6 Hours in Frog Hollow, Part 3: Patterns Emerge

04.24.2014 | 9:40 pm

A Note from Fatty: Before reading this installment of this story, you should probably read Part 1 and Part 2

Things had changed. For one thing — as I mentioned at the end of my last post — my position in the race had changed. By one. For the worse.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. What had really changed was the Frog Hollow course. Specifically, the most difficult section of the course — a rocky, blocky technical trail segment full of short steep climbs, quick descents and sharp turns — had been replaced by a slightly longer, much less technical section of singletrack that had lots of hairpin turns and right-angle turns and swoopy turns.

And by the time I got there, it was already pretty chewed up from people braking hard into the corners, and then stomping hard as they came out of the corners.

Powdery, loose desert dirt everywhere, the consistency somewhere between talcum powder, sand, and chocolate milk mix.

I hated it. Right from the start. “They took out the most interesting part of the loop and replaced it with this?” I thought.”

Maybe if I were better at racing that kind of trail, I wouldn’t be so down on it.

Ya think?

End of the First Lap, Start of the Second

The end of the Frog Hollow loop is a short gravel road, climbing up to the timing tent. I rode as fast and hard as I could, straining to look through the dust to where — hopefully — a guy on a Spot singlespeed would be just ahead of me.

I didn’t see him.

I came through the tent, realizing that if I hadn’t caught him yet, maybe I wouldn’t catch him at all.

But, I told myself, I am a better climber…and the next five miles is all about climbing.

And — good news — I had finished the first lap in under an hour, even including the run to my bike, which probably cost two minutes. I was on track to a six-lap race.

As solo racers, The Hammer and I had a crew spot set up right on the course, so we could grab stuff and go without having to divert off the course.

The Swimmer was the lucky winner of the “Who’s going to crew for Fatty and The Hammer” sweepstakes; here she and The Hammer are, posing under our pop-up tent after the race:


The Swimmer was ready for me — all set to hand me whatever I wanted. Which, in this case, was a rice cake, a full bottle of Carborocket 333 (Grape flavor: best energy drink I have ever used) and a small bottle of Coke to slug down.

In less than a minute, I was off again, wondering both how far ahead of me the guy on the Spot singlespeed was, and how far behind me The Hammer was.

A Pattern Emerges

I started the five mile climb again, going as hard as I could, knowing that if I were going to move ahead during this race, it would not be during the descent.

And about three miles into that five-mile climb, I saw him: the guy on the Spot. My chosen adversary.

Suddenly, I had wings. I bridged ’til I was right behind him, getting ready for the attack-pass.

But then I did something else, instead.

“Hey there,” I said, riding up beside him, then holding out a hand to shake his. “I get the feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other today. My name’s Elden. What’s yours?”

“I’m Mike.” Mike had a friendly voice.

“Where you from, Mike?”


“I’m from Alpine, it’s about 40 minutes south of Salt Lake City. What’s your gearing?”

“32 by 18. Yours?”

“34 x 19.”

That got a groan from him.

“Well, I’m sure I’ll see you on the descent in a few minutes,” I said.

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” he said. 

“I do,” I said. “If I’m going to beat you, I’ve got to do it in the climbs.”

And figuring that was as good a place to end our introductions as any, I stood and attacked.

Which is where we’ll pick up next week, in the next installment of this story.


  1. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 04.24.2014 | 9:56 pm

    I sure wish I could get a sunburn this time of year! I did the math on the gears – not that much different, less than 1/2 inch. Does it really come into play? You actually introduced yourself during a RACE?! Maybe you quit lying to yourself, at least briefly.

  2. Comment by leroy | 04.24.2014 | 10:15 pm

    I know my dog is about to attack when he pulls alongside and asks “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon”?

    Then he tells me he didn’t think I could cut the mustard and rides off.

    It’s his signature move.

  3. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 04.25.2014 | 12:27 am

    Love these late night posts! A great way to keep me distracted from the other stuff you can find on…..on line…..late at night. Now to read it.

  4. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 04.25.2014 | 1:37 am

    I’m going to have to try a single speed….once, on our hills, then put that fantasy away for you younger guys. Keep’m coming Fatty….but not too fast.

  5. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 04.25.2014 | 5:17 am

    @Davidh…. I double dog dare you to make your: “I am going to have to try a single speed….once” to be Leadville.

  6. Comment by rich | 04.25.2014 | 8:06 am

    look at you being all neighborly and stuff…you Utah people are so friendly.
    I also run a 34×19 here in the bay area, but can’t imagine having the breath to talk to people 3 miles into a 5 mile climb…you’re a machine

  7. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 04.25.2014 | 8:11 am

    @Doug(way upstate NY)

    I already have two dogs so I think I’ll have to pass on your offer.

  8. Comment by grant | 04.25.2014 | 8:13 am

    Mark in Brementon – one TOOTH can make a difference in a single speed setup!

    I run 32×19 in my not-very-hilly part of the world (I’m soft!). I couldn’t imagine pushing 34×19…

  9. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 04.25.2014 | 8:15 am

    @Rich (Bay Area)

    I see by your blog you’ll be in Chico also this w/e. Hope to see you on the route. Bring your ‘Fatty’ kit and stand out! We’ll be riding a two toned blue Tandem (two old slow guys) so give a shout out as you pass.

