The Hammer’s Lotoja, Part 1: The Reluctant Badass

09.30.2015 | 3:26 pm

A Note to Those of You Who Wanted to Race the 100 Miles of Nowhere But Needed to Wait ’Til The Beginning of the Month: The official registration week is over now, but I over-ordered a few extras in different sizes. Which means that you can still register for the 100 Miles of Nowhere, at least until my over-order stock is gone. Click here to register. Thanks!

A Note from Fatty About Today’s Post: I recently posted about what it was like to crew for The Hammer. Now it’s her turn to tell her side of the story. 


“Elden, do you think Lindsey would care if I don’t do LoToJa with her this year? I’m just so tired! Plus Lindsey is definitely stronger and faster than me-I’m not going to be of any assistance to her, I only will be a hindrance!”

“You made a commitment to her, Lisa. Plus she is counting on me to be her crew.”

Elden and I had had this conversation multiple times during the summer. I knew I had made a commitment to Lindsey…but the allure of Lotoja was fading for me.

It had been different last year, when Lindsey and I had formulated our awesome winning plan: back then, I was stoked! After all, at the 2014 Lotoja, Lindsey had taken 9th woman overall. With my help, I figured we could finish at least that strong — maybe even better.

This wouldn’t be the first time I had done this race. In fact, I had raced Lotoja back in 2008. It was my first — and until now, only — official road bike race. When I had finished the race, I gladly checked it off my bucket list, and wanted to never to do it again. It had been a long day in the saddle and honestly…not that much fun. Sure, it had been a challenge…a challenge for my “behind” to sit in the saddle for eleven hours.

Besides, I felt like road racing was cheating. See, when I ride my mountain bike, it’s me, the bike, and the race. No one is there pulling me along. I earn every pedal stroke that I turn. With Lotoja, on the other hand, I had been sucked along in someone’s slipstream.

But it had been seven years. Now I know more about food and racing; now I’m stronger and faster. So I figured it would be fun to go out with Lindsey and see what kind of damage we could do.

Of course, like most choices to race, that decision had been made back when I was fed and well-rested. Now that race day was getting close, I wasn’t so sure what “help” I would be to Lindsey. After all, she had kicked my butt at the Cedar City 100K, and sprinted past me at the line at the Crusher.

In short, Lindsey is an incredibly strong cyclist and only getting faster.

And besides, I was so tired. My race season started back in March. Between March and August, I had done all of the following:

  • Raced a 50K trail run
  • Raced a 50 mile trail run (second place, Masters Women)
  • Won the Sport category of the True Grit mountain bike race
  • Run the Boston Marathon
  • Raced in the St George Half Ironman
  • Raced with SBR/WBR at the Rockwell Relay
  • Was crushed in the Cedar City 100k mountain bike race
  • Crushed the Crusher in the Tushar with a PR
  • Put in a fine performance at the Leadville 100

Now I was ready to rest. And eat.

At the fine young age of 47 years, I was ready to put up my competitive shoes and just play the rest of the year!

But… I had made a commitment.

Race Morning

The alarm went off at 5:30. I actually had had a pretty good night’s sleep. Lindsey’s in-laws, the Stevensons, had graciously let Elden, Blake and me sleep at their home the night before Lotoja. I busied myself with my morning preparations and Elden busied himself preparing my bike. It was weird — but nice — having Elden calm before a race.

I was actually feeling pretty relaxed too.

A little too relaxed, in fact.

Before I knew it, it was 0655. That was the time we were supposed to be leaving. The official rollout time for all competitive women was 7:12. We were still at home, and we needed to be racing in seventeen minutes!

I dashed out to the truck and saw Elden was putting air in Lindsey’s tires. He was mumbling about her pressure being 80psi. Hadn’t she just put air in her tires last night? Should this be a cause for concern? I didn’t question it. We were late and we needed to get to the start!

As we proceeded the two miles to the start line, I was a little anxious to see the truck’s clock read 7:05. “I think we need to get out of the truck now and ride our bikes to the start line!” I said. Not yelled, said. 

