2016 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 14: Birthday Present

07.28.2016 | 1:09 pm

If you ever get the chance to race the Rockwell Relay, you should. And if you get the chance to be the one to choose who rides which legs, you should choose to be racer number 1. 

There are a couple of good reasons for this. 

First, because you race the first leg, you are also the person to race your final leg first. Which means you get to laze about after you’re done, smugly thinking to yourself, “I am so glad I don’t have to go out again anymore,” as the other racers suit up and wade out into million-degree heat.

Second — and more importantly — by being racer 1, you get to be the one to race leg 9 (Panguitch to Cedar Breaks), which is inarguably the best leg of the entire race. You start in the desert, and race into the high mountains, going from one kind of beauty to a completely different kind of beauty. 

It’s a lot of climbing, but so worth it: it’s just inspiringly beautiful. 

First Place

So I was really excited to be showing off this leg to my new friend Tom from the Mike Nosco Memorial team. I knew that he’d love this challenging, gorgeous climb.

But there was a problem: I just couldn’t hang with him.

Second Place

You know how when you’re at your absolute outer limit of what you’re capable? You’re just riding yourself into this incredibly deep hole, and you have no idea how or whether you’ll ever get out? When you’re riding at top speed toward The Cliff of Bonkitude, and keeping your hands off the brakes?

It was like that for me.

Meanwhile, Tom chatted conversationally, joking about how now that I was 50, I could apply to be on his team next year.

“Tom,” I said.


“I…can’t…keep…this…pace.” Every word on the exhale, because I was breathing as fast as I possibly could. 

“Oh, I can back it off a little bit,” Tom said.

“No, you…should go…on,” I said. “I’m…going to…need to…spend some…time alone in…the pain…cave.

“You sure?” he asked.

“You know how it is,” I said.

Yeah, I think we all know how it is. Pain cave time sometimes needs to be alone time.

Tom rode on ahead, and I entered the peculiar state of suffering. “This is how I’m spending my fiftieth birthday,” I though to myself. “Fastest coed team by far, and ahead of every men’s competitive team in the race. Only guy ahead of me is another guy in his fifties.”

“I’m not doing half-bad,” I concluded.

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At the moment, I was thinking about the race, but I think it was true about my life in general.

Third Place

The Hammer, Ben and Lindsey caught up with me, ringing cowbells and shouting — still engaged in and excited about the race into the second morning of this event. Incredible. 

“I’m so lucky,” I thought, and I meant it.

I rode. Time passed. I kept going. My team cheered for me. It got light outside.

“Hey,” said a voice behind me. “How far ahead are the leaders?” 

A rider, from nowhere, bridging from so far back I didn’t know he even existed. I looked back: it was the guy Nathan (of BatB) had joined forces with in the first leg to blow the rest of us out of the water. 

Somehow, I had linked him and Nathan together in my mind, and looked to see if he was there. No. A relief.

But still, this guy had asked about “the leaders,” plural. It didn’t make sense to me. There was just one leader up ahead. Tom. 

“They’re not far,” I said, adopting plural just because this other guy had. It wasn’t a lie, but it also wasn’t entirely honest. I had no idea how far ahead of me Tom had gotten in the time since he had dropped me. Further, I had no idea how long it had been since he had dropped me, nor how far I had ridden.

I was riding hard, but I wasn’t lucid, precisely.

“OK, thanks,” the guy said, and shot forward as if to show his contempt for gravity.

I, on the other hand, had a very healthy respect for gravity.

Second Place

More time passed, I guess. It usually does. I turned off my light; I wouldn’t need it anymore.

There was something way up ahead. A rider? Yes, a rider. The guy who just passed me a few minutes or hours ago? No. Slighter than that.


“Huh,” I thought. “That’s a surprise.” 

I discovered at that moment that I had not previously been going as hard as I could, because I started going faster.

And I caught Tom.

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“There’s no air here,” Tom said.

“Welcome to 7500 feet,” I said. Where I live, there aren’t many rides that don’t touch that altitude.

Tour Guide

And then a weird thing happened: I turned into Tom’s tour guide. He hadn’t asked for a tour guide, but I couldn’t help myself for some reason.

I pointed out the amazingly beautiful volcanic rock formations. I pointed out the gorgeous fields. I told him about how many climbs we had left and which ones were excruciatingly hard.

Tom endured it all.

“It’s really cool up here,” he said at one point.

“I know,” I enthused. “It’s just so great.”

“No, I meant that I’m literally cold,” he clarified.

“Huh,” I replied. “But it’s also really cool in the other way too, right?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Cool in both ways.”

Finish Line

The climb to Cedar Breaks is relentlessly brutal, but only for a while. Then you get some milder climbs, and even some incredibly fun descents.

So I guess it’s not relentlessly brutal after all.

As we got closer, Tom and I emptied ourselves out. We both knew this was our final effort of the race, that there was no reason to be conservative.

But you know, we also hung together. Tom and I had ridden about 2/3 of this race together, I don’t think either of us were now looking for a sprint to victory.

We crossed the line side-by-side, put feet down to have the timing chips moved from our ankles to our teammates’.

I had just ridden my heart out in a beautiful place with a guy who somehow was pretty much exactly my racing match, and we were winning our respective divisions handily. It was over, basically; it was now just a formality to get across the finish line.

Yeah, it was turning out to be a really nice fiftieth birthday.

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But I was wrong about the race being over.

Which is where we’ll pick up in Monday’s installment of this race report.


