I Ask Myself Hard Questions

08.14.2006 | 2:35 pm

Tomorrow, I plan to write a story about my experiences at the Leadville 100 this year. It will be easy to write (and it should be fun to read) because I had a great time. I met lots of old friends, made several new friends, and got some extra attention at the awards ceremony. There will be photographs of me and others. There will be charts from my GPS. I will reveal the name of the person who hypothetically had signed up for this race and was not sure whether he or she should do it.

I, for one, can hardly wait to read what I write tomorrow.

Today, though, I’m going to indulge in a self-indulgent Q&A session on what went wrong at the Leadville 100 for me.

Q. So, let’s start with the one thing everyone is at least mildly curious about. What was your finishing time?
A. Ten hours. And six minutes.

Q. What?! Aren’t you the same guy who was going on and on and on about how you thought you had a good chance at finishing in under nine hours this year?
A. Yes, that was me. Evidently, I am not anywhere near as close to as fast as I thought I was.

Q. Just for the sake of comparison, what was your finishing time last year?
A. 9:41.

Q. Wasn’t that the year where you rolled along with a voice recorder and chatted with people about how things were going, asking them why they raced, whether they were having fun, and stuff like that?
A. Yeah, that was it.

Q. And wasn’t that the year you were going on about how fat and slow you were?
A. Yes. Do you have a point to make?

Q. It just seems weird that you were 25 minutes faster last year when you were supposedly fat, slow, and chatty than this year when you were supposedly light, fast, and serious about finishing under nine hours.
A. Yeah, that’s occurred to me, too.

Q. So, would you like to make some excuses as to what went wrong?
A. I sure would.

Q. OK, let’s start with the bike, your so-called “Weapon of Choice.” Did you have a bunch of mechanical issues with this dream bike of yours?
A. Nope, the bike performed flawlessly. Racer built it and tuned it so it never had a second’s worth of problems. However, since I had only three rides’ worth of experience with the rigid fork, I was very timid on the downhills.

Q. But you’ve always been timid on the downhills.
A. Yeah, but I was even more timid than usual. I passed lots of people every climb, but got passed by even more people on every descent. I think I can say with confidence that I did not pass a single person while descending. I may have been slower going down than up. I was an embarrassment to mountain bikers everywhere.

Q. You mean more than usual?
A. Yes. Can we move on to my next excuse now, please?

Q. Sure. What about your body? You’re supposedly light and fit right now.
A. I am light. I weigh 154.2 pounds today. The thing is, I now realize I am more like Jan Ullrich than I previously thought. You know how he would always look chunky in the early season and then lose a bunch of weight just before the Tour, and people would agree that it was good he had lost the weight, but maybe it would have been better if he had lost it a while sooner and trained at that weight? That’s kind of what happened with me. Until mid-June, I was heavy and didn’t get much training in. Then, for two months, I focused and made a lot of progress. But you know what I learned on the trail last Saturday? This: Making progress isn’t the same thing as being ready.

Q. Anything else you’d like to blame?
A. Yeah. The weather. About eighty miles into the race, as I was hiking up the Powerline climb—which is unanimously understood to be the most difficult part of the whole race—it started raining. Hard. I was soaked and chilled to the bone, and could not see. If I left my glasses on, all I saw was a blurry, muddy mess. If I took my glasses off, all I could see was a blurry, muddy mess. The only reason I didn’t quit right then was because I knew I was just a couple hours away from getting my 1000 Mile award. This slowed my descending down even more, if that’s possible.

Q. So that’s why you didn’t finish in under nine hours? The weather?
A. No, I realized much earlier that I wasn’t on a sub-nine pace.

Q. No kidding. When did you realize you were going too slow to finish in under nine hours?
A. By the time I got to the second aid station, 40 miles into the race. By then I was eighteen minutes behind schedule, even though I was working hard. I know myself well enough to know that I wouldn’t have a stronger second half than first half. And I didn’t.

Q. So are you going to do this race again next year?
A. I’ve already reserved my hotel room and secured permission from my wife, who will crew for me. The lottery no longer applies to me, since I’ve done the race 10 times.

Q. What will you do differently?
A. Stay at the weight I’m at. Learn to downhill, either with or without suspension (I still think the rigid fork was a good idea, I just need experience with it). Train earlier and more consistently, instead of doing one big panicky training push.

Q. Those all sound like great ideas. Do you think you’ll finish under nine hours next year?
A. Absolutely not.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 08.14.2006 | 3:30 pm

    The training early and more consistant is a great idea, one of which we all have. The problem is real life just gets in the way, ie family, work ect… Training like a pro is tough. i think I’ll get a job where I only work 2-3 days a week, get rid of the wife and kids, then a guy could really train.
    You’ll be under 9 hours next year for sure.

  2. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 08.14.2006 | 3:44 pm

    I just hope you rode faster than Mr. Hypothetical. Of course, you can always claim that he only hypothetically beat you.
    P.S. At least, it appears, your brains didn’t get scrambled as was the general consensus. Or, maybe we should take a vote as to whether they were scrambled or not.
    P.P.S. Here’s the crux of your descending problems:

  3. Comment by Random Reviewer | 08.14.2006 | 3:51 pm

    here’s the thing. once you’re not gonna make nine, you’re just like everybody trying to beat twelve. and beating twelve is not really a challenge, so now you’re just riding along. you might as well stop, have a nap, drink a bunch of diet coke, chat up the volunteers, and enjoy yourself. cuz, 9:30, or 11:30–same diff. and once you’re riding that way, well, leadville is a very enjoyable place to ride a bike. you just wish it didn’t involve a 4 day road trip and a $300 entry fee.
    same as it ever was.

