Close But No Cigar, Part IV: I Can Do It! I Can Do It!…No, I Can’t.

08.15.2007 | 9:59 pm

A Note From Fatty: I’m going to keep writing tonight ’til I finish my story. I swear it. Four parts is really as much as I can expect any of you to put up with my blow-by-blow of this race. Actually, three parts is about as much as I’d have expected you to put up with, but here we are anyway.

However, once my story is done, I still plan to continue with the Leadville story for two more posts, because they’ve already been written. Friday, I’m going to post Susan’s story of how the trip went for her. Monday, I’ll post Dug’s story.

And then, more than a week after I’ve been back from the race, I’ll finally move on. Unless I think of something else I have to say on the matter.

I Give My All
The interesting thing about being on the fence for a time goal in a race is it presents you with an option. You can ride conservatively and hope that you’re strong enough to hit your goal, or you can go out hard and hope that you don’t pay for it with a massive bonk.

With forty miles — more than a quarter of which is hard climbing — to go in 3:45, I decided that I would pour it on. Each time I started to fade, I’d stand up and ratchet up my effort a notch.

This worked pretty well. I did the 15 rolling miles to the final aid station in exactly an hour, which was the amount of time I had alloted myself. So, no time lost on this section.

Unfortunately, I didn’t gain back the fifteen minutes I had lost so far, either. But I was eating again — no problem with the raspberry Shot Bloks. It was only the Margarita ones that seemed to be infused with Kryptonite.

I rolled into the final aid station, and there — to my surprise, I must admit — was Susan. She had used her bandana and cane too good effect, and had gotten a primo aid station spot right by her car, so she didn’t have to carry too much.

I grabbed a couple water bottles — I had four packets of Shot Bloks, which I figured should be enough, refused soup and everything else, and took off again.

“I think I still have a chance at sub-9,” I told Susan.

“You can do it!” she said. And I certainly intended to try. I knew, though, that my tendency is to fade in the final part of a race, not pick up power.

25 miles to go.

Me and My Shadow
As you exit the Pipeline aid station, you have a few flat miles before hitting the Powerline climb. I felt good as I began this section, yelling “Yarrrrggh!” to a spectator in a pirate hat, and getting a hearty “Yarrrrgh!” back from her.

I settled into my groove and, in a minute, noticed someone was behind me, drafting. I looked back.

Chris Carmichael, again.

That’s cool, I thought. He and I had managed to ride together at the beginning of the race, climbed up most of the hard part of Columbine Mine together, and now we were going to ride the end of the race together.

“How’s it going, Chris?” I asked.

No answer. That’s OK, though. Toward the end of this race, I sometimes don’t feel much like talking.

I did a nice long pull, then veered off. Chris tracked behind me, hunkered down. I flicked my elbow. No reaction.

Holy smokes, I thought. Chris Carmichael is a parasite drafter!

Before long, a couple of others joined us and picked up the pace. We all took turns pulling, except Chris. To be fair, I’m pretty sure he was being a parasite because that was all he was good for at the moment.

After a few minutes, I couldn’t hang with the group anymore and dropped off the back. That was OK, though. It was time to climb the Powerline anyway, and a paceline wouldn’t help.

Free Coke
I began my climb and before long — like everyone — was off my bike, pushing up the sandy, steep hill. Off the bike, with no breeze, the heat was punishing.

Luckily, some family seems to have made a tradition of setting themselves up on the Powerline climb with paper cups full of Coke. I told them I remembered them from last year and let them know they were currently saving my life.

“Cool,” the teenager handing me a cup said. “See you here next year!”

I tell you what: I would vote for that kid for President.

Hi Bry
The overwhelming memory I always take from the Powerline climb is the excruciating hike-a-bike part, but that’s really just a small section. And ever since I learned to pay attention to the distance of the climb and not be fooled by false summits, this climb doesn’t really get into my head anymore. So I churned away, occasionally passing people, and not getting passed by anyone.

Evidently, I still had some power in my legs.

And then I saw Bry ahead of me. I had finally erased the gap he had put on me in downhilling the Columbine Mine road so fast. I caught him as he stopped for a moment to eat, said, “Hi Bry” and kept on going.

Sub-9 no longer seemed very likely, but I wasn’t ready to give up the dream quite yet.

Within a few minutes, Bry had caught back up to me. I guess I made a pretty decent carrot for him. He said, “You’ve got to eat! You’ve got to eat!”

