2008 Leadville Trail 100 Race Report

08.14.2008 | 9:51 am

Ask yourself this question: what would it take for you to call a race your best ever? Would you need to win? Set a personal record? Move up in your category’s standings?

Those are the things I’ve always wanted from a race. But last Saturday at the Leadville 100, none of those things happened. I’m overweight. I’m unfocused. I was considerably slower than last year. I dropped in the standings from 135 to 268 — almost exactly twice as far down the leader board.

But I’ve never had a better race.

The Dawn of Understanding
The thing about having done a race eleven times in the past eleven years is that the sense of deja vu is practically overwhelming as you start the twelfth time. The hum of thousands — literally! — of knobby tires on pavement. The surging and slowing. The relief of being off the pavement and on dirt. The jockeying for a better spot as you re-pass all the people who evidently are paved downhill MTB specialists, but are confounded by doubletrack. The ominous “it’s finally begun” sensation, where you know you’re at the very beginning of the adventure, but have no idea how it’s going to turn out.

This deja vu feeling ended as soon as I began the first climb. Dug had already caught me, so we were climbing together, taking turns following each other’s lines. It was great. We were talking, passing folks, and enjoying the fact that our plan — to ride this race together — had come together so quickly.

The first climb is so crowded, though — there are 1000 cyclists, all feeling fresh and strong, all trying to pass each other, on a narrow and steep jeep road — that riding the single speed became really difficult. See, riding a single speed requires you keep your momentum, and it is actually much harder to climb slowly than to climb at your own pace. Turning the cranks slowly becomes painful, and you have to work hard to keep your balance.

On a geared bike, I would have compensated by dropping to a low gear and spinning. On a single speed, I tried to just stay on my bike and pedal.

Then I had an epiphany. An obvious, pure-genius epiphany: If it was harder to ride than walk, I should walk.

That would become my guiding philosophy for the whole day.

I got off my bike and pushed it up the hill, losing ground to Dug — who was still riding – and thinking that there was a great chance he would clean my clock that day.

To my surprise, I found I was OK with that idea.

Riding With Dug
After the first few miles of the St. Kevins (pronounced “kee’vins” for some reason) climb, there’s a hairpin turn that signals good news: the steep, crowded part of the climb is over, and crowding will not be a problem again for the rest of the day.

With Dug out of sight ahead of me, I should have felt pressure to catch up. But I didn’t. I — for the first time ever in a race — didn’t feel any pressure. My only responsibility for this race was to have fun. That was Dug’s mandate, too. If he was having fun going faster than me, that’s cool.

Which made me wonder: where the hell did this attitude come from? Seriously. It’s like I suddenly turned into a buddhist monk or something.

Maybe it’s the extra weight.

Before too long, though, I saw Dug — he hadn’t gotten too far ahead of me after all. So we started riding together again, trading lines and trash talk. I’m pretty sure Dug had more wind and adrenaline than I did, because he was handily winning the trash talk banter battle.

Of course, I was making it easy for him. In particular, I remember bringing too much speed into a corner and having to brake hard before I could turn, almost bringing my bike to a stop. I’m pretty sure I looked like I was just learning to ride a bike for the first time.

“What kind of turn was that?” asked Dug, as he easily and expertly carved the corner I had just bungled.

“Um. A really badly executed one?” I asked, no clever comeback prepared.

Dug just should his head, disappointed in my lack of wit, and put some distance between us.

A Farewell to Nick, and Dug
Every year, there’s a certain spot on the St. Kevins climb I always look for. You’re riding along on a relatively flat part of the trail, when — wham! — there’s a right turn, followed by a previously unseen steep climb.

I always remember it because several years ago when I came upon it I, like most riders, hastily dumped my gears, trying to get from middle-middle to granny, even as I started the unanticipated climb, and gave myself a colossal case of chainsuck. It probably took ten minutes to work the chain loose, but it felt like an hour.

“At least I don’t have to worry about that this year,” I thought as I rounded the corner. No gears to change. I’d either climb it or walk it.

And then I saw, right in the spot where I got chainsuck years ago, I saw my friend Nick — resplendent in his pink Fat Cyclist jersey — just getting back on his bike. He explained had been struggling with chainsuck for the past 15 minutes. Which made me think three things:

  1. If Nick and I have both had chainsuck at that spot, I bet hundreds of other racers have, too.
  2. Nick had already put fifteen minutes on me?
  3. Singlespeeds are awesome. I had no trouble cleaning that climb.

“Get out of my way, you crazy Australian!” I yelled. Pure comedic genius. You know, because Nick’s an Australian. And, um, “crazy” is an adjective that occurred to me at the moment.

Dug, Nick and I rode together for a while, taking turns leading on the rolling climb. But, I noticed, each time there was a climb, I pulled a little further ahead of them.

I wasn’t trying to. Honest. On a single speed, though, you pretty much just climb at the rate you can. It’s as difficult to ride below your pace as it is to ride above it.

By the time I got to the top of St. Kevins and began the four-mile paved downhill, I had left them behind.

“They’ll catch me soon enough,” I thought.

I Am Annoyingly Chatty
I don’t believe I have ever mentioned this before, but I am kind of a goofball.

I know, I know. That’s very startling news.

I wanted to bring this up, though, because it helps explain my next two interactions with riders. After coasting down the St. Kevins paved descent, I wound up behind a couple of cyclists — a man piloting, a woman stoking — on a tandem.

“Hey tandem,” I called out, in a singsong voice. I don’t know why I chose the singsong voice. Oxygen deprivation, maybe?

“Hey…um…bicycle,” the man called back, using a similar singsong voice. An excellent reply, I must say.

I passed them, during which my favorite conversation of the race occurred. Right at the moment I drew up alongside, the man farted, loudly. A Monty Python-esque fart. You know: BrrrrAAAPuhpuhpuh.

“Ew,” I said, once again failing to do my part in contributing wit to the conversation.

“How do you think I feel?” the woman asked.

I’m sorry. That still cracks me up. I love good situational fart comedy.