Lindsey and I jumped out of the truck, grabbed our bikes and pedaled quickly to the start line.! We entered the corral just as they were telling us it was time to leave. Wow — we couldn’t have cut that much closer! I looked for Elden along the side of the road as we rolled down the street. I didn’t see him, but assumed that he knew that we had made it.

A Slow and Steady Start

The beauty of Lotoja is that  if you play your cards right, the first thirty miles are free. They are “free” because if you position yourself in the back of the pack, you will be sucked along. From my many years of watching the Tour, I’ve learned that you need to be close enough to the front that if a breakaway takes place you can jump to it, but not close enough to the front that you are ever pulling.

So in my infinite wisdom, I instructed Lindsey that we needed to sit in the back and let the pack “pull us along.” There has never been a break in the women’s pack before Preston, ID. So I was pretty confident we could hang out at the back incognito!

Last year Lindsey said she was frustrated with the slow progress of the women’s pack and actually went to the front and helped pull the group. No way was I going to burn any extra energy this early in the race. So Lindsey and I sat at the back and chatted. We needed to get caught up on the latest gossip, anyway.

Our So-Called Race Strategy

Let me make it clear that at no time had Lindsey and I ever discussed how we planned on racing this race. There was an underlying assumption that we would be close to each other — hence we were using Elden to crew for both of us. But we never said that we would ever wait for each other.

I assumed that if Lindsey was having a banner day, I would have to somehow dig deep and get myself across the finish line. I was scared that this would very likely happen. After all, Lindsey knows this race. This is her third time riding it. As a mountain biker, I know very little about road racing. (What knowledge I do have comes from watching the big boys play in France.)

I had been informed that this was an actual USAT-sanctioned race. As a cat 4 racer (default category for women that don’t know what they are doing, but want to compete), I would  be allowed to draft off only other women who were also racing. In other words, I could ride only with the ladies that had started in my corral at 7:12. My corral included Cat 1, 2, 3 racers (racers that have won enough races to progress them up the USAT ladder-Cat 1 being pro status), cat 4 racers and I would later find out there were also masters 35+ and masters 45+ women in my start corral.

In other words, if I were dropped by this group of ladies, I would find myself in no man’s land: I wouldn’t be able to draft off another group of riders. There was a high probability that I would be riding this 200 mile race all by myself. I think this is why I was leery about doing this race.

I don’t know exactly who was pulling our group of approximately seventy women, but I am very grateful to them; our plan of a “free ride” worked wonderfully. We kept an average speed of over 20mph for the thirty miles into Preston Idaho.

Two strong cat 5 men’s groups zipped by our pack of lady riders, going way faster than us. One of the cat 5 groups had Ben — Lindsey’s husband — in it. They started about 15 minutes after us and zipped by us before we entered the town of Preston.

The Strawberry Climb

After the town of Preston, we encountered several rolling hills before the climb up to Strawberry summit started. As predicted (Lindsey had warned me, and the same thing had happened 8 years ago) some self appointed leader of the women’s pack yelled for a “pee break.” Yes, you heard right: a pee break.

Is this a normal occurrence in road racing?

I know for a fact that it does not occur in mountain biking, but having a 47 year old woman’s bladder which was full of my morning coffee, I have to say I was extremely grateful! I quickly jumped off my bike and did my thing, all while hearing the mumblings of other riders, saying things like, “We’re stopping to do WHAT?” But like all sheep that follow their masters, all fifty women were squatting in the weeds.

All except Lindsey, that is. Lindsey had warned me that she never has to stop and pee and would continue to “soft pedal” until the others caught her.

I quickly remounted my bike and continued on my way. It wasn’t long before I was caught and passed by the lead group of women. I quickly hooked onto the back of the lead pack and listened in on their conversation.

“I think there is a group of riders ahead of us!” said one rider

Another retorted, “No there isn’t! We called for a neutral pee break! There isn’t anyone ahead!”

That’s when I noticed I was riding next to Marci: my sweet little rival from the Rockwell Relay!

“Marci! It’s so good to see you! How are you doing?”

“Lisa! I wondered if you were going to doing this race. Your Strava rides indicated you might be! It’s nice to be riding with you and not against you like last time!”

