Support from a Unicorn: 2013 Salt to Saint Race Report, Part IV

09.26.2013 | 7:46 am

A Note from Fatty About The Upcoming Spreecast: It’s canceled. So, um, never mind.

A Note from Fatty About Today’s Post: This is part 4 of my 2013 Salt to Saint race report. Here’s where you can find previous installments:

The Hammer and I started the descent down the south side of Suncrest together. We weren’t going aggressively; this wasn’t the ride for that. Still, I gapped her. Whether it’s the ENVE deep-rim wheels or just my very aero belly, If the two of us are going down the same hill and neither of us is braking or pedaling, I will leave The Hammer behind.

Once I got to the bottom of the steep part, I looked over my shoulder.

She wasn’t there.

I coasted another fifteen seconds or so and looked over my shoulder.

Still not there.

I got concerned. Ordinarily she would be visible by now. Was she on the side of the road with another flat? And if so, what would I do? I had already gone through both the tubes I had brought.

I looked over my shoulder and smiled. There she was.

I feathered the brakes ’til The Hammer had nearly caught me, then spun up to match her pace as she pulled alongside me. 

As a good husband, I had no intention of asking what had happened. To do that is to imply that she had taken too long, had gone too slow. So my plan was to say nothing and just ride together. If there was something remarkable to say, she’d say it.

Seriously, folks, that right there is a hard-earned piece of wisdom you can use in riding with your friends and family. Feel free to thank me for it now.

“I got stung by a bee up there!” The Hammer yelled. 


She pointed at one of her legs — I can’t remember which one, because I’m not that good of a husband — on the inside, just above the knee.

“I already got the stinger out,” she said.

“How’s it feel?”

“Like I just got stung by a bee.”

“Do we need to stop at the aid station or a grocery store (we’d be passing one in just a minute) and get anything?” I asked.

“No, let’s keep going.”

Yep, that’s right. The Hammer got stung by a bee…and let it cost her a grand total of twenty seconds of race time.

That’s The Hammer for you, ladies and gentlemen.

Jake and Jason, Part III

With me asking, “Does that sting hurt?” like, every twenty seconds, and The Hammer replying, “Yes, but I’m fine, let’s keep going” every time, we approached the second transition area, where we had originally planned to hop off our road bikes and on to our Specialized Shivs, for the mostly-flat ride around Utah Lake, up Goshen Canyon, and into Nephi, where we’d get back on to our road bikes for a while.

As we neared the transition, we started looking for anything we recognized. A big white truck, for example. Or an army-green Honda Ridgeline. Or Nigel. Or Jilene. 

Or none of the above.

They hadn’t caught up with us. As far as we knew, they could still be stranded in a parking lot in Salt Lake City.

“They know where we’re headed,” The Hammer said. “They’ll catch us when they catch us. Do you need anything right now anyway?”

“Nope, my pockets are still full of whatever Jilene stuffed into them at the beginning of the race,” I said. Which, right there, was an admission that I was already sewing a tiny little seed of my own long-distance destruction: I had been out riding for about two hours and had not eaten a thing (nor had I had anything to drink).

“Well, let’s coast for a minute and eat something, then we’ll pick up the pace again.” 

I pulled out something wrapped in foil, unwrapped it, and took a bite: a homemade pizza roll The Hammer had made from a recipe in Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-the-Go Food for Athletes.

That thing was delicious. So I pulled out another foil-wrapped package from my jersey pocket, unwrapped it, and ate that. 

Blueberry turnover. Better than a Hostess (may it rest in peace) pie. Really.

“Baby, you have put a smorgasbord of awesome food in my jersey,” I said. “Eating during this race is going to be fantastic.”

About then, Jake and Jason — two of the guys who were also doing the Salt to Saint solo — rode up beside us. 

“Why aren’t you about ten miles ahead of us?” asked The Hammer. It was not an unreasonable question, since when we had last seen them, they were riding away as we were stopping to change the first of two tubes.

“Oh, we just had a little lunch, got a little massage,” Jason (or Jake) replied.

And we fell into a paceline, going at the nice easy pace you’ll only find when four people know they will still be on their bikes the same time the next morning.

I would like to note that I picked out the primo spot for myself: right behind the 6′4″ Jake. Which reminds me: on behalf of all the short (5′7″) guys in the world, I’d like to thank all the big guys in the world who let us draft. You have no idea exactly how awesome that is, nor how little work we do when we are behind you. Seriously, I just stopped pedaling and coasted for a while.

