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Fat55 - The Non-Race Report

Carolyn and I were planning on heading down to Oakridge on the 13th for my 5th tilt at the windmill that is Fat55. I died last year from heat and fatigue at this race and this year looked to be even warmer. But I've learned a bit about keeping myself cool and had set the modest goal of finishing 15 minutes faster and enjoying my beer at the finish. Seemed reasonable. According to my annoyingly accurate Garmin computer, I had spent more than 40 minutes of last year's race not moving. That's 40 minutes at aid stations, joking with course marshals, laying face down in creeks, sitting by the side of the trail wondering "why me?" Really, if I just took slightly shorter breaks from having a bad race, it should have been a piece of cake.

Then this happened:

Photo courtesy of
Well, fuck.

Eugene cancelled the race. The Deception Complex fire wasn't big by Oregon standards, a bit over 5000 acres now, and it was burning a couple miles west of where the race was going to take place. But they closed Larison Rock road for fire equipment and that's really the hub of the race. He might have re-routed the course, sent us up Heckletooth twice or something sick like that, but we've had red flag weather most of the week, The wind has been erratic. This could spread and even if it didn't, the valley is full of smoke. It was the right call.

Part of me is relieved. I was dreading the heat and the addition of smoke would have raised the bar on horrible to an indescribable height.

It's an odd feeling though, finding out your racing season ended two months ago.

I rode up Dorn Peak yesterday. I was hoping I'd find some kind of solace or purpose grinding to the top of that mountain again but I topped out at the summit and realized I had almost no memory of the ride there. I wasn't even breathing hard. I turned around, threw the chain on the big ring, and rolled home.

Carolyn's worried about me. I just stand around looking vaguely unhappy.  I'm certainly sorry the race is off. I'm very sad for Eugene and the people in Oakridge who really enjoy putting the race on. I'm not really unhappy though. I'm just not exactly sure what to do with myself.

I've been looking enviously at cyclocross racers who are just getting their season going. Their races only last an hour. That's like one ninth of the Fat55! I mean, how hard could it be? I even flagged a couple of used bikes on eBay to watch. On my ride back from Dorn,  I tried doing a rolling dismount - throwing your right leg behind you and stepping on the ground as you unclip your left foot. You do that a lot in cyclocross.

Had you been driving up Finn road at just the right time on Saturday, you would have seen a guy on a bike doing an impersonation of a dog peeing on a fire hydrant. That would have been me. I'm sorry you missed it. The whole effort had a kind of bad Cirque du Soleil quality. I was the contortionist act, but I didn't have the flexibility to get my leg around my seat post so it just kind of stuck out behind me. I stayed that way for a hundred yards or so until I saw our driveway coming up fast and I managed to fold myself back into a proper pedaling position without plowing into our mailbox. Maybe it's easier on a road bike.

I'm reconsidering cyclocross.

Carolyn thinks I should do more stretching. She's probably right.

When I stop lamenting the loss of flexibility I probably never had to begin with, I understand my real problem:  I'm a creature of terrible habit. I'm very adaptive in many ways. I'm a pretty good creative thinker. I'm pretty adventurous. I ate some smoked oysters on Ritz crackers last night, so I think I'm entitled to say I'm not a picky eater either. But I order the same two sandwiches for lunch all week every week. If they closed Sandwich Express in McMinnville, I'd be paralyzed. Of course I know there are other places I could get a sandwich. Some of them are even good. That's not the point. The point is I can't get my sandwich any longer. I have to think about this. I have to change.

I've done Fat55 for four years and I'm used to it. At some odd level, it doesn't matter if I have a good race or a bad race. It matters that the race is there. I need it to be there. It's a good race, run by good people in a good place.

There are worse habits.


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