09.18.2013 | 7:40 am

My second of two major reports I’m writing for my day job is due today. So, today’s post is going to be first draft, brief, and mostly pictures. And I don’t have time to sit and stare at the screen, thinking of a clever and quite possibly metaphorical opening. So: this was my opening paragraph. I apologize.

The thing is, though, I did want to post, because I did something really cool last weekend: I actually volunteered at a race.

Yes, that’s right. I went to a race, and — instead of racing — I helped out. 

It’s possible that part of the reason I volunteered at this race — the second time I have done so in my whole life — is because it was a NICA high school MTB race, which means that I am roughly three times the age of the average participant.

Part of the other reason is that — like a lot of people — I’ve been inspired by the movie Singletrack High, and I wanted to help. 

And I’m not the only one in the family to get inspired by that film. When we were in Leadville, The Swimmer went to a screening of the movie with us, and — as soon as we got home — she  signed up for the MTB team. 

So this is the story of our first NICA race. A little bit about The Swimmer, and a little about me.

Before the Race

What astonished me when we arrived at the parking lot near Corner Canyon, where the race would be held, was how many people were there. 500 racers, most with family. 

I get the sense that mountain biking is going to be seeing a massive surge in popularity in the next few years.

The Swimmer went to find her team, I went to the volunteer tent, and The Hammer went to go buy waffles at the Saturday’s Waffle stand. She got The Benny (a poached egg, lemon hollandaise sauce and a giant pile of bacon pieces on top of a waffle) for me, and now I’m a fan.

I had signed up to be a course marshal, but when I got to the tent they asked me if I’d be a roving marshal instead: basically, ride my bike around a certain portion of the course, looking for anything that’s amiss. 

I said I’d be happy to, and they gave me a “Roving Marshal” race plate, a walkie talkie, a first aid kit, and an awesome bright orange vest. 

IMG 7330

I look rather fetching, if I do say so myself. Though I probably would’ve worn something different if I’d known I was going to be on the bike all day (But yes, I did have a helmet and bike shoes with me…I always have a helmet and bike shoes with me.).

During The Race

Shortly before the race began, I headed out onto my section of the course and began my routine. I’d ride for a while ’til I found a spot that had a good view of a big chunk of the course, then I’d stop, pull my cowbell out of my backpack, and cheer the racers on.

Of course, I may have been guilty of cheering The Swimmer on a little extra. 

The Swimmer was racing in the JV group of girls: about thirty of them. This would be her first mountain bike race, ever, so really this was just for experience. A chance to find out what mountain bike racing is like.

And so I should not have been surprised — she is, after all, The Hammer’s daughter — when she came flying by me at the beginning of the first lap…in second place.

IMG 7342

I let the rest of her wave go by, cheered on the next wave of girls (Freshman, I think?), then picked up my stuff and went course patrolling, looking for things that needed looking after.

Nothing needed looking after. Everything was fine.

After a while I found a good new place to stop for a while and cheer kids on.

IMG 7340

The Swimmer was holding on to her second-place position, which I texted to The Hammer, who was volunteering in the feed zone.

Then — and I’m working from third-hand information here, so may not have the details right — The Swimmer crashed. Specifically, at the end of the lap racers go through a tunnel, at the end of which there is running water, because of all the rain we’ve had recently. The Swimmer went to corner out of the tunnel, slid out, and then slid into the water

Making her muddy, bloody, and soaked, all in one instant.

She hopped back on her bike and charged out. She came into a corner too hot, found out too late that her brakes were still wet, and crashed again.

She then crashed a third time, but honestly at this point I can’t keep track of where or how. The point is, she kept crashing, but kept getting back on and going.

Naturally, she lost a couple places with all those wrecks, but still finished in fourth place in her category.

IMG 0968

That’s an incredibly impressive feat for a first race, especially since she hadn’t been on a bike since she crashed out of the Half Ironman about a month ago.

So here’s the damage:

IMG 0963

Ouch, huh? 

Which makes me think. I don’t really believe “The Swimmer” is a good nickname for The Hammer’s daughter anymore.

