The Hammer’s LT100, Part 4: The Quest for a Cold Coke

09.6.2015 | 6:43 am

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

Sixty miles (or so) behind me, forty miles (or so) to go.

I had essentially caught up with Ben as I rolled into the Twin Lakes aid station. Kellene (Elden’s sister) was helping Ben reload. Scott and Kara — who were crewing for Elden and me — had left Twin Lakes, so they could make it to Pipeline for Elden. That left the crewing responsibilities for me to Lynette and Jeff D’s girlfriend, Betsy.

Well…Lynette wasn’t paying attention when I pulled up. She looked surprised to see me as I came in yelling for a can of Coke and electrolytes (for some reason I seem to frighten people who are crewing for me).

Lynette reloaded my pocket with GU… and then went on a frantic search for my electrolyte capsules and a can of Coke. She kept muttering that “the capsules were here just a minute ago, so where did they go?”

I continued to yell for a Coke.

Kellene saved at least part of the day by handing me a nice cold Coke (to shut me up I think). Thanks Kellene; it was delicious.

Running out of patience, I commenced to dig out the electrolyte capsules I had put in my jersey before the beginning of the race. I swallowed them and was about ready to leave when Betsy handed me another little can of Coke.

“Oh good, I’ll have a little more Coke before I go,” I thought, and took a big swallow.

It was near-boiling. GAG.

Lynette was still looking for the electrolyte capsules when I pulled out. She may, for all I know, be looking for them still.

The Dave and Lisa Train

I had just seen Dave Thompson riding by and I wanted more than anything to catch his wheel.

WBR LT100MTB2015 53 

Dave is a super strong rider and FofF. He and Elden had pulled me at Rebecca’s private Idaho last year. He is amazing. Before the race, Dave and I had speculated how great it would be if we could meet up at Twin Lakes inbound and ride to the finish together.

And now, here we were.

Dave was chasing the sub-nine dream as well. If I had a prayer of making a negative split I knew it would be on the wheel of Dave Thompson.

We were really lucky and hooked up to an amazing train of super fast riders. Dave and I just hung on to the end for dear life. We were flying.

While I was hanging on to the train, I reached into my jersey pocket for a GU and instead pulled out…a four-pack of electrolyte capsules. Ahhhh. The reason why Lynette couldn’t find them was because she had stuck them in my pocket with my GU.

Lynette: You’re awesome, you’re a great friend and training partner, and an amazing racer. But as a crew…you’re fired.

[A Note from Fatty: I wrote the above struck-out paragraph during my edit of this story, because I thought it was funny at two different levels, which seems like about two more than I usually get. But enough people didn’t seem to get the joke and were instead indignant that I feel I ought to set the record straight. Lisa did not fire Lynette, and volunteers cannot in fact be fired.

Lisa and Lynette, I’m sorry.]

Our train cruised along like it was the Leadville Express, ’til we got to the singletrack.

WBR LT100MTB2015 21

At this point our train discombobulated. You can only move as fast as the rider at the front of the group…and for some reason, the guy at the front of the line is never terribly fast.

Dave and I lost each other during this part of the ride, but came back together after what some of us call “bitch hill.”

Dave was on fire.

I was still pedaling like a madwoman, just trying to hold his wheel. He wouldn’t let anyone pull. He just kept passing rider after rider. People would hook on and Dave would surge on.

I would have to continually pass people Dave was leaving in his wake. I must have said, “Can I please get by….I can’t lose this guy’s wheel,” to a dozen people.

Dave was making a superhuman effort, but it came at a cost. He said he was battling leg cramps. I felt bad — cramps had been a big problem for Dave in the final miles of RPI last year. I asked him if he had electrolytes; he said he did.

As we neared the aid station, I thanked Dave for working so hard, and told him I was going to need to stop at the aid station. He let me lead as we approached the station…and then that kind man stopped with me. He didn’t have to — he could have kept going with the group we were with, but he stopped and waited so he could ride with me.

Dave is the best.

