The DQ-ing of Fatty, Part 2: Decisions and Realizations

09.23.2014 | 9:09 am

A Note from Fatty: This is part 2 of my “The DQ-ing of Fatty” series. Part 1 is here.

In a triathalong, it’s truly fascinating to be one of the really slow swimmers, but one of the really fast cyclists; you get to witness almost the entirety of the cycling field as you ride through it.

First, you ride through the happiest, most relaxed group of racers. They’re there just to complete the race, to show themselves that they can do this. These people are riding the road on mountain bikes and townies. They are accomplishing something new. They are getting it done. They are the people I would be most interested in riding with and hearing their stories.

Next are the people who are riding road bikes, resting their hands on the hoods of their bars. They’re fit and they’re going hard, but this isn’t the center of their lives. They signed up to do this triathlon to see whether they like it, or maybe to support a friend.

Then come the riders who are either on road bikes with clipped-on aero bars, or maybe even an actual tri-specific bike, but regular ol’ road helmets. These are the people in transition. Unfortunately for them, they don’t realize that an aero helmet will make a bigger difference than just about any other piece of equipment.

And then the field thins out and I’m riding with the people who look like…well, me. Full-on aero bike, full-on aero helmet, full-on aero suit. These are the people who are hoping for a podium spot, at least in their age group.

And once I’ve passed most of these people, I’m alone. Caught in a dead zone between the people who are fast at swimming and cycling, and pretty much everyone else.

And that can pose a real problem.

Let’s Back Up A Little

When I left off in part 1 of this story, I had hit the turnaround point and was barreling toward what I assured you was the event that would disqualify (DQ) me from this race.

In order for you to really understand what happened, though, I need to back up a little bit. 

About a quarter of the way through the cycling part of the race — well before the turnaround — I came to an intersection that had a sign, indicating that people racing the olympic distance triathalong (me, for example) should continue on straight. People who were racing the sprint distance should make a sharp left turn. Like this:

Z out

I slowed to interpret the sign, saw lots of other olympic-distance racers continuing on straight, then hammered on through. No problem.

But by the time I got back to that intersection, I had ridden through the field. There was nobody visibly in front of me. And  there were cars several deep along the right side of the road, either parked or waiting for a chance to get through the intersection, represented here with yellow rectangles.

Z back

These cars blocked any signs that would have been on the right side of the road. 

There was a course marshal standing in the middle of the road (represented above with a green dot). I looked to her for guidance.

I received no guidance. The teenaged course marshal just stared at me blankly, her hands down at her side. I choose to believe that I was such a magnificent sight that she was swept up in the moment and simply forgot where she was and what she was doing.

There was no cyclist ahead of me to follow. I’d have to make this decision on my own.

So I made a guess. I would call it an educated guess, but really, I didn’t have a lot of time for cogitating. “I saw before that the sprint distance racers go that way,” I thought. “So olympic distance racers probably continue straight, the way we came. Besides, the course marshal would be waving me right if I was supposed to go right.

And so I went straight. 

Second Guessing is Awesome

Even as I went through the intersection, I was only 50.5% convinced I had made the right decision. Within a couple hundred yards, that conviction had dropped down to about 25%.

And it continued dropping from there. 

I slowed down. Should I turn around? No! There was nothing to indicate I had gone the wrong way; I was just letting self-doubt plague me.

I ramped up my speed again, though doubt made me lose my racing urgency.

Then I mentally pictured where this road was heading: to a T-intersection. I had turned right to get on this road, which meant a left turn to get back on the road that would lead me back to the transition area.

There had been no course marshal there when I had turned right, just a course marking. But maybe that was because nobody had yet come back, I reasoned to myself.

If there was no course marshal there to hold up traffic when I got to the intersection this time, I’d know for sure I had made a wrong turn. Or, more correctly, failed to make a right turn.

Game Over

Of course, there was nobody at the intersection. So I came to a stop as traffic went by, looking for an opening,  as people zoomed by, coming down the hill on my right side, me losing time.

Obviously, I had chosen incorrectly.

I found an opening and got back on the course, now riding mechanically, all the fierce joy of the race gone out of me.

What are my options? I thought to myself. Well, I could:

  1. Keep it to myself. There were no intermediate timing mats. The fact that I had missed the turn wasn’t my fault anyway. But the golden rule made this a non-starter: If I’d found out someone else hadn’t ridden the exact correct course (regardless of whether my route shortened my ride, which is questionable), I’d be angry if he were on the podium in front of me. 
  2. Quit. I could get to the transition area and then end my race, either telling the officials why or not — it wouldn’t really matter.
  3. Keep going and DQ myself afterward. I could keep going, do the running part of the race to see how well that went for me, with the new goal of trying to stay in front of The Hammer and the Borups. Then DQ myself at the finish line. 

I liked that third option. In fact, I liked it a lot. I’d do the rest of this race not so much as a pursuit of a podium spot, but as if I were being chased by The Hammer and her friends.

Game Not Over

I was going to finish this race, but I was going to do it just for fun. Which would be an actual new experience for me: racing for fun.

What I didn’t expect — couldn’t have expected — was the crazy, amazing, inspirational thing that would happen during the final leg of this race. 

Which is what I’ll tell you about in tomorrow’s post.