I hereby dub her…Scar.

Don’t worry too much about all that mud and blood, by the way. Here she is three hours later:

IMG 7350

Her first MTB race, three crashes, and then Homecoming. 

Busy day.

PS: Scar has been mountain biking twice since the race. She has crashed both times.


  1. Comment by Clancy | 09.18.2013 | 8:02 am

    Go swimmer, err, Scar!! If you’re not crashing while racing on your mtn bike, you’re not pushing hard enough!

  2. Comment by Daddy style | 09.18.2013 | 8:03 am

    Smiling, I have been involved with our team, leauge and youth for years. Love it and their contagious enthusiasm

  3. Comment by Jim Tolar | 09.18.2013 | 8:19 am

    Nothing sets off a little black dress quite as well as a bit of road rash. VERY well done, Scar.


  4. Comment by Darren | 09.18.2013 | 8:20 am

    Clearly Scar and Gravity were not friends. Or perhaps, it was Gravity’s way of reaching out and saying “Hi. Nice to meet you.”

  5. Comment by Daniel Weise | 09.18.2013 | 8:23 am

    Hmmm…. with her record (2 races – 4 crashes and 2 crashes since) I’m almost thinking Crash is a more fitting name, but wouldn’t want it to become too much of a habit. Scar it is!

    Well done!


  6. Comment by Doug (Way Upstate NY) | 09.18.2013 | 8:30 am

    Welcome to mountain biking where crashing is the new normal!

    I’m working at getting a NICA team going around my house. It was great to meet Austin in Leadville.

  7. Comment by Liz | 09.18.2013 | 8:46 am

    My daughter is 6 and I hope she is just like the Swimmer/Scar when she grows up!

  8. Comment by Christina | 09.18.2013 | 8:48 am

    Now I’ve got Circle of Life stuck in my head. “Some have to live with a scar.”

    For the family Christmas card picture, you guys need to all hold up signs that say BAMF. The amazing feats by EVERYONE in your family this year are mind blowing.

    Now get back to work.

  9. Comment by Andrei | 09.18.2013 | 8:58 am

    Hey Fatty, it was great meeting you there. My daughter and I really enjoyed Marshaling at station 1. In fact after our shift was done, we went to get lunch and she wanted to come back and keep watching…

    I’m really glad they had girls go first…

    In another 8 or so years I think she’ll be ready to join the kids on the course… :-)

  10. Comment by Jeff Bike | 09.18.2013 | 9:34 am

    Swimmer/Scar welcome to the world of MtBike Racing! I hope you are like your Mom and are not one to get tired of something just because of a few crashes.

    It has been said “Girls dig scars” I thought that was scars on guys. I see it must be scars in general.

    Happy to see you finished well, and you clean up real well also. You will be a big hit with the boys at the next race.

  11. Comment by Ginger-Schminger | 09.18.2013 | 10:19 am

    I’m a HUGE fan of the NICA league and volunteer at every race here in Texas! Kudos to you for getting involved!

    Congrats to Scar for a killer first race. I’m impressed. =)

    As an aside, there’s a major shortage of girls my son’s age who want to ride bikes and/or get dirty in our part of the world. He’d be head over heels for her.

  12. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.18.2013 | 10:36 am

    Scar seems a little sinister, violent even, I immediately think Al Pacino.

    Now True Grit seems to sum up her determination, we could call her Wayne! (something tells me that won’t fly)

    Edge would be another possibility, since she’s pushing herself so hard(we could even find some riding music for her, I’m told)

    But given her fortitude, determination, and overall toughness, it seems the proper title should be; Cookie!!!

    I am curious how she fared with the Fatty axiom about injury:
    At some point, though, the wound must be cleaned.
    This May Hurt a Little…But It’s More Likely Going to Make You Wish You Had Opted for the General Anesthetic

    Being The Hammer’s daughter I’m willing to bet there was no ‘mewling’. Cookies don’t mewl.

    Well done Cookie!