2016 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 13: Allies

07.27.2016 | 11:51 am

A Bonus Easy Way to Win Something for Free Note from Fatty: As part of my day job as the Social Media Manager at Altify, I get to do some pretty cool contests to build awareness of the company. Right now I’m doing a nice little weeklong push to grow our Twitter audience. So: If you happen to either be in sales — or if you have Twitter followers who might be in sales — you should Follow Altify and Retweet this Tweet today to get a chance at winning a set of super-sweet Bose QC35 Bluetooth Noise-Canceling Headphones:

An Update on “You Choose Fatty’s LT100 Bike and Focus:” I’m really pleased at the responses (and by “responses” I of course mean “donations”) in the contest I started at the beginning of this week. It was a different take on my “donate for a chance at a prize” idea, and it’s been a lot of fun for everyone in our family to see not just the ongoing generosity of the Friends of Fatty (that part is predictable), but what you seem to want me to ride, and how you think The Hammer and Monster will finish, relative to each other. 

Here’s a quick update on where things stand.

First off, The Monster’s lead continues to build against The Hammer. Since yesterday’s update, in fact, votes saying she will finish less than an hour after The Hammer have risen from 64% to 69%:

Hammer v Monster

I’d like to point out that both The Monster and The Hammer like the way this chart currently stands. The Monster appreciates the votes of confidence coming her way, and The Hammer finds it extremely motivational for her to prove two-thirds of you wrong.

If you’d like to mix things up in “The Hammer Vs The Monster” contest, you can do so right here:

Is Hammer MORE or LESS than 1hr Faster than Monster?
How Many Votes Do You Want to Place?

Fatty’s Fate

As the chart below shows, it looks like it’s going to be my job to race for The Hammer (which you would think would alter the stats in the “Hammer Vs Monster” contest).


Thanks to an incredibly large donation, “Be the Hammer’s Domestique” seems to be in an unassailable, insurmountable position.

I should point out, however, that even if this four-figure donation hadn’t come in, the results would still be putting me in the “Domestique for The Hammer” position. Here’s what the chart would look like if I pull out the big donation:

Fatty without big donor

So, barring a four-figure opposing donation by a generous prankster who takes pleasure both in evening the odds and in telling me what to do, it looks like I’ll be riding for The Hammer this year. I’ll have more to say about that soon. 

Meanwhile, if you likes making a difference in the world by helping great causes like NICA, and you also like the idea of telling a beloved, award-winning cycling blogger what to do, this is your chance. 

What Should Fatty Focus on at Leadville?
How Many Votes Do You Want to Place?

OK, now on with today’s story (yes, we have crossed the $2500 threshold and I can therefore release this “hostage” episode).

2016 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 13: Alliances from Enemies

The race speeds up when the sun goes down. I don’t mean that literally of course. I just mean that there are fewer interactions with other teams. You don’t see as much of the landscape around you. Unless you’re the one racing, your sense of time gets all distorted and compressed; you feel like the miles go by incredibly quickly.

Or, I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. 

In any case, it seemed like Ben’s second leg of the race just flew by. Maybe that’s because he put in a top-10 performance of the whole thing:

Screenshot 2016 07 27 10 12 43

Yep, Ben is faster than I have ever been. The numbers show it. And he was considerably faster than his counterparts in our competition: he increased our lead over the Z5R teams by fifteen minutes, and over the BatB team by just over half an hour. 

Somehow, we had built not just a lead, but a huge lead — almost an hour over Z5R teams, almost 1.5 hours over BatB — over our competition by the time we got through seven of the twelve racing legs. They were far enough in our rear-view mirror that it no longer seemed important to be watching for them.


There was, on the other hand, a team we just seemed to keep bumping into, over and over: The “Salty Dogs, 50+” Mike Nosco Memorial team. 

Yeah, the team Ben and I had been confronted with forever ago, back in leg 3 of the race. And since we’re definitely going to be hearing about this team again, here’s how the team matchup looked:

Racer #

The Fatty Family

Mike Nosco Memorial











The Hammer


At the time, we had shrugged our shoulders; things happen during races. We figured we’d never see them again. 

But then Tod from their team had chased The Hammer for fifty miles in the fourth leg, so close to her — yet unable to catch her — that he must have thought she was a mirage.

And Tom and I had worked together for almost the entirety of the fifth leg.

And then Jack and Lindsey had worked together on the descent of the sixth leg, arriving together. 

Which meant Peter and Ben would be starting together again — and once again, wound up riding together for the entire leg. 

This time, however, when they finished, Peter walked up to Ben and me and shook both our hands, giving us a smile and a nod. We smiled back.

Everything was all good. 

Who’s In Front?

With Peter and Ben arriving together, that meant Tod and The Hammer would go out together for what I consider to be the worst leg of the race. It starts at a time when you would never be riding: around 3:00am. it’s a big climb followed by a plateau and a long descent in the cold and dark. 

This time, instead of chasing The Hammer, Tod would be working with her. 

And this turned out to be a really good thing. The two of them just flew together, putting this section of the race behind them in record time.

In the case of The Hammer, I mean that quite literally: she QOM’d the whole darn thing (by about fifteen minutes over the previous QOM, by the way). 

For those of you who are keeping track: the women on our team had now been out four times. And now own the QOM for all four of those legs.

Yeah, The Fatty Family was doing OK.

As they rode along, they talked a little. The Hammer asked, “So where is the Hyperthread group?”

“Behind us, I think.”

“And how about the other guy that came in with Ben?”

“They bungled their handoff, don’t know where their rider is. Probably asleep somewhere.”

“So who is ahead of us now?” The Hammer asked.

Tod considered for a moment. Then, “You know, I don’t think anyone is.”



“So right now a woman and a fifty-plus guy are beating all the men’s competitive teams in the race?”

“Yeah, it seems like it.”

They pushed on, every other team in the Rockwell Relay somewhere behind them. 

Tom Again

We shot ahead of The Hammer and Tod well before we needed to this time, not wanting to make the mistake I had made last time. 

No, not the “almost drive the van into the ditch mistake.” The “not ready to go” mistake.

