6 Hours in Frog Hollow, Part 6: Surprise Ending

05.5.2014 | 10:56 am

A Note from Fatty: This is part 6 in my 6 Hours in Frog Hollow race report. If you somehow wound up here before reading the first five parts, you might want to read them first: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

“One last lap.” I said it out loud, again, to myself. “One last lap.” And then I asked myself the rhetorical question that I have asked myself dozens — maybe hundreds — of times during dozens of races when I felt like I was out of gas:

“Can’t you be strong for just one more hour?”

Maybe I could. I was sure trying to be. 

Where is Mike? 

For the entire race, Mike from Boise and I had been racing in a familiar pattern — I would catch and pass him in the five mile climb, then he would catch and pass me during the eight mile descent, then I would catch him in the home stretch and we would finish the lap more or less together.

But in the fourth lap — the penultimate lap — he had broken that pattern by getting far enough ahead of me that I didn’t know where he was. Didn’t know how far ahead of me he was, or how I’d manage to find a way to finish ahead of him.

Because I definitely wanted to finish ahead of him.

And so I rode my brains out during the climb. In spite of being tired, in spite of not having any idea how I would manage to keep him from passing me and leaving me in the dust during the downhill.

“I’ll work out a strategy for keeping him behind me once I’ve actually got him behind me,” I thought.

And I stepped it up again. I had to catch him. Had to.


But I couldn’t catch him. Couldn’t even see him. Whenever I was in a stretch where I could see a few turns ahead, I’d strain my eyes, looking for his now-familiar Spot.

He wasn’t there. He had — somehow — gotten so far ahead of me that I just couldn’t catch him. Couldn’t even find him.

And the doubts crept in. “Maybe I’m not going fast at all. Maybe I’m so cooked that what feels like a big effort is hardly moving.”

I kept going, but as I got to the top of the climb, the urgency dropped out of my racing. If I hadn’t caught him by the top, I wasn’t going to catch Mike in the downhill.

And so I eased up. Not really on purpose, but once the motivation is gone…it’s gone.

I wasn’t going to catch Mike, and — as far as I knew, nobody was going to catch me — so I just coasted. Sure, I pedaled when I had to, but I took it easy. Hey, why not?

Surprise 1

I got through the first part of the downhill, just rolling along, avoiding bumps — my wrists were hurting.

I rolled through the first section of soft, dusty singletrack, leading up to the short uphill section on dirt road — the place where, on two other laps, Mike had caught and passed me. I wondered where he was now. Maybe already finished? 

I took a moment to feel sorry for myself. I had tried so hard. But I just hadn’t done it.

“Well, I’m glad this race is about over,” said a voice from behind me.

It was Mike. 

“WWHHHHUHH?” I said, very intelligently. Then I followed up with, “I was sure you were in front of me this whole lap!”

But he hadn’t been. He had been behind me; I just hadn’t seen him taking a break or using the bathroom or whatever at the beginning of this lap. 

But through the clever technique of giving up and slowing to a crawl on the descent, I had made it possible for Mike to catch me in the same place he had several times before.

“I’m going to beat myself up for months,” I thought to myself. And, aloud, I said, “Nice work catching me; you’d better go on ahead. You’re much better on the descents.” 

As he pulled onto the singletrack and pulled away, I said, “Hey, it’s been really great racing with you.”

Because it had been. Mike from Boise had been the perfect motivation for me to really push myself during this race. 

Surprise 2

Somehow, knowing that I had let an opportunity to beat Mike go by — if only I hadn’t taken it easy on the downhill! — completely deflated me. The competition between Mike and me was over, and I had let it go by giving up well before I needed to. 

So I moped along, riding in what felt like slow motion.

I was whipped. Physically and mentally. And then, from behind me, I heard it: 


The Hammer. Flying. Downhilling through the dusty course like I had never seen her ride before. Like a pro.

“Move over, Mister Nelson!” she called. “I am racing!”

Obediently, meekly, I yielded.

“Are you OK?” she called as she went by.

“I’m fine,” I said, wondering if she’d realize that “fine” was code for “miserable and self-pitying.”

“I’ve got to go, there’s another racer hot on my tail!” she called.

“OK,” I said.

And just like that, the moment I have been wondering about for the past couple months — the moment when my wife becomes faster than me — had come to pass.

She pulled away, disappearing from view.

“Well, I can try to keep up,” I thought, and started giving chase…and managed to keep up. Barely. 

We crossed the line together. The Hammer triumphant, me…not so much. 

But I had learned an invaluable lesson, the hard way. I will never again give up before a race is over. Because you never know what’s going to happen, and what opportunities will arise. But if you’re not trying your hardest, you won’t be in any position to take advantage when those opportunities do present themselves.


We packed up and headed over to the city park for the awards ceremony. While we waited for it to begin (it’s a cardinal rule of racing that no awards ceremony can ever start on time), we took some photos of how dirty we were.

IMG 8390

And that’s pretty dirty. 

IMG 8389

The Hammer’s division went first, and she took…second!

IMG 8395

The only woman who beat her in the Women’s Solo category, in fact, was Joey Lithgoe, a pro (Joey hadn’t gotten to the awards ceremony yet).