  4. Comment by Lofgrans | 08.14.2006 | 4:11 pm

    Not to discourage you from your valiant goal of losing weight but my husband feels that if he drops below 150 he looses a lot of power. So maybe you just need to find that power to weight ratio that works best for you. Check out his race info here:

  5. Comment by Unknown | 08.14.2006 | 5:00 pm

    Go easy big fella.  You are too hard on yourself.  You had a great day, you finished–it’s ten in a row, right?  So > nine hours is a little elusive.  Are you any less of funny Fat Cyclist as a result?  Pat yourself down.  When you look at it through the right lenses, it becomes pretty clear.
    You can use me as an attention diversion tomorrow.  I’m good for that.
    Mr.\Mrs. Hypothetical

  6. Comment by Zed | 08.14.2006 | 5:35 pm

    I checked in Saturday night when the LT100 site had all of your split times but no finish time for you. For a moment, I entertained the notion that you’d crashed out or DNF’ed after the last time check. Glad my suspicions weren’t confirmed.
    Bummer about the time, but I’m pretty sure you’re still faster than I am. And I weigh 144 pounds!!! That’s got to feel good.
    Hey, but for next year, here’s the La Ruta 90-day training program: http://www.adventurerace.com/eng/training.htm
    Yes, it involves running.

  7. Comment by barry1021 | 08.14.2006 | 5:43 pm

    Oh well. I heard the weather got really really bad late, just hoping you didn’t get caught in it.  One way to beat nine hours next year for sure is to promise to give away your Pista if you fail. That seems to work. Just a thought, I am trying to help.
    And BTW, I think the interviewer above was pretty rude to a Fat Cyclist of your stature. Who the hell does he think he’s talking to anyway??

  8. Comment by craig | 08.14.2006 | 9:13 pm

    Well, Elden, you are still paying me right?  I mean, you read the part in the contract about  ‘past performance is not indicative of future results ?’
    Well, like you said, you are like Jan…………he couldn’t come through for me either

  9. Comment by UltraRob | 08.14.2006 | 11:53 pm

    Congratulations on getting your giant 1000 mile buckle!  I did get a good picture of the "Weapon of Choice" lying on the pavement before the start.  Check out my blog to see it.

  10. Comment by Unknown | 08.15.2006 | 12:39 am

    "Fatty" – How about another picture of yourself?  You’ve shown yourself at 181 lbs, then 168.  You should update the sequence with a final 154.2.

  11. Comment by Unknown | 08.15.2006 | 1:14 am

    Kudos to you, Elden for finishing!  I wouldn’t have made the first rest station, so even though you didn’t break your goal time of 9 hours, it is still quite an accomplishment.  And I am very happy that your brains were not scrambled and left on the trail at Leadville.  If it weren’t for your blog, I’d have to actually work while I am at work.  Looking forward to reading your race report.

  12. Comment by Jsun | 08.15.2006 | 4:15 am

    Congrats on the 1000 clicks!! 
    What about my day you ask, well I wish you hadn’t.  A couple of flats and a blowout in the first 20 clicks hurt me all around, not to mention my huge list of purely rational reasons for the poor showing.  Let me know if you would like to borrow a few excuses.  I had time to think a few while wallowing in the mud and self pity.
    It was nice to meet you in person, I understand if the feeling isn’t mutual Fatty, but now you can put a face to the rye comments.  Sorry we had to leave so quick, its not your fault too much, the 3 week old boss calls the shots now. 
    Since I have to redeem myself, I’ll see you (and Mr. Hypo) next year.

  13. Comment by Carolynn | 08.15.2006 | 4:29 am

    The thing I liked best about being able to be on your crew team was the reflected fame of being "Fatty’s mother."  And what’s a mother to do when her only son is known as "Fatty?" 

  14. Comment by Christina | 08.15.2006 | 7:01 am

    "It just seems weird that you were 25 minutes faster last year when you were supposedly fat, slow, and chatty…"
    You could rename yourself "Chatty Fatty".  Then your mom would be even prouder.  (LOVED her comment.)  Actually now that I’m saying "Fatty Chatty" multiple times to myself, it makes me think of some sort of greasy snack food.  "Fatty Chatty Pork Rinds" for instance…
    -beast mom

  15. Comment by Unknown | 08.15.2006 | 12:59 pm

    Fatty, Congradulations on the finish! Sorry to hear about your time though, I know you were looking forward to beaking the nine hour mark. But you fell for one of the myths about mountain bikes. The myth is your faster on a fully rigid frame. If that were true, then why do pro races race on hard tails or full suspenion. The fatique factor is so much greater on a full rigid that any benifit is lost.
     Also you broke a cycling rule..never take a new toy (bike, frame, part, accessory ect ect) out for a major event without being very comfortable with it. In fact wasn’t that one of your rules somewhere in your blog?

  16. Comment by Born4Lycra | 08.15.2006 | 1:32 pm

    Well I liked Q. Went straight for the jugular with well thought out, balanced, insightful and probing questions. I found A a bit negative.  I see a lot of potential for the 11th ride to be a glorious moment in Fat History. 12 months at 150lbs will do wonders for the flabby frame and maybe 12 months on the rigid one will see man and weapon of choice working as one (frigid?) and the 9 hour mark come tumbling down. No point in being negative for the next 12 months not only that Mum’s on your side and enjoying the spotlight. Do it for her don’t be an 11 stone weakling.
    Still can’t get my name on top.  Cheers and congrats to you and the Hypo. Born4Lycra


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