2016 Six Hours in Frog Hollow, Part 4: Rubber Band

04.28.2016 | 3:05 pm

I started my third lap of the 6 Hours in Frog Hollow. Physically, I felt fine. The wind was making each lap slower and more difficult than usual, but at least it was now a known adversary: I knew how hard it was blowing, how much it would slow me down on the parts I usually think of as fast. 

And now I knew something else, too. Something that…well, something I simply would not have expected.

Because a moment ago, as I was getting gels and a bottle for my next lap, I had asked Blake (who I shall no longer refer to as “DevFoKnAIG,” because it’s too much work to type) a very simple question: “How are the ladies doing?”

“The Swimmer was about two minutes behind you after the first lap.”

Woah, I thought. She’s really doing well. And — as this photo Blake took from the beginning of the race — she was having fun, too:


Blake continued, “And my mom’s about two minutes behind her.”

What? The Hammer is two minutes behind The Swimmer?


So now I had a few things to contemplate as I rode this third lap. Namely, I thought about whether The Hammer had wrecked, or whether racing SS against a harsh headwind was just that much harder.

I contemplated whether it was possible that The Swimmer had gone out too fast, and that the report Blake had given me — which was already a lap old by the time I heard it — was no longer correct and The Hammer had raced past a fading Swimmer.

Finally, I contemplated the possibility that this was confirmation of something The Hammer and I had been privately observing a number of times: The Swimmer is way stronger and faster than a first-year cyclist ought to be.

As I began the big climb, I knew that by then both The Swimmer and The Hammer had to have finished their second laps, so Blake knew what the current status was for both his sister and mom. Normally, I’d text or call so I could also know, as quickly as possible.

But this wasn’t normal. Racing time isn’t phone time, so I would not know for another forty-five minutes what was going on. I was going to have to live with data that was an hour stale for this whole race. 

And that’s what I was thinking about as I approached the hump-ledge-exposed hairpin move for the third time.

Not fretting about it this time, I rode it without incident.

More Strangeness

I finished my third lap in much the way I raced the third lap: wondering more about how The Hammer and The Swimmer were doing.

Blake had everything ready for me; I didn’t even have to ask. Which is nice, because my race wasn’t all that interesting to me anyway: I had just turned in a third lap within seconds of the time I had turned in the previous two laps: one hour, one minute. Again.

What I wanted to know had nothing to do with me. I had just one question on my mind:

“What about the girls?”

“My sister was about six minutes behind you after her second lap.”

“And your mom?”

“And my mom was about six minutes behind her.”

“So, umm…” I stalled, not exactly certain how to ask the big question on my mind. “…how’s your mom doing?”

“Oh, she’s having fun. She and the other single speed rider are having fun, racing it together.”

And it was true: The Hammer was just happy and having fun. You can see from the  pictures Blake took of her between laps:

IMG 0193

That face is way too relaxed to be The Hammer I know and ride with.

But even as Blake told me what their relative gaps had been — had given me the most current information he possibly could — I knew that it was outdated. By now, The Hammer and Heidi could be fully duking it out.

Or The Swimmer could have faded. Or — much more likely, considering her history — she could have crashed.

I was eager for this race to be done. Sure, partly to be finished with this hellacious wind, but more because I wanted to know how the other two racers from Team Fatty were going to do.

Just two laps to go, and then I’d know.

And so will you.


  1. Comment by MattC | 04.28.2016 | 3:25 pm

    Ohhh…the drama! You are the MASTER of DRAMA!

    Pretty fantastic that the Swimmer is rocking the race being a near rookie and all.

    It’s good to have something to take your mind off the race…I know some of my best rides were when I was pre-occupied, and afterwards I found out I did great. Odd how that works…and how quickly time can pass when you’re not thinking about it.

  2. Comment by Kristina Creek | 04.28.2016 | 3:27 pm

    You people make me want to race bikes…

  3. Comment by kukui | 04.28.2016 | 4:29 pm

    I want to know! And also – wow I’m so impressed with The Swimmer!

