Long Ride, Deep Insights 1: The Turning of Tables

06.4.2018 | 8:21 am

The Hammer and I have a few beloved rides. No, “beloved” isn’t quite the right word, because we invariably hate each and every one of these routes at some point during the day.

Still, we go back and do them again. Over and over.

The most important of these rides is what she and I call “The Guardsman Loop,” or — when I’m feeling clever — “The Snow Cone Loop” (because we usually stop and get a shaved ice at one of those corner shave ice places on the way back): 75+ miles, 10K+ feet of climbing, a mix of dirt and road.

The Guardsman Loop

It’s as perfect a training ride for the Crusher in the Tushar as there could be. You should come ride it with us; it’s super fun.

No, I’m just kidding. Don’t come ride it with us, because you’d hate us afterward and that would make me sad.

The thing about this ride is it’s absolutely 100% non-technical. There is no riding during the entire day that takes any skill whatsover. It’s just about turning the pedals over and over. And over.

Which gives you quite a bit of time to think, and to look around. And then think about the things you’re looking at while you’re looking around.

Like this.

The Turning of Tables
The Hammer’s daughter is named Melisa. I used to call her “The Swimmer,” but I don’t even know the last time she went swimming. Then I called her “The Monster,” but that had a (very intentional) double meaning, which was kind of mean of me. David Houston wanted to give her the nickname “Nails,” but a nail is a pretty passive thing — it’s acted upon, it doesn’t do anything itself — so I reject that nickname too.

The Real MelMelisa herself would like to be called “Mel,” which would be a perfectly good nickname if she were a sixty-year-old man who owned a diner in a long-running sitcom in the seventies and eighties.

So let’s go with “Melisa.”

Anyway, Melisa is entered to do the LeadWoman this year, which is like doing the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race but you also have to do more riding and a little running too. It’s no big deal, really.

The important thing here is that she’s doing a bunch of running, which of course means she’s getting repetitive use injuries all the time and no longer has any fun doing anything that is actually fun (e.g., riding her bike).

She had — as part of her training for the LeadWoman — recently done a trail marathon and had clobbered both the course and her own self. One of her legs hurt so bad she could barely walk.

Still, she had chosen to come with us on a seven-hour ride, bringing her boyfriend — a super friendly and fast guy named Jeff — along.

Within fifteen minutes, it was clear to the Hammer and me that Melisa was not going to have a good day. Within half an hour, it was obvious to us that she wasn’t going to finish the ride. Within ninety minutes (only three times as long, which is progress), those things became clear to Melisa too and she pulled the plug. She came to a stop and said, “I’m calling it.”

It was the right thing to do. Luckily she could essentially coast back home.

We said our goodbyes and got ready to continue, when I realized: Jeff had a decision to make: keep going, or stay back with Melisa?

On one hand, he had planned a long day in the saddle. On the other hand, he had a girlfriend who was literally pouting (her bottom lip was sticking out probably half an inch) on the side of the road.

I made things easier for him: “She doesn’t need you; she needs to go home and put her leg up. Come ride with us,” I said.

Jeff looked at Melisa, hopefully. Melisa stuck her lip out a little further.

“OK, sounds good,” said Jeff, surprising at least three of us. “Let’s go.”

Then, doing some quick relationship math, he said, “I’ll catch you two in a minute.”

Knowing that Jeff could actually do this, The Hammer and I continued. And we had a discussion.

“Do you think Jeff will actually be rejoining us?” I asked.

“If he does, it will be to tell us to go on without him, that he’s going to go back with Mel,” The Hammer replied (The Hammer is going along with this “Mel” nonsense for some reason).

“So we agree there is no chance at all he’ll finish the ride with us,” I said.

“None whatsoever,” she agreed.

“What if it were the other way around?” I asked, because I’m interested in human nature and psychology and stuff, and also because I know that if I can get The Hammer engaged in conversation she’ll slow down a little. “What if it were Jeff who was hurt — would Melisa turn around for him?”

“No,” The Hammer replied. “If it were the other way around, Jeff would be urging her to go on and have fun, and she’d go on and have fun.”

“Is that right?” I asked, by which I did not mean “is that true,” but “is that ethically OK?”

“That’s just how it is,” The Hammer said. “That’s how it is for us, too.”

“It is?” I asked, astounded. Then I thought about it. If The Hammer called the day early and turned around, I wouldn’t even ask. I’d go back with her. When (not “if,” because this has happened) I were hurting and wanted to call the day early, The Hammer would definitely keep going.

“Why is it this way?”

“Because we’re the bosses of you.”

I thought about this some more (for hours actually), but that pretty much summed things up.

The Obvious Conclusion
A quarter mile before we reached the summit of Pole Line Pass, Jeff caught up to us, just flying. “I just came to let you know that I’m going to go back,” he said.

