A Note from Fatty: If you’ve had enough jibber-jabber and are looking for the registration / donation pages, here you go:
I sometimes wonder about evolution. About what particular combination of circumstances, challenges, advantages and environment has led various life forms to the place where they are now.
In particular, I sometimes wonder what almost impossibly-difficult-to-calculate set of factors occurring over unfathomable millennia resulted in what is, without question, my single greatest — and only quantifiable — super power:
The ability to ride my bike very fast while simultaneously eating a lot of food.
More specifically, to ride my bike really fast for a few minutes. And then to stop and eat a bunch of donuts.
And then to do that very same thing again.
With such a powerful gift, I believe it goes without saying that I am looking forward to the 2014 Utah Tour de Donut.
And you should be too. Especially if you live in Utah. And doubly especially if you live in the Salt Lake or Utah County area.
It’s ridiculous. It’s fun. And it raises a lot of money for causes I care about.
And it’s Saturday, September 27, at 8:00am.
You should register now.
Here’s How It Works
The rules of the Tour de Donut are simple (and detailed here), but really it’s very simple: You ride around a short, seven mile course three times. After laps 1 and 2, you stop and have the option to eat donuts — as many as you would like.
For every donut you eat, three minutes is subtracted off your total race time.
So, if you can eat a donut in less than three minutes, it pays to eat a donut. Up to a point. After which point (and you’ll have to figure out where that point is), there’s nothing in the world that could be sufficient incentive to eat another donut.
My limit, as I have discovered in past years (here are my writeups from 2010 and 2011), is around thirteen. Which is a lot…though nowhere close to a winning time (for that I’d need to have eaten 25 donuts), like Regan Fackrell, whose very name causes those of us who know what’s what in the famous Tour de Donut world to tremble in terror.
And to be honest, this year I don’t even expect to come close to my best finishing time; I’m going to be riding alongside my twin daughters. We’ll go their pace (The Hammer will probably be doing a 50K trail race that day).
I do, however, reserve the right to try to set a donut consumption PR. Anything higher than 13 will get me there.
Anyone want to bet for me on this? Against me?
Why You Should Be a Part of This
The Utah Tour de Donut is run by The Rotary Club of American Fork — which I am not a member of, because they said I was too great a legal risk.
No, they didn’t really say that. I’m just too lazy to join.
But I do love what the Rotary Club does, both for local and for worldwide causes.
Like, a part of the money raised will go to World Bicycle Relief.
But for this race, the local causes, in particular, are important to me. Thanks to the Tour de Donut, Lambert Park (which is close to my house) got some much-needed money when Alpine got flooded last year.
And more importantly, because of the Tour de Donut, the cancer wing in the hospital where Susan got treatment, has a nice blanket warmer:
It’s hard to read it in that picture, so a closeup of the plaque:
Yeah. I like that a lot.
Register…Or Just Donate
If you live in the area, you should seriously come do this with us. It’s silly, goodhearted fun that does a lot for good causes. Plus, friends of Fatty get a $5 discount. Just click here register, then enter “fatdonut2014” in the discount code section of the checkout form.
And if you don’t live anywhere near the race, why don’t you make the world think you did this race by buying a sticker for $5.00. It looks like this:
Obviously, it’s suitable for sticking on a bumper sticker — whether on your car or someone else’s is up to you.
To donate $5, click here to go to the Fundraiser page, then set the quantity to 5 (or multiples of 5 if you want more than one sticker).
I hope to see you there. If you’re not afraid of witnessing my superpower in action, that is.
A Note from Fatty: If you already know what this is about and how it works and now just want the link to donate, just click here to go to the fundraising page.
Things were not looking good. Not good at all. But now they’re looking good. For me, and for the GranFondo. And — most especially — for you.
