Ride 3 (Including My “Last Ride on the Kokopelli” Story) Now Available — And So Is My Podcast With the Publisher

03.28.2016 | 1:21 pm

Fatty’s Daily Accountability Note: As I promised in my post last Friday, I am going to keep track of three things with each post: My weight, my training, and my status on Fight Like Susan

  • Weight: I weighed in at 171.0 pounds today. That’s not good, but it’s where I’m starting. My goal is to weigh 158 by the time I race the Rockwell Relay this June. So: two months to lose thirteen pounds. I can do that.
  • NewImageTraining: My plan is to do a TrainerRoad session after I send the kids off to school and the wife off to work each day, so of course things got started with a derailment. The wife has today off and one of my kids is sick. And Monday mornings is when we record The Paceline. So: I’m all those things and people are squared away for now, so I’m going to go do a TrainerRoad session as soon as I publish this post. I’m on the Sweet Spot Base – High Volume II schedule, doing Week 3. Which means I’m doing the Haeckel workout. [Update: Completed and recorded on both TrainerRoad and Strava.]
  • Fight Like Susan: Today is the day I begin writing in earnest on this book, and I have to admit it feels a little bit like approaching a cliff. I know how I begin, though, so it’s not as scary as it could be. I’ll share some of what I write today when I post tomorrow. (And if you haven’t yet pre-ordered a copy, please check out what I’m doing, why, and what’s available. Thanks!)

Ride 3 (Including My “Last Ride on the Kokopelli” Story) Now Available — And So Is My Podcast With the Publisher

Way back in the beginning of 2015, I noted that I was working on a submission to go in the Ride 3 bike fiction anthology. I was excited to try my hand at fiction, but also scared — I’m comfortable writing about what’s going on in my life, but actually creating a story…well, that’s  difficult and different.

I did, eventually, finish writing that story. And it did make it into the anthology.

And it’s out. You can buy it and read it today. Check out the cover:

RIDE3 cover 495w

It’s got my name in it and everything (buried almost exactly in the middle, as is the eternal curse of people whose last names start with “N.”

And — totally not coincidentally — last week I recorded a FattyCast with Keith Snyder, the publisher, editor, and book designer behind the Ride book series.

So, sure, this episode of the podcast is just a little bit self-serving, because my story — Last Ride On the Kokopelli — is in it. So sue me.

Self-promotion aside, in this episode of the FattyCast, Keith and I talk about why it’s important to not tell a story before you write it down, we talk about raising twins, we talk about earworms (and Keith sings one, surprisingly well), and we talk about his favorite kind of riding — randonneuring — and whether it’s nerdier to be a randonneur or a recumbent rider. 

If I were you, I’d listen to this episode of the FattyCast right now. Which you can do by subscribing in iTunes, or by just downloading, getting my RSS feed, or listening right here:

And Now For A Little Sneak Peek

Here’s an interesting experiment: go back and read the beginning of the story I wrote back in January 2015. Get that fixed in your head. The tone. The characters. The perspective.

Because hardly any of that actually made it into the final cut of the story. 

Here’s the first quarter of the story, as it now reads in the book:

Last Ride on the Kokopelli
Elden Nelson 

It was past time to get started again, but Lewis was in no hurry. He knew he should be in a hurry—the three guys he was riding with were way ahead of him by now—but he wasn’t. This ride hadn’t been turning out as he had imagined it, and it was good to be on his own.

Lewis always looked forward to reaching Dewey Bridge. It was a cool old landmark, it signaled that the most technical part of the Kokopelli Trail was behind you, and it meant you could fill up on water in the Colorado River.

Lewis stood on the narrow old bridge, one foot on the ground, one clipped in. He held the Camelbak’s drink tube between his teeth, sipping warm, silty water. He’d taken almost fifteen minutes to filter about 150 ounces. Plenty to get to Westwater, the next place he could expect to fill up.

It was noon now, but it already felt like it had been a long day. And in fact, it had been: they’d been riding for seven hours.

All the big climbing behind them, the promise of a brutally hot day ahead.

Already close to ninety degrees, and no breeze at all. This is going to get ugly. I guess I’d better go catch up with those three assholes.

But he didn’t go, not yet. He wasn’t the slowest guy in the group; he’d catch up. And he’d earned a little time to himself. Needed it.

Everet can be such a prick.

It wasn’t the first time that day he had thought it. Lewis had invited Everet on this ride because he knew Everet could handle twenty hours on the saddle, but that wasn’t the only reason. He’d invited him because he knew Everet. Thought he had, anyway.

This ride—The Kokopelli Trail, Moab to Mack, all 142 miles of it, in one day—is no joke. And you don’t invite just anyone to come ride it with you. You choose who comes on rides like this carefully. There are rules for this kind of thing.

Case in point: Lewis had invited Everet only after observing him, seeing how Everet handled himself in 24-hour races, how he knew when to talk and when to shut up and put his head down on big training rides. After he showed he respected big distances on bikes and what they mean. After it was clear Everet knew the rules.

And then, two days before the ride, Everet said to Lewis, “Hey, I was talking to a couple of guys I ride with about coming and doing this ride with us, is that OK?”

