2016 Six Hours in Frog Hollow, Part 5: A Monster Is Born

05.2.2016 | 3:11 pm

A Note from Fatty: My good friends and sponsor The Feed are doing a bike giveaway: a Cannondale CAAD12 Disc Dura Ace Road Bike. 

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For a chance to win, all you need to do is click this link, answer a simple question (hint: the answer is “The Feed”), and then give ‘em your email address (and then verify your email address by clicking the link they email you).

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A pretty clever way to get people to spread the word about your product, right?

Full Disclosure: I am signed up for this contest, and if you use these links to join the contest, you help my chances of winning. I hope you’re cool with that.

Something occurred to me as I began my fourth lap of the 6 Hours in Frog Hollow: I was doing doing something wrong. Something I had learned was wrong, and had become a bit of an evangelist about doing right

A simple thing. A fundamental thing. A thing that makes a difference in how fast you go. And potentially, for someone like me who is right on the dividing line between doing five laps or six, a thing that determines how many laps you do and whether you get on the podium.

And yet, here I was, doing it wrong, and I hadn’t even thought about the fact that it’s wrong until sixty percent of the way through the race. 

Furthermore, it was now too late to correct my mistake and start doing it right.

So: what was this thing I was doing wrong?

Well, that’s a great question, and the previous installments of this story (part 1, 2, 3, 4) actually detail the thing I was doing wrong. But I’m curious: do you know what I was doing wrong? Let’s do an instant poll to find out:

Okay, so here’s what I did wrong: I stopped after every lap to swap bottles and get gels.

And why is that wrong? Easy. Because every time I slowed, stopped, swapped and started again, I was not moving for about a minute. Maybe more. 

And since my lap times were consistently at 1:01 — that extra minute mattered.

But as I started my fourth lap, it was too late to do anything about this mistake: I had only one bottle with me, so I’d have to stop again at the beginning of my fifth — and last — lap.

“Oh well,” I thought to myself, “Lesson learned for next time I guess. And it’s not like this minute per lap is going to affect how I do in the race or anything.

Because why would four one-minute stops matter in a five-plus-hour race, right?

Yeah. Right.


As I mentioned at the end of part four of this story, Blake had told me as I left for my fourth lap that the last time he had seen them, The Swimmer was just six minutes behind me, and The Hammer was six minutes behind her. 

Which made me think: that was a whole hour ago. What if either of them — or both! but especially The Swimmer! — had been catching up to me, slowly but surely? And now was about to pass me?

It occurred to me that if that were to happen, I should be proud of how strong and fast these women are. But the truth is, I know from experience that I did not want it to happen.

So I rode with renewed purpose. Not interested in whether any men of my 50+ age group were in my vicinity…but in whether my wife or daughter was about to clean my clock.

As Blake swapped my bottle and gave me my gels for my final lap, I asked again: “How are the girls doing?”

“Now The Swimmer’s about twelve minutes behind you, and The Hammer is twelve minutes behind her.”

“The Swimmer has a twelve-minute gap on The Hammer?” I thought to myself. “She isn’t a swimmer anymore. She’s a Monster.”

And henceforth, that is what she shall be known as on this blog.

To The Wire

There’s something special about being on the final lap of a multi-lap endurance race. Specifically, every time you finish a difficult segment, you get to say to yourself, “Well, I don’t have to do that again today.”

Which, I can assure you, never gets old.

This brings us to the final minute or so of the race.

There was a guy in a green kit I had been taking turns leading and following for the last lap, and at this moment he was fifty or so feet ahead of me. But as we approached the final stretch — a 0.3-mile uphill straightaway on a dirt road with plenty room for passing — I thought to myself, “You know what? I think I’ll see if I can chase him down before we get to the finish line.”

Not for any particular reason. Just for honor, really. To finish strong and whatnot.

And so, as I crossed the river bottom and got onto the beginning of the climb, I shifted into a bigger gear and stood up.

And from the sound of it, so did the guy behind me.

Waitasec. The guy behind me? 

Yep, there was a guy behind me. I hadn’t even been aware of him. But now I could hear his chain (we’d all been riding in the sandy, windy desert for five hours, so we all had noisy chains) and the whoof-whoof of knobby tires accelerating on dirt.

There he was, in my peripheral vision, behind and to my right.

Now he was beside me. I matched his speed.

He accelerated. I matched again.

He accelerated once more and I could not hold him. Just couldn’t. I was outgunned.

