Leadville Silver Rush Race Report, Part 2: More Idiocy from an Idiot

07.26.2018 | 10:07 am

I was stuck. I’d managed, through an extraordinary combination of bad luck and stupid errors, to get a flat, fix the flat, and yet be unable to go anywhere.

I had lost a tool, searched for a tool, borrowed a tool, found the borrowed tool didn’t have a big enough hex key, and was now evaluating my options, which included:

  • Hanging around
  • Nothing to do but frown (some kind of lonely clown)
  • Contemplating the fact that race days and flat tires always get me down

Once again, I walked up and down the stretch of trail where I must have lost that tool. Once again I did not find it. In my mind’s eye I pictured when The Hammer rode by — days ago, it seemed. I knew for a fact that she had a tool mounted below her bottle cage. If only I would have stopped her, I’d be on my way right now. In fact, it would have been the most natural thing in the world for us to have ridden the rest of the race together — something we had discussed before the race, and which I had rejected. Because — ha! — I wanted the freedom to go as fast as I could when doing this race.

And then a guy on a Specialized Epic stopped, asking if I needed any help.

Instantly, my eye was drawn to the place, right below his bottle cage, where — like The Hammer’s, like (until recently) mine — a multi-tool was mounted.

“Can I borrow your multitool for just a moment?” I asked.

And two minutes later, I was rolling. Axle tightened, drivetrain shifting. Hopeful that my race day troubles were behind me.

They were not behind me. Indeed, they had only just begun.

Which seems like a good place for us to pick up in the next…no, just kidding. I’m not done writing today’s story yet.

Ten Seconds Later

I had been riding for ten seconds — maybe twenty, maybe half a minute, you know how time distorts when you’re racing — when I realized something was wrong.

Namely, that everything seemed super bright. And kind of blurry.

Which made sense, because I was no longer wearing my glasses.

Now, such is my race-induced insanity that I very nearly said, “Screw it,” and kept going. But then I reconsidered. These weren’t just sunglasses. They were very expensive prescription Oakley Flak Jackets. Riding away from them would be very much like riding away from $500. And also I would be having a very soft-focused race, which sounds kind of pleasant except for the way I’d only know how big obstacles were by how much they hurt when I hit them.

So I stopped, turned around, and rode back to where I had set them down to fix my tire — a place where I had now spent enough time that I could actually declare it as my place of legal residence.

You’d think that I’d have trouble riding against race traffic by doing this, and you’d be wrong. Why? because I had now spent so much time on this debacle that I was very nearly at the back of the race. Only occasional riders went by now, giving me curious looks, probably wondering what had happened that I had given up on this thing so early.

I found my glasses, got back on my bike, and resumed the race. Curious how far behind The Hammer I now was.

Unaware that however far behind her I was at that moment, I was about to become much further behind her.

Which seems like a good place…no, I’m kidding again. We’re going to get through this in-progress disaster today.

Let’s Go

The nice thing about having been stopped for twentyish minutes (I’m guessing; it may have been much less time, but it may also have been more — like I said, time really distorts when you’re racing) so early in the race is that when you re-start, you’re among people who are friendly and happy to talk, instead of hell-bent on some arbitrary race objective (i.e., people like me). I got lots of “hellos” and “good jobs” and “have a great race,” wishes. It raised my spirits immeasurably, and I resolved to go hard but also be nice and have fun.

This mood did not last long. Probably about ten minutes (final race time distortion disclaimer here, by now you know not to take my time estimates literally in these stories) later, I felt the same squishy tire sensation that I’d had in the first place.

Let’s Stop Again

Yep, the tire was going flat. The CO2 I had used the first time had leaked out.

Which left me with a conundrum, again.

“The bike just sat there for a long time after the first flat I had,” I thought to myself. “It’s entirely possible that the sealant didn’t plug whereever the hole is (I couldn’t find a hole) because the tire wasn’t rotating, so the centrifugal effect couldn’t get the sealant where it needed to be.”