Pipeline to Powerline

Scott and Kara were great. Scott had made a huge sign so I wouldn’t miss them, like I had last year. What a sweetheart. They reloaded me and handed me a warm Coke.

GAG. Again.

I really did want a Coke, but not a warm one.

They got Dave a warm Coke too (note to self: next year, when we provide Cokes for our crews to give us during the race, make sure we provide them in an ice chest full of ice), and then we were off. We had ridden from Twin Lakes to the Pipeline in just one hour. That was fast.

We were holding onto the chance of a sub-nine time.


Dave took off fast from the aid station and within a minute had pulled away, several riders drafting behind him. I was falling off the back, and I wasn’t even a tenth of a mile past the aid station.

The Reluctant Train Engine

As the singletrack dumped back onto the paved road, Dave did a wonderful thing: he sat up and waited.

Like I said before: Dave is the best.

The other riders didn’t want to pull so the whole group slowed and I was able to catch up. I profusely thanked Dave and we motored on.

There was a group of about 5 of us riding together. I yelled at them that we were stronger as a group, and that we would each need to take turns pulling to make this work. Dave pulled and then drifted back. I pulled and drifted left, waving for the next person to pull through.


I sat up and waved again.

Still nothing.

I stopped pedaling.

Nothing. No, make that worse than nothing: the group of 5 slowed too.


I yelled that someone needed to take a turn pulling. All five of them bunched up behind me.

Then, tentatively, the girl that had been riding with me since Columbine took the lead.

I yelled “Thank you,” and then, “Yes men, let the women pull your butts down the road.” Ugh. I get a little agro at times.

Then we hit some rollers and the group broke up. I caught up to the girl and thanked her for pulling. She apologized and said she was a mountain biker and had no idea how to pull or work in pace line. I told her she did great.

I was exhausted. All that yelling had taken its toll. I need to learn to shut up.

Dave was struggling too. He said his legs were seizing up. Dave has suffered from cramps in the past. I was hoping that he had listened to Fatty’s and Reba’s advice and was taking electrolyte capsules. Dave fell behind as we got near the dreaded Powerline.

Coke and the Lack Thereof

I began the Powerline climb, and the day was getting hot. In reality, it was probably only 75 degrees, but when the sun is hitting you directly on the back at 10,000ft it feels like 100 degrees. I had been jonesing for a cold coke for a while (the warm one I had gotten from Scott had not hit the spot).

I was looking forward to passing by the Strava Tent — for the past few years, Strava has been at the Fish Hatchery, handing out Cokes to folks before we started climbing the Powerline.

But this year, Strava wasn’t there. I know for a fact that I wasn’t the only one disappointed to not see that orange easy-up tent. It’s funny how a little thing like a little can of Coke can mean so much to a person eighty miles into a race…and how disappointing it can be when you don’t get what you have been craving.

“It’s okay,” I told myself. Brad (CarboRocket Brad) had told Elden he would be on Powerline on race day, handing out Coke and Skittles. I guess Brad meant only for Elden, because Brad was nowhere in sight. Some nice lady, however, handed me a cold, mushy piece of watermelon.

It was wonderful.

Last year during the climb up Powerline my stomach was bloated and painful. This year I was just hot and exhausted. I was happy that my stomach was feeling fine.

I just wanted a cold Coke. That’s not so much to ask for, is it?

To the Rescue

And then I saw him…..Pizza Man.

Pizza man had given me a drink of Coke and a push in this spot last year. He had been a real lifesaver, and here he was again. I screamed, “Pizza Man! I’ve been looking for you! Do you have Coke for me?”

He sadly said, “No Coke…” and my heart sank. But then he continued: “…but my wife has Dr Pepper.”

“Yes,” I said, nearly sobbing with joy. “Dr Pepper will be just fine. I will take the Dr Pepper, please.”

Pizza man’s wife than gave me a few paper cups full of wonderful Dr Pepper. It wasn’t a cold can like I had dreamed of, but it would have to hold me over to the Carter aid station, where there would certainly be a nice cold Coke.

Bazu 6782074

Wouldn’t there?


