25 Hours in Frog Hollow, Part III: I Just Shouldn’t Say Anything at All. Ever.

11.8.2013 | 12:18 pm

A Note About World Bicycle Relief: Someone noted in the comments yesterday that World Bicycle Relief is currently doing dollar-for-dollar matching, through the end of the year. I wanted to point out that there will in fact be a “Grand Slam 3” fundraiser for WBR that will run from the beginning through the end of December, and that this fundraiser will be taking advantage of the dollar-for-dollar matching. And — as always — the scope of prizes is going to be just unbelievable. I don’t want to give away too much, but just let me say that if you like bikes — any kind of bikes — you’re going to want to be ready to donate.

A Note About Yesterday’s Post: You might have wondered what my cryptic post yesterday was about. Well, I was wrestling with pulling the trigger on an important decision: to leave my day job. I’m going to focus like a madman for the next month and finish writing Fight Like Susan, so count on shortish posts as I get that done. (Will it be available before the end of the year? I hope so, at least the e-book version).

After that, there are two other Best of FatCyclist.com books I’d like to compile, edit, and annotate: a second volume of my best funny stuff (Comedian Mastermind 2?), and a book containing the best of my “big ride” stories.

And then there’s Caregiver’s Companion. That book never leaves my mind. 

Finally, my original career trajectory was in editorial (I’m not an editor—at least, not a really good one—but I am not half-bad at content strategy and planning), and while I enjoyed my seven-year detour into being a product manager and analyst, I feel like I have unfinished business elsewhere. 

So. Yesterday I told my employer I’m leaving.

And now it’s time to start writing. 

25 Hours in Frog Hollow, Part III: I Just Shouldn’t Say Anything at All. Ever.

I both love and hate the morning before a race begins. I love the excitement of the unknown—the fact that this race, this thing I’ve been obsessing over endlessly for days or weeks or sometimes even months, is about to move from the “will happen” column into the “happening now” column.

I love the energy. I love the focus—that for the immediate future, all I have is one thing to do or think about, and that’s racing. I don’t get many moments in my day-to-day life with that kind of simplicity or clarity.

But I hate the anxiety. And the way my stomach feels, which comes from the anxiety. And the pressure I put on myself, which I think may in fact be just a rephrasing of “anxiety.” 

But based on the way everyone else in the camp was looking, I was the only one who was even a little bit freaked out. 

Brooks and Zach, resplendent in their puffy jackets, looked like they didn’t have a care in the world.

TT FatCyclist 148
Trisha took most of the pictures in today’s post. Be sure to check out her photo site, crookedpinkie.com.

Kenny and The Hammer looked relaxed.

TT FatCyclist 127

Trisha was ready, giant camera in hand.

IMG 4758

Even this passing dog looked casual.

TT FatCyclist 136

But I was a bundle of nerves. I had never ridden a mountain bike this far, nor for this long. I hadn’t been training. I didn’t know if I had brought the right kind of food. I didn’t have a good riding strategy. In fact, I didn’t have a riding strategy at all

My head just kept on going through the list. Blah blah blah blah blah.

But eventually, we were at the line. Just standing there, because of the Le Mans-style start. With five minutes to go, The Hammer and I were scoping out her competition. We didn’t have to scope mine out, because Kenny was standing right beside us. Plus, he looked about as fit and fast as I’ve ever seen him. I was no threat.

The air horn went off and we began running the short distance (maybe a quarter mile?) to our bikes. The Hammer and I went at a slow jog, hanging toward the back. We were in no hurry.

Kenny, on the other hand, was flying. Yes, Kenny was running like a bat out of hell. (Except bats don’t run. But you know what I mean, right?) Kenny distanced us—The Hammer and I stared and laughed at the sight of Kenny running at all—then did a running mount onto his bike and was gone.

The Race Begins

The Hammer got to her bike, and I got to mine, climbed aboard, and rode together for a minute, then I began to pull away, inevitably succumbing to race mode. “I’ll see you in about eight hours,” The Hammer called after me.

“How’s that?” I called back.

“That’s when you should lap me for the first time.”

Lap her. Yeah, I guess that was a possibility. Weird.