To catch you up, things started getting ugly early this week when I said that I won’t be able to go to Levi’s GranFondo this year. The BikeMonkey guys — in a typical mega-company aggressive move — reacted by telling me that if I’m not coming to their party, I needed to reimburse them for certain…former indiscretions.
The conversation continued in Twitter, where I tried to come to reasonable terms.
The Bike Monkey bureaucrats would not budge.
Always trying to collaborate and drive to consensus, I tried again:
They continued to not budge.
I admit, I became desperate and made a suggestion I am not proud of.
Even that would not sway them.
I could tell I wasn’t getting anywhere with Bike Monkey, nor was I likely to. So I sent a message to Levi Leipheimer, hoping he could make them see reason.
It took a little back and forth, but eventually he relented.
To which I replied:
Because I did, in fact, have a plan. A very good plan.
A plan I think you’re going to like.
A Conversation With Levi
I called Levi. (Yes, I have his phone number, which he is none too happy about. But that’s beside the point.) The conversation went like this.
Me: So the Bike Monkey guys are invoicing me for around $34,000.
Me: That’s a lot of money.
Me: You know that I don’t have that kind of money, right? Not even close?
Me: Those guys at Bike Monkey have hearts of stone.
Me: And I’m pretty sure you do, too.
Me: But your wife, Odessa, on the other hand, seems like a genuinely good person. Someone who volunteers a ton of her time for a really amazing charity: Forget Me Not Farm. Where they bring together both kids and animals that have been abused, and help them heal each other?
Me: That’s pretty incredible. In fact, that’s amazing. I’d love to be a part of a program like that.
Me: I can hear “Judge Judy” on in the background. You’re not even listening, are you?
Me: So I could pretty much propose anything and you’d agree to it right now, right?
Me: How about this, then. Instead of me paying back Bike Monkey, how about we do a fundraiser for Forget Me Not Farm, instead?
Me: I’m recording this you know; you won’t be able to get out of this once you commit. So you’re in?
Me: OK. So here’s what I’m thinking we do. We have people donate multiples of $5 to my GranFondo fundraising page, with each $5 getting them a chance at the prize. The more you donate, the better your chance at winning.
Me: The prize is going to need to be awesome, though. Something crazily cool. Something that knocks people off their feet. Something that ropes you and Bike Monkey into doing most of the work, leaving my readers and me to just donating some money and then winning a cool prize. One that Bike Monkey provides at their expense, not mine.
Me: Hey, it’s been great talking with you. I’m going to get off the phone now and tell my readers what the prize will be, OK?
And then we hung up. Or at least, I hung up.
Levi may still be on the phone.
Race, Ride and Road Trip With Fatty and Levi
Boggs is not just a bike race. It’s three bike races: A hill climb. An Eight-Hour Race. And a Super D. And it’s in a spectacular location.
I’ve wanted to do it ever since I’ve known it exists. And now I’m going to get to.
And so — if you win — are you.
But that leaves us with a problem: who will be the third member on our team when we do the eight-hour race?
Levi Leipheimer, that’s who.
That’s right. The winner of this contest will be flown to Oakland or San Francisco, California, where you’ll be driven to Santa Rosa. We’ll hang out. Then you, me, and Levi will load up into an RV, and we’ll go road-tripping to Boggs.
You’ll be entered in all three events, though the only one I care about is that you will race with Levi and me in the eight-hour event.
And here’s the cool thing: I guarantee that we will win our category…because we will be racing in our own category.
That’s right. I’m guaranteeing you a podium spot in an eight-hour relay race. No matter how fast you are. Or how slow. Honestly, neither Levi nor I really care. We’re just looking forward to having fun.
