Surprise Finish: 20123 Salt to Saint Race Report, Part XII

10.10.2013 | 11:09 am

A Note from Fatty about today’s entry: This is the final (!) part of my Salt to Saint race report. To read earlier installments, try the below links:

I was asleep, on my bike, flying downhill, with my hands on my aero bars, for two seconds. Maybe not even that long. Maybe only one second. Half a second. Long enough, though, for my head to fall down toward the bars, startling me back awake.

I realized what had just happened — that I could have easily crashed in that moment. Or drifted into oncoming traffic. Or veered into the guardrail and flipped over, down the steep mountainside.

I could have died in a number of ways.

A massive rush of adrenaline hit me as I started to understand my near miss, completely solving my drowsiness problem.

Good Change

We were getting close. Down to the last thirty miles or so, in fact. We now knew the road we were riding on: it was much the same one we had been on earlier this year when we did the Half Ironman on these same bikes — our Shivs.

But we weren’t getting much of an aero advantage from these bikes anymore. Our backs and necks were just too tired, too sore, too stiff for riding in an aero position.

“Let’s switch to the road bikes,” I said.

And we were so glad we did. Having been on our Shivs for most of the past 400 miles (it’d be interesting to know what the exact mileage breakdown is, but we didn’t keep track), I had just about forgotten how much more comfortable and forgiving a regular ol’ road bike is. 

The Hammer confirmed what I was thinking, saying, “Oh, this feels so good.”

Discussion on the Home Stretch

Even before the race began, we knew that the Salt to Saint Ends hard — with a longish climb, then a short-but-steep climb, and then with one last long climb.

We climbed slowly. We had no intense efforts left in us. 

As we climbed, I started thinking. An idea occurred to me. A really good one. I just needed to present it properly.

“Do you think Russell, Jason, or Jake have passed us?” I asked. Then I followed up with my real question. “Or is there a chance we’re somehow the lead solo riders?”

“I don’t even care,” The Hammer said. That wasn’t a snub, it was just honest exhaustion. 

“Still,” I said, “We have to consider there’s a possibility that we are the lead solo riders. What if,” I continued, now getting to my real idea, “you weren’t simply the first woman to finish this race solo this year — as well as the first woman ever — but were the first solo racer overall?”

“No,” The Hammer said. “You should go first. That way you win overall, and I’m still first woman.”

I knew she’d say that, so had my response ready. “You’ve got to do it. Doing this ride solo was your idea; my job has been to be domestique. And the domestique doesn’t finish ahead of the leader.”

“Besides,” I said, “You finishing first makes a better story in the blog.”

Yeah, that’s right. I used the blog card.

“Fine,” she said. 

And thus, for the first time ever, I triumphed in an argument with The Hammer. 


As we began the last climb — up REd Hills Parkway — I looked at my Garmin 510. It was 11:50am. We had been out for 27:50. Twenty seven hours and fifty minutes.

“I cannot believe how close you came to predicting our finishing time,” I said. “We’re going to finish within half an hour of your prediction, even with everything that’s gone wrong. That’s amazing.”

“I think we’ll finish at 12:15,” The Hammer said. 

We were climbing so slowly. Tired out. I was trying to get a sense of whether I felt elation or excitement. Nope. Just tired. Just ready to go to bed and take a nap.”

No, wait. There it was. Pride. I was proud of what we had done. My wife and I had ridden for twenty eight hours. 423 miles. Together (most of the time). How many couples can say that?

My introspection was broken by the Hammer saying, “Oh please oh please oh please give us a left turn.”

I didn’t understand. Sure, we were approaching a traffic signal, but I had just assumed we’d be going straight through and continuing our climb up and over Red Hills Parkway. We weren’t even halfway up it.

But there it was: a course marking, showing us to turn left. 

“I don’t get it,” I said.

The Hammer, who knows St. George better than I do, told me, “We’re done climbing. This drops us right into downtown, a couple blocks from the finish line.”

“We’re there,” she said.

And she was right. A quick curvy descent (and if you’re not careful, a very treacherous one: another team’s racer blew the curve, flipped over the barrier and landed twenty feet below, breaking all kinds of bones), put us on Diagonal Street. Kenny and Heather pulled alongside of us, gave us a final cheer, and then shot ahead to meet us at the finish line.

We turned one final time toward a park, and there it was. 

I feathered my brakes, slowing so The Hammer would cross first, and then rolled in behind her.

We had done it.

