Fatty’s Feet: A Cry for Help

07.29.2014 | 9:24 am

I cut a ride short last weekend. I had to. I was in too much pain to go on. 

You need to know exactly how serious of a thing this is with me: last weekend was supposed to be my last long day of riding before the Leadville Trail 100. And it was going to be my first really long day on the bike I’ll be riding at Leadville: my Ibis Tranny 29, built up as a singlespeed with a Gates Carbon Drive Belt System drivetrain. 

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I’ll be doing a not-live-blog of the story of this bike tomorrow (it’s a surprisingly dramatic story), but here’s the spoiler ending: it’s awesome.

The Hammer and I planned to go up Pole Line Pass, down to the Wasatch State Park visitor’s center to fill up with water (and buy ice cream bars), then climb back up to the summit of Pole Line Pass to hit some rolling singletrack along the Ridge Trail to Mud Springs, reconnecting to Tibble Fork for a fun downhill to the reservoir.

At some point along the way, The Hammer was supposed to take pictures of me riding my new bike, for use in the end of my bike build-up post. 

But we never took the pictures. I wouldn’t let her take them. Because by the time we got back to the top of Pole Line Pass — where the actual fun part of the ride should begin — I couldn’t stand the thought of being in my shoes that much longer. I needed to get down to the truck and out of my shoes. 

And I was in a terrible mood.

That’s right. I — the guy who just never ever ever gets tired of biking, the guy who loves riding more than anyone has ever loved riding, the guy who is pretty much always happy whenever near a bike — chose to skip riding a fantastic long section of perfect singletrack, in favor of getting done sooner and out of my shoes. 

The name I chose to give the ride on Strava pretty much tells the story.

Something’s up with my feet, and I need to get that something fixed. And I don’t have much time to get it done. 

So I’m asking for help. Guidance. Advice. Whatever.

The Backstory

Little by little — over the course of the past year or so — my feet have started hurting after long rides. Especially my left foot. Here, let me show you where:

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I fully expect, anticipate, and look forward to the jokes about the hair on my toes and my horrible toenails. Feel free. 

The thing is, this pain isn’t limited to one pair of shoes. I have several pairs of mountain bike shoes.

  • An old pair of Specialized S-Works MTB shoes, which used to be comfortable but aren’t anymore. 
  • A new pair of Specialized S-Works MTB shoes, which hurt so bad I took them to a shoe repair place to have them stretched. It didn’t help.
  • A pair of Sidi Dragon 2s, which I took to get stretched, and which I thought were going to be OK… but which were in fact the shoes that just about killed me on that ride a couple days ago I just described.
  • A VERY old pair of Specialized Expert MTB shoes, which seem to do OK for me, and are my current fallback plan for the LT100. They’re at a shoe repair store right now, getting new velcro attached; the old velcro is all worn out and doesn’t fasten at all anymore.

The thing is, those old Specialized Expert shoes are really worn out, and won’t last much longer even once repaired. I’m going to need some new shoes, ones that fit, soon

What I’ve Tried and Considered

I should have started attacking this problem sooner, but I thought I had things figured out. A while back, I ordered some new Specialized S-Works MTB shoes, this time in wide sizing; I thought they would work. But they took a long time to arrive, and then they fit me really badly — they weren’t just wide, they were tall, and the shoe cut into my ankles.

So I traded them out for regular-width S-Works shoes, but those — even post-stretch — hurt so bad I can’t wear them for even an hour of hard riding.

I’ve stretched my Sidi Dragons — that seemed to help some, but not enough. Four hours into a ride with a lot of hard standing climbing left my feet begging for mercy.

I’ve looked into semi-custom shoes like Shimano and Bont. But the Shimanos seem designed to tighten around your feet, not make room for them. And Bont shoes are difficult to get ahold of; I emailed them and they said they don’t have my size (Vaypor XC 42 wide according to their fitting system) and I’d be looking at a 5-6 week wait for them to make and send some.

