2016 Leadville 100 Race Report, Part 4: Familiarity

08.28.2016 | 8:39 pm

A Note About 2016 FatCyclist.com Gear: The 2016 Fat Cyclist gear is — without question — the best-looking, best-made, most-comfortable jersey and bibshorts I have ever had. I have dozens and dozens of jersey and bibs, but these are what I wear for about 80% of my rides. (I’d wear them all the time, but sometimes they’re still dirty.)

The Women’s design is essentially all sold out, but the Men’s design is still available. 


I’ve talked with a lot of people who have bought these, and I’m pretty certain everyone has liked them. 


And yet, they have not sold out. Honestly, I don’t understand. So I’m going to be a little bit more direct than usual: If you like this blog, please support me by buying a jersey and bibs. (And maybe some socks.)


2016 Leadville 100 Race Report, Part 4: Familiarity

“Familiarity breeds contempt” is such ridiculous saying. And also, not true unless you were headed in the direction of contempt anyway. In my experience, familiarity breeds confidence, and fondness, and comfort, and happiness. Maybe even a little bit of wisdom, if you pay attention.

I am very, very familiar with the Leadville 100 bike route. And I think I like it as much or more as I ever have. It challenges and exhausts and exhilirates me every year, for different reasons every time.

This is probably true for every beloved bike route in the world: Familiarity breeds friendship.

This is what I was thinking — though in much simpler, not-actually-constructing-sentences way — as The Hammer and I rolled through Carter Summit and onto the three-mile paved descent. 

“I really like racing with you,” I told The Hammer.

She smiled at me, got into a tuck, and dropped me like a rock. Except she was the one dropping like a rock. (I need a new metaphor.)

I got as low as I could, figuring I’d reel The Hammer in, but the gap between us just increased. I never lost site of her, but — yep — she was definitely pulling away.

The Hammer’s timidity in descending on mountain bikes does not apply to road riding. When on the road, well, she’s pretty much a steely-eyed missile woman.

Which was just fine with me. We had agreed that as soon as we got to the bottom of this three mile paved descent, we’d each get out the second GU Roctane gel of the day.

Which means, dear reader, that — yes — this fourth installment of the race report has only thus far brought us to one hour (and fourteen miles) into the race.

Known Chaser

As planned, I caught up with The Hammer as she ate a gel, then we rode alongside each other for a moment while I ate mine.

And then…we heard a yell from behind. Doppler effect made me certain: it was a yell that was rapidly approaching. (Of course I have Doppler hearing. Don’t you?) 


And that quick, The Monster was ahead of us.

Yep, in the first hour, she had taken the minute lead we had built-in at the starting line (The Hammer and I crossed the starting line at 6:31:08, The Monster crossed at 6:32:09), and erased it.

There was a temptation, I admit, to jump. To attack and show that young whippersnapper that I am The Alpha Rider

But I didn’t. The Hammer and I just kept our pace. No attacks, no responses to attacks. Familiarity breeds wisdom, see?

And within a couple minutes on this mile (or so?) of paved climb, The Hammer and I had bridged back to The Monster, then pulled slightly ahead again.

From my peripheral vision, I saw The Monster stand and stomp on her pedals to try to catch us.

“Don’t you DARE burn matches this early in the race!” I scolded her. You could totally hear the italics, bold, and uppercase in my voice, too. 

And it’s been an hour, you better be getting a gel out right this second,” I continued. 

The Monster dropped back down to her all-day pace. She got out a gel. 

I would like to contend that — in addition to ability and hard work — the reason The Monster has been racing so well so quickly is she is an incredibly serious student. She is the rare 20-year-old who watches, studies, and listens. Sure, she makes her own decisions about everything, but she hears you out first. 

And by doing so, she has been able to skip the decade-plus of race nutrition trial-and-error The Hammer and I each went through before figuring out a simple, workable plan: a Roctane gel every half hour, supplemented with CR333 whenever you drink.

