Race Report, 2012 Leadville 100, Part 3

08.22.2012 | 5:59 am

A Note from Fatty: Click here for Part 1 of this story, and click here for Part 2.

It’s entirely possible I am mentally impaired. I don’t feel mentally impaired, but I learn so slowly and poorly that mental impairment is the Occam’s Razor explanation.

I offer, by way of example, three things I — on my fifteenth racing of mile 60 – 75 of the Leadville 100 (because, remember, I didn’t make it this far once, so I don’t get to say “sixteenth” on this part of the course) — finally learned:

  1. If you stop for a while during a race, it hurts to get re-started.
  2. If you stop and eat for a while during a race, it hurts even more to get re-started.
  3. If you stop for a while and eat during a race, and the re-start is uphill, it hurts even more than that.

Which is to say, instead of having a sandwich and catching my breath and gathering my strength and hardening my resolve for the next section of the race, I switched bottles, got a Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gel and packet of Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews (I’m so glad they’re not inorganic, because that would make them very difficult to eat), and I left.

(Note: I apologize for that last sentence being such a mess. I’d edit it, but I have a strict policy in my blog that requires me to be very lazy about what I publish.)

Having taken advantage of the excellent services of Zac and Erin, I started up the steep-but-short climb that leads to the rolling fifteen mile section before the real test of the Leadville 100 — the Powerline climb — begins.

And to my delight, it wasn’t that bad. So add that to the list of important lessons learned, all you aspiring Leadville 100 do-ers: don’t take a long break at the Twin Lakes aid station, or the little climb right after it will feel much worse than it actually is.

I am so wise.


For so long, mile 60 – 75 in the Leadville 100 has been my undoing. That’s where people start passing me. That’s where I lose time. That’s where I usually discover — or convince myself — that, once again, I’m going to be slower than I had hoped I’d be.

But a couple of things have changed.

First, there’s the whole “don’t take too long of a break or eat too much” thing I just spent way too long explaining. Second, instead of there being two hike-a-bike sections where you’ve got to put your head down and struggle uphill, there’s just one of those sections now.

The other one has been circumvented with a really nice, easy section of singletrack. And even though that increased the Leadville 100 from 103.5 miles to 103.9 miles, it’s a welcome change. Riding is always better than pushing.

And it makes for a really good photo opp:

photo courtesy of Zazoosh

And hey, while I’m showing off photos here, I’d like to note a few things. First, yes, I can see that my paunch is pretty obvious. Thanks. Second, this photo shows off something I wanted to note about the weather this year: it was perfect. Warm enough that I didn’t need arm warmers after about 9:30am, but cool enough that I left my jersey zipped up the whole day without ever even thinking about it.

And third, I wanted to point out that Zazoosh does an awesome job with event photography. I’m always happy when I find that they’re doing a race, because they bring enough photographers to canvas the course, find the best spots to get great shots, get those photos up online pronto, and have fantastic photos of every single racer, to boot. Event photography is a demanding biz, and Zazoosh kicks butt at it. Kudos to them.

OK, now back to the story. What was the section heading for this part? Headwind? Oh yeah. Headwind.

Mile 60 – 75 from Twin Lakes Dam to Pipeline can be your best friend — a place to recover, get your legs back, and get ready for the big Powerline climb — or your worst enemy.

It all depends on which way the wind blows.

Last year, there was either no wind or a tailwind (like most riders, I can’t tell the difference between no wind and a tailwind).

This year, there was a headwind. A nasty headwind. And that headwind can add minutes to your time while simultaneously leaving you cracked (or outright broken) for the Powerline climb.

So what can you do? Find a group and work with them. Unless you’re on a singlespeed, in which case you won’t be able to hang with a group.

In which case, you — or in this case, I — just pedal along, as best you can.

I intentionally didn’t look at my computer; I didn’t want to know what was happening to my time. I just pedaled along, reminding myself constantly that I was still racing, not just “surviving.” That any suffering I was doing was in service to my objective. That everyone else out on the course was putting up with the exact same thing I was putting up with.

That the sun was out and looked like it was going to stay out — no freezing downpour today. That the race was supposed to be challenging. That, more than anything else, I didn’t have anything to complain about.

I kept going. Hard, even though I was pushing against the wind. Sometimes passing people, sometimes getting passed, but still treating this like a race.

I pulled into the Pipeline aid station — mile 75 — 6:03 into the race. Which is pretty much the target time for anyone who wants to squeak by into the sub-nine finish.

Scott waved me down, loaded me up with two fresh bottles and four more gels — I was way past the point where I could chew actual food. “Give me a swig of Coke,” I said.

“Why would you want a coat?” Scott asked, but obediently rummaging through my contingency bag for a jacket.

