The Sound I Was Waiting For

04.15.2015 | 7:27 am

An “I Have a Lot of Notes Today” Note from Fatty: This is just a note to say that I have quite a few pre-story notes today. But I also have a story. And also, every one of my notes is worth reading. So do.


A “Sign Up for Something You Should Sign Up For Anyway and Maybe You’ll Win a Free Bike” Note from Fatty: I’m a big fan of The Feed, a service that makes it easy to get the energy food you want for cycling at a good price, at the right frequency, with excellent guidance. And right now, they’re having a contest where if you give them your email address, they’ll enter you in a contest to win a Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-MOD road bike. This is a serious road bike, with a value of around $7500. It takes roughly thirty seconds to enter, so you should. Click here.


A “Hey, Read This” Note from Fatty: I believe I am Janeen McCrae’s (aka The Noodleator) biggest fan. I have in fact recently begged her to start writing for Fat Cyclist. She declined, politely. So for now we’ll all have to be happy with whenever she writes something in her own blog. Which she has. “Tour de Tree: Groundhog Day Edition” is a wonderful ride report about an incredibly bad idea for a race. Click here to read.

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A “Yes the Contest is Still Going” Note from Fatty: I’m not going to browbeat you today about the WBR Fundraiser I’ve got in progress, except to assure you that, yes, it is in progress. And also that you should enter it. And even more also that upon entering this contest, you will be doing a lot of good for people who need it. Read here for details


Let me start this story with a rare piece of honesty: it centers around a boast I will make.

More honesty: I shouldn’t care about the event around which this boast is made.

Still more honesty: I do care. Deeply.

And now for the story.


More often than not, The Hammer and I ride together. It’s been that way for the five-plus years we’ve been together, and I love it.

It’s rare that anyone joins us for our rides, because when The Hammer and I ride, to most people it feels like we are training. Even when we’re just — truly and honestly — just riding along, recreationally.

As it so happens, The Hammer and I like to kind of flog ourselves to within an inch of our respective lives when we ride our bikes recreationally.

So, as I said, not many people ride with us more than once.

But my niece Lindsey and her fiance, Ben, have been riding with us. Mostly, this is because The Hammer and I are wonderful people to converse, ride, and otherwise be with.

It’s also possible that Lindsey and Ben are planning to race the Leadville 100 this year, and are looking to their elders for experience and wisdom and stuff.

Though I kind of doubt it.

Regardless, out of the three most recent Saturdays, Lindsey and Ben have been riding with us twice: the first time on a long road ride, and last Saturday, on a big ol’ long tour of most the trails of Corner Canyon.

Here the four of us are, being smiley and adorable together:

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Seriously, folks, is there anyone in the whole world who takes selfies as well as I do?  

The Plan

We were there to ride together. Just ride together. To put in a bunch of miles at a good solid pace.

And that is, no kidding, what we did. Except on the downhill sections, where I needed to show that I was the boss. 

Why? For several very excellent reasons, none of which I choose to reveal at this time. But I guarantee that it was not because Ben is half my age and looks to have about twice my fitness and I thus felt like I needed to prove something to him.

No, that was not the reason at all.

Anyway. We rode up Jacob’s Ladder, down the other side. Down Ghost, across Rattler, over to the BST and blah blah blah blah blah. Seriously, I don’t know why people (by which I mean me) write detailed lists of the names of the trails they rode. It means nothing to anyone except locals. Here’s the Strava of the ride, however, which makes it plain that our main objective in this ride was to diagram a triangle wrench:

Screenshot 2015 04 15 06 32 57

And also, to go up and down a lot, and to carefully avoid ever going on an even reasonably flat trail: 

Screenshot 2015 04 15 06 33 14

These are very good objectives. Very good indeed. But as the day went on, I noticed that — more and more often — our ride broke up into two groups: The Hammer and Lindsey riding together and talking in the back group…and me riding out in front of Ben, with him scant inches behind me.

Which I interpreted in a certain way. A much different way than I interpret this same distance when on a road bike. See, when someone is right on my tail on a road bike, I interpret this as good riding technique: drafting and conserving energy, so that I can pull over sometime in the next thirty seconds and trade places.

On a mountain bike, however, when someone is right behind me, I interpret it as a challenge

“You want to come around?” I asked. The gentlest form of a call-out.

“No, this is a good pace,” Ben replied.

Which would be fine, except I was going out of my way to ensure that it was not a good pace. More to the point, I was gradually ramping up my effort, trying to crack him.

Hey, I’ve finished Leadville in 8:18 before. He’s on record as wanting to finish it this year in 10:30. I should be able to crack him easily.

Except Ben wasn’t cracking. He was staying on my wheel, our respective better halves no longer anywhere in sight (they were happily chatting about weddings, not to mention racing LoToJa together this year). I was, with Ben’s help, proving the old maxim that there is no such thing as two men riding together. You get two guys on bikes, and it’s a race.

Anyone who says otherwise is just trying to disavow the incontrovertible fact that he just lost a race.

Which brings us to my plan: to prove to Ben that I am the alpha male, once and for all, in the Maple Hollow spur: a one-mile grind of a singletrack climb.

The Sound

The four of us regrouped at the turnoff that marks the beginning of the Maple Hollow climb, where I assured the group that I was done pushing it for the day, and that we should just get to the top. 

A lie, and everyone knew it. If by no other reason, by the way I didn’t make a faux-courtesy show of asking if anyone else wanted to lead out. I led out from the sound of the gun, heard in my head…and, judging from the way he immediately grabbed my wheel, heard in Ben’s head too.

This climb, I didn’t make a show of just riding along. No. I stood up, using singlespeed climbing tactics, even though I was not riding a singlespeed. Big gear, low cadence, edge of agony. Use your whole body to power up the climb.

Ben stayed right with me, as I expected him to. 

I listened for a very particular sound. But it wasn’t there.

I went harder. 

Ben stayed with me.

I listened for that sound. Still not there.

So I went harder. Listening, listening.

And then: there it was. The sound I had been straining my ears to hear:


I swear, that is the correct phonetic pronunciation for the sound I was listening for: the ever-so-slight sound a brand-new Shimano XTR drivetrain makes when you shift up the cassette one single gear.

It’s not a loud sound. But it is a distinctive one. And it is incredibly significant. In English, this sound translates to, “I need to go just a little bit easier.”