  1. Comment by wharton_crew | 09.8.2015 | 8:26 am

    Wait….what? How can this have been posted 2 days ago and not have any comments yet? Is everyone on a BBQ hangover?

    Lisa, you’re amazing. I spent this weekend on my mtb going downhill at Sundance ski resort. It was scary! Not really fun, since I was so tense on the loose dirt and tight corners. Is Leadville like this, too? I see the ruts that you guys are going over on Powerline, and it looks intimidating. I’m sure I’d be on my butt more often than on my wheels.

    Don’t ever forget your dreams – Coke is real!!

  2. Comment by owen | 09.8.2015 | 8:36 am

    @wharton_crew everybody is afraid to post as they might get yelled at

  3. Comment by rb | 09.8.2015 | 9:37 am

    I continue to love this. As the race goes on, the post thoughts get shorter and choppier…just like happens to your brain in the race.

    The Strava tent was sorely missed.

  4. Comment by Tao | 09.8.2015 | 10:32 am

    Read this and just feel sad for Lynette, she made an error and you make her out to be incompetent…Lisa, did you sign a Pro contract and we didn’t know? Really nice yelling at and portraying people as idiots when they “volunteer” to crew for you. Lisa, you sound like a real peach…

    Mateo, you’re lacking context here. Lisa is simply teasing her best friend, that’s all. You should also know that — based on the snottiness of this and other comments — I have blocked your IP from commenting in the future. – FC

  5. Comment by UpTheGrade, SR, CA | 09.8.2015 | 10:50 am

    Lisa, thanks for sharing what it is really like when racing a hard ride like LT100. I’m sure Lynette, being a racer herself, will know that when someone is pushing at their limits they tend to get cranky, and she will not feel unappreciated for crewing.

    When riding the Terrible Two here last year, I was suffering in 100 degree heat on a hard series of climbs, battling cramps and exhaustion, when I was handed up a cold can of coke – it was unbelievably refreshing, and gave me a huge boost of energy. I normally don’t drink coke, but on a hard ride, an ice cold coke is bliss indeed.

  6. Comment by leroy | 09.8.2015 | 10:50 am

    Dear Mr. Tao -

    Don’t feel sad for Lynette. I would bet she totally gets The Hammer’s humor.

    They’ve worked together before.

    Exactly. – FC

  7. Comment by Long428 | 09.8.2015 | 11:21 am

    I have been on both sides of this process as a racer and support of a racer. Neither one is easy in fact it was only in the last few years that I was in the support role and got to see things from a different perspective. I was embarrassed for the racers that came into the FZ and yelled or were brash to their support. If you don’t like what you get support yourself.

    I owe Lisa an apology (and am updating the entry). The “You’re fired” line is something I added, cuz it’s funny to consider the fire-ability of someone who’s not getting paid. Also, Lisa and Lynette have a hilarious dynamic and I thought the line would crack both of them up. But obviously not everyone is getting the joke. Sorry Lisa. – FC

  8. Comment by Jimbo/Rumpled | 09.8.2015 | 12:28 pm

    The description of the paceline not working made me think of watching the pro road races on TV when the break stops cooperating and the infighting begins. Everyone watching knows what is going to happen next – just like watching a horror movie and someone opens the door or picks up a hitchhiker.

  9. Comment by walter | 09.8.2015 | 12:52 pm

    Lisa, keep the posts coming! Great watching/reading this story unfold. Your story telling continues to improve over time – keep it up! I haven’t looked up the results so your grand finale will be a surprise.

    PS – I got the tongue-in-cheek humor about “firing” a volunteer/best friend. No worries here.

  10. Comment by MattC | 09.8.2015 | 1:05 pm

    I yelled “Thank you,” and then, “Yes men, let the women pull your butts down the road.”