I would have replied, but my mouth was full of food at the moment.

Bry and I summited together, then started descending down the loose, rocky trail. As I’ve noted, Bry is a much faster downhiller than I, but he stayed with me.

I dunno, I think I should have appreciated it, but this was a race, and Bry was slowing down for me as if I needed some kind of special help.

“Go on,” I said, “I don’t want a babysitter. I know my way to the finish line.”

But Bry stuck with me.

Riding nervously because I knew Bry was right on my tail, I veered hard right off a rock and went down. Not a bad fall. No injury, no damage to the bike. I got up and was about to ride when Bry instructed me to drink some water first.

OK, this was getting on my nerves.

We continued on to the base of the St. Kevins climb, where Bry continued to ride with me, though he was obviously hanging back.

“Go on,” I finally said. “You’ve still got power in your legs; use it. This is a race. I would ditch you if I could.”

Bry pulled away from me, as easy as pie. in the final thirteen miles of the race, he put four minutes on me. So yeah, I’d say he still had some pop in his legs.

Shifting Goals
As I climbed the four miles of pavement up to St. Kevins, I knew I could no longer finish under nine hours. I just couldn’t.

Maybe, though, I could still get a personal best. And that was reason to keep riding hard.

So I climbed the last big hill, did the last big descent, and motored up the Boulevard. I was part way up this last dirt road climb when my watch beeped, letting me know nine hours had elapsed.


I kept climbing, though, watching every minute go by, pushing it harder and harder, wanting to see if I could finish in 9:12, beating my personal best of 9:13.

I thought I could do it and gave everything I could, riding right at my limit and maybe a little bit beyond. As the finish line came into sight, my clock showed 9:12.

But I was for sure more than two minutes out. Oh well, may as well push it anyway.

Now it was 9:13. Maybe I could at least tie my personal best.

Then, seconds before I crossed the finish line, my watch ticked over to 9:14.

I crossed the line, fully blown. Susan was right there and gave me a big hug.

Look at me, gasping for air. It was a great moment.

Seconds later, all my friends at the finish came up to me to offer congratulations — and, let’s face it, condolences.

Bry came over and hugged me, laughing. As near as I could tell, he was not upset at me for telling him to leave me alone to suffer on my own while he rode on ahead:

Dug handed me his Diet Coke. It was a little slice of heaven.

Kenny said, “Sorry, man. I thought you had it in you.”

Yeah, so did I.

Brush With Fame
Oh, this is the cool part.

After hanging around at the finish line for a few minutes to congratulate Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) on his first Leadville finish, I was ready to head back to the hotel to shower.

And that’s when Rich — a good friend and former neighbor — told me Floyd Landis was hanging around meeting people at the finish line. Floyd — in spite of a crash and a flat — had finished the race in seven hours flat, good for second place to Dave Wiens, who had broken the course record by eight minutes. Wow.

Susan told me to go with Rich and get my picture with Floyd. I was exhausted and started making excuses about wanting to just go get a shower, but Susan and Rich were firm. I should do this.

So here’s me and Floyd (pops to bigger version):

And I got him to sign my jersey, too.

Did Floyd have to come back to the finish line and hang around with a bunch of stinky guys more than two hours after he had finished the race? No. Was he acting like a diva? Nope. Would he talk with and take pictures with anyone who wanted? Yes.

Floyd’s cool.

More Friends Cross the Finish Line
Susan and I went to the hotel, where she loaded up on pain meds and took a well-deserved 15-hour nap. I took a shower and went back to the finish line, where Nick Abbott — my riding buddy from Seattle — and Linde were crossing the finish line together. With a finish time of 10:15, they each cut massive chunks off their previous year’s finish time (Nick had finished in 11:55, Linde in 12:20), and were justifiably ecstatic. There’s no way you can look at Nick’s face and not smile along (Linde looks like he’s sitting on Sarah’s shoulder):

And then Bob crossed the finish line at 12:26. Bob would later write that he isn’t happy with his effort or his time, but I mostly remember him with a huge smile crossing the finish line. Dug, Brad, and I rushed him and gave him a big group hug.

Bob’s tough as nails.

And after all this? Bratwurst. Fish — a nickname we gave a long time ago to a guy with an unpronouncable name — was crewing for a bunch of people, and had also volunteered to grill brats for us afterward, making it so we wouldn’t have to fight with the rest of the town for seats at a restaraunt.