Our final times were 27:59:29 (for The Hammer) and 27:59:42 (for me)

We had beaten The Hammer’s predicted finish time…by just about half a minute.


Zac and Blake were at the finish line, as were — of course — Kenny and Heather.

fatty, the hammer, and the crew

We were incredibly fortunate to have such patient family and friends take care of us.

We quickly found out that we were, in fact, the first solo finishers, making The Hammer the overall solo winner, and me the first man. Russell Mason would finish just under five hours later. Jake and Jason — the great guys we rode with at the beginning of the race — would not finish the race. I would love to know all three of their stories.

The race organizers interviewed The Hammer and me on-camera for a few minutes. Asked what I considered to be the most challenging aspect of the race, I answered, “Recurring hiccups.”

I am pretty sure they did not expect that answer.

We went to Heather and Kenny’s house, took the most welcome shower in the history of showers, then collapsed and slept on what I had always thought of as an OK bed…until that point. Now I knew that bed is magical.

We got up a couple hours later and went to the awards ceremony, held in the same park we had finished in. Our prizes? A decal we could put on our cars saying we had soloed the Salt to Saint, along with a set of new road tires for our bikes. And — you must believe I am not making this up — a case of Red Bull.

Which, I would like to add, remains unopened.

PS: For those of you who would like to see what a really long ride looks like on Strava, here you go.

PPS: I am actually writing and posting this while on a plane because I feel like I owe it to you to finish this story before disappearing. That said, I will be busy with some top-secret stuff as soon as I land, and won’t be posting tomorrow.

PPPS: I expect that some of you have questions. Ask in the comments and I’ll try to get to them tonight (Thursday) or on the flight home tomorrow (Friday).


  1. Comment by Christina | 10.10.2013 | 11:19 am


    (pumps fist in the air)


    Awesome job to both of you! Excellent ride recap.

    I would like to hear what happened too. Also, they should have given you a case of tubes.

    And top-secret stuff is usually very exciting for us. Travel safely!

  2. Comment by Jim Tolar | 10.10.2013 | 11:19 am

    Dude (and Hammer), I am practically speechless. 423 miles. Wow. Really, just Wow.

    Thank you for taking us along. Congratulations.


  3. Comment by Brian in VA | 10.10.2013 | 11:22 am

    Thanks for finishing today, Fatty! I can’t tell you how amazing I think you two are for doing this race….I simply can’t imagine doing this long a ride.

    Congrats to you both, dude. I hope someday to ride, at least for a short, with you and The Hammer.


  4. Comment by NoTrail | 10.10.2013 | 11:22 am

    That’s such an amazing ride. I’ve riden that kind of distance before, but it was over 5 days … not 28 hours. Congrats!!

  5. Comment by Carl | 10.10.2013 | 11:25 am

    One of these days I would love to do a ride like that. Great job!

  6. Comment by slo joe | 10.10.2013 | 11:27 am

    I know you are a pretty (well not literally) hard core roadie, but have you ever considered a recumbent for ultta distsnce cycling?

    Thsnks for yje blog doses of enjoyment.

    ride long and prosper

    I’ve never ridden a recumbent at all, and haven’t experienced an itch to get one. Maybe someday, but not yet. – FC

  7. Comment by NDE | 10.10.2013 | 11:31 am

    So what was the problem with Blake’s Truck? I don’t recall that being answered. Also well done! I’ve done the St. George HooDoo 500 as a team of 4 and after the race swore I’d never do it again. A few months later my mind changed. Do you think you will try Solo again?

    Good questions!

    Blake’s truck was towed to a mechanic’s, at which point he called Blake and asked, “What’s the problem?” It started immediately and has run fine ever since.

    The Hammer says she has done everything she needs to do with this race and has no intention of doing it again. I, on the other hand, have already started conversations with her saying, “If we figured out our food better….”

    - FC

  8. Comment by Evan in CA | 10.10.2013 | 11:31 am

    Great writing, and even better riding. I have to admit, I think it was this last posting that just convinced me to do the entire century in Fall Tour de St. George. (Still a novice at riding.)

    Well done! Can’t wait to hear about your next adventure!

  9. Comment by JRay | 10.10.2013 | 11:38 am

    You n the Hammer amaze me. I wish there were something nicer to say than Congratulations! But, since I lack that vocabulary… Congratulations to you both!

  10. Comment by andy@wdw | 10.10.2013 | 11:44 am

    Bravo! You two are so inspiring! Such a super-human effort!

