2016 LT100MTB Race Report, Part 1: Panic at the Get-Go

08.16.2016 | 9:51 am

If this race report is going to be fewer than fifty installments, I have to leave some things out. I just have to. And that’s too bad, because this morning I got an email from my friend Rohit, where he listed some of his favorite moments from before the race:

  • The Ted King vs Fatty “buckle off”
  • Witnessing a pro cyclist in remission (Ted again) eat four brats (no buns, though) and drink five beers, two days before the race
  • Getting into a doping debate with Fatty and Hottie on the front lawn of the house
  • Hearing Fatty’s imitation of Floyd Landis scolding a hobo
  • Learning a little about how Katie Bolling turned a passion into a career
  • Watching how much Chris and Shon can eat and still look like they have 2% body fat
  • Witnessing the pre-race Fatty and Hammer stress-out
  • Having a mere three-minute walk to the starting line

Rohit is right. I could — and who know, very well may — write a blog post about every single one of the moments Rohit bulleted out here. Every one of them could make a great stand-alone story. 

But right now, I want to talk about the race itself. Or at least, the starting line.

Wrong Side of the Tracks

In the Leadville 100 race, color matters. A lot. Specifically, the color of the number on your race plate — earned either by your finish time a previous year or your finish time at a qualifying race — specifies where in the starting line (which is multiple city blocks long) you get to start your race.

My 8:12 finish in Leadville last year qualified me to be in the “silver” starting corral, right behind the pros and rocket-fast guys in the gold corral.

But that would have separated me by dozens of yards from The Hammer right from the beginning of the race (her 9:08 finish last year put her in the green corral, two corrals back from silver), and one of my critical jobs — as her domestique — was to give her a clear path right from the line.

So, when we had done packet pickup two days earlier, I had asked the race organizers to make two changes to my status:

  1. Change my registration to singlespeed
  2. Put me in the green corral

They were happy to do both those things (though they gave me a categorical “no” when I first asked them to instead move The Hammer up to the silver corral with me). 

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That little green sticker on my race plate became my passport to ride with my wife right from the gun. 

As we arrived at the starting line area, however, we had a couple of surprises waiting for us. First, the green corral was further back than we had expected, across the street from the starting line arch.

Second, the green corral was jam-packed, and there was no way we could get in. In fact, it was overflowing, with people lined up outside the corral — just hoping to wiggle our way into the corral once they dropped the barriers and more of us could flow in as we filled up the space in the street kept free of racers until the last few minutes before the race.

The Hammer’s Turn

We got into a place outside the corral, figuring that one way or another, we’d get across the starting line once the race began. Our friend Al Iverson — a honcho with Life Time who was starting for his tenth race — was doing the same thing, so we figured this was the best option any of us had.

“I need to go use the bathroom one last time before the race begins,” The Hammer told me.

This, of course, was part of the plan, and one of the really nice things about starting together. I’d watch her bike and hold her place while she found a porta-potty, and then she’d do the same for me.

She took off to take care of her business, and I stood there, holding up two bikes and talking with Al. Happy to have a friend to chat with.

Separation Anxiety

And then the barriers dropped, and everyone surged forward. Including me and the two bikes I was walking. Swept up with the tide.

Somewhere, a couple of blocks away, I thought, The Hammer is in a porta-potty, and when she comes back, she isn’t going to know where I am…or where her bike is, for that matter

“Five minutes ’til start!” the announcer boomed.

I worked my way over to the left side of the corral as best as I could, figuring The Hammer would be coming back on that side. 

Be cool, Fatty, I told myself. Worst-case scenario, she’ll find you after the gun goes off and sees you all alone in the corral, holding a couple of bikes.

If I hadn’t been so cold — it was thirty-six degrees out, the coldest start in years — I might have laughed. I actually have a recurring dream not too dissimilar from what was happening right at that moment.


In the end, it was the cold that helped The Hammer find me. You see, for the past few years I’ve worn a thrift-store faux-fleece coat to the starting line, as shown in this photo from last year’s report:


Thanks to this coat, The Hammer was able to spot and rejoin me.

What a relief.

“Do you need to go use the restroom?” The Hammer asked.

“No time, the race starts in just a few minutes,” I said. And also, I didn’t really need to go anymore. Really, that “pee before racing” thing is 97% nerves.

I then broke open and ate a Bonk Breaker Almond Butter and Honey bar — my current favorite pre-race thing to eat: they’re delicious, moist (so they’re easy to get down even when you have pre-race cottonmouth), quite small, and have 200+ calories, helping you stay on top of your calorie count right from the gun.

And also, I’d be eating nothing but GU Roctane gels (and drinking 2/3-strength CR333, swapping between Grape and Lemonade flavors) for the next 103.5 miles, so it was nice to actually eat something I could chew.

I looked around, didn’t see anyone else eating. Too bad for them, it’s a valuable, practical, and easy way to push off the inevitable calorie deficit this kind of race brings.

I took off my faux-fleece coat and threw it over the corral fence. (Yes, it found its way back to me after the race.)