Tom was, of course, getting ready to go the same time I was. But he’s a California guy and hadn’t really had an understanding of how high we’d be going on our final leg of the race and how cold it would get.

He stood there, shivering. 

“Hey Tom, I’ve got enough cold weather gear with me for everyone in Panguitch,” I said.

We were in Panguitch at the time, so this totally made sense in context.

“You want a long-sleeve jersey or a windbreaker or something?

“No, I’m going to be OK as soon as we start,” he said. “And it won’t be long ’til it’s light.”

Both were true, but it would get colder as we went up. And we would be going up, 3600 feet or so to an altitude of 8500 feet.

The Hammer and Tod rolled across the line together. (Later, The Hammer would tell me that Tod started to drop her on the descents, but held up, saying it would be better to stay together so they could work on the flats. Tod is awesome.)

So Happy

Tom and I rolled out into the dark. I was feeling good. I love this leg of the race: the way the scenery turns from sandstone to aspen. The way it turns from night into day. The way it wakes you up with incredible climbs, then makes you feel like you’re flying on the flats and descents.

It’s everything I love about riding and racing, and I’d be starting it in the front of the race with a strong, friendly rider who was a perfect ally to our team: a good match and not competing against us.

“Hey, happy fiftieth birthday,” Tom said.

It certainly looked like it was going to be. 

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

What Should I Ride at Leadville This Year? How About I Let YOU Decide?

07.25.2016 | 1:25 pm

A Tuesday Update from Fatty: So far, the numbers have been a little…shall we say “lopsided”…as to how I should focus my efforts at Leadville:

Chart 1: How Should Fatty Ride?

This incredibly skewed result is, I should point out, thanks to a very major donation. That said, even without that major donation, the results would still be strongly favoring me being The Hammer’s domestique this year. The contest is still young, however, and this vote could still be overturned with either a major donation or many small donations.

I think it’s amazing that not a single person has voted that I should race singlespeed, for myself.

Regardless, I will abide by the result of this vote, and plan to bring both my geared and singlespeed hardtails to Leadville. And unless things change drastically, it looks like I need to choose a 34×20 gearing for my singlespeed, with an eye toward pulling The Hammer.

The Hammer Vs. Monster question is much closer:

Hammer vs Monster

Based on how readers are voting with their dollars, people believe that this mother-daughter battle is going to be close.

I’ll update again tomorrow…when I post a new episode of the Rockwell Relay Race Report. Because, yes, we’ve crossed the $2500 story-hostage threshold. Thank you!

A Note from Fatty About the Rockwell Relay Story: The Rockwell Relay Story is being held hostage. It will be released as soon as I have raised the $2500 I have promised to NICA. Read on to find out how you can help read part 13 soon. 

A Note From Fatty: I’m planning to do three fundraisers this year. Right now begins the first — for The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). I’m really excited about this one because I love what NICA stands for, and because of the very cool prizes I will be offering, and because I’ll be doing some very fun and weird things for this contest.

These fun and weird things are:

  1. I will give you the opportunity to win something based on a future event.
  2. I will give you the opportunity to make the two most critical decisions regarding how I approach the Leadville 100 for me, and I will abide by those decisions whether I want to or not.
  3. I want this fundraiser to succeed, but The Monster needs it to succeed. She’s racing the Leadville 100 in a few weeks in a charity slot for NICA. So when you donate, you’re making me happy, you’re NICA very happy, and you’re making The Monster extra double-happy.
I’ll explain all of this a little later in this post. But first, you need to read why The Monster is fundraising for NICA as she races the Leadville 100 this year. 

All or Nothing
by Melisa “The Monster” Rollins 

I am—and have always been—an “all or nothing” kind of girl. If you have been following my past year of riding and racing, you wouldn’t find this too hard to believe.

To fill those of you in who haven’t been following, I didn’t particularly start off my endurance biking career easily. In March of this year, I finished my first-ever mountain bike race, the True Grit Epic: fifty brutal miles of the most technical trails in Southern Utah.

A little later, I raced the Six Hours of Frog Hollow. Then, just over a week ago I finished my third monstrous mountain bike race, the Crusher in the Tushar [Story on that coming soonish. - FC], and am looking forward to next month where I’ll be racing the Leadville 100.

OK. I lied.

True Grit Epic was actually my second ever mountain bike race. My first was just under three years ago, when I decided to try joining and racing with my high school’s NICA mountain biking team.

The NICA race happened to be held just a few miles away from my house, and because I can’t even count on two hands the number of bikes in my garage, I figured I might be able to wrangle up a bike for an hour or so.

Though it was fun, my day ended in a massive wreck:

Three years ago

That, to be honest, is probably not a surprise for those of you who have followed my story. Things haven’t changed much:

Three months ago

IMG 2087
Three days ago

At the time, I decided that this sport would be placed in my designated “nothing” category.

For the time being, my “all” would go elsewhere.

My All

During high school, almost the entirety of my identity revolved around playing soccer. If there wasn’t a ball glued to my feet, it could have only meant one of two things: the administrators at school had taken it away for disrupting the hallways, or both of my legs were broken [Her legs were never actually broken; she’s just being dramatic. - FC].

While friends were out enjoying their teenage years on Friday nights, I was down at the park practicing until my feet blistered.

Timpanogos High School is known for two things: its 95% pass rate on the country-wide AP Calculus test, and its high number of soccer girls whose hands are decorated wit state rings.

Desiring to be a part of this crowd, I ramped up my practicing, and made it my number one goal to be a part of this team. This meant two-a-day practicing for the entirety of the summer, and the best fitness I had ever had. Because of this, it wasn’t much of a surprise that I ended up making the team, but the number of minutes I spent on the field during games might shock you.

This number was zero.

