Everything Falls Apart: 2013 Salt to Saint Race Report, Part VI

09.30.2013 | 8:23 am

A Note from Fatty: Looking for earlier installments to this series? Here you go:

  • Part I: The Things that Hurt
  • Part II: Meet Your Competitors
  • Part III: Team Fatty Cannot Seem to Catch a Break
  • Part IV: Support from a Unicorn
  • Part V: Life as a Domestique

We had just finished the first hundred miles of a 423-mile ride. So, not quite a quarter of the way done. Still, I had decided that anytime I hit a hundred mile mark, I was going to celebrate.

“We’re 25% done!” I shouted to The Hammer. “We’ve got a good start!”

She agreed, nodding her head. I wondered if she was thinking about the strangeness of what I had just said in the same way I was: calling a 100-mile ride “a good start.” 

But in our heads, that’s the way it was. Normally, by the time we reach the 100-mile mark, our bodies and minds are ready to get off the bike. But we had thought about the distance and the time for this race long enough, and had told ourselves that getting to Nephi — kind of our outer-limit-distance for training rides — was where the ride really began often enough, that I didn’t expect to feel tired at this point. 

And, amazingly, I wasn’t tired. I was just fine. So much of endurance racing is a mental game.

Oh No, Not Again

Within five miles of swapping out to our road bikes in Nephi, I could tell something was wrong.

My bike felt squishy. Sloppy. It’s a very distinct feeling.

It felt…the way a bike feels when a tire is slowly going flat.

“Maybe it’s all in my head,” I said to myself, knowing that this is not something that is ever all in my head.

“Is my rear tire low?” I called back to The Hammer.

“I don’t know. Maybe?” she yelled up to me. Which was less than confidence-inspiring.

So I pulled over, twisted around, and pressed my thumb down on my rear tire. 

Yup. Going flat.

At which point I began softly weeping. 

A Quick Change

I barely had time to climb off my bike before Scott and Kerry pulled up behind us. “Well, at least I can use the floor pump to inflate the tire,” was pretty much all I thought. 

The Hammer, though, had an idea that would get us on the road sooner. “Have them change the tire while you just switch over to your Shiv for the time being.”

“Hm,” I replied, looking for a way to put my objection delicately.

“What’s the problem?” The Hammer asked.

“I don’t think Scott or Kerry, you know, ride,” I said. “Do either of them know how to change a road tire?”

“Scott used to mountain bike; he knows how to change a tire,” The Hammer assured me.

“You’re OK to change a tire?” I asked Scott. “You’ll need to be sure to use one of the tubes with an 80mm stem, OK?”

“Sure,” Scott said.

“OK, let’s do it,” I said.

I told The Hammer to go on without me; I’d catch her as soon as my bike was unloaded. Within a couple minutes, I had the Shiv off the rack and was on my way. 

A “Quick” Change

With The Hammer a couple minutes ahead of me, I was breaking one of the main rules we had set for ourselves at the beginning of this race: we stay together.

Now, in order to catch up with her, I broke another of our primary rules: stay out of the red zone. I stood up and went as hard as I could, figuring that once I caught up, I could back off for a few minutes and recover.

And that worked out just fine. Within ten minutes, I had caught up with The Hammer. “Let me draft behind you for a few minutes, OK?” I said. 

Then, just about the time my breath was back to normal and I was ready to start taking turns at pulling again, Scott and Kerry drove past us, pulled off the side of the road, and unloaded my road bike.

“This will take less than a minute,” I said. “Just keep going and I’ll catch you after I hop off this bike and onto my road bike.”

So The Hammer kept going while I slowed down, dismounted, grabbed my road bike, shouted my thanks, and got riding again.

And then immediately stopped.

Something was seriously wrong with my bike. I could barely turn the cranks. I climbed off, lifted the rear wheel off the ground, and gave it a quick spin.

The wheel did not budge.

As I climbed off my bike, I noted that The Hammer was disappearing from sight; she didn’t realize I was having bike trouble. 

