2016 Leadville 100 Race Report, Part 5: All Together Now

09.6.2016 | 12:18 pm

In any given race, there is a period after the start-of-race adrenaline and nervousness has faded away, but before the race-induced exhaustion sets in. 

This period is the golden moment of racing. The best part of racing. It can last an hour, but it can also last for about two seconds. So it is definitely something to be anticipated, recognized, and savored.

In the 2016 Leadville 100, this golden moment lasted for — more or less — the entirety of the fifteen flattish miles between the first and second aid stations (Pipeline to Twin Lakes).

The Hammer and I were both relieved to have made it down the Powerline section, we were happy to be riding together and discovering that all the training we do together was translating well into racing well together, we were  both feeling good and strong.

And somehow, we had wound up riding with a fun group of people. 

First, Rohit caught us and volunteered to give the two of us a pull for a bit. We gratefully accepted, and stuck on his wheel for as long as we could ’til he dropped us and continued on ahead. I considered calling out to him that he was losing us, but decided against it. He was riding great, let him go. I was confident we’d see him on Columbine.

And then we caught up with another singlespeeder. As is traditional when singlespeeders catch each other, we performed the “What gear are you riding?” ritual.

He started out. “What gear are you riding?” he asked. 

“34 by 19,” I answered, then continued (as dictated by tradition), “How about you?”

“32 by 20,” he replied.

“Oh, that’s the same gear my wife is riding,” I replied, truthfully. Then, realizing that this could be interpreted as a jab, I amended, “And I’m sure lots of men ride that gear too.”

At this point I realized that I was only underscoring the unintended jab and was making things worse. Which put me at a crossroads: redirect the conversation (best choice), continue to backpedal (not a great choice, but definitely in character), or spike the ball.

“I’m going to give you the nickname 32 20, OK?” I asked.

The Hammer rolled her eyes. “What’s your name?” she asked.

“Craig,” he replied. 

“Good to meet you, 32 20,” I said.

The Hammer punched me in the throat, crushing my larynx, cutting off my air supply, and effectively stopping me from saying anything further.

OK, she actually just gave me a look, but it had more or less the same effect.

The three of us rode together, happily chatting. And we were moving fast, too. Catching racers, in spite of the fact that we were all on singlespeeds.

And then we caught another singlespeeder. “I have never,” I said, “been in a group of four singlespeeders in a race before.” 

And then I attacked both of them, yelling as I went by, “I just jumped two places in my division standings!”

It was hilarious. Trust me.

All Together Now

I don’t remember where or how we parted ways with Craig (32 20) or the other singlespeeder (never learned his name and can’t remember his gearing, but his jersey read “Pantone” across the back), but I think it must have been as we reached our crew at the Twin Lakes aid station.

We had a lot of people there crewing for us: The Hammer’s brother, Scott, his friend Kara, Car and Couch, Blake, and Rohit’s mom. And we had given detailed instructions on what we each needed.

As a result, they were prepared for any of us to come in at any time.

What they were not prepared for, however — what never occurred to us to ask them to be prepared for — was us all coming in at more or less the exact same time.

Let me just lay things out, chronologically, as best as I can, using what I realize is incomplete information. We’ll start with “0:00” as being the moment the first of our group entered the area where our crew was waiting for us.

0:00 – Rohit enters the pit area

0:01 – Rohit’s mom starts helping Rohit

0:10 – The Hammer and Fatty enter the pit area

0:11 – The Hammer climbs off her bike and walks behind the pit area, telling everyone there not to watch, she has to pee. 

0:15 – Car hands Fatty a Coke and some endurolyte capsules

0:16 – Couch swaps Fatty’s bottles

0:17 – The Monster pulls in to the crew station and begins bellowing for support. Why is nobody helping her?! 

0:20 – Fatty wonders aloud why nobody has given him any new GUs (the reason? Kara and Scott have hurried over to help the very urgent requests of The Monster)

0:23 – Couch hands Fatty a handful of GUs

0:25 – Fatty yells to The Hammer that he’s heading out, but will be stopping at a porta potty as soon as he can find one (Fatty is more private about such matters than The Hammer). She should continue on and he’ll catch her as soon as possible.