Not Funny

The Frog Hollow loop starts with a five mile climb, then a five mile descent, then a short climb, then a short descent, like this:


The first mile or so of this climb is on a wide dirt road, which gave everyone a chance to talk. Looking around, I was amazed at how many riders were racing solo—as indicated by the bright ribbon tied to the saddle. I was even more amazed at how many of us would be racing solo singlespeed.

One racer pulled up beside me and made it clear he was an old pro at this kind of thing. “Yeah, here we go again. I sometimes wonder why I keep doing these races solo.” I let him know this was my first time racing solo like this. Immediately taking the mentor role upon himself, he gave me some good advice on how to ride steady, stay strong, and keep going. 

(Before the sun went down, I began noticing that this guy’s bike was—more often than not—sitting in his crew area. Which gave me a peculiar sense of pleasure, for some reason.)

We turned onto the first section of singletrack—still climbing—and I closed in on Kenny; there was one bike between us. I was happy to stay right there in that position and just hung out.

Our little train reeled in a slower rider, we fell into formation behind him, waiting for a place where we could pass. No rush.

Then Kenny saw a spot where the trail widened and he made his move…but while he was right beside this rider, the trail closed up again, forcing Kenny and this rider together. 

I’m pretty sure I saw Kenny’s elbow go into the other guy’s ribs, though I would not swear to it. In any case, Kenny went ahead, and the other guy put a foot down and let the other two of us by.

“Thanks,” I said, as rode past him. 

Then, teasing Kenny about his aggressive pass, I yelled, “Sheesh, what a jerk!”

Except I used a different word than “jerk.”

The problem was, the guy I had just ridden by thought I talking about him, and yelled out “What?!” in protest and confusion. What had he done to earn such a rebuke?

The answer is, of course, nothing. And once again I learned that things I think are funny on the bike are likely to not be funny at all.

I need to remember to keep my mouth shut. 

Meanwhile, Kenny accelerated, and built a gap.

TT FatCyclist 156

I knew I would never catch him, not with him riding strong like that. So I resolved—there and then—that I would be Kenny’s biggest fan during the race. I would, in fact, do my best to help him, if I could.

And in the next lap, I would get exactly that opportunity.

Which is where we’ll pick up Monday.


  1. Comment by Tammy | 11.8.2013 | 12:27 pm

    Hi – I found your blog a few weeks ago and I’ve really enjoyed reading it I think you are a great writer and I look forward to reading your books. My father died from cancer and I’d like to thank you for the fundraising that you do for LiveStrong.. Good luck with everything.

  2. Comment by Elvis Lives | 11.8.2013 | 12:27 pm

    Congrats on a big decision. We can’t wait to read all your new projects!

  3. Comment by David | 11.8.2013 | 12:33 pm

    Wow, that’s a lot going on. So much so, in fact, that I think you may have left a few sentences out of this draft in the paragraph that describes the start of the climb.

    Yeah, oops. Sorry about that. Fixed now. – FC

  4. Comment by Jenni | 11.8.2013 | 12:49 pm

    I just quit too! Let’s take over the world Fatty!!! I have similar plans and identical intentions. Congratulations on following your destiny!

  5. Comment by Fat Cathy | 11.8.2013 | 12:50 pm

    Wow, big life-changing decision indeed! Good luck with the new career path. I think you will do well.

  6. Comment by wharton_crew | 11.8.2013 | 12:51 pm

    Wow Elden, that’s a bold move! Good luck going solo, and I’m totally envious – I would not have the self-control to keep myself working diligently, but would likely just delude myself into thinking I had *actually achieved* early retirement!

    Also, good luck navigating healthcare.gov now that you’ll be off the employer plan. Just kidding, I bet the Hammer steps up and is a great sugar mama for you! ;-)

  7. Comment by J | 11.8.2013 | 12:57 pm

    Well, if I had the option to bunk in a cool camper like Fred, I could quite too. I know those decisions are hard, but cool! We expect hourly posts from now on. You’ll have the time, right?

