The Natural, Part 3: The Discombobulation of Fatty

01.21.2016 | 11:54 am

A “Hey, Take One Minute to Answer a Ten-Year-Old’s  Science Project Survey” Note from Fatty: A reader’s daughter is conducting a survey on insulated water bottles as part of her science project for school. I think we should help give her a ton of data to work with. Whether you use insulated water bottles or not (she needs data from both types of people), click here to take her survey. It will take about a minute, and for sure no more than two. Honest.

A “Read That Before This” Note from Fatty: This is the third installment of my Interlaken 100 Ride Report. If you haven’t read part 1 and part 2 before you read this part, you should. 

We were seventy miles into the Interlaken 100, and had just refueled. With a fifteen minute rest in our legs and only thirty miles left in this century, you’d think we’d be eager to fly to the finish line.

But that wasn’t how it was.

Twenty minutes of fierce head/crosswind had left The Hammer and me pretty much demolished. And now we knew we had more of the same wind in front of us, not to mention the second significant climb of the day coming up soon.

So as we left the park, we did so with an acute lack of alacrity.

But then, within a few hundred feet, something wonderful happened.

Or rather, two wonderful things.

Or rather, two wonderful people.

Specifically: two large, strong men, on bicycles, who were both willing and able to work with us.

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Train of Awesome

To be honest, I was confused by the appearance of these two very strong riders. After all, The Hammer and I had been riding alone for the past fifty miles. We hadn’t seen anyone behind us that entire time, and if we had known these guys were nearby, we certainly would have joined up with them sooner.

But that’s the thing about smallish groups and big rides. You get spread out pretty early, and then you look around and think you’re all alone, even though there’s probably someone two minutes ahead of you or two minutes behind you.

In this case, I’m pretty sure that these two big guys must have been two minutes behind us when we got to the 70-mile aid station. But these two guys guys were smart big guys, and so when they saw we were leaving, got their stuff together really quickly and caught up to us, making it so everyone had to be in front only half as often.

And suddenly, the outrageous difficulty of this cross/headwind became completely manageable, and the ride started being fun again.

I don’t know these guys’ names (I hope they somehow see their picture above, recognize themselves, and say hi), but my eyes still well up a little bit at the transformative effect they had on our ride. 

A pooling of forces can be such a wonderful thing.

Not Fair

Together, the four of us made short work of the final ten miles in the flat part of the Interlaken 100. Which brought us to the eighty-mile mark in this race. I mean ride. Just twenty miles to go, seven of which (miles 80-87) would be up. Not radically up — 700 feet in seven miles isn’t outrageously steep. 

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But make no mistake: it is up.

And before long, the two big guys moved to the back, with The Hammer and me just taking turns with the pulling. Then one of them dropped off. Then the other dropped off.

The Hammer and I talked about slowing down so we could pick these guys up again. And then we even tried to do it. But there’s a weird thing about being eighty-five miles into a hundred-mile race. You’ve been going so long that your level of effort has become involuntary. You go the effort you can go, and you can no more let off the gas by five percent than you can step up your pace by five percent.

We could no more pick those guys up than they could ride up to us. 

But I still felt (and still feel) bad about the inequity of it all. Big guys can certainly help little guys be faster at what big guys are good at (going fast on flats, punching holes in the wind).

But little guys can’t help big guys be faster at what little guys are good at (going up hills).

Basically, because of my height I’ve been the recipient of a lot more cycling help than I will ever give. 

It’s just not fair.

Finishing (Not) Strong

The Hammer and I made it to mile 87 — the summit of the last climb, leading to a steep, fast descent, and then eight dead-flat miles along the shore of Bear Lake to a park.

I thought all the hard part was behind us.

But it wasn’t.

Sure, the descent was fun, but when we got to the lake and the final should-be-easy seven miles of the ride, something happened. Specifically, my power gave out before the ride ended.

