Perfect, Part 1: 2015 Crusher in the Tushar Race Report

07.20.2015 | 6:43 am

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The Crusher in the Tushar — Burke Swindlehurst’s Road / Dirt enigmatic seventy mile, climbtastic race in Beaver, Utah — has traditionally been a problematic event for me.

The first year I tried it, I made the colossal mistake of not just riding a bike that was completely new to me, but riding a kind of bike (a CX bike) that was completely new to me.

I couldn’t climb with it, I couldn’t ride dirt on it. I flatted twice with it, and I was miserable on it.

The next year I tried it, I was smarter: I rode a singlespeed, which suited me much, much better. Even so, I struggled with exactly the parts you’d expect a singlespeed to struggle with: the long paved downhill parts.

Oh, and I was suddenly forced — with about seven miles left to go — by my GI tract to scramble down a mountainside in search of a private place to poop.

Last year I was in North Carolina on a family vacation, and hence didn’t try it at all.

This year, however…was different. This year, somehow, every possible thing that could go right, did. Plus, a number of things that I wouldn’t have thought possible to go right also went right.

I had a glorious day on the bike. One of my favorite race experiences, ever.

That’s not hyperbole; that’s not a trick. It’s just true. Which means that I’m pretty much eliminating the possibility of drama from this story, before I even get started. But I’m OK with that, because for this story, I just really want to talk about how much fun I have when racing, and how much I like the people I race with, and how incredible a good day on the bike can feel…both before and after.

This, really, is just about having a great time on a great day in a great place with great people.

The Day Before

Beaver, Utah is not far from Alpine, Utah. Less than three hours. So by the time The Hammer and I got to Packet Pickup, got our race numbers and t-shirts and dropped our tickets in the raffle jars…well, we still had most of the afternoon left to kill.

“Let’s go drive part of the course, make note of how long we’re on pavement before the first big dirt road climb begins,” The Hammer suggested.

Sure, why not?

We learned some valuable stuff on this drive. First, we learned that the first seven or so miles of the course are pretty much flat. Connecting up with a group would be extremely helpful here. 

Then, we learned, the road becomes steeper for a few miles. The bunches of people would turn into single-file ribbons of people.

And then, almost exactly ten miles into the race, we’d be making a right turn. After that, it’d be uphill for…pretty much ever.

I’m not complaining about that never-ending climb, by the way. It’s up a gorgeous mountain, and climbing is what The Hammer and I do best. We commemorated the moment with a selfie:

Thumb IMG 3330 1024

Yeah, we’re both wearing our “Crusher” t-shirts from prior years. We’re like that. 


By the time we finished our survey of the first ten miles of the race and had returned back to the land of cel phone coverage, FOF David Houston had left us a message. He was in town.

“Let’s meet at Crazy Cow Cafe (one of a small number of restaurants in this small town) for dinner,” we suggested. Astonishingly, David did not have a better offer.

Then we texted Cory, who’d also be racing the Crusher. “Dinner?”

“Just arrived in Beaver,” he texted back. “Check out my awesome hotel room.” 


I tell you, some people lead charmed lives. You could sit and read (or play Candy Crush) on that toilet for hours without your arms getting tired.

As you might expect, we were amazed that Cory elected to leave his hotel room and join us for dinner.

Then we called and invited my niece Lindsey and her new hubby Ben, along with Ben’s dad, Cory and his wife Lynne.

(Yes, most of the people we know are named Cory or have a name that can be shortened to “Lyn.” It keeps things so much easier for us.)

Initially they were reluctant to join us for a meal at a place called “Crazy Cow,” but they relented when I texted them a photo of the sweet potato fries I was eating.

Thumb IMG 3332 1024

Well of course they’d join us, in that case.

We ate. Most everyone else ate reasonably; I killed my sweet potato fries and a huge helping of Penne Alfredo Chicken Carbonara, or something like that.

The Hammer looked on in a mixture of concern and horror.

