2016 Leadville 100 Race Report, Part 7: Kaboom

09.11.2016 | 5:05 am

A Note from Fatty: The latest episode of The Paceline podcast is up, and it’s wonderful. Click here for details, downloading details, and to listen. (And while you’re at it, why don’t you just subscribe on iTunes?)

Sixty-five-ish miles. Two-thirds of the Leadville 100 was behind us, and I hadn’t looked at my bike computer in about fifteen miles — since when we had hit the turnaround point at the top of Columbine and I had discovered we weren’t on track to finish the race in the time The Hammer had projected.

It wasn’t a conscious decision to not look at how we were doing; the Garmin 520 was right there for me to look at, if I felt like it. It’s just that it didn’t really matter to me. All that mattered was helping The Hammer.

And I was being just a little too aggressive about it.

How Fatty Transmogrified Into a Complete Jerk

If you read the end of part 6 of my race report, you’ll see that I was being loud and obnoxious. And if you read the other parts of my race report, you’ll see that this was not the first time.

You’re just going to have to trust me when I say that this is not in character. When I race, I am generally the friendly guy. The helpful guy. The positive and supporting to everyone guy.

How did I turn into a competitive neanderthal? Well, I don’t know for certain.

But I do have a theory. 

In normal circumstances, I think of myself as just another racer. A guy whose race goals are no different — or any more important — than anyone else’s race goals.

But on this day, my race goals weren’t for me. They were for someone who I think of as much more important than me. Her goals are much more important than mine. Hence, my sense of purpose was much higher than usual. And my commitment to helping The Hammer achieve her goal was way higher than it ever is to achieving goals of my own.

Anyone who was in our way was an obstacle, pure and simple. 

So my aggression came from a place of love; my trash-talking came from a place of high purpose. 

But that doesn’t excuse me for being a jerk. Sorry, everyone I was a jerk to.


So, back to the story.

“I feel like giving up,” The Hammer had just said.

My heart rate shot up twenty beats per minute. I clenched my grips. I clenched my teeth. I thought of several things I wanted to say in reply, mostly along the lines of, “Don’t you dare say that. Don’t you dare think that. I am dedicating my whole day to your success, and you are not allowed to do anything but win.”

Wisely (because I do have moments of lucidity, from time to time), I did not say this. I bit back my anger and said, “What’s up?”

“Our pace. We aren’t on track to finish this race in 9:30.”

The relief I felt was incredible; the rage I briefly felt disappeared instantly. This wasn’t a Crash-and-Burn problem. This was just The Hammer experiencing unrealistic expectations. 

“Oh, 9:30 was never even on my radar, Sugar Plum,” I said. “Just put that out of your head. The only objective we care about is beating your previous single speed record. All I want is a 9:49. Or maybe a 9:45, just to be safe. Do you think that’s still possible?”

“Yeah, we’re on track for that,” The Hammer replied.

“Then we’re awesome.”

We finished the single track, riding behind that group of five for the whole thing, just recovering. Approached intelligently, a bottleneck is an opportunity to eat, drink, and rest your legs.

Then, the moment we hit doubletrack, we dropped them hard and shot forward. “Let’s fly,” The Hammer said. I got in front of her, told her to yell if I started losing her, yell if I was going too slow, and to otherwise just hold on.

We flew.


OK, this is the part I’ve been looking forward to writing about since before I even started this race report. Now that I’m here, though, I am simply unsure I can do it justice.

I’ll do what I can, though.

The Hammer and I just railed the next ten miles of the race. Just crushed it. The only time we slowed was to hand off come GU Endurolyte Capsules to Dave Thompson, who had been ahead of us the whole day and on track for a sub-nine-hour finish, ’til he had been brought low by cramps.

Stupid cramps. 

“Swallow as many as you can. They’ll help,” I said, and we ramped up our speed again. 

Then, a mile or so before the Pipeline aid station, where our crew should be waiting for us, I had a two-birds-with-one-stone epiphany. “I gotta pee, so am going to peel off here for a second,” I told The Hammer. “You go ahead, so the crew can take care of us one at a time.”

The Hammer understood and shot on ahead.

I took care of my business, got back on my bike, and a few minutes later saw — right at the very beginning of the long alley of pit crews — our crew (Couch, Car, Scott, Kara).

Weird, I thought. We had expected them at the other end of the pit crew area. By the timing mat. 

The Hammer wasn’t there, which meant — I assumed — that they had already taken care of her and she had gone on ahead. Awesome; I’d catch her when I could.

I pulled up and stopped. Put a foot down.

Nothing happened. In fact, nobody noticed that I was there. They were all busy putting up the banner that would make them easy to find.

“Hello,” I said.

Everyone jumped, startled. “You’re here!” Couch shouted.

“Sure am,” I replied. “You seem surprised.” 

“We didn’t expect you for another ten minutes!” Scott said. Which was a fair point. The Hammer and I had, in fact, just beaten our projected time for this part of the race by at least ten minutes.