No, I did not bust an ankle or a knee or a collarbone. I just simply “wasn’t good enough” to be put in the game.

And back then I just took this message from my coach without a second thought. I didn’t obsess over the fact that I was putting in twice the amount of time as any other girl on the team; in fact, it made me work harder.

Only now—after placing my dedication into a different sport—do I realize how wrong this was.

Only now am I really appreciating that there has been an organization all along that encourages people to participate no matter what their level. One that includes everyone in the competitions, and where everyone can feel like they contribute to the team’s success.

This organization is NICA, and this sport is mountain biking.

No One Gets Left Behind

I only participated in one NICA race, and every one of the coaches knew my name and cheered me on at the end of the event. Not once did they tell me— or anyone— that they weren’t good enough to participate in the race; they did not punish hard work with time outs.

And this matters. I love NICA’s “no one gets left behind” philosophy and it makes me really happy to see them succeed.

NICA people are good people—and their numbers are growing quickly—but because they are a non-profit, they are having a hard time keeping up.

That’s why this year when I go to Leadville, I’m going to be racing on behalf of NICA. I am also going to be fundraising for them.

And that’s where I need your help.

[And it’s also where I — Fatty — step back into the picture.]

The Contest

Since this contest is happening right before my annual biggest race of the year — The Leadville 100 — and is what The Monster is fundraising for in order to gain entry into the race, I wanted to center the fundraising / contest question around two questions that are the absolute dead center of most of the conversations we are having at my house.

In just a moment, I’ll talk about those questions and how you can help settle them — predictively in one case, and definitively in the other — for us while doing a lot of good for an organization that is making a tremendous difference to a lot of kids in the US.

But first, let’s talk about the prizes you can win by participating.

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Grand Prize 1:Ultimate Cycling Wardrobe from DNA Cycling

I don’t even know how to describe what a huge fan of DNA Cycling I’ve become. The quality of pretty much everything they make just blows me away.

And for the first grand prize I’m giving away, the CEO of DNA, Joe Sepulveda, is going to give you a call, talk with you about what kind of riding you like to do, where you ride, how you like your gear to fit, get your measurements, and then personally set you up with all the cycling clothes you could possibly need for the kind of riding you do.

Jerseys, socks, shorts, jackets, vests, bibs, knickers, gloves, everything you need for a complete, beautiful cycling wardrobe. 

You’ll note that I’m not getting super specific about exactly what this gear entails. That’s because the ultimate cycling wardrobe would be different for a mountain biker than for a roadie. It would be different for a man than a woman. It would be different for someone who lives in Florida than for someone who lives in Alaska.

But I will tell you this: Joe’s going to open up his candy shop, and you are going to get all the gear you need for the kind of riding you do in the place where you live.

Imagine: a prize that is literally crafted for you. How awesome would that be?

Well, someone will find out.

IMG 4746

Grand Prize 2: A Year’s Supply of GU Energy Gel / Roctane

One of the important reasons The Monster is doing so well in this, her first year of racing, is that she’s a serious student. When The Hammer and I give her guidance on endurance racing, she listens and takes us seriously. As a result, she’s managed to leap over a lot of rookie endurance racing mistakes.

In particular, she’s wholeheartedly adopted our race nutrition strategy: A GU energy gel  or GU Roctane energy gel, every half hour. 

Here in the Fatty Family, we’re all very sold on how GU works. And some lucky winner is going to find out for themselves, by getting a committed cyclist’s year’s supply (12 boxes, with 24 gels per box)  of GU / GU Roctane energy gel.


And I will be happy to even provide suggestions on which twelve flavors to get, because I recently ordered twelve boxes of GU / GU Roctane for my own family (of course, for three actively racing cyclists, this won’t last close to a year):

  • Cherry Lime Roctane: This, would be an amazing sherbet flavor and is my second-favorite GU flavor of all time. I love the little punch of tartness the lime gives it.
  • Salted Watermelon: This is The Hammer’s favorite flavor of all time, and my fourth-favorite flavor. Salty is good, and these taste a lot like Jolly Rancher Watermelon candies.
  • Chocolate Coconut Roctane: This is incredible: it tastes just like a Mounds bar. Just like it. It’s the most candy-like flavor of all the GUs. It’s my third-favorite flavor of all time.
  • Cucumber Mint: I was amazed to find that I really love this. It’s mild, it’s different, it’s refreshing. It’s not on my top-five list, but it’s definitely going in a jersey pocket anytime I’m on a four-plus hour ride and at some point am going to need a gel that tastes clean and minty and refreshing.
  • Strawberry-Kiwi Roctane: A classic. 
  • Pineapple Roctane and Lemonade Roctane: I’m always so happy when I pull a yellow GU out of my pocket during a ride, because I know it’s going to be either Pineapple Roctane or Lemonade Roctane. And both are tied for being my fifth-favorite GU flavor. 
  • Sea-Salt Chocolate Roctane and Caramel Macchiato: I am not sure why, but these are my absolute favorite GU flavors when the weather’s cool (below 70 degrees), but I don’t really go for them when the weather’s hot (85+ degrees). I’ve asked other people about this, though, and I’m pretty certain this is a “it’s just me” kind of thing.
  • Big Apple: It’s tart and delicious and perfect. 
  • Vanilla Orange: This is The Hammer’s favorite flavor of all time and is probably my sixth-favorite flavor. Either way, it’s a creamsicle, and there’s nothing bad in the world about it.

Strangely, my favorite GU flavor in the world — Root Beer — is being discontinued, and so is not on this list. But since I still have Cherry Lime, Salted Watermelon, Chocolate Coconut and Cucumber Mint, I’m not too broken up.

The value of this prize? $720.00. That’s a lot of gel, and is guaranteed to be the most useful prize you ever win.