Let’s Get Specific
So, to be clear, here’s what the prize of the “Race with Levi and Fatty” contest looks like:
- Round-trip travel for one to and from SFO or OAK from any destination in the contiguous 48 states
- Transfers to and from SFO or OAK to Santa Rosa lodging
- RV rental, camp fees, and gas from Friday, May 1 to Sunday May 3
- Race entry to all three events (Hill Climb, 8-Hour Race, Super D)
- 8-Hour event on a team with Levi and Fatty
- Groceries at Boggs (3 days food and drink)
- Event t-shirt
- Medal, poster, rider meal
- Big delicious beers
- Bike Rental
- Pie — lots and lots of pie
Seriously, this might be the coolest — and is certainly the most unique — prize I have ever put together.
But What If You Don’t Mountain Bike AT ALL?
Like I said, neither Levi nor I are really out for blood (though I reserve the right to change my attitude when the heat of the battle is upon me) in this race. We don’t care if you’re a near-pro or a novice. We’re here for the fun of it.
But if you just don’t want to do an MTB event at all, you should still enter this contest. Because you can swap this prize out for a 2015 trip to Levi’s GranFondo, instead, with equivalent level of luxury. Like, they’ll fly you out, put you up in a hotel, set you up with the whole VIP experience.
So, roadies, you have no excuse. Whatever way you go, we’ve got you covered.
So. Go donate. You’ll be helping an amazing cause (the GranFondo supports a number of great causes, but in this case we’re specifically raisin money for Forget Me Not Farms).
And good luck. I’m looking forward to racing with you.
And Levi will look forward to it too I’m sure, as soon as he finds out that he is.
Wow. Just wow.
I genuinely and completely honestly had no idea what a Pandora’s box of worms yesterday’s post would open. I mean, I just — as pleasant as could be — announced that, as much as I would like to, I will not be able to attend Levi’s GranFondo this year.
You’d think they’d understand.
And you’d be wrong, apparently, to think that.
Almost instantly after I posted yesterday, I got the following message from the GranFondo:
Naturally, this put me on my guard, but — as a beloved and award-winning blogger — I chose to take the high road. I replied:
Almost as if they were lurking on Twitter, ready to pounce on my reply, they shot back:
and then even Levi, with whom I have in the past had a somewhat acrimonious relationship — but who I thought is now my friend — ominously chimed in:
Was I wigged out? You bet I was wigged out.
A Most Unwelcome Letter
And then the other shoe dropped. Late yesterday afternoon, a bike messenger came by FatCyclist.com worldwide HQ (i.e., my basement) and delivered the following, which I have scanned and reproduced so that you can tell it is absolutely real:
The text is kind of small — which is irritating, because the above is the actual size of the letter delivered to me — so here’s the text of the above letter, which I have painstakingly retyped for your convenience.
It has come to our attention that you will not be able to participate with us at Levi’s GranFondo on this, our sixth year. We are certainly disappointed that you will be breaking your admirable attendance record, but do understand that life is a complicated symphony with many constituent parts with which to contend and balance.
That said, it seems appropriate that we take this break in our association to balance our respective ledgers. We are always happy to host a cyclist of your repute, especially one engaged in the noble art of bloggery. However, as you will see in the enclosed invoice, hosting your particular personality does not come without its obligations. You are a colorful character, Mr. Nelson, in a world far too content to be pale and gray.
However, we cannot ignore the costs associated with such charisma, especially as we are a charity event and the indulgences enumerated here don’t quite jive with our efforts to support at-risk children, youth cycling, and community resources like schools and fire departments.
Please do remit payment upon receipt. We are a flexible bunch, but would like to settle this considerable matter with as much swiftness as is possible.