  8. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 11.8.2013 | 1:04 pm

    Fatty, congrats on making the big decision. So, where’s Part IV? [smile]

  9. Comment by Heidi | 11.8.2013 | 1:08 pm

    Here’s to moving forward – *tink!* How very exciting. Wishing you the best as you move in a new direction. We’re behind you all the way! (Yeah. The feeling you get that someone’s watching you? That’s us. But in a good way.)

  10. Comment by Brian in VA | 11.8.2013 | 1:09 pm

    It’s what we’ve all come to expect from someone who’s a mover and shaker, a Comedian Mastermind, a great dad, caregiver, and a superior husband. (I know this because my wife describes me as “above average”)

    Congrats on the change, leaping into the unknown! I look forward to what’s to come from you, sir.

  11. Comment by blair | 11.8.2013 | 1:16 pm

    Have you ever thought of taking up a hobby?

  12. Comment by Kukui | 11.8.2013 | 1:26 pm

    Gah! Huge nerve-wracking decision! I can’t wait to read your books, just as I can’t wait to read your posts every day.

  13. Comment by Tall Fir in Oregon | 11.8.2013 | 1:27 pm

    Am I missing something? Eldon, who are you referring to in all of this?

    “The first mile or so of this climb is on a wide dirt road, which gave everyone a chance to talk. Looking around, I was amazed at how many riders were racing solo—as indicated by the bright ribbon tied to the saddle. I was even more amazed at how many of us would be racing solo singlespeed. I let him know this was my first time racing solo like this. Immediately taking the mentor role upon himself, he gave me some good advice on how to ride steady, stay strong, and keep going.

    (Before the sun went down, I began noticing that this guy’s bike was—more often than not—sitting in his crew area. Which gave me a peculiar sense of pleasure, for some reason.)”

    Wow, that was confusing! Fixed. Thanks for calling it out. – FC

  14. Comment by Darren Why NOT Tri? | 11.8.2013 | 1:34 pm

    Best of luck with the career change. We all need to do what we love!

  15. Comment by PNP | 11.8.2013 | 1:35 pm

    That green glow on the western horizon is me…being hugely jealous that you’re able to quit your job. I can’t do the same, but I’ve actually wished a few times recently that my company would be acquired so I’d get laid off. A long break would suit me just fine.


  16. Comment by gogogo | 11.8.2013 | 1:35 pm

    can’t wait for your books! especially after another friend died of cancer, and someone i know just became a caregiver. please share your experience with the world.

    and of course, i am looking forward to the fun books! your reports -almost- make me want to take up mountain biking!

  17. Comment by Ray Wright | 11.8.2013 | 1:36 pm

    Takes some guts to do what you did. More than most people have. Good LUCK!

  18. Comment by Jacob | 11.8.2013 | 1:45 pm

    Can I have your old job? I mean, I have a steady and secure job and all, but I’m not overly fond of it and wouldn’t mind working from home.

  19. Comment by UpTheGrade SR, CA | 11.8.2013 | 1:54 pm

    Awesome decision Fatty, now you will have more time to devote to us ;-) Can’t wait for your funny books, and I hope I never have to read your caregiver one, but I’m sure it will be perfect for those who need it. Congratulations on picking your path, I’m positive you won’t regret it, nor will your supportive readers, fanboys or dependants.

  20. Comment by the Putti | 11.8.2013 | 2:03 pm

    Congrats on the big decision. Sadly, I don’t have a passion/dream when it comes to a career…. so I continue to work for the man.

  21. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 11.8.2013 | 2:12 pm


    I have puzzled and lost sleep more than once over a job change, but never over such a significant shift in priorities and work focus. I suspect most of us have, and we can identify with the angst your have been experiencing. Few of us have taken it as far as you seem to be going, however.

    Congratulations, and best wishes for a happy and successful semi-retirement!

    Upside for us is that your plans include a lot of the things we want to see.

    I’ll bet that Leroy’s dog has some sage repartee for us.

  22. Comment by KevinM | 11.8.2013 | 2:36 pm

    Fatty!! Congrats on taking a step of faith!! Good luck to you. I cant wait for your next projects. You are a very good writer and you will do well. Thanks for all the opportunities to join with the rest of “Fatcyclist Nation” to help those in need.