I had nothing left. At all. I was cooked. Smoked. Done. 

I had one option if I wanted to finish this ride, and one option only: tuck in behind The Hammer and ask her to not go very fast. Which is precisely what I did.

For a guy who takes pride in his power and endurance, that’s a pretty humble way to finish a ride.

But we did. And at exactly 100.0 miles (so weird), there was the park and a volunteer waving us into it.

Even through my bonk, I managed to say to The Hammer, “That’s funny. I’m so conditioned to hundred-mile rides never being exactly 100 miles that I wasn’t even bothering to look for a finish line right now.”


There’s something wonderful and rare about not having anything to do. Maybe that’s one of the things that draws me to big rides: I know that afterward, I have permission to be completely and utterly lazy.

Which is to say, The Hammer and I just laid on the grass, eating the sandwiches we had taken at the seventy-mile mark of the ride. 


Relaxing is awesome.

Of course, now we had a problem: how were we going to get ourselves and our bikes the hundred miles back to where the Interlaken started?

No, I’m just kidding, that was no problem at all. The organizers had arranged for big vans to take us and our bikes back to the beginning. 

During which I sometimes idly looked out the window, and sometimes napped. 

And for that reason — among many others — I hereby declare the Interlaken 100 to be a wonderful event.


  1. Comment by Dave H | 01.21.2016 | 1:16 pm

    It’s hard out there for us big dudes. We’ve got legs for days (because we have to get our large selves up those hills) so we can really blaze on the flats and downhills, but after we burn the few matches we have to get up those hills with the pack, by the middle/end of long rides, we invariably wind up off the back on our own (or with another/couple other big guys.) The good news? It builds character. Or something. Yeah.

  2. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 01.21.2016 | 2:02 pm

    Sadly, I bring to the equation neither the big power that comes with size nor the efficient power to weight ratio that comes with the lack thereof. But I *am* pretty flippin’ persistent …

  3. Comment by LoPhat | 01.21.2016 | 2:34 pm

    As a big guy (6′2″ 175#) who leads group rides, I spend a lot of time out in the wind. Every once in a while we paceline part of a ride, and I’m always amazed whenever I draft because I’ve forgotten what it’s like.

    And I’ve had a couple of *bad* days where I tried to chase the fast & light crowd up the hills.

    Some day, you and I will ride together again. And on that day, I promise to make myself as big as possible and give you one helluva pull. – FC

  4. Comment by Evan | 01.21.2016 | 5:43 pm

    I will forever be indebted to all the ‘big guys’ out there. Even if I tried to gain some weight, I’m past the growth spurt time in life and will forever remain vertically challenged. (But if we roll up to a 7-11 together, the Coke’s on me.)

  5. Comment by Sue | 01.21.2016 | 9:36 pm

    Love the pic of you and Lisa….your legs are almost as pretty as hers!

  6. Comment by Juan | 01.22.2016 | 6:57 am

    Heck I owe a lot of good times to big guys on flat roads. I sometimes read about Fatty behind them on my phone.

    We need to find a way to thank these guys. Like, on an ongoing basis. – FC

  7. Comment by santiago | 01.22.2016 | 9:50 am

    I am one of the big ones (190cm 80 kg) and usually its ok and I like the idea of providing shelter to shorter friends.
    But, in big group rides when we are all going hard and I happen to find someone big enough to provide a decent draft, there always is one of those short, sneaky, draft-greedy riders who try to steal that wheel or advance a few positions (I still can´t understand their motivations)and I end up on his wheel, no drafting at all and hating a lot.

  8. Comment by Bro Pete | 01.22.2016 | 10:07 am

    Do they still call em “wheel suckers”?

  9. Comment by Philipp | 01.25.2016 | 12:44 pm

    This is one of those beautiful stories about the niceness of the cycling community. It is really a great feeling to have found some nice fellas out on the ride. There are few sports that offer that.

    Ride on!


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