa, Ca October 5th, Join us one year:

    @Jim Tolar. The Hammer is in charge of compiling all of Fatty’s thoughts for the blog while they ride. She doesn’t of course, but then, after, she just gives him random points to write about, like they really happened. Why do you think these stories are so fantastic, and unbelievable, at the same time. It’sHammer Time!

    @FC Thanks for the Spreecast tomorrow. Will this be that interview you alluded to a while back? Hope so. It will give us a small break from this epic saga, and we can go to the snack stand for some popcorn.

  7. Comment by Christina | 09.25.2013 | 9:13 am

    I’m going to need a Xanax to make it through this ride report. I run a marathon next weekend, my very first ever, and this is starting to stress me out about everything that can go wrong, but I’m hooked. I need to know how this race goes.

  8. Comment by SteveB | 09.25.2013 | 9:13 am

    @Jim Tolar Goatheads are ubiquitous. (and I get major props for using ubiquitous on the interwebz)

    Yes. I hereby award you three props. – FC

  9. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 09.25.2013 | 9:24 am

    Ok, Fatty, you’ve proven your skill at ending a post with a cliff hanger. Can’t you just hang that accomplishment on the wall and stop doing it over and over??? ;-)

    I can’t help myself. Every time something crazy happened during that race I said to myself, “Oh, I’m totally cliffhanging on this.” During this race I wound up saying it pretty often. – FC

  10. Comment by AKChick | 09.25.2013 | 9:30 am

    NO! How come The Hammer is having so much bad luck? That makes me very sad. She is the most sweetest, nicest person ever. The only possibility is you jinxed her! :)

    Loving these serial style blog posts. The only thing better would be if you read them out loud, radio style. :)

    Thank you for taking the time to do these. I really appreciate it and even with all the “complaining” I think everyone else is really liking this style of writing. I, for one, am very much looking forward to the next 16 or so installments.

    It would be so fun to get a FoF relay team or several or even other FoF soloists out for this ride. Why does airfare from Alaska have to be so dang expensive?!?!

    Thanks, Sasha! I’m having a lot of fun writing these reports. And don’t worry; The Hammer’s bad luck ends…just about the time my bad luck begins. – FC

  11. Comment by AKChick | 09.25.2013 | 9:31 am

    Oh and also, THIS LINE KILLS ME (in a good way)

    “You know,” I thought to myself as I finished up, “An 80mm stem poking out of a traditional box-type rim looks downright comical — as if a stem looked around and decided it wanted to grow up to be a spoke someday.”

  12. Comment by UpTheGrade SR CA | 09.25.2013 | 9:53 am

    You know Fatty, I was looking forward to maybe briefly riding with you guys at the Fondo (if I can catch you before you do you sprint from the line), but now seeing the misfortune that accompanies you and anyone else on your rides, I’m having second thoughts.
    Just Kidding, hope to see you there ;-)

    We’re looking forward to it too. See you in just over a week! – FC

  13. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 09.25.2013 | 10:49 am

    “… bad luck was going to hurt.” – bad omen for tomorrow’s installment, and has us beyond the edges of our seats in anticipation and dread.

    Considering the things that hurt list with which you started this series, adding another hurt so early in the race seems a bit like piling on. Fortunately, we know that whatever happens in your next installment both The Hammer and you kept on pedaling and finished in fine style – kind of like reading through an exciting, suspenseful novel only after you have read the final chapter first.

  14. Comment by New Zealand Ev | 09.25.2013 | 11:15 am

    @Andrew I too am waiting for new FC kit down here in NZ. wonder if NZ or OZ will get theirs first.

    Great posts. Looking forward to tomorrow’s. Love the line that poor woman puts up with a lot. Makes methink of whammy partner puts up with me all the time.

  15. Comment by blair | 09.25.2013 | 11:25 am

    apparently, someone stuck a cliffhanger right at that point in the ride

    i hate when that happens. to me, that is. it makes great drama for ride reports, though.

  16. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.25.2013 | 11:25 am

    Anyone else get this ad in the sidebar when Fatty talks tires?

    Does it work for carbon rims?

  17. Comment by Jacob | 09.25.2013 | 11:48 am

    This settles it. Between your flood practice ride and this ride, I am taking at least 30 tubes with me on my century this weekend. Most of the century takes place on roads without cell reception or stores anywhere near so I need to be self sufficient. Apparently taking just the one is just asking for disaster.’

    This rash of flat tires is new. Luckily, those were the last flat tires of this race. OR WERE THEY? – FC

  18. Comment by wheelman61 | 09.25.2013 | 11:48 am

    Soooooooo….you left on this multi-hundred mile event equipped with a a single tube each, and ever reliable CO2 catridges instead of a foolproof pump. Nothing like being prepared for anything that can come up I guess

    Soooooo…in our crew car, which was supposed to always be a minute or two behind us, I had more than a dozen tubes, four spare tires, two complete spare BIKES, a floor pump, and tools for everything. The problem was that our crew car was not with us, due to completely bizarre circumstances. So the fact that I had stuff with me to replace two tubes and had enough CO2 cartridges to fix four tires was hardly a sign of being underprepared.

