Moab to St. George: Rockwell Relay, Part IV

06.15.2011 | 8:18 am

A Note from Fatty: This is Part IV 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.

Bring On The Night

It was about 11:00pm when I finished the Boulder Mountain Pass leg of the race and handed the slap-bracelet to The Hammer, so she could begin her night leg — 57 miles of riding, through the darkest part of night.

The temperature had dropped to freezing or near freezing. Once again, it was the women who would take on the most uncomfortable race legs.

Chivalry is dead, I guess. If it were ever alive, I mean.

Jerry, a cyclist from Team Give, started out from the Exchange point at the same time as The Hammer, and they immediately agreed to work together through the leg.

I think I might have made a bad impression on Jerry the first time our van pulled up alongside them. At the time, The Hammer was pulling, so I yelled out at Jerry (using what is known among my children as “Dad’s Angry Voice”), “Hey, you! No passengers! Take your turn pulling!”

Of course I was joking; I had seen him taking a pull mere moments ago.

The problem was, nobody else could tell I was kidding.

The Hammer turned and looked at me with a “What are you saying?!” look. Heather, who was driving, turned and looked at me in stunned disbelief.

Jerry assured me that he had really been taking his turns pulling. And that he had recently started reading my blog and even liked it. And that, honestly, he’d take a pull again in just a minute.

Kenny didn’t say anything.


Realizing that I had done a much more convincing job of sounding like an angry, confrontational dude than I would have ever thought I was capable, I promised Jerry that I had just seen him taking a pull and that I was just being silly.

Then I made a mental note to myself to drop “confrontational comedy” from my quiver of allegedly hilarious party conversational techniques.

The Hammer and Jerry worked together for a vast majority of their cold night lap. This worked out ideally for both teams, with Jerry’s support vehicle swinging by them every couple of miles, and then our van swinging by on alternate miles.


It was cool to see the natural and easy way folks can take work together.

For the rest of the race, any time The Hammer saw Jerry, she’d go give him a hug. And apologize for my behavior.

Evolution of Support

By now we had been racing for sixteen hours or more, and we were starting to feel like old hands at the support game. No longer did we actually get out of the car to support our rider. Instead, we’d pull alongside, ask what the rider needed, and then either pull over or drop behind to dig out whatever the rider needed. Then we’d just pull back alongside and do a through-the-window handoff.

Part of this was for efficiency’s sake. A much larger part, however, was due to the fact that it was cold outside; those of us who were riding didn’t want to leave the comfort of the warm van.

The second part of the evolution of our support strategy can be simply summed up as: Honey Stinger Waffles. Sure, we had gels and bars and everything, but once everyone had tasted the Waffles, that was pretty much all they wanted. “Water and Waffle” became the most common thing a rider was likely to say.

So huge kudos to the Honey Stinger guys. As near as I can tell, they’ve got a huge hit on their hands. I know the four of us on Team Fatty were big fans during this race.

The Goofy Hours

As it got to be around 1:30pm, we began observing strange behavior amongst ourselves. For example, when The Hammer and Jerry caught another rider and had him join their paceline, The Hammer looked over and yelled out to us, “Hey, look! I’ve got myself some domestiques!”

We giggled for about twenty minutes over this. I wonder if The Hammer’s domestiques thought it was as funny as we did.

As for me, I decided it was late enough that I wanted to wear my jammies. Superman jammies, no less.


That’s me doing a Superman pose. Hard to tell, I know.


The Hammer finished her leg of the race and Heather started leg 8 beginning at 2:36am– the coldest leg, in the most awful time of the night (day?) to ride, as anyone who has ever done a 24-hour event will agree.

I was driving. Kenny was crewing. The Hammer was trying to catch a little sleep.

I adopted a new driving technique, trying to cope with the sleepiness I was battling:

  1. Drive 5 minutes.
  2. Park.
  3. Fall asleep for a few seconds (minutes?).
  4. Wake up when Kenny told me Heather had gone by.
  5. Pass Heather and get her whatever she needed (Water. Waffle.”).
  6. Repeat forever and ever and ever and ever.

It was around this time that I lost the ability to do even basic math. I’d look at the odometer, ask Kenny to look at the Race Bible and seee how many miles the leg was supposed to be, and then try to do the math to figure out how far Heather had left to ride.

But I’d just churn and churn. Two-digit subtraction baffled me. I couldn’t figure it out.

Another Miss

Heather did an awesome job with her second leg of the race, keeping all other teams at bay.

Unfortunately, when she arrived at the Exchange to hand the slap-bracelet off to Kenny, her crew (i.e., us) was nowhere to be found.

This is because an RV had parked in front of the Exchange sign, obscuring it. So when we left Heather to go ahead and get Kenny ready for the exchange, we drove right past the exchange point, and kept on going…right out of town.