4 First Prizes: GU Stroopwafels

GU has just started shipping GU Energy Stroopwafels, and they are so good (as an important member of the press, I got some before they were released to the public). They come in four fantastic flavors: Caramel Coffee, Salty’s Caramel, Wild Berries, and Salted Chocolate.

These are just amazing — the best thing to eat when you’ve just killed yourself on a big climb, need some calories, and want to reward yourself for the effort with something truly delicious. 

Plus they stay nice and flat in your jersey pocket, helping your figure stay all nice and bulgeless.

Four lucky winners will win a box (16 Stroopwafels per box) of Stroopwafels, in the flavor of your choice.

So if I have done my math correctly — and I have — that’s six extremely awesome prizes you can win in this contest.

And you don’t even know how the contest works yet. So let’s correct this problem right now. And then you can get out your Paypal password (or wallet or whatever) and hopefully win one of those fabulous prizes.

Contest Question 1: What Should Fatty’s Goal At Leadville Be This Year? 

At the end of my race last year — my fastest ever, with a finish time of 8:12 — I vowed to try to finish in 2016 in under eight hours

As I get close to race day, I know that’s unlikely to happen. I’ve needed to emphasize other things: job hunting, interviewing, getting settled in my new employment, and a new constant companion — a chronically painful hernia.

So for me, this year I’m just grateful to TrainerRoad that I’m in any shape at all. That in spite of all this, I am in good enough shape that I can still race.

But the sub-eight-hour dream is out the window for this year. 

Which leaves me in an interesting quandary: what should be my objective in the Leadville 100 this year? I can think of three good possibilities, all of which sound interesting, and could give me a great sense of satisfaction at the end of the race. 

  • Race it as originally planned. I have a beautiful geared hardtail — a Felt Nine FRD frame built up with Enve M 50-Fifty wheels, a Rock Shox RS-1, and a SRAM XX1 drivetrain. It is, I believe, the best no-compromise XC racing hardtail a person could own for the Leadville 100. And I could race it with all my legs, lungs and heart to see if, even in my not-so-great shape, I can still finish in under nine hours. I think maybe I could.
  • Race singlespeed. I love riding and racing singlespeed. And now my lightest, fastest singlespeed — my Stumpjumper singlespeed — has been upgraded with an RS-1 fork (can you tell I’m sold on the RS-1?), making me faster on the downhills than I’ve ever been. Could I win this category again? That of course depends on who else shows up. But I could at least make an attempt at the podium.
  • Be The Hammer’s Domestique. The Hammer is the Leadville 100 women’s singlespeed record holder with a time of 9:50. This year, she hopes to set a new PR, which (unless there’s someone else faster than she is) would also be a new women’s SS record. And if I committed to riding with her, encouraging her and giving her a draft when I could, I think make a difference in her finish time. With my help, I think she could do it in under 9:30, to be honest. And also, we’d be adorable racing our matching singlespeeds.

Which will I do? Well, that will be up to you. How? By voting, of course. Specifically, by voting with your dollars

How? Simple. Below, just specify which you think I should do: race with gears, race singlespeed, or race for The Hammer. Then choose how much you’re willing to donate. The more you donate, the more votes you get (and as you’ll notice, the more you donate, the cheaper each vote is).

And here’s the thing: I hereby commit that, provided we fundraise at least $2500 for NICA here, I will abide by the results and will do as is specified here. As in, I will treat this vote as binding.

OK, let’s do it: 

What Should Fatty Focus on at Leadville?
How Many Votes Do You Want to Place?

Question 2: How Close Will The Hammer’s and Monster’s Finishing Times Be?

There’s a friendly ongoing discussion at our house: how fast is The Monster? She’s  been riding in earnest for less than a year, but has done ridiculously well at each of these races.

  • In her first race (True Grit Epic), The Monster finished just a few minutes behind The Hammer.
  • In her second race (6 Hours of Frog Hollow), The Monster finished ahead of The Hammer.
  • In her third race (Crusher in the Tushar), The Monster finished about an hour behind The Hammer.

Of course, The Hammer is The Hammer, and has not just years of base fitness, but also race savvy and endurance. So I personally think that The Hammer will finish right at an hour faster than The Monster (9:30 vs 10:30).

The Hammer thinks she’ll finish a little further ahead. The Monster thinks they’ll be closer than that.

I’d like you to settle this dispute, by voting below (as with the other contest, the more you donate, the more your vote is worth): do you think The Hammer will be at least an hour faster than The Monster, or will The Monster be less than an hour slower than The Hammer? 

Honestly, I can imagine it going either way. Let’s see how the voting goes…and then we’ll test that whole “wisdom of crowds” thing after the race.

Is Hammer MORE or LESS than 1hr Faster than Monster?
How Many Votes Do You Want to Place?

How Prizes Are Drawn

For every vote you buy, you’ll also get a chance on my magically random spreadsheet. It’s that simple. Then, once this fundraiser is complete, we’ll do random drawings for the total number of chances/votes. No matter which contests you vote in or how you vote, you’ll be eligible to win in all of the prizes.

So: while the voting part is fun, it’s all to help NICA, and no matter what you’ll still have a chance to win. And I will email you when the contest ends, which will be August 8, the first day I’m in Leadville this year.

Updates Soon, and Frequently

I suspect that people will be interested in how the vote is going, long before the results are final. And that’s cool. I will do updates on where the results stand at least once a day, and more often than that when results change dramatically. 

Oh, and finally: yes, I was serious about holding my Rockwell Race Report hostage ’til we hit the $2500 mark. 

Hey, I’ve got to use the leverage I’ve got, right?

Thanks for your donation!

2016 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 12: Lessons to Learn

07.21.2016 | 3:23 pm

I haven’t talked about the Tour de France much this year. OK, I haven’t talked about it at all (and don’t worry, I’m not about to spoil anything for those of you who — like me — watch it later in the evening, not live).