  10. Comment by MC | 04.25.2014 | 8:28 am

    Another fabulous edition Fatty…love it that you introduced yourself to your adversary mid-climb! You are truly the master of the cliff-hanger!

    And Leroy, you absolutly SLAY me!! I just hope my dogs never get the opportunity to talk to YOUR dog (and get some ideas)…that would be bad.

    And just a shout out to all the San Jose/SF Bay-area Fatties…I’ll be back up in Sunnyvale working again(graveyard shift) starting on the 5th of May thru the 17th…SO…I’ll be around to ride AND to catch the local Tour of Calif stages…we MUST get together!

    Oh…and David, after demo’ing a 27.5″ MTB up in Colo 2 weeks ago, I found out why I feel like I’m working SO hard on my 26″ chasing you on your niner…it’s becasue I AM doing more work! I’m onto your game now mister…in almost all circumstances I’m working harder on my 26 than you are on your 29…it’s SO not fair (doesn’t help me in the short term while I save $ to buy a FS niner one-day..but know that it will assuredly happen).

  11. Comment by GenghisKhan | 04.25.2014 | 8:48 am

    I like that you introduced yourself to Mike – classy and makes for a more interesting/personal challenge. Every superhero needs a villain, right?

    Can’t wait to see which one you turn out to be! :o)

  12. Comment by gingyh | 04.25.2014 | 8:51 am

    If you ever get the chance to ride a Spot, DOOOO EEEEET! My husband has one and, although it’s way too big for me, I love riding it. It’s just a fun bike to ride.

  13. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 04.25.2014 | 10:40 am

    @MC Great to hear you’re coming back. I definitely want to introduce you to some local beer(s).

    As for the working harder. That’s only fair. You’re half a generation younger than I, and as for weight, you make Elden look rotund. Working ‘harder’ seems like a fair handicap.

    Mt Diablo(road) when you’re up? DaveT, SteveB, AngieG are you listening?

  14. Comment by MC | 04.25.2014 | 12:31 pm

    @davidh…sure we can do Diablo…it’s on my bucket-list…the ToC has a summit finish on Diablo on Tues the 13th…if we do it then we can see the finish, AND as a bonus we get to ride the mt w/ a fw thousand of our closest friends. OR we can do it before/after the tour passes thru…I’m game either way.

  15. Comment by SteveB | 04.25.2014 | 1:04 pm

    @MC and DH,
    I’m already scheduled to ride Mt. D on the 10th (club ride,
    Mt. D, Mt. Tam, Mt. Ham on three consecutive weekends in May).
    Y’all are welcome to join us, we’re a friendly group.

    Think about bringing along some extra bucks to buy a Mt. Diablo
    jersey – they’re really nice.

  16. Comment by Kit | 04.25.2014 | 2:33 pm

    I love these race reports! Fantastic writing!

  17. Comment by Daniel Reeves | 04.25.2014 | 2:46 pm

    Why did “34×19″ get a groan from Mike? Did he not realize that that’s 48.3 gear inches to his 48, ie, pretty much identical?

    One of the 3 people who care about gearing

  18. Comment by Heidi | 04.25.2014 | 3:52 pm

    Leroy’s dog… Tee hee!

  19. Comment by Skye | 04.25.2014 | 8:17 pm

    I am baffled as to why you are eating rice cakes during a race….?

    You might be thinking of the puffy, mostly-air rice cakes, as opposed to rice cakes made from Allen Lim’s recipe.. – FC

  20. Comment by Cyclingjimbo | 04.25.2014 | 8:30 pm

    I love Leroy’s dog!

    @Leroy, you can tell your dog that we made some homemade mustard a couple of weeks ago – Grey Poupon is mild compared to this stuff. We can cut any mustard!

    @David, having lived in the Bay area, I envy all the great riding you have, as well as the fact that drivers actually pay attention to cyclists. We’ll be enjoying the ToC remotely, alas. Enjoy the brews.

  21. Comment by annmarie | 04.27.2014 | 6:57 am

    I don’t even understand any of this bike talk but I’m still enjoying this and am looking forward to the day you actually finish this story.

  22. Comment by Mike from Boise | 04.27.2014 | 9:06 am

    This is great stuff; almost like reliving pieces of the race!

    Daniel, the reason for the groan was the fact that I could tell by the body language and tone of voice, that the man is really strong and I knew our gearing was near identical. This was made very clear as he danced away from me effortlessly and he became smaller and smaller with each climb and turn. Lucky for me, the scenery down there is stunning so I used that to try and distract myself and tell myself it just doesn’t matter : )

    Hi Mike, thanks tons for leaving a comment! Glad you found the site. I’ll look forward to your comments in upcoming installments. – FC

  23. Comment by LIdsB2 | 04.27.2014 | 10:32 pm


    So, this is off topic, but your Blogroll buddies have become, well, quite stale. Dug, Rick, Brad and Kris haven’t posted in ages. Grizzly Adam’s blog give’s a “403 Forbidden” error. I used to love their wit, insight and humor. Now I’m suffering from abandonment issues. What gives? At least I can still get my periodic Fatty fix.

    You’re absolutely right. I need to update that list. – FC

  24. Comment by Slo Joe | 04.28.2014 | 10:08 am

    C’mon awready. It’s Monday afternoon…..

    Whar be Part Quatro?


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