A Note from Fatty: This is Part 3 of my race report on the 2013 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo race. You can read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.
Before I get to telling today’s installment, I’d like to give you a little bit more information about NICA Executive Director Austin McInerny, the guy on our team who turned in an incredibly fast first lap, only to be injured right at the end of that first lap.
First of all, here’s a great shot of Austin during his lap:
Photo courtesy of Zazoosh Media
Obviously a fast guy, right? Not to mention a guy who’s seriously involved in making the world a better place for both kids and bikes.
And so it was especially a bummer to find out that Austin’s X-ray looks like this:
That’s a tibial plateau fracture, and it means surgery (plate and screws) within the next couple days, and then about three months of no weight on that leg.
As another guy who loves and pretty much lives for biking, I feel for Austin, and hope he gets through this quickly and is back on his bike as soon as possible.
I wonder how many times he’s said to himself, “If only I’d made sure I was wearing the right shoes!”
I’m going to guess ten million.
It’s Always Darkest Just Before It’s Almost Just As Dark
As the fifth person to ride on the team, I finished my first lap pretty much as the sun was setting. Oh, and guess what: I caught video of the lap (then forgot to turn off the camera, using up my battery and filling my memory card, so would not be able to get any more video of the rest of the race).
Check it out, if you’d be so kind (or maybe watch it all biggish-like over at Vimeo, where you can see it in all its HD glory. It’ll give you a much better sense of what the course was like:
While I was riding, the rest of the team decided that Stan and Bob would go ahead and do single night laps, after which we’d do a rotation where each member of the team did double laps, hence giving us each a better shot at getting more rest during the night.
Stan continued to show he was the alpha rider of the group by turning in a 1:10 — only four minutes slower than his first lap, and that included doing half the lap with the sun in his eyes and the other half in the dark.
Bob then did the first full night lap for the team. Check him out, getting ready to ride:
Photo courtesy of Zazoosh Media
No, wait a second. That’s actually a photo of him as he finished his night lap. Yeah, he was that fast — only ten minutes off his day lap pace.
And then it was The Hammer’s turn. She’d be doing two laps back to back, in 1:20 (only six minutes off her day lap time) and 1:23 (only three minutes slower than the one she just did).
While she was doing those two laps, I paid a visit to the NiteRider booth, hoping to get a replacement cable for my setup. They took care of that without any hassle.
Seeing as how they were so friendly, I decided to ask for some additional help. “When I power my 3600 up to its brightest setting,” I said, “the battery status immediately says that the battery is almost dead. That can’t be right.”
They told me it was a software problem and that they could fix it right there if I’d leave the light setup with them for an hour or so.
Which I did, then went back to my tent and changed into my riding clothes — bib tights (no chamois is necessary for rides under five hours as far as I’m concerned), Smartwool tshirt base layer, long sleeve jersey — and ate another one of the Subway sandwiches we had brought along.
I noted to myself that I had hit the point of diminishing returns for Subway sandwich enjoyment.
Finally, I picked up the light setup on my way back to the exchange tent, set it up on my bike, and was ready to go.
It was my turn to do two laps, back to back.
Night Lap 1
The Hammer came in within three minutes of when I expected her. Seriously, I have never seen a team that had such incredibly consistent lap times, even during the night.
“Running your lights at medium is perfect,” she said, as she handed me the baton and gave me a kiss.
I’m pretty sure I saw the volunteer at the table roll his eyes. Hey, whatever.
Having learned my lesson from my first lap, I immediately located my bike, hopped on, stepped up both my helmet light (a NiteRider Pro 1800 LED Race) and bar light (a NiteRider Pro 3600 LED) to medium, which was in fact plenty of light.
The wind had calmed. The temperature was mild. I had enjoyed a five-hour-long break since my last lap. It was clearly time for me to go at full tilt, racing as if I were only going to do a single lap, instead of two.
Because I am a moron.
Most people were riding a little more conservative at night, possibly because they’re tired, probably because they can’t see as well. But I could see great, and I had all kinds of energy. And since people could tell I was coming up behind them — thanks to the blindingly bright wash of light I was suited up with — I hardly ever even had to say a word as I approached. People would just move out of my way.
They probably thought I was an 18-wheeler or something.
Night Lap 2
I felt triumphant as I finished my first night lap, having knocked it off in only 1:13 — only five minutes slower than my first day lap!
But then I had to do another lap.
Which, as it turns out, I probably should have taken into account when I attacked my first lap as if it were the last ride of the day.