Dug, who is from Minneapolis and therefore knows a thing or two about brats, agreed with me and everyone else who was sitting around, relaxing, and eating: these were the best brats ever grilled.

Part of that, of course, came from the massive hunger we all had after doing this big race. But not all of it. Fish clearly takes his brats seriously, and kicked major butt in feeding us.

I ate four.

I would have eaten five, but people were starting to stare.

At the award ceremony the next day, I got my eleventh little belt buckle and sweatshirt, showing that I have done this race eleven times. The race organizers — Ken Chlouber and Merilee Oates — give eleven-time finishers a black jacket with the Leadville Trail 100 logo embroidered on the back and your name embroidered on the front.

I have to admit, I take some pride in having done this race eleven times. Not many people have.

Years and years ago when I got a 9:13 at Leadville, I got away from people as quickly as I could, because I didn’t want anyone to see that I was crying.

This time, though I missed my goal in about as public a way as possible, I didn’t cry. I wasn’t even devastated. I think “melancholy” is the best word I could use to describe how I feel about missing my goal.

Why “melancholy?”

Because I’m about as fit right now as I have time to be. My bike worked perfectly — I never even had to think about it for a second. It was that flawless. The weather was ideal. I have no excuses. This is the best I’m capable of.

I’m not going to ask my family to give me this kind of time to train again next year (or for the forseeable future), so it’s very unlikely I’ll match or beat this time ever again.

Will I be back next year? Of course I will. And I’ll have a great time; the Leadville 100 is one of my favorite traditions. Hopefully I’ll be fit and reasonably fast for it.

But I’m putting the sub-9 goal away. That belongs to other people — people who have a gift for both climbing and descending, and good genetics, to boot.

Meanwhile, nine-point-something hours isn’t too bad for a middle-aged guy with a minor gift for climbing, no gift at all for descending, and an annual 30-pound winter curse.


  1. Comment by Greg | 08.15.2007 | 10:20 pm

    Congrats on your finish fatty, and in particular on your attitude/perspective. Setting a tough goal and only missing by a smidge is far better than never setting the goal in the first place. The ride sounds like a monster, and you did pretty respectably.

    Floyd obviously benefited from his lightweight unobtanium super alloy hip replacement. You just need to have some bones hacked out and replaced with some fine double butted Ti. You would have cracked 9 for sure!

  2. Comment by Chris | 08.15.2007 | 10:23 pm

    Congrats on finishing, nine hours is still far better than I could do. You looked much taller in all the other pictures, until you stand next to floyd. :)

  3. Comment by monkeywebb | 08.15.2007 | 10:57 pm

    Pretty amazing. The whole thing. You’ve left all of us keyboard quarterbacks with nothing to do but be jealous.

  4. Comment by Clydesteve | 08.15.2007 | 10:57 pm

    wowsa. great story & writeup. 11 times rocks.


  5. Comment by trust but verify | 08.15.2007 | 10:59 pm

    I think you still have a shot at your 9:00, fat man. It seems like your immediate problem is descending, which is a bunch of technical skills you can learn, or make yourself learn, even as an old dog.

    We’ll run a link to this over at TBV tomorrow. I was obviously confused on the day, and thought the unworthy who abandoned with maybe broken bones was you — who was that really?


  6. Comment by Yukirin Boy | 08.15.2007 | 11:04 pm

    Wow! I am in awe. Of you, Susan, Kenny Dug, Rick and everyone else.
    It almost makes a roadie put away his drop hanelbars and find a 27 speed, straight handle-barred bike with fat tyres. Almost..
    Congratulations again.

  7. Comment by DrFrot | 08.15.2007 | 11:22 pm

    Well done fellah – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading about your Leadville experience. Although I’m a staunch roadie I’ve had one miserable day’s singletrack downhilling in the Welsh mountains, and wouldn’t even want to learn the necessary skills required to do anything more than amble down, so I guess I won’t be joining you any time soon.

    Why is it I’m more than happy letting it all go in excess of 80kph on the tarmac, but am reduced to blubbing when faced with a few rocks and the odd tree root…? Two different beasts, and I know which I prefer!

    In my crashing MTB niaivety, would it be crass of me to ask if you might not have a better chance of going sub-9 on a hardtail or full susser…?