It is, in short, a flinch.

It was my cue to gut myself. Which I did. I gutted myself with what I like to describe as “joyful alacrity.”

And thus did I vanquish Ben and prove…well, nothing. 

But one last piece of honesty here: I would — and probably will — do it again.

Every single time.

Which may be why it’s so rare that anyone wants to ride with me.


Pssst. Don’t Tell Anyone.

04.9.2015 | 6:22 am

Hey, Fatty here.

I’m in Austin this week, doing work things, working as workers work when they’re at work. As proof of this, I offer a photo of the colossal, inseparable wad of  keys (2), key fobs (2), key rings (3) and pieces of garbage (1) the Hertz company makes me carry around as punishment for having rented one of their cars:

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I do not show this as a sly way to ask for your pity. No, wait. Actually I do.

(Pssst. Hey you. Stick around for a minute. I’m going to try to bore the rest of the readers away to another page, so it’ll be just you and me.)

So. Anyway. With me being in Austin, and my bikes being in Utah, there’s not a lot for me to write about today. 

So maybe you should just head on over to Red Kite Prayer or Bike Snob NYC or something. I like those sites. In fact, I think I’ll go read them right now. You should too.

Kind Regards,
Signature new

OK, is everyone else gone? You’re the only one who stuck around?


I’m going to tell you something, and it’s really important you don’t tell anyone else. (But first, I’m going to quit using these “whisper italics.”)

Early this week, I launched what I consider to be the most ambitious fundraising contest I’ve ever launched. Your choice of the best version (S-Works) of any Specialized frame — arguably, in many cases, the best in their class. Your choice of the best wheels and cockpit in the world — anything from ENVE. Your choice of the incredible SRAM drivetrains and brakes.

And a fitting and vacation — Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, or Utah — to get used to this amazing bike you’ve won.

Basically, I asked myself, “What would completely make people’s heads spin around, forcing them to have no choice but to sign up for this contest? What would be so compelling they wouldn’t be able to help but buy all kinds of gear and make a contribution to WBR to boot, just so they’d have a chance at winning?” And then I asked people and companies to help me build that contest. And they did. 

And here’s the good news for you, and you alone (since you’re the only person reading this): so far, the WBR contributions and Team Fatty Gear purchase numbers have been…moderate.

I’m not saying they’ve been bad, mind you. Hey, $7K+ worth of contributions in the first 48 hours of a contest is something most fundraisers would be happy to boast about.

Of course, most fundraisers aren’t showing off a prize that would retail at $15 – $20K (depending on what bike and wheels you choose, as well as where you travel and where you’re flying from). 

But see, that’s a good thing. For you. And for you alone. Because I have this idea, which I’m going to drop into whisper italics for, just so nobody overhears:

Buy the gear you want and / or make a donation, and then don’t tell anyone about it. 

And I won’t tell anyone, either.

Because right now, considering the hugeness of the prize and the relative moderate number of purchases and contributions made, this is quite possibly the best bet you’ll ever get on winning a mindbendingly incredible prize. 

Not to mention you’ll for sure make a big difference, thanks to the work you’re helping WBR do.

Not to mention the handmade Italian cycling gear you’ll be looking (and riding) so dashing in.

You’ll be doing something good for the world, wearing a really great-looking jersey, and…just maybe…getting the most outrageously perfect-for-you bike you can literally imagine.

Just keep it to yourself, OK? We wouldn’t want to wind up having this thing go big.

Buy Gear, Make a Donation, Win the Ultimate Dream Bike and Vacation

04.7.2015 | 7:16 am

A TL;DR Note from Fatty: This is the synoptic version of today’s contest-launch post, cuz it’s a doozy. Just be aware that this is full of spoilers.

  1. The first part of the prize is the dreamiest of dream bikes: any Specialized S-Works frame, paired with any ENVE wheels and cockpit, paired with your choice of SRAM components.
  2. The second part of the prize is a trip. Either to Utah to ride the three mesas in the St. George area and stay at the Gooseberry Yurt; or to Santa Cruz, to stay on the beach and ride the road. Or to Santa Rosa and do a private version of Levi’s Granfondo.
  3. You enter by either buying Fatty gear, or by making a donation. Either way (or any combination), each dollar gets you an entry. The contest ends at the end of April and the drawing happens soon after.

Want more details? Read the post I just spent four hours writing, smart guy.

Buy Gear, Make a Donation, Win the Ultimate Dream Bike and Vacation 

I have put together a huge prize to help raise money for World Bicycle Relief. 


But more importantly — oh so much more importantly — than the fact that it’s a big prize is the fact that it’s a big prize that is going to be really truly customized to the winner.

So what the big prize will be depends on what kind of riding you like, and how you’d want your dream bike customized, and where you would want to ride it once you got it.

And of course, along the way we’re going to raise a fantastic amount of money for World Bicycle Relief. I’m going to talk more about the cause and how the contest works in a minute.

But first, let’s talk about the prize. Because I am so excited about it — both for what the ride is, and how it came together.

Screenshot 2015 04 06 21 44 10

The Frame

The first question the winner of this contest is going to need to ask is, “Which of all the absolutely top-end bikes Specialized makes do I want?

That, however, may be too narrow of a question to start out with. You may want to broaden it to, “Do I want a mountain bike, or a road bike?”

If you want a road (or Tri bike), your answer might be the S-Works version of several amazing frames: The Tarmac (my choice), the Roubaix (The Hammer’s choice), or even the Shiv (both The Hammer’s and my choice).

Screenshot 2015 04 06 21 44 51

Or maybe your answer is “mountain bike.” In which case maybe you should get  the S-Works version of the Epic. Or the Stumpjumper (on which both The Hammer and I have had our respective fastest Leadville times). Or the Enduro.

Really, you couldn’t go wrong with any of these; the “S-Works” version of their frames means it’s the lightest, strongest, best version of that bike that exists. (And also, these are just examples; maybe you want a Crux or an Amira or something else…and that’s just fine.) 

And now, for just a second, I’m going to ask you to join me in patting my own back. Because the Specialized frame you’ll be getting…well, I’m giving that to you, in a way.

Screenshot 2015 04 06 21 45 36

How? Well, one of the really amazing perks WBR Ambassadors get is a bike from Specialized. But, between the two of us, The Hammer and I already have eight Specialized bikes. (And we love each of them. A lot.)