All our best,
Director of Communications
Chief Officer, Risk Management
This, of course, was accompanied by an invoice for things I evidently am responsible for:
Here is the text from that invoice, just in case you don’t have Super Magnification Vision:
- Two nights, Motel 6 ($39.95/night): 79.90
- Damage deposit, vending machine: $450
- In-and-Out Burger, multiple meals: $43.15
- Pie: $8.79
- Round trip bus fare, Greyhound, Salt Lake City to Santa Rosa: $85
- Three nights, Holiday Inn Santa Rosa ($149.95/night): $449.85
- Minibar, mostly Butterfingers and Bud Light: $156
- Movie rentals, restricted content: $32
- Lump sum, incl. pie: $200
- Airfare to/from SLC/SFO, unscheduled layover in Las Vegas: $500
- Bike rental, NorCal Bike Sport: $200
- Two second-row seats, Doobie Brothers Reunion, Luther Burbank Center: $225
- Two sleeveless concert t-shirts, “Reeling In The Years”: $70
- Auction losses due to Mr. Nelson standing in front of various silent auction items, intimidating prospective bidders, because “this one’s going home with me, lady.”: $1750
- Fry Sauce at Festa del Fondo fundraising dinner, half case: $72.50
- 3.2% beer at Festa del Fondo fundraising dinner, 1.5 cases ($12.25, plus $250 air freight from Utah): $262.25
- Three nights, Hyatt Vineyard Creek ($259.95/night): $779.85
- Lump sum, incl. pie: $800
- Airfare to/from SLC/SFO, upgraded cabin: $1600
- California Dept. of Agriculture quarantine violation, excessive snacks brought on board: $345
- Town car transfer to/from hotel, including in-vehicle amenities: $275
- Bike rental, NorCal Bike Sport: $200
- In-room mariachi band: $750
- Three hours, contract review, Fat Cyclist appearance agreement: $435
- Removal of all brown M&Ms from in-room gift bag by legal team: $775
- Restocking fees, multiple (sweaty) used returns of GranFondo merchandise: $40
- Staff losses due to prank calls from Mr. Nelson during key event planning meetings, i.e. the refrigerator does not need to be caught, Prince Albert is not actually in the can, no one named I.P. Freely works at Bike Monkey.: $145
- Four nights, Hyatt Vineyard Creek penthouse ($625/night): $2500
- Room service, off-menu orders: $324
- In-room massage, plus gratuity: $588
- Pool cleaning fee: $1250
- Damage deposit, plumbing: $742
- Lump sum, incl. lots of pie: $1200
- Private charter, Sunlight Transportation Services: $7129
- Rental car, Wine Country Dream Cars: $1200
- Damage deposit, stained upholstery: $325
- Excess luggage services: $110
- Ambulance: $800
- Emergency outpatient surgery: $2435
- Small claims representation, plea consultation, bond, etc.: $1485
- Public relations costs stemming from message control regarding the GranFondo and its invited guests while in the Sonoma County area: $1290
2014 (Preliminary Measures)
- Law Enforcement Notification: $176.42
- Insurance Services, including naming lodging partner as additional insured, expanded policy coverage: $556
- Deposit loss, private security: $850
- Deposit loss, skydiving instructor: $180
- Custom Fat Cyclist-branded ankle bracelet/tracker: $675
GRAND TOTAL, WITH 2014 COSTS: $34,344.71
Looking at this itemized list, I am — as you would expect — outraged.
I could say that this list is a crazy, drug-induced lie. In fact, I would say that…except the Bike Monkey people evidently have surprisingly comprehensive documentation of pretty much every line item in that that invoice.
Which means I’ve got a problem. A $34,000 problem.
And I’m not sure what to do about it.
A Note from Fatty: So here we are: the final post in my admittedly over-the-top Leadville series. Don’t be sad, though: we won’t run out of stories to tell. Since the Leadville race, I’ve raced (and been disqualified from) the Jordanelle Triathlon, raced Rebecca’s Private Idaho, took the winner of The Hammer’s WBR fundraising contest to the Gooseberry Yurt, and am now getting ready to race a half-iron-distance Tri, as well as — the following week — an Xterra. And then there will be the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow.
And that doesn’t even touch some of the other stuff I have to talk about.
My point being, I’ll have stories to tell for a while.
OK. So that’s what’s coming up. Now, let’s get to the conclusion of The Hammer’s telling of her racing of the Leadville 100 with Rebecca Rusch.