The Hammer and I pullled ahead, riding at our pace; The Monster dropped back, riding at hers.


Unknown Chaser

Here’s a weird but absolutely true fact: The Hammer and I did not discuss her competition — Christina Ross, the other woman singlespeeder — even once during the race. We never said, “I wonder if Christina is close, or if she’s about to catch and pass us,” or anything like that.

Not. Even. Once. Her name just never came up.

If we had known just how close Christina was to us at this point, we probably would have talked about her. Because Christina — who had started 26 seconds behind The Hammer and me — was now less than two minutes behind us. Which, in a 100+-mile MTB race, is nothing

The Hammer and I rode on, oblivious to the probability that the biggest threat to The Hammer’s objective — another SS win and new women’s SS record — could probably see us as we chatted about what a nice day it was and how awesome it was that we had seen The Monster and how well she was doing in the race.

No Help Wanted

After the paved section comes a sharp right turn onto a wide, washboarded dirt road: Hagerman Pass, I think it’s called. 

This was one of the segments I knew I could help The Hammer be fast on. “Let me know anytime I start to pull away from you,” I said. “Don’t just let me drop you, that doesn’t do either of us any good.”

And I commenced to mash. 

I continuously scanned ahead, looking for the next group to bridge to, looking for the least-washboarded line to ride. The Hammer stayed on my wheel beautifully, and we hopped from group to group. 

I had an epiphany about how it must be awesome to be a sled dog.

Then a guy surprised me from my reverie by pulling alongside me. “You know you’ve built a train of about twenty people, right? You want someone else to take a turn pulling?”

Huh. That actually made sense. While I had been thinking of The Hammer and me hopping from group to group, we had actually been bringing anyone who could hang with us along, building up an enormous train.

“No, not needed, thanks,” I replied. “I just want to hold this effort; but anyone who wants a ride is welcome.”

Sugarloaf Silliness

A sharp left turn took us off the relatively easy Hagerman onto Sugarloaf — my favorite climb of the day. There’s a beautiful view, the day was warming up, and the climb is just the perfect singlespeeding gradient: a good load, but not so hard that you feel like your kneecaps are going to burst.

Half the time The Hammer led, half the time I did. And the other half we rode side-by-side. No strategy to it, we were each just picking the pace and line we could on this climb.

Whenever I was out front, I’d call out every minute or so to be sure The Hammer was still with me. 

“You back there, Sugar Plum?” I yelled back.

“Sweetie Pie, are we still together?”

“Honey Pot? You with me?” I hollered.

I had resolved, for some reason, to make up and use as many ridiculous / embarrassing nicknames for The Hammer as I could during the day.

But I was running out (already I had noted a distinct tendency to use sweetener-based nicknames), and the day was still young.

Powerline to Pipeline

You cannot possibly have any idea how happy I am to be able to report that there is nothing worth writing about in our descent down Powerline: one of the parts of the race I enjoy not at all, ever. My dread of either of us crashing or flatting, however, came to naught (though I think I counted seven people working on flats as we rode down). 

I will note, however, mild astonishment that The Monster didn’t catch us going down Powerline. If I were to have placed a bet on one place in the race she’d fly by us, it would have been there, especially since we had seen her almost exactly an hour earlier.

Yes, that’s right: this installment of the race report is covering more than an hour. Dig it.

At the bottom — no flats, no crashes, no problems for either of us — we ate again (like clockwork) and I took my place in front of The Hammer for the next flattish few miles of paved and dirt road, out to the first aid station.

As we pedaled our singlespeeds along at our maximum all-day cadence, train after train of rider passed us. Many invited us to hop on. Some being funny, some genuinely not knowing why there was no chance at all we were going to be able to connect up with their train.

My race results show that we rolled into the Pipeline in two hours and nineteen minutes, but I really had no idea whether that was good or bad. All I knew was that this was the most fun I had ever had in the Leadville 100, and that I was becoming more and more impressed with The Hammer by the moment.