    Also, I can’t believe my optimistic prediction of 12 installments was dead on! :-) Do I win a prize? ;-)

  11. Comment by bikemike | 10.10.2013 | 11:46 am

    Maybe you can trade someone the case of Redbull for a case of mayonnaise.

    Good job.

  12. Comment by MattC | 10.10.2013 | 12:02 pm

    Something “top secret stuff”…does it involve a cow-suit by chance?

    AWESOME writeup Fatty! You strung us along for seemingly forever, yet we were still clamoring for more…way to go! I’d say it was a home run (in XII parts).

  13. Comment by wharton_crew | 10.10.2013 | 12:14 pm

    Did the Hammer experience the same problem with sleepiness? I can relate to the adrenaline rush that comes from near death sleepiness on the road!

    Elden, I’m amazed at what you guys have done. I wish we could have somehow sponsored your ride to raise some $$ – I know we all would have liked to contribute to your success.

    You know, you combine your talent for cliff hangers and fundraising by not posting your next installments until you hit the next threshold in your fundraising….just sayin’!

  14. Comment by Kenetic Sam | 10.10.2013 | 12:16 pm

    PBP 2015? Utah could use a nice fatty injection of enthusiasm into its rando scene; plus, an excuse for new bikes!

  15. Comment by s dot r | 10.10.2013 | 12:21 pm

    Unrelated question! Why isn’t Dug blogging anymore?

    Internet trail- a few years ago, the NYT had an article on Bike Snob. So I toodled to his site. That happened to be the day he linked to fatcyclist. So I came on over here. And from here I went (periodically) to Dug’s site, mebbe when I wanted to read about toilets or Diet Coke. But he hasn’t posted since May. I am sad.

  16. Comment by Joe | 10.10.2013 | 12:28 pm

    No questions here. Just want to say that the two of you are awesome.

  17. Comment by Kate | 10.10.2013 | 12:41 pm

    Amazing!! I absolutely love your race reports. I’d get to the end of an installment, be dying to know what happens next, and then my class would come back from lunch and I’d forget all about the saga (sorry…first graders take all my mental energy :D) until checking blogs at lunch and then BAM! Like a surprise gift there you were again.

    Congratulations to you both!

  18. Comment by Wife#.667 | 10.10.2013 | 12:45 pm

    *deep sigh of contentment* Just awesome.

    On a totally unrelated note, Fatty I have a random idea I want to propose to you .

    Near the holidays, whether as an advent calendar type of countdown for all December or a 12 days of Christmas gig, I think you should consider rather than writing original content for the blog, that you host a virtual Fatty Community Digital Holiday Card event.

    You could invite people to submit their holiday cards digitally (or maybe they create a custom version just for this group), and submit those with screen names, a caption and their location if they want.

    Each day you could post a group of the new photos with the captions/IDs, and we could all “meet” each other even further and comment on the photos back and forth. I would imagine the highly creative people here could even find ways to take this even further.

    Win/win because it could give you a nice break over the holidays from having to come up with original content (blogcation?), and it also let’s your followers connect with each other in a fun, new way.

    That’s all. Take it FWIW. :-)

  19. Comment by rich | 10.10.2013 | 12:45 pm

    wow…what an incredible accomplishment.
    Last year, to celebrate my 50th birthday, I and several friends did a 435 mile ride from the bay area to Lake Tahoe. The only difference between my ride and yours was we did it over 6 days…I can’t even imagine doing what the two of you did.
    You’re both amazing!

  20. Comment by leroy | 10.10.2013 | 12:46 pm

    My dog observed that anyone who rides for 400 miles, gets on another bike, and announces that “this feels so good” is not someone with whom one should ever, ever disagree.

    Can I get an autographed picture of the two of you made out to him with the inscription “Get off the couch”?


  21. Comment by Wife#.667 | 10.10.2013 | 12:48 pm

    Ugh – ignore the grammar, redundancies and typos above please. Not at my best today by a long shot!

  22. Comment by Heidi | 10.10.2013 | 12:48 pm

    Does Blake get the heebie jeebies (medical term) every time he starts his truck now?

    Since you lived, what WILL you be on Halloween?

  23. Comment by Clydesteve | 10.10.2013 | 12:53 pm

    And thus, for the first time ever, I triumphed in an argument with The Hammer.

    Treasure that Fatty. But do not expect to make it a habit. Do not even try.

  24. Comment by Chris | 10.10.2013 | 1:01 pm

    “And thus, for the first time ever, I triumphed in an argument with The Hammer. ”

    I believe it may be the last time as well.