  23. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 11.8.2013 | 2:49 pm

    Congrats on a tough decision. Obviously (to me anyway) your writing will be able to support you, and we all benefit. Win-win.
    Knowing the results, I’m eager to read how this race all played out. So far, I’m confused, but you’re only a short way in, cliffhangers to come.

  24. Comment by Tim | 11.8.2013 | 2:53 pm

    I need at least three copies of the care giver book right now please. One friend who’s spouse is in a fight, one that just got diagnosed this week, and one for me. At least I can tell them that I am praying for them and hand them a book and tell them to read it while sitting in the waiting room because I respect the person who worte it, and he has been in the situation before.

  25. Comment by LidsB2 | 11.8.2013 | 3:54 pm

    So…what ever happened to Kenny’s belt-driven bike?

    The belt broke several times, in some bad places — including during the Kokopelli. He swore off belt-drive bikes after that. – FC

  26. Comment by MikeMac | 11.8.2013 | 3:57 pm

    You’re quitting your day job?

    …but, who’s gonna make my fries?

    All kidding aside Elden, I LOVE this decision. There’s a shortage of original voices out there. Happy to hear that yours will be dedicated full-time in the very near future.


  27. Comment by AKChick | 11.8.2013 | 3:58 pm

    Holy cow!!! You weren’t kidding! Exciting news!

  28. Comment by bikemike | 11.8.2013 | 4:24 pm

    I like the words “poopie-head” or “doodoo-face”, instead of “jerk”.

  29. Comment by Richard P. Kelly | 11.8.2013 | 6:19 pm

    Bold! Overdue! Congratulations!

  30. Comment by KevinM_IN | 11.8.2013 | 6:27 pm

    Congrats …. Wish you and The Hammer the best ….

  31. Comment by Carl | 11.8.2013 | 7:13 pm

    Congrats Fatty!

  32. Comment by Anonymous | 11.8.2013 | 7:18 pm

    You are inspiring! Hope you write until you drop….I know you will. Congratulations on making a big decision!

  33. Comment by Heidi | 11.8.2013 | 7:27 pm

    How come you never write about Kenny’s pretty, pretty blue eyes?

  34. Comment by The Real Wife#.667 and davidh, washington, d.c. | 11.8.2013 | 9:12 pm

    You’re a brave man Fatty. I tip my hat to you and wish you the best. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

    davidh, baltimore, Md. (we’re going home!)

  35. Comment by The Real Wife#.667 and davidh, washington, d.c. | 11.8.2013 | 9:17 pm

    Oh, by the way. If you decide to become a mtb tour operator a la Freaking Andy Hampsten please sign me up….for every trip.

  36. Comment by ScottyCycles | 11.9.2013 | 12:56 am

    Congrats on making the leap Eldon!

  37. Comment by Slo Joe | 11.9.2013 | 1:01 pm

    Congratulations on doing what you want to do. I did something similar years ago going from 9 to forever to whenever I wanted. Follow your dreams…….

    Ride Long and Prosper……with your career too.

  38. Comment by Tina | 11.10.2013 | 4:26 pm

    Best wishes for following your intuition.

  39. Comment by Queenie | 11.11.2013 | 9:58 am

    Is that dog wearing shoes? Really weird.

  40. Comment by rohit | 11.11.2013 | 10:11 am

    congrats on that decision! that takes some real courage!! You continue to inspire, and we all thank you for that.

    is this race report really going to be 17 or so segments long? One for each lap? or are we going to get 34 segments? one for each of yours and the Hammer?

  41. Comment by Dave T | 11.11.2013 | 10:12 am

    Congratulations on following your heart and make the leap. I’m glad you will be writing more looking forward to reading it all. Also bring on “Grand Slam 3” it’s nice to finish of the year like that.

  42. Comment by rich | 11.11.2013 | 10:52 am

    Wow, good for you following your passion…congrats.
    And I too noticed the dog wearing shoes….that’s strange

  43. Comment by Christina | 11.12.2013 | 8:54 am

    I love figuring out Fatty Mysteries. I feel like Velma.

    I look forward to buying many a book from you in the future! Congrats on the big jump.


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