If I was asked to sum up the Powerline climb in one word, I could do it. Easily.
This was my tenth racing of the Leadville 100. Which means it was my tenth time climbing Powerline during the race.
It has not gotten any easier.
In fact, I’m going to rank the difficulty of this racing of the Leadville 100 Powerline climb right up there with my first time climbing Powerline, back in 2000. My stomach was hurting so bad — it felt like it was bloated to the size of a basketball, and was pressing now on my diaphragm.
I could hardly breathe.
I was taking little tiny breaths, which I’m sure was making the problem worse.
I thought about how ridiculous it was that, just minutes ago, I had been looking forward to this part of the race. How had I thought pushing my bike would offer some relief? Of course it didn’t.
I could hardly walk and was stumbling and shuffling. Hardly moving at all. Meanwhile, Rebecca was taking huge steps, moving up the trail as fast as if she’d been riding.
Then I heard a man’s voice. A familiar man’s voice.
“Hey, can I get around you? That’s my wife up there two bikes ahead and I’d like to walk with her for a minute.”
I looked back in time to see a couple of racers step aside, probably grateful for the short break.
My sweet honey had caught back up to me.
Photo by Linda Guerrette. Used with permission.
I think he began to profess his undying love for me, but honestly I was too far in the pain cave to hear or really appreciate it.
Rebecca was in no mood for his kind of talk, either. “This is no time for a love connection! Let’s get moving!”
Later Rebecca would explain her reaction: She didn’t want me getting emotional and weepy on the climb. And I have to agree: tears and racing do not go well together.
Elden stepped up his pace and quickly moved on by—He didn’t want to upset the Queen of Pain.
Friend of Fatty
Rebecca could tell I was struggling. She came back, held up my bike, and told me to take some nice big breaths and try to relax.
I ate a Gu, had a drink, and we continued up the hill. Elden was no longer in sight. I was glad he at least was doing well — those electrolyte capsules must have done their job!
As I crested the first false summit — and the end of the hike a bike section — a guy ran up to me. “Hey Hammer! You’re doing awesome! Fatty has just instructed me to pour this water over your head and give you a push!”
“Go for it!” I said. The water felt refreshing. He then did a wonderful thing. He had me climb on my bike, he balanced me while I clipped in (which I found very hard to do after walking uphill) and then gave me an incredible push! Wow! Just what I needed!
Later, after the race, as Elden and I were talking about the memorable moments of the day, Elden asked if a guy in a pizza costume had given me a push after the hike-a-bike section of the Powerline climb. “A pizza costume?” I replied.
“Yeah, a guy in a pair of shorts and a top that made him look like a slice of pepperoni pizza.”
I guess it shows how delirious I was that it didn’t even register in my mind that this Friend of Fatty was dressed as a slice of pizza!
(Or was it Elden who was delirious — imagining people in pizza costumes? I guess we’ll never know.)
The Benefits of Sheer Exhaustion
I headed into the first small descent — a quick, short, rocky dip. I was too exhausted to even touch the brakes and just numbly rolled over everything.
Then, when we started climbing again, Rebecca caught up with me and complimented me on my great descent.
“I’m too tired to be scared anymore,” I replied.
The Tipping Point
The climb continued, and I managed, somehow, to keep pedaling…s-l-o-w-l-y. I felt like I was moving through molassess. I have never felt so pooped.
Rebecca passed me.
“Goodbye Reba,” I thought, too tired to tell her to wait up. “And goodbye sub-nine. I’m falling apart. My stomach will explode soon. Maybe then I will feel better.”
And then I tipped over.
Just fell over.
I found myself laying on my side, in the bushes, with my feet still clipped into the pedals. It was nice to lie down.
A guy passed me. “Are you OK?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m OK.”
“Are you embarrassed?“
So I laid there and let a few more bikers pass. Then, slowly, I untangled myself from the bike and stood up.