“No, Coke! COKE!” I yelled.

“Ah,” he said, understanding. He, handed me a bottle, I took a few swallows, and I was off again.

Now all I had to do was climb a couple of mountain passes in the final 29 miles of the race, and I was home free.

What I didn’t realize was that I’d shortly be visiting the eighth, ninth, and eleventh circles of hell.

Which is what I’ll talk about when I continue (and conclude, I promise!) in the final installment of this race report (click here to read it).


  1. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 08.22.2012 | 6:19 am

    So so glad I am signed up for this race next year. The way you describe it just sounds like SO MUCH FUN. Wonder if I can get a refund on my entry……Fatty I blame you! :)

    Oh, I had lots of fun, but there’s no drama in talking about that. – FC

  2. Comment by Rob Mance | 08.22.2012 | 6:20 am

    I can’t wait to hear what happened, this is gripping always!!! Well done Fatty you are an inspiration!

  3. Comment by Rory | 08.22.2012 | 6:46 am


    Inspirational as always – yet I cringe when I come up to “well, the next installment tomorrow” type wording – as I want to hear it all *NOW*!!!!


    Anyway – this was my first LT100 – spectating – living in the Denver area, I had the opportunity to watch – my plan – hit Twin Lakes first to watch some folks go by – hopefully catch sight of you, the Hammer, IT guy and cheer. For some reason I missed you, but did catch the Hammer and IT guy….

    Then I moved on to Powerline, climbed up a ways on the first part of the climb – I was just passed the bald gal in her “bikes for boobs” shirt…. Anyway – I did catch you on the way up – gave some encouragement and such. And BTW – you did look in pretty good shape for running a SS in the race! good show!

    I did hang out there for a long time (Powerline) – I did catch the Hammer and IT Guy on iPhone video (let me know if you’d like me to send it to you). the Hammer was *EXCEPTIONALLY* sweet to all folks cheering her up – she took time to say “thanks” to all! I don’t think I’d be able to speak at that point, alone in a very nice and sweet tone!

    The IT guy looked to be in pretty good shape too – just a little further back….

    It was eye-opening for me to see the steepness of Powerline, and let alone see the race leaders ride up that wall!!! Heck, I was out of breath walking the darned thing!

    Anyway – good show – congrats on the win in SS

    Thanks for coming up and watching! And thanks for your comments re: The Hammer; her ability to stay positive and appreciative in the middle of a hard race is genuinely amazing. – FC

  4. Comment by BikeBakeAndBeyond | 08.22.2012 | 7:34 am

    At least Scott didn’t think you said “goat”

  5. Comment by Christine | 08.22.2012 | 7:35 am

    I can’t tell you HOW glad I am that I know the end of the story. The suspense would be killing me by now otherwise!

    Yeah, it’s been interesting writing a story where I know everyone knows how it ends. What hardly anyone knows, however, is how ugly the final section of the trail was for me. Which is tomorrow’s story (and which I’ve actually already written, but am saving for tomorrow’s post, because I won’t have time to write tomorrow; I have other plans). – FC

  6. Comment by Jim Tolar | 08.22.2012 | 7:58 am

    Damn you again, FatMan. How do I get sucked in each time and still get surprised/disappointed when it ends prematurely? Talk about mental impairment, I got your mental impairment, *right here*!


  7. Comment by Obstinate Roadie | 08.22.2012 | 8:02 am

    It’s not a paunch, it’s an emergency energy reservoir.

    I believe you just gave me the text for the next FatCyclist t-shirt. – FC

  8. Comment by Jamieson | 08.22.2012 | 8:17 am

    Doug – you will need to have crew for next year!

    Fatty – love the writeup, even if it has been spread out over more installments than hours in your race.

  9. Comment by Jacob | 08.22.2012 | 8:36 am

    I’ve never understood those people who recoil in disgust when someone mentions Coke in these situations. They usually talk about their stomachs and making them sick, but carbonation usually settles my stomach, kind of like Ginger Ale when you’re sick. Maybe these people have really narrow and rigid esophagi and like a cockroach can’t burp?

    Maybe! All I know is that when nothing else tastes good during a giant race, Coke does (Note: I receive no compensation of any kind from Coke. They do not, as far as I know, know that I even exist). – FC

  10. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 08.22.2012 | 8:39 am

    Wait! This story’s going to end? Tommorrow? That’s not fair!

    There’s still the Hammer report, and I’m sure by now The IT Guy is coherrent enough to give us a story too.

    “Emergency Energy Resevoir” CHOICE!!!!

    I’ve asked both The Hammer and the IT Guy to write their stories. Whether they do is up to them. Note also that this story’s end is the Breck Epic story’s beginning. Quite literally.

