The Worst Thursday, Part 3

06.11.2018 | 9:12 am

A Note from Fatty: If you haven’t already, you should read Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this part.

We were all gathered now — Lisa, Blake, Kylie, me, and Austin (the cop), at the last place Lisa had seen her dad. But two hours had gone by since he had been here, and — obviously — Dee was somewhere other than where we all were.

Lisa’s brother Scott joined us, having hiked over from Squaw Peak — since it was a mountain Dee knew well, it seemed possible he would have headed in that direction. A good idea, but no luck.

Blake and Scott trudged off in one direction together. Lisa and Kylie stayed close to where they had seen their dad most recently. I stood near Austin, looking down the face of the mountain into Utah Valley. Austin he talked on the radio, asking for the Life Flight helicopter to come over and to get search and rescue in motion. I was just hoping I’d hear anything useful that came over his radio.

The helicopter appeared and landed in a field in the valley. It couldn’t fly until a couple of paragliders got out of the area. Once they landed, the helicopter took off and started flying back and forth, scanning the mountain.

“You’d be amazed at how much they can see,” Austin said, somehow anticipating my question: “Is there any way they’ll be able to see a man wearing a neutral-colored hat and muted colors for both his shirt and pants?” (In case you’ve forgotten, Dee’s the one on the right in this photo — not exactly day-glo clothing.)

None of us knew what to do, and none of us wanted to acknowledge that it was getting dark, nor what that implied.

But the truth was: we weren’t dressed for how cold it was getting. I wasn’t dressed for being outside at all.

Finally, it was Austin who told us: “You’d better head down, guys. We have a team up here and we’ll find him.”

So we started heading down the trail, yelling Lisa’s dad’s name, knowing that he almost certainly wouldn’t hear us; his cochlear implant hadn’t really done much to improve his hearing even before his stroke. Now he hears — or understands — even less.

It got to be fully dark. I got out my phone, which fortunately still had close to a full charge. It makes a not-half-bad flashlight, at least for a while.

We came across the first search and rescue person before we were a mile down. “We are going to search through the night. We’ll find him,” the man assured us. I’ve never been so grateful for positive confident words like that, and I was glad Lisa heard them.

We continued down, Lisa crying most of the time. I was keeping a tight filter on my words, because I didn’t want people to hear what I was thinking: “It’s cold and dark and he has no light or water or a jacket or anything. I worry he won’t survive the night.”

I knew we were going home to the likelihood of just sitting and worrying through the night. Sleep wasn’t a remote possibility. We’d drive back here before it got light to start searching.

But I was terrified of what kind of condition he’d be in when we found him.

And we’ll pick up there in the next (and final, I think?) installment of this story.

 

The Racer With Samson Hair

06.8.2018 | 11:01 am

A Note from Fatty: For those of you who expected the next installment of my “Worst Thursday” series, that will come out Monday. Meantime, why don’t you enjoy this podcast instead? It’s a story-based episode, and definitely a story anyone can enjoy. – FC

In August 2015, I had the best day of my life, race-wise. That’s the year I finished the Leadville 100 in 8:12 minutes. I of course wrote a lengthy race report, including — in part 7 — a little digression about Dave Edwards, one of the really cool people who played an important part in my once-in-a-lifetime day. Here’s Dave and me — at this point basically complete strangers — a couple days before the race:

Dave had grown his hair, a la Sampson, as part of a complex set of negotiations with his wife. The end result was that he wouldn’t cut his hair until he crossed the finish line.

But things didn’t go as planned for him. In spite of all his training and planning, he missed the 40-mile cutoff and his race day ended before he was ready for it to end.

Which of course is sad, but which, in my opinion, also makes his story more relatable and compelling.

You hear from me about this race all the time, and with 20 of them completed, I can no longer really speak with conviction about the anxiety most racers have about this race: whether they’ll cross the finish line. I don’t remember how utterly crushing the altitude can be the first time you arrive in Leadville.

But Dave remembers, and I’m incredibly pleased to have finally heard and recorded his story as the first Friday Bonus Episode of the Leadville Podcast.

If you’ve thought about doing this race but haven’t yet, or if you’ve never considered (and will never consider) it but are curious what it might be like, Dave’s story is a great one to hear.

Please listen, subscribe, and let me know what you think!