I Need a Hero

What I need right now is a heroic shoemaker. A company that can talk to me, hear what’s bothering me, and give me a pair of shoes that I can ride — as a hard-mashing, standing-climbing singlespeeder — for all of the Leadville 100. 

Or someone else, who can achieve that same result — me not being unable to pedal hard due to foot pain — in some other way (inserts? magic repositioning of cleat?).

If you’re out there, help me out. I guarantee you’ll get so much grateful high-profile bloggage in return you’ll need to hire another intern just to cope with the increased social media load.

Please. Help me. I’m begging.

 

The Joys of Quantification, Part 2: Garmin Edge 510 Long-Term Usage Thoughts

07.28.2014 | 1:00 pm

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I’ve had the Garmin Edge 510 for just about a year now. Long enough that I know exactly what I like and dislike about it for reals — as opposed to the things I thought I’d find awesome when I got the thing (Full Disclosure: of the two Garmin Edge 510s The Hammer and I own, we purchased one; the other was given to us at no charge by Garmin).

And there are a lot of things I do — and don’t — like about about it. 

Me as a Use Case

I should probably give you an idea of what kind of Garmin Edge 510 user I am. That’s pretty easy: I use it on pretty much every ride — mountain, road, and TT — and I ride between five and seven times per week. And before I used the 510, I used the 500 for a few years, and loved it

And while I use the GPS itself all the time, I don’t use any of the things it can wirelessly connect to. I don’t connect to any ANT+ devices like a power meter or speed/cadence sensor. I also don’t use a heart rate monitor.

Reliability

So I’ve been using Garmin bike computers for a while, and I use the 510  a lot. And  that brings a point that needs to be underscored before I start picking at nits: Garmin is making bike computers that are really light, easy to read, and — above all — reliable. I have rattled the 510 through a huge number of miles on chipseal, over hundreds of miles on sandstone, in the rain and snow, and have crashed my bike with it mounted an untold number of times.

And this bike computer has never stopped working. 

Even when The Hammer’s 510 broke free of the mount at around 35mph, tumbling on pavement until it (eventually!) came to a stop, it still kept working — the rubberized casing looking a little beat-up, but still functioning perfectly.

The only other electronic device I’ve ever had that is so real-world resistant is Shimano’s Di2 electronic shifting. 

So huge kudos go to Garmin for building a bike computer that seems capable of being mounted to any bike and being used on any terrain, in any weather, without shorting out. Phone manufacturers could learn a lot from the bombproof behavior of the Garmin Edge 510.

Battery Life = Amazing 

So, apart from reliability, what do I love about the 510? Well, first and foremost: battery life. I’ve ridden with it for more than seventeen hours on a single charge. That’s impressive.

And I love the size of the screen (1.7” tall, 1.4” wide). It’s big. Big enough so you can fit a ton of information on the screen for when you’re in the mood for knowing everything:

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Or — for when you just want the basics you can set up the view to be nice and big, making it easy to find what you need to know at a glance:

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And as long as I’m showing you what my screen setups are like, here’s the one I use when I’m racing — the one that shows me what I need to know and only what I need to know, and is easy to read instantly, even when I’m standing and pedaling at my absolute maximum effort:

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In case you’re wondering what my main memory of the Leadville 100 will be in just under two weeks, you’re looking at it right there: how far have I gone, and how long has it taken me?

Doing the Normal Stuff

The 510 has an outrageous number of features; if you want to do something with a GPS, it probably has the capability built in. And the menu can feel like a labyrinth when you’re trying to — for example — set it up to let you race against someone else’s best effort on a Strava segment. (Yes, it can be done, but it’s not easy.)

That said, the stuff you need to do often, like starting, stopping and saving a ride, are very easy to do. Switching between how much is shown on the screen is as easy as swiping your thumb across the screen (I have mine set up to let me cycle between the three views you see above just by swiping). 