So I checked with WBR and asked if they’d check with Specialized and see if we could convert the bike I’d be given into an awesome prize for someone reading the contest. 

And Specialized, being an incredible WBR supporter, not only said “yes,” but  upgraded the bike donation beyond what I would have been given to the top-end S-Works version.



The Wheels and Cockpit

In my most recent post, I talked about how much I love ENVE wheels and components. This is not even remotely hyperbole. My Tarmac SL4 has ENVE wheels, bar, and stem. And it is — and has been — the most perfect bike I have ever owned (the wheels have not needed to be trued even once in the two-plus years I’ve ridden them). It’s simply my own true dream bike. 

The same goes for my Specialized Stumpjumper singlespeed, with ENVE XC wheels, stem and bar: it’s just a perfect bike. Beautiful, light, and incredibly strong wheels. 


Seriously, I don’t believe there are better bike wheels made anywhere in the world.

You are going to love them as much as I do, whether you get super aero road wheels (like the SES 6.7s) or all-purpose racing mountain bike wheels like the M50 Fifty. Or something else.

ENVE has you covered.

And if you need a little help and conversation picking out wheels, I will be happy to spend countless hours on the ENVE website, obsessing over matching your bike to the perfect wheels for you. 

And I bet we can get Jake at ENVE to weigh in with an opinion, too.


The Components

I don’t even know where to start with SRAM. For one thing, they are outrageously generous with their support of World Bicycle Relief, and that wins them quite a few brownie points. 

But more importantly, have you seen how freaking amazing the XX1 drivetrain is? It’s changed everything about how I think about shifting gears on mountain bikes. Specifically, I no longer think of it as a dark art that sometimes works, but only if I’ve been a really good little boy. 

Here’s my point. SRAM is going to hook you up with a world-class, top-of-the-line drivetrain, and brakes, and everything else you need to go with your incredible road or MTB machine. 

You are going to be in bike heaven.

But we aren’t done yet.


Where Do You Want to Go?

What’s the point of having an amazing new bike if you don’t have an amazing new place to take it out for your first ride?

Oh, I think we can help you there. And — like with the rest of this contest — what you like is going to factor into what the prize is.

Suppose you choose a mountain bike, and you’d like to ride some of the most amazing trails you could ever imagine, against a beautiful desert backdrop.

In that case,  we are going to fly you to Salt Lake City, where your built-up bike will be waiting for you at Bountiful Bikes.


There, Taylor Felt is going to spend a couple hours with you fine tuning the fit of your new bike to you, using Specialized’s Body Geometry Fit System. And as someone who has had a bike fit using this system (as has The Hammer), I assure you: your bike will fit perfectly after Taylor is done.

Then we’ll swing by ENVE HQ, to show off your bike and get a tour of the place.

After that, we’re off to Hurricane, UT for a weekend at the famous Gooseberry Yurt, where my friend Kenny will act as your guide, mountain biking the three most amazing mesas you can imagine.

NewImageAnd you’ll have company: me (of course), and Dave Thompson, a Best Friend of Fatty, grillmaster extraordinaire, and fellow 2015 WBR Ambassador. 

And that’s not all Dave is contributing to this fundraiser. He’s the one who’s buying your plane ticket. 

Yup, we’re teaming up for this contest. We’re each giving up a little something to make this the most amazing contest we can.

And we are not done yet.

Because we understand that maybe you will want a road bike. And while you’re still welcome to come to Utah to pick it up and ride (in which case I will be happy to show you some of the best of what the Tour of Utah covers), maybe you might like to spend your first few rides on something a little more…coastal.

Like Santa Cruz. Or Santa Rosa.

Yes, if your preference is to get a road bike (or if you’d rather MTB in CA than in Utah), we will have your bike built close to one of these cycling meccas, get you fit there (in Santa Rosa, the top-notch NorCal sport will build your bike and fit you for it), and meet you there for a couple days of riding.

Here’s Dave, taking in the amazing scenery midride in Santa Cruz:


Oh, and here’s the view from the spot Dave’s got picked out to stay, should we go riding in Santa Cruz:


I have to say, he makes a pretty good case for that place.

Here’s the bottom line: I am going to work with Specialized, ENVE, and SRAM to get you the bike of your dreams. Then Dave and I are going to make sure you get it built and fit, and then take you on some incredible rides — whatever kind of riding you like. Mellow, fast, technical, relaxed, whatever sounds awesome to you.

Basically, we are going to set you up with the most amazing bike plus vacation we can, using all the resources we have.

So. To me it looks like the total prize value for this trip is around $15,000-$20,000, between the bike, the trip, the fit, the place to stay, and incidentals.

Have we got your interest?


Why This Matters

Here’s a set of questions worth asking: 

  • Why am I willing to give up a bike? (Trust me, I’ve been dreaming of a Specialized Crux for a looooong time)
  • Why is Dave willing to buy plane tickets or rent a cottage on the beach?
  • Why is Specialized willing to give me one of their top-end frames, at a value between $3500 and $6000?
  • Why is ENVE willing to give me around $7,000-worth of wheels and components?
  • Why is SRAM willing to open the doors to their candy shop, setting you up with around $2000-$4000-worth of parts and components?

The “why” is pretty simple. We’re cyclists and bike companies; we love bikes and what they can do for anyone. Every single one of us is a believer in what World Bicycle Relief does and how they work.


I’ve been to Zambia and seen how a bike, given to a schoolchild, makes it possible for that child to stay in school. To get water for the family. To get a better job. To have a better life.

A Buffalo Bike in the hands of a healthcare volunteer means the ability to see more patients, to get them the attention and meds they need. To literally save lives.

These bikes — these tough, black, strong, beautiful, heavy, black bikes — improve people’s lives instantly. These bikes change the trajectory of their lives permanently.

If you’re looking for a charity that uses what you love to make a real difference in the world…well, here it is.

How The Contest Works

In keeping with the theme of choice in the rewards contest, how you enter is up to you. 


The first way is by buying any gear from my catalog site. You can buy a jersey, shorts, a vest, arm warmers, socks, a hoodie…anything and everything.

Each dollar of your purchase automatically gets you an entry into the contest.

So yes: If you buy a Race Fit Short Sleeve Jersey, Race Bib Shorts, and a pair of socks, you not only get an amazing kit that shows your support of Team Fatty and WBR, you also get 238 entries in the contest (237.85 actually, but I round up). 

