Crew Report for LoToJa 2015, Part 3: Montpelier

09.16.2015 | 12:07 pm

A “Previously…” Note from Fatty: This is part 3 of my Crew Report for the 2015 Lotoja. Click here for Part 1, and click here for Part 2

Carbonated water is a mysterious modern miracle. I don’t know how the carbon dioxide disappears or dissolves or whatever into water. I don’t know why the pressure of carbonated water increases when you shake it (or why that pressure eventually settles down). 

I do know that the carbon dioxide stays in the water only if under pressure. Mostly. Because even if you let soda go completely flat and then shake it…well, it seems there’s still a little fizz in there.

And that fizz wants out.

I say all this as prelude to the fact that Lindsey had let the Dr Pepper in each of the two water bottles she wanted us to give her go — as far as she could tell — completely flat.

And also I say this as prelude to the fact that by the time Blake and I arrived in Montpelier, where we would facilitate our first fueling exchange for The Hammer and Lindsey after they had ridden 76 miles, about ninety percent of the Dr Pepper Lindsey had put in her bottles had migrated to pretty much everywhere that was not in her bottles.

Which is to say, Blake and I had a bit of mess on our hands, and Lindsey did not have Dr Pepper in her bottles.

It was a mess, but not really a problem. We had parked pretty far away from the actual exchange point, figuring that it would be easier to make a quick getaway if we weren’t near other cars. And coincidentally, that “far away from the exchange point” place was a quick walk away from a convenience store.

So while Blake set to rinsing the Dr Pepper off everything that was in the ice chest, I went to the convenience store to buy more Dr Pepper.

As I walked, I muttered to myself, “Pop tarts? Dr Pepper? I’ve got to talk to Lindsey about what she fuels with during these races.”

Ready for the Montpelier Exchange

Even with the Dr Pepper disaster, even with my nearly-ticketed moment, even with my getting The Hammer and Lindsey to the starting line with literally no time to spare, Blake and I still got to the Montpelier exchange with an absurd amount of time to spare.

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According to the times The Hammer had written down (based on Lindsey’s Strava from the previous year), we had more than an hour and a half to wait at the exchange.

We knew we had found the right place when we saw Ben’s family, who patiently posed for a picture as they waited for Cory and Ben to come in:

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So we set up camp and watched. Some racers blew through, grabbing a musette bag on the fly.

Others stopped, got off their bikes, browsed through their food and drink options, and had the race equivalent of a family reunion.

And it was a lot of fun to just stand in the background, watching people watch for their racers. Commenting, speculating, watching hoping. Then springing into action, some people obviously practiced and smooth and efficient. Some people overanxious and solicitous and concerned.

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Which way was the right way? Well, whichever way felt right, of course. Different racers, different objectives. 

More than anything else, though, it was fun to watch the immense amount of pride on all the faces and in all the actions of the people crewing. 

It was an incredibly positive atmosphere.

The Montpelier Exchange

Blake and I would not be the kind of crew who stopped and asked our riders about their day so far. We knew Lindsey and Lisa were serious about the race and would want to get through the exchange as quickly as possible.

We also knew they would be coming in together; that was the whole plan: for The Hammer and Lindsey to work together and each do well in their respective categories.

So, knowing the women would be coming in together, Blake and I had arranged we’d each be in charge of one specific person. I’d take care of The Hammer; he’d take care of Lindsey.

It was a great plan, and it probably would have worked great…if our racers had come in together.

But they didn’t.

Instead, Lindsey came streaking in on her own, The Hammer nowhere in sight. 

I was a little bewildered, but figured I’d learn the “why” of how they got separated later. Crewing ain’t no time for jibber-jabber.

Probably, I should have just stayed back and let Blake do his thing. He had everything under control. But I just couldn’t help myself, and jumped in, yanking Lindsey’s arm warmers off her arms. Shoving electrolytes into her mouth. Pulling bottles out of her cages. 

Blake worked around me. Half as fast, twice as efficient. Within fifteen seconds, we were finished.

“Lisa’s 1:45 behind me,” Lindsey said, as she pushed off, joining the small-but-speedy group of women she had rolled in with.

“One minute, forty-five seconds?” Blake said to me after Lindsey left. “That’s strangely specific. How could she know how far back Lisa is?”

“I think a motorcycle relays the distance between lead and chase groups to each other,” I replied. 

And then I voiced my concern: “Why were they separated at all? And do you think Lisa’s going to be mad?”

“She might be,” Blake mused. “My mom’s a little bit…intense about racing.”

“Yeah. A little bit, I guess,” I say. I don’t say, “And that’s one of the things I love about her. She’s just like me that way. She understands how I think when I’m racing; I understand how she thinks.”

Why don’t I say it? For one thing, because I know Blake would make a gag noise if I did.

More importantly, though, I don’t say anything else because The Hammer is pulling in. Once again I am jumping around and doing everything at once, trying to force electrolyte pills into The Hammer’s mouth and put a bottle of water in her hands to wash them down, even as she demands a cold Coke.

A cold Coke. I should have known. Luckily, Blake has one in-hand, pops the top, and gives it to her. We are the best crew there has ever been.

As we’re working, I notice there’s another woman, right by The Hammer, also having a crew quickly get her fuel swapped out. “You about ready to go, Ellie?” The Hammer asks. Good, I think to myself. She’s not just out there riding alone; she’s working with someone.

I double-check we’ve given The Hammer everything she wants: new bottles? Electrolytes? Gels? Anything else? yep, yep, yep, nope.

And she’s gone.

“Let’s get to the Afton exchange,” I say to Blake.

And that’s where we’ll pick up in the next installment of this story.


  1. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 09.16.2015 | 12:36 pm

    That may be one of the most subtle cliff-hangers ever. Perhaps Afton is a lot like Amityville? Perhaps Afton is not the next exchange? Perhaps the truck has been stolen? Perhaps raccoons?

  2. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 09.16.2015 | 2:46 pm

    “My mom’s a little bit…intense about racing.”

    Understatement of the year!

  3. Comment by walter | 09.16.2015 | 3:51 pm

    Mmmm, pop tarts and Dr. Pepper. That sounds really good right now.

  4. Comment by Bike Chick | 09.17.2015 | 4:56 pm

    Good lord. Trying to read your blog from start to finish. Your blog, I’m afraid, is not very user friendly – much like most of things from Microsoft. Hrr hrr. I enjoy reading your musings so is there a way for you to make the interface of your blog easier to navigate? Please? I’m not a quitter, so I will continue reading. See you on the other side.

  5. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 09.17.2015 | 5:26 pm

    @Bike Chick, Fatty’s thought of EVERYTHING!

    Start here:

    Then go here:

  6. Comment by Jessica F | 09.18.2015 | 3:45 pm

    Yeah, when did you get so hoity-toity about food? I still remember sitting back and pausing mid-read in awe of your brilliant concept of an avocado and mayonnaise sandwich on soft white bread.


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