Then she asked where my “friend” was. “Oh you mean Lindsey,” I said. “I think she is a head of us; she didn’t need to pee.”

Then the group at the front organized themselves and they shot forward to find the rogue riders. It wasn’t long before we reeled Lindsey and a few others in. They were quickly reprimanded by a very outspoken rider. Lindsey simple replied that she didn’t need to pee.

It was at this point that the road started to turn upwards. We were starting the very long climb up to Strawberry Summit. The Strawberry climb is twenty miles long and climbs about 3000 feet.  It’s not a very difficult climb, but the last six miles are the steepest.

I had a feeling that is when Marci would try and break up the group.

I positioned myself toward the front of the group and watched. Lindsey was up at the front as well. Around mile 53, I saw Marci jump to the front of the riders…and all hell broke loose.

This was the moment I had been waiting for. The question is, did I have it in me? I put my head down and pedaled with all my might.

I could see Lindsey and Marci up ahead; they were slowly pulling away. Marci had succeeded in breaking us apart, but she wasn’t finished yet! She kept ramping up the pace, and I simply couldn’t hold on. Lindsey had made it, though. Like I said, she’s a strong rider.

I quickly looked around and took stock of my situation. There were now four of us that had fallen off, but we were still significantly ahead of the rest of the women. A cute redheaded gal introduced herself as “Ellie.” She told us that we needed to work together if we were going to catch the other group. We all in turn introduced ourselves. Two of the riders were in Lindsey’s breakaway group from last year.

So, our chase group was a strong group of women. One of the gals said this was her eleventh time doing the race. She had already had a flat this morning within the first 5 miles and had spent the morning trying to catch us. She was pretty spent. We told her to latch on to our train and we would do the work for now!

As we continued to climb, I felt strong, and so did Ellie. We were the two doing the majority of the pulling. I was okay with this. I wanted —no, needed — to catch Lindsey.

Montpelier Aid Station and Geneva Summit

As we summited Strawberry, I turned around to see that it was just Ellie and I left in our train. We had dropped the other two riders. Ellie suggested we sit up and wait for her friend. I said no — we had been making good time, and I didn’t want to give up what we had earned. Her friend could catch us if we started to fade!

We flew down the backside of the mountain. I felt fantastic. As the road started to flatten out I was surprised to find Ellie right behind me. She said we now had a ten-mile push to the aid station in Montpelier…and maybe we should sit up and wait. I said no, again, and we pedaled on. Ellie and I worked together beautifully. We were super comparable in ability. I was actually having a lot of fun!

We pulled into the Montpelier aid station — mile 76 — to find that our crews were camped out next to each other! Elden and Blake had a nice can of cold Coke and electrolyte tablets waiting for me. I told Elden I had gotten dropped, but Ellie and I were trying hard to catch back up to Lindsey. He told me he loved me and gave me a huge push out of the aid station.

Ellie left the aid station at the same time I did and we quickly caught Chelsea. Chelsea was a friend of Ellie and had been riding with the lead group of women. As she left the aid station, she realized the lead group had left her behind. We told her to stick with us and we would try to reel them in.

It was then that I realized that we had a friend riding with us — the lead group motorcycle. He would ride with the lead group of women and then drop back to us. He would tell us the time gap between us and the lead women. He would also drop back to the third group of women and let them know the distance to us. So now I knew that Ellie and I were approximately 2-2 1/2 minutes behind the lead group of six women and that Ellie and I were two minutes in front of a group of four women behind us.

As we approached the second climb of the day, Geneva summit, I realized that we had dropped Chelsea. Ellie and I were alone again. Two minutes wasn’t that far behind. I knew we needed to catch the lead group before the end of the third climb (Salt River Pass). After Salt River the road descends into Star Valley, where we’d commence 50 fifty miles of flat land, right into a headwind.

If we hadn’t caught the leaders before that point, I highly doubted we would.

Geneva Summit came and went; the Lisa/Ellie train was unstoppable. We were passing so many riders. The motorcycle went back and forth, reporting that little by little, we were closing the gap. Two minutes, then one minute 40 seconds…then fifty seconds!