More Good Stuff

The 510 has some really nice little touches, too. If you’re riding at night, the GPS just knows and reverses out the display, so it doesn’t blind you with too much light when you tap on the screen to turn the LED on to look at it.

It also — if you’re willing to take the time to learn it — is able to become really personalized. For example, I’ve disabled the “turn off after inactive” feature, since I’ve had it turn off moments before a race starts. And I’ve set up alerts so it lets me know every ten miles I’ve ridden, as well as every half hour — an excellent trick to remind you to eat every half hour of a race. 

And maybe best of all is how fast this thing acquires a GPS signal. Unlike in the old days, when you had to wait a few minutes after turning on the GPS before it knew where it is, the Garmin Edge 510 is ready to go usually within fifteen seconds of turning it on. That’s pretty awesome.

Stuff I Thought I’d Love, But Don’t

I use the color touchscreen on my phone constantly, every single day. And it works great.

But this ease of use doesn’t translate to the Garmin Edge 510.

I thought I would love having a touchscreen for a Garmin. And I thought having a color screen would be awesome.

Well, the color screen is all but meaningless. During the actual ride, you don’t get much color. And in fact, when talking about the pros and cons of the 510 with The Hammer, she was surprised when I told her the 510 has a color display.

When you’re riding, all you care about is contrast. Color isn’t any kind of advantage.

As for the touch screen, well…I hate it. Here’s why.

As a cyclist, I tend to sweat. And thanks to gravity, I tend to drip a lot of sweat onto the 510 screen, to the point where the salt deposits render the screen opaque.

So I go to wipe the screen off…and suddenly, by me wiping sweat off the display, I’m at a different screen altogether. Worse, there’s a good chance that I’ve actually changed the settings on the 510 somehow — like modified the unit of measurement so it’s cubits or something.

This gets annoying for me, but it’s a full-on horror show for The Hammer, who doesn’t love technology as much as I do. She’ll try to clean off her screen and suddenly find out that she’s reformatted the Garmin as a Unix computer and has furthermore initiated the launch sequence for a manned mission to Mars.

“How do I get back to the main screen?” she’ll ask. 

“I don’t know,” I’ll answer. 

[Update: A few people have let me know that this feature already exists. You tap the power button, then press the “lock” icon in the lower corner of the screen. Thanks for letting me know! - FC]

Software Enhancement Idea for Garmin: a “screen lock” feature that makes it so you can wipe off your screen without causing all sorts of shenanigans.

Screen-Cleaning Tip for People with Touch Screen Garmins: Wipe your screen off using a right-to-left swiping motion. That way you’ll just cycle through your activity screens, instead of going deep into the arcane menu system.

Bluetooth: No Thanks

Probably the biggest disappointment to me in the Edge 510 is the Bluetooth capability. Where Garmin could have made it so the GPS would talk with your phone or computer and upload to Strava, it instead limits Bluetooth interaction to its own walled garden of apps.

I don’t use any of those, and so the Bluetooth capability is entirely worthless to me (plus it drains the battery of both your phone and GPS). I’ve disabled the Bluetooth on my 510.

For Entertainment Purposes Only

So that’s the good and the bad. Garmin has a couple of features that are — essentially — just silly. Specifically, I’m talking about the Gradient feature, which allows you to show how steep your current climb (or descent) is.

Which is fine, except…have you ever actually used that feature on a 510? The gradient changes every single second. And not by a tenth of a percent, either. No. It goes like this: 3%…5.7%…-2%…4%…9%…1%…6%….

Which would be fine — if you were riding a roller coaster.

The other thing about the 510 that cracks me up is the thermometer. I’m not saying it’s not accurate, because there is some correlation between what the 510 reports and how warm or cold it is outside. It’s just that there seems to be random number between one and ten that the Garmin chooses to either add or subtract from that temperature. And I know for sure that The Hammer and I have never, not even once, ever had the same temperature appear on our bike computers, in spite of the fact that we’ve spent the entire ride within three feet of each other.