But I am watching. And as I watch, I’m struck by how effective it is for teams like Sky to work together in a group, going much faster together than they would alone. 

And as I watch, I find myself thinking, “That’s the way to race. Working together in a paceline is the way to win.” 

The problem with this perspective, however, is that it’s wrong.

The Hammer’s Predictions

“Now, hold on for just a second,” I hear you thinking. “You’ve said yourself how much faster it is to draft than to ride solo. Why are you now saying it’s not?”

“Well,” I respond, clearly enjoying this strawman argument I’ve just set you up as making, “I’m not saying that drafting doesn’t work. Obviously it does work, and many episodes of this race report have shown that it works really well.”

“What doesn’t work,” I smugly continue, “is throwing four groups of three people together and expecting them to be able to work together in any meaningful manner.”

That,” I conclude, “is why Team Z5R lost to us this year.”

What I don’t say is that we were pretty confident that Z5R wouldn’t beat us before the race even started


Because The Hammer had done her homework, that’s why — just like Teams Z5R and BatB had each done their homework on us.

The Hammer predicted three strategic Achilles’ heels for the Z5R trio of teams.

  1. They were logistically ungainly. They had essentially committed three teams to riding together, which would be faster when everyone was doing well. However, unlike in a pro race where some racers in the team always get shed as they have mechanicals or get tired from doing domestique work, the three Z5R teams would have to stay together no matter what, due to the fact that they had a limited number of support vehicles. Essentially, they were constrained to going the speed (including going nowhere) of their slowest rider of the bunch at any given moment, for 500+ miles.
  2. Their superstar women would cancel each other out. Marci is crazy-fast in the climbs. Mary is crazy-fast on the flats. Obviously, Marci should have been racing as Racer 1 (the legs with the most climbing), and Mary should have been Racer 3 (the Time Trialist’s leg). But they were both racing leg 1, which meant that Marci would have to hold up for Mary in the climbs, and Mary would have to hold up for Marci on the flat sections. Alone, Marci could have crushed me this year. The Hammer assured me, however, that I would be able to beat the Marci/Mary (and Billy as it turned out) combo every single leg. She was right.
  3. Pacelines need practice. The Hammer and I ride together about six times per week. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. When we ride together, we don’t even need to talk about how our turns pulling should work. But the Z5R teams were a combination of Utah and Texas riders, many with no experience working together at all. 
  4. Altitude matters. Since many of the Z5R racers were visiting from Texas, they wouldn’t be ready for some of the high-altitude hijinx that awaited them. There was no way they were going to just be able to fly up Boulder Mountain with no Oxygen-deprivation penalty, for example.
The Fatty Family Strategy

Why am I choosing this moment — eleven installments into the story — to lay out the Opposition Research we did on Z5R? Well, you’ll see in a minute. 

But as long as I’m on the topic of race tactics, here’s what ours was, in all its glory:

Look for opportunities to establish temporary race alliances.

Yep, that’s all there was to it. But the simplicity belies some understanding that comes from having done this race a few times. Specifically, since we were one of very few coed teams, we weren’t really racing against most of the fast teams surrounding us we were no threat to the competitive mens’ teams in the field.

So it cost them nothing to have us work with them.

And just as importantly, since our alliances were informal, there was nothing to hold them to us (or vice versa): when a paceline was no longer mutually beneficial, we could (and did) split off. No hard feelings (except once, and I promise you there is more to that story, which we will get to).

If Z5R had re-ordered their teams and adopted an agile strategy like ours, I truly believe at least one of those teams would have won the coed division of this race. 

So yes, let the record show that I am boasting: The Fatty Family beat Z5R this year on strategy as much as (or more than) we did with legs and lungs.

And now, with the promise that this ties into the part of the actual race story I have to tell today, let’s get on with Lindsey’s Boulder Mountain leg of the race.

Can’t Hardly Wait

Night had fallen during my leg of the race, so Lindsey took off into the dark. “I want you to wait here ‘til the other teams (meaning Z5R and BatB) come in,” she said. “I want splits on how much time I have.”

Dutifully, we waited, and — astonishingly — the Z5R racers and the BatB racer arrived within two minutes of each other. They were now each other’s competition.

We, on the other hand, were pulling away, with a 25 – 27 minute lead, five legs into the race.


Lindsey was well into her riding groove by the time we caught up to her and told her about the lead she was starting with.

At the moment, she was riding alone. And she would continue to ride alone for the duration of this twenty-five-mile, 2800-feet-of-climbing section of her leg of the race.

Why was she riding alone? Simple: nobody could hang with her. Lindsey QOM’d this section of the leg of the race, beating out Marci’s QOM time from last year. And — as I’ve mentioned — Marci is no slouch of a climber. And also, last year Marci had Billy working for her to get her that time.

Lindsey did it solo. (By way of comparison, I consider myself a fair climber, and Lindsey beat my best time to the summit by about three minutes.)

By the time she got to the top, Jack Nosco — Tom’s teammate from the Mike Nosco Memorial Team — had managed to catch up to her, and the two of them bombed down together, and Lindsey QOM’d the down side of this leg, too.

So just to be clear here: the women on The Fatty Family had ridden three legs of this race so far…and had QOM’d all three of those legs.

This had a few practical effects.

  1. Lindsey increased our lead over the Z5R teams to thirty-three minutes.
  2. Lindsey increased our lead over BatB to fifty-six minutes.
  3. Lindsey got down the mountain so fast that — even though we left her to her own devices right from the top of the mountain and got to the transition as fast as we could — Ben still wasn’t ready to go when Lindsey pulled in, resulting in her shouting his name into the darkness for two or three minutes.

So, so far: the Fatty Family had two slow exchanges, both of which were due to the men not being ready to go when their wives  arrived.

