25 Hours in Frog Hollow, Part V: Denver Meets Beijing

11.13.2013 | 11:47 am

Once in a while, I do something that is absolutely, completely, positively right. I’ll get to what that was in just a moment. 

First, though, you need to understand how the first eight or so hours of the race went.

By the time I had finished the first two laps of the race, I had absolutely no idea where I stood in terms of ranking for the solo singlespeed men, but I was pretty sure that I was in fifth or sixth place. Far enough back that I was not a factor in the race, and unlikely to see the podium.

Meanwhile, however, Kenny was having a banner day; he and Jamon were neck and neck, duking it out. Every time I pulled in to our pit, I asked Zach and Brooks how Kenny was doing. “He is going so hard,” they’d say. “He’s in, he grabs something to eat, and he’s gone.”

“And how is The Hammer doing?” I wanted to know. “Is she happy and having fun, or is she silent and riding with her game face on?”

“She’s having a blast,” they’d reply. “Chatting and laughing every time she pulls in.” 

“Am I putting time on her, or is she catching up with me?” I wondered, as I pulled in after the third lap. 

“Neither, really,” they replied. “Your times are all over the place, while she’s clocking a very consistent 1:10 lap. She’s about half a lap behind you.”

As I went around the fourth lap, I started picturing The Hammer and me, doing the same race, but on opposite sides of the course. If the course were a clock face, I’d be at 12, and she’d be at 6. I’d be at 3, she’d be at 9. 

I was on Denver time; she was on Beijing. (No, I didn’t [and still don’t] know whether Beijing time is really 12 hours different than Denver time. It was [and still is] a metaphor, OK?)

“This is stupid,” I thought, and resolved to speed up and catch her, then ride the rest of the race with her.

TT FatCyclist 159


So I started riding harder. And on the climbs, that worked. I’ve got good legs and enough power to motor up any climb the course can present.

But on the descents, my good intentions fell apart. My wrists have become increasingly sore lately. Even on short mountain bike rides they hurt. So with each lap on this rocky, technical descent, my wrists hurt more. 

My arms would ache, my hands would go numb. I couldn’t help it; I was slowing down on the descents. Whenever I noticed someone approaching, I wouldn’t even wait for them to ask for a yield; I’d just pull over and put a foot down for a second.

Still, though, I tried. And occasionally, I’d catch someone. And—similar to me—they’d almost always move over without even being asked. The politeness was beautiful.

Except once. 

I had caught a racer on the smooth desert portion of the descent (it wasn’t all rocks and ledges). She didn’t yield—“She probably doesn’t know I’m here,” I thought—so I settled in behind her and waited for a good spot to ask her to move over. 

As we got close to a spot where I knew the singletrack crossed a dirt road, I called out, “Please let me by when we get to the intersection.” She nodded that she heard me, and we kept going.

Then we got to the intersection and–instead of slowing, pulling over and letting me by—she just flew through and kept going. Without her cooperation, there was no way I could pass in that space…not if I didn’t want to force her off the trail.

She called over her shoulder, “Well, I’m not going to slow for you!” 

I thought about what she had said for a second; rolled it over in my mind to see if there was any way I could have misunderstood her. Nope. 

So I called back, “I’ve slowed for you for the last three minutes.”

At which point, she moved over and let me by, as I marveled at how grumpy I can be sometimes.

Beijing and Denver, Still

I got through the next lap and asked how The Hammer was doing. “Awesome!” Zach and Brooks called out. “Riding like clockwork.”

And was I any closer to catching her? “No, doesn’t look like it.”

And that’s how it went, lap after lap, ’til, as I did my dusk lap, I started thinking. “What if The Hammer were to wait for me at the pit, for me to lap her and then we could continue riding together.”

No, that wouldn’t work. Because if I were to lap The Hammer, she’d be thinking that I was in full-on race mode, contending with Kenny. It wouldn’t make sense for her to wait for me to come around when I’d just be riding away from her.

But what if, when I finished this next lap, I waited for her? Then she would know I wanted to ride with her, and we wouldn’t have this stupid situation where we were half a lap apart for the entirety of a 25 hour race.