After searching out in the outskirts of Panguitch for five or ten minutes, we came to the conclusion we had somehow missed the sign and came back.

By then, of course, the rider Kenny would have been starting six minutes in front of had gotten a good start on him.

And Heather was sitting in another team’s RV, warming up and wondering why we had abandoned her.

Kenny hopped out of the van and was gone at 5:00am, riding his single speed up the steepest, longest climb of the race: Panguitch to Cedar Breaks Mountain.


We had a contingency plan: if the vertical was too much to deal with on his single, he’d swap out on to my bike. It’d be an easy change since he uses the same kind of pedals I do; just raise the saddle about an inch.

It wouldn’t matter much where the seat was anyway, since he’d be doing pretty much nothing but standing climbing, regardless of what bike he was on.

We never put that plan into effect, though. Kenny’s a proud man. He didn’t want to have to concede that, in fact, a geared bike might make sense in some circumstances.

As the sun came up, we saw that somehow during the night, we had transitioned from sandstone desert to high alpine forests and meadows. When we got to the next exchange point, near the top of Cedar Breaks Mountain, we waited for Kenny. Me ready to ride my final leg of the race. Everyone else bundling up as best as they could.


Kenny finished his final leg of the race, conceding hardly any time at all to the racer in front of him, and handed off the slap-bracelet to me for the last time.


He was cooked.


As anyone who does this kind of race should be.

Continue to Part V (the final part, finally!)


  1. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Moab to St. George: Rockwell Relay, Part III | 06.15.2011 | 8:19 am

    [...] Moab to St. George: Rockwell Relay, Part II Moab to St. George: Rockwell Relay, Part IV [...]

  2. Comment by Maggi | 06.15.2011 | 8:27 am

    Tomorrow?! Aw, Fatty, you’re killin’ me!

    (Which is to say: great recap, and I’m really enjoying reading each part!)

  3. Comment by GenghisKhan | 06.15.2011 | 8:34 am

    I suppose that missed turns, obscured transition signs, etc. are just part of the fun that is endurance racing, but it sounds soooooooooooooooo frustrating!

    Looking forward to the next installment.

    P.S. You’ve got a “PM” where there should be an “AM” in the first line of the “Goofy Hours” section. Unless, of course, we just did the Time Warp…

  4. Comment by Franky | 06.15.2011 | 8:53 am

    That looks like a lot of fun to do…too bad I don’t have an awesome team as you do. As for the cold temps I can recommend the “Showers Pass” jackets, made in Portland OR. I only wear a base layer under this jacket at freezing temperatures and never get cold.

  5. Comment by MikeL | 06.15.2011 | 9:06 am

    The Never-ending Story?

  6. Comment by rich | 06.15.2011 | 9:16 am

    another great chapter….I hate waiting till tomorrow for the conclusion though.
    Sunflower seeds when driving. I met a truck driver once who told me that they were the best way to stay awake and when I drove across country last year, they really work….up to a point…

  7. Comment by Jenn | 06.15.2011 | 9:31 am

    So…on the topic of those waffles? How often do you have to eat on a ride like this? You mentioned only eating carbs when you’re exercising…I’m curious how many. I’m trying to balance losing weight with having enough energy for 2-4 hour rides every day, and so far I’m definitely erring on the side of not losing much weight.

    When I’m exercising, I try to not eat if I’m going to be out 2 hours or less — let my body use stored calories for that kind of effort. If I’m going to be out 2+ hours, I try to consume 300 calories per hour, starting in the second hour. I’m burning more calories than that, but I find that my body can’t digest more than that anyway and I start to feel gross: bloated stomach and such.

    I divide the 300 hourly calories between sports drink (100 calories) and food (200 calories).

    Hope that helps! – FC

  8. Comment by Jenn | 06.15.2011 | 9:32 am

    I would take ‘peanut gallery’ opinions on that, too. Gladly.

  9. Comment by Obstinate Roadie | 06.15.2011 | 9:34 am

    Good story, but I still haven’t figured out what a “slap-bracelet” might be.

    That’s a great point; I face-palmed when I realized that this thing I’ve talked about so many times is something I haven’t described, photographed, or explained. Sorry!

    Charlie describes what a slap-bracelet is really well in the next comment down, but a couple photos might help, too. The slap-bracelets for this race were 14″-long metal strips, curved inward when straightened. On one side they’re reflective, on the other side (the side that is against your wrist) they’re a felt-like material. Here’s ours:


    When you “slap” it against your wrist (or some of us slapped it around our handlebars), it wraps around it, like this:

    slap-bracelet wrapped around the wrist

    Hope that’s useful! – FC

  10. Comment by Charlie | 06.15.2011 | 9:40 am

    I think a slap bracelet is a plastic coated piece of metal that coils up into a bracelet once you slap it onto your wrist. It can be straightened out by unrolling it and then returns to its coiled shape when you slap it on the wrist or ankle. We got those as ads for some company at RAGBRAI one year. They’re usually reflective, too.