Should I get back on my TT bike? Or fix my road bike? I decided to fix my road bike; this was a climbing section; I’d be standing often. I wanted my Tarmac. 

So I looked down and noticed two problems I was going to need to address: 

  1. One of the brake pads was halfway out of its track.
  2. The brake calipers were tweaked hard to port.

I couldn’t help but ask Scott and Kerry, “What happened here?”

“We had some trouble getting the wheel back in place once we changed the tire,” Kerry told me.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said. Honestly, I just didn’t want to hear any more.

“So, could you go get my hex wrenches out of the blue bin in the back of my truck?”

I took the rear wheel off, got the brake pad back in place, and then re-centered and tightened the brake calipers. That pretty much takes me to the outer limits of my mechanic skills, so I was glad it wasn’t any trickier to fix than that.

“OK, I’m off again. See you soon!” I hollered.

I didn’t know how right I was. 

I Love My Tarmac

Look. The Shiv is a fantastic bike. It’s amazing, frankly, at doing what it does best: go really fast on straight, flat roads. I mean, The Hammer and I had just knocked out seventy miles with hardly any effort at all on those bikes.

That said, I was so happy to be back on my Tarmac. I love that bike. When I’m on it, I just feel great.  I can get in the drops and descend like a hawk. I can get on the hoods and ride forever. I can stand and climb forever.

It was the “stand and climb forever” part that came in handy now, cuz I figured The Hammer was at least eight or ten minutes ahead of me. “Miles,” I thought to myself. “I have miles to make up.” 

And so I stood up and rode. Hard. Riding like I was going to be out for another hour or so, instead of for another twenty or so. Knowing that what I was doing was stupid strategy, but not really caring. 

Because I love the way I can go on the Tarmac. 

And sometimes love makes you do stupid things.

So Close

For twenty, I pushed myself. Just rode myself into a hole. And then I could see her. I had The Hammer in sight. “Another three minutes,” I thought to myself. “Three minutes and I’ve got her. And then I can draft off her for ten minutes or so, and everything will be great.”

And that’s when my bike started feeling squishy. You know, sloppy.

It’s a very distinct feeling.

I pulled over, watching The Hammer disappear again.

Which is where we’ll pick up tomorrow.


  1. Comment by GregC | 09.30.2013 | 8:36 am

    As Mr Bill would say, “oh nooooo”

  2. Comment by Rob L | 09.30.2013 | 8:43 am


  3. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.30.2013 | 8:55 am

    The Orbea Gods were speaking to you.

    Can’t wait to see where you leave us tomorrow!!!


  4. Comment by wharton_crew | 09.30.2013 | 8:58 am

    I’ve never had the pain of flatting during a race, but I always look with sympathy at the people fixing flats on the side of the rode as I wheeze past them. Did they anger the biking gods? Do they not see road debris that can flat a tire? Should I be thankful that it’s them, and not me? Should I be jealous that they get an unplanned break from pedaling?

    What you’re describing, Fatty, can only be one thing. You’ve mis-used the Secret, and now you’re paying for your sin. Bike gods be sneerin’ at you from their dark underworld realm.

  5. Comment by Geo | 09.30.2013 | 9:01 am

    So the crew failed to run a finger around the tire to find the foreign object that caused the puncture.

    Just how many tubes did you pack?

    Waiting for the remaining 97 parts to this story to find out.

    You seem very astute and knowledgeable. Any chance you’d be interested in crewing for me someday? – FC

  6. Comment by Jim Tolar | 09.30.2013 | 9:03 am

    If I were writing about my adventure, this is the point where it would say:

    And I realized right then that this was just not meant to be, so I dropped out.


  7. Comment by Christina | 09.30.2013 | 9:04 am

    I couldn’t help but ask Scott and Kerry, “What happened here?” … “Don’t worry about it,” I said. Honestly, I just didn’t want to hear any more.

    Spoken like a parent, where you’re appreciative they helped, but…

    And Davidh-marin,ca’s picture is spot on!

