How Leroy Placed Second In The Leroy’s Dog 120 Mile Invitational While Everyone Else Was Racing At Leadville

09.10.2015 | 7:51 am

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A Note from Fatty: Today’s guest post is by frequent favorite commenter and (man’s best) Friend of Fatty, leroy’s dog.

How Leroy Placed Second In The Leroy’s Dog 120 Mile Invitational While Everyone Else Was Racing At Leadville
By leroy’s dog

Leroy worried about turning 40 until he woke up on his 40th birthday feeling no different than the day before. After that, turning 50 was no big deal. But approaching his last birthday before 60, he felt as if he were about to be chewed up like truck stop beef jerky and spat out the back of the grupetto of old age and irrelevance.

Okay, I made up that part about the grupetto, but he was complaining that his age sounded old.

Fortunately, I know how to cheer leroy up. Leroy likes long solo rides, it gives him quiet time to gather his thoughts. So I planned a birthday ride of twice his age in miles. I added two miles to make it a round number.

I knew I had to go with him though. On a ride that long, he’d get lost in thought, run out of thoughts, and then just be lost.

Leroy’s birthday was the same day as the Leadville 100 Mile Race Across The Sky. So I called our ride the Leroy’s Dog 120 Mile Invitational. It didn’t seem like such a non-sequitur at the time.

And of course, I let him wear our Fat Cyclist World Bicycle Relief kit just like the cool kids at Leadville.

The Perfect Start

Leroy’s birthday also coincided with NYC’s Summer Streets Festival – the Saturdays in August when NYC gives a route to pedestrians and cyclists from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park. At 7 AM it’s empty, no cars, no trucks, and only a handful of people.


We fell in with four Rapha-clad riders (each about half leroy’s age) and spun easily over the Brooklyn Bridge, past Union Square, up Park Avenue, past Grand Central, through Central Park, and over to the West Side Highway where we dropped back.

At the north end of the West Side Highway greenway, I took this photo of a rusty, once dignified, but now aging structure in need of repair:


You can also see the George Washington Bridge in the background.

Right after this photo, a group of three women (each half leroy’s age) asked how to get to the Bridge. That cheered leroy up. Getting old means folks assume you know stuff; getting really old means folks assume you’ve forgotten everything.

A Word About New Jersey

Just over the Bridge, New Jersey is surprisingly bike friendly. They even have special parking for cyclists.

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I tried teaching leroy how to parallel park. No luck. There may be something to that “old dog/new trick” expression.

The Route

In order to get the mileage we needed, I combined some well-known rides. First stop after the GWB was Nyack, about 25 miles north and a popular cycling weekend watering hole.

Nyack on different day, but it always looks like this on the weekend.

Fuel stop : 1 Fruit Cup (large) $5.00; 1 PB&J sandwich (artisanal) $4.50(!).

After Nyack, we went north, climbing past the yeshiva on Christian Herald Road (because that always cracks leroy up), across DeForest Lake (a lovely downhill just before the lake lets you coast across at 25 mph), and then back up to South Mountain Road and Route 33 through High Tor State Park.


Leroy was laboring up the gap in High Tor Park as two young women (definitely one-third leroy’s age) were jogging down. They smiled as they passed and told us to have fun. I think that was when leroy realized we were nowhere near the top.

At the top of High Tor Park, we stopped for a bio break behind an appropriate tree:

NewImage(Because sometimes you just have to stick it to The Man.)

From High Tor Park we made our way through Stony Point and Tomkins Cove to the four mile climb at Bear Mountain.


Leroy seemed to struggle for the last two miles of the climb. I tried distracting him with a “The Bear Went Over The Mountain” sing-along.

No luck, but he swore a lot and chased me.

At the top, I took this photo of old growth forest on a promontory diminished, worn down, and eroded by time.


You can also see the view from Bear Mountain behind leroy.

Leroy complained I cut off his head. I say we’re still not even for having me fixed.