Download on Apple Podcasts Stitcher

The Worst Thursday, Part 2

06.7.2018 | 9:16 am

A note from Fatty: Part 1 is here. If you haven’t read it yet, read it before reading today’s post.

Lisa’s dad, Dee, was gone. And now, by running around off-trail in the thick mountain scrub oak, Lisa was lost, too.

Lisa didn’t have her phone with her, either. She had left that, along with everything else, with Kylie when she took off running, looking for her father.

And it was starting to rain.

Lisa was now truly terrified. Cold, lost, and no closer to understanding where her father could be. And no way to call Kylie to tell her to call 911. To tell Kylie that she wasn’t sure where she was.

One Good Thing
And then Lisa’s watch rang. Because her watch is also a phone. Which, in her panic, she had forgotten.

It was Kylie. She had called 911. The police were on their way.

So now Lisa just needed to find the trail, stay warm, and hopefully find her dad.

And then Lisa’s watch died. Strava, it turns out, is not kind to the Apple Watch’s battery.

Going Up
Blake (Lisa’s son), Scott (Lisa’s brother), and I got to the trailhead at the same time, maybe 4:30pm or so, by which time Dee had been missing for an hour (or more? My memory of the timeline is fuzzy and for sure inaccurate). By now, though, nobody thought this was a wacky misunderstanding and that he’d turn up any minute.

Kerry (Lisa’s other brother) was already there. Scott and Blake had thought to pick up several coats at someone’s house (Dee’s, I think?), along the way. I was glad to take one; Lisa had told me it was cold and raining up on the mountain.

Kerry stayed at the trailhead parking lot handling logistics — police and concerned family communications — while Scott, Blake and I headed up the trail.

Before too long, a policeman on a police dirt bike came down the trail toward us, lights on. We stopped him, explained who we were, and Austin — the cop’s name is Austin — told us he’d been to the end of the trail but hadn’t found anyone.

We called Lisa — who had found her way back to the trail and was now reunited with Kylie, and she explained to him he needed to take a left at a fork early in the trail and then continue up the trail “that has a lot of bridges.”

Austin’s eyes widened. “You have an 86-year-old and 89-year-0ld at the top of that trail?” he said.

“These aren’t ordinary old men,” I said. “They’re more physically fit than most men half their age.”

And then I told him why I stressed the “physically” in “physically fit.”

Last October
Until last October, Dee had lived on his own. He had lost his wife during the summer, but he had his family close by and was still perfectly capable of taking care of himself.

Then one morning his sons came by to find Dee’s house trashed and Dee about to leave the house in his socks, making no sense at all. They called Lisa, who told them to call an ambulance immediately; Dee had almost certainly had a stroke.

Which was correct.

Dee recovered well in many ways. His mobility is unaffected and his personality is intact. But he’s more easily confused, he doesn’t reason as well, and his vision is severely affected.

And that, more than anything else, was why Lisa was panicked. It was so easy to picture him as having had another stroke. Or having fallen. Or just not being able to see what was in front of him and wandered off.

And since he has never been able to make heads or tails of the smart phone Kerry gave him for his birthday last year, and the cochlear implant has never really worked great, yelling and calling for him weren’t going to do much good either.

Austin went up on his motorcycle. Blake and I followed, hiking. Scott turned around and went back down; he was going to drive around and approach the mountain from Squaw Peak, looking for his father from a different direction.

Hope, Briefly
Blake and I and hiked up the increasingly steep singletrack, which I had never been up before. “Those old men really hiked this?” I asked Blake. “That’s insane.”

“Now you know where my mom gets it,” Blake said, although he knew I already knew.

We trudged up, my feet already hurting — having come directly from the office, I was not wearing shoes (or any other clothes) made for this kind of hike.

And then we saw a young woman, hiking down toward us with an old man. An old man who looked a lot like…Dee.

But it was Dee’s brother, Keith. Walking down the mountain in the company of a nice hiker who had volunteered to get him down off the mountain and out of the rain.

“I hope you find him safe and sound,” Keith told us. “But I suspect foul play.”

Up the Trail
Blake and I marched up the four miles of the trail, mostly keeping conversation light. I don’t know what was in Blake’s head, but I was trying to avoid thinking about the central thought: If Dee wasn’t on the one and only trail going up and down this mountain, he was off that trail, and there was no way that was going to end well.