Summing Up

Should you buy a Garmin bike computer? Well, if you like seeing, recording, and otherwise quantifying your bike rides, then absolutely you should.

The question is, which

Honestly, there just isn’t a lot of new functionality in the 510 to warrant the $130 price premium over the Garmin Edge 500. For $200, this smaller bike computer has essentially all of what I love in the 510, but with a much smaller price…and without the negatives in the 510. 

What I would love for Garmin to manufacture, really, would be something between the 500 and the 510: just the functionality of the 500, but with the larger screen (but not touchscreen, and just black and white) of the 510. Maybe use some of the extra space for a larger, longer-lasting battery and make it the most perfect cycling computer ever.

Call it the 505, Garmin. And put me on the pre-order list for a couple of them.

 

The Joys of Quantification, Part 1: Which Garmin-Compatible Mount Should You Buy?

07.24.2014 | 12:22 pm

I love looking down at my bike computer. Love it.

I know, I know. I should be looking around, at the great outdoors and stuff. But sometimes I just can’t stand the thought of taking in another majestic mountain range. I find myself rolling my eyes at picturesque valleys and burbling streams.

There are times, quite frankly, when the thought enduring yet another waterfall makes me want to scream. 

But staring at my Garmin 510 never gets old. The speed! The time! The elevation, grade, and total ascent!

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My heart leaps, just looking at that rich mine of information, all there for the seeing.

Garmin’s done a good job of making a suite of GPS devices for bikes. As I’ve written before, I’m a big fan of the Garmin Edge 500, and next week I’ll be writing a long-term review of the Garmin Edge 510.

But whether you use a Garmin Edge 200 (the entry-level model) 500, 510, 800, or 810, you’re going to need a way to put that GPS on your bike — a GPS mount. 

There are a lot of different kinds out there, and not all of them are equally awesome. But I’ve been using some of the most popular ones for a while, and think I can give some good guidance for which ones you ought to use.

The In-The-Box Options

To their credit, Garmin ships a pretty darned good mount with the GPS you buy: a light, round little disc that you put on your stem with a couple of the included tough-but-stretchy O-rings (several are included, with different lengths to match different stem circumferences).

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The GPS twists on (or off) with a quarter turn, and you’re ready to go:

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The problem with this mount is that, as the Garmins get bigger, this mount has a tougher time holding the GPS in place. With the 500, I never noticed the GPS drifting to one side or another. With the 510, a rocky ride will make the mounted GPS slide to one side or another.

Some Garmins — the 510, for example — also come with a mount that sticks out beyond the bar:

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For road bikes in particular, this type of mount is fantastic: you don’t have to look down as far to see the GPS when the mount puts your computer further forward.

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(For mountain bikes, this kind of mount is a bad idea; they put your GPS in too exposed a place for when crashes happen.)

But of all the mounts in this blog post, this is the only one I recommend strongly against.

Why? Because it damaged a very expensive GPS. One time, when The Hammer was descending and went over a cattle guard using this mount with her Garmin 510, suddenly her GPS flew off her bike, tumbling to the road. 

To Garmin’s credit, the strong casing prevented the GPS from being broken altogether. It’s a little banged up, but still works.

However, the interface to the mount was damaged. Take a look at the left side of the disc — the tab has broken off:

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This broken-off tab means that The Hammer’s GPS no longer sits as securely on any mount. 

Did this break happen because of the GPS or the mount? I don’t know for sure, but both are broken in the same place, and both are from Garmin…and I’ve never had this happen with any other mount on a Garmin GPS. So for myself, I’m swearing off this particular mount forever.

For the Road: Bar Fly 2.0

Instead of the Garmin mount, I am now using the Tate Labs Bar Fly 2.0 as the mount on our road bikes:

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Honestly, I have nothing but nice things to say about this mount. It goes on very easily with just a single bolt tightening down a plastic clamp — so no worries about damaging your carbon bar, and it’s simple as can be to adjust the viewing angle of the GPS. 

