Bratwurst. Pie. If there are two words more evocative of the ethos of FatCyclist.com, I don’t want to know what they are. (Also, I just used both the words “evocative” and “ethos” in the same sentence.)
It’s like they’re our mission statement, disguised as a mantra, only now conveniently represented pictorially in a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt (men’s and women’s). Like this:
What Are You Supporting and When Should You Order?
When you buy this (or any of the below) long-sleeve t-shirts, you’re supporting me as I write Fight Like Susan. Which is so cool of you it’s dangerous. That’s right: purchasing this shirt makes you dangerously cool.
So when is the pre-order? Right now. Is that soon enough for you? But you can’t dilly-dally in your order-making, because this pre-order is going on for just two days (11/25-26), so it will ship 12/12-17, arriving in time for Christmas (unless you’re ordering from out of the US, in which case I really have no idea when it will arrive, but would bet good money that it won’t be by Christmas).
And if you don’t pre-order during this admittedly small window, you won’t get one of these shirts. Not even if you send me a convincingly earnest email explaining how you meant to order one and then forgot until it was too late.
A Note to Women About Sizing
If you’re a woman and you’re ordering a women’s t-shirt, you should be sure to order larger than you would for non-American Apparel T-shirts. To illustrate my point: The Hammer, who is 5’7” and weighs around 125 pounds and is basically as fit as a person can be…wears a women’s XL whenever she orders any t-shirt from Twin Six (including any of these). She can fit into a women’s Large, but XL is more comfortable.
Adjust your sizing expectations accordingly, OK?
How About The FatCyclist.com Holiday T?
At some point in your life, you’re going to be put in the situation where you need to wear something that looks like a holiday sweater. No, don’t try to argue; it’s a proven fact.
When that moment arrives, you’ll have two options: to either wear a holiday sweater (not recommended) or wear the FatCyclist.com holiday sweater-ish long-sleeve t-shirt (available in both men’s and women’s sizes):
Yes, it’s a t-shirt. Yes, it looks like a holiday sweater. No, I don’t know how it’s possible for both things to be true, but I suspect either science or magic is involved.
There’s one more long-sleeved t-shirt we’re putting up for pre-order. This one’s a classic — the “painted” FatCyclist.com logo t-shirt, available now for the first time as a long-sleeved t-shirt (in both men’s and women’s sizes).
Collect All Three, For Crying Out Loud
What if you decide that, paradoxically, you can’t decide? That you want to get all three? Well, you know, that’s OK by me. And in fact, you can get a nice little 16% discount if you get all three shirts as a bundle (available in both men’s and women’s sizing):
How Do You Order?
“Fatty,” I hear you plead, “please please please tell me how I can order these t-shirts.”
“OK,” I respond, “but only because you said ‘please’ thrice and I am inclined to reward this kind of effusive politeness.” So here you go:
- Brats, Pie, & Heavyweight Horsepower” Long-Sleeve T-Shirt: Men’s / Women’s
- Holiday Long-Sleeve T-Shirt: Men’s / Women’s
- FatCyclist.Com Painted Logo Long-Sleeve T-Shirt: Men’s / Women’s
- Collect All 3 Long-Sleeve T-Shirts Bundle: Men’s / Women’s
And I’m being completely serious about the two-day pre-order. If you don’t pre-order 11/25 or 11/26, it’s too late. We need to get the order off pronto to get these shirts into everyone’s hands well before Christmas.
PS: While you’re at Twin Six buying these shirts, allow me to heartily recommend you look around at other things Twin Six sells — jerseys, shirts, hats, shorts, everything. I daresay you might get 113% of your Christmas shopping done in one glorious spending spree. These guys are my friends and they do a lot to help with the fundraising work I do. So, you know, it might be nice to help keep them in business and stuff.
A Note from Fatty: Next week, November 25-26, I’ll be doing a special pre-order for the new Fat Cyclist long-sleeve t-shirt. Check it out:
I love this design. It’s both beautiful and an excellent mission statement.
In addition to this new design, I’ll be bringing back the painted-look FatCyclist.com design, this time as a long-sleeve T. And the FatCyclist holiday sweater-ish long-sleeve T.