Then thought about it and decided to get rid of the vest, too. I knew I’d be cold for the upcoming few minutes of pavement, but I also knew I’d warm right up as we hit the St. Kevin’s climb.

St. Kevin’s, which both The Hammer and I had cause to fear. (I’ll explain why in the next installment of this story.)

It was getting light.

A photographer captured a shot of The Hammer, staring at the race clock, behind these two guys who had moved in front of me when I slow-walked our bikes in the corral and searched frantically for The Hammer:

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I love this picture particularly because The Hammer’s expression looks exactly like everyone feels. Look:


It doesn’t matter how many times you do this race. On the starting line, the anxiety is intense

The Hammer finally tossed away the thrift-store sweatshirt she was wearing, though she kept the vest on. It made sense for her to keep an extra layer; she doesn’t have the subcutaneous layer of insulating blubber I have. 

The national anthem. The countdown. The shotgun blast. My twentieth start in the Leadville 100.

I have so much experience with this race. But I’ve never partnered with another racer before, and I was about to find out: I still have a lot to learn.

Which seems like a good place to pick up in the next installment.


  1. Comment by Jim Tolar | 08.16.2016 | 10:00 am

    First, “Part 2″!?!?! It made me worry that I’d missed “Part 1″.
    Second, why does The Hammer look like a deer in the headlights? If anything, everyone *else* should have that look about her. :-)
    Third, we’ve set the date for the 2016 100 Miles to Nowhere (Dobson Ranch Edition) if any of the Fatty Family is going to be in Phoenix… come join us! (https://www.facebook.com/notes/100milestonowhere-dobson-ranch-edition/2016-100-miles-to-nowhere-dobson-ranch-edition-save-the-date/1220425767990050)


  2. Comment by Welnic | 08.16.2016 | 10:30 am

    Where’s part 1?

  3. Comment by Anonymous | 08.16.2016 | 10:33 am

    JimT, I too ‘freaked’. Missed Part ‘0′ and now ‘Part 2′, must be an Irish way of numbering.

    @Rohit, you’ve done an admirable start on a few of the amazing story lines from Camp Fatty.

  4. Comment by leroy | 08.16.2016 | 10:39 am

    Part 2 already?

    Mr. FC is clearly following a variant of the counting instructions for Monty Python’s Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

  5. Comment by Corrine | 08.16.2016 | 10:53 am

    I think this is one of the few pictures of the Hammer where she isn’t smiling. She looks very anxious and intense. Doesn’t she know that Fatty is going to be her domestique? Or is the cause of the anxiety? Love Leadville race reports. I hope you do a post on every one of Rohit’s thoughts.
    I too was confused about this being part 2 already.

    If you look at the URL for this post, you’ll see that when I was drafting it I called it part 1. My problem is that after I posted it, I thought to myself, “Wait, this is my second Leadville post” and renamed it. Now if I were to go change it back to part 1, it would make all the “where’s part 1?” comments confusing, so I think I’ll just leave it as-is. – FC

  6. Comment by Tom in Albany | 08.16.2016 | 11:13 am

    I’m cool with the Part 2. Part 0 always seemed non-existent.

  7. Comment by ScottR | 08.16.2016 | 1:17 pm

    Have we defined who ‘Hottie’ is? If it was in the podcast with Ted I must have missed it.


  8. Comment by Brian in VA | 08.16.2016 | 1:48 pm

    Another Leadville! Oh boy! I love these race reports.

  9. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 08.16.2016 | 2:20 pm

    Pretty sure that “Hottie” is Michael Hotten, the “GC rider of the Paceline podcast.” Or, maybe it’s a new Nelson family member …

    Yep, Hottie is Michael Hotten’s (of Red Kite Prayer and the Paceline) nickname. – FC

  10. Comment by rb | 08.16.2016 | 6:27 pm

    I am sooooo envious of that faux fleece.

  11. Comment by Spandex King | 08.17.2016 | 7:24 am

    Love the jacket. lol

  12. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 08.17.2016 | 7:47 am

    Since even the good tech fleeces don’t come from sheep, wouldn’t Fatty’s be a faux faux fleece?

  13. Comment by GenghisKhan | 08.17.2016 | 8:58 am

    “Panic at the Get Go”? Is that title an homage to “Panic! At the Disco”?

    Yes! – FC

  14. Comment by owen | 08.17.2016 | 9:54 am

    gearing for you both?? or maybe that is already planned for later installments.

    I will be mentioning our gearing in later installments, but it’s not part of any kind of surprise or plot point, so I’m happy to put it hear as well:

    The Hammer: 32 x 20
    Fatty: 34 x 19

    - FC

  15. Comment by Tom in Albany | 08.17.2016 | 10:47 am

    Exactly what I think, @Jeff Dieffenbach.

  16. Comment by Doug (Way Upstate NY) | 08.18.2016 | 2:15 pm

    Wait a minute. What happened to Episode 2? I came looking for Episode 3 and then found out that Episode 2 was gone! :)

    I think I’ll rename every installment every time I write a new one. – FC


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