  8. Comment by Todd | 09.30.2013 | 9:18 am

    Should have packed the Mt. bike i’m sure your running 2bliss : 0

  9. Comment by Trevor | 09.30.2013 | 9:38 am

    Sounds like you need some continental gator skins. 5,000 miles this summer and only two flats.

  10. Comment by bikemike | 09.30.2013 | 9:46 am

    I expect to read at some point tomorrow, “This is where i gave up cycling”.

    But i was wrong about the ending of Breaking Bad, too.

  11. Comment by MattC | 09.30.2013 | 10:00 am

    @ Wharton Crew: “as I wheeze past them”…you really have me chuckling…as that’s how I ride…OTHER people WHIZ past me tho…

    Fatty…not sure what to say here, tho it’s obvous that you somehow really ticked-off tubes gods. In Hawaii to appease Pele (the Goddess of Fire) you leave a bottle of gin and some ti leaves. I’ve heard the Tubes gods like Jack Daniels…you should think about it…build a small ceremonial pile of rocks w/ a quart of Jack and a pile of flatted tubes on top…maybe that would help. (howver, that said, it was ME who flatted TWICE back in Davis…but I seem to have appeased the Tubes gods w/ my offering back in June).

    Oh…and I can attest that the Tubes Gods can’t tell the diff between colored water (some coffee and water mixed for JUST the right color) in a Jack bottle and the real thing…I’m just sayin.

  12. Comment by MattC | 09.30.2013 | 10:02 am

    Hmmm…actually, come to think of it, maybe they CAN tell the diff (just took them a while)…I did flat just a mile from home (at the end, not the beginning) on my Sat morning club ride…hmmm. Time will tell I guess.

  13. Comment by AUChefDave | 09.30.2013 | 10:07 am

    Come on people! Stop fretting, we all should remember the story of Job. God said,”Look a Job(Fatty), see how well he rides his bike. Let’s through some flats and other bike problems at him, he’s awesome he can handle it.” Sure enough the end of the story will turn out GREAT! This is an epic tale and the ending is going to be epic as well. Great suspense, makes my rides seem puny.

  14. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.30.2013 | 10:11 am

    Oooo, sometimes I just love to be a Monday morning quarterback! (I know, I always act like I am the guy that understands you are building a story, and so, never presume to offer unsolicited advice, but: Did you consider ex-changing real wheels with the Shiv? It would have been super fast, and you (apologies, Scott & Kerry)would be doing it.

    Come to think of it, since I am doing MmQB, a racer ought to have two or three spare rear wheels (or in Lisa’s case front, as well)in the crew vehicle. Then you could leave the flats for a cyclist, like Kenny or Heather.

    I am ON FIRE with advice, eh?

    I should have brought extra wheels. For Rockwell, I did. For this race, I didn’t. And simply swapping wheels wouldn’t have worked great. 10spd cassette on The Shivs and the Hammer’s Orbea, 11spd on my Tarmac. – FC

  15. Comment by MattC | 09.30.2013 | 10:15 am

    Oh, and to use my three-quota for the day early (I’m an overachierver apparently), the ending to Breaking Bad was AWESOME!!! Now I’m sad…post BB depression has set in. All I have left is Fatty’s story…but I’ll say it now Fatty…if you leave us w/ a cliffhanger ending and then take 6 months off, I’ll put a hex on you!

  16. Comment by leroy | 09.30.2013 | 10:19 am

    Oh dear. There are two kinds of cyclists when it comes to fixing flats.

    Those who have forgotten to check for a foreign object before putting in a new tube and those who someday will.

  17. Comment by centurion | 09.30.2013 | 10:21 am

    I’m waiting for the part when you run out of tubes, and nobody on your crew knows how to patch one. Having well above average mechanical skill, I’d love to crew for you. All you’d have to do is forward airfare for me, my bikes (road and MTB), and put us up for a week or so. Oh yeah, my wife wouldn’t let go alone.