Then the shape of the mount means that whether you’re using a smaller Garmin (a 200 or a 500) or a larger one (the 510, an 800, or an 810), it’s going to fit without any adjustments made to the mount. Pretty elegant.

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Same bike, same mount, different-sized Garmins. A 510 on the left, a 500 on the right. 

And Tate Labs has done a great job with the product material: it doesn’t seem to be wearing down the tabs on my GPS very quickly at all. 

Finally, if you’re using a Shimano or Campy electronic shifting setup on your road bike, the Bar Fly 2.0 has a place to put the shifting module out of site on the underside, a nice tidy place for that little black box.

By way of full disclosure, the guys at Tate Labs sent me one Bar Fly 2.0 to try out. I liked it well enough that I’ve bought additional ones for all of the road bikes in the family.

Two Great MTB Mount Options

On your mountain bike, you don’t want to have your GPS sticking out past the handlebar; it’s just not a good idea to lead with an expensive piece of electronics. There seems to be agreement that a mount that puts the GPS over your stem is a reasonable compromise between visibility and protecting the GPS.

There are two mounts that I think are just about perfect, and the fact that they arrived at their solution in different ways is pretty awesome.

Bar Fly 3.0 (MTB)

Before I say anything else, let me say this: someone at Tate Labs needs to hire a guy to name their mounts. “Bar Fly 3.0 (MTB)” is just terrible. They should have named it Bar Fly MTB Mobius:

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Or something like that. 

Boring name aside, this is a fantastic mount, using the same thinking that makes the Bar Fly 2.0 great (good plastic, one-bolt fastening to the bar, fits any Garmin) and turning it around so the mount is over the stem:

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You can’t tell it from this photo, but this puts the mount above the stem cap and faceplate hardware, so that any size Garmin will mount on, no problem. Here’s The Hammer’s 510:

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You can see that with the super short stem The Hammer (correctly) runs, the 510 wouldn’t fit with Garmin’s mount on the stem. It fits — no problem — with the Bar Fly

K-Edge Stem Mount

K-Edge has a couple of different mounts that go around the top of your steerer tube, fastened down by your top compression cap: 

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Replacing a 5mm spacer, this mount has a couple of pretty fantastic advantages. First, it takes up no real estate on your handlebar at all, so if you’ve got a GoPro or a phone mount that needs to mount on the handlebar on both sides of the stem, you’re still in business.

Next, since this sits above your stem, your GPS is going to fit, no matter how short your stem.

And finally, with the adjustable version (like the one shown in the photo above), you can adjust the viewing angle by loosening a bolt. 

Designed and made in Idaho by cycling gold medalist Kristin Armstrong’s family, these  K-Edge mounts — made of machined aluminum — are far and away the coolest-looking GPS mounts out there. 

This is the GPS mount that The Hammer has on her singlespeed, and she loves it. Enough so that I’ve bought one (the one on The Hammer’s bike was sent to us no charge) for my own new singlespeed, though I’ve bought the less-expensive non-adjusting version:

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All in black for me, of course. If I could have things my way, there is no bike product that would not be available in straight-up black, with no color accents allowed, with the exception of white and silver.

The adjustable version of this mount does have one pretty significant drawback: price.  $39.99 MSRP (and a street price of $35.99) is a lot to pay for a mount, no matter how cool and shiny it looks. 

PS: My next post will be a review of the Garmin Edge 510, now that The Hammer and I have been using it for about a year. Spoiler: I don’t like it as much as I like the 500.

A Conversation With Levi Leipheimer

07.22.2014 | 9:29 am

I had a great vacation in NC with my family. Except for one day: July 12, the day of the Crusher in the Tushar. I love that race, and was bummed to be missing it this year.

