Posted by: fizzhogg | December 10, 2010

Reflections On The Century

It’s been nearly three weeks since the El Tour de Tucson.What have I been doing since my epic ride? Well, it started out amazingly. Within a week of El Tour I rode up Mt. Lemmon again. That’s right, up what many professional cyclists consider one of the premiere climbs in our country. Yes, the morning after Thanksgiving, to celebrate The PT’s birthday, Hova, The PT, Wilson the Volleyball, and the Italian Cycling Twins all rode up the Lemmon!

But unlike last summer when I killed myself ascending 9.5 miles, this time I rode to Windy Point – over 14 miles up the mountain. And I did it without issue, without incident, without killing myself. I felt great riding the entire day – even with the occasional freezing winds – and it was a blast doing it. I’m not saying it was easy – it was not. It was hard, but… well, to quote our favorite poet laureates, the Geto Boys:

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

And on the way down? Hold on to your drops, dear readers… the Unfat Machine and I hit 52.7mph. That is not a typo. I was riding over 52 miles per hour down a mountain. It was awesome. As in awe-inspiring.

Then, since we were on such a cycling roll, Hova, in his infinite wisdom, decided it was a good time to introduce me to the sport of mountain biking.

I have never been on a mountain bike. Ever. And those of you that read this and ride know there is quite a difference. A bike is a bike is a bike is… not.

But Hova said, “Fear not!” He would take me out to a nice little single-track course peppered with cactus and boulders on either side, and sand sprinkled through out. But again, the cry of Hova – “Fear not!” He shared the tale of his son, The Lion, riding this very course when he was about as young as my son. He spoke of having to ride like a child does – fearless – not seeing the cactus and boulders within inches of your elbows and ankles.

While all that is true, what Hova failed to factor in to the equation was that The Lion – even as a tiny cub – tackled this course only AFTER spending a year or more riding his own little mountain bike. Getting so used to it, it felt like part of him. Riding over and over his own little single-track mini-course in and around his front yard.

By the time The Lion took to the “real” mtn bike course, he was as confident on his mtn bike as I am on the Unfat Machine. See, it’s all in the head – just like Hova said.

How much seat time did I have on a mountain bike before attempting this ride? Let me add it up…

90 seconds.

I had a total of 90 seconds on the mtn bike I was riding. And how much time had I logged riding some lesser little mini single-track course in a front yard?


But off I went, following Hova on his Leadville machine and The Lion himself, now an experienced cyclist of many years.

I will spare you the boring details of the first 95% of the ride and cut to the entertaining part. As we rode back toward the car, straight into a blazing setting sun…

I crashed.


How hard? Well, I’m typing this entry rather slowly due to the splint on my broken left finger – my writing hand – and I’m trying to keep the weight off my sprained left ankle, and oh, that reminds me – I must change the bandages on my lacerated shin and calf.

That’s how hard.

But hey, let’s add mountain biking to this glorious year of firsts for us!

And now I’d like to take one last look back at El Tour…

The more removed from it I become, the more disappointed I am. Now, before you all jump on me and say “It was a great accomplishment” and blah, blah, blah — yes, I know it was a huge accomplish for a sedentary slug like myself. It was the culmination of an amazing year for me.

But I should have done it better. Or at least different. I’m not so much down about my time – I don’t really care that much about that. I’m just disappointed that – as I’ve already stated here in earlier posts – I didn’t heed my own advice; I didn’t push myself like I did all year leading up to it; I wimped out; I even quit at one point.

So, yes, I completed the 109 miles. Yes, it was great. But this whole blog and Unfat Project has succeeded because of one thing – I pushed myself.

Beyond my comfort zone. At times beyond my level of enjoyment. I made myself suffer on the UM on many occasions and you know what? Those were the best days! Nothing, and I mean nothing has felt as good this past year as those times AFTER I pushed myself – pushed myself up Mt. Lemmon. Pushed myself up Hog Hollow or the TdC Hill, buried myself on intervals into the wind, rode an hour longer than I’d planned to, kept riding on days (all documented here) when I felt lousy and wanted to stop.

Unfortunately, El Tour was akin to those days (also documented here) when I went out for a ride and turned around after 5 miles or 40 minutes. And the reason it bothers me so much is because El Tour should have been THE RIDE OF A LIFETIME. I should have embraced the event of it all, as well as pushing myself. I should have taken it all in. I should have taken more pictures, I should have smiled more and just absorbed the incredible enormity that I was riding over a hundred miles with 4,000 other cyclists! And yes, I’m aware I’ve written all this before, but this is where my head’s at.

I think part of the reason I was so emotional on the ride (especially in those early miles) was not so much because I *thought* I had cooked myself and ruined my chance to finish, but because I knew I was finally doing it. That I was doing something so special for my lifetime. There was a part of me wanting to embrace the event, trying to acknowledge to my brain that we were doing something special. But I turned my back on those feelings and just made it a miseryfest.

And as much as I would love to go back next year and try to truly dominate that ride, I know I won’t. Next year my family will be with me and I’m going to ride the much, much shorter race with my children. Which will be fun and amazing and a treasure chest of memories. But trust me, that morning, as 4,000 roll off to tackle the 109, and I’m snuggled in a warm house eating pancakes and listening to my son talk about Andy Schleck and Cancellara, there will be a small part of me that will wish I was out there – doing what I know I could have done this year.

But enough. This is the last whining you’ll hear from me. I’ve talked about it enough. It’s the holidays – a time of joy and positive feelings. We’ve lost a ton of weight this year and saved our health.

In the coming days I am going to write up a Year In Review type of post. We will look back on this incredible year, the highs and lows, and the incredible transformation that has happened for me personally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

It has been quite a ride.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Lose the gut.

Fair winds and following seas, Willy


  1. You’re awfully tough on yourself. On the whole, I think that is an admirable quality. It’s what motivated you to get on a bike this year and eventually cycle 109 miles. The trick, I think, is to be able to take satisfaction in your accomplishments and be comfortable in knowing that falling short of perfection is part of the Human Condition while at the same time keeping the “fire in the belly” fully stoked so you can take on the next challenge.

    There’ll be other challenges and other tours to ride. I’m pretty sure there’ll even be another El Tour de Tuscon after 2011. You’ll get another shot at the 109 mile course and plenty of other ridiculously difficult challenges like Mt. Lemmon, mountain biking and Lord-knows-what-else! Make the most of each one of them. Enjoy your success and let the bar you set serve as motivation for the next challenge!

  2. Keep those feelings, relish them, remember them and cultivate them. It makes you what you are and they have got you to where you are now.

    Very impressed with what you’ve done!

    Oh and welcome to MTBing, I’m glad you’ve stepped into the light at last! 😉

  3. Keep proud and LIVESTRONG !!!!!!

  4. You changed your life. You lost your gut. You eat better. And now, your kids have a new reason to think of you as the hero.

    I will see you next year at El Tour, riding with your family (as I will be with mine) and a smile will be plastered all over your face.

    Seriously, aren’t you the guy who won El Tour this year?

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