2015 Leadville 100: Pre-Race Jitters

08.18.2015 | 7:54 am

A “Quick Links to Previous Installments” Note from Fatty: Here’s where you’ll find the parts to this story:

I was at the starting line for the 2015 Leadville 100 — my 19th start, although (with any luck) it would be my 18th finish — and I was wigging out. Wigging out more than usual, I mean.

To illustrate, I was at this moment actually at the starting line for the race for the second time. The first time, fifteen minutes ago, I had arrived with The Hammer. Then, upon arriving — and as she serenely walked toward her red corral — I abruptly turned around and rode back to our house to use the bathroom just one more time.

I was nervous. I had my reasons. 

“OK, you’re standing here, now, just like you knew you’d be. And all those moments where you thought you’d lose the weight you needed to ‘later’ didn’t exactly pan out, did they?” I told myself. “You’re about seven or ten pounds heavier than you’ve been the past several years you’ve done this race. You know: about seven or ten pounds heavier than you’ve ever been since you started finishing this race under nine hours.

And it was true. I was — am heavier than I’d like to be, and I knew that this isn’t the kind of race where extra weight doesn’t matter.

It’s more than eleven thousand feet of climbing, after all, most of which happens at ten thousand feet and above. Sometimes way above.

“So I’m heavy,” I argued. “But I’m also really strong this year. The work I’ve done with TrainerRoad has made a big difference. I can feel it. I (spoiler alert) was the fastest I’ve ever been at The Rockwell Relay. I was (another spoiler alert) the fastest I’ve ever been at the Crusher in the Tushar. I was fast enough in the Cedar City Fire Road 100 that I got moved to this starting corrall all most all the way at the front.” 

“That counts for something, right?” I asked myself.

I looked around. I was surprised how many people I knew. There was Jason, a racer I had had words with in the distant past, but now consider a friend and racing doppelgänger. And there was Brandon Smith, with whom I had shared court time.

And right next to me was my nephew-in-law, Ben Stevenson.

Thumb 11017663 731081183671017 1220029967004180549 o 1024

He and Lindsey have been doing a lot of training rides with Lisa and me. Lindsey and I have similar taste in pre-race heroic poses in big puffy coats:

Thumb 11057789 731081007004368 707832589763965637 o 1024

Thumb 11219455 731080763671059 6461883399796806139 o 1024

I knew that Ben was strong, and that I am generally faster than he is (sprints definitely being an exception). So why couldn’t I accept that weight notwithstanding, I had pretty goo chances at hitting my objective?

Oh, that objective. Sub-eight-hours to do Leadville. I had said it out loud. Had written it down and published it.

“You’re an idiot,” I told myself. “You didn’t get under nine hours ’til your fifteenth try, and now you think you can be nineteen minutes faster than your best? A best (8:18) which — by the way — you have not repeated in four years. When you were in your mid-forties instead of your very very very late forties.”

“But I haven’t told people about that goal in a while,” I said. “I’ll bet most people have forgotten it. Lately I’ve been saying that my objective is to beat my best time, with a stretch goal of beating Rebecca Rusch’s time in her first Leadville 100 (8:14:53). I think that might be do-able.”

Why did I want to beat Rebecca Rusch’s ’09 winning time? Because I thought it might be a useful data point to have the next time she refers to me as one of the “not so fast” people in the race.

(And also, I chose her ’09 winning time because I know there’s no way I could ever touch her ’10 – ’12 winning times.)

To be truthful, I was mentally exhausted from a jam-packed week of riding, online webinars, clinics, fundraising dinners, and preparing for the race. Somehow, I had let my taper week become incredibly busy.

Of course, we had time for a great WBR-Fatty photo shoot, courtesy of the talented Linda Guerrette:

Thumb elden lisa wbr 25 1024

So to be really and truly truthful, I didn’t have much to complain about. I had had a lot of fun doing these clinics and webinars; I lose count of how many times people had approached me and told me how much they had learned. And Reba really is way more than the Queen of Pain; she’s a very knowledgeable and big-hearted person.

Thumb IMG 3756 1024
Fatty and Reba on Columbine during pre-race clinics. Weirdest. Selfie. Ever.

And I had completed and had a celebration around my Grand Slam for Kenya, announcing — and talking on the phone with — the first winner right there in Leadville.

I tried to put all the nervousness out of my head. I failed.

Dave Wiens’ son sang the most beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner I have ever heard. Honestly, he is an extraordinarily gifted singer, and the cheering after he concluded was huge.

The gun went off. It was time to put my stress and my jitters behind me. 