Oh well,” I thought. “No biggie, it’s just for fun anyway.

As he pulled away from me, I looked over. Greying hair.

He’s taking this pretty seriously,” I thought, as he built a larger and larger gap.

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In the end, Jeff Flick built an impressive four second lead over me in that 0.3-mile section of the course. 

Which is why he’s standing on the third-place podium spot here in the 50+ men’s group.


And more to the point, it’s why I’m standing in the fourth-place fake-podium spot, looking like I’d rather be just about anywhere else:


So, I missed the podium by four seconds. After stopping after laps one, two, three, and four for about a minute.

So yes, I’ve been kicking myself a bit. Maybe Jeff would’ve got me anyway — he had an astonishing kick at the end, and maybe he had been marking me for several laps and was just making his move when it was smart — but I could have easily reduced the number of stops I made by two, and thus been two minutes faster. In which case, maybe I could have obviated his obviously superior sprint. 

And that would have been awesome, because when you’re 5’7” it’s much better to stand on a podium than beside one. 

How the Women Did

Blake was waiting there for me at the finish line. “Do I have time to go change before they get in?” I asked him, hoping that I did. And in fact, I did have time, before The Monster flew up to the finish line, a big smile on her face and an arm raised to the sky:


This was the second bike race she had ever finished. And, strangely enough, the second bike race she had won…beating the second place Women’s Solo racer by five minutes, and the third place racer by about fifteen minutes.


So yeah: Meet The Monster. We’ll be very interested to see how she does at Leadville this year, and have a hunch that it might be pretty darned well.

And how about The Hammer? Well, she and Heidi Volpe — one of two other singlespeed women racers — found each other very early in the race…and then rode the whole thing together, talking and laughing the whole time.

Imagine that: two fast, strong singlespeed powerhouse women discovered they had a lot in common and enjoyed each other’s company.

Still, someone had to win, and Heidi had the stronger kick at the end, beating The Hammer by one second. Here they are, afterward.

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As you can see, The Hammer is pretty upset at her narrow loss, and was still stewing when it came time to climb on the podium:



We had to get a family shot, with the three of us each in our respective place on — or, in my case, beside — our respective podiums: 

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But here’s the thing: while I definitely was pretending to be pouty…

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…I didn’t have anything to complain about. I had raced against a strong group of grizzled ol’ racers, and out of twenty-two of us, I had finished fourth. And while it’s tempting to be bummed that I was outsprinted, the fact is that Jeff Flick inspired me to finish that final section of that race faster than I ever have before. I gave it my all, and he beat me in a straight-up contest. That’s pretty awesome. 

But next year, you can bet that I won’t stop for bottle swaps so often.


  1. Comment by BostonCarlos | 05.2.2016 | 3:33 pm

    The Monster. I like it.

  2. Comment by Tom in Albany | 05.2.2016 | 3:35 pm

    I thought I knew. I was wrong. D’oh!

    The Monster? Is the Programmer going to get a dorky nickname again? I have no desire to go look up whatever travesty to acry-nymc-names you created for him!

    Thanks for the fun race report, Fatty. I look forward to the next one already!

  3. Comment by NZ Ev | 05.2.2016 | 4:21 pm

    Fantastic race report!!!! Love these!!!

  4. Comment by Corrine | 05.2.2016 | 5:11 pm

    The Monster! I love it. We are going to see some great things from her this year! Love the race reports. Keep ‘em coming.

  5. Comment by Kate | 05.2.2016 | 6:23 pm

    Dang, your whole family is pretty incredible.

    I think the only thing I’ve had going for me this year has been efficiency. Certainly not speed or power.

  6. Comment by MattC | 05.2.2016 | 9:33 pm

    OK…enough is enough….you need to tell Hammer to SMILE once in a while…can’t stand to see another grumpy look on her face!

  7. Comment by Brian in VA | 05.3.2016 | 7:05 am

    Congrats to The Monster, The Hammer, and to you Fatty! Great report, terrific race!

    And now, “You’ve created a Monster!”

    Well done!

  8. Comment by Bike Boy | 05.3.2016 | 8:18 am

    Roll on the monster! Great report.

  9. Comment by roadrash | 05.3.2016 | 11:28 am


  10. Comment by leroy | 05.3.2016 | 12:34 pm

    Well I be darned.

    You really did release the kraken.

    Looks like I owe my dog an apology.

    And $5.


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