True Grit Epic Race Report: Part 1

03.23.2015 | 11:54 am

A Note from Fatty: The prologue to this story is here

The good thing about getting to the starting line of a race with no time to spare is that you also have very little time to fret. So with the ninety-or-so seconds I had before the race began, I did a very abbreviated version of the self-check I do before every race.

  • Do I have my helmet on? Yes. Yes I do.
  • Do I have gloves on? Yes.
  • How about cycling shoes? Brief moment of panic…I don’t remember changing into cycling shoes. Then I remember: today I put my cycling shoes on first thing. I’ve never worn anything but cycling shoes today.
  • Is my bike in a good gear for starting? All too many people don’t ask themselves this question, and as a result start their race with their bike in a ridiculously tall gear (this is not a problem when you have a singlespeed). I lift the rear of my bike and shift into third gear. That should be about right.
  • Do I have food? Yes, about ten Gu Roctane gels, and a small camelbak full of CarboRocket 333. I expect to have to refill the camelbak with whatever is available at the aid station once or twice; otherwise I’m set with everything I need for about 5.5 hours of racing.
  • Do I have sunglasses on? Yes. 

Good enough. If I have forgotten something, there isn’t anything I can do about it at this point anyway.

I breathe.

The guy beside me — who looks to be about fifty pounds overweight, as opposed to my fifteen pounds of overweightness — scoots his bike forward into the narrow slot in front of me.

I laugh in my head, considering what this guy just implicitly said about his opinion of how fast I look. I look back toward The Hammer, giving her my best “I just got totally dissed” look.

As I will confirm later, she has no idea what this look means.

Cimarron Chacon, the race director, yells “Go!” and we do. I’m at the near-back of the line, so have half a minute to wait. I’m not bothered; I know that I have a mile or two of pavement before we hit the road. 

Within ten pedal strokes I’m past the guy who moved in front of me at the starting line.

I slingshot from group to group, moving forward until there’s clear space, then I buckle down and start pushing to get to the next group, up ahead. 

Just before I get there, a group I had unwittingly been pulling along shoots around me and completes the bridge. I laugh; this cracks me up for some reason I am still unsure of. Mostly, I’m just happy to be beginning a new season of racing, I guess.

We hit the dirt, roll for about fifty feet, and wham. We’re on a short, very steep, punishing climb.

This is really good for me.

I punch the lockout — one button gets me a stiff front and rear shock — and stand up, leaving the gear where it was. I like big gears for climbing.

Less than a minute later, I’m at the top of this first little climb, and surrounded by, more or less, the same group of people I’m going to be passing — and getting passed by — for the rest of the day.

Which is where I’ll pick up tomorrow. 

PS: I know, this is a really short installment that doesn’t cover a lot of ground. It’s all I’ve got time for today, though. More tomorrow, I promise. 


  1. Comment by GenghisKhan | 03.23.2015 | 12:24 pm

    Awesome write-up – check your title (Grie?) and delete this post! :)

  2. Comment by esteefatty | 03.23.2015 | 12:26 pm

    Great way to start my tea break; an FC Race Report that leaves us wanting the next installment. Thanks Fatty.

  3. Comment by spaceyace | 03.23.2015 | 12:36 pm

    I dunno, Genghis. Grie has a nice sound to it. Kind of like Brie. And isn’t the sole purpose of riding/racing to consume more food? I think he should keep it. My logic is sound.

  4. Comment by GenghisKhan | 03.23.2015 | 12:46 pm

    Brie is what come to my mind, too, spaceyace – I loooves me a good round of Brie!

  5. Comment by Bart the Clydesdale | 03.23.2015 | 12:51 pm

    I too laugh at the elbowing and squeezing into gaps that inevitably occurs at the starting line. Now if each race was as short as a BMX race I would understand, but for a race that will take over 2 hours I doubt a bike length advantage on mile 0 will make or break the day.

  6. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 03.23.2015 | 12:55 pm

    Bart, I can’t speak to road or MTB racing, but in ‘cross, the start (of what will typically be a 45 minute race) is supercritical when the first bottleneck may only be a few hundred yards out.

    In this case, we had an unobstructed paved road for 2 miles before the first bottleneck. – FC

  7. Comment by wharton_crew | 03.23.2015 | 2:07 pm

    I like big gears for climbing.

    If you got it – flaunt it. For the rest of us, thank goodness for granny gears!

  8. Comment by MattC | 03.23.2015 | 2:48 pm

    I’ve got chicken-legs…that + big gears and climbing = hurty-knees…besides…I’m a seated climber. If I stand up for more than about 3 seconds, I’m pretty much done. Fatty, didn’t you stand up for the entire Leadville Columbine climb if I recall? That made my knees hurt just READING about it.

  9. Comment by AKChick | 03.23.2015 | 6:58 pm

    I’m with MattC on climbing (cept I don’t have chicken legs, sadly). If I stand, I’m toast.

    Side note – should have my new super duper cool carbon roadie with electronic shifting and disc brakes this week (fingers crossed). Mildly excited and have to share with someone! We have had the mildest winter I can remember and Anchorage has no snow (well, the mountains do) so I’m ready to start riding outside though there are still icy patches in the shade. We’ve been flirting with high 40’s to low 50’s which is unheard of temps in March!

  10. Comment by john | 03.23.2015 | 7:05 pm

    that is the worst cliff hanger ever – thanks

  11. Comment by Diane | 03.23.2015 | 11:54 pm

    As happy as you are to be beginning a new season of racing, I am equally happy to be back and beginning a new season of reading your race reports. Thanks : )

  12. Comment by Tom in Albany | 03.24.2015 | 5:31 am

    FC, I don’t mind the trickle feed. I’ve been crazy busy at work and I don’t see it letting up any time soon. Trickle feed allows me to take small breaks and not feel guilty!

  13. Comment by J | 03.24.2015 | 6:06 am

    Tis be a decent size for the day. It helps when I only have a few minutes of free time at work. Too long of an entry and I start assuming the identify of the poster, until reality hits in and I realize I don’t own 30 bikes, nor do I have a wife that allows bikes in bed.

  14. Comment by Fellowfattychris | 03.24.2015 | 11:30 am


    Where’s the picture of the “I just got totally dissed” look? I’m totally going to diss you next time I see you just to see that look.


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