“Or,” I countered to myself, “maybe I need to put in a tube.”

But here’s the problem. I didn’t have a way to put a tube in. Because of course I didn’t have a tool to take my wheel off my bike.

So my choice was actually to either wait ’til I could flag someone down who would loan me a tool, or to use my second (of three) CO2 cartridges to get myself riding again instantly.

I put some CO2 in, and this time saw where the problem with the rear wheel was: a knob had ripped off the tire and sealant was quickly bubbling through it.

I didn’t even start riding. I knew that tire wouldn’t last long. Instead, I began answering as people rode by asking if I need help, “Yeah I need a hex wrench.”

“What size?”

“A big one.”

Most people would — confounded by the weird combination of specificity and vagueness of my need — shake their heads and continue.

Let’s Go One Last Time

And then a guy — once again on a Specialized with the very conveniently-mounted (unless of course you lose it) tool rode up, and I waved frantically. “Can I have your multi-tool? I need it to get the wheel off my bike so I can change it,” I said.

The man stopped and began to oblige, but I continued, because I had a horrible caveat I needed to share. “The thing is, I need it both to at the beginning and end of the tire change,” I said. “To get the wheel off and then back on the bike. And I don’t want to make you wait or leave you stranded without a tool if you need it.”

“I know who you are, Fatty,” he said. “I’ll leave you this tool, and you need to make a fast change and then ride like hell to catch me and get this tool back to me before this race is over.”

A challenge. I like challenges.

“I’ll do my best,” I said.

And I got to work while this man — the second man to do so in this race — left me with his multi-tool, trusting his luck wouldn’t be as bad on this course as mine had been.

And I’m happy to say that the removal of the wheel, the booting of the tire, the adding and inflation of the tube, and replacement of the wheel all went without incident.

It did, however, mean that I had now burned through all three of my CO2 cartridges in the first eight or so miles of the race. I still had another tube, but no way to inflate it.

Hopefully that wouldn’t be an issue.

I got on my bike and rode with a brand new kind of intensity, because I now had a whole raft of race objectives: catch this man and return his multi-tool. Catch and return my friend Kevin’s multi-tool. And — finally, hopefully — catch The Hammer and ride the rest of the race with her.

And that — for reals this time — is where we’ll pick up in the next installment of this story.


  1. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 07.26.2018 | 11:16 am

    Been there, Done that at 8hrs of New Wente. (which should be a Fatty Round-up)
    No levers to remove the tire, by hand, sealant all over me and then trying to get it back on, slippery, messy, dumb.

    But still got 2nd in age group. (Allahu Akbar, not many old guys in this race)

  2. Comment by Corrine | 07.26.2018 | 12:35 pm

    Now I have that Carpenter’s song stuck in my head. Thanks, Fatty!
    What a story. I’ve been debating whether or not I would hand over my multitool to somebody else in a race. That’s a hard question. Glad these guys trusted you and their luck to hand over their mutiltool so you could still race. Can’t wait to hear what comes next. It’s got to get easier, right?

  3. Comment by Eric | 07.26.2018 | 7:17 pm

    Ahem……What about the 100 Miles of Nowhere?

    All in good time. – FC

  4. Comment by Hannah | 07.27.2018 | 2:19 pm

    So pleased you are back writing.

  5. Comment by DanielH | 07.28.2018 | 4:13 pm

    Just did my every six months or so visit to the site and, wow! So glad you’re back!

  6. Comment by MCcaria | 07.29.2018 | 12:13 am

    Searching fat cyclist just to see if there had been any tweets etc updating what you are up to. Happy to see the blog back up and running. Now have some catching up to do.

  7. Comment by DonQ | 08.20.2018 | 5:22 pm

    I just finished your leadville podcast race report. How long are you going to leave us in suspense on this one!?

  8. Comment by Mike | 09.7.2018 | 3:25 pm

    Just found you’re back and have read all your new posts (and subscribed to the podcast and going through it). I hope you do finish off this story!


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