The Hammer’s LT100, Part 2: Bad News Bento Box

09.2.2015 | 12:07 pm

Looking for Other Installments in this Story? Here are links to all the parts published in this multi-part story:

The climb up St Kevins went well: forward progress at a nice effort. The fog on my glasses cleared, my climbing legs kicked in, and my body started to warm.

We hit the hard left-hand corner and Lindsey zipped by me. I had wondered when that would happen. This was a good sign for me. I really thought she might put five minutes on me on the first descent. She isn’t one for conversation while riding, so I didn’t attempt to holler at her.

My main objective now was to stay on her tail.

At this point the trail turns to rollers. This is not my favorite part. When I was working with Reba last year, I let her lead out, and I stuck to her wheel. This year, I was tentative on the descents. I always feel like I am holding up traffic.

I rolled through the Carter aid station 3 minutes behind last year’s schedule. Not a good way to start, but I was feeling good.

I ate a GU and started the paved descent, while Lindsey rode away from me. I got into a tuck and pedaled hard, reeling her back in on the pavement as it turned back to a climb. She was eating, and I reminded her that this is where you can make up time by riding consistently. I rode away.

Hagerman and Sugar Loaf

As I turned on to Hagerman Pass road, I spied a fast rider and hopped on his wheel. We were cruising, passing tons of riders. He would occasionally hook on to another rider, but then be anxious and pull away from them. He never looked back at me; in fact, I don’t know if he knew I was there. A few people would hook onto our train, but no one for very long.

We eventually turned onto the Sugar Loaf climb, and my “engine” powered on up the trail and away from me. I settled in for the second big climb of the day. I was still feeling good.

I was amazed at how bright the sun was. We were riding directly into the sun and at times I was completely blinded. I cannot recall another year at Leadville when it has been this sunny in the morning.

I hadn’t been climbing long and Lindsey passed me again. I really liked having a friend so close by. She was certainly motivating me to ride harder! Plus it’s nice to see a fellow “Fatty” kit out on the trail.

As we summited the top of the climb, Reba’s voice in my head was telling me to “pick up the pace,” and I complied. I rolled past Lindsey and was trying to close the gap that existed between the rider in front of me.

Starting the Powerline descent, Lindsey (in neon yellow-green vest) right behind

As I closed in, I asked myself, “What the heck am I doing?” We were cresting the top of the Powerline descent, and I had positioned myself in front of Lindsey…who is a far better descender than me.

What a jerk!

I just hoped I could hang with the rider directly in front of me. SHE was a great climber, I prayed I could hang with her on the descent.

Sugar Loaf and Powerline remind me of a huge roller coaster. SugarLoaf is the huge, slow, menacing climb that dumps you down the terrifying hill on the other side. I held tight to my bike with a relaxed body, took a few breaths and dived down the other side, tight on the girl’s wheel.

I was shocked.

She was picking a great line and I was hanging with her! I was keeping a good distance behind her, and she wasn’t dropping me. I tried to glance behind me, Lindsey was there, but also a safe distance behind.

NewImageFlying down the Powerline. Lindsey (at far right of frame) is close behind

This is where we stayed as our little train zipped down the Powerline. I think maybe two riders passed us when the trail opened up, but it was a fantastic descent.

As I approached one of the short punchy uphills on Powerline, I passed a gal in WBR kit pushing her bike up the climb. I was confused and couldn’t figure out who it was, but then it got steep and rutted and my mind refocused on the trail ahead of me.

Finally the trail dumped me back out on the pavement, I sat up and took a deep breath. I thanked the gal in front of me for taking me safely down. She gasped and responded “Was that the Powerline?” I confirmed it was. She let out a yell of relief.

Then a nice guy passed me and thanked me for picking a great line down Powerline.

Wow, we all helped each other out and got safely down! But as I was congratulating myself, Lindsey sped by me. “We need to hurry and catch that group!” she said.

Damn her. I was just beginning to enjoy myself.

No Food for You

As I reached down to grab a Gu out of my bento box, I had the sickening realization that my box was empty. All my GUs had bounced out on during Powerline descent.


I had two emergency GUs in my jersey pocket — Would that be enough?

I turned myself inside out and finally caught Lindsey and her massive train. I told her of my food dilemma, and that I would need to stop at neutral aid at the Pipeline.

She quickly reached into her own bento box and handed me two GUs. What a sweet heart and life saver. I’m forever in your debt Lindsey! This isn’t the first time my bento box has failed me at Leadville; the exact same thing happened a few years ago. I’m not sure why I keep thinking it’s a good idea to use these. 

Riding (Briefly) With Sarah

As I was settling into the pace line, a gal pulled up along-side me wearing a WBR kit. She re-introduced herself to me. It was Sarah Barber. She had won her entry into the race in one of Elden’s WBR contests. She is a darling girl and fast rider. She is a Pro roadie, but doesn’t have as much experience mountain biking.

But to be honest, I was shocked to see her — I didn’t think I would see her out here on the course. She is a machine.

And then she was gone. What should I expect – we were now pedaling down a paved road. As the road made a sharp left turn, I was the caboose on the long whip of riders and the whip cracked me off the back. I corner horribly and didn’t have the strength to pedal back to the group.

Now I was in no-man’s land: no groups I could catch ahead of me, no groups close behind. For a while I had some momentum going and I continued to rocket along, but Lindsey and Sarah and their train were quickly pulling away.

Lindsey (second from front) between the bottom of Powerline and the 

Just as I was starting to slow and start feeling sorry for myself, two riders came up the side of me. This was my chance. I dug deep and caught on. My reward was instant relief and recovery. Riding in someone’s slipstream is the best.