“Sure, that’s fine,” Lewis said. But of course it wasn’t fine. Invitees don’t get to be inviters. Didn’t Everet know the rule?

Evidently not.

And that’s how Lewis’ most important ride of the year—this beautiful and quiet ride—had become a loud and confrontational networking event. Everet, Trevor and Harlan—all three worked at the same company, Lewis was now learning, and Everet was Harlan’s manager—yelling about competing product lines, scrum meeting etiquette, and slipping release dates…as they ignored the trail around them.

To make matters worse, Harlan seemed to think he was an Australian Shepherd, surging forward and dropping back, trying to keep the group together. Meanwhile, Trevor kept quoting from Adam Sandler movies.

Lewis needed to get away from them, and intentionally dropped further and further behind, so that by the time he had gotten to Dewey Bridge, the other three riders were nowhere in sight.

Well, they either filtered water really fast and continued on, or they…just went on.

Those guys probably gambled they had enough to get them to the Westwater Station. But it won’t be. Nothing I can do about it now.

If I don’t get moving, it’ll be three in the morning before we finish.

He clipped in and rode across the bridge.

— — —

Are you seriously trying to make this ride into a race?

Lewis had been pushing the pace since the beginning of the ride, and Trevor was sick of it. He, Everet, and Harlan were just trying to enjoy an epic day in the saddle, but Lewis kept half-wheeling or outright pulling ahead.

What is your problem? Trevor wanted to ask out loud, but didn’t. Are you trying to prove a point? Show you’re the alpha rider? What?

Finally, Trevor responded to Lewis’ attack, Harlan and Everet on his wheel. Lewis had started it, but they had superior numbers. There was no way this ill-considered solo breakaway was going to work.

They reeled Lewis in, and then the surly loner dropped back and—often—out of sight.

This day—this day, which should have been perfect—sucked. The only good moment of the day, in fact, had been watching Harlan, who was doing his absolute best to hang with Trevor and Everet, turf it on the loose, rocky descent toward the Colorado River.

— — —

Lewis crossed Highway 128 onto the desert doubletrack, got into the flow of the ride, and felt clear and strong. Not hungry. Not thirsty. Not tired. Not—in spite of the rising temperature—hot. Lewis didn’t feel anything.

To achieve this state: this was why Lewis rode. He stood and rowed his bike up a short, steep climb. Sat and got low for a short rocky descent. Climbs, descents, flat: Lewis loved it all.

Low. Light. Lean the bike, stay upright. Lewis was tempted to rest a finger on the brake levers, but didn’t, even as he he dived into the left-turning blind, banked downhill corner.

Something in the trail. Big.

With no time to ride around it—a rock wall on the left and exposure on the right there was nowhere to go anyway—Lewis grabbed two big handfuls of brake.

People like to talk about time slowing down and everything happening in slow motion when you crash, but that is not what usually happens. You’re riding and then you’re sliding, with very little time to think in between.

Everet. Not moving. That’s all Lewis had time to think as he went over his handlebars, and then he was taking the impact on his left hand.

Amazingly, he did not fly down the steep, exposed embankment. He didn’t break his collarbone. He didn’t even break his wrist.

He was scraped bloody, and that wrist was probably sprained, but Lewis wasn’t aware of any of these minor injuries in the moments after he crashed. He jumped up, the adrenaline hitting him hard and fast.

What happened?” Lewis yelled.

Everet didn’t say anything, but someone did.

“I think he’s dead.”

I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the rest of the story once (if) you read it.


  1. Comment by PNP | 03.28.2016 | 2:03 pm

    How can I NOT read it? (Which is, of course, your entire intent for posting it, don’t think we don’t know that.)

    I’m off to Amazon. I won’t get another thing done until I find out what happens. Good thing my boss is a thousand miles away.

  2. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 03.28.2016 | 2:34 pm

    Fatty, if you get to be against Rule 5, can I please be against something too?

    It’s a simple request, really. I’d just like to eradicate the word “the.” And not in all instances. In fact, not even in many instances. Actually, there’s just one instance.

    And that’s in advance of the words “wife,” “husband,” “girlfriend,” “boyfriend,” and [insert favorite term of endearment here].

    Yeah, you found a pet peeve of mine, guilty as charged!

    BTW, I’ve got Ride 3 sitting on my nightstand, it’s bumped Bike Snob Abroad off the top of my reading list.

    171. Sigh.

    We all have the right to be irritated, and I’m pretty awful at grammar sometimes. Where’s my “the” goof in this post? – FC

  3. Comment by spaceyace | 03.28.2016 | 4:31 pm

    “The wife has today off…” (Not necessarily agreeing with Jeff. Is “my” any better? You don’t *own* your wife…so 1950s… ;)

    Purchased and read most of Ride 3 about a month ago, or whenever the Kindle version came out on Amazon. I think your foray into fiction was successful. My first criterion is whether a writer describes his characters speaking or acting or thinking in ways that make me go “yeah, me too!” I.e., they display some universal trait(s) of the human condition. (Or, if not universal, at least one I can relate to). You did that.