    I’ll tell you what: next year you come do this race with enough gear on your person that you are prepared for every eventuality, never relying on your crew to have what you need at a given moment (I’m afraid that’s going to have to include all the food and water you need for this race). Would that be possible? Yes. But I wish you luck making the time cutoff. – FC

  19. Comment by Jacob | 09.25.2013 | 11:50 am


    I almost always get ads for running shoes.

    Apparently I spend way too much time online shopping for running supplies, which is weird. I only buy running shoes twice a year.

  20. Comment by Heidi | 09.25.2013 | 12:08 pm

    New Zealand and Australia folks: I don’t know how your packages were shipped, but if they went International First Class, they’ll probably take 2-3 weeks. I send yarn in your direction regularly…

  21. Comment by GenghisKhan | 09.25.2013 | 2:27 pm

    More on the “Goathead”:

    I suggest renaming it: “tribulationus terribulus”

  22. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 09.25.2013 | 2:45 pm

    Back when I did my riding in Colorado, I had had more than one flat from goathead. Nasty weed.

  23. Comment by owen | 09.25.2013 | 2:46 pm

    the urge to just go to your nearby home and go back to bed must have been strong. Great job dealing with each setback and pushing on and it makes it that much more memorable/rewarding (after a few days/weeks or years) and a great read.

  24. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.25.2013 | 3:18 pm


    Tribulationus Nelsonius

  25. Comment by GenghisKhan | 09.25.2013 | 3:22 pm

    @Davidh-marin,ca – I’ll accept that!

  26. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.25.2013 | 3:26 pm

    @Jacob & @David-marin,ca running shoe ads? I thought those were heidi klum ads!?!

  27. Comment by Tony | 09.25.2013 | 3:29 pm

    Patches, I don’t need no stinking patches.

    (I don’t mean that in a snarky way, only it’s the first thing that came to my head. And I imagined it would be something you would say if it had come into your head.)

    (But, this explanation might also be something I may possibly imagine would be something that would be similar to an FC post.)

    Looking forward to the next installment.

  28. Comment by MattC | 09.25.2013 | 3:51 pm

    @Davidh…you get cool ads apparently…wish I could get stuff like that. I get lame stuff…(currently it’s Heidi Klum / New Balance shoes…which is funny..I don’t really know who Heidi Klum is, nor have I EVER owned a pair of New Balance shoes…I buy the cheap ones at Costco). Sounds like I’m not the only one getting the Heidi Klum stuff…(is she some kind of a runner or something?)

    Great report Fatty…though you are totally killing us…as usual.

    I tend to get ads that reflect my recent browsing history. Right now I’m getting ads for Adobe Creative Cloud, for example. – FC

  29. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.25.2013 | 4:49 pm

    @MattC I’m a little disbelieving that you are unaware of Heidi Klum.
    Never picked up a copy of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition at the checkout line in Safeway?
    or Victorias Secret Catalog/Ad during the Superbowl?

    Consider this my effort to you to keep you current.

  30. Comment by Nancy_in_MN | 09.25.2013 | 5:44 pm

    Oh snap! I’m getting Heidi Klum too and I’m not happy! I’d much rather see the power tools @Davidh-marin,ca gets. Or motor oil. Even whatever that is that Fatty sees. BTW, was he using English?

  31. Comment by Nancy_in_MN | 09.25.2013 | 5:53 pm

    Update! My whining has been heard on a cosmic level and now I’m seeing ads for Timbuk2 bags, which is awesome sauce (@AKChick, is that not one of your phrases?). All is well.

    But I’m using my 2nd comment to make a keen observation from the Part 2 comments:

    @Davidh-marin,ca Did you really say that your wedding band is practically indestructible???? I think that means you’ve tried… and failed. Dude, your wife sometimes visits this blog and might even visit the comments from time to time.

  32. Comment by Wife#1 | 09.25.2013 | 5:58 pm


    Who do you think was the one that tried to destruct it?


  33. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.25.2013 | 10:50 pm


    and I still had it on!

  34. Comment by AKChick | 09.25.2013 | 11:21 pm

    @NancyinMN – Awesomesauce IS one of my favorite words. And Timbuk 2 bags most def qualify as awesomesauce! :)

    Also, DavidH and Wife#1 – you two kill me! (in a good way!).

    Also, glad The Hammer’s bad luck ends but not so happy that it begins for Fatty, except it does make for good reading. Hope it’s not too bad!

  35. Comment by AKChick | 09.25.2013 | 11:22 pm

    Also, I’m not getting any ads. Does that mean my browsing history is too boring? Or is it that Title Nine, Sephora, and Athleta don’t advertise? :)

  36. Comment by Nat | 09.26.2013 | 3:06 am

    Lets not worry. We don’t need to catch a break. These obstacles come to test us and make life more exciting and challenging.

  37. Comment by Heidi | 09.26.2013 | 8:19 am

    I usually get the guy in the big sperm suit ad, telling me the sperm bank will pay me $1000 per month. Wouldn’t that be a medical/financial wonder…


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