0:40 – Fatty finds a porta potty not fifty feet away from the pit crew tent. Relieved, he steps inside to…get some relief. He considers, briefly, that usually he doesn’t need to pee until about five hours into this race, but this time needs to a mere three hours into it. Weird.

0:50 – The Hammer rides by the porta potty, yelling as she goes by

1:00 – The Monster rides by the porta potty, but does not yell as she goes by. 

1:10 – Fatty exits the porta potty, wondering at how he’s managed to wind up in last place. He spins up to full speed, hoping to catch back up as quickly as possible.

What Didn’t Happen

Here’s the thing: by me detailing out the timeline of who did what for whom and when, I have made it seem like things went pretty smoothly at the Twin Lakes pit stop.

And as far as I was concerned, they did go smoothly. I got out quickly with everything I needed, found a toilet immediately after, and got back to racing. Very few seconds lost.

However, things had not gone as smoothly as I had thought. Which I would find out very soon. 

As I exited the porta potty, I could see The Monster just a hundred or so feet ahead. I jumped on my bike and gave chase, trying to catch up to her as quickly as I could. 

“The Moooooonnnnnnnnnssssssttteerrrrr!” I yelled, as I closed in.

Faaaaatttty!” She yelled back. 

“You are killing it!” I yelled. “I gotta go catch your mom now!” And then I redoubled my efforts, racing like I was in the final stretch of the race, and not about to hit an eight-mile climb that would take me up to 12,500 feet.

By going absolutely all-out, I managed to catch up to The Hammer just half a mile outside the aid station. “Back together!” I yelled, happily. “What a madhouse at the pit stop,” I effused, “But it went great!”

“It didn’t go great,” The Hammer said, her voice flat in the way that tells me that things went very not-great indeed.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I’m still wearing my toe warmers and heavy gloves,” she said.

Mentally, I sighed with relief. That was an expensive mistake, but not costly in terms of time. We could always just ditch those, toss them to someone on the side of the trail. We’d never get them back, but it wasn’t the kind of thing to be concerned about during a race.

“And also,” The Hammer said, “They didn’t switch my Camelbak out.”


“In the confusion with me peeing and The Monster coming in so we’re all there wanting stuff at the same time, I forgot to have them switch my Cambelbak out, and they forgot too. And they didn’t ask about gloves or my toe covers.”

“So how much do you have left in your Camelbak right now?” I asked. “Anything?”

“Some,” The Hammer answered, which is really the best estimate anyone wearing a Camelbak can ever give. Personally, I have several times been utterly convinced I had a third of a bladder full at the moment I got that shkkrkrrreekkk slurping sound that indicates you are out.

And she had a new, full bottle of Carborocket 333. And I had two full bottles. Enough to get the two of us to the top of Columbine. Probably. And we could refill there.

“OK,” I said, and told her my plan, which involved her throwing away about $100-worth of her favorite cold-weather bike gear, as well as both of us probably hopefully only running out of water just slightly before we reached the Columbine mine summit.

The Hammer was not delighted with this solution, but it was something.

And then, like a bolt out of the blue, I had a perfect moment of clarity. One which would let The Hammer get rid of her cold weather stuff now, without losing it forever. Further, she’d have enough fluid to get not just to the summit of Columbine, but all the way back to the Twin Lakes aid station. 

It was simple, it was smart, and I was 100% certain it would work. To be honest, I was a little bit astonished that the idea came to me at that moment. My brain doesn’t usually work all that well when I’m racing. 

And I will explain what this brilliant moment of clarity was — and describe the two most disheartening moments of the entire race — in the next installment of this story.


