Five years of riding BigFat and I finally get a t-shirt

Dale Friedkin Webmaster webmaster@bikecental.org
March 9, 2005

Last October’s BigFat was the 5th time I’ve ridden it and each time was epic. My first two years, I did the intermediate ride. The 50 miles of the first year was the first time I had ever done an organized ride and at that point was probably was one of the hardest rides I had ever done. I was stoked to have had been the 1st to finish. The second year was easier and shorter and a lot of fun up front with a small group of stronger riders. Given my prior good results and that I had since taken up road biking and had gotten some legs taking on Centuries and other hard rides, I decided to go big league and do the Epic(completing the Epic is three days of riding, including the infamous marathon big day). The third year, after a grind up Khwol Butte and a long lava rock is strewn descent I shattered my rear derailleur on a Bungie(small tree stump)amidst the obstacles on the Lava Lake Trail. Unbelievably, another BigFat rider came up the trail who had a spare. He also was cool enough help me wrench it on. After losing precious time, I got back on the trail. But my chain was slipping off with any torque. All my adjustments were useless. Repeatedly, it got jammed between the cassette and the spokes, and I almost didn’t get it out a time or two. I couldn’t get any rhythm going, and the haul up to the aid station at Dutchman took forever. At the Station, some guy was there who was a crack bike mechanic, and he bent my dropout and got my bike functioning again. All this took up time, and I didn’t make the cutoff. I’m only mortal, to finish the big day of Big Fat everything has to go right. Mike Beale, on the other hand, had something like three flats and two chain breaks and still was the third to finish.

The next year the organizers came up with a brutally hard course. After climbing from Shevlin to Dutchman, you then faced the Khwol climb-which was hard enough the last year on fresh legs. Given the energy demands, I scarfed at the food station at Dutchman. The physical demands were so great that my digestive system broke down. Again I ended up limping on the Lava Lakes trail, this time my body-not my bike-broken, I then took the easiest route back, the Cascade Lake hwy. I wasn’t the only carnage on the side of the road, only six people finished the big day, and a paltry four got the ‘I finished the Epic’ t-shirt for completing all three days. My aborted ride still added up to 82 miles and was the worst day I ever had on a bike.
For ’04 I was I was primed. I did prep rides like the Aufderheide. 115 road miles with a lot of climbing and I walked a 60-mile loop from Phil’s trailhead to the base or Broken Top. I also did 100 other rides, and my bike was dialed in. At dawn the shuttle got us to top of Paulina Peak, the weather was perfect. Our destination was 95 miles away in Sisters. A long day indeed. I was up at 4 am, out the door before 5 and didn’t get home until close to 8. My riding bud, Anthony and I rode together for most of the way and finished together. It was good and very helpful to have company. It became evident not too far into the ride that it was going to be doable–though it was certainly a haul. We averaged about 1.5 mph faster than we figured we needed to finish before nightfall. 9.5 hours on the bike with 6k+ climbing, 10k descending. 2 more rides and I get a t-shirt!

The second day you get shuttled up to Dutchman Flat and finish at Shevlin Park. I wasn’t too worried, kind of long but just a lot of downhill…well sorta of. The trail up at Dutchman climbs about 1000 feet before you start the down. You drop all the way to Skyliners no-park and then climb almost all the way back up. Much slower going than the first day and more climbing relative to the distance. The pressure wasn’t like the first day though; I was able to take longer, casual breaks and took it a little easy on the big climb. After the last aid stop, I had a lot of energy left and blistered the trail for the last 15 miles. 48 miles for the day with 3400 feet of climbing. 5 hours + 5 min. on the bike.

At the finish of the second day, they have a party and give you dinner. So I did that, went home and had another dinner. Plunked down on the sofa, my heart hurt from beating so much the last couple of days, and the pads of my hands were like hamburger. I’m putting bag balm on my hands for rides like this in the future. Muscle soreness all over, but it lessened some between day 2 and 3.