Sunday, September 13, 2009


It has been said that I alternate between glory and embarrassment. Actually I said that, but that doesn't make it any less true. Last weekends failure should make this weekend awesome.

False confidence in hand, I dropped $25 on the Faster Mustache 24 hour road race. 24 hours, dodging traffic in downtown Atlanta. What could be better?

Saturday morning, I met Mark Baldwin at his place and we grabbed some breakfast at the Highland Bakery. I highly recommend their Highland Breakfast, but come hungry. I could not finish the potatoes.

Checkpoint 0 was the Elliot Street Pub. Start time was 11:30 AM. The place was deserted until 10:45, at which point hundreds of riders materialized out of thin air.

The riders of the FM24 are unlike the riders at any other cycling event that I've been to. It's not a homogeneous group. There were equal numbers of hipsters, roadies, mountain-bikers-who-also-ride-on-the-roadies and random folks who happen to own a bike. The breakdown of teams was familiar though; some focused on winning, some focused on beer.

Baldwin: winning


Eddie: winning


Patrick: winning


Rich: beer


Hirch did not race, but provided moral support.


The route.


Baldwin's friend was doing a documentary on the event, and on him in particular. I think he's a film student. I'm not sure. I hope I get to see it someday.


There were some sweet rides at this event.

 Fake tandem


Rich was his usual self. I'm not even sure what to say here.


 Oh boy

This is the kit he wore at the Fool's Gold. He opted for the speedo today.

 Rich's kit

I mostly rode with these guys:



Willie (left) Big Si(mon) (butt) and Scottish John. Sorry, this is the only pic I have of them.

 Willie Simon John

Not pictured, another guy named Rich. All cool. All strong. We were a well matched group and unless you're worried about placing, riding together is much better than riding in the solo abyss.

1,2,3 go...

We had a Le Mans start, ie. a run-to-your bike start. Running in road shoes is a terrible idea, so I ran in socks, but running in socks is also a terrible idea. I picked up a little burr or something in the first step and it stabbed me between my toes all the way to my bike. I spent so much time fixing that and putting on my shoes that I started well behind the group.

I really had to burn it down to catch the trailing group, which was critical, as I had no idea where I was going.

There were 5 checkpoints:
* Gear Revival
* The Nook
* Outback Bikes
* No Brakes
* Elliot Street Pub

As long as you hit them in order, you can take any route you want between them. I knew where Elliot Street and The Nook were, but that's it. The rest I had no idea. Next year, I'm scouting the route and learning the shortcuts.

I hung with the group for checkpoints 1 and 2, but Matt and I got separated trying to take a shortcut (which ended up long) to 3. The group flew by us and we had to use my iPhone to find 4.

For the next 10 laps, I rode with some combination of Matt, Willie, Rich, Simon and John. We figured out a good route and a bunch of shortcuts. But we must have been doing something wrong. We kept passing the same folks and they were turning in sub-40 minute laps. Ours were a bit longer than that.

I definitely improved my nutrition. Gatorade for sugar. Clif Blocks for carbs. Electrolyte replenishment packets for salts, though once I put too much salt in my bottle and it was like drinking the ocean.

It worked out well; perpetual energy, zero cramps. I could drive my body until something wore out.

My plan was to ride 12 hours, then rest and see if my improved eating habits provided recovery or not. I ended up calling it a night around 1 AM. I could feel various muscles getting fatigued, but of greater concern were numb big toes, a numb pointer finger and a popping left hip. Hmmm.

My tent was covered in sugar ants, but there didn't appear to be any inside. I brushed them off and moved my tent. No more creepy-crawlies, but no hope of sleep either. Atlanta is a rail hub. That's what put it on the map. We were just uphill from the tracks and trains pulled through every half hour. And then there was the guy on the bullhorn, the drunk screaming idiots, the drunk clapping idiots and the general party atmosphere. No sleep.

At 7 AM, even without sleep, my legs were recovered, but my toes were still numb and my hip was sore. I'd accomplished my goals though, and come up with some new things to work on. As such, I had little motivation to actually ride. We had to vacate the parking lots by 10 AM, so I packed up and headed over to the Highland Bakery again. Ahh, Highland Breakfast. I grabbed a cinnamon roll to go and headed back to live vicariously through my friends.

I stashed the cinnamon roll in Baldwin's cooler, hoping he'd discover it later by chance. He kept turning laps, but he was really suffering. So was Patrick. Patrick even called it quits, but then an hour later I saw him leave for a final lap. Hard.

Eddie was in a fight. Two strong riders had been working together, holding down first and second. Eddie was all alone trying to catch. Hirch was keeping him company, but not actually in the race, he couldn't pull. I'd passed Ed a couple of times during the evening and gave him a wheel when I could, but I can't say that it helped.

The tailgaters started piling in around 8:30. Their barbeque smelled awesome. Their set-ups were impressive. Grills, tents, tables, chairs, PA systems, one guy was even DJ'ing.


The parking lot attendants were towing anyone who didn't pay. A truck with Virginia plates was parked in one of the lots, possibly belonging to a solo rider still out on the course. My conscience hurt from so many recent, wilful discourtesies on the road. I owed a heavy debt to karma, and while I could not pay karma directly, I could cover another rider's parking. $20. My treat.

The trains...



"From the railway station, I heard the sound of shunting trains, ringing and rumbling, softened almost into melody by the distance." Trains are great, from far away.

Baldwin finished around 11:15.

 Baldwin done

Eddie finished with less than a minute to spare.

 Eddie done

Apparently Baldwin has quite the fan base. Everybody wanted to talk to him. It was like a press conference. He earned it though. I believe he came in 4th. Eddie ended up 3rd. I'm way down the list, but I didn't come in last.

Baldwin caught a ride home with some friends of his. I drove home alone, fighting sleep. When I got home I crashed, but my neighbor was pressure washing his driveway. Maybe I'll sleep tonight.


  1. Yup, this one is on the list for next year.

  2. Great read David. 10 of us will be at Dauset this weekend doing the solo 6. Look for us if you're there.