We rolled through the Pipeline aid station — signifying we were done with the first quarter of the race — and kept going: we didn’t plan to stop ’til the Twin Lakes aid station, forty miles into the race.

We caught up with my friend Rohit, then with another singlespeeder (technically my competition, but I didn’t really care), and began a fun, lively conversation on this bright, beautiful day.

If we had known that Christina was still a scant two minutes behind us, we probably would have shut up and pedaled harder.

Which seems like an OK place for us to pick up in the next installment of this story.


  1. Comment by altaholics | 08.28.2016 | 10:43 pm

    What, no exasperating cliff hanger? You’re loosing it. You’re loosing it. I guess there was no van to nearly crash in the immediate vicinity.

    Where’s a runaway vehicle when you need one? – FC

  2. Comment by Jon | 08.29.2016 | 6:30 am

    I wonder if the repeated mention of Hammer’s competition is a red herring or a foreshadow…

  3. Comment by Jeremy | 08.29.2016 | 8:16 am

    Great write up.
    BTW. I thought I missed the boat on the jerseys/bibs! Glad you mentioned it. Got a kit on the way to Arkansas now!
    Thanks for the reminder!
    Now I just have to explain to the better half the spontaneous reproductive abilities of spandex in the closet. Jerseys seem to be taking over all of the available space…

  4. Comment by RichardinCalgary | 08.29.2016 | 8:46 am

    Since 2009 I have loved your gear. However since you switched from Twin Six to DNA the gear does not fit large riders like myself. I have found that most of the gear made in Europe is designed for people with Andy Schleck type arms and shoulders. Please have DNA look at this for next year. Big guys love your stuff but it’s ironic that we cannot wear gear inspired by a fat cyclist.

    If you’ll email me I’ll introduce you to the CEO of DNA; he cares about fitting all cyclists. For myself, I’ve found that DNA fits more comfortably (i.e., not made for skinny people exclusively) better than T6 ever did. – FC

  5. Comment by Bart the Clydesdale | 08.29.2016 | 9:16 am

    How was only a few minutes behind you at pipeline? No spoilers, but knowing when I saw you and the Hammer in the race brings me to only one inescapable conclusion. I suck at climbing.
    My one ray of self exclusionary hope is that maybe a guy my size that lives at 680ft above sea level is suppose to suck climbing at Leadville elevation. Yeah that must be it, and I will take that delusion as solace.

  6. Comment by MinnesotaZeke | 08.29.2016 | 12:20 pm

    You’ve guilted me into a pair of shorts! They look sweet and I have a pile of bibs that are essentially worn out, so easy to justify…

    Question on fit… according to leg measuring I’m in a 2-3X but that can’t be right… I wear size L Champion Sys/Voler/Podiumwear/everthing else… but I have never had any Euro fitting anything. I’m probably going to order an L but any feedback would be great!

    Keep up the great story telling!

    I wear a Med in practically everything and a Med for DNA. I’d guess if you’re L for other companies you’ll be good for L for DNA. XL tops. And be ready for the best bibs you’ve ever had. – FC

  7. Comment by Corrine | 08.29.2016 | 12:49 pm

    @Bart the Clydesdale, anybody who lives basically at sea level will suck at climbing at Leadville – so I totally agree with your excuse/delusion.
    Glad to hear more of the story. I kept checking back last week and was so disappointed not to get more. I love multi day reports but the waiting kills me!
    P.S. I got my female Fat Cyclist kit and love it!

  8. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 08.29.2016 | 1:24 pm

    @Corrine, there’s apparently an exception to every rule.

    My place last summer in Framingham MA sits 165′ above sea level. For last year’s race, I arrived into Denver the Sunday before the race and drove up to Leadville Monday morning.

    I promptly picked up my borrowed bike, adjusted the saddle height, and pedaled to the top of Columbine. (Well, pedaled except for the walking bits.) No ill effects from altitude.

    On Tuesday, I rode Powerline. Wed-Fri saw some serious tapering. Saturday was race day. Again, no ill effects.

