I Understand Everything So Much Better Now That I’m Exhausted, Way Behind My Projected Splits, and In Terrible Pain

10.10.2018 | 8:39 am

I put my entire summer into training for this endurance race. I hired a coach and followed her plan. I came out and got comfortable with the course, several times.

I researched equipment and practiced with it until I was confident in my choices. I did the same with food, getting comfortable with what I’d eat during which parts of the race, and how often.

I planned out every mile; I wrote down and memorized my course of action for every contingency.

I visualized myself crossing the finish line. Oh, more than anything else, I visualized myself crossing that finish line.

And then, about forty miles into this event, I more or less jettisoned all of that nonsense I concocted before the race, because now this race is now.

Oh, I was such a fool up until this race got hard. If only I had been as wise then as I am now — specifically, now that I’m exhausted, trailing my projected split times, cramping, and generally demoralized.

I see everything so much more clearly now.

OK, if I’m going to be completely honest, I actually started having race-moment epiphanies right from the starting line. Sure, I had been told to not go hot off the starting line, but dammit I felt great. “Why shouldn’t I allow the possibility of having an exceptional day to play out?” I asked myself. “Maybe this is the day I completely shatter all expectations. Maybe today is the day I discover that I can fly forever.”

It was also during this race that I discovered that I am stronger than everyone around me, and that if my group is going to have a fast day it’s up to me to set the pace. Which meant pulling for about an hour and a half. These guys were lucky to have me, and it was a disgusting show of poor sportsmanship when they surged ahead and dropped me when I pulled around to let them take over for a bit.

Oh, there’s that stupid “Eat” chime on my GPS I arrogantly set to go off every thirty minutes. That thing is so annoying. I know when I’m hungry and when I’m not, and right now I am not. In fact, the very idea of food is utterly repellent to me right now, and has been for about two hours. My stomach feels terrible and I hate the very idea of GU right now; it completely makes me gag. I don’t know how I managed to choke it down every half hour during long training rides the whole summer.

All of that, though, is just a bunch of little examples. They’re almost beside the point.

The thing I’ve actually truly learned about myself during this race is that racing is not what I love doing. I love endurance riding, not endurance racing. When you’re out riding for hours on end, you’re self-supported, going at your own pace, with people instead of against them, enjoying the beauty of the ride and the perfection of being alone with your bike.

Endurance racing is just a vain mockery of everything that’s pure and perfect about endurance cycling.

And then there’s my crew. My family, my friends. They’ve traveled a great distance and used their precious vacation days to come see me…and I’m hardly even seeing them at all today. I’m into the aid station, grabbing something, barking instructions at these wonderful people like I’m some kind of angry ingrate, and then I leave them.

That’s messed up.

They came to see me, I should be with them.

I don’t know what I’m even doing out here. This isn’t proving anything to anyone, I’m not having fun, it isn’t the kind of riding I love to do, and I’m not with the people I love. I’m ending this race as soon as I get to the next aid station.

I understand everything so much more clearly now.


  1. Comment by Boston Carlos | 10.10.2018 | 9:32 am

    lol. me at every event: I feel great! I’m gonna try and hang with the fast guys! Cool they’re letting me take a pull! Wow this is hard! Wait, where are you guys going? Bye, have fun. Ugh this hurts now. Hey the slow guys are here! Maybe they’ll let me hang on. Ugh… these aren’t the slow guys. Wait… they definitely are, but I’m slower. I don’t feel so great anymore.

    Rest of the event consists of me calculating just how slow I can go w/o being DFL.

  2. Comment by MikeL | 10.10.2018 | 9:32 am

    Not sure how to interpret this one.
    On the face of this this sounds like someone facing a major burnout. If so, I can totally appreciate and understand where it is coming from.

    My idea was to make fun of how when I’m racing I somehow believe that while I’m hurt and stupid and tired that my ideas are better than the ones I had when I was well-rested, hopeful, and thinking straight (and I think lot of people are like me). The fact that it’s coming across as a straight-up narrative means I either did a terrible job or too good a job at recounting my typical race-brain monologue. – FC

  3. Comment by John E Elmblad | 10.10.2018 | 10:39 am

    Fatty, try riding brevets! Long distance, self supported, riding with great people, and finishers are listed alphabetically. And, remember, the group you should be riding with is probably behind you. 8-)

  4. Comment by Keith | 10.10.2018 | 10:45 am

    Come to the rando side…

  5. Comment by Tominalbany | 10.10.2018 | 11:26 am

    Dude! That was soooooo fun to read!

    That was probably like ten seconds or less in your head.

  6. Comment by Ken | 10.10.2018 | 12:03 pm

    Salt Lake Randos 2019 brevet schedule:

    3/16: Zion 200K
    4/20: Willard Bay 200K
    5/4: Moab 200K
    5/11: Frontrunner 200K
    5/25: Nebo 300K
    6/8: Oquirrh Mtn 400K
    6/28: Raspberry Ramble 600K
    9/18: Paris Brest Paris

    We’ll be waiting for you!

  7. Comment by Kate Geisen | 10.10.2018 | 1:11 pm

    So much of this was exactly me at last weekend’s race. I just kept promising myself I could quit at the next aid station and reneging for 150 miles.

    Yep, I too have finished races by repeatedly breaking promises to myself. – FC

  8. Comment by MattC | 10.10.2018 | 2:28 pm

    “racing is not what I love doing. I love endurance riding, not endurance racing.”

    That pretty much sums me up perfectly! (tho I personally do MOST of my endurance riding solo, probably cuz it’s hard to find people wanting to do an 8hr mtb ride). Also I just can’t see paying a bunch of MONEY to ride my bike. Also I’m SO not into crowds.

    And hey Fatty….good timing! I peeked at your site just this morning and was getting ready to admonish you (in a very nice way) for not putting SOMETHING up this past few weeks after all the races and such you’ve been doing…and then BAM…a new post! NICE!

  9. Comment by Bill H-D | 10.10.2018 | 4:41 pm

    The O2 starved brain as unreliable narrator. I’ve heard this stream of consciousness a time or two (or ten or a hundred)…

  10. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 10.10.2018 | 5:17 pm

    I was all set to admonish you about the dangers ‘running’ AND paying your wife to ‘coach’ you too boot.

    It took me awhile to realize this was just you ‘thinking’ but finally I got there.

    Matt I understand riding vs racing, money vs riding, but I will make a case for getting together now and then with the FoF Family because the storytelling beats any written form. #CrusharintheTushar (meet in Bakersfield for the carpool.

    And most of all THANK YOU Fatty, I’m ok with a ‘once a month’ post… until the snow flies in Utah.

  11. Comment by Peter leCain | 10.10.2018 | 5:54 pm

    Rando rides offer oneself a challenge against your self, your equipment and your resolve. During a 600k this year I lost my headlights mounting bolt,so I secure it with a shoestring. I rode on and made a detour off route to a bike shop to replace the hardware. I was now ready for night riding, working lights are required. The rules required me to go back to where I departed the route to continue. I finished within the time-limit for the ride. This may not be adventure racing but challenging in other ways. The company of folks you ride with is a great draw for me, personally. Give this type of riding a shot, it’s crazy addictive.

  12. Comment by berry | 10.10.2018 | 6:15 pm

    This was hilarious.

  13. Comment by Jill Homer | 10.10.2018 | 7:23 pm

    This is perfect. The little voice of every endurance race ever.

  14. Comment by Bad Dad | 10.10.2018 | 8:15 pm

    Yeah. I love racing. I’m way better at riding, but I love racing.

    And I love it because when I have nearly those exact same thoughts, I keep racing, and I push them away, and I don’t quit. Because neither I, nor any of the people supporting me on the course or back home wants to hear that I quit.

    It’s only a few more hours to beer and pizza and ice cream. Unless THEY ate it all! Those ungrateful fools on my crew eating all the pizza and ice cream and drinking all the beer!! I bought all that for us to share and they’re drinking all of it!!

    When I get done faster than they expected I’m going to eat all THEIR ice cream and get more beer and show them!!!

    So I guess I ride for beer and pizza and ice cream with friends.

  15. Comment by dnwdoc | 10.10.2018 | 8:54 pm

    Good one Fatty! I’ve had every one of those same thoughts!

  16. Comment by Corrine | 10.10.2018 | 9:00 pm

    Been there, done that. Every race, I think “I hate racing, I’m just going to ride and enjoy myself next time” but next time I’m lining up again. It’s a sickness, I think or endurance racers just have very bad memories!!

  17. Comment by Corrine | 10.10.2018 | 9:01 pm

    Been there, done that. Every race, I think “I hate racing, I’m just going to ride and enjoy myself next time” but next time I’m lining up again. It’s a sickness, or endurance racers just have very bad memories!!

  18. Comment by Corrine | 10.10.2018 | 9:02 pm

    Oops, don’t know why that posted twice. Sorry!

    Maybe it’s because you have such a bad memory? – FC

  19. Comment by Bart the Clydesdale | 10.11.2018 | 8:50 am

    I find it funny how I am acutely aware of how much time away from my family a given race demands of me only when I am in the middle of a race and hurting. Somehow I only consider how selfish my racing is when I realize that my race goals will not be reached. I never consider it selfish to ride for hours and hours away from the family. Evidently my brain is desperately coming up with a justification to never race again, and my selfishness is the go to. Stupid brain should know me better than that.
    It is a little depressing that race brain me is much more considerate of my family than rested brain me.

  20. Comment by TimD | 10.11.2018 | 9:42 am

    Reading. Endurance reading. That’s what I enjoy. 62 instalment race reports, that sort of thing. S#@t I’m on my bloody bike again! How did that happen? I was just doing some reading.

    Reading about this – torino-nice.weebly.com

  21. Comment by Janeen | 10.11.2018 | 4:20 pm

    Reminds me of my DK this year. Most prepared I’ve ever been, and yet it fell apart pretty rapidly. All those thoughts of quitting, yet never quite doing it. Anyway, what was really reinforced for me during that experience is that what I really love is riding long with people I love riding with, not racing. I mean, I’ll do it, but I don’t love it as much as the people.

    Ride on, Fatty!

  22. Comment by Chris Halle | 11.18.2018 | 12:12 pm

    “racing is not what I love doing. I love endurance riding, not endurance racing.”

    Me too! I used to love adventure racing when I lived in a place that had them, because it’s a team sport and you have to stick with people. Since leaving that place, I’ve had real trouble getting a good vibe even from timed events like Gran Fondos – everyone gets way too serious and the idea that we are all out here together seems to sometimes evaporate. Charity Rides are better though.


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