The Hammer’s prize? a nice tanktoppish jersey:

IMG 8399

Then it was my turn: 


Mike from Boise had taken third, I had taken fourth. And I just had to get a picture of me with the guy who had pushed me so hard.


It was a great moment: a couple of racers, having given their all, now getting a photo together.

And then Cimarron Chacon, the owner/promoter of Gro-Promotions, which puts on this race yelled, “Hey old guys! Go get your prizes and get out of the way!”

Which, when you think about it, sorta puts the whole thing into perspective.


  1. Comment by Tom in Albany | 05.5.2014 | 11:09 am

    What I learned from Fatty today: Never, ever give up.
    What I also learned from Fatty: This is The Hammer’s blog now! ;-)

  2. Comment by Thad | 05.5.2014 | 11:47 am

    Did I read that right? The Hammer chick’ed you? The student has become the teacher.

  3. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 05.5.2014 | 11:50 am

    Start the story with philosophy, end the story with philosophy. I love it! I’ve “backed off” in races because of this or that reason with similar retrospect misgivings: Dang, if only… Glad you had fun and raced well; you, The Hammer, and Mike.

  4. Comment by EJOTY | 05.5.2014 | 11:58 am


  5. Comment by Scott | 05.5.2014 | 12:09 pm

    Good racing with you again. I wish I had known there was a battle going on not far in front of me and I might have tried to step up my game and race instead of survive! The single speed category just keeps getting tougher at Frog Hollow. Will I see you there for the 25 again? You should come to Park City Point to Point for some serious climbing. Good job.

    Yeah, I should. That would be fun. – FC

  6. Comment by Heidi | 05.5.2014 | 12:55 pm

    “Move over, Mister Nelson!” she called. “I am racing!”

    Tee hee!

  7. Comment by Jeremy | 05.5.2014 | 10:09 pm

    Oh oh oh busted

    Oh oh oh oh oh oh
    Here comes the Hammer
    Oh oh oh oh oh oh
    Here comes the Hammer

    (Ear worm!)

  8. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.5.2014 | 11:28 pm

    “Move over Mr Nelson” would look good on this year’s jersey. T6 are you listening?

    After the news you just got, THIS is the comment you decided to post? – FC

  9. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 05.6.2014 | 8:48 am

    No matter who the competition is, the biggest race is always the one going on inside your own mind. All you can ever do in a race is your best effort for the day and the conditions. it seem slike everyone who has ever raced can look back and think “If only I had …” for more than one occasion. We keep learning those lessons over and over, and fortunately we get to keep trying over and over.

    Way to go Hammer!

  10. Comment by Sunny | 05.6.2014 | 9:10 am

    Hey…you finished. That in itself is an awesome accomplishment. Many of us can’t.

  11. Comment by KevinM_Indiana(soon to be Virginia) | 05.6.2014 | 11:32 am

    A teachable moment for sure … Never give up!

    “Move over Mr. Nelson” – Love it … I agree would look great on a tee shirt or jersey …

    Congrats you and the Hammer!

  12. Comment by Bonnie | 05.6.2014 | 2:27 pm

    Hey Fatty, never give up! … Fight like Susan.

  13. Comment by The Cyclist | 05.6.2014 | 3:31 pm

    This racing’s just like the stock market. I also wonder how dirty your lungs must have been on the inside…

    I hadn’t even considered the amount of desert dust there must be in my lungs until you brought it up, and now I can’t think of anything else. THANKS A LOT. – FC

  14. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.6.2014 | 5:45 pm

    This one’s for you Lisa

    It would not be possible to praises nurses too highly. — Stephen


  15. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.6.2014 | 5:47 pm

    @FC I’m still processing the news I got.

    My ‘comment’ was intended to keep me grounded in some sense of the familiar.

  16. Comment by Corrine | 05.6.2014 | 7:04 pm

    @davidh-marin,ca What news did you get? Did you win the prize? Awesome if you did! Let us know, let us know!

  17. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.6.2014 | 7:18 pm

    @Corrine No I did not win the prize we are all trying for.

    Wife#1 and I were ‘offered’ a “how could you say no experience” while remaining properly clothed, and she volunteered me. The fact that this experience is so FAR BEYOND my comprehension level has left me speechless….comment-less(?) but I’m working on it.

    I think Fatty will allow a ‘guest post’ about it, but I’ve been writing in snarky comment style for so long I need to find my Strunk and White in order to craft a proper narrative, without it turning into a New Yorker article. Suffice to say I’ll probably use the word “edema”…more than once.

  18. Comment by DOM | 05.7.2014 | 5:38 am

    MoveoverMrNelson.com The Hammer’s new blog?

  19. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 05.7.2014 | 6:45 am

    Thanks @davidh – now you’ve just raised our curiosity even more. We need that guest post very soon – either that or just fess up and submit a long comment with the whole story.

  20. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 05.7.2014 | 8:58 am

    @cyclingjimbo No, no. If I’ve learned anything from Fatty, besides how to make the kitchen smell of Bad Beer and Brats, is that a ’story’ has to unfurl, in it’s own time.

    I can assure you that when Allison and I do, pen this tome:
    (must first outline in cuneiform, translate to Hebrew, rewrite in Greek, and update in Latin, before a final draft in English is ready for this computer thingie)

    We will do our best to let you feel just as ‘beat up’ as I expect to be….and just as amazed.


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