    Congratulations on a race well done, a story well told, and an adventure to always remember.

  25. Comment by Eric L | 10.10.2013 | 1:10 pm

    Now is when you buy a tandem to do this race again next year?

  26. Comment by Jacob | 10.10.2013 | 1:10 pm

    Anyone else a little disappointed Fatty didn’t crash? I mean, I’m glad he’s okay, but with that cliffhanger, I at least need a little road rash as a payoff.

  27. Comment by Daniel Weise | 10.10.2013 | 1:16 pm

    Awesome write up and awesome ride both of you!!! And Fatty, I want to say how genuinely awesome it was for you to have the Hammer finish first solo!!! Great kudos to you!

    I too, would love to read the stories from the other solo riders. Anyone here in touch with them????

    Keep on riding and writing for us to follow along.


  28. Comment by Kukui | 10.10.2013 | 1:31 pm

    Fatty and The Hammer, you two are amazing! I am constantly awestruck by what you two accomplish!

    423 miles! o_O

    Even with knowing for weeks that you guys did in fact finish, I still read this post with a grin on my face and pumped a fist in the air when The Hammer rolled through the Finish Line, as if she was finishing just now.

    Thank you for sharing so much of your lives with your adoring fans!

  29. Comment by J | 10.10.2013 | 1:33 pm

    So when can we expect the next Fatty’s Odyssey?

  30. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 10.10.2013 | 1:47 pm

    Congratulations to both of you! The longest race of your lives deserved to become the longest multi-part race report of your blog. However, you could have dragged this out to one more posting tomorrow for the 13th installment to make it Fatty’s baker’s dozen race report.

  31. Comment by Mike Schwab | 10.10.2013 | 1:58 pm 508 miles in October in Death Valley National Park (if it is open next year).

  32. Comment by Corrine | 10.10.2013 | 2:02 pm

    This has been the BEST story. I’m sorry to see it end. Loved every part of it! On to the next adventure. Is it the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow?

  33. Comment by Patrick Dontigny | 10.10.2013 | 2:20 pm

    congratulations to you both! quite an accomplishement and very impressive! On another subject, saw a picture of you at the Levi Granfondo on RedkitePrayer, are you on a black Specialized now, thought your SL4 was grey? How many bikes do you own ? not that I envy you, yes maybe a little bit, just like that kind of Techi-bike-stuff…

  34. Comment by anonymous hah! | 10.10.2013 | 2:46 pm





  35. Comment by Anonymous | 10.10.2013 | 3:44 pm

    Congratulations to you two! Thank you for the installments! Loved them!

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE @Wife .667 idea of FoF Christmas/Kwanza/Jewish (can’t spell the H word for the holiday eep) cards in December. I feel like some of you are extended family but I’ve never met or seen you! Would be fun to put handles to faces.

    Finally, @Leroy I’m going to have to start collecting your witticisms! I LOLed on this:

    Can I get an autographed picture of the two of you made out to him with the inscription “Get off the couch”?

    I also need one of those, and an additional autographed picture that says “Get off the chair.”

  36. Comment by MattC | 10.10.2013 | 3:45 pm

    Anonymous, yeah right…(Davidh? Fess up)

  37. Comment by MattC | 10.10.2013 | 3:46 pm

    ooh…now suddenly there’s a SECOND anonymous…I’m referring to the first one with pictures…

  38. Comment by slo joe | 10.10.2013 | 4:35 pm

    I think I’ll just read the comments. Enjoyable. :)

  39. Comment by Jose | 10.10.2013 | 8:08 pm

    I guess after this a bikepacking race lcould be your next goal. I bet you and the Hamme can do serious damage. How about Stagecoach 400? I highly recommend it.

  40. Comment by Cyclingjimbo | 10.10.2013 | 8:09 pm

    I had a simply great comment to post here back when I was still at work and everyone else was also posting – but the site was so slow because everyone else was reading and posting that I couldn’t get it done. And now that I am home, it’s gone. We engineers can be very clever, but our memory for anything but numbers can be really lousy.

    Anyway, awesome report, Fatty, and a really, really awesome accomplishment – kudos to The Hammer and Fatty for taking on and accomplishing a challenge few of us would think about more than a ewf seconds before rejecting outright. You are both incredible.