I first noticed a surprising lack of power as I rode The Bitches. Instead of just standing and sprinting by other riders, I sat and rode in a conservative gear — not being passed (at least not constantly), but certainly not passing people very often either.
And then I started feeling a pit in my stomach: the feeling that I was getting hungry, and would soon — if I didn’t do something about it — be bonking.
“I don’t want to take off my gloves to get food out,” I said to myself, and kept riding.
Because I am a moron.
The thing is, though, it’s really hard to tell how fast or slow you are when riding. I knew I was slowing down, but by how much? Was I really going half as fast, like I felt, or was most of my slowdown just in my head?
Regardless, I was feeling beat and just wanted to get to the exchange tent, where I could send Stan on his way for his two night laps.
And yet, I continued to not eat anything. I expect you can guess why. (Hint: because I am a moron.)
Bring On The Dark
With about a quarter of the lap to go, I started to notice a problem: my vision was blurring. I had a harder and harder time focusing my vision, and no matter how much I blinked, I couldn’t see sharply.
“Maybe,” I thought to myself, “I just need more light.” Since I only had another 20 minutes to ride and my bar light battery indicator showed I still had plenty of juice, I figured I could step up to full power.
So I did. And it helped. For about two minutes, after which — with no warning at all — the bar lights shut off altogether.
And they wouldn’t turn back on.
Fantastic, I thought. But at least I still had my helmet light.
And so I struggled on, closer and closer to a bonk (but stupidly unwilling to just grab something out of my jersey and eat). My vision poor. My lights about a third of what they had been.
Then, without seeing what caused it, I crashed.
“GAAAAHHH!” I yelled. Or maybe I said “GAAARRRGGH!” I can’t remember exactly.
The truth is, though, I wasn’t really hurt. I just didn’t want anyone to crash into me as I collected myself and my bike off the trail.
I got back on the bike and continued. But more tentatively.
In the end, I finished this lap in 1:20. Seven minutes slower than the one right before. Which, objectively, is not too bad.
But it felt like I had been out there for days.
I rolled up to the table in the exchange tent…but Stan wasn’t there. Should I wait here for him? I wondered.
No. If he wasn’t here, I reasoned — it is now amazing to me that I was able to reason so clearly — it was because he didn’t know he needed to be here right now.
So I rode back to camp, found Stan’s tent, and yelled, “You in there, Stan?”
“Yeah,” Stan said.
“You’re up. Time to ride,” I said.
“Is Elden going to finish his laps soon?” Stan asked.
“I just did,” I replied.
Stan was up in a shot, getting ready and on his bike in just a few minutes (the handoff miscue happened because Stan was hoping for a wakeup call, and The Hammer didn’t know where to find him to wake him up).
Meanwhile, I found the tent and climbed into my sleeping bag. Suddenly, my hunger wasn’t anywhere near as important to me as getting out of these clammy, cold clothes and getting some sleep.
“I’ll get the lights off our bikes in a few hours,” I told The Hammer. “I’ve got to get some sleep now.”
And in fact, I was already fading — strange, when you consider how hard it usually is for me to sleep right after a race — when The Hammer said, “You’re wheezing.”
It was true, although I would have said the more generous description of the weird sound my breathing was making would be “rattling.”
“Sorry,” I replied. “But you’ve got earplugs in, so that shouldn’t matter.”
I set my alarm for my best guess of how long it would take Stan and Bob to each do their two laps, and then I was asleep.
It’d be daylight before I had to ride again.
Which is where I’ll pick up the next installment of the story.
A Note from Fatty: This is part 2 of my 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo race report. Read Part 1 by clicking here.
With Austin out of the picture, our team had to scramble. Could we substitute in another racer (i.e., steal one from the eight-person IMBA corporate team)? No, as it turns out we could not. If we wanted to stay in the race, Austin had to get certification from the medical tent that he was injured, at which point we could stay in our existing category: Five-person Co-ed 200+ combined age.
So, we figured out a new plan. We’d continue doing one lap per person until we got into the late night, at which point we’d switch over to double laps — making it so everyone got a longer rest during the night.
Stan was our second racer (and with Austin’s exit, now our first and fastest), and turned in a blistering 1:06 lap — the fastest lap the team would turn in during the race.
While Stan was out, Bob Winston — Chief Executive Honcho over the Board of Directors at IMBA (not his real title) as well as our team captain — warned us that he wasn’t a fast guy, and was just out here for fun, and that we shouldn’t expect too much.