    I suspect that I’m just one of the lucky flatlanders not untowardly affected by altitude. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’m not affected at all, just that I don’t get headaches or nausea or the like.

    Rather, I just go a bit slower. But I’m already so slow of a climber that the delta just isn’t all that much!

  9. Comment by TedM | 08.29.2016 | 3:27 pm

    I really wanted to support your blog and buy a jersey but I just won’t ride on the road in a black kit. After losing a friend to a driver who didn’t see him, I won’t ride in anything that makes me harder to see. If the next version of your jersey is brighter and more visible, I’m there.

  10. Comment by leroy | 08.29.2016 | 3:53 pm

    Unsolicited testimonial:

    I wore the new Fat Cyclist jersey with DNA’s Asolo bibs and summer socks on a longish, warmish, hilly ride yesterday; all felt great.

    As someone carrying a couple of extra pounds at the moment, the jersey’s lightweight material and forgiving cut was welcome – especially with roomy back pockets filled.

    Photos don’t do the jersey justice. The color pops on the sleeve and the chest logo contrasts nicely.

    DNA’s Asolo bibs are also great. Good chamois, not too thick, but perfect cushioning; lightweight straps very comfortable, leg holes and gripping, just right.

    My one regret is that the striped socks were out of stock when I went to order.

    A couple of weeks ago, I wore the Asolo bibs and the DNA 100 Miles of Nowhere jersey, which fits like the new FC jersey, on a 110 mile ride. I hadn’t been planning to ride that far, but it was a nice day, I had time, and everything felt good. What more can you ask of your cycling clothing?

    I told my dog the kit was so comfortable, it felt like wearing nothing at all.

    But that was just to give him an unsettling mental picture.

    Of course it was better — on so many levels and from multiple points of view — than wearing nothing.

    I have become a big fan of DNA.

    Thanks Leroy! – FC

  11. Comment by leroy | 08.29.2016 | 5:29 pm

    Dear TedM —

    I am very sorry about your friend and, here in NYC, I also worry about being seen in traffic.

    I avoid wearing black jerseys if I’m commuting without daylight even though I run with lights. In the day time, I don’t think the color of my jersey will make a difference if a driver is texting or not paying attention.

    But the bottom line is you have to do what makes you feel safe.

  12. Comment by Patrick | 08.29.2016 | 9:36 pm

    Jersey purchased. Good to support the blog!

  13. Comment by Hamish | 08.29.2016 | 9:38 pm

    Hey, just wanted to say that I enjoy the blog and would love to buy another jersey again but I too will not wear black jerseys on the road.

    I still have my old black with pink FC logos jersey and also the white with orange logos.

  14. Comment by DonQuix | 08.29.2016 | 10:14 pm

    Just ordered me some new gear! How come you haven’t talked about this awesome stuff before now?

    I’ve talked about it before but paused for a bit because I didn’t want to drive people crazy with constant pushes to buy buy buy, donate donate donate. – FC

  15. Comment by Brad | 08.30.2016 | 12:31 am

    Hi Fatty,
    Do you ship to Australia, and what is the approx. cost?

    Flat shipping rate of USD$25 outside the US. Thanks for asking! – FC

  16. Comment by Jacob | 08.30.2016 | 12:41 am

    Would it be possible to have the gear shipped directly from Italy? If shipped from the US to Denmark VAT and Import-tax will add 77 $ to the price of the set. From Italy it would be zero.

    Shipping directly from Italy is a great idea for my Friends of Fatty in Europe for future gear, but right now, the entire inventory is here in Utah. – FC

  17. Comment by ScottR | 08.30.2016 | 4:32 am

    RichardinCalgary – as a fellow big guy, the folks and DNA were able to help – to some extent. They seem to have good jersey information but not much on the bib side.

    I was in 2xl for jerseys and bibs for TwinSix, and I believe that 4xl jerseys and 5xl bibs are the most accurate equivalents (in my personal experience) for DNA.