  8. Comment by buckythedonkey | 08.15.2007 | 11:40 pm

    What a fabulous write-up, Fatty. Thank-you for letting us into your Leadville epic this year – it’s been an amazing story.


  9. Comment by fatty | 08.15.2007 | 11:51 pm

    tbv – that was dug who crashed out. i’ll post his story monday.

  10. Comment by Born4Lycra | 08.16.2007 | 12:16 am

    Firstly I apologise it was me that initially proclaimed you had done a pb. For whatever reason I was convinced your previous best was 9.14 so sorry to all those who believed me.
    Secondly I still believe with everything else that is going on this probably is your very very personal best shared with a lot of people but most importantly Susan.
    This has been a brilliant write up, thanks for involving us, thanks for the link to Bob’s story and there is still more to come. I’ve really enjoyed this stuff.
    I still reckon there is a sub 9 in you and while I respect your thoughts right now I reckon there is a good chance come feb-march the fire for the sub 9 will be back. I can’t imagine you just going along to cruise and admire the scenery.

  11. Comment by Mike M | 08.16.2007 | 1:21 am

    Love your site, I’ve logged on about 99 times in a week to get every detail. I have a question though. At 3:45, your 40 miles out, an hour later, you’ve picked up 15 miles, which leaves 4 hours to go 25 miles! is that 6.5 MPH to break 9 hours? Where do you lose all that time? can it even be pinpointed? I’m a know-nothing-about-MBT-racing, road biker. trust me I ask these questions without a shred of cynicism. As an east coast, sea- level dweller, I’ve only ever skied out west at those altitudes. I’m sure I would be blowing my lunch and quitting at St Kevins. As someone who has nailed every nuance of this race, where do things get the most unbearable? Powerline? Ascents? Descents? awesome work on the blog, I can’t imagine my roadie brethren could come up with writing thats even close to this compelling a read.

  12. Comment by Mike M | 08.16.2007 | 1:30 am

    Doh, sorry, I reread the last entry more carefully( and with a fresh cup of coffee). You didnt have 4hours left, you had less than 3. with a rest stop, you may have had to average over 12MPH, at the end of a 100 mile ride!!!
    Sorry to waste peoples time with my poor reading skills and inattention to detail.

  13. Comment by allan | 08.16.2007 | 2:07 am

    Awesome write up big guy. Definitely time for a new nickname. Floyd looks big next to you.

  14. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 08.16.2007 | 2:38 am

    Man, Floyd really has a tight grip on that Sharpie. He must have heard about your stationery fetish.

    I’m pretty sure 9:13 rounds down to 9 hours. Check with Botched, he’s into that kind of thing.

  15. Comment by Mike Roadie | 08.16.2007 | 3:17 am


    A daily check-in is better than a cup o’ joe!!! Excellent write up on L’ville. Hey, maybe NOT going after sub-9 next year will free you up to actually DO it!!! Floyd looks positively giant next to you, so you have the size to climb and ride like the wind….try being 6 ft., 185!!!

    Is Sarah on ‘roids?? Because she has a little second head growing out of her shoulder…… I’m not sayin’…..I’m just sayin’

    For anyone who cares, we raised about $1000+ for the LAF at the wine tasting last night, pushing me over $10K so far when all the checks clear. Anyone else who wants to help out the cause:

    Really appreciate the posts, the pics and the stories… rock plentysix!!!

  16. Comment by Woody | 08.16.2007 | 3:43 am

    Hey Fatty,
    Just wanted to drop in and say thanks to you and Susan for the inspiration and congratulations on jobs well done! Your blog is about the only link I have to my cycling passion while I’m stationed here in Iraq. After reading your posts the past few days, I can’t wait to get home, train, take my cycling to another level and give rides like the Leadville 100 a go…keep up the good work!

  17. Comment by S_H | 08.16.2007 | 4:05 am

    Great job, Fatty, and terrific write up. Thanks for sharing your story throughout the process. Congrats again.

    ps – Your wife’s a stud! What an inspiration!

  18. Comment by Mrs. C. | 08.16.2007 | 4:16 am

    I, for one, was not getting tired of the Leadville epic and you could have taken a few more days to tell the story. You are a very good story teller. I enjoyed the journey and appreciate you and Susan for allowing the rest of us to tag along.

    The photo with Floyd is great. Your expression is so telling; “Wow! This is cool,” you seem to be saying.