So, if you’ve been kinda on the fence about pre-ordering Fat Cyclist gear this year…well, this might help nudge you in the right direction.

The second way is to simply donate at my Donation page. There, you can donate in the following increments:

  • $10 Donation
  • $25 – 1 Wheelset
  • $50 – 1 Mechanics Toolkit
  • $147 – 1 Bike
  • $735 – 5 Bikes
  • $1,470 – 10 Bikes

Of course, you can buy multiples of each or any of these options…so if you wanted to donate $100 (and get 100 entries in the contest), just get two of the $50 option. Easy!

And yes, you can mix and match: If you buy a t-shirt ($19.95) and donate $25 (enough to buy a wheelset), you get a total of 45 entries in the contest.

The third way is free. You can have an entry into this contest by sending me (email, subject line: Ultimate Dream Bike Essay) a 200-word essay on your favorite three things about me. You may enter as often as you like, because I love hearing people’s favorite things about me.  However, each essay must be unique, topical, and in reasonably-formed English. In other words, no auto-generated text. And don’t think I can’t tell. 

And be sure you get the subject line exactly right, or the email rule I have to gather these entries won’t work on your entry. And that would be sad.

Questions You Might Have

I don’t know for sure whether you might actually have these questions, but it seems possible, because I had these questions, and figure you are exactly the same as me. 

Q. When does this contest end?
A. It ends the last day of April, at the end of the day. I’ll do the drawing in the first week of May.

Q. I purchased Fat Cyclist Gear before this contest started. What happens to me?
A. Your purchase is automatically retrofitted into this contest. Congratulations, you may have won and you didn’t even know you were playing!

Q. I purchased Fat Cyclist Gear before this contest started…and now it looks like you’re extending the pre-order. Am I going to have to wait longer to get the stuff I ordered?
No, you won’t. We’ve ordered everything from the pre-order, and just did a bunch of multiplication-style math, adding on additional stuff in the proportions we think are smart.

This means that your pre-order stuff will still get here in late May as originally promised. And since we added stuff on speculatively, there’s a very good chance that if you order during this contest you’ll still get your stuff in late May (but it may be later if we have to extend the order again). 

Q. What if I win, but I am more of a casual cyclist and don’t want / need a super-nice high-end bike.
When we did a contest similar to this last year, it turns out that the winner, Heidi, liked hiking more than biking. And so we turned the prize into a weekend of hiking in Zions National Park.

If you don’t want the bike, I’ll bet you know someone who does. Or if you don’t, Dave and I will give NICA a call and we know for sure there will be someone there who can put it to good use. Either way, you’ve still got a great trip to a beautiful spot. Our objective is not to impress you with our riding skill and tear your legs off (unless that’s what you want).

And if you’re a woman and don’t really want to spend a weekend with a couple of smelly men, we can arrange to have you ride with The Hammer and / or Amy (Dave’s wife) instead. 

Our objective is to give you the bike / vacation combo that is what you want. And we’ll tweak and twist what the prize is ’til it’s perfect for you.

Q. You and Dave are working on this fundraiser together, but you each have separate fundraising pages for WBR. Where is the money earned by this fundraiser going — to Fatty’s page, or to Dave’s page?
To Dave’s page. I expect to do the fundraising for my page in July, when I kick off the Grand Slam for Zambia. 

If you have any additional questions, post them in the comments and I’ll be happy to get to them, either right in the comments or by amending this post.

Thanks very much for your help. I know that Dave, Specialized, WBR, SRAM, ENVE, and I are all very excited about this contest. It was an exciting project to have so many companies and people come together and give something toward something we all truly believe in.

Click here for Team Fatty gear, or click here for the donation page.

Stuff Fatty Loves: ENVE

04.3.2015 | 1:05 pm

A Note from Fatty: Be sure you stick around for the end of today’s post; I’m dropping some serious hintage about the contest that launches tomorrow.

A Full Disclosure Note from Fatty: ENVE has provided me with some product at no cost, and some product at a discount.


Jake was not there. 

I had driven for nearly forty minutes to the beautiful ENVE World Headquarters in Ogden, Utah to meet with Jake — the marketing guy at ENVE Components — and Jake had gone on a ride instead.

Imagine: going on a ride, instead of hanging around the building, waiting for me to show up.

The nerve.

And yet, I maintained my composure, thanks to three things:

  1. If given the choice to show me around my workplace or go on a ride, I would choose “go on a ride” every single time. How could I begrudge another person that exact same choice?
  2. Jake was doing important R&D stuff. Jake’s job at ENVE is technically to market stuff, but he’s also a huge part of product development. See, Jake is a serious rider with the outrageously fine-tuned cycling sensibility that comes from having ridden all the best gear, pretty much all the time. And in short, Jake has a dream life.
  3. As I stood in the lobby, my friend of 20ish years, Ryan, came out to see me and take on impromptu tour guide duty:

     IMG 1349

See, I met Ryan long ago, when I was just beginning to get bitten by the cycling bug. Ryan, meanwhile, was the genius mechanic at the bike shop I went to, as well as an incredibly gifted cyclist.

Nowadays, Ryan is a QA Engineer at ENVE, having recently left his former job doing the same thing at an aerospace firm. His job: try to break stuff,  understand how and why it breaks, then figure out how to make it harder to break in the future.

You can kind of see from the mad gleam in his eye that Ryan likes his job. (Maybe too much.) Which is peculiar, because the better he does that job, the harder it’s gonna get to do it.

But enough about Ryan (for now). Let’s talk about me and my visit to ENVE. 

And also, let’s talk about something mind-bendingly awesome I’m going to be doing with ENVE. 

Dream Warehouse

Alison and Ryan took me around the ENVE offices, where employee bikes line the halls:

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They also walked me through the manufacturing area, letting me take pictures in a few places, like where workers were cutting long sheets of carbon fiber before magically transforming them into wheels:

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You know what looks really cool that I had never seen before? a sheet of carbon fiber:

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And then, on to the wheel-building machine, which I was not allowed to photograph, but which quickly does the preliminary work of turning spokes, a hub, and a rim…into a wheel:

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With the preliminary building done, each wheel gets personal old-skool TLC from human wheel builders:

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The truth is, though, ENVE walked me past more of their facility than they walked me through, saying, “Sorry, we can’t let you see that.”