“Hey, I’m happy to pull sometime,” I called out.

“Every little bit helps,” Jake replied.


The Cavalry Rides Over The Hilltop

The four of us rode along, talking, enjoying what was turning out to be a really fantastic day for riding — a mild headwind, temperatures in the “just right” range.

And then we saw it.


Our crew

Coming toward us in my Ridgeline (Blake’s white truck was being towed to a mechanic) was Jilene, Nigel, Zac and Blake. 

The Hammer and I cheered. Everyone in my truck cheered. Then they swung around, and told us they’d go forward a mile or so to get out our other bikes and stuff.

“I told you everything would work out all right,” I told The Hammer, though in reality I’m pretty sure she was the one who had told me that.

Support from a Unicorn

A mile or two later, we saw the Ridgeline, pulled over on the side of the road, with our Shivs ready to go.

But that’s not what caught our attention. This was:

IMG 8253
This photo is a re-creation, since nobody thought to get a picture of it during the actual race.

Jilene had brought — among cowbells, hawaiian leis, and funny hats — a unicorn mask to wear as she was supporting us. 

I was suddenly very bummed that we had missed most of what would have been hours of hilarious crewing antics. At the same time, though, I was glad that The Hammer and I have such great friends and family: people who are willing to support us as we do ridiculous races, and who we were able to confidently rely on to handle any problems that come their way.

All while being silly enough to wear a unicorn mask in broad daylight.

I pulled over, swapped onto my Shiv, asked Blake to please take care of getting new tubes and CO2 cans into the seat packs, and looked over at The Hammer. “You ready to go?”

“Yeah,” she said. “And I think it’s time for us to pick up the pace.” 


  1. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.26.2013 | 7:56 am

    I’m just curious, Fatty, as to when you will make an actual decision instead of letting the Hammer do all the heavy lifting? ;-)

    If it ever happens, I’ll let you know. – FC

  2. Comment by Jim Tolar | 09.26.2013 | 8:17 am

    I, for one, would like to thank you for allowing this episode to end on a unicorn note rather than with ominous music playing in the background. Your recent reports, coupled with my making my way through Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep” for the past couple of days, have been making things pretty stressful here in AZ.

    Also, it’s really nice to get to work first thing in the morning and have my episode of the day already posted. Thanks for getting up at 3am and doing the writing.


    I looked and looked for a cliffhanger ending, but there just wasn’t one to be found. It’s taken me four posts to cover the first fifty or so miles, because SO MUCH happened those first fifty miles; I expect the next 70 or so to go by in one post. And there may be whole stretches of 100 miles or more where I summarize in one sentence. – FC

  3. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 09.26.2013 | 8:17 am

    Nice to hear the the “hurt” was limited to a bee sting – painful as those can be you had us a bit worried yesterday. And today’s ending has us looking forward to some rocking and rolling in tomorrow’s installment.

    The Hammer is one awesome competitor. Mother of Nails, indeed, and we can see where The Swimmer AKA Scar / Nails gets her constitution.

    Allez! Allez!

  4. Comment by leroy | 09.26.2013 | 8:52 am

    I knew it! Unicorns really are real!

    My dog bet me they weren’t.

    Now he wants to go double or nothing on whether they talk.

    I think that’s a sucker bet. I saw him ordering a unicorn mask online.

  5. Comment by The Hammer | 09.26.2013 | 8:57 am

    I am lucky to have you! Love you!

    I love you too, Beautiful. – FC

  6. Comment by GregC | 09.26.2013 | 9:03 am

    I think Fatty is baiting us that are tracking the progress of this story unfolding when he hints that there may be stretches of 100 miles summarized in one sentence. By my OCD induced need for metrics- he has only covered maybe 35 at max of the promised 189, we have many more episodes left to look forward to.

    Also props for the nice comeback to Fatty on the post on the contents of the SAG vehicle vs riding unsupported.

  7. Comment by UpTheGrade SR CA | 09.26.2013 | 9:10 am

    Your tale of the bee sting just reminded me of a yellow-jacket that attached itself to my leg as I was grinding up a steep hill, and despite my attempts to brush it off while staying ahead of the other “Friendly Friday” riders, it just clung there stinging me repeatedly. Point being, I forgot about it till now, so I’m amazed at your ability to remember the details of your rides and weave them into compelling stories for our enjoyment and edification. Thanks.