Did he really just say fifty seconds??


I could see the lead group of women ahead. And I could see the red of Lindsey’s Fat Cyclist jersey — currently a lone rider, just off the back of the women’s group.

“Woohoo!” I yelled, and I dug a little deeper. The lead group was in sight. Lindsey was in sight. Finally, after chasing for fifty miles, we were going to catch them!

A Note from Fatty: That seems like a good place to pick up in part 2.


Just a Quick Note About 100MoN and Someone’s Awesome Generosity

09.29.2015 | 12:54 pm

I didn’t plan to post today (I feel like I’ve said everything I have to say about the 100 Miles of Nowhere), but I just had to show you this email I got today: 

I signed up for 100 MoN yesterday and just this morning read a number of the comments based on today’s post.

What got me was the number of people who want to help but do not have the funds for varying reasons.

My wife and I have had a good year and we always try to do our part.

So, with that said, I would propose to you (no, not that type of proposal) the following: Pick 4 people at random who mentioned finances and I will foot their registration fee. That will make 5 total registrations.

Not sure how you would do this or even if you are interested but I just can’t stomach the thought of someone wanting to participate but money being the issue.

Two caveats. They have to actually participate and anonymity for me.

If interested, let me know.

Long time reader and a true Clydesdale

I just…well, I don’t even know what to say.This is a sort of generosity and kindness that makes me glad I’ve stuck with this blog for ten years. It really does.

PS: Yes, I’ve sent email to four people who had commented they would be signing up if they had the money for it. Two have already replied, saying they’re in.

The Twins and I Are Going To Michigan to Race the 100 Miles of Nowhere and Give Speeches at the Camp Kesem Leadership Summit

09.28.2015 | 9:58 am

A Note from Fatty: If you want to jump straight to the 100MoN registration page, just click here.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a week. 

Last Monday morning, I was almost giddy to reveal what I was certain would be the fastest-selling, most swag-laden 100 Miles of Nowhere ever

By Monday afternoon, I was perplexed. Confused even. Not sure what I had done wrong. Registrations were down. Way down. Like, not even close to sold out.

By Tuesday morning, registrations were still not sold out. Nor by Tuesday, for that matter.

I don’t want to be too dramatic, but I also don’t want to be dishonest, so believe me when I say that “despair” is what I was feeling by Wednesday morning when we still weren’t close to selling out.

Have I done a bad job explaining this fundraiser? Have I worn out my welcome? What have I done wrong?

Then I tried to get over myself, stop taking it so personally, and I started thinking. Which resulted in my theories and questions I posted on Thursday

Your responses have been incredible: instructive, uplifting, and constructive. I’ve bookmarked the page and will come back to it not just for next year’s 100 Miles of Nowhere, but for every fundraising effort I ever do.

Thank you for that.

Knowing what I’ve learned in the past few days, I realize now I probably should have led with what I’m going to be talking about today: something I had thought about as being a cool surprise to spring on 100MoN racers after registration was over.

Which is this.

Riding 100 Miles of Nowhere…in Michigan, With Camp Kesem Leaders

The good folks at Camp Kesem have invited the twins and me over to their leadership summit, which just happens to be November 7, the same day as the 100 Miles of Nowhere. 

Almost as if we had planned it that way.

Now, normally, when you hear the term “Leadership Summit,” you think long speeches and conference rooms. 

But this is Camp Kesem. And so the Leadership Summit is going to be happening at Camp Copneconic, and it’s going to be chock full of college kids — the same amazing kids who spend their summers being Camp Kesem counsellors.

We’re going for three reasons. First (but not foremost), I’ll be presenting to Camp Kesem leadership and counsellors on what Team Fatty is and how the way we raise money for great causes is a reflection of who we are. The fact is, Camp Kesem and the 100 Miles of Nowhere is a match made in heaven: great cause, silly execution.

Originally, I planned to mostly be presenting on how to have fun when fundraising. This last week, however, has been eye-opening and I’ll be adding a lot of key learnings from it, too.