  1. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.23.2014 | 9:31 am

    Darn you, Fatty!!!! I’m teetering on the edge of the cliff!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Comment by MattC | 09.23.2014 | 9:40 am went off course…THAT is an option I hadn’t considered. You’d THINK the course marshal would give clear precise signals (rather than NO direction whatsoever)….much like the girl in LIVESTRONG Davis a few years back….standing in the middle of a roundabout near the beginning of the ride, saying “right”…so Greg and I turned right (we were the tip of the Team Fatty spear at that particular moment)…what she MEANT to say was STAY right but go STRAIGHT (is this direction needed in a roundabout? To “stay right”? I think not…unless you don’t mind crashing over the curb in the middle of the roundabout…but I digress). But as we were really flying at that point she only had a moment to realize her mistake…but we were already half-a-block away on the “RIGHT” turn and accelerating, with more than a few other speedy-Fatties on our wheels.

    But at least we weren’t DQ’d.

    Man, that was a great day. – FC

  3. Comment by Doug (Way Upstate) | 09.23.2014 | 9:42 am

    I am going to assume from your dramatic build-up that you are in the end happy with the way the events of the day shook out. I do hope that you gave some feedback to the course directors about what happened. It certainly sounds like the course marshal and markings could have been more helpful.

    Yes, things ended up great. Better than great. – FC

  4. Comment by wharton_crew | 09.23.2014 | 9:43 am

    All those guesses yesterday were way off – but we should have known this would be the case, given how you and the Hammer always have stories about wrong turns and getting lost.

    Glad you kept going though – you could turn that into a motivational speech and/or poster.

  5. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 09.23.2014 | 10:16 am

    Would love to send you two out on a road trip without navigational devices, just a plain old map. Now that would yield a story!

    Keep’m coming Fatty!

    The Hammer and I always watch the Amazing Race TV show, often remarking to each other that we’d be the most hilarious couple EVER on it. – FC

  6. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 09.23.2014 | 10:23 am

    Fatty, I’m surprised you didn’t u-turn and head back to the split where you made the incorrect (left) guess.

    No idea what I would have done (well, actually, I have a GREAT idea–nothing, because I would have drowned during the swim), but logic suggests that veering right to follow the sprint path was the right call. That keeps the bike route for the two distances much more manageable.

    That said, logic is often the victim of exertion.

    In hindsight, going right makes perfect sense. Before the race, however, I had heard multiple times that it was an out-and-back course. I let that influence my decision too. If I had still been in the in-it-to-win-it mindset in the last leg of the race, however, I probably would have missed out on the very cool thing I’m going to describe tomorrow. – FC

  7. Comment by Arizona Guy | 09.23.2014 | 10:41 am

    Ahh – lost on the course. I did this once and faced a similar decision. This was an Xterra (in the awesomely named Flintstone MD course) and the run went through a campground. On my own – I took a wrong turn and had no idea of the correct path back to the course. Eventually I spotted the lake and racers running along the trail.

    I dropped in near the 1 mile to go marker, and a guy who I had been trading places with all race spotted me running nearby. he said ‘I knew I’d see you again’ and started digging for the finish.

    I figured, “what the heck – I’m only pushing him to a faster finish” and took of after him. We came towards the finish in a full Chariots of Fire sprint, neck and neck for about 37th place, then I pulled off at the last minute before we hit the chute and yelled ‘I’m DQ’d!” He almost fell over looking backwards to figure out what was going on. One of my favorite race stories ever…

  8. Comment by Gumby | 09.23.2014 | 11:00 am

    Do it!

  9. Comment by sr | 09.23.2014 | 11:00 am

    Ahhh, cliffhanger!!!

    Unrelated note: am currently binge-ing on Leverage, courtesy Netflix, and just watched the episode with your cameo yesterday. So exciting! (Also, ham much? :-D)

  10. Comment by PNP | 09.23.2014 | 11:16 am

    Oh, you definitely need to get on The Amazing Race. The only thing is…you wouldn’t have any cliff-hangers to write, because we’d all see the action. Do it!!

  11. Comment by zeeeter | 09.23.2014 | 11:33 am

    MattC, go on, admit it, you did that Davis loop deliberately just so you could say hello to the Awesome Texas 4000 kids again!

  12. Comment by bikemike | 09.23.2014 | 12:54 pm

    What’s your banana split time at Dairy Queen?

  13. Comment by Diana | 09.23.2014 | 1:33 pm

    Will a time trial helmet make up for the fact that my bike weighs more than 1/4th of my body weight? ; )

    Getting lost in a race is one of my biggest race fears. That and a broken bike…

  14. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.23.2014 | 1:48 pm

    LOST was so popular, but, Fatty, hadn’t you heard? Lost jumped the shark!

    Everyone acts like I can’t jump a shark multiple times. But here I am, 9+ years into this blog, still jumping away. – FC

  15. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.23.2014 | 4:51 pm

    good point – even “ jumped the shark” jumped the shark

  16. Comment by Jeremy | 09.23.2014 | 5:08 pm

    I remember that Livestrong Challenge as if it were yesterday. I wish we still had an event like that we could all glom onto. Totally worth the travel. Oh, well.

    If it makes anyone feel better, apparently the ability to go off course runs deep among Friend of Fatty. I got off course on the first lap of my first cyclocross race and did a lap that was 4 minutes and about a third of a mile long.

  17. Comment by Doug (Way Upstate) | 09.24.2014 | 6:29 am

    @mattC. That was the great Olive Oil ride wasn’t it? Where the director warned us that the olive trees were dropping olives on the path and it was oily. Like riding through an Italian restaurant.

  18. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Q | 09.24.2014 | 8:17 am

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