So, look for the announcement and links to the Twin Six site this Monday, November 25. You’ll only have two days to pre-order, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
The t-shirts will ship 12/12 to 12/17, so if you’re in the US, they will be arrive by Christmas.
And when you buy one, you’re going to be helping me make ends meet while I’m writing Fight Like Susan. Which is awfully cool of you.
25 Hours in Frog Hollow, Part IX: Podiums and Ill-Timed Naps
It is such a strange feeling to be done with a big race. Somehow, by riding my bike for just under 26 hours, racing around this loop had become my whole universe. Somehow, suddenly not having to race seemed strange. Foreign.
And incredibly luxurious.
I cleaned up, got into some jeans, a t-shirt, and a jacket — so exquisite to not be wearing a jersey and bike shorts with a damp chamois — and walked around (I had tried to help tear down camp, but Zach, Trisha, and Brooks laughed at my uselessness and told me to go relax).
There was a free lunch — loaded up tostadas from Costa Vida. The Hammer and I picked ours up, then sat down in the dirt to eat, killing time ’til the awards ceremony.
Within moments my head was nodding forward. My food mostly untouched. I have a singular ability to fall asleep instantly, and that ability was asserting itself, big time.
Then I was startled awake by The Hammer, who was squealing, “That’s Jill Homer!” You see, The Hammer is Jill Homer’s biggest fan.
So we went and talked to Jill, finding that — like us — she and her boyfriend Beat had done the race solo and ridden it together. Unlike us, Jill had crashed out of the race, finishing ten laps.
Meanwhile, The Hammer used all her willpower to not ask for an autograph.
Which makes me think: the coolest Spreecast I could ever do would be one where I just have The Hammer and Jill swap stories about what it’s like to be really nice, normal women who also happen to love doing monster endurance events.
Don’t you think?
On the Podium
It was time for awards to be handed out. Of course, it was no surprise at all that The Hammer won her Women’s Solo Singlespeed division:
What we didn’t know for sure — and which the announcer was very cool about announcing — was that The Hammer had also put in the fastest overall women’s solo time. Since she wasn’t registered in the geared solo division though, she wasn’t on that podium. So I have taken the liberty of slightly modifying the official results:
And for the singlespeed men? Well, they called Jamon up for first place — no surprise.
Then they called Kenny up for second place — no surprise.
And then they called me up for third place.
Which was a surprise.
I had — without knowing it — finished my 17th lap just five minutes ahead of El Freako:
To be clear, El Freako’s (aka Jeff) lap times are consistently faster than mine. But sometime during the middle of the night, he did a 4:33 lap. Was he sleeping? Fixing a mechanical? Tending to an injury? I dunno. But this was definitely a tortoise-and-the-hair moment.
And as a result, I got this very cool Lezyne Port-a-Shop toolkit as a prize.
With a retail value of $139, that’s by far the nicest third prize I’ve ever seen at a race. And now this lives in my truck, and I have pretty much every tool I could need to fix anything.
So now it’s especially sad that I’m such a miserable mechanic.
And then it was time to head home. Now, we were smart enough not to attempt the four-hour drive back to Alpine. No. We instead were just going to do the forty-minute drive back to Kenny and Heather’s house.
By the time we got on pavement, I was having a really hard time keeping my eyes trained. “I think I may need to pull over,” I told The Hammer.
And then my head drooped forward. Followed by The Hammer screaming.
Which woke me up pretty thoroughly.
You know what would be a good idea at 24-hour races? Designated drivers for afterward.
And now, for the first time since Spring, The Hammer and I have no races coming up. Nothing to train for.
It feels wonderful.
The only problem is, I still can’t feel my index or middle fingers in my right hand.
Once I found that The Hammer had upped her goal from merely destroying the women’s Solo SS record at Frog Hollow to being the outright fastest Solo woman — gears or not — at Frog Hollow, I wanted to get some intel on where she stood on objective, and I asked Zach and Brooks to go to the timing tent and find out.
So when we came into the pit at the next lap, I asked, “Where does The Hammer stand?”
“We’re not sure,” Brooks said. “The timing computer isn’t showing women solo racers correctly right now. They’re working on it.”
“What about Kenny?” I asked. “How’s he doing?”