Which is pretty unfortunate, because I’m exactly the kind of guy who would be able to recognize manufacturing secrets when I see them.

Still, I did get to see the Warehouse of Ten Thousand Dreams:

IMG 1362

And the company president — Sarah — joined me, Ryan, and Alison for a post-tour selfie:

IMG 1374

And then she stuck around and talked with me (by then, Jake was back, though I punished him by not letting him join in for the selfie) about ENVE for about an hour.

Stuff Fatty Loves

One of the really nice things about being a fake journalist is that when I really really really love something, I don’t have to pretend to be objective. I can just say, flat out, that I love it. 

Not that I need to say anything, really. All you need to know about what I think of ENVE can be gathered by checking out a photo of the four bikes I am riding most often this year.

IMG 1776

From left to right, in that photo you see:

As you can see, if there’s such a thing as ENVE Kool-Aid, I’ve had a man-sized drink of it. And here’s my verdict: that ENVE-flavored Kool-Aid is delicious. 

Here’s the thing: one of the nice things about being a beloved, award-winning cycling blogger for tennish years is that while you don’t make any actual money by writing, you do get bikes and parts at a pretty good price most of the time. Which is to say, I can ride whatever frame I want, with whatever parts I want.

So what am I picking when I get to pick what I want? Take a look at that photo up there. There is something special about the way ENVE wheels ride. If I were James Huang or Lennard Zinn or something, I’d probably be able to fool you into thinking I understand why ENVE has an incredible ride to it. But I’m not, so I’ll have to go with, “ENVE wheels feel fast and light and strong and surefooted, to an unmatched degree.” 

They’re just crazy-good.

Where does that crazy-goodness come from? It comes from people who know bikes and love what they do to an almost unhealthy degree. Let me tell you a couple short little stories about some of the people there, to show you what I mean. 


A couple years ago, I was trying to decide what wheels I should get for the Tarmac I was going to be building up. I had looked long and hard at the ENVE site, and had settled on the SES 3.4 Clinchers. I called Jake and told him what I wanted to get. 

He listened, then asked me a few questions about how I’d be using the bike and how I ride. 

“I’m not going to send you the 3.4s,” Jake said. “You should be riding with the 6.7s.” 

Then he told me why they were the best wheel for me.

And he was right. These have been the most amazing road wheels I have ever ridden.

This year, as I was getting ready to build up my cross-country superweapon — my Felt Nine FRD — I told Jake I wanted to put ENVE XC wheels on it. 

“No,” he said. “You don’t put XC wheels on that bike. I’m sending you the M50 Fifties.” 

And, once again, he was right.

This is what happens when your “marketing guy” is, in fact, a hardcore racer. A guy who actively contributes to the company R&D because he can sense tiny little differences in how a wheel is built. A guy who started at ENVE, in fact, as a wheel builder (and later admitted that, yes, he also has a marketing degree). 

Not a marketing guy who happens to currently be marketing wheels. A bike guy — a wheel guy, a racing guy — who is in charge of marketing. 

The distinction shows through.


Ryan knows bikes. A lot about bikes. When I bought my first real mountain bike about twenty years ago, Ryan was the guy who built it up. He’s also absurdly technically accomplished. And he’s smart.

And when I saw him at ENVE, it was obvious that he’s also incredibly happy. He’s good at what he’s doing, for one thing, but as we sat and talked about how he tests ENVE wheels and competitors’ wheels and how he’s always working toward making these wheels better and better…well, it kinda sounds like he has religion.

You hear companies talk about being “passionate” about whatever they’re selling. It’s annoying, really. But Ryan is the real deal. And I saw that a lot at ENVE. 

A Triangle of Awesome

When Jake, Sarah, Ryan and I were all chatting in the ENVE conference room, Jake mentioned that he had just gotten back from a training camp with the pro cycling team, Team MTN-Qhubeka. Why? Because ENVE is sponsoring Team MTN-Qhubeka this year.

Which is going to make for some pretty nice rides for this team:


This is awesome for a slew of reasons, some of which may not be immediately obvious upfront. 

Screenshot 2015 04 06 06 42 49

So. Allow me to enlighten you.

  1. Team MTN-Qhubeka will be racing in this year’s Tour de France
  2. Qhubeka” is actually part of World Bicycle Relief. Yep, same people, same mission, just a different name in South Africa.
  3. As it turns out, as an athlete ambassador, I am fundraising for World Bicycle Relief

So, as a sponsor of MTN-Qhubeka, ENVE is excited to help with World Bicycle Relief’s mission. 

And I…well, I have some experience with that. 


It seems like there might be something here worth exploring between ENVE, World Bicycle Relief, and Team Fatty.

And here’s the part I’ve been leading up to: ENVE is going to partner up with me this year as I fundraise for World Bicycle Relief

What does this mean? It means that when I do my Grand Slam this July — not coincidentally, overlapping with the Tour — you can expect to see some magnificent wheels and components on some of the bikes. 

It also means that you might see a really cool Team MTN-Qhubeka replica bike as one of the prizes.

And it means that you ought to check back tomorrow, because ENVE and I (and some other very good Friends of Fatty) are going to be kicking off a season-opener contest you simply will not want to miss. Without giving away too much, let me just say that it involves a dream frame, dream components, dream wheels and cockpit from ENVE…and more. 

The True Grit Epic: The Hammer’s Story

04.2.2015 | 7:41 am

A Note From Fatty:  You’ll want to be sure to come visit the site this upcoming Monday and Tuesday.

Monday, I’ll be posting about a new partner I have for my World Bicycle Relief fundraising. I think you’re going to be as excited about them as I am.

And then on Tuesday, I’m going to launch a contest for World Bicycle Relief. There’s going to be a few things you’d expect, and some you don’t. And I think you’re going to want to participate.

As a hint, you may want to score yourself some of the 2015 Fat Cyclist gear. Cuz if you do, you’ll already be entered for something I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to win.

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For each of the past sixteen years, I have committed myself to running the Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon. It was the first race I had ever competed in; it held a very special place in my heart. Over the years, many memories have been forged with my kids as they cheered me on at the race, then as we continued on for the weekend exploring Arches National Park.

This race has also motivated Blake, Melisa and Brice to enter and complete the accompanying five mile race.

This year, however, I was ready for a change.