  19. Comment by Lins - Aust | 08.16.2007 | 5:13 am

    Another great Leadville write up! I too wouldn’t mind if the coverage of your race went on for many more days. If you feel the urge you could always write up all of the other Leadvilles that you’ve done and haven’t written up for your blog. I’m serious.

  20. Comment by gian | 08.16.2007 | 5:17 am

    Which is more brave?
    Setting a goal and devoting a large portion of your day to day life towards that goal…
    Or coming to the realization on the realities of it and knowing when to give up for the greater good.

    Your a good man Charlie Brown.

  21. Comment by Rob | 08.16.2007 | 5:31 am

    Thanks Fatty!! Great account of a great event and a great effort. Sorry you missed your goal. Keep up the good work. And Susan rocks!! Hope she’s doing well.

  22. Comment by Jose | 08.16.2007 | 5:34 am

    Ok, now that Leadville is gone, you need to honor your son’s cartoon. Let’s eat a goat and gain 50 pounds. Ummmm delicious!

    Next year try to use a bike with suspension, I noticed that Dave Wiens had a shock and Floyd a full suspension bike. It’s good to learn from the best.

  23. Pingback by » Links Of The Day: 16 August 2007 | 08.16.2007 | 5:35 am

    [...] Close But No Cigar, Part IV: I Can Do It! I Can Do It!…No, I Can’t. [...]

  24. Comment by Al Maviva | 08.16.2007 | 5:50 am

    Nice work Elden. There’s so much unknowable about a race, sounds to me like you left it all out there on the trail. Don’t beat yourself up so much, I’m blown away by how well you and some of your friends ride. I’m much more blown away, however, by how supportive your wife is of you, that’s simply amazing, I hope you treasure her and let her know it.

  25. Comment by Den | 08.16.2007 | 6:27 am

    Eleven times. Dude, I’m impressed. Susan making it there is huge. You guys are awesome! Love the write-ups on the whole ride too. It’s kinda sad that it’s over because it’s so much fun to read.

    Thanks for sharing!

  26. Comment by chtrich | 08.16.2007 | 7:11 am

    Great story! Congrats on your hard work and results. No shame in the time you turned in. And like you say your fitness level right now is great. I’m 30 pounds lighter because of this site. Thanks for the encouragement!!

  27. Comment by GenghisKhan | 08.16.2007 | 7:21 am

    Great race and great write up–thanks.

    Regarding next year, never underestimate the POS (in this case, Power of Suspension, also an apt name for the Weapon of Choice, Part III). Try riding Ridge to Tibble three times on fully rigid, three times on hardtail and three times on FS. Track and compare times and see the results. Then, start building WoC III, aka POS for next year! Perhaps it’ll be HT, perhaps FS. Either way, ride on!


  28. Comment by botchedexperiment | 08.16.2007 | 7:32 am

    You’ve done a huge amount of work to get the fitness you currently have, but next year you don’t have to repeat that amount of work to regain the same fitness IF you stay in shape over the winter. I’m not talking about the same type/level of fitness you currently have, but rather just aerobic fitness.

    Anyhoo, I’m sorry I chose to visit my family in Missouri (where it’s 100+ degrees and 50% humidity) rather than go with you guys to leadville. Sounds like it was a lot of fun.

    Great job on the race.

  29. Comment by Thom | 08.16.2007 | 7:34 am

    Thanks for the entertaining story. Almost makes me want to take up endurance mountain biking. Almost. But, the real reason I’m writing is to encourage you not to give up on a sub-9 ride. Like nearly every cyclist, you could probably train more effectively in less time than you did this year. Think: Power Meter…You need one…You must have one…

  30. Comment by mdion | 08.16.2007 | 7:44 am

    Great story – Great team (you and Susan) – Great time.

    It was your original Leadville story that gave me the inspiration to get back on a mountain bike and even consider long distance riding as fun. I sent in my Leadville application, inspired by your contagious words, and raced in 2006 – I finished in 11:19. I did not make the lottery this year.
    I have followed your lead once again and started my own site with another long distance goal: The Great Divide Race.

    I blame you for this crazy cycling compulsion.

  31. Comment by Morgan | 08.16.2007 | 7:46 am

    Fatty- Kudos my friend!! It is the journey not the destination. I say put the sub 9 away. Remember the Gauntlet, the Double Reverse Gauntlet, Mt Nebo loops. and all those other hellacious rides you have done in preperation for Leadville. Thats good times in the saddle with some good friends. MasterCard calls them “Priceless”.