“Jamon is a lap ahead of him. It looks like Jamon’s going to do 19 laps; Kenny will wind up with 18, and that’s going to for sure be good enough for second.”
“And how about me?” I asked. “Do you have any idea where I stand?”
“You’re doing good,” Zach said. Which is nice pit crew chief language for, “You’re not in the hunt.”
Which I knew already, and was — to my own actual amazement — completely OK with.
I Have a Conversation With Ulterior Motives
This is going to come as a bit of a shock to you, but I am not above sneakiness. No indeed.
Allow me to demonstrate.
Toward the end of our fourteenth lap, on a technical singletrack section I always led The Hammer on, we caught up with a woman solo rider (solo riders had bright ribbons tied to their saddles to identify them).
“Hey there,” I called out.
“You want by?” she replied.
“Nope, I’m great right here for now,” I said. “Congrats on doing this race solo.”
“Thanks,” she said. “Right now I’m barely staying on my bike.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet. Doing this race solo must be really hard,” I said in my very best “sympathetic and admiring” voice. “So, how many laps will this be for you?”
“Twelve. I’m in third place right now.”
“Way to go,” I said. “Is Bec still in first place? How many laps has she done?”
“Yeah, she’s about half a lap ahead of me.”
Which was exactly what I needed to know.
“Have a good race,” I said, which is code for “OK, I’m ready to come on by now.”
“Oh, and by the way,” I finished as I went by, “The woman right behind you now is my wife. She’s finishing her fourteenth lap right now. On a singlespeed.”
A few minutes later, I recounted the story to The Hammer and asked, “Was I a jerk right then? Getting competitive info from her without explaining why I cared? And then bragging about you as I came around?”
The Hammer assured me I was not, in fact, being a jerk.
But really, what else could she say?
The Final Lap
The final lap — our seventeenth — of the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow was harder than all the previous laps, combined.
“Why?” you ask?
“Well, that’s a fantastic question,” I answer. And I have a theory. When your head knows that you only have to go around one more time, it can finally stop fooling your body. It can finally stop saying, “Hey there, butt, you’re OK. Really, you are.” It can stop saying, “Wrists, I know you’re pretty battered, but your pain has plateaued and you’re not getting any worse.”
It can stop saying, “Shut up, legs.”
I also have an alternate theory that I was just really tired and the seventeenth lap was therefore really hard, and if I had had to do an eighteenth lap, it would have been even harder.
I have a third theory that the final shred of all my hopes and dreams were crushed when, as The Hammer and I were headed out, Brooks told me, “The Hammer has first place all sealed up, both for single and geared women solo riders. But,” And here he paused sympathetically, “third place for solo SS men is about half an hour ahead of you.”
“I’m sorry, Fatty,” The Hammer said. “You could have had third if you hadn’t waited and rode with me.”
“This was way better,” I said. And I meant it. I had started this race burned out and without motivation. If I had ridden the whole thing alone, I would have been miserable. Instead, I had had a terrific day. Wonderful weather, incredible course, inspiring hardcore racing wife to keep me company.
But there was no getting around it: the final lap was hell. For both The Hammer and me. “I might walk up some of the climbs,” The Hammer told me.
“Me too,” I replied, completely honestly. So when we managed to do all the climbs without getting off our bikes, it felt like victory.
When we got to the rocky downhill section, I nearly cried from the pain in my wrists and I couldn’t feel my right hand at all.
No, that’s not quite right; I could feel my right hand, because it hurt. What I couldn’t feel was whether I was holding onto the handlebar or whether my fingers were actually on the brake lever.
And neither of us sat much during this last lap. Our butts hurt too badly.
There was one fun little moment, though. There’s a spot where you have to go up and over a series of tricky ledges. It’s a rideable move—when you’re not tired. But as the day went on, I had noticed more and more people walking this section.
But I always rode it…because I had discovered a line I think hardly anyone had seen. An easy-peasy way up, if you just knew about it.
So as I approached it, on this final lap, I said to The Hammer, “You’ve been going up this way, right?” and rode up my secret line.
The Hammer rode up behind me, then said, “I cannot believe you waited until now to show me that line.”
A fair point.
The final stretch of the Frog Hollow loop is an easy, fast, downhill mile, followed by a mild climb up to the timing tent. And on the final lap of the race, I could not have been more grateful for such an easy finish.