I turned onto the next climb, a wide dirt road, and just barely uphill. And that is when I had my second epiphany. “I should eat whenever I’m riding on parts of the course where it’s easy to eat,” I thought.

I’m not saying my epiphanies are brilliant, but they are useful. I ripped open a bag of caffeinated Watermelon Jelly Belly Sport Beans and ate them. Delicious.

Plus they make you spit in bright green.

Before too long, I caught up with a rider on a yellow Fisher Paragon, which some of you may remember was the bike I had used as my Leadville Weapon of Choice last year.

I got all nostalgic, so I made up a song on the spot, which I sang aloud, right behind this guy. It went like this (sung to the tune of the song “Particle Man“):

Paragon man, Paragon man
riding his bike like a Paragon can

Unfortunately (or not), I couldn’t think of another line. So I passed him. However, we would pass each other again several times during the next hour or so, and each time I would sing the two lines I had of “Paragon Man.”

I have to assume that he was enormously grateful when we eventually lost sight of each other.

Smart Judgment Calls
The Powerline descent is really the only technical descent in the entire Leadville race. If there’s a spot on this course where it pays to be cautious, this is it. So I cruised down at a mellow pace, figuring that it’s better to take it easy than to pinch flat.

Judging from the 18 people I saw on the side of the trail fixing flats (yes, I counted), not everyone made the same choice.

I tried to not feel smug as I passed all these folks. Really, I did. And yet, I couldn’t help myself.

When I got to the bottom of the Powerline descent, I was immediately passed by Nick. Then Bill. Then Linde. All of them were turning big gears on the short, flat, paved section that connects the Powerline trail to the dirt road leading to Twin Lakes Dam.

I had no chance whatsoever of hanging with them. Not on the single speed. So I didn’t worry about it. We’d either see each other again, or not.

So, riding along on the road — no chance of catching a paceline — i caught up with Cole Chlouber, another single speed rider, whom I had spent a big chunk of the race last year riding with. This year, he hadn’t trained at all, and was just there for the fun of it.

That sounded good to me.

So instead of taking turns pulling each other, we just rode side by side, talking about how he’s just got engaged, has been traveling a lot, and has got in a lot of rock climbing this year. While, meanwhile, dozens of cyclists in pacelines passed us

And I kept looking back, wondering when Dug was going to catch me. He and I were supposed to be riding together.

Road Rash
Cole and I cruised into the first aid station (Pipeline) together, at which point he must have pulled off to get some food and water, because I emerged from the station alone.

I resolved to take it nice and easy on the rolling 15-mile stretch leading to Twin Lakes Dam. That way, Dug would catch me and we could ride the Big Climb — Columbine Mine — together.

So I cruised, not pedaling soft, but also not killing myself.

And then I saw the most peculiar crash aftermath I have ever seen.

The dirt road was wide and straight. It was well-graded. It was perhaps the least crash-conducive trail I have ever been on. But there was a guy laying on the ground, his face practically ground off. Several people had already stopped, taking care of him, so I kept going. But I still think back to that crash, wondering how it possibly could have happened.

Maybe he crashed while reaching back into a pocket to grab some food. Or maybe he crashed while taking off his vest or jacket. Maybe he tangled up with another rider.

One thing I know for sure: if I ever had a crash on an open, wide, straight road, I’d at least make up a good story for why.

The fifteen miles went fast — at least in my mind they went fast — and then I was at the Twin Lakes Dam Aid station. Dug’s wife was there, mostly to crew for him, but also crewing for me. She expertly swapped out my bottles and food, which I will list here for your edification:

  • 1 bottle of water
  • 1 bottle of Coke
  • 2 packets of Clif Shot Bloks
  • 2 packets of PowerGel
  • 2 packets of Sport Beans

That’s about 800 calories, all easily consumable while riding the bike. As she swapped my food out, I looked up the trail, expecting Dug, while I drank a can of chicken and stars soup.

On to Columbine
And now we’re at my favorite part of the race, and my favorite part of the story. The problem is, it’s not a part of the story that reads especially well. See, the whole thing can be summed up as follows:

  • Columbine is an eight mile climb
  • I felt great the whole climb, and I passed lots of people

But that doesn’t really capture it. I had been dreading doing this climb on my single speed, figuring it would finish me. But it didn’t. Instead, I got into a climbing groove, standing most of the time, rocking the bike side to side with each pedal stroke.

I stopped being chatty. I just felt good. Strong and calm. I passed scores of people — Nick. Bill. Linde. Bry. Mark and Serena. I didn’t talk long with anyone, my interest now was in climbing.

Very few people passed me during this section.

All the while, I kept looking up ahead, wondering when we’d see the race leaders come blazing by in the other direction. I couldn’t help but be excited.

And then, 3:38 into the race (I’m not sure of that time), they zoomed by. Lance Armstrong leading, Wiens immediately behind. I only saw them for a second, but was astounded at how fast they were going. I also took note of Armstrong’s expression.

That guy is focused when he’s on the bike. He doesn’t look angry or fierce, just determined. I believe that when the complete history of cycling is written, it will be generally acknowledged that Lance Armstrong had the best game face of all time.

That, anyway, is my contention based on approximately 0.75 seconds of observation.

Once I’d climbed the first five miles of Columbine, I got to the hard part, where the trail gets steep, rocky, and loose. When riding gears, I’ve always tried to ride as much as possible of this section, as a point of pride. Only when forced would I get off.

This year was different. Whenever I got to a section where it would be harder to ride than walk, I just got off. Easy. And as a result, I think I arrived at the top of Columbine only marginally slower than in my fastest years, and I felt much, much stronger. And that’s with me being twenty pounds heavier than usual.

I think there may be some merit to this whole “work smarter, not harder” thing.

The Cantaloupe Paradox
I got to the Columbine Aid Station in 5:10. Since most people — including myself — generally finish the race in almost exactly double their turnaround time, this put me way ahead of the 11:11:11 time I was originally shooting for.

So maybe I should adjust my time goal, I thought. How about 10:10:10? That would be equally cool.