    Uhm…Lisa, I’ve ridden w/ both you and DaveT (and know how incredibly strong you both are…Dave, I see your power #’s on Strava all the time…I’m like a hundred watts below you on a GOOD day). If I were EVER in a position to draft you two, I’d take it in a heartbeat…woman, man…doesn’t matter…if the rider is stronger than me (most everybody) then yes, I’ll take that draft. However, I also WILL pull thru and take turns, though they may be EXTREMELY short-lived…but I won’t ever just wheel-suck w/out taking tuns unless I’m truly ‘on the rivet’ and in danger of being dropped.

  11. Comment by Steph | 09.8.2015 | 1:06 pm

    Fatty – you’re a great story teller, but as an editor – you’re fired! ;-)

    Considering I’m an editor for my day job, I find your comment…scary. – FC

  12. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 09.8.2015 | 1:52 pm

    On several occasions at this year’s Leadville, I was able to successfully herd at least a small handful of MTB cats into a paceline. The secret was to assume they didn’t have my roadie skills and give very explicit directions. Also, since they were MTBers, I spoke very slowly. [grin]

    I formed my most successful paceline on the windy inbound stretch between Pipeline and the base of Powerline. I managed to get six strong riders together plus myself. I was a little bit too successful, though–they gapped me by about 100 yards and then stayed away that distance letting me dangle. With the Powerline climb looming, I opted not to go into the red to try to catch them.

    It was pretty windy that afternoon.

  13. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 09.8.2015 | 1:53 pm

    Great stories. All of them. I thought the “you’re fired” line fit perfectly. I got it – the humor on your blog is sublime, along with the great story telling and amazing bike riding. I keep your books handy whenever I need a pick-me-up and a laugh or two. I would guess that Tao never read Dave Barry…

  14. Comment by Jason | 09.8.2015 | 2:10 pm

  15. Comment by The Hammer/Lisa | 09.8.2015 | 2:27 pm

    The truth is out! I’m a “Peach”! I like to think of myself as a “Rotten Peach” especially when I’m totally exhausted and running on Gu fumes! I thought I already exposed myself last year when I got frustrated with my brother when he crewed for me! After the race, I told Lynette about finding the pills in my pocket. We both laughed! I think I laughed harder because I could see myself doing the exact same thing! Just ask elden about how I’m always losing the remote for the TV.

  16. Comment by Kristina | 09.8.2015 | 3:12 pm

    Hahaha… the edit was already made by the time I read the story, but I’m pretty sure I would have gotten the joke. Sorry some folks took it a little too seriously.

    Fingers crossed you find an icy cold coke at the next aid station, The Hammer/Lisa!

  17. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 09.8.2015 | 3:21 pm

    I’m late to the party Elden, been trying to get feeling back in my fingertips.

    Unfortunate that many did not get your humor re: Lynette. I was just wondering if indeed ‘fired’, could she still apply for unemployment insurance?

    Now to return to the story.

  18. Comment by leroy | 09.8.2015 | 4:16 pm

    My dog and I have consulted.

    Should we ever meet The Hammer, we will not be calling her “Peaches.”

    You know, it’s odd. We don’t usually agree on stuff.

  19. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 09.8.2015 | 4:19 pm

    So will you consider Leadville for 2016? They say a team entry in the lottery raises your chances(if one team member gets in they all get in), then there’s the WBR Fundraising route. Or a Fatty contest win. Give it some serious thought, it would be awesome to have a great FoF contingent.

    Even if we didn’t get in, I wonder if we could stage ourselves along the route to provide ‘pace lines’ when needed. (probably not, since they even ban ‘canned oxygen’

    @Tao a suggestion.

    Order several copies of Fatty’s books. Read, highlight, and memorize key moments.(there will be a test)

    Order several complete kits from the next clothing offering,
    Donate a bike or three to WBR
    Write a guest story about your trip to Italy (strike that, that’s a note to me)

    Sorry you got blocked, I hope you’ll be able to make amends. If not you’ll at least have some great books, new kits, and a tax deduction.