See, that bit about flying wasn’t hyperbole. OK, it was hyperbole, but not as hyperbole-ish as you might have thought.

“Hasn’t Lisa come through?” I asked, connecting the dots.

“No!” Everyone replying together.

I said some words I would have to apologize for later. Then, “She’s come through. She expected you at the other end, and you didn’t see her because you were putting up the sign.”

For a moment, I was at a loss. Then: “Quick, stuff her gels into my jersey. And give me her Camelbak.”

They sprang into chaotic action, loading me up. All my gels, plus all The Hammer’s gels: two jersey pockets, stuffed full of gels. All my bottles. And The Hammer’s Camelbak.

Which, I would like to point out, did not even remotely fit. To wit, it was so tight it acted as a tourniquet and both my arms started tingling and falling asleep within a minute.

Now I’m a real domestique,” I thought to myself as they saddled me up with all this stuff, “Carrying food and water up to my GC rider.”

Meanwhile, something snapped in Scott, The Hammer’s brother. He had had too many accidents while crewing for The Hammer, and felt an overwhelming urgency to do something  — anything! — to get food and water to The Hammer…wherever she happened to be.

He grabbed a bottle and some gels and bolted, running in a dead sprint down the road, wildly looking left and right for The Hammer.

I found myself laughing at the bizarreness of the moment.


Let’s back up a minute and switch to The Hammer’s perspective for a moment. She came into the Pipeline Pit Crew Alley riding hot — thinking our crew would be at the end of the alley, near the timing mat. As such, she had blown right by the crew: not seeing them, and them not seeing her, because they were facing away and setting up a big banner…to make them easier to find.

That, my friends, is the story you can use when someone asks you to give an example of  “irony.”

As she got to the end of Pit Crew Alley, now looking hard for her brother, she saw him! She pulled over, put a foot down, and waited for him to begin swapping out bottles, camelbak, and so forth.

“May I help you?” the man asked.

Recognition — or recognition that she did not recognize this person after all — The Hammer exclaimed, “You are not my crew!”

“No, but I could be if you need me to be,” The stranger replied. 

“I’ll just keep going,” The Hammer said, and began riding again, once again starting a section of the race with a mostly-empty Camelbak, and without much in the way of gels.

And then she saw it: The neutral aid station. A light went on, she pulled over, and they sprang into action.

More Meanwhile…

Now let’s go back to me. A few seconds after Scott began running down the trail, desperately looking for his sister, I finished getting all The Hammer’s food and struggling into The Hammer’s camelbak and began riding down the Pit Crew Alley, conducting my own hunt for The Hammer.

Within a few seconds, I had caught Scott, stopped, and had had him stuff the bottle and (still more!) gels he was carrying into my center jersey pocket. 

My jersey — already a little tight due to my failure to lose any meaningful amount of weight this year — now felt incredibly tight, with a full bottle and around twenty-five gels (I’m guessing here, but am not far off because I counted around 15 unused gels in my jersey at the end of the race).

I took off again — more loaded down than I have ever been — looking side-to-side as I rode, sometimes calling out, “LISA!”

Scott walked back to their crewing area, fully intending to avoid The Hammer after the race.

Together Again

As I got to the end of the aid station area, I saw her: The Hammer, with a couple of volunteers helping her out.

“Our crew didn’t make it in time!” she said.

“No, they’re here. You just missed each other. I got you a full camelbak,” I said, fighting to get the thing off.

“I don’t need it, these volunteers have refilled the one I have.”

“Well, I am NOT going to wear this thing for the rest of the race,” I said.

“We can take it,” said a volunteer. “We’ll put it in lost and found, you can get it after the race.”

“Perfect,” I said. 

Alas, we would never find that camelbak in lost and found. Which, considering the fallout that could have resulted from this Benny Hill moment, is a not-bad result.


We were back together again. Racing again. As weirdly and hilariously wrong as things had gone, we still hadn’t really lost more than a minute. 

“Hey,” I said, “I got your gels too,”

“I don’t need those either, the volunteers got me plenty.”

“Well I have enough to do pretty much another lap of the course.”

“You could hand them off to a course marshal,” The Hammer said.

“Are you serious?” I asked, astounded. “Do you know how much these things are each worth?” I considered for a moment and said, “I’m not giving away $40-worth of gels. But will you at least take this bottle I’ve got stuffed in my jersey?”

Yes, she would take that. And the strain against my midriff became a little easier. Yay.

We were on a paved part of the road now, once again pushing the pace as hard as we could. Me taking my role as domestique as seriously as I could. Keeping The Hammer right behind me, but pushing the pace. Blocking the wind. Encouraging her.

I was doing a pretty darned good job, if I do say so myself. 

Until, all of a sudden, I wasn’t.

In the space of a moment, I went from strong workhorse to completely smoked and bonked out husk of a human being. 