  1. Comment by Jim Tolar | 09.6.2016 | 12:30 pm

    Damnit Fatty. Every. Single. Time. I fall for the lead up to the cliffhanger without noticing the end of the post is approaching.


    p.s. As I write this, I am 4 hours away from retirement. Almost 43 years to the day from when I started my first job as an Electrical Engineer out of Purdue, I’m ending my last one. And I still haven’t figured out when you’re building up for a cliffhanger…

    Congratulations Jim, and I hope this means lots more time for riding! – FC

  2. Comment by Alister | 09.6.2016 | 1:05 pm

    Well, JT, every best wish for your retirement! Cycle away…

  3. Comment by Jon | 09.6.2016 | 1:12 pm

    I am happy that FC and the gang have all this drama and adventure for us to learn from. Plus, their drama-free racing adventures would be pretty boring to read about. Can you imagine a ride without a sudo van-crashing incident now? I cannot not. The only thing that can top that would be some explosives or fireworks going off in the middle of a ride with Benny Hill playing in the background.

    Plus, it is nice to know that neither of you decide to relieve yourselves while riding, like whats-his-name did in TdF a few years back, caught on TV too.

  4. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.6.2016 | 1:15 pm

    Yay!! I expect a three report week, Fatty! You know. Because Tuesday.

  5. Comment by Brian in VA | 09.6.2016 | 1:18 pm

    Frankly, the cliffhangers are such a normal occurrence, I’m amazed when Fatty gets to the end of a race and it’s just, you know, over.

    That said, I never miss an episode!

  6. Comment by PNP | 09.6.2016 | 1:56 pm

    Fatty, my friend, please tell me that you didn’t say that pointing out that Craig was riding the same gear as The Hammer was a “jab” at Craig. I’ve read it three times now to try to make sure that I’m reading it right. What an insult, riding the same gear as a girl.

    With that off my chest, I’m going to read the rest of the post.

    I know: it was sexist, and sometimes — usually during races — I am (to my shame) a little bit sexist. I’m not proud of it, but I do try to tell the story as it actually happened. In my defense, I do present the anecdote so that I come off as the doofus I actually was being. – FC

  7. Comment by walter | 09.6.2016 | 2:11 pm

    Dang it, the title got me singing the Beatles.

  8. Comment by PNP | 09.6.2016 | 3:11 pm

    Thanks, Fatty, for followup. I don’t normally think of you as a doofus, nor do I normally take easy offense at things, but that one bugged me. I read your blog all the time, and I love the race reports (especially Rockwell Relay for some reason). I was just a bit surprised at this one.

    On the other hand, you were The Hammer’s domestique! All to your credit.

    You should probably steel yourself. There’s more coming. For whatever reason, I was verbally more aggro in this race than I usually am. I made The Hammer roll her eyes several times. I can’t be the hero in every story I tell (well, I could be, but would that really be believable?).

  9. Comment by miles archer | 09.6.2016 | 3:36 pm

    I bet you were a good domestique and turned around and rode back to the aid station for her.

    It crossed my mind, but it would have been a nightmare salmoning that trail. I did something else. Something elegant and simple and perfect that solved the problem and cost time at all. – FC

  10. Comment by GenghisKhan | 09.6.2016 | 4:14 pm

    Fatty – point of clarification on the topic of sexism. I didn’t read from your race report that you intended the comment as sexist, only as comparative to another person you knew riding the same gearing. Then, fearing that it sounded sexist, you tried – unsuccessfully – to recover.

    Is that correct, or were you making a sexist jab? :o)

    That’s correct. I wasn’t trying to be sexist…I just said it, then saw how it could be perceived as sexist, which I think was the actual moment of sexism. OH HOW CONFUSING.

    Later, however, I would say things that were just downright rude. I’ll get to (the first of) those in my next post. – FC

  11. Comment by wharton_crew | 09.6.2016 | 9:09 pm

    “Something elegant and simple and perfect that solved the problem and cost time at all.”

    You mugged another rider, didn’t you….

  12. Comment by Skye | 09.6.2016 | 9:39 pm


    Nicely done putting letters to that sound.

  13. Comment by rb | 09.6.2016 | 10:11 pm

    This was the most perfect moment of my race. As I mentioned, so awesome to re-live it via Fatty.