  13. Comment by UpTheGrade SR CA | 09.18.2013 | 10:40 am

    May I suggest you get The Swimmer full body armour before she really lives up to the Scar nicknameyhst-83504286355046_2271_41667790&w=300&h=600&ei=ONc5Uv6yI5HUyQHX3IH4Ag&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=240&vpy=503&dur=62&hovh=318&hovw=159&tx=90&ty=175&page=2&tbnh=140&tbnw=70&start=38&ndsp=41&ved=1t:429,r:69,s:0,i:292

  14. Comment by Noel | 09.18.2013 | 11:06 am

    Much respect. I’d have probably crawled under a bush, sucked on my thumb, and tried to find my Happy Place after the first crash. I certainly would have after the second. She’s a beast, just like her mom, and it’s awesome.

    Go Scar!

  15. Comment by TNRob | 09.18.2013 | 11:27 am

    Way to go Swimmer/Scar! I have been working as an assistant coach/ride leader with our local school’s NICA team in preparation for the first race this weekend (Tennessee is one of NICA’s “project” leagues this year). This post has me so stoked. I can’t wait to enjoy the whole atmosphere while cheering my son and his friends on in their very first race. Any Tennessee “locals” (includes north GA, AL, MS and south Kentucky) come on out to the AEDC course this weekend for a great day of racing.

  16. Comment by RANTWICK | 09.18.2013 | 11:32 am

    Hey, I dig scars. Crap, does that make me a chick? Oh, and you had me at The Benny.

  17. Comment by ClydeinKS | 09.18.2013 | 11:49 am

    Great job Scar/Swimmer. Both are absolutely appropriate but how about a combination and we now have Scimmer or better spelled as Skimmer? She skims across the water and the MTB course! Next race I see less crashes and a definite podium position.

  18. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 09.18.2013 | 11:50 am

    Kudos to The Swimmer, AKA Scar / Crash / Cookie, for hanging in there and getting back on her bike each time. Considering the extent of her biking experience, not to mention mountain biking experience, she did really well when a lot of us would have crawled under a bush to lick our wounds and look for sympathy. Really great work!

    And she cleaans up really well. Here’s hoping the prom was as much fun as the race.

  19. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.18.2013 | 11:53 am

    Nice race, Scar! Well done!

  20. Comment by Sara | 09.18.2013 | 11:59 am

    Great job, Scar! I am of the belief that scars make women much more interesting and appealing. (since I have many of them and love regaling my children with tales of how they were obtained) :)

  21. Comment by Wife#1 | 09.18.2013 | 12:51 pm

    No no no… a beautiful young woman cannot have the nickname “scar” – I don’t care how much of a bad ass she is!

    I’m too tired to think up something clever (don’t you like how that assumes that I could if I was not tired), but I know the geniuses of Team Fatty will come up with something that celebrates her toughness while still acknowledging her girl power.

    And no – Cookie don’t do it either.

    Awesome job to the amazing cyclist formerly known as the swimmer!

    You need to transfer to Drake High School and join the Pirates! We can be your host home, like a foreign exchange program. :-)

  22. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.18.2013 | 1:00 pm

    I think you should call The Swimmer ‘Simba’ when she’s successful and ‘Scar’ when she’s not. Sort of a two sides of a coin approach…

  23. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 09.18.2013 | 1:01 pm

    Go Scar!!! The best mountain bikers crash. To keep going is what makes you great. You rock, girl!

  24. Comment by Kukui | 09.18.2013 | 1:32 pm

    Scar!!! The more I hear about Scar, the more she sounds just like The Hammer. I hope that’s enough crashing for a while… Ride safe out there! =)

    I got an email from Twin Six – my pre-ordered FatCyclist jersey has shipped! Woo hoo! =)

  25. Comment by eclecticdeb | 09.18.2013 | 1:52 pm

    Hmmm, perhaps a bike handling class is in order? I’m guessing “Scar” will enjoy biking a lot better if she stays on the upside of the ground.

    She’s one tough young woman.

  26. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 09.18.2013 | 2:16 pm

    Well, Fatty has the right to give anyone the monicker of his choice, i guess. After all, this is his blog.