I kept thinking about how I’d told Lisa, more than once, “Your dad is going to die while hiking.” Any time I had said it, I had meant it in a positive way. That he was such a strong old guy that he was going to be one of the lucky few people who died doing what he loved best. I’d go on to say I’ve always looked up to how tough he is, and have hoped that I’ll be able to keep that kind of fitness, so I can maybe die doing what I like doing.

I had a feeling that Lisa was revisiting my words and not finding any comfort in them at all. (Later, once this was over, Lisa told me I was right.)

We got to a steep, rocky section and. found Austin’s parked motorcycle — he wouldn’t be able to take it any further. Half a mile later, we found his bulletproof vest. didn’t need that, either.

Eventually, we got to a meadow and caught up with Austin, and called Lisa to find out how close we were. “I can hear you in real life, not just on the phone,” she answered, so we were close.

A moment later we were together: Kylie, Blake, Austin, Lisa, and me. Lisa hardly noticed Blake or me. I’ve never seen her so distressed, and hope to never see her that way again.

It was about 6pm. Maybe two hours of daylight left.

“I’m going to get the Life Flight helicopter out here to look for him and activate Search and Rescue,” Austin said.

And that’s where we’ll pick up next time.

The Worst Thursday, Part 1

06.6.2018 | 1:42 pm

A Note From Fatty: If you have ever carbo-loaded before a race, you should listen to the latest episode of The Leadville Podcast…even if you aren’t racing Leadville. If you have ever bonked during a race, you should listen to the latest episode of The Leadville Podcast…even if you aren’t racing Leadville. If you have ever wondered how much to eat every hour during a race, regardless of your size, you should listen to the latest episode of The Leadville Podcast…even if you aren’t racing Leadville. It’s the best show I’ve ever put together, by a lot.

Download on Apple Podcasts Stitcher

The Phone Call
I should begin this story with a disclaimer: everything works out OK in the end. I didn’t expect it to. Lisa didn’t either. The cops didn’t, the search and rescue people didn’t. But it did.

I’m not telling you this as a storytelling trick or to lure you into the story. I’m telling you this because, frankly, I don’t want you thinking I’d be writing this story at all if things had turned out the way I expected them to.

This happened three Thursdays ago. Everything here is true.

It’s Thursday, 4:30pm, and I’m at work. Lisa is out with her 86yo father — Dee — and his 89yo brother, Keith. These are two tough old birds, and a walk around the block doesn’t scratch their itch. They want to go up a 4mi steep singletrack trail.

Keith’s on the left here, Dee’s on the right.

Along with these two, Lisa had brought her niece, Kylie.

They made the trek to the top of the mountain without trouble. Which is pretty amazing when you think about it.

Then they turned around and started back.

A few minutes later, Lisa called me. “My father’s gone! he’s completely gone. He’s not on the trail, he’s not around the trail, he’s nowhere!”

When i say this, you have to understand: it took me several tries to understand her because she was screaming. Crying. Completely distressed. In the eight years we’ve been married, I’ve never heard her sound even remotely like this. Not once.

“I’ll call you back from the car,” I said. “I’m on my way there.”

Getting Clarification
I was on the freeway between Lehi and Provo, where the trailhead was. I called Lisa back. She told me that she had already called 911 and police were on their way.  ”Explain to me what happened,” I said.

“The four of us got to the top of the mountain together,” Lisa explained. “We had just turned around and were headed back down the trail when my dad needed to pee. The rest of us continued on for a minute, because Keith a little slower than my dad.”

“When he didn’t catch up to us after a minute or so,” Lisa continued, “I sent Kylie back to look for him. He wasn’t where we left him, so she continued to the end of the trail at the summit, and he wasn’t there either! He was just gone.”

“It doesn’t make sense,” I said, for the first time of probably hundreds of times that day. But each time I said it, there was a little part of me that said, “But it kind of does make sense.”

See, back last October, Dee had a stroke. It’s affected his eyesight, his memory, and his ability to think. So I could imagine too well that he’d had another stroke, had fallen, had walked off without any sense of what was going on, had fallen down the steep face of the mountain.

Anyway, when Kylie didn’t see Dee, she ran back to Lisa.