As soon as I rolled in, I got treated to the famous Leadville Aid Station hospitality. Seriously, Nordstrom has nothing on these guys. One guy took my bike and asked what I wanted in my bottles. “Just top off one of them with Coke,” I said.

Another asked what I wanted to eat. “Got any cantaloupe?” I asked.

Yes they did. And how. Big platters of cantaloupe, cut into perfect bite-sized pieces.

I stood in front of one of the platters, and ate my fill. I would guess, conservatively, that I spent between seven minutes eating cantaloupe, with the occasional half-banana thrown in.

And now, just for a moment, I’d like to flash forward. If you read my blog, you already know that I finished the race in 10:06. And a little later in this story, you’ll find that toward the final quarter of the race, I started taking the idea of finishing in under ten hours very seriously.

Of course, if I hadn’t spent all that time eating all that cantaloupe, I would have finished in 9:58.

Or would I?

Did spending time standing, resting and eating buy more time than it cost? It’s a question every endurance racer has to consider every time we stop. And, having made one choice or the other, we never know how things would have worked out the other way.

And I hereby dub this quandary “The Cantaloupe Paradox.”

I Have a New Skill
I have never enjoyed the first part of the Columbine descent. Mostly, this is because you’re riding down a rocky, loose trail, while other people are hiking their bikes up that selfsame trail. Crashing would be all of the following:

  • Painful
  • Public
  • Embarrassing

This year, I felt good. I didn’t get passed as often on the downhill, and I didn’t feel on the verge of panic during the descent.

Apart from its technical nature, the Columbine descent is like a very short rolling party, where you only have half a second to mingle with each guest. I yelled the following at various riders as I descended:

  • Catch me, Dug! You’re two minutes behind!
  • Go Warners!
  • Bry!
  • Nice work, Bill!
  • Keep it up, Nick!
  • Liiiisa!
  • Yeeehaa! Go Bobby!

I would like to point out that I yelled the appropriate things at the appropriate people. for example, I did not yell “Liiiisa!” at anyone but Lisa Rollins, who was kicking serious butt, by the way.

Anyway, I got to the bottom of Columbine, then rolled through the Twin Lakes Dam Aid Station doing a trilling yell to get the people on the sidelines worked up.

This technique works great. The people on the side love to get excited for a rider who’s excited, too. This, in turn, gives you a giant morale boost and a shot of adrenaline. Highly recommended.

Kim swapped out my food in record time while I drank another soup and looked up the road for Dug, who would surely be catching me as I sat there.

But he didn’t, so I got back on the bike and headed out — feeling as cheerful and happy to be riding as I was at the beginning of the day.

And I am not exaggerating about that.

Time is an Illusion
I pedaled along the rolling dirt road between Twin Lakes and the final major aid station: Pipeline. After that, you’re at the hardest part of the race.

Again, not pushing myself, just riding at my good single speed intensity. Expecting Dug to catch up shortly.

I took a look down at my Garmin Forerunner 305. It showed I was making really good time.

Several minutes later, I looked down again. Wow, I was making really good time.

Hey, waitasecond. That’s the same time! And apparently I hadn’t gone anywhere in the past little while.

Oh, that’s because I evidently — and accidentally — pressed the “Stop” button. So I started the timer again and found out from another rider how long we had really been out, then did the math. My bike computer had been stopped for about half an hour. For the rest of the race, I would just add half an hour to the time my stopwatch showed.

And that effectively ended my quest for a specific finishing time like 10:10:10. But it did open the door for me to try for something less precise but equally cool: a sub-10-hour finish on my single speed.

I started riding harder, and stopped waiting for Dug to catch me.

Passed, Passed Back
I rolled into the final aid station, reloaded with food, and headed back out. Within a few minutes, Bry and Mark and Serena caught me. They invited me to draft, but I knew that wouldn’t happen, not on my single speed. “Go on,” I said, bravely. “I’m no good to you.”

So they went on. For the first time that day, I was bothered by being passed. For once, I wanted to finish in front of the Warner Dynasty. Oh well. Nothing I could do about it now.

Except once we turned onto the dirt and started climbing, I passed them back. And I wasn’t killing myself to do it.

Then we got to the hike-a-bike section. This is just a nasty, evil climb, and my mind boggles that Wiens and Armstrong rode it (watch the video of their race recap here).

As I pushed my bike, I caught up with a woman rider, also pushing. “This is the hardest part of the race,” I said, conversationally.

“No s—, Sherlock,” she replied.

“Yeah, I guess that was kind of obvious,” I concluded.

And that was the end of that conversation.

Once the hike-a-bike ended, I started passing people again. While I was riding my single speed — and they were walking their geared bikes.

Yes, I suppose you could say I felt pretty good. And, frankly, it made me suspicious. I have never felt this good, for this long. Shouldn’t I be falling apart right now? Bonking? Or otherwise discombobulating?

But it never happened. I never felt bad, the whole day. I expect I’ll be trying to replicate this effect in every race for the rest of my life. And I doubt it will ever happen again.

I should just be glad it happened even once, really.

As I reached the top of the Powerline climb, it started to rain.

And then it started to rain hard. Having foregone getting a jacket at the last aid station, I just pulled my armwarmers up (I left my armwarmers on the whole day — it never really got very warm) and did my best to do the descent.

The problem was, I couldn’t see. The muddy water from my tires quickly coated my glasses and I was let to interpret the blurry colors into the best line to ride as best as I could.

I have never been so happy to reach the bottom of a descent.

Now it was time to do the St. Kevins climb: four miles of pavement, in cold heavy rain, and a little bit of hail, just for fun.

I stood up and started pedaling. Just rocking the bike left and right, head down. I didn’t have to choose a good gear for climbing; that choice had been made long ago.

As I pedaled, I remembered something Bob, Kenny, and I had talked about during the drive to Leadville. It would be a good idea to have a “Sad Climbing Songs” playlist for your iPod: a bunch of songs to listen to when you’re on a hard climb and are in the mood for some self pity.

I didn’t have an iPod with me, but I could sing. And I did, the whole way: “All by mysellllllf. All by myseeeeeellllf.”

You know, it’s too bad I don’t know any more lyrics to that song; they would have come in handy.