IMG 7694

So when I pulled into the pit after my eighth lap, I had a nice little rest, and set up my bike with a surprise: a Boombotix Bluetooth speaker.

We’d have some rock and roll on our night laps. 

Oh The Blood

The half hour went quick. I sat by the fire, greeting Kenny as he pulled in, having officially lapped me. He was suffering; going so hard makes it hard to eat. He didn’t know if he could keep this pace up. 

I had Zach tape up my wrists, hoping that the support would make riding a little less painful.

And I had a big plate of spaghetti. 

I tell you, there is nothing in the world quite so luxurious and indolent-feeling as sitting around and eating when you know you should be out on your bike, racing. 

And then, in came The Hammer.

TT FatCyclist 103

She didn’t see me for a minute, which was cool, because I got to see how she acts when she isn’t around me. 

With a big smile on her face, she said, “I just had a great lap!” And then she held out her hand, showing that there was blood running all the way down her arm. 

“Also, I crashed, and I think I tore off the tip of a finger.”

You know, sometimes it’s especially wonderful to have a hand doctor as your crew chief.

As Zach cleaned and bandaged The Hammer up, she noticed me. “Hi honey!” she called out, happily. “What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to ride with you,” I said. “But are you OK?”

“Oh, I’m fine,” said The Hammer, so chirpily that I thought she must still be in shock. “You really waited for me so we could ride together? I was worried we weren’t ever going to see each other or ride together the whole race. You are the sweetest husband who has ever lived.”

Like I said, once in a while, I do something that is absolutely, completely, positively right.

And even more occasionally, I do two things that are absolutely completely positively right, because the next thing I said was, “And I’ve got my bike set up with a Boombot Rex speaker, too. I’ll let you pick the artist for the first lap.” 

Which doesn’t sound all that smart until you consider that I had just mentally rejected saying, “You know, you wouldn’t have gotten your finger torn up like that if you’d have been wearing full-fingered gloves.”

See what I mean? Brilliant


  1. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 11.13.2013 | 11:58 am

    May I suggest for your next book title:

    Collected Wisdoms… or
    How to be the Best Husband ever..

    I’ll even pay for the printing costs.

  2. Comment by Mike | 11.13.2013 | 12:02 pm

    The truly wise husband knows what NOT to say. You no longer need me young Grasshopper!

  3. Comment by DNF | 11.13.2013 | 12:04 pm

    Hey regarding your wrists,

    Have you ever thought of the Ergon grips??

    I know, in the racing circuit they are seen as not cool at all, but they work wonderfully for the wrists…

    So you have to choose between being cool or being comfy.

    (please excuse my poor english!)

    Jamon also recommended Ergon grips for my wrist pain. I will definitely check them out. Thanks! (and your English is fine.) – FC

  4. Comment by J | 11.13.2013 | 12:17 pm

    Ditto on Ergon. I know a few “experienced” riders who love them for their relief.

  5. Comment by s dot r | 11.13.2013 | 12:35 pm

    enjoyed this installment!

    also, I guess that I’ve been subconsciously very curious about this race- or maybe I’m just that hooked on your writing- because a couple of nights ago I dreamed that I *was* the FatCyclist, racing down the trail. The dream has mostly faded, but I do remember that there were many breaks for good food (including spaghetti, I think), and on one occasion I (you) turned into LeVar Burton.

  6. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 11.13.2013 | 12:41 pm

    If this is a spoiler alert please delete. But I would love to get started to sending you abroad. I’m sure there are others out there who feel the same. Of course the ‘team’ requires a captain so this goes for Lisa as well.

    As i say please delete if necessary.

  7. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 11.13.2013 | 12:45 pm

    It’s way harder to navigate the hazards of marriage than the hazards of mountain bike riding – and both are done in the dark sometimes! Excellent job!

  8. Comment by Jeff Bike | 11.13.2013 | 12:46 pm

    Ah the old saying proves true “a blind pig finds an acorn once in awhile” and husbands do or say the right thing about as often.
    I shall learn from you my wise leader.

