A Day In The Life of The Hammer

06.27.2012 | 9:56 am

Today’s post isn’t about me. At least, not very much. Today’s post is about The Hammer, and the day she had yesterday.

Because it was a pretty full day.

Event 1: Hiking a Mountain

The day started with a hike to the top of “Y” Mountain — a seven-mile hike with 3000 feet of climbing she’s done as a long-standing tradition each month with her eighty-year-old dad.

She texted me — as I sat at my desk, working — this from the top of the mountain:


So yeah, I was a little bit jealous of how her day started.

Event 2: Lunch With The Folks

After the hike, she drove her dad back to his home and had lunch with her mom and dad. After a quick shower there, she then drove over to a clinic, where she had an appoointment to have a basal cell carcinoma removed.

It was at that point that I stopped being jealous of how her day was going.

Event 3: Surgery

The way they remove the carcinoma is to cut out what they think is all of it, then have you sit around while the pathology lab verifies that they’ve got everything out. If so, they sew you up. If not, they cut more out and repeat.

The Hammer was lucky (or maybe it’s nicer to say that the doctor is skilled); they got everything on the first pass. I arrived at the clinic right as the doctor was sewing her up.

I did my absolute best to not look squeamish, but from the distance I was sitting I couldn’t see the thread for the stitches, and so it would look — from time to time — as if the side of her face was, of its own accord, suddenly stretching out into thin air.

That weirded me out. Meanwhile, the whole time, The Hammer chatted and joked.

They bandaged her up pretty thoroughly, but you couldn’t really see anything, thanks to a strategically concealing hairdo.

This photo is actually from today, with a bandaid in place instead of the massive pile of gauze and tape originally on her face. But you still get the idea.

Event 4: Store

I had come to the clinic to offer support and with the expectation that The Hammer would be in no shape to drive home, much less do anything else.

But as we headed home, The Hammer said, “This would be a good time for us to take care of some grocery shopping.”

So we did.

Event 5: House Cleaning

We then got home, and I encouraged The Hammer to go lay down and rest for a while, since that’s totally what I would have done. In fact, I would still be laying down right now.

The Hammer, however, said that this was her housecleaning day, and went to work on that while I headed into the basement to do my day job.

Event 6: The Ride

We made dinner together (Teriyaki salmon with dirty saffron rice and peas). The IT guy joined us, because after dinner — when the day had cooled down — we were planning on going on a mountain bike ride.

Yes, really.

“We’re just going to take it easy today, right?” I asked, thinking about the fact that The Hammer had already had one good workout that day, plus we had gone on a Strava QOM hunt for her the day before, netting her both a QOM / PR on the Hog Hollow climb (weirdly, no other woman has recorded a time on Hog Hollow; The Hammer has recorded dozens of times) and a QOM for the short-but-intense Brock’s uphill sprint.

Plus, of course, the day before that she had done a hard 96-mile road ride.

And in short, an easy ride seemed like the only sensible thing to do.

So — naturally — I was not at all surprised to see her sitting at the computer before we went. “I want to go after the Canyon Hollow – Brock’s climb.”

Have I mentioned that I have created a monster?

We started out, going relatively easy up Hog Hollow. Right from the beginning, though, The Hammer noted that her legs were tired.

“Gee, what a surprise,” I quipped. “I wonder why that could be.”

We then went down Rush, which is ordinarily one of my very favorite descents. But it’s a technical descent and not great to do as the sun gets low. Specifically, you will occasionally find yourself pretty high in the air before you even realize you just went off a jump.

I went on ahead, crashing one time, but managing to get myself and my bike together before anyone caught me.

As The Hammer and The IT Guy rolled down to the bottom of Rush, The Hammer remarked, “Blake critiqued my descending technique nonstop, the whole way down.”

You’d have to know The IT Guy a little to understand that this was likely not even a tiny bit of an exaggeration. I thought to myself, “Really, this was not the day for that.” But the Hammer / IT Guy dynamic is as unique as any mother / son relationship; I said nothing.

It was time for the main event: the two-mile, 696-foot climb from the bottom of Canyon Hollow to the Peak View trailhead.

The Hammer’s daily QOM Hunt was upon us.