Final Push
By the time I got to the top of the St. Kevins climb, the rain had mostly stopped. I was starting to see that it was possible — although very, very close — for me to finish in under ten hours. So I pushed it. I took the St. Kevins descent fast (although I still got passed by more people than I passed), and then — for the first time that day — did crazy-legs cadence, trying to ride fast on the last little flat section before the climb up the “Boulevard,” a dirt road climb that dumps you out a few blocks in front of the finish line.

And here, I gave it everything I had. I pushed as hard as I could, passing eight people on that final climb, then another three once I got to the pavement. For some reason, finishing under ten hours was now important to me.

Even as I crossed the finish line, I didn’t know if I had done it.

I looked back at the official race clock: 10:06. Nope, I hadn’t done it. Still, I had finished about an hour faster than I had originally hoped to, and that’s not bad.

Oh, who am I kidding? I feel like I totally kicked butt.

And how did the core team do?

Dug finished about 45 minutes after I did. The magic fairy dust that somehow let me feel great all day did not reach him, and he suffered — as I always have before — on that final quarter of the race. I feel, though, that I owe him for my finish time. Because I was waiting for him, I rode conservatively on the flats, getting plenty of rest so I felt great when it was time to do the climbs.

Bob crossed the finish line well under 12 hours. In fact, he was an hour faster than last year, and had effectively redeemed himself. Then the nausea hit him, and wouldn’t go away. So I took him to the emergency room, where he got some oxygen and saline solution.


Kenny finished in 8:30, on his single speed. Kenny desperately wants to win the single speed division. The rest of us would kill to have his second place finish and nine sub-9 finishes.

Brad almost didn’t make it to the race, but he did, and he finished in 9:20. In fact, he finished with Rick Sunderlage (not his real name), who wanted to finish sub-9 as badly as I usually do. Don’t tell Rick, but I’m glad he didn’t get that sub-9, because now I have a chance at getting it with him next year. On my SS.

Nick finished in 10:59. He summarizes his day as “Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, he eats you.” Is that an Australian saying or something? Because I have never eaten a bear.



  1. Comment by XCTiger | 08.14.2008 | 9:59 am

    Fantastic, now I have a real reason why I keep checking back multiple times a day.

  2. Comment by andrewc | 08.14.2008 | 10:06 am

    hey this is like performance art. can you add “lance’s bike” to the list?

  3. Comment by montanapat | 08.14.2008 | 10:10 am

    Looking forward to the segment “All by myself”. I’ve sang “all by myself” on many a ride. Glad it’s not just me.

  4. Comment by Philly Jen | 08.14.2008 | 10:10 am

    Yipes, I don’t like the look of that last one. “Bob at the hospital”…? Understandable, when your hairdo has its own gravitational field. Which may be why Fatty favors minimalism in these matters.

    Get well, Bob! (I think, unless you were fine all along. Oh, the suspense…)

    WIN Susan

  5. Comment by regina | 08.14.2008 | 10:11 am

    hmmm a peek inside the mind of a professional writer while performing his craft, I am a little scared, but… GO FATTY!
    WIN SUSAN!!!

  6. Comment by dug | 08.14.2008 | 10:17 am

    delete the next topic immediately

  7. Comment by MentatBiker | 08.14.2008 | 10:22 am

    Fatty, you need to learn to type and write faster. I expect 3 paragraphs at LEAST every five minutes.

  8. Comment by Bitter (formerly known as Lissee) | 08.14.2008 | 10:40 am

    Ha! :) Looking forward to the updates.

    btw, last paragraph of “Riding w/Dug” replace should with shook.

  9. Comment by leroy | 08.14.2008 | 10:44 am

    Dickens wrote in installments too.

    But I don’t think he could climb.

    Given dug’s reaction to the next topic, I’m not sure I want to know what he was eating on the ride.

  10. Comment by MTB W | 08.14.2008 | 11:09 am

    My, my. I have to say I like reading this lengthy ride report in segments. It’s like a soap opera, where at every commercial break, they leave you hanging, begging for more. (Umm, I don’t mean to say I actually watch soap operas, just that it’s like soap operas. I’ll stop here before I embarass myself anymore).

  11. Comment by KanyonKris | 08.14.2008 | 11:10 am

    Now I know why you were putting off this report – it’s going to be as epic as the ride! I’ve enjoyed reading the first 4 section and look forward to the rest, especially the one dug wants you to delete {grin}.

  12. Comment by Jay Peitzer | 08.14.2008 | 11:22 am

    Gilgamesh has nothing on you. He couldn’t climb or descend. I used to make stupid conversation with tandems as well. It’s hard not to. I’m waiting with ,like the cat who ate cheese, baited breath for the next installment.

    WIN SUSAN!!!!!

  13. Comment by Clydesdale | 08.14.2008 | 11:32 am

    I’m at “Riding with Cole”


  14. Comment by Megan | 08.14.2008 | 11:41 am

    I’m worried about Dug (though I’m guessing he’s fine since he’s been posting and everything).

  15. Comment by Lizzylou | 08.14.2008 | 11:58 am

    You don’t have to worry about Dug, I read his race story already, and he didn’t die or anything. Though it sounded like he wished he had…

  16. Comment by Boz | 08.14.2008 | 12:12 pm

    Thanks, now “Particle Man” is looping on my computer, much to the annoyance of my co-workers, and I’m craving those stupid sport beans. BTW, Hammer Heed melon is the perfect drink to wash down the beans.

    Aside, I’ve read a bunch of L100 recounts, and yours is the best(no brown nosing intended). Keep ‘em coming.

  17. Comment by jt | 08.14.2008 | 12:13 pm

    I call the “cantaloupe paradox”

    “too busy chopping wood to sharpen the ax”

    Win Susan!

  18. Comment by Charlie | 08.14.2008 | 12:21 pm

    RE: the faceplant…

    Was that on the paved part of the descent right before Twin Lakes? I came across a guy (one person was helping him, and the search and rescue truck was just pulling up) in a big pool of blood at the end of a horrible smear of blood on the pavement. I really couldn’t figure out what he did either – not sure if it was the same guy you saw or someone else. Maybe there’s a herd of mountain bike snakes running around out there?