Once again, the future had become the present. 

I clipped in and took off.

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


  1. Comment by Tom in Albany | 08.18.2015 | 8:09 am

    I haven’t looked at the results and I won’t! No spoilers for me!

    I’m psyched to be reading this, Fatty. Hope you had a great ride – I guess I’ll find out!

  2. Comment by Jimbo/Rumpled | 08.18.2015 | 9:34 am

    Yeah, posts coming – albeit at a slow rate since we all have real lives and such.

    Small error after Lindsey’s picture
    “I had pretty goo chances”

    Unless, you did have chances of goo.

  3. Comment by Sam | 08.18.2015 | 9:47 am

    You did look strong, I must say. We saw you (stalker level), on Friday, Lisa at the SRAM tent, then You, Lisa, and Rebecca at the GU tent later. Stalker fear kept us from interacting, as it appeared you were signing books?

    Of course, I saw both of you descending columbine, it’s how I was measuring if i had improved : ).

    We all had “goo” chances!

    Look forward to the rest of your experience.

  4. Comment by Mike in Memphis | 08.18.2015 | 9:53 am

    And now we all know what a sheep would look like on a mountain bike.

    Not looking at spoilers. Hope you didn’t have a baaaaad ride.

  5. Comment by AKChick | 08.18.2015 | 9:56 am

    Yay! Leadville report part 1! :)

    Really odd, but to me you look thinner and fitter. Are you sure that extra 7-10lbs isn’t muscle?

    How come you look like a goof and Lindsey looks like she is posing for a magazine? :)

    I remember that Lance Armstrong tweet and your update on Susan, but didn’t remember that blog post. Weird. I had to reread it. I still don’t remember reading it. Maybe I’m getting old?

    Have you ever thought of selecting a fun event that FoFs could come and join you in riding? Something that isn’t too hard, especially for those of us who live at sealevel? :) I’d love to meet other FoFs and see you and the Hammer again. I know you’re super duper duper extra busy these days though. Maybe I just need to get you two to come to Alaska for a week? :)

  6. Comment by AKChick | 08.18.2015 | 9:57 am

    I should have quantified that blog post that Brandon’s name links too. Oops.

  7. Comment by spaceyace | 08.18.2015 | 2:34 pm

    “Once again, the future had become the present.”

    I’m going to put this on my bathroom mirror so I can see it every morning. Good to remember as I train for my fall century, and good to remember for life in general.

  8. Comment by Eric | 08.18.2015 | 3:43 pm

    I’ll chime in to reiterate that I really appreciated the clinics and webinars – it helped a whole lot to know what to expect, and how to manage my nutrition, etc. I was still slow, but I finished! And the brats on Wednesday night were delicious!

  9. Comment by JeffL | 08.18.2015 | 4:03 pm

    I love reading these write ups! Good stuff!

    Just to clarify…your tweet yesterday seems to indicate that only one prize has been awarded…”@fatcyclist: The first prizewinner in the #GrandSlamKenya claimed the @inGambaTours cycling trip to Italy! Second prize winner email just sent. 6 to go!” Is that a correct assumption? So your saying there’s still a chance?!

  10. Comment by chris | 08.18.2015 | 6:52 pm

    Part one of 12 no doubt. Looked up your time, thanks anyways.

  11. Comment by MarkM | 08.18.2015 | 7:13 pm

    Started and finished my first Leadville 3 weeks after turning 50. No belt buckle, but didn’t get pulled and under 13 hours! Not sure that would have happened without your seminars.

  12. Comment by Corrine | 08.18.2015 | 8:00 pm

    Yay! Keep the race reports coming. I hope we don’t have to wait a week for the next installment. Way to go @MarkM on finishing in under 13 hours and getting your medal. You got to have way more hours of fun (!) than Fatty did. I, like you, finished in under 13 hours but not under 12 when I did my Leadville 100 2 years ago. Way to do it and a sweet 50th birthday present to yourself.

  13. Comment by davidh-Marin,ca | 08.18.2015 | 10:44 pm

    @mark m, @corrine
    As a member of the small fatty subset of ‘finishers’ without a buckle; when are we going back?

    @eric @akchick
    Rockwell Relay 2016?

    Katie&Claire picked the winners, what remained was contacting them and letting them choose. Like you, I can only hope they are in reachable and we get picked in the ’supplemental draft’.

    We can see from this post alone that Leadville had an impact, both in goo’ and ‘corral’.

    I know

  14. Comment by Patrick | 08.19.2015 | 4:17 am

    My favourite time of the year for Fatty posts, and I’m only a roadie!


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.