I tried to remount my bike, but the pedals wouldn’t turn. I thought maybe my chain had fallen off. It hadn’t.
So I just stood and looked blankly at my bike…as if I had never seen a bike before. It’s funny how your brain can stop working when you’re completely beat.
Finally, I had a moment of clarity. I shifted the rear derailleur, the chain dropped onto a cog, and I was up and moving again.
I think that little wreck actually hit my reset button. I quickly passed the bikers that had passed while I was “resting.” I caught up with Rebecca, who had pulled over to wait. I explained that I had tipped over, but now I was up…and feeling much better.
I finished off the Powerline climb with newfound energy. I was going to make it, I realized. I was almost to the top of the Powerline climb and I was going to finish this thing. We rolled over the top of the climb and started flying down the other side.
I have never been so grateful for a descent in my life.
My body relaxed, my breathing calmed down. I ate a delicious Root Beer Float GU and giggled. I was on a descent…and enjoying it! Rebecca pulled up beside me—looking amazed at how fast I was going.
I followed her lead, tearing down the mountain and bunnyhopping over rocks. Who was this person who had temporarily taken over my body?
I think this was my first — and possibly only — true rest since the start of the race. I had killed myself on the climbs, turned myself inside out on the flats and had been scared shitless on the descents.
It was so good to just coast!
Eventually all good things come to end and so did the SugarLoaf descent. We now embarked on the fast smooth dirt road leading to the paved road. Rebecca must have sensed I was feeling better and yelled back to me while smacking her butt.
“Don’t relax now, You need to keep pedaling!”
I once again fell into my place behind her wheel, and we flew down the hill toward the pavement.
As we pulled onto the pavement, I was so happy to see that we had caught Elden again. I pulled alongside him and grabbed something to eat. I had just swallowed my GU and got my water bottle out for a fresh swig of water—I had hit my Roctane drink limit.
I was still holding on to the water bottle when Rebecca smacked her butt and began yelling at me again. “Pedal, pedal, pedal! I know you can pedal and eat at the same time!” she urged me on.
Well, maybe I could pedal and eat, but I didn’t think I could descend at 30mph and put a water bottle away! I was in a true dilemma: I knew Elden was right behind me, and I didn’t want to swerve into him or drop the bottle right into his path. So I clutched the bottle and my handlebar with my right hand and prayed I wouldn’t need to brake!
I hit the corner and the road turned sharply up. I slowed down and was able to safely put my bottle away. Phew!
Love Connection, Part 2
The paved road climb is a welcome change from the slow progression up the Powerline climb. Sure, you’re climbing about 1300 feet in four miles, but the road is smooth and when you pedal you actually feel like you’re going somewhere.
As we settled into the climb, my Honey came cruising by me. He passed me like I was standing still! We exchanged “I love you’s” and I watched him disappear up the road.
Then Greg — Reba’s boyfriend — appeared on his motorcycle. I heard Rebecca sigh. Rebecca told me that Greg usually finds her on this climb and she looks forward to it every year. I heard them giggle–they must have been making a “love connection.”
As the road continued to climb, a kind man appeared, handing out cold cans of Coke. Rebecca grabbed one, drank some and offered me the rest. My stomach was still feeling bad and I refused. She insisted, So I drank. My stomach gurgled…but within 5 minutes I started feeling the caffeine have its effect.
I love caffeine.
I had it in my brain that the Carter Summit aid station was located at mile ninety. In fact, I actually shared this nugget of information with my niece Lindsey, so she would know what to expect.
So as you’d expect, I was happy to see my Garmin reaching the ninety mile mark — signifiying the top of the climb.
But something horrible happened: the road kept climbing. ninety miles came and went.
Then ninety-one came and went, too.
I was getting angry. In addition to wanting this stupid climb to end, I was feeling bad because I had told Lindsey wrong. She would be experiencing these same feelings in the very near future.