  19. Comment by dave | 08.14.2008 | 12:28 pm

    Your Leadville story is like a Christmas present in August. I look forward to it every year. And this year it keeps going and going.

    Great job on Leadville. Happy Anniversary. WIN Susan!

  20. Comment by Tim E | 08.14.2008 | 12:34 pm

    YES! An excuse to come back later! Great reading as always. Makes me wish my knees would let me stand up on a bike and pound it instead of just sitting there and peddling my butt off (which I can’t seem to do, it just refuses to go away).

  21. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 08.14.2008 | 12:40 pm

    I’m loving this update as you write thing. I can read a section, work, come back and read more, repeat.

    Great story so far, can’t wait to read the rest. :)

  22. Comment by Clydesteve | 08.14.2008 | 12:43 pm

    Fatty – You forgot the refrain on your song:

    Paragon man, Paragon man
    ridng his bike like a Paragon can

    wich should be followed by the refrain:

    Paragon man.

    Then, you could have added a 2nd verse, were goofy parody lyrics your super-power, like me:

    Paragon man, Paragon man,
    Did he get chain-suck on St. Kevin>

    Paragon man

    Steve, trying to be helpful.

  23. Comment by fatty | 08.14.2008 | 12:48 pm

    charlie – no, the faceplant was on the dirt, right after the (outbound) pipeline aid station.

  24. Pingback by It’s Just A Ride » Blog Archive » So That’s Leadville, Wow! | 08.14.2008 | 1:29 pm

    [...] FatCyclist is posting his race report (a bit at a time) of the epic Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race in Colorado, which he did on a freakin’ single-speed. Much like the Great Divide Race article I posted on earlier, it’s inspiring and it’s making me hungry for trails. [...]

  25. Comment by scank | 08.14.2008 | 1:30 pm


    Out of interest, what gear ratio were you running on your ss?

  26. Comment by Swedoz | 08.14.2008 | 1:31 pm

    Awesome. Hmmm have to think seriously about a trip over from Sweden next year. Any tips on how to persuade the women who will by then be my wife that this is a good idea?

  27. Comment by KanyonKris | 08.14.2008 | 1:33 pm

    Well written – an entertaining read. I have something for you to think about:

    It was a fun race, because you weren’t racing.

  28. Comment by fatty | 08.14.2008 | 1:36 pm

    scank – 32 x 20. That seemed to be the most common setup at the race.

    kk – i think that’s exactly right.

  29. Comment by Corey | 08.14.2008 | 1:41 pm

    Speaking of walking vs riding on the steep uphills, in the video you linked, did you notice Lance pedaling, and Dave looking like he was going to pass him…on foot?

    I know they say you cover ground per energy expended pedaling, but sometimes getting off the bike and pushing is just the break my muscles need.

  30. Comment by Jerry | 08.14.2008 | 1:45 pm

    Wow, I have 4 LT100 finishes, 3 belt buckles, and now one mention on Fatty’s Blog. it is my achievement for this year. I am the guy with half his face ground off. No finish or buckle this year though. :-(

    So I was abducted by aliens shortly after passing through the Pipeline outbound aid station. During this abduction, time in our dimension was frozen as they did a sequence of bizarre experiments on me to determine how I could train so hard and still be so slow. With no conclusions, they restored me to my spot on my bike with no time passing, but in their haste forgot to restore my consciousness, causing me to crash.

    Seriously, if anyone was close enough behind me to see what happened, I would sure like to know. 5th LT100, Denver resident, regularly train and race at altitude. Bike intact. Riding slow and defensively. Food, drink, clothing intact so it doesn’t look like I was fumbling with one of those. Lots of cuts and a gradually recovering brain. :-) Doctors say as long as I am doing better each day, no reason for any testing but if I truly went down for no reason perhaps I better go back to the docs…

    And, yes, I would trade Kenny for his 2nd place SS finish. I think the aliens must have also secretly helped Charlie with his 8:02. ;-)

  31. Comment by Formely Bent022 | 08.14.2008 | 1:55 pm

    Great write up. I always enjoy your epic tales.

  32. Comment by Corey | 08.14.2008 | 1:57 pm

    With the half of face that is left, do you think you will have an upcoming role as a villain in a batman movie?
    I bet you would trade anyone for their finish…second place or not!

  33. Comment by Rob | 08.14.2008 | 2:03 pm

    Great recap….excellently told by a master storyteller. Thanks, Elden. Glad you had such a great time. You deserve it.

    And I like the write, post, write, post…. flow. Gave me something cool to read 4 or 5 times today.

    WIN Susan.

    PS – Did you get to meet Lance at all?

  34. Comment by bikemike | 08.14.2008 | 2:05 pm

    freaking good for you man. it sure is good to read a good ol’ fatty post again.

  35. Comment by fatty | 08.14.2008 | 2:16 pm

    jerry – glad you’re recovering. that was a harsh fall; you looked pretty hurt on the ground there. you don’t have any recollection at all of why you went down? keep us posted.

  36. Comment by fatty | 08.14.2008 | 2:17 pm

    rob – nope, i never met lance. i have friends who got his autograph, including one to susan on a fat cyclist t.

  37. Comment by regina | 08.14.2008 | 2:17 pm

    that was a great recap, Sorry Dug and Bob suffered, and just really proud of all you guys.
    WIN SUSAN!!!

  38. Comment by Charlie | 08.14.2008 | 2:20 pm


    That’s weird – the one I saw was on the fast but not particularly steep paved road about 1/4 mile before crossing the highway into Twin Lakes. Unless his fork exploded or someone stuck a pump through his front wheel, or touched wheels with another rider I really can’t figure out how he did it.

    I’ve seen plenty of explainable crashes – but this one just looked totally random and thus very scarry!

  39. Comment by hades | 08.14.2008 | 2:44 pm

    Is it just me or is there only one 26″ front tire in the group photo? Or is that a 650b?

  40. Comment by Al Maviva | 08.14.2008 | 2:47 pm

    I think I know your secret.