    Fatty, respectfully, I get bummed seeing you keep saying to use equivalent sizes for DNA. I believe the DNA folks who helped me mentioned they do 10 sizes where TwinSix did 6 – so even if medium is consistent, there is a lot of variation with other sizes.

    That’s a great point, and I’ll stop saying that. Just cuz Farenheit and Celsius are the same number at -40 doesn’t mean they’re the same up or down the scale. – FC

  18. Comment by MikeL | 08.30.2016 | 8:26 am

    @Bart the Clydesdale, if it makes you feel better I am also a large fellow. I live at 6900 feet. I also suck at climbing.

  19. Comment by AKChick | 08.30.2016 | 9:52 am

    Just wanted to weigh in on the whole DNA jersey/shorts fit on the ladies side.

    I buy the same sizes that I did for TwinSix gear (XL for the jersey and M for the shorts), but the difference is that the DNA jersey is not baggy and the shorts are tighter. I notice mostly in the arms (I have bigger upper arms). Once you have everything on, it is without a doubt, the most comfortable kit I’ve ever worn. You really don’t even notice you are wearing anything. Like being naked, only better. :)

    I love the compression of the shorts and even though they fit tighter, I don’t have a muffin top. My biggest problem is that I’m very busty and the jersey tends to ride up in the front. They aren’t as long as the TwinSix jerseys so that is something to keep in mind if you are a busty gal. Even though everything is more of a Euro fit, it is very flattering. I swear it makes me faster (maybe the compression in the shorts?). I’m not in nearly as good of shape as I’ve been in years past and I set a QOM (until an elite triathlete unseated me – whatcha gonna do?) and had my second best ride on a hill climb wearing my DNA kit. It’s just amazing stuff. I am going to see if I can get a local vendor in Alaska to carry it so I can buy it here. :)

    Fatty – the women’s kit is outstanding and I’ve noticed a lot of the guys love it. Perhaps offering the same or similar color scheme for the guys might be a good idea in the future. The latest women’s kit is my favorite (though I do love the pink/white/black color scheme too).

    Thank you so much for partnering with DNA. They are awesome!!!!

  20. Comment by Brian in VA | 08.30.2016 | 10:18 am

    What I learned most from the comments today is that some people suck at climbing (I’m very much among that group) and that it’s okay to do so.

    You have no idea how you’ve made my day!

  21. Comment by LT | 08.30.2016 | 10:41 am

    As a REALLY fat cyclist I will weigh in on the DNA vs T6 sizing. At the far end of the spectrum there is not much difference between the T6 3xl and the the DNA 5xl jerseys. I also noticed it when I picked up a wool 5xl DNA jersey a while back. It was smaller then my favorite Surly Wooly at 2xl.

    However the bib shorts fit more as expected and the straps are actually long enough to fit comfortably. They have become my new favorite shorts.

    I really liked the fact that the items were available to be shipped right away. It was awesome to place my order and have the kit show up in about 3 days.

  22. Comment by Melanie | 08.30.2016 | 11:55 am

    I just wanted to let you know that my girlfriends and I have had more comments on our new Fat Cyclist kits than any other kit we have ever worn! All positive, some pretty funny with regard to the “fat cyclist” printed across the back. We knew we wanted a DNA kit for Lotoja this year but never got around to designing one then we saw yours. Major kudos to whoever came up with the design. It is really flattering/comfortable and if we can’t be fast, it’s nice to be cute (or at least have a really cute kit!)

  23. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 08.31.2016 | 8:36 am

    Shut up and pedal harder!????????

  24. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 08.31.2016 | 8:36 am

    Shut up and pedal harder! Hahahaha

  25. Comment by rb | 09.1.2016 | 2:29 pm

    Leapfrogging Fatty was my race in a nutshell, until the implosion. It was fantastic to be riding the LT100 competitively with friends (until the implosion).

    So cool to see the race unfold through Fatty’s experience. Can’t wait for the next part where I get to re-live my single greatest moment of the race. — Rohit


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