Event 7: The Big Climb

The Canyon Hollow – Brock’s climb is two miles of really fantastic singletrack, climbing at a moderate 6.7% average grade (696 feet total of climbing). It’s one of my favorite ways to get to the Peak View trailhead in Corner Canyon, because it’s a mellower climb than Clark’s. Here’s what the elevation profile of this climb looks like:


Very even and steady. Get into your climbing groove and stay there. That said, when you climb at your limit, there’s no such thing as an easy climb.

My job during The Hammer’s QOM attempt was to stay about fifty feet or so ahead of her, where I served dual purposes:

  • Be a rabbit she can chase
  • Clear the path of slower riders by saying in a cheerful, loud voice as I approached them, “How’s it going?” This technique results in an almost 100% pull-over rate without me ever having to ask people to pull over to let us by.

I took on my job with relish, but The Hammer — whose job was to go as fast up the climb as she possibly could. And that “as fast as she possibly could” should ideally work out to be in under 16:45, the current QOM’s (Erika, not Erica) time — was not having fun.

Before we got even a third of the way up, she said to me, “I’m just pooped.”

“Just ride your best, don’t worry about whether you get the QOM today,” I said.

We came across Dug, who was riding the other direction with his son. Dug, immediately sensing what was going on, yelled at the top of his lungs, “Everyone clear the trail, she’s on a Strava!”

Dug’s a clown.

I plugged away, but could tell from the way she kept dropping back that The Hammer was tired. I checked my clock. It was going to be close.

Then she took a spill. She got up quickly and continued, but in my mind it was over; she wasn’t quite going to make it.

I pulled across the finish line, and then fifteen seconds later The Hammer came across, then immediately stopped and put her head on her handlebars.

“You’ve just done too much today,” I said.

“Don’t make excuses for me,” The Hammer replied, and started down Hog Hollow.

Completely exhausted, she went to bed as soon as she got home.

We didn’t even bother uploading the data from her GPS to Strava.

This Morning

The Hammer woke at 5:30 this morning, got ready for work as usual as I made her lunch (egg whites and avocados, of course). She was out the door by 6:15.

Then, after she left, I thought, “Well, I guess I’ll see how close she got,” and went to the garage to get The Hammer’s GPS.

Here’s what I saw:


She had done it. By fifteen seconds. Even after everything else — big hike, surgery, groceries, cleaning the house — she had still gotten her QOM fix.

And that is why she is The Hammer.


  1. Comment by roan | 06.27.2012 | 10:13 am

    Awesome, I’m tired just reading this and The Hammer got her QOM WOW !
    Sure missed NOT being in Davis this year, plan to be there next.
    AND BTW, Fatty are U sure that pic is of The Hammer ? AND not her 27 yo stand-in double ?

  2. Comment by Brian in VA | 06.27.2012 | 10:21 am

    And that’s why every day, it’s Hammer Time!

    (I am such a slacker.) Confession: I find myself nowadays, when approaching a climb, saying, “It’s hammer time, dude!” And then humming “Can’t touch this” during the climb.

    It’s kind of working for me, although the heavy breathing really ruins the meter of a beautiful rhyme.

  3. Comment by Jeff Bike | 06.27.2012 | 10:32 am

    I love Strava! I hate Strava! Some days are LOVE days when you set a personal record like today. Some days are HATE days, when I really can’t ride well. It removes me from blame while (it’s Strava’s fault) at the same time makes me fully responsible for how I rode.

  4. Comment by Susie H | 06.27.2012 | 10:50 am

    she rocks, of course!

  5. Comment by Liz | 06.27.2012 | 10:51 am

    Note to all beginner MTBers (e.g., me): Before going on any outing, check the route to make sure there aren’t any Strava segments. If you insist on taking that trail anyway, listen carefully for any really insistent “How’s It Going?” and “Clear the Trail!” announcements.

    You’re welcome for today’s contribution to cycling etiquette.

    In all seriousness, congrats to Lisa and all best wishes for a speedy recovery. And I am most envious that you get to see your dad (let alone do something special) every month!

  6. Comment by Barb | 06.27.2012 | 11:12 am

    Go Hammer! No White Flags for this woman

  7. Comment by Angie G | 06.27.2012 | 11:34 am

    Freaking Amazing!!!