  20. Comment by Eric | 09.8.2015 | 4:37 pm

    I never managed to get a paceline going but did manage to team up with one other rider a few times, which helped a bunch. After leaving Pipeline coming back, I was taking turns with a guy when we passed a group of riders – they latched on, and I pulled for a couple minutes, and then pulled to the side and waved. And nobody stepped up. Somebody yelled back they were too tired to pull. So I kept pulling this group into the headwind for another mile or so until the left turn… at which point, the group passed me and I was too worn out to latch back on. Linda Guerrette got a great photo of me just at that point where I look totally blown:

  21. Comment by rb | 09.8.2015 | 5:00 pm

    Confession time. I yelled at my crew at twinlakes inbound. I kept turning towards her to take the gels she was trying to put in my back pocket (as instructed) and shevjeitbdancing towards my rear jersey pocket.

    I wish there was a video of me and my mom doing this little tail chasing jig around my bike. Finally I yelled “just give them too me!” Which she did, and then started laughing.

    That’s what’s great about moms and crews. They make you laugh when you need it most

    Fortunately, she still talks to me :)

    You sound like a real peach. – FC

  22. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 09.8.2015 | 5:21 pm

    Perhaps the mandatory Friday race meeting should include 30 minutes of “intro to pacelines” out in the parking lot.

  23. Comment by Bart the Clydesdale | 09.8.2015 | 7:04 pm

    Eric evidently I must apologize. I am the guy in the orange jersey next to you in your picture. I didn’t hear you asking for someone to take a pull, sorry. If I ever see you again I promise to pull for a long long way, and my draft is popular. It is not very fast moving, but at 6′6″ my draft is large. Great picture,cant believe I found myself!
    As for what people may say during a race, I believe Rebecca Rusch said it best when she called it “Race brain.”

  24. Comment by amy thompson | 09.8.2015 | 8:26 pm

    Lisa, I loved today’s write up. As someone who crewed for you last year, you are an intense competitor and honestly, I was a little scared. Fortunately, I know you outside of your racing persona and know what a true peach you are.
    Anyone who knows Lynette knows, you would never fire her. She is fantastic! Thank goodness she talked me though crewing Leadville last year. She’s another peach.
    You are correct about my husband, Dave. He’s amazing. Sorry my school schedule didn’t allow me to crew this year. Hopefully, I’ll see you all next year.

  25. Comment by Lynette | 09.8.2015 | 8:33 pm

    I’m only too glad to be “fired” as a crew member and will check into the possibility of unemployment. The job responsibilities were too stressful, the pay was abysmal, and my boss turns into a raving lunatic when racing. Other than that it was a pleasant day and I still love my dear friend, Lisa. I also loved this write up and had some good laughs.

  26. Comment by Dave T. | 09.8.2015 | 8:53 pm

    Even though this ride is about riding for yourself, there is nothing better than riding with friends. I didn’t have to wait for you, you are fast.
    I missed riding with you and Elden last weekend at RPI.
    Thanks for bigging me up to my wife though. She doesn’t always recognize my brilliance.

  27. Comment by Brian | 09.8.2015 | 9:37 pm

    I’m calling strava right now to complain. No cokes = No premium accounts. Of course I might have an entitlement problem. Great reports.

  28. Comment by EricN | 09.8.2015 | 11:44 pm

    Bart, that’s a hilarious coincidence that you’re next to me in that photo. I think we were all worn out at that point (“race brain”, as you say), so I probably wasn’t clear except in my head :).

  29. Comment by Frank W | 09.9.2015 | 8:15 am

    Hmmm, when I got to Twin Lakes I just kissed my wife instead of yelling at her. Maybe I am doing something wrong….

    There’s no kissing in racing! – FC

  30. Comment by Doug (Way Upstate NY) | 09.10.2015 | 10:43 am

    I once yelled at my wife while we were racing sailboats (she was my crew). She told me if I ever did that again she would NEVER crew for me again.

    I have taken that to heart and never yelled at her in any crewing situation….. :)

  31. Comment by MarkM | 09.11.2015 | 4:20 am

    I drafted off a young lady almost the whole way to power line …I tried to pull once and I slowed her down so much, she said, don’t worry, I can do this. Who am I to stand in the way of such confidence and competence!


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