    That said, there seems to be a ground swell of opinion that “Scar” is perhaps a little extreme. i was liking Crash, but then it occurred to me, as has been pointed out that we all crash from time to time – and what is striking about The Swimmer is her determination, the fact that she gets back up each time and presses on (or tries, even with a severely broken handlebar), bloodied but unbroken.

    I don’t have the answer – too late in the day and too complicated for my brain. Several thoughts come to mind, but they all lack the panache that The swimmer requires.

    Fatty, if you’re open to it, I think you need some help here. How to describe someone who doesn’t let circumstances defeat her, and who shows in every way that she is the daughter of her mother The Hammer? She will bear her scars proudly, but the scars don’t define her. What defines her is what she does in the face of adversity.

    Sorry – got a little carried away there. I’ll get off my soap box now.

  27. Comment by daddyo | 09.18.2013 | 3:10 pm

    i feel your pain. (yo sento su dolor?) I rode the Monarch Crest Trail this last weekend with my son and a friend. Fifteen miles into 35, he broke his frame (which I repaired amazingly well with good ole duct tape). we finished the ride with both physical and emotional scars.

  28. Comment by Sunny | 09.18.2013 | 3:56 pm

    I wish I were younger and fearless. She’s amazing!

  29. Comment by leroy | 09.18.2013 | 4:14 pm

    My dog wonders if the crashing and the scars are a ploy to soften you up for the question: “so what would you guys think if I got a tattoo, you know, to cover the scars?”

    But I think my dog is just peeved that I turned down his offer to tattoo over some of my scars. He doesn’t have much experience and I don’t trust his spelling.

    He did have another idea, though.

    He suggested that your daughter might prefer the nickname “Nails” (as in “tough as nails”).

    It would go well with “The Hammer.”

  30. Comment by Scott | 09.18.2013 | 4:53 pm

    Like you, Fatty, I’m usually the guy who says “thanks” to the volunteers in the aid stations rather doing something about it myself. That said, I’ve taken the opportunity to volunteer on two occasions (DeathRide Pass 5 and Levi’s King Ridge Grand Fondo). The sense of accomplishment one feels in completing an epic ride is easily rivaled by helping others do the same.

    Rides with high staff to rider ratio are ALWAYS better. Rides and races don’t run themselves. So if you (the royal variety, not you personally, Fatty) have ever appreciated having your bottles filled with ice and water without even having to ask, consider giving back. I promise that you won’t regret it.

    PS: Go Scar! Tenacity must be genetic.

  31. Comment by SteveB | 09.18.2013 | 5:21 pm

    I agree with the sediment here that ’scar’ doesn’t seem right. Anyone who cleans up that well …

    So, how about:

    Tenacious One


    Nails (per Leroy’s dog, of course)



    Or, you know, you could do a fund raiser – donations for something and the drawing winner gets to pick the nick name?

    sorry, best I can do right now.

  32. Comment by JDBruin | 09.18.2013 | 5:39 pm

    Outstanding effort by Scar (I like Nails too). My daughter has shown similar toughness but, so far, not in the face of blood. She will be seeing this post tonight.

    As for volunteering, you pay it forward and you get it back on a long ride in a crazy rainstorm. Just refilling the Good Karma bucket. I’m volunteering at the Lake Tahoe Ironman this weekend, hope to have a similarly uplifting experience.

    Hope to say hi in Santa Rosa in a few weeks.

  33. Comment by DrBryce | 09.18.2013 | 5:51 pm

    Awesome that she is MTB racing and that she is not holding back. Hope she quickly manages the learning curve.

    Bigger issue: Homecoming dress indicates you’ve got bigger trouble to manage (teenage boys) and to watch out for. Likely they all know that it is the Hammer rather than Fatty to watch out for! :)

  34. Comment by Diane | 09.18.2013 | 6:13 pm

    I too think “Scar” seems a bit sinister, especially since The Swimmer is always smiling, despite crashing, and seems to be just genuinely nice.