More than eating, though, we talked. After all, everyone at that table would be in Leadville soon, all of us staying at the same house. So we had some nerves about this race, some expectations for this race. And possibly even some things to prove.

Predicting the Future

The Hammer revealed her magic Crusher – Leadville Theorem, which postulates that your Leadville time will be, quite simply, your Crusher time plus three hours. This has been proven right, time and time again. 

We went around the table, talking about what we were hoping to finish the Crusher in. Astonishingly, more or less remember what everyone said, which I am pleased to present to you in this convenient bullet-point format:

  • Cory (Of SBR-WBR Fame): “I’d like to finish half an hour faster than I did last time.
  • Ben: “My brother finished it in 5:39, so I want to finish it at least that fast.
  • The Hammer: “I’d be happy with six hours.” Which, by the way, would be fifteen minutes faster than the last time she raced it.
  • Lindsey: “I want to hang with Lisa for as long as I can.” When pressed, she admitted she wants to do this race in under six hours.
  • Cory (Ben’s Dad): Wanted anything under seven hours.
  • David: “I want to finish before the time cutoff.” That’s a worthy goal, and not one that everyone who attempts the Crusher accomplishes.

As for me, well, I said I wanted to have a “good” Crusher: one with no mechanicals and no sudden and undeniable urges. If these things happened, I thought I’d be good for a 5:30.

“Do you have a stretch goal?” Ben asked. A good question, and a strong indicator that Ben understands how I think. I always have a stretch goal for when I’m racing. You know, for just in case the day’s going well and I am exceeding expectations. Something new to stretch for.

Hey, it could happen.

“5:20,” I replied. “5:20 would be a really good day.”

“I think you’re going to get 5:15,” said The Hammer. Which is just one example of why I married her.

Don’t Read This Part

You all know I’m about to start talking about pooping, right? You know that I can’t help myself, right?

So here’s the thing: that penne carbonara chicken alfredo plus sweet potato fries turned out to be…a little much.

I have lost count how many times I pooped before we left the hotel and made our way to the starting line, but…it was a lot.

And then, I still had to go.

And in fact, I was in the portapotty when the race began.

Luckily for me, the Crusher is a staggered start. When the first wave (pro men) took off, I still had nine minutes before my wave — the final wave, men 45 – 49 — began.

OK, I am done talking about pooping now. 

My Race Begins

I was really excited about the fact that since I am still (barely) in the 45 – 49 age group, I would get to go last. It meant that if I were fast and strong enough, I’d get to say “hi” to all my friends and family as I caught them throughout the race.

I know, I know. It sounds like hubris for me to talk that way. I’m willing to own that hubris. I have no choice.

I found my area, embedded myself in the mid-backish part of it, and wandered forward as the other groups started. Women first — Lindsey and The Hammer:

IMG 6192

Then single speeders, then 50+ men (Cory, Cory, and David), then 18-29 men (Ben).

Then three more groups.

Then, finally — for the last time — my 45 – 49 age group.

We started slow for a few minutes, but ramped up fast. I moved from group to group, expecting there would be someone who’d want to bridge up to the 40-44 men main field.

I was right. A guy in a “Half Fast” (say it to understand it) kit launched forward. I grabbed his wheel, and a guy in a Chamoi Butt’r kit grabbed mine.

Abracadabra, without anyone planning on it, we suddenly had ourselves an express locomotive. Flying from one group to the next, briefly resting, and surging to the next group.

It was exhilerating. 

I took turns on the front at first, but this group was just faster than I was. I had bitten off more than I could chew. Before the ten miles of pavement ended, I got spit out the back and was on my own. 

That’s OK, though: I had had a ball trying to hang with these fast guys. Now I’d recover, eat my first GU of the day, and get ready for the fact that very soon we’d be making a right turn, and then it would be nothing but climbing for the next tennish miles.

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The contents of my jersey pockets for the Crusher in the Tushar.

And it’s not like I had slowed to a crawl. First I caught my friend DJ (who was suffering from what I think is a broken or badly bruised rib), then David Houston — easy to recognize in his WBR kit — and then SBR-Cory, who was riding a Cannondale F-Si Black Inc., just like I was.