Trisha took all the pictures in today’s post. Be sure to check out her photo site, crookedpinkie.com.
“We did it,” The Hammer said. And we had. Seventeen laps in 25:48.
Zach gave me a wet towel to clean up and cool down with:
The Hammer just wanted to lie down:
Meanwhile, Kenny was already dressed and was relaxing with a beer:
Yeah, Kenny looks kind of tired, too.
Now all that was left was the the award ceremony, and then heading home. Neither of which would go as expected.
And that’s where we’ll pick up (and finish off, I promise) tomorrow.
It was two in the morning. Or maybe it was three. Really, I don’t know. I was just grinding along, riding with The Hammer. And we were having a conversation about how many laps we would end up riding during this race.
“At the rate we’re going, I think we’re going to do about eighteen laps,” she said.
Which sounded really good to me. Eighteen laps would be a huge number.
Then, a couple hours later, The Hammer gave me a revised prediction. “I think we’re going to ride sixteen laps.”
Which sounded really good to me. And I was happy to have her make predictions, though I was long past having any idea of how many laps we had ridden, nor how many we would end up riding.
My goal was much simpler, and I stated it for The Hammer: “I think we should just keep riding nice, steady laps, taking reasonable eating breaks in between.”
The Hammer agreed. But you know, it’s still fun to predict. It gives you something to think about. A way to —sort of — start counting down the laps, instead of just counting up. You know, like, “Just four more laps to go!”
Then, at four in the morning — or maybe it was three, I really don’t know — we came into the pit, and found out that Kenny had blown up. He was wiped out, suffering, and needed a rest.
“Awesome,” I said, very charitably. And The Hammer and I kept going.
And on that lap, we saw nobody. Really: nobody. As it turns out, most people like the idea of riding their bikes through the night more than they like the reality of riding their bikes through the night.
But we kept plugging away. Not fast, but not really slowing down much, either. I was enjoying — and slightly awed by — the way I no longer needed to hold back for The Hammer at all (well, except for the switchback drop-in, where you go over a grate, then a couple of tight switchbacks on a technical downhill). We were just riding together, with me pulling ahead a little in one or two places, and her pulling ahead wherever there was a rocky descent, due to the fact that my wrists were killing me.
Then we’d regroup and keep riding. Just ticking away the hours and laps together. Even though The Hammer didn’t need to ride any more at all to win her division, and even though I had no chance at all in podiuming in my division.
We were just living our shared philosophy: if you’re going to do a 24 (or 25) hour race and you can keep pedaling, you should keep pedaling.
Here Comes the Sun
If you ride in the dark, you learn to either love or hate your lighting system. And I can say now, without reservation, I love NiteRider. The Hammer and I were each equipped with Pro 1800 Race lights on our helmets and Pro 3600 DIY lights on our bars. (Full disclosure: While I bought our light systems at a regular retailer, NiteRider set us up with extra batteries for for our use at both this race and the Salt to Saint race.)
We never ever ever ever had too little light; even on the low setting our lights were more than sufficient for riding on both climbing and the technical, rocky descents. And the batteries lasted for hours and hours. We each only had to swap batteries once during the whole set of night laps, in fact.
And in short, I strongly recommend NiteRider lights to anyone who’s going to get into night riding (although if I were to make my purchases again, I’d probably go with Pro 1800 Races for both bar and helmet; the 3600 is overkill).
But no matter how good your lights are, when you’ve been riding in the dark for twelve solid hours, your world starts feeling really closed-in. Small. Time elongates. You have a hard time remembering what the terrain looks like in the light.
So when the sun comes up, it is wonderful. Somehow, in spite of the fact that you haven’t gotten any sleep, you suddenly feel renewed. Like you’ve somehow punched a reset button.
Plus, I knew that we only had a few more hours to go.
Sixteen Plus One
And then, as we got close to the pit—where we’d be taking our traditional eating break—The Hammer told me, “We need to start taking shorter breaks.”
That didn’t sound all that great to me.
Here is a picture of The Hammer, telling me it’s time to go, even as I am clearly in the middle of eating a muffin and drinking a Redbull.
“Why do we need to hurry?” I asked. “We’re going to have no problem getting sixteen laps in.”
