A Note from Fatty: This is Part II of a long series about the 2011 Moab to St. George: Rockwell Relay race. Here’s what you’ll find in each installment:
- Part I: A little about the race, team philosophy, pre-race excitement, and the first two legs of the race covered.
- Part II: The Hammer rips up her first leg of the race, The IT Guy gives Heather motivation to continue by using a novel technique.
- Part III: The night laps begin. I turn off course, nearly hit a deer, and nevertheless love riding this race.
- Part IV: Night laps extract their toll on the team; The Hammer works with Jerry to both their benefit; I show off my Superman jammies; Kenny does a hard climbing lap on a singlespeed.
- Part V: We finish our final legs, going from cold to hot in record time. We collect our prizes and catch up on sleep. We announce our intentions to defend our title next year.
Moab to St. George: Rockwell Relay, Part II
Yesterday, I ended my post with a cheap shot, saying:
I scanned the Exchange area, looking for Lisa, ready to hand the baton/slap-bracelet thingy to her.
But I couldn’t see her anywhere.
I said this because it was true, and I was freaking out, and I wanted to share that freaked-out-ed-ness with you. (And also because a bunch of you recently told me I need to keep my posts down to a reasonable length.)
The thing is, though, the reason I couldn’t see Lisa was that my brain wasn’t working right. Lisa was, in fact, right there. She was on her bike. Rolling forward and ready to take off. Holding out her arm, ready to take the slap-bracelet.
I just didn’t see her, because she was on the left side of the road, and I was looking on the right.
Eventually I did see Lisa, and handed off the bracelet. My leg was over, and now I could rejoin the crewing.
You may have noticed that I did not mention heat as a factor for my leg of the race. That’s because it wasn’t. Nor was it a problem for Kenny. See, we both rode when it was nice and early in the morning.
Lisa, on the other hand, got about thirty minutes of this nice cool part of the day before the furnace came on.
Intelligently, she wore last year’s white Team Fatty jersey for this leg of the race. And, astonishingly, she’d be smiling pretty much every time we rode by to ask how she’s doing:
Looking pretty hot, if I do say so myself. And not just heat-of-the-day hot, either.
It was on Lisa’s leg of the race that we settled into the pattern that would hold sway for a big chunk of the race. Specifically:
- Drive up to the racer and ask what they need.
- Drive forward a mile or two, pull over, and get ready the food and/or drink the racer wanted.
- Have the racer drop the bottle they want to get rid of right before they get to us.
- Take the food or bottle.
As the day got hotter (and hotter), we didn’t even need to ask Lisa what she wanted anymore. Water. Lots of ice.
Meet the Hammer, Everyone
It was during this leg of the race that I stopped mentally thinking of Lisa as “The Runner” and started thinking of her as “The Hammer.” The truth is, she’s riding incredibly strong this year. She’s a strong climber, descends fearlessly, and can pound the flat miles away.
In spite of the fact that we were a coed team, we were staying right with the top Men’s teams.
Which, as the husband and training partner of The Hammer, I find really gratifying.
The Peculiar Awesomeness of Relay Racing
It was during The Hammer’s first leg that I really started getting a sense of what made this kind of racing really fun. It’s one of those things that is obvious in retrospect, but had never occurred to me before actually trying relay racing.
When you’re relay racing, you get to be involved with every part of a road race, all at once. You’re supporting a racer. Then you’re the racer. Then you’re watching the race from a perspective that most people never get: right in the middle of the race.
You’re so involved with so many aspects of your team, you can’t help but get caught up in the race to a whole new degree.
And it’s not just your own team that you get involved with, either. Without exception, every other team we came across was friendly and helpful. Hey, you’re going to spend the whole day (and night, and the next day) passing and being re-passed by the same RVs, trucks, vans, and campers. You may as well be nice to each other, right?
This neighborliness manifested itself the first time during the race when, after we had shot ahead to get Heather ready for her next stage, The Hammer ran low on water. Team GoFastWeb.com set her up with a bottle, full of ice water.
And we, whenever we drove by a rider on another team, would — in spite of the fact that they were competing against us — cheer them on. Invariably, whoever we cheered for would grin and turn the cranks a little faster for a second.
It’s the kind of neighborliness you’d like to see everywhere.
The IT Guy Provides Necessary Support Services for Heather
This is the person I often refer to in this blog as The IT Guy:
He is The Hammer’s son, is 21 years old, and is registered to do his first Leadville 100 this year. He’s been riding hard and picking up a lot of endurance riding experience this past spring.
He is also, according to Heather, the reason she finished her first stage at all.
The heat was getting truly ugly by the time Heather started her first leg. It was brutal hot, on a climb that’s just enough uphill to make you slow down, while still looking flat. These are, in fact, what I consider to be the worst kinds of roads, because they demoralize you. You can’t see the climb, so you feel like your slowness is your own problem.
Heather was not having fun.
And then The IT Guy (aka “Blake” in real life), who was on Team Lobotomy, caught up with her. And did something all of us on Team Fatty are still trying to wrap our minds around.
He mooned her.
And then he said, “Don’t you want to follow this sexy butt?”
And then he gave her a pull ’til she was feeling good again. At which point they took turns pulling for the rest of the leg.
And The IT Guy now has Heather as a fan forever.