I have several other running goals this spring, so repeating a race that I had done so many times seemed redundant. So what could I do instead on a beautiful weekend in the Spring? Something new and challenging on the mountain bike seemed like an excellent idea, especially since I knew I wouldn’t be able to ride the 6 hours of Frog Hollow race this year because I had decided to run the Boston Marathon with some friends.

So…how about The True Grit Epic?

Trepidation and Preparation

The True Grit had always seemed like a race that was “a little” (by which I mean, “a lot“) out of my league. After all, this race includes the dreaded “Zen” course.

Why do I say “dreaded?” Because I am not a real mountain biker. Sure, I can turn the pedals all day and climb whatever is ahead of me, but I am not technically savvy, nor am I  good at maneuvering over rock obstacles…especially down hairy descents!

The fact that the Zen trail is conveniently located in Heather and Kenny’s backyard, yet Elden had never suggested we ride it, says a lot. Specifically, it meant Elden was scared to take me out on the Zen trail. Why scared? Because he was worried I wouldn’t like it…and when I don’t like something, I tend to get grumpy…and nobody likes to be around me when I’m grumpy! (Believe it or not, I don’t always have a smile on my face.)

So on a beautiful weekend in January, Elden and I downloaded the GPX of Zen onto our Garmins and headed out. Elden and I are both horrible with directions, but we were surprised to find that we could easily follow the Garmin’s directions. We slowly rode Zen…and I was pleased to find it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was worried it would be. In fact, I rather enjoyed myself! (I didn’t get even the least bit grumpy.)

That said, I think it took us about 2.5 hours to do twelve miles. That was a cause for concern; since Zen is only a small part of True Grit, we were looking at having a very…long…day.

Kenny suggested we come back in February and ride the whole course during Lynda Wallenfel’s training camp. I liked that idea; there’s nothing like pre-riding a race course to boost your confidence.

The LW training camp turned out to be an excellent idea! I never saw Lynda,  but the True Grit race director, Cimarron Chacon, was at the starting line, giving out advice and directions.

Thanks to Kenny’s patience in waiting for me, I had an excellent day, learning  a lot about the course and how I was going to need to pace myself: the first half of the race was technical and slow moving, but the second half was fast…and fun!

I left the camp feeling confident. I knew I was going to be able to complete the race, as long as I stayed safe. Taking the technical moves of Zen too fast could result in my season coming to a quick, painful end…and I want none of that.

The Starting Line, The Early Miles

The race started on time with the pro men and women leaving at 0900. After rushing to find a parking place for the truck, Elden made it back in time for his 0907 departure. I felt bad for him; I could tell he was stressed. Not a great way to start a race!

As I waited for my wave to leave, I looked around, checking out my competition.

Heather was next to me, looking terrified. I’ve started races with her before — every year at the Rockwell Relay — she always looks this way at starting lines! I may get stressed, but Heather takes it to a new level.

Next, I assess Sally F: a woman with massive calves and biceps: she is a women to be taken seriously. 

Meanwhile, the woman next to me (I’ll call her “Poot,” even though it’s not her real name…but it is what she calls herself on Strava!) is chatting up a storm. She’s from Boulder she says, and hasn’t been on her mountain bike at all this year. She’s ridden Zen only once, and that was yesterday.

She continued talking, but I wasn’t hearing much. At starting lines, I don’t like to talk much; I actually have a hard time processing anything. Then the gun went off (Or was it Cimarron just saying “go?” I really don’t remember) and I started pedaling.

The race starts with a mile of pavement, which then turns to dirt and quickly sends you uphill. Poot took off at a super fast pace. As we hit the dirt, I watched her disappear quickly from view. I thought to myself, “Poot is going to win this race. My only hope of seeing her again is if her endurance isn’t as good as mine.” I reminded myself: fifty miles is a long way, especially for an early season race.

I hit the first climb of the day, my legs heavy. Maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to run nine miles two days earlier. “Ugh,” I thought, “This is going to be a long day.” I crested the first hill, maintaining my postion in the pack. That, however, fell apart as we started the first descent.

I really suck at descending.

We were descending on a wide dirt road, me trying to hug the right line, watching rider after rider pass me. I felt nervous and panicky. “How do these people go so fast?” I asked myself.

Then — like a streak of lightning — Heather passed me, with two girls hot on her tail. “There goes half  the women’s field, passing me within three miles of the start,” I thought.

I was a little demoralized.

Just Racing Along

I pedaled along, thought, I decided: I had nothing to be sad about! After all, it was a beautiful day with unbelievably nice weather for the early season…and I was out racing!

“I don’t have to be the fastest to have fun,” I thought to myself. “This course is not suited to my abilities. I just need to enjoy myself.”

It worked.

My confidence in descending started to improve, and there were more than a few little climbs to help me feel good about myself. My legs seem to be waking up, too.

I crested a hill and caught Heather and another woman rider — who had velcroed herself to Heather’s rear wheel. I “woo-hoo”-ed Heather and told her she was doing amazing. Heather looked flabbergasted at seeing me — where had I come from? She hadn’t realized she had passed me early on during a fast descent.

We chatted briefly, with me doing most of the talking. I told Heather that I must be doing extremely well to be up with her. My goal, I told her, was to keep her in sight  the entire day.

I knew that wouldn’t be easy; this is Heather’s backyard, and she is an amazingly fast and accomplished technical downhiller. I knew Heather would  drop me on each descent; if I could re-catch her on the climbs, I would be having an amazing race! And then Heather and her “attachment” were gone — and out of view — as we started the next descent.

For the next ten miles we played this game of leapfrog. And it was a really fun game! I loved seeing Heather and would yell words of encouragement to her whenever I saw her. I don’t know how much she loved seeing me…but it’s all about me, anyways.



There was a long fast descent into the Zen aid station, which we’d access twice: once when we started Zen, and again when we finished the loop.  Heather and her “attachment” had long since disappeared. I stopped and drank some Coke. My camelback still had water in it, so I quickly left; I knew I had a mile-long climb on singletrack to the overlook of Zen.

After the overlook, the technical stuff begins: hairy descents, followed by hairy climbs. Rinse and repeat!

I climbed for about a tenth of a mile by myself before I caught up with a string of slow-moving riders. It was a familiar pattern (i.e., it had been happening for ten-plus miles): I would get stuck behind a line of riders on climbs, but if I passed them, I knew they would be passing me again…as soon as the trail turned downhill.