“Excuse me sir,” I said, as I caught Cory. “But could you please refer me to an establishment where I might procure such a bicycle as fine as yours?”

I said this in my “Ernie” voice (Yes, I can do a very good Ernie impersonation; I’m full of surprises) for some reason.

And then we turned right, and a few seconds later we were on dirt. 

The real race — sixty more miles, about ten thousand feet of climbing — was starting now.

Which is where we’ll pick up in the next installment. 


  1. Comment by MattC | 07.20.2015 | 12:27 pm

    Uhm, Fatty…under your “Predicting the Future” paragraph, at the bottom you have “due to the fact that I have never” (that I have never finished this sentence?)

    I can’t speak for everybody, but I would like to know what you have never.

  2. Comment by PNP | 07.20.2015 | 12:27 pm

    Fatty, my friend, a little editing is in order.

    Under “Predicting the Future,” there’s an incomplete sentence. And it’s “exhilarating.”

    And in the last sentence above the photo of food, you said “…climbing for the next tennish rides.” I mean, I know you like climbing, but that’s quite a prediction! :-)

    Sorry; my editor brain is out in full force today.

    Great report otherwise!

  3. Comment by Wife#1 | 07.20.2015 | 1:07 pm

    I was going to ask the same question, could you please finish that sentence. :-)

    And then willingly, this I expose my ignorance…
    Ernie who? Ernie and Bert, Ernie? Because if you do an Ernie from Sesame Street impersonation, and video tape it for us, I am so going to donate another bike to WBR as soon as you do.

    I am guessing it’s a more “highbrow” or sporty Ernie.

    Or maybe not.

  4. Comment by LowPhat | 07.20.2015 | 1:42 pm

    I was confused by the “I have never” part at first, but then I realized it was a reader-participation thing.

    I’ll start.

    I think that Fatty has never met a chocolate cake he didn’t like…

  5. Comment by Corrine | 07.20.2015 | 1:59 pm

    I love when everything goes right at a race. That happened to me last weekend at the Fireweed 200 time trial race in Alaska. I even made my stretch goal. I was afraid I wouldn’t make it when I hate to wait for 7 minutes for 2 porta potties to come open at one rest stop. One guy was in there leisurely changing his clothes. Didn’t he know I was in a time trial race! Love the race report as usual even if there is less drama.

  6. Comment by Kim Wack | 07.20.2015 | 10:29 pm

    Question – why not put those Gu’s in a flask? Wouldn’t that be easier?

  7. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 07.21.2015 | 1:40 pm

    Is that the order in which you consume said pocket contents, or are you more random than that?

  8. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 07.21.2015 | 1:44 pm

    And while we’re on the topic of food, if AKChick is in the ‘hood, I’ve got a question about Earth Balance PB. Back after Boggs, I purchased two jars: one “regular,” one coconut. Both were awesome WITHOUT the oil separation fiasco of other “natural” PBs.

    Well, I just bought a new jar of each. I haven’t opened the coconut yet, but the regular was oil separation city. Not sure if they changed their recipe or if the new one (with flax seed) is different than the old one, but this is driving me back to Skippy/Jif …

  9. Comment by Kukui | 07.21.2015 | 2:25 pm

    Those jersey names are much more clever than anything I’d ever be able to come up with.

    @ Kim Wack – Whenever I have a support vehicle, I ride with Gu’s in a cheap squeeze bottle. When I get sick of a flavor, my SAG hands me a new one and it’s awesome. The bottle has to go in the cage upside down so gravity can pull it to the top of the bottle, but it’s a faster and much less messy way to fuel!

    And I don’t have to worry about littering my pocket contents every time I reach in my jersey pockets.

  10. Comment by Kim Wack | 07.21.2015 | 3:57 pm

    Kukui – I do the same. I cut the GU with a little water so it’s thinner! I don’t know how Fatty rips all those wrappers all the time! I would have that stuff everywhere!


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