Second, I plan to do my 100 Miles of Nowhere on rollers or a trainer or a bike or whatever I can figure out (under a covered porch if the weather’s bad, on dirt roads if the weather’s good) the day before the big summit, as the counsellors arrive. It’ll gie me a great chance to talk with people individually about what the 100 Miles of Nowhere is, who Team Fatty is, and why I’m proud to raise money for Camp Kesem.

And if they would like to put in a few miles themselves, that’s even more awesome.

Will I be taking video? You bet I will.

Third and most important: The twins will be on a Q&A panel answering questions about what kids love about Camp Kesem and what it means to them. This is in fact the thing I care most about.

Final Big Ask

Tuesday September 29 is the final day of the 100 Miles of Nowhere registration. I have to close it then in order to get all the shirt, socks, and jersey orders nailed down.

I’m excited to tell these people about your generosity and the ridiculous things you do for good causes.

I’d love to be able to say, while I’m there, that for the fourth year in a row since I’ve done this race as a fundraiser for Camp Kesem, that it’s sold out.

If you haven’t registered and you can, please do.

PS: If you live in Michigan and can help me get set up with a bike or two or three (and some rollers or a trainer) — and better yet, if you can join me November 6 and do your 100 Miles of Nowhere right in front of the Camp Kesem leaders — please email me: Make sure your subject says, “100 Miles of Nowhere in Michigan” so I don’t miss it. 

This is Important to Me

09.24.2015 | 1:50 pm

This is a strange and somewhat uncomfortable post for me to write, but I’m going to anyway. I hope you’ll stick with it.

For the first year since I’ve started doing the 100 Miles of Nowhere, it hasn’t sold out. Isn’t really even close, to be honest. Which leaves me with one big question: Why? 

I have some theories, which I’m going to get into. And — honesty above all here — I hope that if you haven’t yet, these theories (and what I’m going to do about them) will be enough to get you to sign up.

Theory 1: I Emphasized the Wrong Things

I am justifiably excited about and proud of all the cool stuff you get when you join the 100 Miles of Nowhere. A cool event t-shirt, event socks, an event KEG (gizmo to hold your stuff in a bike cage), an event musette bag, a jersey at a crazy-good price, a free trial membership to TrainerRoad, a screener video of Inspired to Ride, a SufferFest video, GU product, CarboRocket product, and of course a race plate.

My problem is, I treated that as the reason you might want to do the 100 Miles of Nowhere, and it isn’t. Not really. 

The reason you do the 100 Miles of Nowhere is because it’s a fun and strange way to do something good for Camp Kesem, an organization that does a remarkable amount of good for kids who’ve been affected by a parent’s cancer.

This organization matters to me because it’s helped my family; it’s made a difference in my life and in the lives of my twins. And it’s made an enormous difference to thousands of other kids who’ve had to worry about cancer instead of just being a kid.

Camp Kesem makes a practical difference to kids who’ve had to worry too much. And it makes a practical difference to parents, who worry about the fact that their kids aren’t getting to have a fun childhood.

I’m fundraising for Camp Kesem because I believe in and have seen the good they effect in both parents and children’s lives.

That’s what I should have emphasized in my pitch.

Theory 2: I Ask a Lot of My Readers

It hasn’t been very long since I wrapped up the Grand Slam for Kenya, and now I’m asking for money again

I never stop asking, do I?

Well, for what it’s worth, I never ask for donations without also donating to the same cause. That said, I know I ask a lot. Maybe I ask for too much. 

But in this case, I think I’m asking for the right thing, and for the right cause.

Theory 3: I Didn’t Give You Much Heads-Up

I don’t have a “why what I did is ok” excuse for this one. I think I posted something about having the 100 Miles of Nowhere in November a couple months ago, but I haven’t given you much heads-up since then.

So I worry that your calendars have filled up and now it’s too late — that’s why you haven’t signed up.

That’s on me. I’m an idiot.

But — but! — the good thing about the 100 Miles of Nowhere is that you can sign up now…and then do it whenever. You don’t have to do it November 7. You can do it over Christmas break. Or when the Spring thaw comes. 

After all, it’s not just a race without a place…it’s a race without a time or day. 