I got a better photo when leroy wasn’t in the way:


Fuel Stop: 1 can Coca Cola from vending machine at top of Bear Mountain – Free (someone left change in machine).

Heading Home

It was time to turn around and head home along the Hudson River.

We stopped at a deli in Tomkins Cove for a non-artisanal PB&J ($2.50).and again in Nyack for another large fruit cup (still $5.00) and a large Iced Tea ($2.50!).

Of course, this being a Fat Cyclist post, I should also disclose that leroy also went through six bottles of Nuun Energy drink (Wild Berry), a couple of bottles of water, a bag of Power Bar energy chews (cola) he got for free on a ride the week before, and some sort of waffle (flavor indeterminate) that he got at a gas station a month earlier. He forgot to stock up on Carbo Rocket. Seriously, that stuff is great.

This being a Fat Cyclist post, I should also provide a bathroom report.


The Village of Stony Point will be getting a strongly-worded letter from me.

About 95 miles into the ride, leroy began to smile uncontrollably. The day, which had been in the 90s and humid, was cooling down nicely. He was rolling down a road he’d ridden many times, there may have been a tailwind. What could be better?

What I’ve Been Trying To Tell leroy

Back in the City, we faced the most challenging part of the ride: navigating the Brooklyn Bridge on a weekend afternoon in good weather. The Bridge is packed with walkers, gawkers, hawkers, and folks wobbling on bikes they forgot how to ride.

Leroy likes to roll slowly behind photographers while making a goofy face to crack up the photographer’s subject. You’d be surprised how easy that is the older you are – especially if you’re wearing lycra.

As we headed down the Bridge, a young man (less than half leroy’s age) riding a Citibike in the other direction smacked leroy on the shoulder and shouted hello.

It was a drummer leroy knew, but hadn’t seen in months because he had been touring with his band. Many years ago, leroy was a musician. Nowadays, on those rare occasions when he plays, folks notice his guitars.

Those guitars are classics or vintage or some other compliment. But to leroy, they’re just what he’s worked with since he was a teenager. They were okay back then, but now, just by sticking around, folks think they’re special.

I’ve tried to tell leroy getting older is just like that. But he doesn’t believe half the stuff I say.

Post-Ride Product Endorsement

Leroy reports that the DNA Fat Cyclist WBR kit was stylish and comfortable all day long. It even holds salt nicely.


I may have to let him keep ours and get my own. I mean that’s just gross.

For his birthday, leroy got what he wanted: Phil Gaimon’s Pro Cycling On $10 A Day and four pairs of boxer shorts.

I also got him a Garmin 500 to replace the now-wonky cycling computer he’s used for the past 8 years.

I gave leroy the Garmin after our ride because I didn’t want him to know that, in addition to riding twice his age in miles, I was shooting for climbing around 12,000 feet (200 times his age).

As for leroy coming in second…. I wasn’t just going to let him win. But for his birthday, I didn’t open a gap.

After all, the whole idea was to remind leroy that, for the way he rides, there’s no such thing as a time penalty.


The Hammer’s LT100, Part 5: A Good Fight

09.7.2015 | 3:57 pm

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

Our little group — the same one that had left Twin lakes hours ago — were climbing at about the same pace. The jerseys around me all looked very familiar. I would pass a few; a few minutes later, some would pass me back.

I found myself riding with Mark G., who lives just a few miles from me. We had met at the expo the day before, where he introduced his very good-looking and nice mountain-biking son, who just happens to be the same age as my nineteen-year-old daughter, who loves mountain biking and would probably get along well with a good-looking, nice boy who mountain bikes, if he were to happen to call or message her or something. 

Not that I’m trying to set them up or anything. Cough cough.


Dark Place

Anyway, this was Mark’s eleventh time racing Leadville;  he was hoping this would be his year to finish in under nine hours. We would make small talk as we slowly climbed up the mountain.