  9. Comment by rich | 11.13.2013 | 1:06 pm

    Hey Fatty, that was definitely a husband of the month type move you made….very wise!
    In addition to the ergon grip suggestion, on my SS I was having wrist pain and moved to Luv Handles for bars. The slight bend in the bar made everything better.
    Made the move years ago and will never go back

  10. Comment by Chilly Willy | 11.13.2013 | 1:19 pm

    Another vote for the Ergon grips here. I got them for my commuter and loved them. Bought another set when I got a mountain bike, too. They definitely help once you’ve got them set up right.

  11. Comment by Clydesteve | 11.13.2013 | 1:19 pm

    Yes,well done, Fatty. But this: “I was on Denver time; she was on Beijing. (No, I didn’t [and still don’t] know whether Beijing time is really 12 hours different than Denver time. It was [and still is] a metaphor, OK?)”, that you need to tell your readers this. Sad, so, so sad.

    Are we that dorky? Really?

  12. Comment by Clydesteve | 11.13.2013 | 1:23 pm

    Ok, ok I just read the comments, and they are 99% unsolicited advice, seriously and un-sarcastically given. So, yes, we probably are that dorky that we need metaphor pointed out to us.

    So, thanks!

  13. Comment by Nic Grillo | 11.13.2013 | 2:03 pm

    +1 on the Ergon grips. I’ve been rolling with the GS-1 for about a year now. No, they don’t look as cool, but they sure are comfortable!

  14. Comment by SteveB | 11.13.2013 | 2:35 pm

    I guess we’ll find out tomorrow, but I want to know if the first
    song was ‘I want to Rock and Roll all night’.

  15. Comment by Slo Joe | 11.13.2013 | 2:55 pm

    Also +1 for the Ergon grips. Made a world of comfy difference.

    What was the prognosis on the Hammer’s finger….did she actually lose the tip? (hopes not)

    Asks self: “How did I get addicted to this?” Cuz I yam.

  16. Comment by becomingblue | 11.13.2013 | 3:05 pm

    You hooked a speaker up to your bike? Now that’s style. I’ve never heard of or seen that before. Is that a Utah thing?

  17. Comment by MSJ in Fremont CA | 11.13.2013 | 3:07 pm

    I know you’re all about the Fat Cyclist brand, but for next year you should take a look at these-

  18. Comment by UpTheGrade SR, CA | 11.13.2013 | 3:40 pm

    Well played Fatty, you made a good choice. I guess you are learning!

    But major Kudos to The Hammer for continuing to ride despite: I “think I tore off the tip of a finger.”

    How many guys are lucky enough to have such a well disposed partner to share their hobby/sport/obsession?

  19. Comment by Hammer/Lisa | 11.13.2013 | 3:51 pm

    I am the luckiest woman in the world and couldn’t ask for a better husband!!

  20. Comment by Hammer/Lisa | 11.13.2013 | 3:53 pm

    FYI: it takes 11days to grow a new thumb tip!

  21. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 11.13.2013 | 4:21 pm

    Will we hear how the thumb tip became separated? Or maybe we’ll find out it’s some mad cloning experiment by Fatty! Attempting to create a legion of adoring fans to sing his praise….hey!…I thought that’s what we were doing.

  22. Comment by Kukui | 11.13.2013 | 5:06 pm

    FYI: it takes 11days to grow a new thumb tip!


  23. Comment by GregC | 11.13.2013 | 5:08 pm

    Boom box on the bike? (but then I guess I wear headphones, so whats the diff? I can totally identify with your thinking and feelings and motivations on the bike (wrists and all sorts of othe body parts aching and pain, mental distractions, etc). Cant waint for more of the rolling slumber party (what a guy I met at a recent big ride described the Rockwell Relay- not me though)

  24. Comment by Fred | 11.13.2013 | 7:46 pm

    Ergon grips solved my numb hands problem on the MTB.
    I’m a fan.

  25. Comment by spaceyace | 11.13.2013 | 8:07 pm

    We are that dorky. Or maybe I should just speak for myself. Then again, I wouldn’t have mentioned it if you hadn’t been *so* insistant about the metaphor thingy…but, for future reference:

    Denver / Beijing time difference is 15 hours.
    Denver / Dushanbe, Tajikistan is 12 hours.

    Now you know.

  26. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 11.13.2013 | 8:07 pm

    Random Question Fatty. Did you or Trisha photoshop the ’speed trail’ into your picture above? Well done, gives it the demon speed look.