“Oh, I changed my mind. We’re back to seventeen,” she said. “I don’t want to just win the women’s solo singlespeed division, I want to win the women’s solo division outright.”
That woman can be a pretty darned tough taskmaster.
But I still finished my muffin before I got back on the bike.
Which is where we’ll pick up (and possibly conclude) tomorrow.
PS Bonus Picture: Here’s Kenny, starting his morning lap, dressed as if it were freezing cold out. Note that at this point, The Hammer and I were down to shorts and short sleeve jerseys with arm warmers.
Here’s a very useful tip for you to keep in mind if you ever want to do a 24 (or 25) hour race, solo. Don’t have this thought as the sun goes down: “I’m going to be riding my bike in the dark for the next twelve hours.”
Because, while perfectly accurate, it’s not a particularly productive thought.
Luckily for me, I was no longer riding alone. The Hammer and I would be riding through the whole night together. We’d watch the sun come up together.
So with Imagine Dragons playing (like I said, The Hammer got to pick the group for the first lap), we took off.
Then Heather came riding by us, flying. Doing her team proud. Not realizing that she was coming by us on the right, The Hammer moved right and they nearly collided.
“I’ll see you guys soon!” Heather shouted.
“No, Heather, wait! Ride slow and hang out with us!” I yelled back.
Nope. She was gone.
A Short Review of the Boombot Rex
The Boombot Rex we were using to play music was fantastic. Loud enough for both of us to listen to — although we had to decided between listening to music and talking, since if the music was loud enough for The Hammer to hear, it was too loud for me to hear what she was saying.
Oh, and the volume buttons are tiny — difficult to sense when you’re wearing thick gloves in the middle of the night — and placed in a hard-to-reach position on the underside of the speaker.
Oh, and the speaker kept falling off the mount when we were descending fast down rocky sections, to the point that I finally stopped putting it back on the mount and just stuffed it in my jersey.
“OK, this thing is not for mountain biking on the Jem trail,” I said, after it fell off the mount the third time.
In its defense, however, I’m not sure anything is made for mountain biking on the Jem trail.
The Evolution of my Eating Philosophy
After each lap, we’d stop and eat something. Which—as I sit here, comfortable and relaxed—sounds great. Eat whatever you want, every hour or two, with no penalty, no guilt.
But when you’ve been riding for fifteen (or sixteen or eighteen) hours, it’s really difficult to find something you can tolerate eating.
“What’ll it be?” Zach or Brooks would ask as we pulled into the pit. And I would have no idea. We had brought all this food — two ice chests and two bins full of food — and I’d say, “I don’t know. Nothing sounds good.”
But little by little, I figured out what I liked to eat. The food just had to pass a surprisingly simple test:
It needed to require absolutely no effort to chew and swallow.
Pizza? Too hard to chew, and required you to wash it down with something to drink.
Mac and cheese? Perfect.
Subway sandwich? For sure, as long as you drown it in mayo.
Granola bar? No way in hell.
Riding Through The Night
As the night wore on, I lost track of how many laps we had been on. Was it twelve? Or eleven? Maybe thirteen?
It didn’t matter anymore, anyway. With every pedal stroke, The Hammer was increasing her new record for women’s solo singlespeed on this course. The previous record — ten laps — was way behind us now.
“And how am I doing?” I’d ask our crew as I pulled into the pit after each lap.
“Oh, you’re fourth or fifth or so,” they said. By which they meant, I figured, that I was far enough behind that it wasn’t really worth them keeping track.
Fair enough. My stated objective for this race was to simply keep plugging away, and I was doing it. Even better, I was now actually helping The Hammer as she utterly destroyed the women’s solo SS record.
And it was so nice to get to our pit after each lap together. We’d sit at the fire and have something to eat and drink, while our crew treated us like royalty — cleaning out chains, cooking us food, and making us hot chocolate.
And then, after a 10-15 minute break, we’d head back out. Riding and talking together, both of us alternating between saying how nice it was to be doing this thing together, and rolling our eyes at how cheesy we sounded.
The Hammer was riding so strong that I did not need to hold back at all. I was incredibly proud of her strength and toughness.
And then, around four in the morning, the race changed.
Which seems like a good place to pick up tomorrow.
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