I felt weird — like I was moving in slow motion. I normally climb all of Powerline, after the first steep half mile. This time, in contrast, I found myself getting off the bike and walking up steep pitches. I would even have to stop completely at times, lean over my bike and take a few deep breaths.

I was physically exhausted. But more importantly…..I was mentally exhausted. I had been falling off my time schedule since ten miles into the race. I had been berating myself constantly.

Sure, a little while earlier, I had thought that with Dave’s help I was back on track.

But who was I kidding?  

I know how fast I can ride sections on this course. I had 20 miles to go and I knew I wasn’t going to make it. “I’m not gonna get sub-nine, and no one around me is either,” I told myself.

I think that is why I allowed myself to walk: I had given up. 

Home Stretch

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally crested the top and headed down Sugarloaf. My brakes were still screaming at me, riders I had passed on Powerline climb were now leaving me in their dust.

One of them was my nephew-in-law, Ben.

We had passed each other a few times on Powerline. I figured this was the last time I would see him. He still had a prayer of a sub-nine time if he really poured it on.

As I turned onto Hagerman pass road, I caught up with two bikers, riding side by side. Their pace was not terribly fast. I wanted them to get out of my way so I yelled, “If you’re going to make it under nine, your gonna have to pick it up.”

I was beginning to sound like a broken record. I was also beginning to think my children might be right when they call me a “nagger.”

The riders moved aside and I sped past them. The paved descent felt wonderful. I was at mile 88. I had been riding for 7:51. I always do well on the paved climb. I told myself, “Just because I’m not going to make it under sub-nine, I’m not giving up.”

Something New

Then something terrible happened: my bunions started hurting.

Elden had gotten me a new pair of shoes a few weeks earlier. The shoes felt fine, but the placement of the new cleat made my feet turn slightly inward. It had felt weird at first, but Elden said it was the just the new cleat and that it would wear itself in.

It had never caused me any pain before, but now it was horrible. Every pedal stroke hurt. I tried to ignore it, pedaled on, and made a note to fire Elden and hire a better shoe fitter.

Up ahead I could see the familiar “Fatty” jersey. Ben was just ahead of me. I eventually caught him. As I pulled along side of him, he gasped, “Do we have a chance?”

It was a good question.

I knew I didn’t have a prayer, but Ben is an excellent descender. It was just possible that he might be able to finish this climb, get down St Kevin’s and up The Boulevard in sixty minutes.

“Sure you do,” I replied. “You are an awesome descender. You just need to hurry.”

And he was gone.

Carter to Finish

Cold Coke: the thought of one is what had kept me going for the last eleven miles. “Carter Summit always has cold Coke,” I had told myself, over and over and over.

“Coke! I need Coke!” I yelled urgently and hoarsely as I pulled into the aid station.

I must have flustered the poor volunteers, who scattered like startled sparrows. They quickly regrouped, however, now carrying Coke and a Dixie cup, which they filled for me.

I had them refill it six times. It was that good.

I looked down at my Garmin: I had been riding for 8:15, and  was thirteen miles away from the finish.

No doubt about it: that sub-nine just wasn’t going to happen. The fastest I have ever gotten to the finish line from this point is fifty minutes. I rode out of the aid station with the true realization that it was hopeless.

I hoped Ben was speeding down St Kevin’s on his way to the finish. (What I hadn’t realized was Ben was at the aid station with me, and was current in a state of shock and horror at discovering that the madwoman who had been bellowing for Coke was…me). Still, Ben did make a valiant effort and finished in a painful 9 hours and 2 minutes. So close!

I hate to say it, but I walked some of the steep pitches. “Why kill myself?” I thought. When I finally hit the top of the final climb of St Kevin’s and started to descend, my spirits lifted. I was on the home stretch. The Boulevard doesn’t scare or intimidate me anymore. The top of St Kevin’s is my finish line.

Not Defeated

Sub-nine was out of the question, but finishing strong with a smile on my face was not. Nine hours and 15 minutes would still be impressive. That would be faster than any of my other times, prior to riding with Reba.