Which kind of pokes holes into a number of gender stereotypes, if you ask me.

How Not to Congratulate Your Competition

You know that feeling you get when you just know you knocked something out of the park? When you put everything into an effort and it just really paid off?

It’s intoxicating, isn’t it? It leaves you feeling amazing.

That’s how Lindsey felt and looked as we packed her bike up and got ready to go.

During which time, one of the racers from team Z5R came up to us and began explaining to us why they were losing to us. One of their racers had a couple flat tires. A racer had just been diagnosed with mono. A racer had food poisoning. A racer had an asthma attack. A racer had a back problem. 

That’s a lot of reasons, none of which were “you guys are really racing well.”

Were the Z5R teams were just collectively having a horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad day? Or is that just the law of probabilities at work? Which is to say, the more people you have in a group of riders, the greater the likelihood that you’re going to have physical and mechanical problems.

Consider this : I could have replied with things The Fatty Family was currently coping with. One of us had a hernia. One of us had hemorrhoids. One of us was dealing with a super-fun part of a menstrual cycle. One of us hadn’t trained as much as we’d like this year, thanks to job hunting and financial stress. One of us was pretty stressed out about the idea of telling his friend that he had nearly killed that friend’s van.

Worst of all, one of us had turned fifty three minutes ago, and nobody had sung “Happy Birthday” to him yet.

My point is, everyone has stuff going on in their lives. And in a big race, you’re likely to have that stuff compound with other stuff. But don’t tell your competition that’s why they’re beating you. That trivializes their effort, as if they don’t also have stuff going on in their lives but are managing to clean your clock anyway.

They’re beating you, in short, because they made some good race strategy decisions, and they’re faster.

And most importantly: I think we can definitively say that we win the “awkward to talk about in polite company” contest.

The Practical Result

Here’s an interesting fact I’ve observed as being the husband to one very competitive woman cyclist, the father of another, and the uncle of a third:

They tend to be fierce.

Which is to say, as we drove, The Hammer and Lindsey had a fairly engaged conversation over the relative merits of of Z5R’s troubles versus ours, and their race placement relative to ours. It was so engaged, in fact, that I momentarily forgot that my hernia was killing me and sometime soon I was going to need to tell Cory about what I had almost done to his van.

By the time we caught up to Ben, I was pretty sure Z5R would never see us on the course again. Not if racer intensity had anything to do with it.

And that’s where we’ll pick up in the next episode. 

The New FatCyclist Gear: Order Now

07.19.2016 | 11:48 am

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A Note from Fatty: My Rockwell Relay report will resume on Thursday. 

I’m incredibly excited to show off, start selling, and — this is especially awesome — start shipping immediately — the new Fat Cyclist gear. I’m doing things a lot differently than I ever have this time. Here’s how and why:

  • Smaller quantities: I really don’t want to beg my readers to buy stuff from me. I’d much rather make too few of things than have to do a big ol’ fire sale later. 
  • Different look for men and women’s gear: You’ll notice the men’s and women’s designs are completely and utterly different this time. This has allowed me to not have design compromises for either, and has resulted in the two best-looking designs I’ve ever had.
  • Available now: This stuff is in (mostly) in-stock. If you order today, we’ll ship tomorrow. However, the women’s gear has turned out to be a lot more popular than I expected, and I’ve re-ordered more. So depending on the size you order and when you order, you may need to wait to get your gear ’til August, in which case your order will say so.

A Few Notes About Questions, Shipping Costs and Availability

  • If You Have Questions About Sizing or Shipping or Whatever: Please email ryan@dnacycling.cc
  • Shipping is a flat fee of $5.95 within the US; $25.00 outside the US. 
  • For Men’s Gear: we will ship immediately. 
  • For Women’s Gear, we will ship immediately for in-stock items, but will ship in August for items noted as (August). If any items in an order are noted for August delivery, all your items will ship in August.

Fat Cyclist Black Gray Jersey

Men’s Century Jersey

This is, without question, the second-best-looking Fat Cyclist jersey ever made (many women have let me know that the women’s jersey is better-looking), and it’s also the absolutely best-made, best-fitting one. It’s a light, comfortable material, which breathes nicely but is not a pure race-cut mesh, which means you can wear it from Spring clear into Autumn.

This is DNA’s “Century” cut, which means it’s a little looser-fitting than the race cut. For those of you who are comparing to recent Twin Six sizing, this means DNA Century cut fits a little looser than the equivalent Twin Six pattern. More to the point, I fit fine in a Medium DNA Century jersey, but need to wear Large in Twin Six.

This is going to be your very favorite jersey, and it’s the one I’ll be wearing at the Leadville 100, as well as on most every training ride.

Fat Cyclist Black Gray Jersey back


  • Fabric: Hydro Fit
  • Respire Moisture Management
  • Ergo Stretch Performance
  • Front Comfort Banding
  • Full Hidden Zip
  • 3 Full Back Pockets
  • Audio Port
  • Relaxed Fit
  • Made in Italy

Want to Complete the Kit?

Fat Cyclist Black Gray Race Bibs

Men’s Race Bib Shorts

Until I tried out DNA bib shorts, I was a Rapha bibs guy. Sure they’re expensive, but the fit and high-quality chamois were worth the spend. Here’s the thing, though: I haven’t bought any Rapha bibs lately, because I no longer need to.

These Race Bib Shorts are that good.

They’re incredibly comfortable, they’re absurdly light, and the chamois is simply outrageous. Honestly, at less than half the price of an equivalent pair of Rapha bibs, these are every bit as good. And of course, they go with the new Fat Cyclist jersey a whole lot better.

A Note About Sizing: These fit approximately the same as your old Twin Six shorts (but are about twice as good, to be totally honest, and the chamois isn’t even comparable).