So I tracked it, as best as I could — watching for Twitter, Facebook, and Strava posts.

Eventually I saw that Levi Leipheimer had posted a fast time for the race, so I left a comment congratulating him. Which made it so that I started getting notified by Strava whenever anyone else left a comment. 

And there were quite a few. Some positive, some critical. And up to that point at least, all very  well-considered. That conversation has snowballed a bit since then (partially fueled by a tweet of mine about it, maybe), but I liked that Levi seems willing to talk.

So I asked him to do a recorded chat with me to post here. And I do mean “chat” here; we ramble and jump all over the place, which made for an interesting conversation. We talk about the Tour de France (racing it, crashing out of it, watching it after you’ve crashed out of it, whether a normal human could hang on for even a single stage of it), whether 155 pounds is too heavy for a 5’7” cyclist, the 100 Miles of Nowhere, whether doping benefits a racer even after they stop doping, and a lot more. 

It’s long — just under an hour — but I think it’s worth a listen. Here you go:

Technical Note: about halfway through, the software I was using to record the video died on me — a fact I didn’t notice ’til after the interview was over. Luckily, I had taken the precaution of recording the audio redundantly, so I have the entire recording — just no video for the second half. This just means that at some point you’ll see still shots of our heads as we talk, instead of us talking as we stare at our respective computer screens.

Just In Case An Hour Isn’t Enough

By the way, Culture Pop Films just put out a documentary detailing a little more about Levi, what he’s doing now, and Levi’s GranFondo — it’s definitely worth a watch, which you can do here (though you may want to see it nice and big on the Vimeo site instead): 

PS: If you watch Behind the Curtain, be sure to watch the outtakes reel

2014 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 12: Idiot

07.21.2014 | 8:35 am

A Note from Fatty About Today’s Post: This is part 12 of my 2014 Rockwell Relay Race Report. The previous installment, part 11, is here. Or if you need to, you can go to back to the beginning

The most reliable indicator of a successful blog post, as far as I’m concerned, is that upon reading it, you will admire me. You will find me insightful. Athletic. Witty.  Strategic. Smart. Handsome, even. 

This will not, as measured by any of the above metrics, be a successful blog post.

Handoff

We got to the Cedar City exchange point with enough time for me to get changed, get my bike ready, and then stare over my shoulder, waiting for The Hammer. 

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It also gave me plenty of time to worry: This is a big descent, with a lot of wildlife. We left her out on her own for a long time. She could easily have hit a deer. Or a pothole. Or a patch of gravel. 

And it was cold up there. She wasn’t wearing gear for what was bound to be a chilly descent. She had already been through one descent where she was violently shivering by the time she got to the bottom. Why hadn’t I had her wear more?

I waited. Probably for as long as five whole eternal minutes I waited.

It’s possible I fret too much, and too often. Over a woman who has never shown herself to be anything but incredibly strong and capable.

I’m her husband. It’s my job.

And then, there she was.

With a smile on her face.

My relief was intense. I put out my hand to take the baton as The Hammer slowed:

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We had learned our lesson about rolling handoffs for this year; maybe we’ll try them again…some other time.

And then I was off.

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My final chance for glory — my big opportunity to show exactly how strong of a cyclist I am — was upon me.

Stand and Deliver

Hey, see if you can find the common theme in the following pictures from my final turn in the Rockwell Relay. Here’s one shot:

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Oh, and here’s another.

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And here’s me, again.

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(I especially like this one because the angle of the shot makes it look like it’s a tiny, tiny bicycle I’m riding.)

OK, one more.

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You could say that the common theme in all those shots is that I seem to be drawn to riding in places with scraggly bushes nearby. Or that I seem to be as drawn to looking at my stem as Chris Froome. 

But of course, the real common thread is that in each of these photos, I’m standing. And it’s not like these are cherry-picked photos, either. These are all the photos that were taken of me during this leg of the race. 

If there’s any kind of incline at all, I stand. 