  8. Comment by wharton_crew | 09.26.2013 | 9:20 am

    I had a bee fly into my gaping open mouth and sting the roof of my mouth before I could spit him out. Little bastard nearly caused me to swerve into traffic. What added to my joy was spending 5 minutes with my fist stuffed into my mouth while I tried to dig out that barbed stinger!

    Good times!

    P.S. As for me, I’m waiting to hear the explanation of how the Hammer got so far ahead of you at one point (according to the online tracker, anyway) and how in the world you caught up with her after she had so many miles on you!

  9. Comment by Brian | 09.26.2013 | 9:20 am

    The Hammer’s comment is just about the sweetest thing ever! Able to judge only from other’s descriptions, I am sure that it is her honest comment. Nonetheless, I still can imagine Fatty hacking her email in order to place the comment.

    You two are a very cute couple!

  10. Comment by Wife#1 | 09.26.2013 | 9:27 am

    It must have been a “ZomBee” undeniably lured by the halo of light that shines around The Hammer.

    In which case, sorry you got stung, but thanks for killing her.

    We actually just learned about ZomBees yesterday – yes they are a real thing! Yet another plague for the poor honey bee. A Zombie fly parasite attaching itself to honey bees causes them to become ZomBees, die, and their corpses spawn Zombie fly maggots to carry on the Zombie apocalypse.

    Rune and I joined a nationwide study with our hives yesterday because we have ZomBees for sure. We are collecting new samples every day and will document how many Zombie flies burst forth from the rotting flesh each day. Just in time for Halloween!


    But I digress. ;-) Thanks for the latest installment! I was extremely relieved to hear that your crew caught up and I need that unicorn mask for Rune! He LOVES unicorns! Also, now I want to eat pizza rolls curse you.

  11. Comment by MattC | 09.26.2013 | 10:07 am

    I saw the title of todays update about a half-hour before I was able to open the post…really had me wondering how you get support from a unicorn (I was thinking along the lines of “it’s a mythical creature” and their support crew was also “mythical” at that point…ie: not there). VERY funny and cool…a unicorn mask…what can possibly be next? A Wooly Mammoth sighting? Bigfoot? Nessie??

  12. Comment by MattC | 09.26.2013 | 10:11 am

    @Wife#1…Zombees…it would be hilarous if it wasn’t so serious…is THAT what is happening to our bees? I know there is a SERIOUS decline in the numbers of bees in the world, of which without them we won’t survive. Hadn’t heard of the Zombees before…will look into it, thanks for the link!

  13. Comment by JesseH | 09.26.2013 | 10:12 am

    Saw your note that the interview is cancelled, does this mean you have time for a second post for the day?

    No second post today, but — unlike most Fridays — I will have an installment tomorrow. – FC

  14. Comment by Wife#1 | 09.26.2013 | 10:28 am

    @MattC… nope, just yet another threat. They are still trying to determine where ZomBees are – hence the tracking site – and then next steps are to try to determine how serious the issue is. It doesn’t appear to be one thing but rather a host of problems causing the massive worldwide CCD (colony collapse disorder). Varroa mites are probably the worst offender right now, but there’s also a bunch of diseases, plus the fact that we do so much single crop pollination for them is terrible, and then of course pesticides…. It sucks to be a bee right now! And yes, we desperately need them for much of our fruit, vegetable and nut food sources – so we all have a serious interest in keeping them healthy.

    But dire consequences aside – ZomBees IS hilarious! I am thinking best science fair project ever!

  15. Comment by Christina | 09.26.2013 | 10:32 am

    I think I figured out why I enjoy the moments of The Hammer breaking down and seeming human…because she’s so dang fierce all the rest of the time. What a superwoman.

    And I am very glad this ended with a unicorn!

    I promise you, there will be plenty of “human” moments in this story. For both The Hammer and me. – FC

  16. Comment by Jacob | 09.26.2013 | 10:35 am

    If we’re not having to brake or pedal downhill, I usually go faster than most. I think it may be weight because I’m usually bigger than most of the others.

    I once got stung in the lip by a bee at mile 2 of a 7-mile running race. Realized about a half mile later that if it was a honey bee that I needed to get the stinger out, so I pulled out the stinger, all of this without breaking stride. Unlike the Hammer, I’m not known for my toughness. This is probably my proudest racing moment ever.