“Shocking,” I replied.

“You should keep going,” The Hammer said. “As fast as you got here, you might be on track for a KOM.”

“That’s OK,” Jeff said, and turned around.

“I’d have at least finished the climb to the top,” I told The Hammer.

“Sure you would’ve,” she said.


  1. Comment by Rob L | 06.4.2018 | 8:57 am

    Fatty…..you’re kinda slow. :)
    But really most of us guys are.

  2. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.4.2018 | 9:41 am

    Wife#1 is fond of reminding me that I may be the head of the family but she is the neck.re: My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

    As for ‘Nails’ there’s nothing passive about it. Get one in your foot., and talk to me about ‘passive’. It also holds things together, and It’s the perfect complement to Hammer. Hammer and Na……

    I think you also once had a great picture of ‘Mel’s’ nails when she was the ‘Swimmer’ , but we all know how feeble this man’s brain is with remembering.

    So, I’m sticking with ‘Nails!’ Stong, Sharp, Hardened Steel, always ozone’s Point, and necessary to hold things together.

    “Ozone’s Point” should be the name of the next Orson Scott Card novel. – FC

  3. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.4.2018 | 9:44 am

    Not sure how ‘On Point’ became ‘ozone’s’. How’s that ‘edit comments’ feature coming?

    How’s the Italy trip writeup coming? – FC

  4. Comment by Tominalbany | 06.4.2018 | 11:27 am

    So, clearly, Mel and Jeff will read this. When they do, is there a chance that next time Jeff will tell Mel to “Kiss My Grits!?”

    Someone had to do it.

    So are you saying that Jeff’s nickname should be “Flo?” – FC

  5. Comment by Bad Dad | 06.4.2018 | 11:54 am

    My wife hates riding bikes. She asked if she could
    have a FatTrike with a motor. I suggested a Vespa instead.

  6. Comment by Scott D Gilbert | 06.4.2018 | 11:56 am

    I’d turn around to if my GF needed to pull the plug.

    Ew. – FC

  7. Comment by Bad Dad | 06.4.2018 | 12:52 pm

    Pouting and cycling don’t go together. Peter Sagan got bounced from the TdF because the whiny pouty guy next to him forgot how to ride his bike.

    More importantly, so not aero.

    I have never considered the aero ramifications of a protruding lower lip. Until now. I’m so glad I rebooted this blog. – FC

  8. Comment by Boston Carlos | 06.4.2018 | 2:16 pm

    DavidH – I can get you directions to the nearest burn unit if you need…

  9. Comment by MikeL | 06.4.2018 | 3:19 pm

    I believe the world is still waiting for the next installment of Melisa’s Leadville 2016 (?) ride report?

    I understand she and David H are workshopping it together. – FC

  10. Comment by Mike Costner | 06.4.2018 | 3:27 pm

    Man, i’m pretty sure this gave me a headache.

    Imagine how it made ME feel. – FC

  11. Comment by AKChick | 06.4.2018 | 3:40 pm

    LOL! I have SO missed the banter in the comments!

  12. Comment by Jeff Schwarz | 06.5.2018 | 11:46 am

    This story is a great example of the voice I have been missing! A heartfelt wellcome back!

  13. Comment by leroy | 06.5.2018 | 2:03 pm

    Dear Mr. FC –

    For some reason my dog won’t stop poking me in the ribs and demanding I post a link to one of your old posts and direct your attention to the comments at 4:14 PM and 6:26 PM.

    So here goes.

    He wasn’t going to let me get anything done today if I didn’t.

    Honestly, I thought the box of gold stars I gave him would have occupied him longer.

  14. Comment by Corrine | 06.5.2018 | 4:38 pm

    Hmm. I’m going to have to ask my husband what he would do. I think it would be the same. I love psychology of couples!
    And I love “Nails” as a nickname for Melissa. And leroy, your dog was right to make you link to that old post. Totally forgot about that.
    I’ve missed all of my FoF. It’s good to hear from everybody again.

  15. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.6.2018 | 11:20 am

    I knew Leroy’s Dog was one smart pooch!

    Thank you for pointing out the true authorship of Melisa’s nickname. I knew there was a picture out there to back it up, but I was working on my phone. And as those who know me ’searching’ is difficult on a rotary dial.

  16. Comment by eclecticdeb | 07.5.2018 | 3:30 pm

    Glad I’m not the only one who looks forward to the comments ALMOST as much as the actual post.

    Looking forward to that 2016 report — was there another cliffhanger from The Swimmer … er Nails … er The Monster…err Melissa? Or is this the same one?

    Oh — Was cleaning out the bookcases and came upon the “Comedian Mastermind: The Best of FatCyclist.com 2005-2007″. I think it’s time for another read.


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