    Since you put on some weight, you now carry supplemental dietary aids, dromedary-like, if dromedaries had bellies that drooped halfway to the ground over the thick belt they purchased in anticipation of getting one of the really great Leadville belt buckles.

    Anyhow, if you’ve been doing lots of absent-minded, chilling out and just spinning around on the bike, there’s a fair chance you inadvertently taught your body to burn fat for energy. Sadly, you probably didn’t teach it well enough to burn off the gut, but you learned it up well enough to give you an added bit of extra boost on the hills.

    Plus as you note, carrying hills on the single speed is very much about keeping your momentum up, and nothing helps maintain momentum like a bit of extra mass.

    BTW, congrats. Great ride.

  41. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 08.14.2008 | 3:02 pm

    Congrats on a great ride and a great write-up.

    But, and there’s always a but. And mine are bigger than most. Man, I had to endure 4237 words before the first photo. Kids these days wouldn’t tolerate that in their education. You’d be old school tough if you ever took up a teaching post.

  42. Comment by leroy | 08.14.2008 | 3:10 pm

    Wow, what a great ride and write up!

    Somehow, though, the next time I climb, I doubt I’ll be singing “All by Myself.”

    My labored breathing synchronizes to the chorus from “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

    Has anyone else noticed how “gasp, hunh, gasp, hunh, gasp, hunh, gasp, hunh ” tracks “a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a wimoweh, a-wimoweh”? Very embarrassing.

    Thanks for sharing the ride report. It was worth waiting for!

  43. Comment by usimpto | 08.14.2008 | 3:15 pm

    Thanks for the fabulous write-up (I waited until it was finished). Congrats on doing so well!

    And thanks for the link to the the Armstrong/Wiens video; good to see even Lance had to walk some. It’s also nice to actually get to see some of what you’re writing about.

  44. Comment by tim | 08.14.2008 | 3:17 pm

    great ride, great write up. And thanks for the link to the Armstrong/Wiens duel. That was something else. great to actually see the climbs and descents you are talking about.
    As an average paced roadie plodder I am totally in awe of you guys. Great ride Fatty……and Kenny, 8.30 on a SS!!! Man, that’s obscene.

    WIN SUSAN, thoughts with you all.

  45. Comment by dug | 08.14.2008 | 3:36 pm

    i feel a little like the orson welles character in “the third man”–always referred to, never appearing.

    glad i could help. i was having the same feeling you were (albeit about 10 minutes slower) all the way until a third of the way up powerline. then i was having the opposite feelings. rain, hail, tears, despair (yes, rain and hail are feelings, try it).

    so i’m guessing they haven’t developed a test for autologous blood doping yet, have they?

  46. Comment by fatty | 08.14.2008 | 3:44 pm

    hades – you’re absolutely right. in that group photo, there’s only one 26″-wheeled bike. he had the slowest time of all of us. coincidence? i think not.

  47. Comment by Jerry | 08.14.2008 | 3:46 pm

    Fatty, I remember having a great morning, feeling strong and riding what seemed like slow. A little faster than last year, but with much less effort. Filling up my bottles at the first aid station. The next thing I knew I was waking up along the smooth, groomed trail with two riders attending to me. One of them was a doctor, and told me he had been with me 20-30 minutes, and had sacrificed his goal of a sub-10 time. I got a ride in a truck back to the aid station. They gave me oxygen, and the big guy who drove the truck cut off my wristband…my 2008 LT100 ended with a whimper. I would really like to find out who the doctor was who spent all the time with me, he may have saved my life.

    I would have provided all of the details about the alien abduction, but I don’t want to hog space on your blog. Let’s just say the ship had the colors of team CSC-Saxo Bank, and Fabian Cancellara told me I should have run my race number 313 upside down to offset the bad luck.

  48. Comment by Bob | 08.14.2008 | 4:12 pm

    When I was young
    I never needed anyone
    And making love was just for fun

    Those days are gone
    Livin’ alone
    I think of all the friends I’ve known
    When I dial the telephone
    Nobody’s home

    All by myself
    Don’t wanna be
    All by myself

  49. Comment by Jim | 08.14.2008 | 4:16 pm

    The bear…

  50. Comment by Philly Jen | 08.14.2008 | 4:40 pm

    Ack! Bob, what happened to your glorious halo of hair? Fatty and Kenny seem to have lured you into their little telenovela, “The Young and the Hairless.” Say it ain’t so.

  51. Comment by Bob | 08.14.2008 | 5:04 pm

    “Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you”

    My dad actually said this alot when I was a kid, he was of explaining away the days when you don’t do as well as you have before. He told me he picked it up when he was a Marine. I have also heard it in an older movie with James Caan “Gardens of Stone”.

  52. Comment by Ant | 08.14.2008 | 5:22 pm

    Fatty, I am extremely impressed that you’ve been able to remember you day with that much clarity, AND been able to document it so well.

    Every marathon race I’ve ever done gets a bit blurry after the first 25km. I remember pedalling, and dirt, and trees, and that’s about it. Don’t ask me for any more detail than that!

    Great day out by the sounds. Well done!

  53. Comment by Rachel | 08.14.2008 | 5:59 pm

    I spent several years manning an aid station for the Leadville Trail 100; your post made me a bit nostalgic and wish that I had been able to do it again this year.

    It also made me laugh so hard I cried. Thanks. :)

  54. Comment by judi | 08.14.2008 | 6:13 pm

    Bob cut his hair?

    Excellent RR! Thanks for sharing!

  55. Comment by Bob | 08.14.2008 | 6:14 pm

    Yes, Philly Jen. Fatty himself cut off my hair.

  56. Comment by Dead Horse | 08.14.2008 | 6:50 pm

    10 hours on the bike = A leadville post for every hour
    That is epic!

  57. Comment by Barb Ogilvie | 08.14.2008 | 6:59 pm

    Excellent write up! Sounds like Zen and the Art of Bicycle Racing. You add new dimension to the sport!