Finally, at mile 91.5, (making for the longest 1.5 miles of the race), we came to the Carter aid station. Reba said she was going to stop for a minute. I continued on, since I had been told that I can eat and pedal at the same time.
I thought about that I would probably only have to eat one more GU before I was finished.
When Rebecca caught me, she reminded me that I still needed to pedal on the flats! That was okay with me; I was feeling good. Knowing that the end was near gave me new strength.
As I hit the last steep climb, I reflected on how I felt on the same climb last year on my singlespeed…and I was again grateful for my gears as I cleaned the last real steep climb of the race.
Before I knew it, we were bombing down the back side of St Kevens. I was feeling great and actually leading out Rebecca. I came to a fork in the road, bore right, and heard Rebecca yell, “NOOOOOO!”
I slammed on my brakes and made a quick U-turn. How embarrassing! Even more embarrassingly, I have to admit I’ve made that same mistake before.
I think it shows my level of concentration and focus on the task at hand. Yeah, let’s go with that.
As the St Kevens road leveled off, Rebecca pulled up alongside me and said, “If we can maintain six miles per hour, we will make it,” she said.
I couldn’t believe it: Rebecca had finally admitted that we might just make our sub-nine goal.
“But that doesn’t mean you can stop pedaling,” she reminded me, and then pulled ahead of me and started smacking her butt.
The Selene Train
As we pulled onto the pavement, I ate the last GU in my pocket and took a big drink of water. My stomach was still terribly bloated, but I didn’t want to run out of energy on “The Boulevard” — the dirt road climb that seems like it was put in the race to break new racers’ hearts and spirits.
The Pain/Hammer train eventually caught the Selene Train. Selene was cruising along, pulling her all-male caboose. So typical.I remembered last year, on my singlespeed, pulling two guys along this strip of road — who then promptly used their conserved energy to blow past me at the end of the Boulevard climb.
Selene’s train combined with ours and we motored on. It wasn’t too much longer until our train blew by my Elden, spun out on the flat road, unable to keep up with or latch onto any of the trains of racers going by.
“You’re gonna do it Honey!” he shouted at me.
“Wahoo!” I yelled. “I love you! See you soon!”
Now Elden thought I could do this too, so it must be true! I was feeling great. No, I was unstoppable.
I hadn’t even entertained the thought that I might beat Elden!
Blowup on the Boulevard
As we turned the corner and started up the rocky section of the Boulevard, Selene and Rebecca pulled ahead. My huge surge of energy from a moment ago was completely gone now. My legs suddenly didn’t want to turn the pedals at all.
I was just so tired. My stomach was really hurting. Everyone seemed pretty confident that I was going to make sub-nine. Maybe I could back off just a little?
I needed to keep moving.
I didn’t think Rebecca had noticed I was falling off the back, so I stood up and started climbing. That didn’t last long, so I sat and turned the cranks.
After that initial steep pitch, the Boulevard does level off and I caught back up to them. I had only two miles left. I needed to hold it together just a little longer. So I put my head down and pedaled.
“Just a little bit longer, just a little bit longer,” I kept repeating to myself.
I wasn’t having very much fun.
One Last Love Connection
At last I could see where the dirt meets pavement…and that’s when I heard a familiar voice. It was my sweetheart — he had finally caught up to us. I don’t think I have ever been so excited to see him.
I was feeling so terrible and I needed to unload on someone — someone who cared. And I knew Elden would be sympathetic, so I started to whine. “My stomach hurts so bad! I’m so tired!”
I knew my pace was slowing, but I didn’t really care. Elden was here and he would take care of me. I started to “paper boy” (swerve from side to side) as we started up the last paved climb, by the high school.
But instead of giving me sympathy…he turned into another slave driver!
“Don’t slow down now, Honey!” he urged me. “If we hurry we can cross the finish line in 8:39! Then you have bragging rights to an “eight-thirthish” Leadville! That sounds better than eight-forty!”