Which just goes to show that Bob (who is 50+ years old and looks 38) is a total sandbagging anti-trash-talker.
He turned in a freakishly fast time of 1:11.
It was official: our team was here to race. Which is just the way I like it. Play when you’re off the bike, hit it hard when you’re on.
As it got to be close to the time Bob should be getting back in, The Hammer and I went to the baton exchange area. There, she stood with the rest of the racers waiting for their teammates to come in, waiting for their team number (ours was 409, which was super-easy to remember). The Hammer gave me a thumbs-up:
She was ready to race.
Her number was called, she ran to the table, signed in with the volunteer (major kudos to the volunteers for doing an incredible job in the exchange tent for the entire race), got our team baton from Bob, and she was gone.
I walked back to our camp, changed into my riding gear and headed back to the exchange tent and started looking for The Hammer. My guess was that she would turn in a 1:15 riding time.
I was wrong. 1:14. But as she came in, I could see she was very dirty and her chest was covered with little spiky quills.
“I had a crash,” The Hammer simply said, then gave me a kiss, handed me the team baton, and wished me luck on my lap.
Which is when trouble began for me.
Wherein I (Once Again) Show What A Complete Dork I Am
I think I’ve mentioned before that when I’m racing, I am not the same person I normally am. Which is to say, the bloodlust overtakes me and I want nothing more than to completely ruin myself, while hopefully crushing all those in my line of sight.
I am not a strategic racer. I’m not even tactical. I’m pure, unadulterated, 100% attack dog, no longer even thinking in words, but rather simply in targets to aim for and obstacles to avoid.
This way of thinking — i.e., not thinking at all — became a problem for me before I even got on my bike.
After getting the baton from The Hammer, I ran out of the tent to where, along with every other racer, I had set my bike in a bike stand.
Except I couldn’t remember where I had put my bike.
I ran back and forth, looking for my red-and-white S-Works Stumpjumper (I was racing a geared bike, though I had brought a singlespeed as a backup).
I couldn’t find it.
Running back and forth, I scanned the rack again. Then ran and looked at the next rack, even though I was pretty sure I hadn’t put my bike that far away.
Still couldn’t find it. Had someone stolen it?
And then: there it was! A red and white Specialized S-Works! I grabbed it, threw a leg over, and then…realized it was a full-suspension bike and was therefore definitely not mine.
And that’s when I realized that while I had been looking at bikes on the racks to the right of me, I had placed my bike on the rack to my left.
And with that little adrenaline rush out of the way, I jumped on my bike and took off, charging at maximum speed, hoping to catch all the people who had calmly gotten on their bikes and started the race while I ran back and forth like a headless chicken.
Say Hello to My Little Friend
The 16-mile course starts with some fun, twisty, flat singletrack to get you warmed up, after which you get to make a decision:
Do you want to ride The Bitches?
You see, in this context, “The Bitches” are a set of seven (I think) short but steep hills, one after another. Hitting them at race pace takes a lot out of you. And so you have the option: go around The Bitches. But you should know: it’s a longer trail to go around.
And so — not wanting to be the only guy on the team to skip The Bitches, I went after them…and was glad I did. Because, at least on this first lap, I had plenty of energy to just rocket right up them, staying in my big ring, in fact.
A quick flat section then brought me to where the singletrack began. And where vigilance became absolutely necessary. You see, on the singletrack portion of this trail, there is always a cactus on one side of you or another. If you crash, you’re going to be a pincushion. If you drift off the course a tiny bit: pincushion.
If you try to pass where you shouldn’t: pincushion.
Luckily, the singletrack had lots of good places to pass. Very regularly, the trail would diverge for 20 feet or so, then reconverge. And — absolutely completely without exception in my experience — racers were astonishingly courteous about letting other racers by.
It made me happy to be among these people.
However, I was still wanted to pass often, and pass fast. And so, at one point, thinking I had room to pass, I shot around another racer, only to find — too late! — that I in fact did not have room to pass. I tucked in front of the racer I was passing, grazing some plant.
My right shin suddenly felt like it had been cut wide open.
I looked down, and there, embedded deep in my shin, was a golfball-sized, football-shaped little cactus ball.
I got queazy just from the sight of it.
Before the race, though, Kenny had told me, “If you pick up a cactus, just finish your lap with it, because there’s no way you’re getting it out without a comb.”
So I kept going. In fact, the pain focused me, and I went harder, looking forward to when I could get that stupid little hitchhiker out of my shin.
I noticed that it would hurt worse in certain situations. Like when I stood to climb. Or when I bottomed out in a gully. Or when a gust of wind caught the thing and tried to blow it around.
It kept me from enjoying the trail like I think I otherwise would have. I just wanted to get to the end and get that little intruder out.
So I rode harder. Standing for the climbs, even though that hurt, because it was faster.
A Whiskey Tree Miracle
As I rode, I wondered, “Do we even have a comb back at camp?” I don’t have any hair, and The hammer uses a brush.
How was I going to get this stupid thing out?
And then I remembered: The Whiskey Tree. During the pre-ride, we’d seen that there were lots of hair picks (combs) dangling from that tree. I started planning: I’d stop at that tree, grab one of those picks, and go. It would be worth the time lost.
If there were still any of those combs left.
Great luck: there were. I stopped, saw that one pick was at just the right height for me to grab. I saw that it was attached with nothing but a twisty, and so just gave it a hard tug to break it off, jammed the comb into my jersey pocket, and took off again, excited for the moment when I’d get to use that comb to get rid of that thing.
Another half hour of hard riding went by as I fantasized about no longer having a cactus stuck in my leg.
And there it was — finally — the exchange tent. I rolled to a stop, dismounted, and walked to the table where we made our exchanges. I handed the baton to Stan, who took off on his second lap.
1:08. Not too bad for a guy who lost his bike, picked up a cactus, and stopped to grab a comb off a tree.
But now it was time for me to see if I could get that stupid cactus out.
Which is when The Hammer walked up to me.
“You did great!” she said.
“Look at my leg,” I replied.
“Ooh. How are we going to get that out?” she asked.
I handed The Hammer the comb and — being a battle-hardened nurse of around 13 years, she didn’t say a word but just stooped, slipped the comb between me and the cactus, and popped it out.
She then set about pulling out the individual quills that remained in my legs. “This would be a lot easier if you’d go back to shaving your legs,” she muttered.
“I will as soon as I weigh 165 pounds,” I replied. “I don’t deserve shaved legs yet.”
Soon, my leg was a little bit bloody, but entirely free of cactus parts.
And I was left with a fine little souvenir:
Oh, what the heck. Let’s see that up close:
You can see blood on the spines.
One rotation down, four to go. It was time to set our bikes up for the night laps.
Which is where I’ll pick the story up in my next post.
It started with a little bit of shame. And some contrition.
No, wait. It actually started with thirteen hours of driving. The shame and contrition would follow shortly.
The Hammer and I had been invited — thanks to a generous hook-up by Rebecca Rusch — to join an IMBA team for the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, which is at least semi-near Tucson, AZ.
Which is around a thirteen-hour drive from Alpine, UT.
During this drive, The Hammer and I had plenty of time to talk about our major concerns for this race:
- We weren’t in any kind of shape for an endurance race.
- As members of a five-person team, we weren’t likely to get enough riding in to justify the enormous amount of driving we were doing.
- What would we eat?
- How would I avoid gaining weight during this weekend?
Add to this our concern about the fact that concerns 1 and 2 (see above) directly contradict one another, and you have a very concerned couple.
The “what to eat” question was mostly solved by buying four Subway Club sandwiches, each cut into four sections. That’s our standard operating procedure for big, long races. It ain’t gourmet, but it’s carbs, protein, and easy.
As for how to avoid gaining weight, I just did my best to eat very little of anything in general. Like if we ate at Wendy’s, I’d order the grilled chicken sandwich but wouldn’t eat the top half of the bun. If we ate at Denny’s, I’d order from the build your own Grand Slam menu, and would get six egg whites and a bowl of fresh fruit.
Even if I really wanted this:
Shame and Contrition
The Hammer and I set up our giant tent in the very last large, flat area available for miles around. And by “large and flat area” I mean an area large enough for a 10-person tent, which would include our giant queen-size self-inflating bed. We also brought our own table, stove, heater, and pretty much everything else one can bring and still not say one has simply brought over an RV.
Hey, we’re in our forties. Roughing it is not even remotely interesting to either of us.
We had hoped to arrive early enough to get in a quick pre-ride of the course (which we had not, to that point, ever seen before) with Paul Guyot’s brother, Jay. But by the time we were set up, the sun had gone down and it was time to go to a celebratory dinner for IMBA.
As soon as we got there, I ran into Jack Black — I was really impressed with how he’s slimmed down — and had to get a picture with him.
He told me loved my portrayal of Dill, the wacky dad in Easy A.
You can tell I’m stalling, trying to put off the moment I tell about my moment of shame, can’t you?
OK, here it goes.
After the dinner (a delicious taco bar where I pretty much ignored my diet and ate everything in sight), Rebecca got up and told a terrific story about how when she found her beloved hometown trail network was threatened because no MTBers were making their voice heard (they were too busy out riding and having fun), she made a difference by starting a local IMBA chapter herself.
Rebecca is awesome.
Next, Bob Winston — a honcho at IMBA and my team captain — got up to give his speech. He began with, “Who here is an IMBA member?”
Practically every hand in the room went up. Except mine.
Yep, I was there to race with Team IMBA and I wasn’t even a member of the organization that works tirelessly to construct great trails and advocate for keeping them open — basically, I wasn’t a member of the organization that does me and people like me a huge amount of good.
What a dork.
So, by way of a first step toward correcting what has been egregious neglect on my part for the past plenty-six years, I’d like to show proof here that I am now an IMBA member in good standing:
The fact is, while I do a lot of fundraising for causes against things I hate (cancer, poverty), I haven’t done much at all for the thing that occupies about two-thirds of my waking thoughts: biking for fun.
So this trip, more than anything else, served as a good wake-up call. What can I do to actually advance the cause of cycling? There are some easy answers — like fundraising — but I don’t think that in this case just going out and finding a few more dollars is where I can be most useful.
Which is not to say that I do have a great answer yet. Just that I’m (finally!) thinking about it.
After the meeting, we went to bed, using an Ambien to help us get a solid night’s sleep; we knew we wouldn’t get much (any?) sleep the next night.
Then, around 3:00AM, I heard someone shouting. “Hello? Anyone? Help! Hello? Hello?!”
Concerned, I climbed out of my sleeping bag, put on some shoes, a headlamp and a coat, and went outside.
And there was an extremely drunk man, completely lost, unable to find his friends, and very (very) loud.
He asked where the main tent is; I pointed it out to him. He asked me if he could buy my flashlight and offered me all his money for it (he said he was carrying around $1000). I told him he could just have the light and to bring it back the next day (he didn’t).
He told me he hated Hollywood and was never going back. I was wiser than to ask him what had gone wrong, because I’m pretty sure he would have told me — at great length.
He told me other things, too, but I admit my interest waned and I was focusing on how to extricate myself from this conversation and get back to bed. As I was thus pondering — and this man was thus talking — a guy who had probably once been sleeping in his camper van opened a window and said, “Hey, could you guys take that conversation elsewhere?”
I have never ever been so happy to have had a conversation interrupted.
“Good luck,” I told the man, and went back to bed.
The next morning, The Hammer and I got some great advice on the course from Jay, and then went out and pre-rode the course. We figured this was a good idea for a couple reasons. First, because we were the last two people of our five-person team and so we had plenty of time to recover afterward — and this would at least partially alleviate the anticipated not-enough-ride-time problem we foresaw.
“What do you think?” I asked afterward.
“It’s a pretty easy course,” replied The Hammer. “Not very technical. Lots and lots of cactus, though.”
Which was an understatement.
“Did you see that tree about halfway through the course?” I asked. “The one where people have hung mini liquor bottles and hair picks like Christmas ornaments?”
“Yeah,” The Hammer replied. “Strange.”
I offer the preceding snippet of conversation by way of foreshadowing of an event that will take place in tomorrow’s installment of this story.
The order of racers in our team — Team IMBA Featuring the Fat Tire 5 — was as follows:
- The Hammer
You know how you can tell — just by looking at them — that certain people are going to be really fast? Austin is one of those guys, and hence our first guy — someone who could get to his bike fast (after the longish Lemans-style running start) and get in front of the pack.
Which he did. Admirably.
But when Austin threw a leg over his bike, he discovered something horrible: that someone in the RV he was sharing wore the same kind of bike shoes, in the same size, as he did.
But with different kinds of cleats. SPDs instead of Eggbeaters.
Which meant that Austin had a choice: come back and get his own shoes, or pedal the course with his feet precariously perched — but never clipped in — on his tiny little pedals.
He went with the second option. Which — to Austin’s great credit — he made work fine, for almost the entire lap.
The key word here is “almost.”
With only a few hundred yards to go, Austin hit a rock, his feet flew off the pedals, and Austin crashed hard, injuring his knee. Somehow, he made it to the finish line, but that was the end for him. He could hardly walk, much less ride.
Suddenly, we were a team of four. And our concern about not getting enough riding in during this race evaporated.
Which is where I’ll pick up in my next post.
I want to make a couple of things perfectly clear before getting into this post. Full disclosure kinds of things.
- Rockwell Relay isn’t paying me anything to promote their Moab to Saint George race.
- They are, however, giving my team free entry into their race, as well as FatCyclist / Rockwell limited-edition jerseys for every member in my team.
(There, I think we all feel better now, what with the total transparency and everything.)
As far as bribery and the selling of one’s blogging soul goes, that’s not much. Indeed, it’s not enough for me to go on and spend a whole blog post trying to sell you on coming out to Utah and doing the Rockwell Relay: Moab to Saint George.
So the question is, why am I doing this?
Well, I’ve got a few reasons. Partially because I admire what local promoters do. Putting on a race of this enormous scope is an even more enormous task; these guys deserve our support.
Partially it’s because I like the design of the free jersey they’re giving to team captains who sign up for the relay via this site (and other members of the team can get it too for $50, which is the cost of the jersey for the Rockwell guys). It’s got a cool split-personality thing I personally identify with quite nicely.
Check it out:
But the real reason — the really-for-real real reason I’m going to try to sell you on getting a group of friends together and doing this race is a lot more simple:
I just really like it.
And I think you would too.
So here’s my pitch.
Reason 1: I’ll Grill Brats For You The Night Before
Last year, just for fun, I proposed to the Rockwell guys that I should grill bratwurst for everyone at a night-before-the-race picnic. Here I am, cooking and eating at the same time, which is probably a violation of some FDA code or another:
And here’s my work, which I frankly (ha!) think is too beautiful for words:
I loved doing this, because it gave me an opportunity to hang out and talk with pretty much every racer doing the event, and also because it gave me an opportunity to show off my bratwurst superpower.
The fact is, if you read this blog and are not a vegetarian (or vegan or whatever), you know that you would like to find out whether my brats are all they’re cooked (ha!) up to be (they are).
This is a perfect opportunity.
Reason 2: The Race Course Is Beautiful
The real star of the Rockwell Relay: Moab to St. George is the route. It’s awe-inspiringly beautiful. You will see gorgeous desert, red rock vistas, and alpine mountains.
And since you’re only riding 1/4 of the course, you’ll have plenty of time to take in that beauty.
Bring a camera. You’re going to take a lot of pictures.
Reason 3: The Format Is Fantastic
Anytime I’ve ever raced, I’ve wondered what it’s like to be a spectator in that race, and whether they’re having more fun than the racers.
Likewise, anytime I’ve watched a race, I’ve wondered what it’s like to be a racer on the course.
With the Rockwell Relay, you get to do both. Plus you get to be a crew chief. And once in a while, you get to just sit back and be a passenger.
You will never feel as much a part of a race — getting to experience it from every point of view — as doing a relay like this.
Reason 4: You’ll Make Friends (And Maybe More?)
When you start this race, you’ll be all bunched up with the other teams. That doesn’t last long. Within a few legs of the race, your team will have settled into a groove close to a few other teams, and you’ll start to get to know each other as your support vehicles leapfrog each other and support each other’s racers.
After working together over a hard, hot, windy stage, The Hammer had gone from stranger to best friends forever with Ryan, a racer on another team:
Oh, here’s another example. Here’s my nice and me, right before the race last year:
She met a nice guy during this race last year.
Now they’re engaged.
Reason 5: It Just Feels Epic
Go back and read my 2011 and 2012 race reports for the Rockwell Relay. Note that they’re big ol’ long multi-parters. You know why?
Because there’s a lot of story to tell.
And it’s not like my team’s experience was any more dramatic or special than any other teams’. Every team comes away from a big event like this with incredible stories and amazing memories. It’s a race and a road trip, rolled up together.
Reason 6: It’s Only As Competitive As You Want It To Be
I’ve mentioned before that when I’m not racing, I’m a pretty easy-going guy. When I am racing, however, I am not your friend. At all. I become this weirdly angry, focused, hyper-competitive animal who would like nothing so much as to tear your legs off.
Thankfully, not everyone is like me.
So — new for this year — The Rockwell Relay: Moab to St. George has a “non-competitive” division, where, if you like — your team can skip a leg or switch riders in the middle of a leg or otherwise do whatever you need to do in order to get a lot of riding in without hating what you’re doing.
Which means that folks who just want to cruise it can just cruise it and make game-time adjustments to race order and so forth, without worrying about people like me flipping out over what they’re doing is fair.
How’d I Do?
Okay, that’s my pitch. Let me know if you’re going to sign up. And if you do, be sure to sign up at the special Friends of Fatty sign up page, by clicking here. And make sure you do it by the end of February, cuz that’s when the special free FatCyclist / Rockwell jersey promotion ends.
See you there. I hope.
Last year was extraordinary. Starting about the time the snow melted, if I wasn’t training for an event, I was racing (or riding) in an event.
I’m not complaining, mind you, at least no more than I usually complain. Which may seem like a lot to you, but I assure you: I could complain much more than I do. In other words: my complaining, with regards to the amount of racing I did last year, is relatively little, to the point of being hardly any at all.
By the way, you can skip the above paragraph without losing any meaning from this post whatsoever. This one, too. Sorry I waited ’til now to reveal that.
Where was I?
Still, at the end of the year, The Hammer and I wryly commented to one another, “One of these years, we should try to not do so many events.” (Except neither of us really knows what “wry” means, and we didn’t really say this to each other, because it would be pretty weird for two people to make the same comment to each other.
Here’s my point, though, which I probably should have simply led with: Last year, I rode and raced a lot.
And my follow-up point — which, mercifully, I’m going to arrive at much more quickly — is that 2013 is looking pretty busy too.
And by “pretty busy” I of course mean that about 50% of all of my weekends, starting in March, are already spoken for. This should (once again) not be confused with complaining, because the fact is, I am totally excited to do every single ride I’ve got on the plan.
Check them out, in glorious chronological order.
24 Hours in the Old Pueblo: February 15 – 17
About a week ago, The Hammer and I got an invitation to race as part of Team IMBA at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo relay MTB race. We’ve never done this course before, but I hear it’s an incredibly beautiful course.
As part of a five-person team, I normally wouldn’t be too terribly worried about the difficulty of this race. With four people racing laps in between each of my laps, I’ll have plenty of recovery time. That said, I have never raced in February before. And as I’ve mentioned recently, I kinda let myself go during the past few months, to the extent that — even though I’m trying really hard to put myself back together as quickly as possible — I’m going to be riding a little bit slow, with my knees smooshing into my stomach a lot more than I’d like.
It should be a good wake-up call.
Even more of a wake-up call, though, will be the fact that the person who pointed IMBA toward The Hammer and me as candidates for their team was none other than The Queen of Pain herself, Rebecca Rusch. And she’ll be there, racing in a Duo Pro Team. This, she says, will be a good opportunity for her and SS-racing hardman Yuri Hauswald to give me some training advice (specifically, they will poke me in the stomach and tell me exactly how serious of a problem I’m going to have if I don’t get rid of some of this weight before the season really soon).
I’m also looking forward to talking with the folks at IMBA about what they do and how I can help. For all the time I spend riding and racing on trails, I have given remarkably little back. It’s time for me to fix that.
The Moab Half Marathon: March 16
I have to be honest here: I’m not going to run the half marathon here. The Hammer is.
That was a dramatic “however,” wasn’t it?
“However,” I shall now go on to say, “I will be running the five-mile version of the course.”
And now I’m pausing again, dramatically, because I have something to add.
“And,” I conclude, “I will be running it with my 17-year old son.”
Those of you who have been following my life closely for the past little while will understand how big of a deal that is.
Leadman Tri, Tempe AZ: April 14
Last September, The Hammer, The Swimmer, and I participated in the Leadman Tri 250 as a relay. It was an incredible experience, and left me with a hunger to do more racing on my Specialized Shiv.
And I wanted The Hammer to play, too. So we got her a Shiv, too. And now The Hammer and I will look even more adorable as we train together.
We’re both going to do the Leadman Tri in Tempe, Arizona. We won’t be doing it as a relay team, though; we’re both going to do the whole thing (luckily for us, this race is only half the distance of the Bend event).
And like the last time I did a Leadman Tri, there will be a “Faster than Fatty” challenge. Unlike last time, however, a lot of people are going to destroy me, because I’m going to have to do the swim (which I’m very bad at) and the run (which I’m incredibly bad at).
In other words, this may be a good event for you to score a “Faster than Fatty” t-shirt at.
Oh, and by the way, we’re in negotiations on whether there will be a “Drop The Hammer” competition. (I’m in favor of such a competition; The Hammer has reservations on the idea.)
Africa in Moab:
Maybe the most extraordinary event of the year will be the Africa in Moab event I’ll be participating in with three lucky winners in the Grand Slam for Zambia contest. I’d detail it here for you, but it would just make you feel bad that you didn’t win the prize (except for the three of you who did).
The 100 Miles of Nowhere: June 1
The sixth annual 100 Miles of Nowhere (click here for last year’s description) will be on June 1. Or as close to that day as you can manage. Frankly, it’s a pretty amazing, bizarre event and I highly recommend you mark your calendar. It sells out in less than one day every year.
The Twin Six guys are already hard at work on a new design for the event shirt. I’ll show it to you when there’s something awesome to show.
The Rockwell Relay: Moab to Saint George: June 7 – 8
For the past two years, Team Fatty has utterly dominated the Coed division, in large part because of the following:
- Kenny’s on the team
- The division is quite small.
We are going to race it again. And this year, I’d really really like to see some of you come race it with us. I think you’ll find it is a strange mix of fun, intense, and — in the honest sense of the word — epic. Read my report from 2011 or 2012 to see what I mean.
And this year, if you sign up because you found out about the race from me, you’re going to get a very cool jersey. I’ll have details on this soon, but for right now, start trying to find a way to make it to this event, and build yourself a team.
And don’t worry about whether you’ll beat us. At least not yet.
LiveStrong Davis Challenge: June 23
It’s not an easy time to be a LiveStrong supporter. But yes, Team Fatty will be in Davis, CA, once again, for the LiveStrong Davis Challenge.
Here’s the thing, though. I’ve got something in the works that will — even if you’re kind of soured on LiveStrong thanks to Lance right now — maybe make you want to support this event and even join Team Fatty and do some fundraising.
It’s a big deal, and it’s kind of amazing, and once I tell you what it is you’ll smack your forehead and say, “Oh of course.” But I can’t reveal what it is quite yet, ’til I have the details nailed down.
So do what you can to keep this date open in your calendar, OK?
The Crusher in the Tushar: July 13
This race — a mix of lots of dirt and paved road, with tons of climbing — utterly destroyed me last year. And I really want to do it again this year, partially to redeem myself, and partially to redeem myself some more.
But there’s a problem. Which is that it’s the same day as . . .
The Tour de Donut: July 13
I’ve done the Tour de Donut every year for the past three years (read my reports from 2010 and 2011). I love this crazy race, and love the way it inspired me to come up with the GranDonut race. I don’t want to miss it.
Choosing between these two is going to be an agonizing decision, made even more difficult by the fact that this weekend is also pretty much the best opportunity we have to go on a regular ol’ family vacation. Which means that instead of choosing one or the other of these fantastic events, I’ll have to choose . . . neither.
Life’s full of tough choices.
The Leadville 100: August 10
OK, I probably don’t really need to go on about this race (since I have already written about it a near-infinite number of times. But I’m doing it again, going for my 16th finish. More importantly, The Hammer will also be racing it, going for her 8th finish, and putting her in spitting distance of getting her 1000-mile buckle.
By which time, of course, I’ll be close to getting my 2000-mile buckle, and the cycle goes on and on and on.
Rebecca’s Private Idaho: September 1
For this first year, Rebecca’s Private Idaho — a dirt-road Fondo in Sun Valley, ID — is an actual private event this year. The Hammer won’t be joining me for this event — I’ll be soloing it.
And I intend to do all 100 miles on a World Bicycle Relief bike, to show exactly how impressively tough these $134 bikes are. Anyone wanna ride on the rear rack?
Salt to Saint: September 20
This is a relay from Salt Lake City to St. George. But there’s a solo option available and I want to try it. I’ve never ridden 430 miles at a stretch before. In fact, my longest road ride is 200-ish miles (I did the STP back when I lived in Seattle). So this intrigues me.
Later, I suspect that “intrigue” will migrate to “terrifies.”
Levi’s Gran Fondo: October 5
This is, bar none, my favorite annual event. The course is amazing. The people are great. The post-ride festival is wonderful. And we do some ridiculous fundraising that does a lot of good for both kids and animals. Check out the video below:
Registration’s open as of today, by the way, so you might want to get yourself registered pronto. Otherwise, count on not being able to get in.
25 Hours in Frog Hollow: November
For years, I’ve wanted to see if I could do a 24 hour race solo. This year, I’m going to try it. My sole criterion for claiming a victory is completing it, without ever taking a break of longer than ten minutes between laps.
I believe this will make for an interesting story.
2013 is looking to be a pretty ride-ful year. Hey, if you’re not busy, maybe you should join me for one or two or half a dozen of these rides.
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