Theory 4: Race Guest-Reporting Needs to Be More Consistent

One of the things I love about the 100 Miles of Nowhere is the incredible race reports I get from racers. Sadly, I get so many at once I panic at the editing job ahead of me. As a result, I tend to release a lot of the 100MoN reports in a flood, then those that come in after my big editing push…never see the light of day.

I’m going to be doing something a little different this year to enable this “wherever, whenever” aspect of the event.

On Fridays, for the whole year, I’m going to post 100 Miles of Nowhere guest race reports. Yep, instead of just releasing them all in a big clump — so that many of them never get noticed because there’s a sudden deluge and nobody has time to read that many all at once — I’m going to use what has generally been an unblogged day for me and post your writeups.

Camp Kesem and what it does matters to me. This fundraising event matters to me.

I’m holding registration open ’til this Tuesday, or ’til we hit 500. I hope that between now and then, you’ll sign up.

Crew Report for LoToJa 2015, Part 5: Two Victories

09.23.2015 | 1:24 pm


A Note from Fatty: There are still quite a few registration slots for the 2015 100 Miles of Nowhere available. Please sign up for the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done, while simultaneously raising a ton of money for Camp Kesem. Click here for details, and click here to sign up.

The best way to plan is to have a plan and then plan for that plan to unravel. Then have a plan for what you’re going to do when things go pear-shaped.

You should expect, however, that even your contingency plan is likely to discombobulate. 

Hence, there’s rarely any point in having any plan at all, apart from planning to adapt and improvise.

This, as you’ll find out shortly, is pretty much my top takeaway from crewing for Lisa and Lindsey at the 2015 LoToJa race.

A Generously-Sized Gap

As I may have mentioned at some point early in this story, When I left you in part 4 of this story, The Hammer had taken off with the lead women’s group, followed fifteen minutes later by an exhausted-sounding Lindsey. 

If you were to go back further in this story, you’d see that at the previous checkpoint, Lindsey had been ahead of Lisa.

As far as I knew, the only way they had not ridden in this race was together, which was kind of the whole point of why they signed up.

Nothing we could do about that now. Blake and I just needed to hotfoot it (at a safe and legal speed, thankyouverymuch) over to our final location to crew for Lisa and Lindsey: the Alpine aid station.

Which we did. 

Knowing that we’d need to hurry once we got there, Blake and I talked about what we’d grab and bring with us. Blake filled the bottles along the way.

Problems Begin

[Note from Fatty: There are several text messages in this section. Please note that while they were to me and I was driving, it was Blake who read the messages aloud and did the replying for me. I don’t text and drive, ever. And neither should you.] 

And then, as we neared the Alpine checkpoint, I got this text message from Lindsey:

Screenshot 2015 09 23 12 14 37

The temptation was to flip a U and go help…but if we’d done that, we’d have left Lisa — who’d be arriving at the aid station within a few minutes — high and dry.

So I replied:

Screenshot 2015 09 23 12 16 05

She didn’t call or reply to this text immediately, which I saw as a positive sign; she was likely fixing her tire and not able to see that we had replied. So we sent the following message:

Screenshot 2015 09 23 12 15 52

Then we parked, jumped out of the truck, grabbed everything we needed, and ran to the checkpoint.

We had made it. 

Bailed Out?

Cory — Ben’s dad — came through (Ben had come through before Blake and I got there) at 3:01pm. At which point he apologized for his behavior when he was stung by a hornet at the last aid station, causing him to shout several words I would ground my twins for using.  

“That’s a nice apology, dude,” I said, coolly. “But that outburst is still going in the blog.”

Lisa came through at 3:03, her position in the lead group of seven women now a solid fact. They were going to stick together right to the end. 

Lisa was way happier and energized than someone who was 3/4 of the way through a 200+ mile bike ride had any right to be.

“We’re just having so much fun,” The Hammer said. 

“Lindsey’s not having any fun at all,” I replied. “She just had a flat.”

Another racer in Lisa’s group heard me saying this and said, “Actually, Lindsey has bailed out.”

What?” I replied. “That doesn’t sound like Lindsey.”

“That isn’t like Lindsey,” Ben’s mom Lynne affirmed.