At which point lost it. Well and truly lost it.

She ran off trail, screaming her father’s name, running everywhere, yelling, yelling. Not looking where she was going, not caring.

Until, a mile or so later, she realized that now she was lost too.

Which is where I’ll pick up next time.

Feeding Frenzy!

06.5.2018 | 7:32 am

Every Tuesday (through August) is Leadville Podcast day, though frankly this show is about a lot more than just the Leadville 100. If you ride a lot and are interested in being able to ride better, faster, or happier, this is the episode for you.


Download on Apple Podcasts Stitcher

In this episode we go to the buffet — it’s almost all about food.

Dr Kevin Sprouse — Medical Director for the EF Education First / Drapac presented by Cannondale Pro Cycling Team — has a practical prescription for your race nutrition, including changes you need to start making right now. I have to say, it was a huge honor to talk with Dr. Sprouse. He brought an incredible amount of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t and made it incredibly accessible. Having a pro cycling doctor lay out — clearly and simply — do’s and don’ts for race-day nutrition gave me some ideas on how I’m going to refine my endurance food plans — and I’ve been doing this for decades!

Rebecca Rusch will reveal what’s in her feed bag in Our Questions for the Queen segment, then Fatty and Hottie talk about their respective Leadville menus (they’re miles apart).

We continue our mile-by-mile (or is that minute-by-minute?) analysis of the course, including pinpointing the first places you should get out something to eat.

Finally, Jonathan Lee’s training advice for this show is going to have you outside on a long ride, putting everything you learned about eating in this show into practice.

Since we talk about rice cakes very frequently during this episode, here’s a recipe for rice cakes from Dr. Allen Lim (of Feed Zone Cookbook fame), originally posted in FatCyclist.com:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked calrose or other medium-grain “sticky” or sushi rice (never use Basmati as it won’t stick.)
  • 3 cups water (Fatty swaps chicken broth out for this)
  • 8 ounces of bacon (prosciutto or sausage or even roasted chicken also works great)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons (or flavor to taste) of Braggs liquid Aminos (all natural soy sauce) or a low-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons (or flavor to taste) of brown sugar
  • Ground sea salt and grated Parmesan (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine rice and water in a rice cooker. Start rice cooker. If using a standard pot, combine rice and water, bring to a boil, then let simmer on low for about 20 minutes.
  2. While rice is cooking, chop up bacon before frying, then fry in a medium sauté pan. When crispy, drain off fat and soak up excess fat with paper towels.
  3. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and tehn scramble on high heat in the sauté pan. Don’t worry about overcooking the eggs as they’ll break up easily when mixed with the rice.
  4. In a large bowl or in the rice cooker bowl, combine the cooked rice, bacon, and scrambled eggs. Add liquid aminos or soy sauce and sugar to taste. After mixing, press into an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan to about 1 ½ inch thickness. Top with more sugar, salt, and grated Parmesan if desired.
  5. Cut and wrap individual cakes in a paper foil like Martha Wrap™. Makes about 10 cakes.

Thanks to Our Sponsors
We went out of our way, for this podcast, to reach out exclusively to companies we actually love and buy stuff from ourselves. Which is to say, you won’t find ads here for life insurance companies or mattresses or cooking kits that come to you in a box.

  • Shimano: Shimano XT Di2 is glorious anywhere, but its magnificence really comes into play when you’re 78 miles into a high-altitude race and are now at a part of the race where it would be really nice to shift pretty much constantly, precisely, and perfectly, without much effort. That’s Shimano XT Di2.
  • The Feed: The Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race is an eating contest disguised as a bike race, and you need to train for that eating contest. Get to know the good folks at The Feed and start using your race food plan now, before it’s too late. Get yourself a Leadville race pack or training pack, and use the code LEADVILLE15 for a 15% discount!
  • Banjo Brothers: A simple, sturdy, well-designed, time-tested saddle bag is a must during this race. Fatty’s trusted Banjo Brothers bags on his LT100 bike race for more than a decade.
  • ENVE: Whether you’re thinking about your cockpit or your wheels, the Leadville 100 is the very definition of an ENVE dream scenario. I’ve got an M5 bar and M525 wheels on his bike and rides without fear of broken components or pinch flats.

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