    I actually think being in race mode helped. For one, it didn’t hurt as much as normal. It also didn’t swell as much as normal. I think the adrenaline actually reduced the swelling.

    I’m going to have to look into the bike cookbook. All the sweet stuff most endurance food is turns my stomach before the end of a century.

  17. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.26.2013 | 10:38 am

    Does FC have no shame? Now commenting on his own site…as his wife? We’ll have to add self congratulatory to his long list of palmares.
    Drafting a guy 6-7!!! surprised you didn’t pull out the Old MattC trick and just tie yourself on!
    Bee Stings. You have to pull the stinger out! Is that why my sting by ’something’ this summer took so long to heal?

    Hoping for a few more FoF’s to join #1Son’s 5th Grade Journal Tour.
    See Comments Part II for information. Thank you to everyone so far, it’s going to be fun. runejournal4_zps3370ba3f.jpg
    LiveSTRONG DAVIS 2013 10hr Division

  18. Comment by GenghisKhan | 09.26.2013 | 10:41 am

    It’s Hammer Time!

  19. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.26.2013 | 10:45 am

    @GenhisKhan Very Funny!!! Looks like MoN Hammer has minions!

  20. Comment by New Zealand Ev | 09.26.2013 | 10:56 am

    Received new FC kit yesterday when I got home from work down here in NZ!!! I am wearing it now to get ready for my daily work commute. Another great start to the day with a super post. You are both fantastic!!!!

  21. Comment by Needles | 09.26.2013 | 11:29 am

    Yikes! The bee thing gave me a shiver when I remembered getting stung by a wasp coming off of SnowBasin last year. I’m not allergic to them but I had a really bad reaction to this one. I hope the Hammer recovered better than I did…

  22. Comment by blair | 09.26.2013 | 11:39 am

    Hostess is back, including pies and mini pies.

    But the new Twinkies stink. Too dense. Half the filling. Waste of anticipation. Not worth skipping a Gu for, imo.

  23. Comment by byronb | 09.26.2013 | 11:41 am

    Wow, the commentary on the blueberry pie makes me hungry. I must get me one of those cookbooks. I’ll take something sweet and delicious over a gel that tastes like it was filtered through an old dish towel anyday.

  24. Comment by barton | 09.26.2013 | 11:43 am

    @wife#1 – okay, completely freaked out by the Zombees – and the zombie movie lover in me knows it’ll only be a short time before the zombees move that parasite right over to humans through a sting! (no, not really, but it would make a good/bad movie!)

    The bees and yellow jackets have been bad in the midwest this year. During a century ride this summer, a yellow jacket was liberally stinging me in the inner thigh. There were many ice packs used over days to get the swelling down. I did take pictures of how awful it was and sent them to everyone I know…. I’m just that kinda girl.

    Can’t wait to read part elevensies when you get there!

  25. Comment by owen | 09.26.2013 | 11:57 am

    ever think about going with a tubeless set up on the road bikes – or put some stans, or the like, in your tubes? I am leaning that way after a rash of flats this summer. Great read again – thanks.

    I actually used to have tubeless road tires set up for both me and The Hammer. About mid-summer I switched away; they’re so hard to change on the road. However, after this race, I’m thinking they may be a good idea for places where there are a lot of thorns. – FC

  26. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.26.2013 | 12:07 pm

    that unicorn looks alarmed. Flesh-eating ZomBee attack?

  27. Comment by bikemike | 09.26.2013 | 12:15 pm

    Do unicorns dream in color?

  28. Comment by NoTrail | 09.26.2013 | 12:22 pm

    Honestly, name one thing which isn’t made better by adding unicorns to it. Seriously. It can’t be done.

  29. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 09.26.2013 | 12:25 pm

    @Davidh – yes, you can pull the stinger out when hit by a bee (and you should – the sooner the better). The stinger and venom sacs stay in the skin when the bee flies away (bad for the bee, and for you as well). If you can get the stinger out quickly, you minimize the venom injection and the ultimate effects of the sting. Scraping the back of the fingernail firmly across the site of the sting works well.

    With wasps (and yellow jackets – vicious litter critters with quick tempers and absolutely no sense of humor) it is a different story – they keep their stinger and can hit you again and again. I have had yellow jackets chase me for a hundred yards or so trying to get at me, stinging me through heavy blue jeans all the while.