  58. Comment by Bjorn 4Lycra | 08.14.2008 | 9:45 pm

    Wow – great write up – you were obviously in a happy place. All along I was beginning to think Dug was a bit of a failure and then you give him some credit for your performance. Everyone’s a winner in your world – well done Dug and congrats on the haircut and your ride also Bob.
    P.S. good to see that you are priming yourself for next year and one more crack at the sub 9 FC.

  59. Comment by Miles Archer | 08.14.2008 | 10:02 pm

    Thanks for the write up. I will never do something as epic as Leadville, but it’s sure an entertaining read.

  60. Comment by bikesgonewild | 08.15.2008 | 1:06 am

    …i’ve extrapolated by using the known athletic abilities of eric carmen, who wrote the words to yer song & sergei rachmaninoff, who wrote the music that carmen plagiarized & i think even on their best day, neither one of those guys coulda broke 12 hours…

    …& both your race & race report were pretty awesome…

    …your performance was a WIN for SUSAN

  61. Comment by Little1 | 08.15.2008 | 3:50 am

    I concur with kk. doing a race without racing – you are bound to have more fun than you ever thought possible on a race!

    done it a number of times. of course not to often, i am after all a roadie as well and we are a little obsessive about our times! hee hee!! ;-)

  62. Comment by Slowerthensnot | 08.15.2008 | 6:23 am

    Nice wrrite up….

    Best race for me hummmmmm

    Meeting a sugar mama on coruse so I can ride everywhere!

  63. Comment by Louis | 08.15.2008 | 6:32 am

    Fatty (racer #135,aka Elden Nelson),

    I’m not sure if you’ll remember me, racer #845, aka Louis Baker, circus bear, douche baker, dillweed, knucklehead, color-blind superhero, bonehead, well you get the picture.
    The Crash. The gun went off at 6:30a.m., and I – along with everyone else – started pedaling. Things were tight, and the neutral zone rule didn’t cross mind especially as I listened to my mp3 player getting ready for one of the most difficult mountain bike races around. Then this happened: Ladies and gentlemen, meet Elden Nelson (Fatty) – feeling all the riders around him were following the rules except me, but lacking the skill to stay upright when things go bad, leans into me almost making me crash. Somehow I manage to catch my balance and simply try to keep moving. Unfortunately, Fatty was not so lucky and got caught up with me or something on my bike. Though I kept moving forward and didn’t check back on Fatty for fear of causing a pile up, it appeared to be a slow moving crash and I hoped Fatty was ok. As most of you don’t know, I am not an angry, resentful, sadistic person. In fact, I’m one of the most positive upbeat individuals you’ll ever come across. Hindsight, I should have checked on him. This is what I remember happening in the heat of the moment. But the rest of this post is going to be sarcastic. Why, Oh, I dunno. Maybe because some ballerina with poor balance fell off his bike and blamed me publicly. Despite Fatty’s lack of balance, I cringe at the idea of someone being hurt in these events. Anyway, if you don’t like my side of the story, you may want to read Angry Fatty’s post one more time. Oh, that atrocity of cycling garb. I feel inclined to explain. You see the day before the race I was unlucky enough to get my matching race jersey signed by Lance Armstrong and Dave Wiens putting me in somewhat of a jersey dilema. Do I ride with an original signed jersey of these legendary men? So off to the local bike shop where there was a plethora of jerseys (only 1 medium) to choose from. Now I knew going in this looked ridiculous – but I did have a cool signed jersey! You may be saying to yourself, Louis intentionally cut Fatty off and was gunning for him because of his celebrity status knowing he was the king of cycling web blogs and the ripe opportunity to be famous. Yes, that was it, forget about being in a cool race with Lance. Oh, and that picture, it clearly explains what happened. I intend to use it as a brochure in my new line of cycling clothing called “Take Out Fatty”. As for Fatty, well, let’s take a look at how much injury and time he lost in the race. Ok, this is his twelfth year doing this race, that is very cool, not a bad time at 10:06. Let’s see, my time was 10:38 and this is very new race for me and Fatty is three years younger than I am, shoot you got me…this time. Elden, some advice: next time you race, you may want to bolt on some training wheels, I have some if you want to borrow them.

    As I mentioned before, I’m not an angry, resentful, sadistic person. Maybe because when someone feels the need to be judge and jury and abuse their power, I get a little worked up. Like this week, when my wife, friends, co-workers and boss got to read this garbage. Initially I thought about responding in anger, but resolved myself to take the high road and post an apology for the good of the order aka Cyclist. Power comes with a higher level of integrity and to do the right thing. I considered not writing this response but in Fatty’s words “ it’s how I really feel at the moment” This too may not be my most noble moment, but I hope it will make Elden think before he posts…In response to Elden’s cooled down state:

    We all hopefully learn from our mistakes.
    We all have done stupid things and there are two sides to a story.
    A blog is not a place for revenge. A simple email or phone call would have been nice. Elden, you have a responsibility as a leader of your community and web master to control the content of your communication. I’m sure you are a good person and this incident is not really what you are about.
    About that gut, I’ll lose weight if you will…

    Best regards to you and your wife.

    Louis Baker

  64. Comment by deepersouth | 08.15.2008 | 7:29 am

    If this is a troll, its a pretty good one, the tone of wounded dignity is just right, so lets assume its real. Herr Baker, everyone had cooled-off, things were copacetic, you had your defenders. It might have stayed that way if you had given us a glimpse of your pain, made a joke about the dodgy outfit, and left it at that. But no. You had to fan the embers back to life by getting into the merits. It was Fatty’s fault, you say, he lacks the skillz to stay upright, he leaned into you while you busy listening to your iPod and getting into the groove. And he’s three years younger than you! Have the youth no respect?
    In the unlikely event that you are vindicated by video evidence on the main charge of causing the crash, you’ll still come off looking like a prat.
    So if your kevlar jacket gets singed sometime in the next 15 minutes, and your wife and colleagues have to watch, you have only yourself to blame.

  65. Comment by Richard | 08.15.2008 | 7:50 am

    Fatty: I really enjoyed the recap of your adventure…make me want to start training for next year….