    As for the other suggestions, “crash” is funny, reminds me of Crash Bandicoot, for anyone who remembers PS1, but I’m with cyclingjimbo in that “crash” doesn’t define The Swimmer either.

    How does one nickname adequately represent tenacity, perseverance, and positive attitude, with a healthy dose of kick ass?

  35. Comment by Heidi | 09.18.2013 | 6:14 pm

    Hahahaha @DrBryce! Yup, she just needs to tell her dates her Mom’s nickname is The Hammer to keep ‘em in line. (I, too, like Nails. Go Leroy’s brilliant dog.)

  36. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.18.2013 | 6:26 pm

    I think Leroy has one SMART DOG! (and we have several ourselves)

    Nails is the only one that fits both the hardness and the beauty of Lisa’s #1 Girl. And as a homonym it’s appropriate for such a family as yours’


    Now for the ‘Homecoming’ event. Was ‘Nails’ the princess, or the queen? ’cause that would just seal the deal!

  37. Comment by Nancy_in_MN | 09.18.2013 | 7:55 pm

    Nails! I agree! I’ve been called “Crash” quite a lot by my so-called pals at work, and I fear it reinforces the idea that I tend to crash. “The Hammer and Nails” has such a cool ring to it. “She Nails it!” sounds pretty good too.

  38. Comment by roan | 09.18.2013 | 8:21 pm

    The Swimmer/Scar, you should drop Fatty a hint for a nick name…like Beautiful.
    I can ’see’ a Leadville buckle in your near future.

  39. Comment by MikeL | 09.18.2013 | 8:21 pm

    Congrats to the Swimmer for getting up and keeping on going and finishing.
    Also a big thanks to you and the Hammer for actually volunteering and helping. I have always been a believer that anyone who participates in an organized race or event at any level needs to pay it back by volunteering at an event. Without the volunteers the events would not happen. Good on ya’.

  40. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 09.18.2013 | 8:37 pm

    Way to go Scar! ( Swimmer ) Keep going.

    Fatty, disappointed that there was no picture of the Waffle.

  41. Comment by AKChick | 09.18.2013 | 10:57 pm

    @Leroy YOU ARE BRILLIANT!!! Nails! I LOVE IT! The Swimmer, like The Hammer, is tough as nails.

  42. Comment by ScottR | 09.18.2013 | 11:48 pm

    ‘Nails’ is fantastic.

    I was trying to think of an alternative nickname this morning, but came up with nothing nearly that good.

  43. Comment by Cyclingjimbo | 09.19.2013 | 7:39 am

    “Nails” seems perfect to me, too. Leroy, your dog is absolutely brilliant.

  44. Comment by Al Pastor | 09.19.2013 | 11:21 am


    That orange vest is very slimming or you’ve lost a lot of weight.

    Are you eating enough?

  45. Comment by Hautacam | 09.19.2013 | 12:01 pm

    Maybe Heather or another non-family member could go for a ride with the swi- er, Scar — er, Nails — and follow behind to see what, exactly, it is about her technique that is causing her to crash with such regularity. Front wheel washout (excess cornering speed)? Rear wheel washout (excess cornering angle)? Front wheel brake lockup?

    As a lifelong MTB’er I realize that crashing comes with the territory, but Scar/Nails’ crash rate is somewhat alarming.

  46. Comment by Sylva | 09.19.2013 | 10:34 pm

    Nails, I was going to say Crash, but since we are voting and I read the ballot, I vote for “Nails”. Plus, I agree, it goes naturally with The Hammer.

  47. Comment by Sylva | 09.19.2013 | 10:35 pm

    I do still like The Swimmer.

  48. Comment by Jodi | 09.21.2013 | 4:57 pm

    Thinking of you Fatty! In Leadville for my daughter’s 2nd high school mtn bike race. What a great course!

    2 weeks ago we left after my dauggter’s homecoming dance at midnight from Grand Junction and drove to Winter Park for her first race. 3 hours of sleep and it was time to ride :-)

    Good luck to Swimmer this season!!

  49. Comment by Angus Weer | 09.30.2013 | 5:13 am

    Swimmerize Fattylicious Spiller.


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