  • Fabric: Performance Lycra With Miti Shield Endurance
  • 4 Cm Compression Banding
  • Smart Panel Design
  • Ergo Body Positioning
  • Suspension Braces
  • DNA HD Ergo, 3 + Hr Chamois
  • Made in italy


Men’s Asolo Bib Shorts

OK, I want to be completely honest: these are plain black bib shorts. No big Fat Cyclist logo, no bright colors. Just — quite simply — the best deal in top-of-the-line bib shorts you’re ever going to get.

For one thing, these bibs go with every jersey you own, not just with the new Fat Cyclist jersey (although these bibs definitely go with the Fat Cyclist jersey).

More importantly, these bibs are just off-the-charts good. Incredible chamois, beautiful, comfortable material and fit. And of course, made in Italy.

Even if you get a pair of the Fat Cyclist bibs, you should probably get yourself a pair of the Asolo bibs for the days you don’t wear the Fat Cyclist jersey.


  • Fabric: Compression Power Base Lycra
  • Anatomic Cut and Pattern
  • 5 cm Compression Banding
  • Integrated Suspension Braces
  • Cytech Multi D Comp Carbonia 5 + HR Chamois


Striped Performance Socks

These are bold socks, and not everyone is going to have the confidence to wear them. If you just can’t make yourself do it, that’s OK. You could wear the Blue Summer Sock or the Yellow Summer sock (or one of each, which is my preference) and still look great.

But if you’re remotely daring, I will tell you this: the striped socks look awesome with the Fat Cyclist Men’s shorts and jersey.


  • Double Welt Top for Comfort and Fit
  • Arch Support Reduces Foot Fatigue and Increases Circulation
  • Smooth Toe-Seam Adds Comfort
  • Mesh Instep Aids in Breathability
  • 88% Poly / 8% Nylon / 2% Elastic / 2% Lycra 


Blue Summer Sock and Yellow Summer Sock

These Socks go amazingly well with the Men’s Fat Cyclist kit, but they go even better if you wear one blue one and one yellow one at the same time. Sure, that means you’ll have to buy two pairs of socks, but you know you’re going to lose one sock before too long anyway. By buying a pair of Blue socks and a pair of Yellow socks, you’ll get to watch with interest to find out whether in the end you lose both of one color first, or one of each. Exciting!



  • Double Welt Top for Comfort and Fit
  • Arch Support Reduces Foot Fatigue and Increases Circulation
  • Smooth Toe-Seam Adds Comfort
  • Mesh Instep Aids in Breathability
  • 88% Poly / 8% Nylon / 2% Elastic / 2% Lycra

Fat Cyclist Blue Wns Jersey

Women’s Century Jersey

Every cycling woman (my wife, my daughters, my sister, my niece, friends) I know tells me this is the best-looking Fat Cyclist jersey ever made, and it’s also the absolutely best-made, best-fitting one. It’s a light, comfortable material, which breathes nicely but is not a pure race-cut mesh, which means you can wear it from Spring clear into Autumn.

This is DNA’s “Century” cut, which means it’s a little looser-fitting than the race cut. For those of you who are comparing to recent Twin Six sizing, this means DNA Century cut fits a little looser than the equivalent Twin Six pattern. More to the point, I fit fine in a Medium DNA Century jersey, but need to wear Large in Twin Six.

Fat Cyclist Blue Wns Jersey back

This is going to be your very favorite jersey, and it’s the one The Hammer and, the Monster are wearing at the Leadville 100, as well as on most every training ride.


  • Fabric: Hydro Fit
  • Respire Moisture Management
  • Ergo Stretch Performance
  • Front Comfort Banding
  • Full Hidden Zip
  • 3 Full Back Pockets
  • Audio Port
  • Relaxed Fit

Want to Complete the Kit?

Fat Cyclist Blue Wns Race Shorts front

Women’s Race Shorts

These shorts look great — I mean, just look at them — but they’re more than just great-looking. The Hammer tells me that these shorts don’t bind at the waist, the chamois is super-comfortable, and of course it’s a lot easier to take care of peeing than it is with a pair of bibs.

Also, The Hammer would like me to let you know that she wear a Small (while she normally would wear a Medium), because she has no butt. This is worth pointing out, I guess, because The Monster wears a Medium…because evidently she still has a butt. You have no idea how uncomfortable I am talking about my wife and daughter’s butts.


  • Fabric: Performance Lycra with Miti Shield Endurance
  • 4 Cm Compression Banding
  • Yoga Waist Banding
  • Smart Panel Design
  • Ergo Body Positioning
  • DNA Ladies HD Ergo, 3 + HR Chamois

Want to Complete the Kit?


Polka Dot Sock

The Women’s Fat Cyclist kit is bold, blue and beautiful…and these socks bring that look to a whole new level. I know, you didn’t even know there is another level. There is another level, though, and you’ll almost certainly reach it by getting these socks.


  • Double Welt Top for Comfort and Fit
  • Arch Support Reduces Foot Fatigue and Increases Circulation
  • Smooth Toe-Seam Adds Comfort
  • Mesh Instep Aids in Breathability
  • 88% Poly / 8% Nylon / 2% Elastic / 2% Lycra

And now, just some photos of my family, friends, and me wearing the new gear:

IMG 0001
The Hammer and me on Mt. Nebo, wearing the (not for sale) race-cut version of the men’s jersey and Asolo shorts

IMG 0024
Annnd…the view from the rear.

IMG 0045
Ben, on the attack.

IMG 0524
Lindsey and The Hammer, post-Crusher.

IMG 0537
The Hammer runs alongside The Monster at the Crusher finish line. Note: Froome totally copied The Hammer, who started the whole “running to the finish line in biking shoes” trend.

IMG 0542
Almost there!

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