Parents, let this be a warning to you: don’t let your kids ride single speed mountain bikes, or they will become hopeless mashers, thinking that the way to go fast is to stand up, pick a big gear, and pedal big fat squares.

Idiot Race Tactics

But I wasn’t just standing and climbing. Nope. I was standing and chasing. On this long straight road, often at a mild incline, I could see riders ahead of me, even when they were far ahead of me.

And by “riders,” I of course mean “carrots.”

I chased one racer down, got behind his wheel for just a moment to catch my breath, and then passed him, signaling that he should hop on his wheel, that we should ride together.

But I didn’t mean it. I so didn’t mean it. As soon as he got on my wheel, I ramped up my speed to a level that I knew was unsustainable, testing the guy, seeing if he could hang.

He could not. Within a minute I was riding alone again.

That’s OK, though, I could see another guy up ahead. I chased him down, did the same thing: catch him, catch my breath, go ahead for a pull, and try to ride him off my wheel from the front.

But this guy was staying with me.

“OK,” I thought. “Here comes a steeper hill; let’s see if you can stay with me going up that.”

He couldn’t. I popped him off the back, and was alone again. Which, apparently, was the way I liked it.

I continued on, riding solo. Racing out of my head. Attacking, attacking, attacking.

Except there was nobody else to attack. For the rest of the leg, I was on my own, racing into what was at times a headwind, and at other times a crosswind. 

I finished, feeling spent. Feeling proud. I had given it my all. 

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And then, less than one minute later, the two guys I had dropped came cruising in. Working together.

Which is where I had my monster epiphany: I am a cycling strategy idiot. In my first leg, I had gone out completely at top speed, on my own and in the wind, even though I knew there was a guy just a couple of minutes back who wanted to work with me. A guy who I knew was strong, and would have made us both faster.

And now I had done it again. If I’d gone smarter — not harder — I could’ve worked with these two guys, and all three of us would’ve finished faster. 

But no. I had to beat them, even though I was competing in a different division than them. Somehow, at the moment, that had been more important to me than putting in a faster overall time.

I’m all legs and lungs, no brain at all. 

G’night Everybody

With my final leg of the race over, I now had a delicious luxury ahead of me: no more preparing for the next leg. No more taking care of other racers (Kenny and The Hammer would be taking care of Heather during her final leg of the race). And no stress over our place in the coed category: barring a crazy circumstance, we knew our place as third coed team was pretty much sealed.

So I had a celebratory cold soda, generously provided by the exchange volunteers:

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And then I had another:

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It’s possible I had a third, as well. My mind’s a little hazy on the whole time period. 

Then I had a Klondike ice cream bar, sitting and relaxing in the exquisitely air-conditioned van: 

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And then I laid down on the bench seat, intending to get out my iPad and see how other teams were doing.

I believe I lasted less than a second before falling asleep.

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Yes, I’m cuddling my phone in one hand and an iPad in the other. My devices and I are very close.

How It Ends

As you probably expect, I have no recollection of Heather’s final leg of the race at all. I just remember waking up as the van pulled up to the park where the finish line was, with The Hammer telling me that the team had decided that nobody wanted to wake me up and so this year we wouldn’t ride across the line together; Heather would have that honor solo. 

Which she did magnificently:

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And I have to say, it was extra-awesome to cross the finish line this year, because Dave Towle — the biggest and best voice in cycling today, was announcing finishers.

We got the post-race team photo:

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And then we went to Kenny and Heather’s house — just a couple miles away from the finish line — and went to sleep for a couple hours before the awards ceremony. As expected, we were third with our time of 29:32: almost an hour and a half slower than the first and second place coed teams.

Obviously, it wasn’t even close.

And I don’t care. We could’ve been last place and I would’ve enjoyed it just as much.

The Rockwell Relay continues to be the funnest, most intense, most beautiful, outright best race I’ve ever done.

And I can hardly wait ’til next year.

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