  8. Comment by Mellabella | 06.27.2012 | 11:54 am

    The Hammer is my hero :)

  9. Comment by NYCCarlos | 06.27.2012 | 11:58 am

    How many QOM’s did she get in Davis?

  10. Comment by Alan | 06.27.2012 | 12:00 pm

    I had to stop in the middle of this post and eat a Cliff Bar =/

  11. Comment by Jeremy | 06.27.2012 | 12:00 pm

    I consider it a victory that I can walk up the stairs after that 96 miles on Sunday. I bow to The Hammer and will now go hang my head in shame. In the immortal words on Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar, “We’re not worthy!”

  12. Comment by Leigh Anne | 06.27.2012 | 12:06 pm

    “on a Strava” nice Dug and is getting surgery now a Strava Segment? if so cheers to the doctor for KOM on this one!

  13. Comment by Miles Archer | 06.27.2012 | 12:13 pm

    Mountains in Davis? lol. Have you ever been there? ;-)

    Last year’s Livestrong Davis had a hill, but this year’s was pretty much completely flat. Davis is in central valley and surrounded by flat farmland.

  14. Comment by SG | 06.27.2012 | 12:35 pm

    Hey, just a quick point for everyone out there: basal cell carcinomas are not a huge deal (they generally don’t metastasize), but they often do result from too much sun exposure. Having them diagnosed and removed isn’t a whole lot of fun (I know this from personal experience) and so I’d encourage everyone to wear lots of sunscreen and reapply regularly over the course of the day. This goes double for folks with fair skin…

  15. Comment by Mike C | 06.27.2012 | 12:36 pm

    Wow! She truly is THE HAMMER!!

  16. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 06.27.2012 | 12:41 pm

    Remind me to never, never challenge The Hammer at anything. She rocks.

  17. Comment by Llanie S | 06.27.2012 | 12:58 pm

    WOW! I am so inspired…

  18. Comment by ClydesdalePilot | 06.27.2012 | 1:10 pm

    The Hammer is a BEAST!!! (Of course, I mean that in the nicest way possible.)

  19. Comment by Rod Martin | 06.27.2012 | 1:21 pm

    The Hammer – you ROCK!

    I read the article about you and your dad – awesome! Now I know where you get your never-give-up!

    Here’s a challenge – Queen Donut in 10 days – think you can hang?


  20. Comment by MattC | 06.27.2012 | 1:38 pm

    The Hammer really IS a Monster! You GO Lisa! I had my basal cell carcinoma removed just a few days before last years Davis event…still had the stitches holding my eyelid together (they had to cut out a V-shaped piece). It was rather scary (to me anyway), but overall was quite a big nothing compared to what others are going thru. How on earth can I put sunscreen on my eyelid (and I mean where the eyelashes are)?

    Anyway…we were talking up in Davis about the Strava thing, and how hard it is to get a KOM…and it was mentioned to start riding places not many people go, or even create your own segments. WELL! Last night I did a nice MTB loop here on Vandenberg AFB (fireroads) including three good climbs, and I’m proud to say that I’m NOW the KOM of ALL THREE CLIMBS!

    The fact that I’m the ONLY ONE who has uploaded those into Strava is immaterial. I must now find more unknown climbs! What if I ride up the face of a mt where there IS no trail? Would that count? It would be hard to take away if no-one else even has a CHANCE to find it…I’ll have to try that one day.

    Strava RULES! I’m becoming addicted!

  21. Comment by Fat Cathy | 06.27.2012 | 1:52 pm

    I’m with you, Fatty. I’d still be in bed after that surgery. Guess that is why my name is ‘Fat Cathy’ and not ‘The Hammer’.

  22. Comment by melicious | 06.27.2012 | 2:38 pm

    The Hammer ROCKS.

    Hope the surgery site heals nicely for her.

  23. Comment by TK | 06.27.2012 | 2:44 pm

    Fatty, I’m sure you know this by now…but, you married well above your station.

  24. Comment by Jason | 06.27.2012 | 3:17 pm

    “Everyone clear the trail, she’s on a Strava!” (I laughed out loud after reading that)

  25. Comment by Skye | 06.27.2012 | 3:19 pm

    That is an excellent reason to be called The Hammer; I don’t think I can even be lazy as well as she can hammer stuff!