    Also, I had a very different experience of the Twin Lakes aid

    I had been leapfrogging Fatty and the Hammer all morning. I was behind at the start, then caught Fatty on Kevins (turns out right after he was sat upon), then chased the Hammer (and Fatty) across the Carter summit. I can attest, he did indeed keep yelling things like “how are you honey?” and “hey sweetie, just let me know if I’m dropping you”. I realized relatively quickly he was not talking to me.

    I then caught and passed the Fatty Train on Turquoise Lake road downhill (yeah gears!), then got passed on the uphill, then caught them again just after the turn onto the dirt before Pipeline aid (yeah gears, again!).

    Since I am a bad domestique, I did a pretty poor job of pulling the Fatty train on the Pipeline, and kind of rode away (gears, again)…then on the dirt road just before the neighborhood on the way to Twin Lakes, I got caught again.

    This is where Fatty was joking with the other single speeders…

    I thought to myself “Self, this is the best LT100 ever! You’re riding with friends, you’re making jokes, you’re not totally at your limit, and while you’re behind a sub-9, you’re damn straight on track for a 9:45. Maybe a 9:30″

    My legs felt great, I was not too tired, and I even had a little extra energy to laugh. Even better, being a bit of a LT100 geek at this point (4x…), having a beloved cycling blogger and a major character in his blog count me as a friend and spare some air to cheer me on made me feel..well..part of the family.

    So of course I did the only logical thing.

    I sprinted off.

    I did yell out “NEW GOAL! BEAT FATTY TO TWIN LAKES!!”.

    I was not totally a jerk. I thought to myself “hey, you have gears. Attack this flat/DH a bit and you can tell the crew to be ready for the Fatty Train!”.

    (See, in his totally generous self, Fatty offered to share his crew spot with me, giving my mom — ace crew — a place to shelter from the sun, and have a great morning. There’s more to this story…but that’s for another blog on another day.)

    I rode into the crew area shouting “They’re right behind me, they’re right behind me!”

    This was my greatest moment of the race. I had beat 2 former LT100 champions (ok, ok, they were on single speeds…and I beat them by like 5 seconds, but I did beat them) to Twin Lakes. I had done something of a good deed by waking up the crew. I was having a great day and ready for a nice calm resupply…as mine always are.

    This is when I experienced the madness of the Fatty Crew Feed at the LT100.

    “Who’s right behind you!!?” (not sure who said that. May have been Chris. May have been Mom . May have been The Man Formerly Known as IT Guy)

    “FATTY! and The HAMMER” I yelled.

    Then I mostly heard Hammer yelling. And my mom yelling.

    Then I heard skidding tires and The Monster yelling, “Help! Help! I NEED HELP!”

    I have no idea what happened. All I know is Gu and water and electrolytes were flying everywhere. I kept saying “Don’t help me, help Fatty!”. Mom stuck bottles in my cages, and The Man Formerly Known as IT Guy grabbed my helmet and said “YOU’RE NOT EATING ENOUGH” before he gave me a massive push down the road.

    And I was rolling…

    It was awesome. Never felt more like part of an MTB team than I did at that moment on that day (and I was too fat to wear the jersey…I guess thats appropriate?)

    Can’t wait to see how the next section turns our for The Fatty Crew. They may not know it, but for the next 20 miles they were instrumental to my race…

  14. Comment by Flying Ute | 09.6.2016 | 10:43 pm

    I love your description of the Golden Moment of racing.

    I love that you put words to what I have thought a bunch of times.

  15. Comment by Louutah | 09.7.2016 | 8:25 am

    Why not tuck $100 worth of gloves and toe warmers into a jersey pocket?

  16. Comment by Heidi | 09.7.2016 | 12:34 pm

    Here’s hoping you didn’t efficiently do away with another rider and relieve him/her of their camelbak. (Influence credited to Peaky Blinders on your mention – intense and violent, but oh so good!)

  17. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.7.2016 | 12:55 pm

    @Louutah – Probably because there’s already enough in the jersey pockets and you dont’ want to hinder access to the gels and food and stuff.


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