It was frustrating, and I had a lot of pent up-energy that needed to be released.

I pulled up behind the last rider in the train, noticing “SBR” written across his shorts; I had caught up with one of the guys (Rich) that was staying at the same house I was. Cory and Lynette Borup are our good friends, as well as owners of the triathlon store SBR (swim, bike, run). They own a second house in St George  we frequently stay in during our winter weekend excursions to find warm weather. It’s nice having rich friends!

I sat back and listened to Rich talk…incessantly! I thought, “If he would turn off the motor running his mouth and use it to turn the pedals, he could win races.”

Finally, he took a break in his monologue and I jumped in with a friendly “Hello!” He had had no clue I was back there, much less that I had been back there for a few minutes.

I let him know it was “just Lisa,” and that I would love to pass whenever he had a chance. You see, I could see Heather and her “attachment” a few switchbacks ahead of me…and I really wanted to catch her before the descent.

Rich and his entourage — a group of three from SBR riding the race together — quickly complied, moving behind me. Which is where they stayed for the rest of the Zen trail, making the Zen loop really fun. They weren’t chomping at the bit to pass me on the descents, and kept a decent distance behind me. It was awesome, being literally surrounded by a group of friends as we traversed the difficult Zen trail!

Meanwhile, Heather and her “attachment” were ahead by a few riders, but I managed to keep them in sight. As we crested the top of the climb on a wide trail, we merged onto singletrack, where I knew the “real” descent was starting.

As I was a few riders back from Heather, I watched an interesting story unfold in front of me…and I couldn’t help but comment.

You see, I saw a male rider see Heather approaching the singletrack, then sprint to get ahead of her before she reached it. I couldn’t believe my eyes: so typical of a man, trying to get ahead of a woman so as not to be “stuck” behind her.

But he obviously had no clue whom he had pulled in front of, so I took it upon myself to inform him: “You better be fast if you cut in front of Heather! She is a dang fast descender!” I yelled.

“Are you fast?” Heather asked. He said he was.

Then, moments later, I heard her say, as as she was hugging his wheel on the descent, “Dude, I thought you said you were fast!”

It was poetic.

Needless to say, when we came to the next climb, I noticed Heather was now in front of the male rider.

Toward the end of the Zen loop, we passed my friend Lynette, who had come out to the trail to cheer us on. It’s always uplifting to see a friend.

I was still moving along well with SBR riders, but had long since lost Heather on the technical descent. I hoped I could catch her on the next long climb leading to Bearclaw.

I went around the next rock and…there was Heather! But things weren’t going well for her. In fact, she was at the side of the trail fixing a flat.


She had been riding exceptionally strong and I had been having a blast trying to keep up with her. I yelled that Lynette was right around the corner and could at least offer moral support. Heather said she was disappointed, but confident she had the situation under control. I thought about how amazing she is; if I had flatted, I’d be a basket case without Elden to take care of me.

Lisa Saves a Life

As I pulled into the Zen aid station, It was a reunion of sorts. I saw Kurt from my Plan7 bike class. He was riding strong, but looked a little tired. I also got to say thanks to my SBR buddies for making the Zen loop so fun. Finally, I was celebrating because I had not wrecked: I had made it through Zen without a mishap, and I even had fun!

I refilled my Camelbak and headed up the Bearclaw climb. “This is the stuff I shine on,” I thought to myself, as I started what I considered the second half of the race.

I felt amazing. My legs were alive, my energy levels were soaring. And I really need to thank GU for that! I cannot say enough about Roctane and GU packs! I love how they taste, and I love how they make me feel.

As I turned on the turbo blasters on this mile-long, non-technical climb, I came upon a guy barely staying atop his bike. He was barely turning the cranks. He looked miserable. As I slowed and pulled alongside him, I asked if he was OK.

He replied, emphatically, “No.” He was suffering from terrible leg cramps. I asked bluntly if he had taken any “pills.” (I didn’t say “electrolyte pills,” just “pills.”)

Again, he muttered, “no.”

“Well, you need some, and I have some,” I said. So I stopped pulled out my flip top canister of Roctane Electrolyte Capsules and filled his hand full of them. I simply said, “Swallow these and you will fill better in about ten minutes.”

And then I was gone.

As I was riding away, I thought of that weird conversation. Would I have swallowed a handful of pills if someone told me to? It is a thought to ponder!

Unlike Elden — who had a weirdly similar experience during the same race and wondered the same question afterward — I am unaware if I saved his life, or his race. For all I know, he called me crazy and threw down my pills as I rode away. But in my mind’s eye, I had just done a good deed; good karma would be shining on me.

Bearclaw / Poppy: Not Just Pastries

At the top of the climb, I saw Heather’s “attachment”…though she was no longer riding attached to Heather’s wheel. And I had almost caught her! She  started the descent down Bearclaw mere seconds before me. There were two men also starting the descent with me.

Bearclaw starts with the infamous “Three Finger Drop” — three very steep, sketchy lines, all of which look scary. I do not go over any of the 3 fingers, instead taking the long way around. Obviously this takes a little longer, but is much safer.

The two men, on the other hand, had taken the “Three Fingers” line, and had gotten ahead of me. As I caught up with them, they were very considerate and offered to let me pass them. I declined; I do much better if I have someone’s wheel to follow.

They were a little slow on the flat section after the Fingers, and I could see “the attachment” pulling away. I yelled to the two riders I was following that it was their job to “bridge” me to girl in front of them.

As we started the next flowing rollercoaster section of the trail, I knew I had made a good choice to stay behind these guys. They seemed to be moving slightly faster than I would by myself, and they seemed to know the right line down the descent!

I think Bearclaw / Poppy is the best, funnest descent in Utah; I had a blast! 

As the trail flattened out toward the end of this section of the trail, I could see the “attachment” again. I yelled to the two riders that they were not doing a good job bridging the gap…and could I please pass? They laughed and quickly pulled over.

Catch and Pass

I really don’t remember very well what happened next. I do remember that I knew if I was to have any chance of getting in front of this girl, it had to be now on the Stucki Springs climb.

Stucki Springs is a five-mile-long, gradual climb. Nothing technical…just very long. That made it different than every other climb to this point; they had all been relatively short.

We were twenty-six miles into the race, and I was hoping “The Attachment” (as I still called her in my head) was tired.