  18. Comment by UpTheGrade SR, CA | 09.30.2013 | 10:21 am

    I’m wondering what the Hammer was thinking all the time she was left out in the wind with no Fatty to ride tackle? How’s a girl to set a record like that?

    Oh, yeah, it’s the soon-to-turn-Pro Hammer we’re talking about, never mind, records will be broken.

  19. Comment by Geo | 09.30.2013 | 10:21 am

    Fatty, answer to your query, I would make a good crew member. I can change flats, chains and gear cassettes. This week I plan on adding to my cycling education by changing out shifter and brake cables.

    You just live a little too far way for me to drive over.

  20. Comment by Aaron | 09.30.2013 | 10:34 am

    Hmmm. Does anyone make hard rubber tires? You know, the kind that are on construction vehicles?

  21. Comment by BostonCarlos (formerly NYC) | 09.30.2013 | 10:36 am

    So now that I’ve moved, I feel like I should probably change my name. Anyways, Fatty, do you feel like it’s time to go with tubeless wheels on your road bikes? Stan’s would have done you good here methinks.

  22. Comment by barton | 09.30.2013 | 11:27 am

    I am hoping Fatty doesn’t have “foreign object” issues like I tend to: you find one and assume that is it. Then a few meters down the round, you are looking for the second one, and know you should look some more for the third and fourth, and there is the fifth.

    I got some Gatorskins for a week long tour this summer: never took them off, zero flats when everyone I ride with had at least 4 (throughout the summer). I’m sure I’ve jinxed this and will be flatting on the commute home from work….

    Keep up the great story telling!

  23. Comment by SteveB | 09.30.2013 | 12:17 pm

    A goathead got me Saturday. It was clearly set on proving the ubiquicity of the species. Then my spare tube valve didn’t work. Then my buddies spare tube valve was too short.

    All of this to set me up for accepting the generosity of a random passing rider – I don’t know you but you were great!

    I hope the flat gods are appeased for a brief time.

  24. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 09.30.2013 | 12:32 pm

    Been there, done that, when it comes to forgetting to run the tire and find out why the tube went flat to begin with – especially important with those slow leaks.

    I can see a very unfortunate sequence of events piling up here, and now we are beginning to understand why Fatty and The Hammer didn’t see each other for a good long while.

    I am still in awe of the two of you fro what you did in this ride.

    Awesome accomplishment. Simply. Awesome.

  25. Comment by Dan | 09.30.2013 | 12:39 pm

    Has anyone bought the chameleon bra yet?C:\Users\dj76625\Desktop\temp_files\Snap2.jpg

  26. Comment by Jacob | 09.30.2013 | 1:21 pm

    I saw a guy at the 6 Gap Century wearing one of your older jerseys, I think. It was a pink circle with the clydesdale rampant in the center of the jersey. I nodded at him to acknowledge that we read the same website (I was wearing this year’s kit) and I don’t think he realized why I was nodding at him. I was too tired to carry on a conversation at the time.

  27. Comment by Trey Jackson | 09.30.2013 | 1:39 pm

    I second the tubeless idea!

  28. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 09.30.2013 | 1:46 pm

    Fatty, with this fascinating, edge of the seat nailbiter multipart series we are reading, one question comes to mind – will it be done in time for a fresh report on Levi’s GranFondo, or will we be waiting with baited breath for a bit?

    You have such a backlog of points to cover, and we want to read them all. Will the strategy be: 1) to plow through to the end, no matter how many installments it takes; 2) to wrap it up by Friday and move on; or 3) to take a short break from the Salt to Saint early next week and fill us in on the GranFondo? Or something else?

    If you are anything like me, you will not have thought that far ahead yet. Sometimes just thinking about tomorrow qualifies as long term planning.

    I’ve thought about it, but I don’t have an answer. – FC

  29. Comment by UpTheGrade SR, CA | 09.30.2013 | 2:53 pm

    With the Green-Eyed monster whispering in my ear, I looked up Fatty’s cycling rigs. Specialized Tarmac ~$5.5k, Shiv with Di2 ~$11k, so with taxes, we’re probably talking just $18k to be a super climbing-out-of-the-saddle-all-day kind of cyclist. I am drooling over the photos of these sexy road machines, but I could also use a good mtb too, but where to get the dough?