  27. Comment by Kenny | 11.13.2013 | 8:38 pm

    I love my ergon grips!gra8e7yt6w

  28. Comment by Sunny | 11.13.2013 | 10:08 pm

    awesome black and white photo.

  29. Comment by TK | 11.14.2013 | 12:26 am

    I’ve ridden with Ergon GP1 and GX1. Both good, but GX1 are better for mountain biking. Get the smallest diameter size available so they don’t rub your thumbs raw. I won’t ride any mtn bike without them.

  30. Comment by Mair | 11.14.2013 | 3:04 am

    What’s with this 12 hours thing?

    India/Bangladesh: time difference – 30 minutes.

  31. Comment by Jacob | 11.14.2013 | 8:18 am

    I have a question for you. I had my first race involving a mountain bike this fall and it was mostly single track and, this being the southeast, heavily forested, meaning there were long stretch that letting someone pass would require stopping.

    Whenever the trail widened, I would slow a little and pull as far to the right as I could safely ride and let people pass, but I got caught on a rougher climb once where it would have been impossible to let them pass without stopping. Since this was just a 7-mile leg of a duathlon, stopping seems less reasonable than on a 25 hour race, so I just made sure to push as hard as possible and keep going with them behind me until the path widened.

    Was I being reasonable or should I have stopped?

  32. Comment by bart | 11.14.2013 | 8:58 am

    brilliant writing.
    it cannot be said often enough: you are awesome.

  33. Comment by Noel | 11.14.2013 | 10:09 am

    Another +1 on the Ergons here. I’ve been sporting the GP1 on the MTB for a few months now. I got the larger ones originally and they killed my thumb joints but switching to the smaller size solved the problem.

    Great race report so far, can’t wait for the rest!

  34. Comment by Barefoot Rose | 11.14.2013 | 10:17 am

    Perhaps you should have TwinSix design a line of FatCyclist Cliff Hangers. Your cliff hangers are clearly the best series of race recaps I’ve ever read.
    **Still hoping they come out with a “The Hammer” line.

  35. Comment by Zach and Fred | 11.14.2013 | 10:27 am

    Trisha does use photoshop but the trail was that dusty. That image was almost straight out of the camera. Not bad if I do say so myself.

  36. Comment by AKChick | 11.14.2013 | 10:45 am

    Hahahahaha! I love the last two paragraphs! You crack me up, sir, with your wit and restraint. I am glad you only had (I hope) one rude individual. Interesting that it was a lady. Usually, the ladies are super cool and the guys are grumpy if I’m passing them. I don’t understand being rude in any situation, but whatever. Loving these race reports!

    Loved that there were so many comments on yesterday’s post!

  37. Comment by AKChick | 11.14.2013 | 10:48 am

    Should have read the comments first.

    I second the Ergon grips. I have them on my fat tire bike with bar ends and I also have them sans bar ends on my mountain bike. They are the BEST hands down for comfort. I love them.

  38. Comment by AKChick | 11.14.2013 | 10:52 am

    Oh Hammer/Lisa OUCH and also, gross! :)

  39. Comment by Burgess | 11.14.2013 | 3:45 pm


  40. Comment by MattC | 11.14.2013 | 4:33 pm

    I hear it’s really smoggy in Beijing.

  41. Comment by MattC | 11.14.2013 | 4:38 pm

    @Davidh…checked out the WBR link you posted WAY above…THAT is a really cool thought…Fatty and Hammer as a 2-person team racing the 8 day Mtb Absa Cape Epic next March…only $10,500 for the team entry (which goes to WBR). I like it…Fatty…you interested? I’m SURE we (and by “we” I mean you) could earn that…easy peasy! Think about it….great idea David!

  42. Comment by MattC | 11.14.2013 | 4:40 pm

    (and Fatty…they offer “Full Mechanical services”…just thought you might like to know)

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  44. Comment by Marty | 11.15.2013 | 9:29 am

    So, Lisa, do you stitch up your wounds yourself, too? After reading this post, calling you the Hammer seem inadequate. You transitioned from the Runner to the Hammer; it’s time for a new moniker.


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