  32. Comment by Libby | 08.16.2007 | 7:52 am


    In the first photo of you and Susan, what’s that on your back? Oh wait, I see, it’s Chris Carmichael. He’s trying to draft off your hug.


  33. Comment by mark | 08.16.2007 | 7:59 am

    Fatty, great job, and I applaud you for the zen attitude required to put the goal away. What you have done as an 11 time finisher is remarkable in its own right.

  34. Comment by Bitter (formerly known as Lissee) | 08.16.2007 | 8:16 am

    What a great story!! Thanks for sharing the race Fatty style. I feel like I was almost there and not a few thousand miles away on the end of a bunch of pixels on a screen. Love it!

    Glad you finished and gave it your all! Like Morgan said, it’s the journey and it’s priceless.

  35. Comment by Likey, but Not So Bikey | 08.16.2007 | 8:31 am

    Fatty, what a great write-up. Shame that you were able to conclude in IV parts… I could definitely read more.

    Libby, HA HA HA!

  36. Comment by Bob | 08.16.2007 | 8:32 am

    Excellent write-up. I know I’m slow guy in the group, but just to put things in perspective, I trained hard this year, lost 15 pounds (OK, I should have lost 30, but don’t interrupt me), and finished 3 hours and 10 minutes behind you. If you wanted to finish beside me, you could have pulled over next to a tree at the top of Powerline, taken a 1-hour nap, and watched “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” and a Seinfeld episode on your video iPod. While you’re not a freak like Kenny or Brad, you’re still a fast rider. And a tolerable writer.

  37. Comment by Jason | 08.16.2007 | 8:35 am

    Hey brother,

    I’m new to this part of cycling, and know most of what I know about Leadville from you and DC. What an amazing adventure! As a guy who six months ago thought it was a challenge to walk upstairs, I’ve found a whole new physical life from cycling. And when I read tales like yours, I realize that there’s a lot more growth possible. Thanks for the inspiration! And congrats!

  38. Comment by KeepYerBag | 08.16.2007 | 8:43 am


    KIDDING, of course.

    If you pulled a DNF because you just bonked out or had some outlandishly high time in spite of your training maybe there’d be some justification for being bummed. No matter how you slice it, though, this was a triumph for you, for Susan, for your cycling buddies, and for all of us who enjoy your prose, your wit and your humanity.

    I’m still blown away by the fact that you’ve done this race–you’ve finished this race–eleven times and this year you were right up there with your personal best. That in itself is an admirable accomplishment.

    I also have no doubt you could have made this a ten-post installment and you’d have us with you all the way.

  39. Comment by Rick S. | 08.16.2007 | 8:45 am

    I agree. The family who camped out on the Powerline climb with dixie cups of Coke were, in my opinion, the coolest people of the race. It was exactly what I needed to get up that climb.

    and “Fish” should be invited on every group ride. I find myself craving those Brats and Italian sausages.

    Nicely done Elden.

  40. Comment by fletcher_the_dog | 08.16.2007 | 8:49 am

    I have read your blog for a long time, but never commented before. It is sad you missed your goal by so little. I have heard there is some bike technology that can help you with your down hill. I think they call it suspension or something like that. I’ve heard also that this suspension can even help your traction on uphills and help your body stay fresher on a hundred mile mountain bike ride. All I’m saying is that maybe your weapon of choice is not the best choice.
    Anyway, congrats on a great blog and a great race write up.

  41. Comment by Nick | 08.16.2007 | 8:59 am

    Thanks for the great write up. I stayed up late in UK to wait for the final results to be posted on the web as the split times were looking close. Its an unusual privilege to be told the story behind bland numbers.

    Sorry you didn’t make your target time but it was still one hell of an achievement. This was brought home for me by reading the experiences of some Leadville virgins ( and rereading your story of your first time there. I think it adds to the challenge that it doesn’t get easier however often you try it.

  42. Comment by KT | 08.16.2007 | 9:02 am

    WOW. Fatty, you are an amazing writer, with an even more amazing support crew in Susan. As others are saying here, so what if you missed your sub-9? You still came in less than 15 minutes off the mark, which means you round DOWN. You FINISHED LEADVILLE 11 times. That’s, lets see, 11 times more than me. You eat hills for breakfast. I’m a certifiable Hill Slug. You showed that Chris Carmichael a thing or two (what a leech!) AND, you and your Core Group and the Fatty’s Army had an amazing time doing it.