    Well…they say that college is over-rated these days and certainly over-priced, so there’s that…now how to convince the kids of the wisdom of my plan to spend the college fund on bikes ;-)

  30. Comment by Sunny | 09.30.2013 | 3:06 pm

    I want to meet this Scott and Kerry. We’re they really serious when they said “we had a little trouble…..” I’m sorry but that was hilarious. Such a comedy of errors here and you’ve barely gotten going.

  31. Comment by Heidi | 09.30.2013 | 3:53 pm

    Tenacity, I tell ya… You and the Hammer have got it to the nth degree. I love reading about this race.

  32. Comment by ScottR | 09.30.2013 | 7:29 pm

    I received a package from Twin Six today, but was bummed to find my XL jersey was too snug (thought I was ready to step down from XXL this year)… Any chance another guy has the opposite issue?

  33. Comment by Alex | 09.30.2013 | 9:06 pm

    Wowzer, sounds like you love your tarmac fatty, didn’t sound like too much fun out there though.

  34. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.30.2013 | 9:14 pm

    @Up the grade…

    Sam Shepard-playwright
    Jim Lehrer-journalism
    George Lucas-movie guy
    H Ross Perot-cracker(rich)
    Nolan Archibald- CEO Black and Decker

    All got their start at Community College….get the bike(s)

    Remember rule #12: N+1=S-1

  35. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.30.2013 | 9:36 pm

    @Cycling jimbo

    This story is has the pacing of a good opera! Usually we have III Acts to get through, and multiple scenes in each act. Think of the Gran Fondo as just an intermission on this journey. Like all good opera you can’t rush it
    Take Wagner’s The Ring Cycle:
    The cycle is a work of extraordinary scale. Perhaps the most outstanding facet of the monumental work is its sheer length: a full performance of the cycle takes place over four nights at the opera, with a total playing time of about 15 hours, depending on the conductor’s pacing.

    I’m confident our conductor’s story will be Epic, Heroic, Fraught with conflict, and Uplifting in it’s finish.

    You’ll know when it’s done!


  36. Comment by GregC | 09.30.2013 | 10:05 pm

    @Cycling jimbo:is this a picture of Madonna in her senior citizen years? Are you trying to be crafty and projecting what Fatty’s golden years has in store? or maybe I’m reading too much into this- go figure!

  37. Comment by AKChick55 | 09.30.2013 | 10:23 pm

    @Trevor and @barton I run Conti Gatorskins (LOVE THEM). I think they are too heavy and offer too much rolling resistance for Fatty and The Hammer. I can honestly say that while running these tires, I’ve never had a flat in 1000+ miles(knock on wood, throw salt over the shoulder, etc., etc.). However, I’m considering trying a different tire with less puncture resistance to see if I can roll a wee bit faster next year even though I’m very spoiled with no flats. We don’t have goatheads up here though we do seem to have a LOT of broken glass.

  38. Comment by Tom in Albany | 10.1.2013 | 5:39 am

    @Trevor @barton @AkChick55, most of my flats are pinch flats. It’s ride suicide…

  39. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 10.1.2013 | 6:55 am

    @Davidh – I fully agree with your analogy to fine opera, but now my eyes hurt! The image is burned into my mind and will not leave easily.

  40. Comment by Wife#1 | 10.1.2013 | 9:49 am

    Honey! (aka David in marin) – you promised you would never post my before pictures! Curse you!

  41. Comment by Papa Bear | 10.1.2013 | 10:18 am

    I rode Conti Gatorskins on my commuter for a year and only had two flats in about 2500 miles. I finally wore through the tire and had to replace them (thanks to a long skid to keep from hitting a rieht-hooker).

    My brother-in-law went a step further, and added Stan’s to the tubes inside his Gators. He’s a rolling tank now!


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.