The lead guy was a powerhouse; he never even glanced back. I was sitting third in the train directly behind a really tall dude. I couldn’t have asked for a more comfy seat. This guy pulled us all the way to the transition to the singletrack, leading to the aid station.

Then a really sad thing happened: the powerhouse was pushing it so hard, he and the guy in front of me overshot the turn. I on the other hand knew the turn was coming, so had slowed and continued on.

They, meanwhile, had to make a U-turn and come back; I never saw them again during the race. They were both awesome and I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to say thanks.

I rolled into the Pipeline aid station and threw off my oversized Chinatown-Boston-Leadville gloves. It was a bittersweet parting. I was grateful again to Lindsey that I wouldn’t have to find neutral aid for food. I had arrived at the aid station another few minutes behind schedule.

My sub-nine goal was slipping away with every passing mile.


  1. Comment by Corrine | 09.2.2015 | 12:58 pm

    Great story, Lisa. I feel like I’m right there with you every pedal of the way. I quit using my Bento Box when I kept losing my food, too. Bummer for you during the race. Can’t wait to hear more.

  2. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 09.2.2015 | 1:08 pm

    My Bento box worked, but perhaps that was just beginner’s luck.

  3. Comment by Sarah | 09.2.2015 | 1:33 pm

    I’m so stoked–my second appearance on Fatty’s blog in less that a week!! Thanks, Lisa! You’re too kind with your words!

  4. Comment by Kim | 09.2.2015 | 2:28 pm

    Mountain feedbag. Served me well for many stage races.

  5. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 09.2.2015 | 2:35 pm

    I raced with my Camelbak Mule (100 oz), which unfortunately blocks access to jersey pockets. It’s too bad the Mule doesn’t have low side pockets for items like Gu, basically replicating the left and right pockets on the back of a jersey.

  6. Comment by Jessica | 09.2.2015 | 4:03 pm

    When Eric (another WBR rider) was planning his race, I suggested he borrow my Feedbag, made popular by the bikepacking set. He thought about buying his own, but wondered why it was 3x the cost of a generic bento box. I supposed it was because bikepackers can’t afford to lose their food when they are out in the mountains for days or weeks, and the Feedbag is definitely more secure-seeming than most bento boxes. And apparently that is a valid concern when off-road. Sorry you had to experience it, but thanks for validating my theory!

  7. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 09.2.2015 | 5:20 pm

    For the record: it wasn’t me ;-)
    was sitting third in the train directly behind a really tall dude


  8. Comment by Eric | 09.2.2015 | 7:39 pm

    Thanks to Jessica for the feedbag! It made a huge difference to me in not having to contort to get food out of a pocket while riding. And since I didn’t lose any gel packets, I guess the corded top worked. Of course, I wasn’t flying down the downhills the way the Hammer was, so things weren’t bouncing nearly as much.

  9. Comment by Shannon | 09.2.2015 | 9:12 pm

    Thanks for the call out on the Powerline descent comment. I’d heard the stories, but seeing 10+ racers fixing flats on the descent was an eye opener and you kept us trouble free and fast. I’m just behind Lindsey in your photos and hooked up again with your paceline to pipeline – we were cooking! Well done and look forward to the next installments!

  10. Comment by PaulW | 09.3.2015 | 1:47 am

    Lisa (& Fatty)

    Great stories! I know you train hard to go fast, but how do you also train your memories? I can’t imagine being able to describe my 45 minute hour commute in such detail, let alone a full day’s racing ….


    Lisa and I have talked about this question. The fact is, the act of writing the story somehow surfaces the events of the race. Stuff I wouldn’t have ever recalled seems to come right back to me when I take the time to write. – FC

  11. Comment by Bart the Clydesdale | 09.3.2015 | 6:56 am

    I didn’t see many people taping gels to their top tubes at Leadville. I did so that when traffic was thick I could just grab a gel and it would be automatically open, just squeeze it in and put the empty in the back pocket. Only used the taped gels when reaching back for a gel and then opening would be tough due to conditions.

  12. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 09.3.2015 | 9:34 am

    Any thoughts on a recommended tape for taping gels (or tubes, or whatnot) to a frame? I’ve used electrical tape in the past, but I’m always concerned about damaging the frame finish.

    After the Copper Triangle road ride in CO last summer, a friend I was riding with pulled some tape off of his Orbea’s top tube … and pulled a fair amount of the top layer of the carbon fiber laminate with it. And, I think that the tape was what the ride supplied for adhering numbers to the bikes.


  13. Comment by owen | 09.3.2015 | 9:36 am

    I have often thought about cruising the tail end of one of these big races and picking up all of trail treasures along the way as you see some nice stuff typically.

  14. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 09.3.2015 | 11:12 am

    One reason for my woefully slow time. I collected 8 pairs of arm warmers, 3 vests, and a whole slew of water bottles, unused Gus and single gloves.(can’t figure out what happened to the other gloves)

  15. Comment by owen | 09.3.2015 | 1:12 pm

    @davidh-marin,ca maybe Fatty had to make another pit stop and needed a few gloves. Good for you – its a expensive race you might as well recoup some costs – ha

  16. Comment by owen | 09.3.2015 | 1:12 pm

    @davidh-marin,ca maybe Fatty had to make another pit stop and needed a few gloves. Good for you – its a expensive race you might as well recoup some costs – ha

  17. Comment by owen | 09.3.2015 | 1:52 pm

    @davidh maybe Fatty had to make one of his famous pit stops and used some gloves he found. The race is expensive sounds like you recouped some of the costs.


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