I’m not really sure what an implosion sounds like, but let’s go with “Kaboom.” In which case that’s the sound I made. Or maybe a better metaphor would be me hitting a wall, in which case I made a “splat” sound.

Either way, I was toast. And this seems like a pretty good place for us to leave off ’til the next installment of this story.



  1. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.12.2016 | 5:27 am

    Kaboom! There was supposed to be an earth-shattering ‘kaboom!’ Oh, the Alludium Q Explosive Space Modulator! That Earth Creature has stolen it!!

  2. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.12.2016 | 5:28 am

    And THAT’S what I think of each time I hear the word, kaboom. Marvin the Martian rocks!

  3. Comment by Corrine | 09.12.2016 | 7:56 am

    Great report. Sounds chaotic and crazy! But it seems to all be working out okay. Can’t wait to hear the rest. Can’t believe you were carrying all that stuff for the Hammer. No wonder you bonked!

  4. Comment by miles archer | 09.12.2016 | 8:06 am

    Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen as a domestique? You though a cat amongst the pigeons, turn yourself inside out until you burn all your matches, go backwards through the peleton and finish in the gruppetto.

    (did I miss any cliches?)

  5. Comment by miles archer | 09.12.2016 | 8:06 am


  6. Comment by Don | 09.12.2016 | 8:39 am

    Still trying to get my head around the “complete jerk” transmogrification. It doesn’t sound like you, at all. The smack talk, completely believable, less than pleasant to the race support crew, been there, but a complete jerk??

  7. Comment by owen | 09.12.2016 | 9:28 am

    it is my goal to eat/drink only at neutral support/aid stations at endurance events to recoup some of my entry fees.

  8. Comment by Jon | 09.12.2016 | 9:37 am


    At least we know he is alive and telling us the story…

  9. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.12.2016 | 9:38 am

    @Corrine – Please no spoilers. I’ve held off of all news so I can find out here.

  10. Comment by Tom in Albany | 09.12.2016 | 9:38 am

    @Jon – AWESOME!!!

  11. Comment by The Hammer/Lisa | 09.12.2016 | 9:58 am

    You’re the Best Domestique EVER!! Thanks! Love you!

    I love you too, Beautiful! Racing for you was the most incredible race experience I’ve ever had. – FC

  12. Comment by The Hammer/Lisa | 09.12.2016 | 9:59 am

    And Scott,Kara, Couch and Car are the best crew! Hope they come back next year!

    I agree! And Couch and Car have NO CHOICE but to come back next year! hahahaha! – FC

  13. Comment by Christina | 09.12.2016 | 10:18 am

    You know what I like about The Hammer? She’s not a “everything is falling apart, so I must panic” kind of woman. She just went up, got filled up, and was ready to roll.

    Is it okay to ask if there will be a fall 100MoN this year? I thought of it on my bike commute this morning.

    I am trying to put together a 100MoN right now, in fact. More news soon. – FC

  14. Comment by leroy | 09.12.2016 | 10:18 am

    Did you use any HotShot this year? Curious to know if you’ve had further experience with this. (When you tried it, they were calling it #itsthenerve.)

    Seemed to work for me this weekend. “Seemed to work” as in I downed a shot a few minutes before I thought I might cramp, still started to cramp a few minutes later, but worked through it without much trouble.

    I did. It will make a featured appearance in a future episode. – FC

  15. Comment by MikeL | 09.12.2016 | 12:45 pm

    @Leroy. My wife and I have both tried HotShot. The upside is that it really appears to work, especially for my wife. The downside is the taste really leaves something to be desired. You need to slug it down and not think. Overall I give it a thumbs up.

    Ha, you’re going to be interested in how I describe the taste in my upcoming post. – FC

  16. Comment by Jeff Weaver | 09.12.2016 | 3:52 pm

    I was the neutral aid when the Hammer pulled in, so surreal reading about the same moment from a different perspective. I was feeling pretty crushed then, recalling when you and the Hammer caught me, I’m super excited to hear what happens next

    I’d be very interested to know the story from your perspective — it’d be great to know what your day was like. Got time to write a guest post? – FC

  17. Comment by Jeff Weaver | 09.12.2016 | 7:26 pm

    Yea, I’ll write one, I need to get it down on paper anyway!

  18. Comment by NDE | 09.13.2016 | 3:05 pm

    I always wonder why I don’t see people using walkie talkies? you, lisa and your crew could keep in contact. it would really help at the Rockwell relay. The last time I did a 24 mtn race with a team of 4. it was always a guessing game when my time was up as the night went on.

  19. Comment by AKChick | 09.14.2016 | 12:00 am

    Hey Fatty! Congratulations on being No. 11 on the top 100 cycling blogs! You’re ahead of Bike Snob and RKP (they are 12 and 13 respectively)!


  20. Comment by Dwayne Byrd | 09.28.2016 | 3:31 am

    Great reading, you guys really give in-depth report.


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