Perfect, Part 2: 2015 Crusher in the Tushar Race Report

07.27.2015 | 12:12 pm

A Note from Fatty About the Upcoming Leadville 100 Webinar: Hey, Reba Rusch — The Queen of Pain — and I are doing a really cool webinar series on final prep for the Leadville 100. You should attend, even if you aren’t doing the Leadville 100 this year. Why? Because it’s good info for pretty much any kind of endurance racing. Plus we’re very entertaining. 

Here are the links for registering: 

More details about each of these sessions here.

A Note from Fatty About Part 1 of This Race: Part 1 of this race report is here.

I am not as light as I have been the past couple years. In fact, I’m about five pounds heavier than I was last year. 

This is a source of concern to me. By which I mean, I whine about it nonstop to The Hammer: “I cannot believe how fat I am this year.” She rolls her eyes and tells me I look fine, I’m racing fine, and I worry too much.

She has a point. I am, as near as I can tell, stronger than I have ever been (thank you TrainerRoad!). Even with this stomach that’s just enough bigger that the shorts I wore comfortably last year…I’m wearing uncomfortably this year. 

Even so, I worry. I worry a lot. As I turned up onto the ten-mile-long dirt road climb, I worried that thanks to the head start Ben, The Hammer, and Lindsey had (four minutes for Ben, eight minutes for the women), I’d never see them during the race. I worried that this five pounds was going to drag me down, down. And I’d be the slowest I’ve ever been in this race.

I worry, as it turns out, way too much.

I Like Climbing

Within a few hundred yards of the ten-mile climb, I realized something that I actually already know, but tend to trivialize until I’m actually in a race.

I am good at climbing. Really good.

Part of it comes from living in a place where, straight from my driveway, I can put together a near-infinite number of rides with 10,000 or more feet of climbing (road or mountain).

Part of it comes from having grown up in Alamosa, Colorado, at an altitude of 7500 feet.

Part of it comes from having ridden a single speed most of the time for the past few years. I know that spinning a fast cadence is the way most people get to the top of a mountain, but for a guy with stumpy legs, high-torque / slow cadence seems to work OK.

But I’d say most of it comes from the fact that I love how it feels. The pain of climbing: well, I don’t necessarily mind that feeling. The raggedness of my breathing: I like it. The metronomic repetitiveness: it’s my friend.

Most of my waking hours, I’m thinking and creating and problem-solving and worrying and writing and stuff. Even when I’m on a bike, most of the time, my mind is still going.

But when I’m climbing — climbing something really really difficult — that is all I’m doing. I wouldn’t call it meditative, per se, but I would call it focusing, simple. 

And of course, it makes me happy when I pass people. 

Oh Hi There

About half a mile into the climb, I passed Cory (Ben’s dad). He yelled encouragement. I nodded my head, unable to understand how anyone might be able to have enough wind to actually yell anything at all.

Next, I saw the group of fast guys I couldn’t quite hang with on the flats. “Hey, I really appreciate the huge pull you took,” I told the guy in the Half-Fast kit. “I swear I wanted to jump forward and take a turn; you were just too strong and rode me off your wheel.”

“You did take a pull,” he said. “You were the guy who got the train going.”

Hm. That hadn’t occurred to me. “Thanks again,” I said, appreciating his generous perspective.

Something like that can put you in a good mood. 

I said, “Hey,” or “Hi,” or “Nice work” to as many people as I could as I climbed. Lots of people said it back. The atmosphere was incredibly friendly. Everyone being nice to each other, even as we did our best to not be bested.

Then: The Hammer. I could see her up ahead. I quieted down, so she wouldn’t know it was me catching her. Then, as I got to within about five feet, I said, “That is one fine-looking ass.”

“Aw, that’s sweet,” said Ali Knutson, who was riding alongside The Hammer.

“I love you, baby,” The Hammer said, as I kept on going.

“Aww,” said Ali, and probably everyone else in the area.

The Hammer and I can be just a little bit nauseating, I hear.


I kept working. Going right at the pace I know I can climb without self-destructing. I said hi to my niece Lindsey as I went by.

And then: Ben. Ever since I included Ben in a blog post back in April, our rides together have been…purposeful. To the point that I really didn’t know whether I’d be able to catch him in this ride.

But now that I had caught him, I had a great idea: he and I should work together to be faster in this race. I slowed for just a second so he could grab on.

As it turns out, I hadn’t really needed to back off at all. He was already there. And he hung on, too — the first person I had come by who had been able to do so.

That kid’s gonna finish sub-9 at Leadville on his first try this year, mark my words.

Somewhere — maybe on one of the brief downhills, maybe on the short flat section, I lost Ben.

That’s OK, though. I was about to the big ol’ descent on the scary 13-mile gravel road — not something you could really work together on anyway.

I’d see Ben again. Sooner than I would have thought.

Which is where we’ll pick up tomorrow.


  1. Comment by ScottyCycles | 07.27.2015 | 7:16 pm

    “But when I’m climbing — climbing something really really difficult — that is all I’m doing. I wouldn’t call it meditative, per se, but I would call it focusing, simple.”

    Well said Elden! There is something “zen like” about a really tough climb.


  2. Comment by AKChick | 07.27.2015 | 10:49 pm

    I really love your race reports. They put the awesome in awesomesauce.

    Also, The Hammer does have a mighty fine ass. :)

    Also, I think you’ve rubbed off on e when it comes to climbs. I’m not particularly good at them, but I look forward to them.

    Are you planning on posting the Fatty-Queen of Pain podcasts if we can’t make them live? Please oh please oh please?

    Yes, we’ll be posting a recording of these soon after the air live. – FC

  3. Comment by Brian in VA | 07.28.2015 | 6:54 am

    Fatty, you’re describing a spiritual practice when it comes to climbing! Repetitive motion where the mind is disengaged and allowed to roam is a great example!

    Climbing for me, however, is a dispiritual practice in that I’m cursing it the whole time.

    Perhaps it’s time to change my attitude…..

  4. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 07.28.2015 | 11:41 am

    I’ve always liked climbing; mountains on foot (I grew up in the San Luis Valley also) and roads on my bike. I crave those Colorado mountain passes!

    The zen of it is definitely there, although there is more pain associated with it on the bike.

    Climb on!

  5. Comment by leroy | 07.28.2015 | 12:36 pm

    Well this is a coincidence.

    My dog dropped me on a recent ride shortly after an observation concerning a lame ass.

    I never even noticed the poor creature.

    I’ve spent the past two weeks riding roads that are flat as pancakes and hot as skillets. Oddly relaxing in the way that a sauna leaves you feeling cleansed and calm.

  6. Comment by SLL | 07.28.2015 | 3:11 pm

    I believe the phenomenon you are describing during climbing is best described as “flow.” A perfect match of ability and task difficulty wherein one loses sense of time and just experiences the moment. For me, it happens during data analysis – and you thought you were nerdy…

  7. Comment by Shugg McGraw | 08.3.2015 | 4:55 am

    I’m assuming you dnf’d and can’t bear to tell us.

  8. Comment by Shugg McGraw | 08.6.2015 | 6:45 am

    Just admit it.

  9. Comment by Shugg McGraw | 08.11.2015 | 6:26 am

    Or deny it.

  10. Comment by KLD | 08.17.2015 | 8:33 am

    I feel like there is an elusive Part 3 hiding in the ether…

  11. Comment by Tooch | 08.19.2015 | 2:14 pm

    We were promised a Part 3 – on July 27th, it said ‘tomorrow’


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