    Even the parts of Fatty’s Army who weren’t there, had fun.

    Looking forward to parts V-VIII, Dug’s Story, and ShadowScythe’s next installment. Splorp!

    Win, Susan!!!!!!

  43. Comment by iDon, uNot | 08.16.2007 | 9:04 am

    Hey man, congrats. As a roadie newb, I feel like I couldn’t hope to FINISH 100 miles, let alone in 9:14, let alone on a MTB. Eleven years is so awesome, keep up the writing and the awesome work!
    Also, Just as a side bar: Did you announce the winners for your impromptu time contest? Just curious to see who comes out where.

  44. Comment by JimB | 08.16.2007 | 9:39 am

    What a great write-up and story! Way to go Fatty. I am reminded of the movie Apollo 13, you already know how it was going to end but was still glued to the story. You and Susan have touched and inspired so many of us out here….thanks for sharing your life with us. I agree with everybody else, think of your past year and how you got to that finish line….that number was just a part of the whole journey. Congrats!

  45. Comment by bikemike | 08.16.2007 | 9:41 am

    i had something to write here but i seem to have something
    in my eye. i’m going to turn away now, my eyes seem to be leaking
    too many tear… uhm…water…doh! nevermind.

    congrats elden, if susan is proud, then you should be too.

  46. Comment by Jake | 08.16.2007 | 9:49 am

    A great read. It brought back memories of my ride 2 years ago and left me with tears in my eyes. You’re a good man, thanks for sharing. Jake

  47. Comment by Lil'est sister | 08.16.2007 | 10:20 am

    Fact 1: i have the toughest sister-in-law ever.
    Fact 2: i have the coolest brother ever.

    Thanks for the great read…you and Susan are amazing.

  48. Comment by Kathy | 08.16.2007 | 10:30 am

    Tears? They’re just sad they’re not rockin’ that black jacket like you are. Eleven years is awesome!

  49. Comment by K | 08.16.2007 | 10:46 am


    First and foremost congratulations on accomplishing something truly amazing! I did RAWROD in April on a rigid single and it almost won! All the best to you and your family, you and Susan are inspirations! Now, down to business: 1. Since this is a lottery do previous participants have any preferential treatment to get in? I respect the tradition with friends and my core group and I are considering Leadville in ‘09, we want to do a local one first, maybe the e100. 2. I would really like to see a post by Kenny with his experience. 3. Thank Nick for the link to the windermere experience, read it and feel great about what all of you have done. Thanks!

  50. Comment by Eric | 08.16.2007 | 11:37 am

    Floyd was standing in front of the New Belgium Brewery tent. Of course he was in a good mood!

    Seriously, though, his coolness is one of the things that I like best about him. Whether or not he doped in the TdF, he’s always seemed like the kind of guy that I would like to ride with (if I were about 3x faster than I actually am.) Plus he’s way more entertaining in interviews than the multitudes that stick to their scripts.

    So, did you give him a pink FC jersey, fatty?

  51. Comment by Big Boned | 08.16.2007 | 11:39 am

    That is one of the great mysteries of the universe….How the leadville entry is determined. Back when only 500 (?) got in, I applied, on time, for FOUR YEARS before I got in. I got in the next couple of years, then moved away and haven’t done it since.

  52. Comment by MAJ Mike | 08.16.2007 | 11:48 am

    You could be disappointed if you had an equipment failure that accounted for the lost time, or an injury that cropped up and struck you down mid-race or as you trained. None of that happened. You had it all together, with the possible exception of a certain salty shot blok, and you got to “leave it all on the course” as Al put it. Nice ride.

  53. Comment by Errorista | 08.16.2007 | 11:53 am

    I think Kasey Kasem said it best when he told us all, nay even you brother:

    “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.”

    It has never been more true.

    P.S. Susan looks beautiful – what a killer smile that lady has.

  54. Comment by K | 08.16.2007 | 12:01 pm


    Thanks for the response, it wouldn’t be truly epic without a bit of mysticism, I will start applying and train in the mean time, ‘08 is too soon though, I rode with some FC guys on part of the guantlet and they almost dropped me with 6k feet in their legs already and I was my first hill! Good motivation!