  66. Comment by Jerry | 08.15.2008 | 8:03 am

    Hey Louis, shortly after Pipeline aid station, while listening to your iPod, did you happen to notice a tall singlespeeder in a blue jersey bump off of your right shoulder? I am sure you would have had no reason to stop, and I do run really wide bars. Just curious. ;-)

  67. Comment by Richard | 08.15.2008 | 8:24 am

    Isn’t listening to an ipod a little dangerous to yourself and others during a race like this? I know they do not allow them in the “rides” that I do..like the Triple Bypass. You need to be aware of and concentrating on your surroundings so as to avoid an accident. Hmmmmm

  68. Comment by Brian | 08.15.2008 | 8:39 am

    You know it is a very long race. Perhaps a little dangerous if the volume is too high, but at low levels probably not a problem. I don’t think the rules prohibit them

  69. Comment by Annie | 08.15.2008 | 8:54 am

    Sounds like it was a great ride!

    I loved the idea of the sad songs playlist. Out here in the pancake-flat Midwest we don’t have too many climbs, but we have the serious winds blowing across miles of open fields. Earlier this year I was out peddling into an exciting amount of wind which seemed to keep changing directions and blow directly into my face from all directions, and generally just getting ready to die when “Torture Me” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers came on my Zen’s random play. I started laughing, and amazingly the wind seemed to die down a little bit and I zoomed the rest of the way home. Now when I hear that song, I feel compelled to peddle a little faster, so it worked out well! :)

  70. Comment by je | 08.15.2008 | 9:02 am

    One question: Did your legs hurt more after the race than your fingers did after typing that post?

  71. Comment by Bitter (formerly known as Lissee) | 08.15.2008 | 9:08 am

    Way to fan the flames Louis. Hope you feel better now. I thought we had moved on. . . . .

    Fatty, I enjoyed watching the clip of Lance and Wiens. :) Thanks for posting the link! I especially liked how Lance has begun to emulate you, I noticed he needs some gut sucking pointers while riding. Looks like he’s put on a bit of weight since his Tour days.

    Looks like everyone had a fun time, kind of makes me want to try it myself. Except that I don’t like to climb, and I’m a wimp, and I don’t like scary dangerous looking routes. Yeah, I’m thinking Leadville would not be such a great choice. Maybe I should just come and take pictures next year instead?

  72. Comment by graisseux | 08.15.2008 | 9:12 am

    Well, now that we’ve heard from the third or fourth version of Louis Baker, it’s probably a good time to put the issue to rest.

    Nice work on the race, Mr. Fat Cyclist.

  73. Comment by Jim 2 | 08.15.2008 | 9:27 am

    Australia has no bears., but if we did, we would of course eat them.

  74. Comment by Canadian Roadie | 08.15.2008 | 9:48 am

    Sounds like a fantastic time. I would love to give it a go one day but I’m a crap climber. Maybe one day…

    After reading the posts over the past few days, I put my vote in for “give it a rest” regarding Mr. Baker. You’ve both had your 2 cents, agree to disagree and let’s get riding!!

  75. Comment by Clydesteve | 08.15.2008 | 9:55 am

    Thank you, Michael (Loius) Lammler

  76. Comment by KT | 08.15.2008 | 10:33 am

    Louis: unfortunately, your spouse, friends, and co-workers also have to read your overblown post, wherein foot is inserted into mouth. For a guy who isn’t, what did you say, angry or vindictive, you certainly come off that way.

    Fatty: great story! I really enjoyed reading it; it almost felt like I was there, except that I was sitting in my nice comfy chair at home, drinking a refreshing beverage. :) How’d your shoulder hold up, by the way? You don’t mention it.

    And Bob: Did you let Fatty cut your hair because you were all punch-drunk? You probably should bring along an assistant to make sure that doesn’t happen again. I’m sure you are pouting in that picture because your hair is missing. :)

  77. Comment by UltraRob | 08.15.2008 | 4:59 pm

    If you were truly fat like me this year, you would have had light rain going up Powerline instead of the downpour on the other side. Am I losing my mind or did that tree fall on the road at the mini-aid station during the race?

  78. Comment by formertdfan | 08.15.2008 | 7:52 pm

    thanks for a great story fatty!! btw, it has been awhile since i have stopped by, and i want to add my best wishes to you and your wife in your battle

  79. Comment by Don | 08.15.2008 | 8:02 pm

    Fatty: A few things I wanted to ask, that I hoped you might have a minute to answer.
    1) Is it me or do you have a fascination with They Might Be Giants? And old TMBG at that?
    2) Is it me or are you the ONLY guy in that picture not rocking 29’s?
    3) When will there be more pictures, if at all?

    Thanks in advance, WIN Susan!

  80. Comment by Hamish A | 08.16.2008 | 2:11 pm

    There are a [b]lot[/b] of Twin 6 products in that shot – nice plug! And is it just me or is the only guy in the picture wearing a frown the only guy in the picture riding on 26″? Hmmm… Coincidence? I think not!

    Great write up Fatty. Leadville looks like a real blast. I will be ready to enter the lottery for next years entry. Fingers crossed, I want me a Buckle!

    WIN SUSAN!!!

  81. Comment by dave | 08.28.2008 | 8:39 pm

    HA HA HA! I’m the farter!!! Glad to see you enjoyed it as much as my beautiful bride!

    We enjoyed riding with the crazy Auzi for a good part of the day – and all the other Fat Cyclists out there – a good day for all!

    Our story – http://www.pinkbikerchicks.blogspot.com – enjoy!

    Peace – Dave and Dee

  82. Comment by !mizornoclaino! | 11.3.2008 | 7:39 am

    Do you like ?
    May be you prefer ?
    Offers brand name ?

    Please slap me!

  83. Comment by Julius | 01.27.2011 | 8:03 pm

    Dug, what was your gear ratio/choice for Leadville? I have gotten so used to my 29er that I cannot change back to a 27spd.

  84. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Equal Time for Louis | 11.18.2011 | 8:45 am

    [...] Louis posted his response. It seems to me that since I posted my rant as the main article, to be fair I should promote [...]


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