  41. Comment by UpTheGrade SR, CA | 10.10.2013 | 10:47 pm

    Glad you and the Hammer survived and completed this challanging event, and even more glad that you wrote so rivetingly about it, very entertaining. Now for my further enjoyment, I want you to race RAAM and tell me all about that – living vicariously though your exploits is great fun ;-)

    Bye the way, I’m sure I saw Leroy’s dog riding Levi’s GranFondo, but he told me not to tell Leroy, or he will be made to ride stoker on Leroay’s tandem. I hope Leroy isn’t reading this.

  42. Comment by AKChick | 10.11.2013 | 12:34 am

    Oh oops, anonymous is me – I posted at work and for some reason it posted anonymously.

    Also, @UpthegradeSR,CA – HILARIOUS!

  43. Comment by AKChick | 10.11.2013 | 12:34 am

    The second anonymous that is. :)

  44. Comment by bart | 10.11.2013 | 2:18 am

    awesome writing !
    even more awesome achievement. RESPECT !
    and the hammer still smiles after 28 hours on a bike.

  45. Comment by Tom in Albany | 10.11.2013 | 5:44 am

    So, Fatty. I was wondering if you have any idea how it would have gone had you not decided to be Hammer’s domestique. It is interesting to speculate how valuable the two of you were for each other throughout the 28 hours of riding. What do you think?

  46. Comment by Jenny from the Block | 10.11.2013 | 6:42 am

    I would like to add my support of Wife #.667’s suggestion. There are some awesome holiday cards out there and I would love to see them!

    Also, thank you for posting this so early. My productivity at work would have been zero until the final race report was posted. The boys doesn’t know it, but he thanks you!

  47. Comment by Daddy style | 10.11.2013 | 8:42 am

    Well done, stand proud

  48. Comment by erin | 10.11.2013 | 8:43 am

    Awesome finish! I must be hormonal, I got tears in my eyes.

  49. Comment by ScottyCycles | 10.11.2013 | 9:01 am

    Once again you kept me anticipating the next installment. Great job Fatty! You and the Hammer are an amazing couple. Lately getting my GF to ride is like pulling teeth!

  50. Comment by SteveB | 10.11.2013 | 10:32 am

    So… ’cause I’m thinking of getting one, how’d the rear view mirror work out?

    Also, any chance we could get a p.s. discussing what you think you’ll do in the future feeding wise? Even on a century I run into the ‘ugh, not gonna eat that ever agains’.

  51. Comment by Rabi | 10.11.2013 | 9:36 pm

    Just unreal. This was an incredibly inspiring series. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  52. Comment by Libby | 10.12.2013 | 7:26 am

    Congrats! That is so amazing & people are awed with hubbens & I riding 124km! They’d be floored with the S to S ride (which won’t happen).
    Glad you woke up before biting the dust- I’ve cleaned road rash out of men’s butts & it’s not pretty nor painless!

    And the next ride of a lifetime is??

  53. Comment by Steve E. | 10.12.2013 | 6:47 pm

    “Jake and Jason — the great guys we rode with at the beginning of the race — would not finish the race.”

    I remember looking at the live feed somewhere in the middle, and seeing either one or two solo riders WAY off course. I was going to screen capture it, but assumed it was some sort of problem with the GPS system. Maybe not.

    Good job!

  54. Comment by Ellen | 10.14.2013 | 6:03 am

    Super writeup, and well worth the wait! I’m a runner, not a rider, but I love reading your race recaps best of all.

  55. Comment by Diane | 10.14.2013 | 8:18 am

    Congrats to you both – what an amazing accomplishment.

    Thanks for the excellent read.

  56. Comment by Noodle | 10.15.2013 | 12:26 pm


  57. Comment by Needles | 10.24.2013 | 1:50 pm

    I have a couple of food suggestions, having a couple of Rockwell relays and some Lotoja finishes. Stick with food that does not require chewing. I’ve found that pudding type food can be squeezed out of a baggie (biting a corner off first) and it can be in several flavors so that it does not become too monotonous. Try to remember to keep whatever concoction your trying viscous enough to squeeze out of the baggie and make absolutely sure the baggie cannot pop open (pudding type food drooled down your front and leg looks like puke and is nasty sticky). Be creative in the mixture, you can do this with food like potatoes (think mashed taters and gravey) rice etc. Also gives you a creative way to use the blender that’s been in the back of your cabinate for years. For me after 100 miles the thought of chewing and swallowing is practically impossible. BTW I had the privilege of meeting you and the Hammer at the start of one of the Rockwell relay races, thanks for being as fun and courteous in person as I imagined you to be!


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.