    Worst story for me was riding down a nice gentle hill with a loose singlet for a top, when wham, all of a sudden I had a wasp fly into my chest and drop down inside my shirt. It wasn’t too happy about the situation and nailed me two or three times before I was able to stop the bike and get it out.

  30. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 09.26.2013 | 12:29 pm

    Oh, and @Wife#1 – the Zombee link is downright frightening. One more threat to our bee population, and all the poor little worker bees want to do is visit flowers and make honey. Seems grossly unfair.

  31. Comment by Corrine | 09.26.2013 | 1:42 pm

    Hammer is tough. No whining for her. My son had a bee/wasp sting his lip in a running race a few years ago. It swelled up so much he refused to go to school for 2 days! I’ll post a picture if I can find it. Can’t wait to hear more of the story. I’ve done a couple of 200 mile races and have considered trying a 400 miler so will be anxiously waiting to see if I’m crazy to even consider it!

  32. Comment by Jim Tolar | 09.26.2013 | 2:01 pm

    @Corrine: Fatty posted an after picture of Hammer and him from this ride and they look better than I look in any before picture anywhere. I’m not sure how much you’ll learn about whether or not humans should enter 400 mile events from FatMan’s reports. Just sayin’


  33. Comment by RedRivRevFrank | 09.26.2013 | 2:43 pm

    Liking the no cliff-hanger. Battling a chest cold and two days away from my first century (here’s hoping!), so nice to have a read that doesn’t give me another worry of something that could potentially go wrong.

    Also, came across this that a friend of mine posted today and I can’t think of a crowd that might appreciate it more than this one…

  34. Comment by SteveB | 09.26.2013 | 3:26 pm

    @rrrf – that was fun. Just goes to show what trouble you can get into when you’re stuck indoors with a welding torch all winter, eh?

  35. Comment by MattC | 09.26.2013 | 3:54 pm

    @RRRF, agree w/ SteveB…that was awesome! What an uhm, er, eclectic mix of bikes in his garage! Great video too..I assume that was his music in the background…very cool!

  36. Comment by old guy who likes to ride | 09.26.2013 | 5:38 pm

    “Yeah,” she said. “And I think it’s time for us to pick up the pace.”

    Is Hammer commenting on the ride pace or the pace of these excellent but agonizingly brief, cliffhanging, mini-novelas?

  37. Comment by GregC | 09.26.2013 | 5:56 pm

    Reminds me of a comment Fatty made about 15 miles into this years LiveStrong Davis ride as he came around me to take a pull at the front. “We are not riding at capacity”- the pace surged and the group of 30 suddenly became the group of 15.

  38. Comment by RedRivRevFrank | 09.26.2013 | 6:11 pm

    @MattC yes, his music, talented guy and into bikes of all sorts. What more could you want?

  39. Comment by Corrine | 09.26.2013 | 7:08 pm

    @Jim Tolar. I know, Fatty and the Hammer are superhuman but if they say they suffered lots and lots than I know that a mere mortal like me would never make it!

    @Davidh-marin,ca I just read the comments from the last couple of stories. I would love to write in your son’s notebook. Add me to the list if you still need people.

    I can’t figure out how to add the photo from my desk top to this so you guys won’t get to see the picture of my son with lips humongous. He’s probably glad I can’t attach the photo!

  40. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 09.26.2013 | 8:18 pm


    Thanks for the offer. Yes we are still looking for contributors. email us at
    homerhouserugs at yahoo dot com Wife#1 is compiling the list, and we are hoping to send the journal out to the first contributor/victim (Sasha, maybe? we’ll draw straws) this weekend. We’re as far south as Ky and Texas,and as W#! says in a recent email “the donation offer is non-negotiable”. Thank you everyone who has offered to help.

  41. Comment by eclecticdeb | 09.26.2013 | 9:42 pm

    @old guy who likes to ride — SNORT! Every day I tell myself: “Do NOT check the blog today, wait 10 days and you will be able to read the whole story (well, maybe HALF the story) in one swooop.” But do I listen to myself? Noooooo……

  42. Comment by AKChick | 09.26.2013 | 11:06 pm

    DavidH – me first, me first for the journal! :) I can send to Corrine – she is a few hundred miles north of me. :)

  43. Comment by Angus Weer | 09.27.2013 | 8:40 am

    IT’S YOUR SUPERIOR WEIGHT. The gravity is a mighty engine…


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