Why was I letting a time determine how I was going to feel about myself and my race? Just over nine hours was still amazing — something that I never dreamed I could achieve even two years ago. Why was I letting myself be disappointed now over something I’d hae been elated over a couple years ago?

As I cruised up the Boulevard, I looked at my Garmin: nine hours came and went. My thoughts turned to Elden and his “million” attempts to break the sub-nine barrier. I felt his pain. How agonizing to see nine hours so close to the finish line. How agonizing for many riders who would see twelve hours so close to the finish today. I did take comfort in knowing that I already had a big buckle of my own hanging on the wall at home. I think that definitely takes the sting out of it.

As I approached the finish line, I saw my sweetheart on the sideline waiting for me. He ran alongside me with a giant smile on his face.


He was proud of me. I was proud of me.

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I had ridden as hard as I could. I felt good. I had fought a good fight.

My time wasn’t going to define my happiness.

PS from Fatty: The Hammer has a lot to be proud of. Click here for the Strava of her ride, and here’s a screencap of her official splits:  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Wouldn’t there?

The Hammer’s LT100, Part 3: Ups and Downs

09.3.2015 | 1:22 pm

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

I could see Lindsey up ahead of me; I knew that if I really pushed it, I could catch her. I opened a fresh GU and powered on. I’d close the gap and then she would power away on a descent.

We repeated this over and over. And you know what? I liked the game that we were playing (even if she didn’t know we were playing it).

As we did the quick gnarly descent down Bitch hill and the subsequent quick up hill, Lindsey sped away and entered the singletrack ahead of me. As I approached the singletrack I pulled alongside a very muscular man, instantly recognizing him as Al Iverson. I knew Al had been chasing the sub-nine dream for many years, so the fact that we were riding together this far into the race was a good sign.

I did feel bad that I ended up ahead of him on the single track descent.

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Thanks Al, for not riding my wheel!

Eventually I caught Lindsey and we rode together over the last few rollers into the Twin Lakes aid station. It must have been overwhelming for our crews to have two riders enter the aid station at one time.

But Lindsey had her crew (her mom, sister, and brother), and I had mine: Scott and Kara. They were fantastic. They got me a new Camelbak, packed my jersey pocket with GU (not the Bentos box; I had learned my lesson after losing everything during the Powerline descent! For the rest of the race, I would use the Bentos box for trash only), made me take four electrolyte capsules, and I was off.

Twin Lakes to Columbine

Lindsey was already ahead of me as we left the hoopla of the Twin Lakes aid station. I was feeling good, but couldn’t quite close the gap between us. I love the cheering crowds on the road side leading to Columbine. They really buoy the spirits.

We rode by the GU van, where Kim and Yuri yelled encouragement to us (thanks!).

And then the Columbine Mine climb began.

The first half mile of Columbine is a killer. But I was pushing it hard and I could see I was slowly reeling Lindsey in.

And then, a voice from beside me: “Hey Lisa.” Sarah again!

“What? Where did you come from?” I asked. “I thought you were ahead of me.”

“I was until I had to take a bathroom break, you passed me right outside of the aid station.”

And then she was gone.

Wow. What a strong rider. I’m usually the one doing the passing on Columbine, and Sarah passed me like I was standing still.

At the first hard right turn of the climb, I pulled alongside Lindsey. I told her she was doing awesome and reminded her not to slack off when the trail eases off.

Boy, I am awful — like a slave driver or — even worse — a motivational speaker. Someone needs to tell me to shut up. “How have I turned into this person?” I wonder to myself.

Having pre-ridden Columbine twice in the last week really helped me mentally as I climbed. The climb just doesn’t seem to be as intimidating as it once was. I knew the distances between the switchbacks and I felt like I was doing well.

In retrospect, however, Strava tells me a different story. I was slowly losing time on the climb. My perceived effort was that I was going strong, but I was slacking (maybe that is why I felt so good). On the lower section of the climb, I ended up losing about 4 minutes over my time last year.