  4. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 03.28.2016 | 6:46 pm

    @spaceyace, yep, that’s the “the.” Interesting point about “my.” If it were asymmetrical, I’d be more inclined to agree.

    My wife/my husband. My son/my father. These convey relationship where “the” conveys object. I’m open to something better than either. [grin]

    I see what you’re saying, but sometimes “the” is a less-fraught term when you’re in a blended family but still want to do a parallel construction. Saying “my” in both those instances doesn’t convey “our” in one of them, and I work hard to avoid talking about “my” kids vs “our” kids. – FC

  5. Comment by spaceyace | 03.28.2016 | 6:58 pm

    @Jeff, I was just being facetious about “my.” Good point about objects vs. relationships. Your logic is sounds, but I’m curious, is there any “official” grammatical support for your position?

  6. Comment by Geoffrey | 03.28.2016 | 7:19 pm

    By the way, based on the link to search for your book, two things: I didn’t think you wrote those kinds of books, and you are looking really lean. :)

    HOLY CATS. I didn’t understand what you were talking about ’til I walked through my post and checked my links. That’s fixed now, but…gah. – FC

  7. Comment by leroy | 03.28.2016 | 10:33 pm

    My dog informs me that if I call him the dog, he’ll call me the man.

  8. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 03.29.2016 | 6:23 am

    @Fatty, good point about the blended family–that hadn’t occurred to me.

    @spaceyace, sadly, Strunk and White did not see fit to weigh in on the “the vs. my” construction. I did a bit of searching–the general consensus leans toward “my” being preferential “the.” I did, however, find on feminism-based argument against the possessiveness of “my.”

    To me, this says it best: “Using the instead of my puts a bit of social distance between the speaker and their wife. Even if the listener knows that the speaker is talking to the speaker’s wife, the use of the decouples the couple.”

  9. Comment by MikeL | 03.29.2016 | 8:28 am

    Stop it you guys. You are flashing me back to E Comp 101. A period in my life I would as soon keep forgotten.

  10. Comment by Chris Chaney | 03.29.2016 | 9:04 am

    Listening to this was almost as good as that time I tackled you at the LT 100 expo.

  11. Comment by Geoffrey | 03.29.2016 | 9:17 am

    @MikeL, are you sure it was a period in your life? Perhaps it was a semicolon, or an ellipsis…

  12. Comment by AKChick | 03.29.2016 | 10:01 am

    LOL – the posts on Fatty’s blog are cracking me up! :)

  13. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 03.29.2016 | 12:02 pm

    @AKChick, “Fatty’s blog,” what do you mean? It appears that you’ve inadvertently stumbled on to the Comments section of PortlyGrammarian.com.

    You’re welcome to stay–surprisingly, membership is quite low.

  14. Comment by spaceyace | 03.29.2016 | 3:10 pm

    “Social distance” is a very convincing argument. So, in the absence of guidance from Strunk & White, guess I’ll have to defer to the authoritative opinion of Dieffen & Bach.

  15. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 03.29.2016 | 3:34 pm

    And please, ALWAYS use Oxford Commas …

  16. Comment by Tim | 03.29.2016 | 3:48 pm

    At least there are no dangling prepositions we can speak of.

  17. Comment by MikeL | 03.29.2016 | 3:59 pm

    @Geoffrey. That interval of my life is more like the space between ( ).

  18. Comment by wharton_crew | 03.29.2016 | 4:24 pm

    Great story, Fatty, but is a total cliff-hanger, as per usual!! Only this time, there’s not another blog post to followup and close out the cliff-hanger.

    I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it, but suffice to say, your story illustrates why I don’t pack heat when I ride.

  19. Comment by spaceyace | 03.29.2016 | 8:29 pm

    @Jeff…oh dear. I was done, and then you said “Oxford comma.” I find the Oxford comma silly, irritating and redundant. In fact, this is how I feel about the Oxford comma.
    (Warning, some profanity.)

  20. Comment by Anonymous | 03.29.2016 | 9:58 pm

    LOL @Jeff!

  21. Comment by Keith | 03.30.2016 | 11:05 am

    Commas group things:

    “The woods are lovely, dark and deep.”
    “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.”

    The two lines don’t mean the same thing. If you insert OR strip out Oxford (or “serial”) commas as a blind rule, you run the risk of screwing up meaning.

    I use the serial comma until it doesn’t mean what I want it to mean, and then I take it out. It just seems to work better that way than the other way around.

    Also, I like bikes.

  22. Comment by Triflefat | 03.30.2016 | 8:57 pm

    Okay grammar Nazis.

    How come you overlook “Lewis… rowed his bike?”

  23. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 03.31.2016 | 5:55 am

    @Triflefat, bike rowing is a thing. Just watch Fatty climb on his singlespeed.

    I ALWAYS use the Oxford Comma when I’m listing three things–failing to do so can lead to misunderstanding. Everyone uses a comma when the list is four or more, so why not three?

    Also, commas are essentially free.

  24. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 03.31.2016 | 5:56 am

    Oh, but I do love me some Vampire Weekend …


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