  26. Comment by Beth | 06.27.2012 | 3:38 pm

    Uh, yeah, so Erika Powers is no slack either. She races the Pro field at the Intermountain Cup and schools folks at the UT cross series. I knew The Hammer was fast and all, but wow. That’s very impressive!

  27. Comment by LauraS | 06.27.2012 | 5:18 pm

    So Hammer’s as fast as a pro? Can’t say I’m surprised!

  28. Comment by Anon | 06.27.2012 | 7:24 pm

    Where do you find elevation info for climbs? I have found some Google-based online apps that give totals, but they don’t give you grade info . . .


  29. Comment by Heidi | 06.27.2012 | 8:39 pm

    Wow, what’s it like living with Superwoman?

    LOVED the article on her Dad. Just WOW!

  30. Comment by Wife#1 | 06.27.2012 | 9:27 pm

    As the song says… “Can’t touch this!”

    I bow down to your extraordinary drive Lisa! I hope you heal quickly and for pete’s sake – give yourself a day off and let Fatty spoil you some. :-)

  31. Comment by Carl | 06.27.2012 | 9:33 pm

    I’m so glad to see that the Hammer is doing well after her surgery.

  32. Comment by kel | 06.27.2012 | 9:38 pm

    Dear Hammer,

    You sound like a brave and awesome woman. I love reading blog posts about your adventures, but I wonder, is balancing life and athletics really as easy for you as Fatty makes it sound? I’m a girl, I like to hide my failures and present my triumphs like they were no big deal. But I wish I had someone like you to tell me life secrets.
    For instance I might ask, what do you do with all your sweaty clothes between washes? You can’t possibly do laundry every day right? When clothes still smell even after washing is there anything you can do to save them? How do you keep your skin from breaking out in sweat rash? Do you use antiperspirant with that aluminum stuff in it or something natural with witch hazel? Why do all the natural deodorants smell like a Whole Foods store?
    I have a lot of questions. I promise not all of them have to do with weird smells. But I think it would be really cool if The Hammer would share some of her life wisdom in a guest post sometime.

  33. Comment by AKChick55 | 06.27.2012 | 9:43 pm

    Hee hee hee, and The Hammer says she’s not competitive. :) uh huh. I have a new athletic idol, behold The Hammer. She is beautiful, smart, graceful, strong, fast, and one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I so, so, so wish that she enjoyed writing. I’d still love to here her perspective on all these rides and runs. I am continually amazed by how awesome she is. Wow!

    Also, happy the surgery went well. I’m such a wimp, I would have passed out and been sick the rest of the day!

  34. Comment by diverkiwi | 06.27.2012 | 9:50 pm

    We all knew this already but…
    The Hammer ROCKS!!!

    Keep on fighting!

  35. Comment by zac_in_ak | 06.28.2012 | 1:04 am

    The Hammer hammers the competition…again….as usual. Amazing and inspiring. I feel like such a wimp when I read this..you go girl!

  36. Comment by N1LUL | 06.28.2012 | 6:42 am

    1. The Hammer Rocks!

    2. Please, Please be careful with your sun exposure. My dad died from non-melanoma skin cancer. And my mom had to get basal cell carcinomas cut out more and more regularly as she got older. Not pleasant at all. I am proud of the fact that I do NOT have tan lines.

  37. Comment by Guy | 06.28.2012 | 7:51 am

    I showed this post to my wife, and after she read it, asked her, “So, doesn’t that make you feel wimpy?” She said, “No, it makes me feel sane!”

  38. Comment by Calico | 06.28.2012 | 9:00 am

    Hey Farry-

    What happened to your original kids,the ones you and Susan had? We don’t hear much about them anymore…just The Hammer and the IT guy.

  39. Comment by centurion | 06.28.2012 | 12:04 pm

    Note to self; to avoid any embarrassment, never ride, run, walk, swim, breathe anywhere even remotely close to Ms. “The Hammer”. Please let me know when she is east of the Mississippi River so I can get to the other side of the continent before she arrives.

  40. Comment by Spiff | 06.28.2012 | 9:51 pm

    Why did you tell me about Strava?!?! *whispers* Thanks for telling me about Strava. Way to go hammer any one of those things would be a good day for me.


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