  4. Comment by Corrine | 04.28.2016 | 4:50 pm

    Go Swimmer, go! She may have to change sports if she keeps this up!

  5. Comment by PNP | 04.28.2016 | 6:12 pm

    Too bad there aren’t races for slow people.

  6. Comment by Tom in Albany | 04.28.2016 | 8:14 pm

    Let me guess, Fatty. Next week. Right?

  7. Comment by bart | 04.29.2016 | 3:27 am

    LOVE these race reports !

  8. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 04.29.2016 | 7:09 am

    @PNP, there ARE races for slow people. Specifically, CX. I know this first-hand.

    Here’s what I’ve learned:

    1. Road racing is NOT for slow people. There’s too much benefit to riding in the pack, so if you get ejected out the back, you’re just doing a hard solo ride with no hope of competing.

    2. Mountain bike racing is better, as drafting takes on much less of a role, but doing technical things at high speed is a recipe for not just going slower, but coming to a complete halt. And not in the good way.

    3. CX is best. Like MTB, no real draft benefit. Unlike MTB, though, the laps are much shorter (on the order of a mile and a half) and there are spectators everywhere. Unless you’re DFL and OTB, you’re always within sight of at least a few racers ahead and behind. The courses are moderately technical, but you tend not to be hitting those elements at speed, and you can always dismount and run them (the only acceptable violation of Rule 42). Forty minutes or so of working as hard as you can, not as hard as someone else can.

    Give CX a try!

  9. Comment by owen | 04.29.2016 | 8:30 am

    I have a feeling the early mention of the SS gearing is going to come back into play in this story very soon.

  10. Comment by PNP | 04.29.2016 | 10:00 am

    @Jeff Dieffenbach, thanks! I’ve been tempted to try CX for quite a while. I even have a good CX bike in my corral. I’m a pretty good climber, but I’m just not fast. There’s an entire series of races here in Oregon every year. I have no excuses for not giving it a try! Thanks!

  11. Comment by MattC | 04.29.2016 | 12:47 pm

    @Jeff…agree w/ PNP…thanks for the talking up CX…I’d actually love to give that a try (racing for SLOW people I mean)! Of course, I do NOT have a CX bike…and after saving for 2 years to get my new MTB (just picked up the day after Xmas), it will be about that long before I save enough for another bike…(and sadly, I’m jonsing for an ‘adventure’ bike…you know, a 29+ hard-tail that I can go bikepacking on?) Man oh man…too much time, not enough money (and bikes). My equation (for how many bikes I need) is N+2, not 1. But I’m already afraid I’m currently at the D-1 number (2 mtb’s, 2 road). But they’re each different (like golf clubs…sure, you can play with just a 5 iron, but why would you?) My wife (a NON-cyclist) just doesn’t understand! I think we need couples-cycling-counseling (is there such a thing?)

  12. Comment by owen | 04.29.2016 | 1:11 pm

    race your mtb for cross that is what I do and I have a cross bike. Most local CX races will allow mtb’s without bar ends to race. Its a great way to get into the sport and some courses are better suited for mtb’s. Put some narrower tires on if you wish and go for it.

  13. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 04.29.2016 | 2:02 pm

    @MattC, owen beat me to it–race CX on your MTB. Find the narrowest tires you can (I think I found 1.75″ for mine). As he said, you’ll have to ditch the bar-ends. Also, get rid of any water bottle cages on the off chance that you can shoulder it given the small size of the main triangle.

  14. Comment by MattC | 04.29.2016 | 3:37 pm

    Hmmm…interesting. I might just have to look into that…(of course, racing CX would cost $$ tho…which wouldn’t be going into my new bike fund)..dilemma dilemma dilemma! ACK! The CHOICES I have to make!

  15. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 04.30.2016 | 11:33 am

    @MattC, it’s typically $30-$35 per CX race, plus license. If you really just want to dip your toe in the water, try one race and get the one-day license. Also, look for groups that practice in your area. Good way to learn the lay of the land and get some intro tips.

  16. Comment by Bike Boy | 05.3.2016 | 7:41 am

    I have never done road racing but prefer CX orver MTB.


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