    I’m afraid you guys are going to be getting race reports for weeks and weeks. Again, quite literally (since before I finish writing about the Breck Epic, The Hammer and I will do two more races). – FC

  11. Comment by Doug (way upstate NY) | 08.22.2012 | 8:59 am

    @Fatty, I am actually super excited about next year. Working on getting a “East Coast Team Fatty” pit crew organized for a road trip. It’s going to be a trip!

    @Jamison, yes. Check your Facebook messages!

  12. Comment by owen | 08.22.2012 | 9:43 am

    Fatty – did you notice the 4 or 5 dead rats all together in the middle of the lower section of Columbine climb? – I thought I was seeing things (again) but others commented on them as well so I felt better. Great race report as usual – amazed at how much you remember!

  13. Comment by Ed | 08.22.2012 | 10:33 am

    Keep’em coming, Fatty! Enjoying every word…even if I do know what happens.

  14. Comment by Susie H | 08.22.2012 | 10:45 am

    ha! thought i was outsmarting you by waiting a couple of days to read, but noooooooooo…

  15. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 08.22.2012 | 11:01 am

    What Ed said.


  16. Comment by jack | 08.22.2012 | 11:06 am

    Can’t wait for the next part. Been following this like my wife follows her soaps.

  17. Comment by NW Biker | 08.22.2012 | 11:23 am

    So I looked at the photo and said to my self, “that looks like fun.” Maybe not…

  18. Comment by Kukui | 08.22.2012 | 1:01 pm

    I love race reports! Even though I know how it ends, I can’t wait for tomorrow! Keep ‘em coming, Fatty! =)

  19. Comment by TominAlbany | 08.22.2012 | 1:02 pm

    So, did you propose marriage in four parts too????


  20. Comment by leroy | 08.22.2012 | 1:29 pm

    Dante only saw 9 circles of Hell.

    Now you tell us your circles go to eleven.

    Spinal Tap has nothing on you!

  21. Comment by ProfessorOrange | 08.22.2012 | 1:43 pm

    Wait, the Leadville 100 is 103.9 miles? I was considering racing it, but I don’t know now, that extra 3.9 could kill me. But the picture makes it look as if you have a whole mountain range to yourself, and you’re the only one in the race…I’d like that.

  22. Comment by FujiPixie13 | 08.22.2012 | 2:11 pm

    Doug, I want to be part of your crew!!! You need to start a FB page for your 2013 LT100 team!! :o)

    Fatty, you are amazing and your storytelling is wonderful. It’s hard to be a good storyteller in this day and age, but you have the skills for it.

    The Hammer, I am usually very thankful and positive during the organized rides I support…but I’m going to put extra reminders to myself just because of you in my ride this Saturday. They are nothing like the rides you do, but they are important rides to me. Thank you for being such a positive example…to all of us.

  23. Comment by Clydesteve | 08.22.2012 | 2:15 pm

    Sheesh! I put this comment in the yesterday section somehow.

    (I’m so glad they’re not inorganic, because that would make them very difficult to eat)

    Bwa-ha-ha! Somehow I am always easily amused when someone compares the greenie-earth-muffin understanding of organic with the chemistry meaning of the word.

  24. Comment by Timmery | 08.22.2012 | 2:41 pm

    I am not a cyclist but after finding your website a year or so ago thru a mention by Ree…the Pioneer Woman I have been addicted to your wonderful story telling and check your blog daily. Look forward to many many more.

  25. Comment by Skye | 08.22.2012 | 2:54 pm

    “I’d shortly be visiting the eighth, ninth, and eleventh circles of hell.”

    My astute literary skills sense foreshadowing… you still have to get through the 8th 9th and 11th circles of hell, but you get to skip the 10th. This clearly implies that, uhhh, something was either so bad it counted as both 10 and 11, or something went so right you got to skip a level, or your mental impairment has helped you to lose your ability to count in order.

    Lucky for me I ride better than I literize…

  26. Comment by Anon | 08.22.2012 | 5:02 pm

    Excellent story, as always! Totally off topic question, but I can’t think of a better group of folks to ask than Fatty’s readers. After almost three years of riding, I’ve recently developed a problem with impending saddle sores. So I want to try chamois cream, but can’t figure out how best to use it, and Google is of little help. Put it on the affected area? Put in on the chamois? Both? How thick a layer? Thanks for any advice.

    Fatty — This reminds me. Have you considered a series of cycling basics posts? I can only imagine what fun you could have with it, particularly with taint-related issues like what I inquire about above.

  27. Comment by wharton_crew | 08.22.2012 | 5:44 pm

    Hey Anon, Fatty’s got you covered (in this case, he will also have you covered in chamois cream!)


    One of his best posts ever…must read.


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