TrainerRoad and Plan7, the two training programs I have been following all winter, have taught me to spin faster, at a lighter gearing. It is supposed to use more of my lungs and save my leg strength. It took a while to retrain myself to spin fast. I was using this new technique and it seemed to be working. My legs and my lungs felt great and I was flying!

I kept turning the cranks fast, feeling fast. Feeling invincible. The longer the race, the better I do.

I passed “The Attachment” and told her I’d see her on the next descent (but was secretly hoping I wouldn’t see her until the finish line). I whizzed on.

The racers had spread out; we were no longer riding in trains. I would see a single rider, catch him, then pass him. I played that game for all five miles of the climb. Then as I approached mile 30 of the race, I could see a rider in orange.

Could that be Poot, from the starting line?

I dug deep and caught her. Sure enough it was Poot. I said something about how happy I was to finally catch her, even if it had taken me thirty miles to do it.

In response, she made a noise.

The trail had turned into a short descent, and she motioned for me to pass. I declined, saying she probably had far superior descending skills than mine.

As we slowly descended the trail I knew something wasn’t going too well for Poot. She looked a little….ill. I passed her and wished her well. She didn’t have much to say in return. Not every race goes the way you want: Heather with a flat tire, Poot feeling ill.

But sometimes you do have good luck, and I was relishing the fact that I was having a banner ride. I hoped that my luck would continue. I reached the top of the Stucki Springs climb. I rolled over the top and started the descent behind a fellow rider.

During my pre-ride of this section back in February, Kenny, Brad and Elden started in front of me and within literally seconds they were gone…completely gone. I couldn’t even see them in the distance. It had been a little disheartening. I know I am slower on descents when I’m by myself. I spend too much time worrying about the line I should be following. If I could hang with this guy in front of me and watch his back wheel and not the trail, I might do better. I had to do better…..Poot and “The Attachment” were just minutes — maybe seconds — behind me!

To my relief, I was able to hang with this rider and I had a ball! We were flying, and I wasn’t even scared. I was feeling relaxed and enjoying myself. At the finish line, I found out that the rider was Larry Tucker, a friend of Fatty. I hate to say it, but all cyclists look the same to me from behind. Sorry for not recognizing you Larry, but thanks for the awesome pull down the road!

Rim Runner / Barrel Roll

After the descent we headed out on the Rim Runner loop: a fun switchbacked climb, followed by a fun, flowing descent. The loop is fairly short; I think it took about ten or fifteen minutes to do. As I exited the loop, I was able to look up at the switchback climb and could see “The Attachment” making her way up the trail. “Phew,” I thought, “I have about a ten-minute lead on her as I go into the last section of the race (Barrel Roll)…but I have no idea where Poot is.”

I couldn’t let up now. I still needed to ride as fast as I could.

The Barrel Roll aid station was like the Zen aid station in that we would go through it twice: once on the way into the loop, and again when we exited.

I decided to take a Coke break, but made the executive decision to not fill my Camelbak. I was sure I had enough water in it. The problem with Camelbaks, though, is that you never know you’re out ’til nothing comes out. So at the last second, I grabbed a water bottle and stuck it in my bike frame.

While I was taking care of this, Kenny came barreling through the Barrel aid station. He was flying! “Wow!” I thought, “He is almost done racing!” Kenny just had a 3-4 mile descent down to the finish line. I have to admit I was a little jealous. 

I wasn’t sure how long the Barrel Roll loop was going to take me. Forty-five minutes? Sixty? I was still feeling good, and was hoping that trend would continue.

I caught up with a rider who was going at a really good pace. He might have been a little slower than I would have gone, but it would keep me in check; I settled in and followed.

I often wonder if this pisses people off.

He eventually asked if I wanted to pass; I declined. I knew he would leave on the descent…and he did.


You know you’re tired and low on blood sugar when you look down and see…a big fat snake curled up at the side of the trail! You gasp! Your adrenaline surges, you brake hard!

Then you realize the snake is not a snake…just a big rock. This happened twice to me on the pre-ride back in February, and now it was happening again.

“So weird,” I thought. “I honestly thought it was a snake!”

Eventually I came to what I thought (and hoped) was the top of the Barrel Roll loop. All I needed to do now was hang on for a pretty technical descent.

But I was wrong.

For some reason the trail would descend…then climb again. This viscious cycle repeated many times. The day was definitely warming up. I was really glad I had grabbed the extra water bottle at the aid station, because I found out pretty quickly that the Camelbak was empty.

Eventually, the aid station came into view. I decided I didn’t need to stop, because — as I had learned during the pre-ride earlier this year — it really was all downhill to the finish. I gritted my teeth and descended as fast as I possibly could.

I really had no idea what place I was in, but I didn’t want whatever it was stolen from me now.

My day and my ride had been perfect. I had a blast and had not injured myself.  I crossed the finish line and was greeted with a huge sweaty hug from Elden.

Kenny and Heather were also there. Which made me confused — I had passed her, shouldn’t she still be out on the course?

No, unfortunately she had ripped the sidewall on a tire; her race had come to a quick end. Such a bummer. 

But for me: what a fantastic and fun ride. As I rehydrated myself, Elden could hardly wait to tell me the story about how he had save a guy’s life! I laughed and said I had saved a guy’s life too!

Podium Interruptus

I ended up winning the sport women division (which is all the women except the pros). I was really proud of my accomplishment…but embarrassed by the way the podium was announced.

You see, somehow they forgot about me.

After the race, Elden had gone up to the timers, and they assured him they had me listed with a finishing time. But somehow that wasn’t passed onto the race director. Cimarron called out the podium and I watched as all the women I had passed during the race climbed up onto the podium.

So I had to walk up — in front of everyone, including the poor girls who were standing on the podium, getting photographed and holding trophies— and tell her that her podium was wrong and that I had won!

I was mortified, both for myself and especially for the girl who had been on the third-place spot and would now be moved off the podium! (That cute girl was Sally F.; I actually saw her at Corner Canyon a few days after the race and  apologized profusely. She was very kind and a good sport!)

Second place went to Poot, and third to the woman I had been calling “The Attachment,” who of course actually has a name: Jeanette!

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Congrats to all the riders that day. True Grit is a great race and a really fun ride! And kudos to Cimarron, the race director, for beautiful trail markings and a great post-race feast!

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