  55. Comment by miles archer | 08.16.2007 | 12:35 pm

    Excellent write up.

    You know, to some extent fitness is cumulative. The work you did this year will help you next year.

  56. Comment by 2Phat | 08.16.2007 | 12:44 pm

    Way to go Elden! I can appreciate your melancholy mood, but the fact is that you have been in this race plentysix times! Come on man; how many people have that claim to fame? Answer? Not Lance and not Floyd.

    Susan, wow! You are amazing. You have the WIN attitude. I am sure Elden and your children see and appreciate your example on a daily basis. Seeing you support Elden in this race speaks so highly of you, especially while you are so actively engaged in (and winning!) your own.

    To the both of you, and The Core Team–Congratulations! YOU WON!

  57. Comment by Anonymous | 08.16.2007 | 1:50 pm

    Man, you are ripped! Your arm muscles split open the jersey on that first pic. Now, is that dirt or blood on your face in that first pic?

  58. Comment by MTB W | 08.16.2007 | 2:12 pm

    sorry, that last post was mine. Not sure why it didn’t post my name.

    MTB W

  59. Comment by Steve | 08.16.2007 | 2:30 pm

    OK, Floyd may be a freak of nature on a bike and he’s apparently a pretty cool guy to have stuck around after a punishing ride, but I’m certain he didn’t tell his story of the race as well as you told yours. I also doubt he could have appreciated his Phonak support team at the Tour more genuinely than you did yours at Leadville. I’m sure the kudos to Susan were richly deserved. (We’ll look forward to reading her account soon.)

    You’ve coaxed me out of lurkerdom to say, “Good going, Elden!” It was a great effort and a well-told tale.

  60. Comment by LanterneRouge | 08.16.2007 | 3:09 pm

    Ima thinkin’ that it’s the soul patch that slowed you down.

  61. Comment by Lurkette | 08.16.2007 | 3:37 pm

    Dude. If you ever do make that sub-9, virtual Team Fatty will experience immediate and catastrophic closure. We will abandon you for other blogs that celebrate striving-but-not-quite-attaining. Ya don’t want that, do ya? So here’s the deal for next year: 9:07!! It’ll keep us coming back forever.

  62. Comment by JET(not a nickname) | 08.16.2007 | 4:03 pm

    As usual, excellent ride write up Fatty. You don’t seem to have a lot to be ashamed of. You have a full time job, a full time family, and you still did a god-awful challenging mtb race with a time that should be envied by the masses. It was a hell of an effort and if you can look back and say “that was the best I could do at that time”, than you succeeded.

    By the way, the B7 challeng pushed me to new heights and aided me in achieving one of my biking goals of the season. For the team triathlon my wife and I do along with a friend, we finished 4th overall in the coed division, and I was the 5th biker overall in that division. Thanks for the push!

  63. Comment by formertdffan | 08.16.2007 | 6:17 pm

    You and Susan are an inspiration.

  64. Comment by coffee | 08.16.2007 | 7:37 pm

    I could read 10 installments. I love the epic bike tale.

  65. Comment by ShortSpan | 08.17.2007 | 5:39 am

    Cheers Fatty, Congratulations on a job well done and 11 Leadville’s under your belt….your the man, no doubt.

  66. Comment by co | 08.17.2007 | 9:00 pm

    silly FC – not getting sub-9 when you had the wrong food is not embarrassing – except for not having food options when you’ve got a vehicle at your command. so while you say you can’t do anything better – what if you’d had strawberry & raspberry shotblocks the whole way? (do they make cantaloupe ones?) how about maxing on food possibilities at your swag wagon so you can choose what will actually go down at the time? much room for improvement, albeit not wrt your bike or training…

  67. Comment by Kerri | 08.21.2007 | 10:45 am

    Floyd IS cool. He made an appearance last October at a charity fundraiser gala/bike ride for the nonprofit my sister works for in California (Canine Companions for Independence). He wasn’t riding at the time, since it was right after his surgery, but we got a photo with him, which he later signed. My husband and I were volunteers at the gala dinner. Pretty funny to see my husband speechless when the 2006 TDF winner asked him where the men’s room was.

  68. Comment by lmouse | 08.21.2007 | 3:27 pm

    Puh-lease, Fatty. You’re in the best shape of your life! Mission accomplished!

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