That actually made sense to me. Damnit! I had worked so hard today, I deserved an “eight-thirtyish” finish.
So I straightened out the bike, put my head down and pedaled.
I glanced up momentarily to see the “Slow” sign at the top of the hill. I had made it. The finish was in sight. I would have cried if I hadn’t been so tired. I started to pedal down the hill — Rebecca didn’t have to remind me to pedal this time!
Rebecca dropped back, pulling beside me. My head was still down as we approached the finish line. I was in a daze. I didn’t know where Elden was; I didn’t know where Rebecca was.
Then I felt someone grasp my hand and raise it high in the sky: my teammate Rebecca.
Photo by Linda Guerrette. Used with permission.
A smile spread across my face. My teammate was at my side celebrating our victory.
We had done it.
The next few minutes were a blur of pictures, hugs, dirty faces and flowers.
Photo by Linda Guerrette. Used with permission.
And then I looked over and saw my brother. The last time I had seen him I had been a monster!
I ran over to him and the tears burst out of me. “I’m so sorry, Scott! I can’t believe how mean I was! I was out of my mind. Will you forgive me?”
Scott laughed and said, “It’s no big deal, Lisa! I know how you get when you race!” (Scott has trained with me and crewed for me in the past and been my brother for 46 years!)
“I love you Scott! Thank you for putting up with me!”
There’s a great quote in Reba’s book:
There’s a Moroccan proverb that advises you to “choose your companion before your road.” It’s something adventure racing hammers home. Being bone tired, hungry, scared, and potentially lost magnifies every aspect of your personality. Your true self is stripped bare, like the landscape here. This is why even in light of the physical nature of the event and the danger it presents, it’s team dynamics that truly make or break the experience. You may like someone personally, but are they the right companion for the arduous journey? On the flip side, you might find someone with all the skills for the excursion, but can they operate and collaborate in a group setting? The whole must be stronger than the parts. You need to function as a single unit out there, so it’s paramount that each member be on the same page. (page 67-68)
I had all the right teammates for my 2014 Leadville experience. It started with my loving husband and lifelong teammate Elden. We had trained hard every day leading up to the event. He knows me inside and out. He loves me no matter what.
I had my fantastic crew, made up of great friends and family. Even when I was freaked out and losing time, Scott and his group remained calm and did what they were supposed to. Scott knows that I only become possessed by evil demons on rare occasions.
Well, a week before this event she didn’t even know me. During the week leading up to the race, she had taken the opportunity to evaluate me. She assessed my strengths and my weaknesses.
Then, on race day, she figured out exactly how far she could push me. She can read a person’s physical and emotional cues perfectly. She told me after the race that she fine-tuned that skill while adventure racing: push a teammate to the limit when you can, but know when to back off when they are struggling.
I hadn’t realized it during the race, but as I’m writing this down, I realize that is exactly what she did. I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate to push me to my limit.
Elden couldn’t have — he would have backed off when he knew I was hurting.
I couldn’t have pushed myself that hard. I would have rationalized a reason to have to slow down.
Rebecca pushed me to my limit…and beyond…but pulled me back when she could see I was cracking!
For this I will be forever grateful.
PS from Fatty: Here are a few things to put The Hammer’s race in context. First, here’s a list of women winners at the Leadville 100 over the years, and their finishing times. The highlighted ones are the times that are slower than The Hammer’s time this year:
It’s pretty clear that since 2009 the women’s race has really gotten faster; what would have gotten The Hammer the win all but three times ’til 2009 now no longer gets her on her age group podium.
That said, The Hammer was — as far as I can tell — the single fastest non-pro (i.e., is not and has never been a pro) woman in the race, and the only non-pro woman this year to finish in under nine hours.
Finally, for those of you who — like me — enjoy poring over numbers, here’s The Hammer’s race splits: