2016 Leadville 100 Race Report, Part 6: Hard Math

09.8.2016 | 12:34 pm

It’s wonderful to have important friends in high places.

And by “important friends,” I am of course talking about Yuri Hauswald, my friend and co-host on the new podcast I’m doing with GU Energy: The Pinnacle. (Our premise is simple: great conversations with extraordinary, inspirational athletes about how and why they do what they do. You really should listen to the first couple episodes.)

And by “high places,” I of course mean the base of the Columbine Mine climb (9600 – 12,600 feet), where Yuri had told me — a couple days before the race — GU Energy would have a tent set up. 

So when The Hammer told me that she needed to get rid of her toe warmers and warm gloves before we climbed Columbine (you just don’t want to pack anything you don’t need up that climb), you’d think it would have been very obvious to me to say, “Oh, let’s just drop them off with Yuri.”

But let me assure you: having this actually occur to me during a race felt like a truly mighty stroke of genius. I can’t even quite explain how remarkably proud of myself I felt, having a sensible, simple solution occur to me when I was racing.

It just doesn’t happen that often. 

Yet Another Stroke of Genius

But my remarkable brilliance had only just begun to manifest itself.

We rolled up to the GU tent, got Yuri to yank off The Hammer’s toe covers and warm gloves, and had begun to roll away, when Yuri called out, “Need anything else?”

Why yes. Yes we do need something else. The Hammer hadn’t got a refill on her Camelbak at the Twin Lakes pit stop, so she needed water

“Got a bottle of water you can spare?” I asked. 

They did. Ready to go and everything.

Seconds later we were going, no longer burdened with stuff we didn’t need, nor lacking things we did need. 

Yuri is the best.


I have no idea whether a lot of people noticed that The Hammer and I were a wife-and-husband duo as we climbed up Columbine. I have no idea whether a lot of people noticed we were both riding singlespeeds, and how unusual that is in this race.

I do know, however, that a lot of people at least had the opportunity to notice these two things, because we passed — and while it’s a guess, it’s a conservative one — around 150 people going up the first five miles of Columbine.

Me, standing the whole way, as is my climbing style when on a singlespeed. The Hammer, sitting. In spite of being on a singlespeed. Which shows that when it comes to power-to-weight ratios, The Hammer is just off the charts.

“No shame in being passed by a woman,” I told one large group of young, very-fit-looking guys as we went by.

“Who is 48 years old,” I continued.

“And is riding seated on a singlespeed,” I concluded. 

The Hammer rode behind me, shaking her head and apologizing for my behavior.

“I can’t take you anywhere,” she muttered. Correctly.

Hard Math: Multiplying by Two

I felt like we were doing well. I really did. But how you feel doesn’t really buy anything in a race. And according to our time, we weren’t doing as well as I’d have liked.

In particular, we hit the turnaround point on Columbine at 4:57. Since your turnaround time is generally a pretty good predictor of your finish time at this race — just multiply by two — we had a problem.

We were on target for a 9:54 finish. Which would not be a record singlespeed time, and would not beat The Hammer’s previous best on a singlespeed.

Which meant, obviously, that I was a terrible domestique / motivational spouse.

I resolved to not say anything to The Hammer about my disappointment. What she did not need from me was negativity. I know The Hammer well enough to understand that she is plenty hard enough on herself with her training and racing; I don’t ever need to pile on.

We turned around and rode to the bottom, with me peeling my eyes for a woman on a singlespeed, wanting to know how close Christina Ross — The Hammer’s competition — was. I didn’t see her (she was just nine minutes behind us at the turnaround), but honestly it’s very difficult to pick out drivetrain subtleties on others’ bikes when you’re coming down the Columbine Mine trail.

I did see, however, The Monster — smiling and pushing her bike. Not far behind us (her turnaround time was 5:18) at all, which made both The Hammer and me incredibly proud. She was on track to demolish both our first Leadville times (I finished my first LT100 in 10:36, The Hammer finished her first LT100 in 11:55).

And we saw Katie Bolling. And David Houston (who I had been calling “Dave” the whole week, to my embarrassment). And many others who called out our names, but we didn’t recognize, because we were too focused on not crashing.

No crash. No flat (although the ground was soft enough for one stretch of trail that I stopped and checked my tire, thinking it was going flat). 

Sixty miles into the race and, as far as I was concerned, the worst was behind us. The places where I always worry I’m going to wreck or flat were all in the rear-view mirror.

Not that I have a rear-view mirror on my helmet. I just want to make that perfectly clear.

More Hard Math

As we got close to the Twin Lakes aid station, I had a brilliant idea: I would shoot ahead, so our crew would know The Hammer was coming, and so they would only have to take care of one of us at a time.

This, I am happy to say, worked beautifully. I tell you, I was really being smart.

“See you in about an hour and ten minutes!” The Hammer called out as we left.

“Closer to an hour!” I shouted over my shoulder, optimistically. 

Either way, our crew had a tough job ahead of them: drive to the Pipeline aid station, park, and set up before we got there…in about an hour’s time.

And I was really making it my task to make it closer to that hour than the 1:10 The Hammer had projected. I rode in front, looking back frequently, doing my very best to gauge what the line was between giving her a fast draft that pushed her pace, and blowing her up.

And — I say this perfectly aware that it’s boastful — I did a pretty good job, especially considering that I don’t have a lot of experience being a domestique.

But we were moving well, making good time on this flattish section. Not as good as the people with geared bikes who buzzed right by us (“Ignore them, we’ll pass them on the climb!”), but pretty darned fast for the gear we had chosen.

And then we hit the singletrack. 

I stayed in front still, not for drafting sake but to keep The Hammer going at her hardest.

Sure enough, we soon caught up with the group that had passed us on the dirt road a few miles back. 

“Hey there,” I said. Usually that’s enough for people to yield, when they discover that someone going much faster has just caught them.

Nobody yielded. The congo line of five or six just kept going, slowly, in their granny gears.

Driving me insane

So I started talking. To The Hammer, of course. “Hey, baby, you just let me know when you feel like it and I’ll ask these nice folks ahead of us to yield so we can pick up the pace,” I said.

The Hammer said nothing. Nobody moved over.

“I’m sure these people won’t mind moving over whenever you want,” I said. “They’ll understand you’re chasing a new women’s singlespeed record.”

Nobody moved over. But The Hammer did speak this time. 

“We’re not going to finish in 9:30,” she said. “We can just forget about that.”

And then, something I would never have expected her to say:

“I feel like giving up.”

And with those words, I became the angriest at her I have ever been.

Which — believe it or not — is a necessary place for us to pick up in the next installment, because things are going to get a little bit crazy in the next episode.


  1. Comment by TimD | 09.8.2016 | 2:31 pm

    The Hammer needs to start carrying a bag of Jelly Babies or Liquorice Allsorts to offer one to her rivals as she passes them, Beryl Burton style

  2. Comment by Andy@WDW | 09.8.2016 | 2:31 pm

    “No shame in being passed by a woman,”
    “Who is 48 years old,”
    “And is riding seated on a singlespeed.”

    This made me genuinely laugh out loud. As did The Hammer’s response.

    Loving this very different LT100 report! Keep these installments coming.

  3. Comment by Christina | 09.8.2016 | 3:57 pm


    Pause your report and insert HammerTime.

  4. Comment by Corrine | 09.8.2016 | 6:40 pm

    Please don’t make us wait until next week for more report. I want to know why The Hammer wanted to quit!

  5. Comment by MG | 09.8.2016 | 7:35 pm

    In the finish photo you posted a few posts back, it looks like The Hammer’s bike has a rear derailleur – was she running that as a tensioner for a FS single speed?

  6. Comment by Dylan | 09.8.2016 | 8:57 pm

    Even after hearing you talk about this on The Paceline weeks ago, I’m still totally engrossed.

    @MG If you’re referring to the photo two posts ago, that would be The Monster.

  7. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.9.2016 | 5:22 am

    @Dylan – I have avoided that Podcast like the plague!! Fatty’s gotta finish up next week or I’m going to fall too far behind!

  8. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.9.2016 | 5:43 am

    I call B.S. that you got mad as in really mad.

    To the extent that I ever get really angry, I was really angry. – FC

  9. Comment by Dylan | 09.9.2016 | 7:55 am

    @Tom in Albany – Good for you! Knowing it was going to be a long report I couldn’t hold out. Fatty did an admirable job not revealing too many of the details within the race. You’re definitely safe to listen to the episode released this week, but I’d steer clear of the last couple.

  10. Comment by Brian in VA | 09.9.2016 | 9:00 am

    I also laughed out loud at the monologue Fatty gave people as he and The Hammer passed.

    It’s nice to know she’s human when she’s racing…..sometimes.

    Have a good weekend!

  11. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.9.2016 | 11:31 am

    I got over getting ‘chicked’ a long time ago. I do recall, though, being really tweaked when my GF kept destroying me in tennis. She was just better than me and part of it was I hated to lose but, deep down, I knew I didn’t like getting ‘chicked’ – though I’d never heard that term before. Then, i did my first long ride at a charity event in Appleton, WI in ‘92. I rode with this one woman, that I was hitting on, for most of the race. I was planning to do the metric. She was doing the 75 so, I changed my plan. She pulled me in those last ten or so miles. I had nothing in the can. She was stronger and I accepted it. So, I was in my mid-20s when I could finally accept that women could be better than me at stuff.

  12. Comment by Chris | 09.9.2016 | 11:55 am

    Fatty, I caught wind of this video via bikesnob today; pretty slick looking kit at the 53 second mark… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSDnBNwkCWQ&feature=youtu.be

  13. Comment by Don | 09.9.2016 | 3:34 pm

    Unsolicited Testimonial: The Hammer was seated as her 48 year old self passed me. She was seated on a 32×20, while I was struggling with my, ahem, my 32×37. I took it like a man, an oxygen depleted, jello legged, man.


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