“The guy on the motorcycle was really clear about it,” the rider said.

Then, at that moment, almost as if to affirm that in fact this was not like her, this text from Lindsey arrived:

Screenshot 2015 09 23 12 26 23

A Dilemma

I was glad Lindsey had gotten her bike to the point that she could limp it to the aid station. But I was bummed to hear she’d need to do more work. But I was mostly just glad that she wasn’t out of the race.

A quick reloading of GU and swap-out of water AND AN OPEN COLD COKE RIGHT NOW, and Lisa was on her way — her day going almost as well as Lindsey’s wasn’t.

And now Blake and I had a problem: in addition to the fifteen-minute gap that already existed between Lisa and Lindsey, there would now be the additional gap caused by Lindsey doing a field repair, and then evidently needing to do another tube replacement when she got in.

By the time Lindsey got going, she’d be at least half an hour behind Lisa.

So: what do we do? Let Lisa finish the race without anyone to cheer for her? Or bail on Lindsey?

Neither was an acceptable solution, and luckily we had a third choice: have one of us go on with Lynne, while the other took care of Lindsey. 

I thought about it for a second: which of us would Lisa rather have at the finish line?

Well, me of course. That’s obvious. OK, maybe it’s not that obvious. 

And Lisa does in fact see me and ride with me pretty much every day. And I see her at lots and lots of finish lines. While Blake doesn’t.

And also, Blake is a pale, pale man who doesn’t get outside much; he was starting to burn pretty thoroughly.

So I sent Blake ahead with Lynne and family, and went back to waiting.

And it’s a lucky thing we went with that decision, or things could’ve gotten a lot worse.

More Problems

I stood and watched the road, expecting every rider to be Lindsey. 

None of the riders, however, were Lindsey.

I let ten minutes go by. And another ten. I checked my phone constantly, thinking maybe I’d call or text her to see if everything was all right. Glad she had brought her phone with her on the race — something I have never once done.

And then: a call.

“I’ve had another flat,” Lindsey said. “I don’t have anything to repair another one.”

I wasn’t surprised. Flats come in twos and threes. I don’t know why, but they do. You know it’s true.

“Hang on, I’ll be right there, I said, even as I grabbed and packed up all my stuff and began running the approximately half mile back to the truck.

I threw everything into the truck bed and took off — at a safe and legal speed — down the road, my eyes peeled for Lindsey.

And in a few miles, I found her at the side of the road. Already putting a tube in, with a car pulled over and helping her.

As it turns out, it was the mom of one of Lindsey’s old boyfriends. I’m sure that was a fun reunion, and I’m glad I had no part in it.

I finished changing the tire, got Lindsey another tube and a couple CO2 cartridges (because flats come in twos and threes), set her up with food and water, and asked how it’s going.

“Not great,” she replied. Which was shorthand for “I’ve been throwing up a lot.” 

I mentally blame the poptarts, but say nothing. I am not a fool (though I can play that role).

Lindsey continues on, on her own. Not having a good day, not in contention, but not giving up. 

I admire her. And soon — very soon — I will think about her as I am not having a good day, am not in contention, and am contemplating giving up.


I’m now free to fly to the finish line, and fly I do. At a safe and legal speed, mind you.

But I don’t fly fast enough.

I park and call Blake, who tells me, “Yeah, [Lisa] just finished.” I find them and get a picture:

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Lisa hasn’t just finished, she’s finished third in the women’s Cat 4 division, with a 10:09:28 (all seven of the women in The Hammer’s group would wind up getting a podium spot in their various categories.) 

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Yeah, 202+ miles, in 10:09. You wonder why I call her “The Hammer” on this blog?

We load Lisa up. She’s tired, but happier than I’ve ever seen her at a finish line. Happier than anyone who’s just maintained a 20.1mph average for more than ten hours has any right to be.

We head to our hotel. We’ll meet up with the rest of the gang after we wash up and eat; that’s our plan. But a few miles after we head out, we see Lindsey; she’s found a group to ride with, she’ll be in soon. And she is:


She’s just finished Lotoja — finished it strong — after having a rotten day on the bike. 

I’d say that’s worth a victory salute.

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