As I approached the goat trail section, I rode as far up as I could, then dismounted and began to walk. With each step my frustration level was growing.

I was exhausted.

I had ridden this same trail twice this week and now I was walking.

I was not only walking, but I was walking slow.

I went by Ken Chlouber, the founder of the Leadville 100; he was yelling encouragement and warnings to riders going up and down the mountain.

“Looking good Lisa,” he said.

But I knew I didn’t look good. In fact, I couldn’t even look up at him. I was pushing my bike and I was cooked. “Thanks,” I managed to mumble.

The conga line up Columbine didn’t seem to be in any hurry to move up this mountain. On and off the bike. Walking was misery. We were moving like snails. I felt great when I was riding, but it was always short- lived and I’d have to get off the bike again.

I was on the constant lookout for Elden. In fact, I had a preconceived idea of where he should pass me if he was on his sub-8 pace…and like clockwork, he appeared. I could see him coming from a ways away. I started screaming his name. He looked fantastic! It was the highlight of my climb.

And then it was back to pushing.

The stream of riders coming down the trail was increasing as we continued our march up. It was very difficult to pass anyone while walking.

I kept looking at my Garmin. It read 4:24. My heart sank when I saw that time; that was when I had hit the turnaround with Reba last year. This year, I still had at least a mile and a half to the turnaround. I was frustrated with the group’s progress and before I could stop myself…I was yelling.

Yes, I was yelling at the riders in front of me.

“We need to pick up this pace if we are going to make nine hours!”

A few riders turned and glared at me, but I do think they picked up the pace. We were soon back on the bike for the last rollers to the turnaround.

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I was really surprised to see Ben (Lindsey’s husband), just ahead of me. I crossed the aid station in 4:40 — sixteen minutes off last year and barely — barely — with a prayer of a sub-nine finish.

I would need to do a negative split, in a big way.

Columbine to Twin Lakes

I almost caught Ben on the quick climb out the aid station, but once the trail turned down he and the group he was with were gone. There was nobody in sight ahead of me.

I hate that. It means I’m holding up traffic.

I hate to say it, but I never once turned around during the whole descent. A few riders did pass me, but they were super cool and yelled it out as they approached. I kept it within my comfort zone and cruised down the trail. This year I didn’t have Reba reminding me to “let up on the brakes” and “roll through it.” I really did miss her.

The voice of Reba was replaced this year by my very vocal bike. I’m not sure what was happening with my bike, but my brakes definitely had a thing or two to say to me. They were screaming very loudly. It wasn’t just the normal squeal that brakes make on occasion, either. This was a horrible sound like my rotors were about to combust. I have never heard them scream like this before.

I actually had people in the conga line coming up the hill yelling at me to “let up on the brakes.” How embarrassing.

I crossed paths with Lindsey—she still had about a mile to the top. I think the altitude was taking its toll; I felt for her. I think coming up a week early really does help. I think altitude is why I was also slowly reeling in Ben.

The riders coming up Columbine were super supportive; I heard my name yelled out many times. I was concentrating so hard that I rarely was able to look up to see who was yelling to me. I did take Elden’s advice and yelled words of encouragement to the riders whenever I could as I was descending.

As the road opens up, the squealing of my brakes was horrendous. I think I descended faster than usual on the lower part because I couldn’t stand the noise and I was scared my front wheel would burst into flames if I used the brakes any more!

At the bottom of the descent I passed a gal who was down on the ground. There was another rider with her and people directing us to go around. Wow. Stuff like that puts racing into perspective. It’s better that I go a little slower and stay in control. I would hate to have my race cut short because of an accident/injury.

I was happy to find that I was relaxed and calm as I finished my Columbine descent: much different from last year when I was hyperventilating and a tense ball of nerves. But Strava shows that I was about three minutes slower on the descent to the aid station.

Was it worth it to ride comfortably down?

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.

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