  11. Comment by Moishe | 06.15.2011 | 9:42 am

    Excellent story! I love the late-night/early-morning giddiness these things entail… I’m doing the Ragnar Ultra in about 5 weeks and this gets me so stoked. Thanks Fatty!

    Sure, Mo. The Hammer is doing the Wasatch Back RAGNAR this weekend as part of an Ultra team, with some friends, including the Rabid Runner. That’s right, two mega-races, two consecutive weekends. That’s why she’s The Hammer.

    I plan to drive to Park City and cheer for her at the finish line.

    Good luck w/ your RAGNAR! – FC

  12. Comment by Clydesteve | 06.15.2011 | 9:50 am

    Then I made a mental note to myself to drop “confrontational comedy” from my quiver of allegedly hilarious party conversational techniques.

    That is such excellent advise. I wish I would take it!

    Fatty – I have really enjoyed this race report series. This event sounds like a blast. Thanks!

  13. Comment by roan | 06.15.2011 | 9:52 am

    I’m luvin’ this, even the suspense. Fatty, I’m sure how I would respond to your wheel suckage comment. We already know where you ‘like’ to ride with The Hammer.
    Then you show your full power suit jammies, followed by “just raise the saddle about an inch”, should have been followed by…’or two’,(this is in my older than you voice).
    The Hammer’s comment about her ‘domestigues’ priceless!

  14. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.15.2011 | 9:53 am

    This ride seems to ‘aged’ Kenny. The smile has lost some ebullience.
    “In the Beginning, There Was Ebullience” (F.C.)

  15. Comment by Squirrelhead | 06.15.2011 | 9:57 am

    Great ride reports, I am loving them. Are you wearing Jawbone sunglasses that are black with the bottom section orange? That is what I have been looking at getting and now that I see them they look as cool as I thought they would (magnified by the wearer of course). Is it the team orange?

    Yes, on all accounts. Love my black / team orange Jawbones (with the pearl thru-bolt). When I bought them, I bought a spare set of lenses, clear, for night-riding. Those came in useful for this race, as you can imagine. – FC

  16. Comment by Fat Chick on a Bike | 06.15.2011 | 10:12 am

    Great story – can’t wait for tomorrow

    When you ride next year, would it make any sense to take GPS and program in the race course to avoid wrong turns? Or is GPS too heavy to put on the bikes? If the race organizers could provide GPS coordinates for the exchange points, it sounds as though that would also be very helpful to have in an iPhone or car GPS?

    Fantastic story, that 6 minute time loss must have been very frustrating though

  17. Comment by Jenn | 06.15.2011 | 10:20 am

    Fatty – that is EXACTLY what I was looking for, thanks!!

  18. Comment by Paul Guyot | 06.15.2011 | 10:41 am

    I have never felt so physically inadequate as I do after reading these reports…

    Except for that one night in Hollywood with the Swedish Au Pair.

  19. Comment by hannah | 06.15.2011 | 10:47 am

    Great write-up, Fatty! Can’t wait for tomorrow!

  20. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.15.2011 | 11:20 am

    @ Comment by Paul Guyot | 06.15.2011 | 10:41 am

    Such a great line, but I believe you have your blog sites mixed up.

    Fatty, did you by chance also exchange a ‘Garmin’ so we can vicariously enjoy all the numbers of this most fantastic ride? Or, are we going to have to come out there and do it ourselves?

    And while you’re out there Paul, think up a contest to get Fatty a ‘walk on’ Leverage role. We raised a TON just to ride with Radio Shack, imagine Fatty as a ‘bike messenger’ in one of your scripts.

    David, The Hammer and I did indeed use Garmins during our legs, and Heather borrowed one Garmin or another for her legs. Kenny scoffs at technology.

    By the way, I’m going to be doing something VERY COOL with Garmins and Team Fatty. Very soon. Hint: We’ll be doing something good, it’ll help people who need it, and it won’t cost us a penny. – FC

  21. Comment by Haven-KT | 06.15.2011 | 11:41 am

    Wow. Just…. wow. I’m really caught up in the vicarious action here.

  22. Comment by Rick | 06.15.2011 | 11:53 am

    The Honey Stinger Waffles are awesome but expensive. Oddly enough you can find Stroopwaffles(Caramel bites), which are what the Honey Stinger Waffles are based on, at Trader Joes for much cheaper. They are also bite sized and easier to handle and eat while riding

  23. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.15.2011 | 12:23 pm

    Hey Fatty! Looking for something else I found this cool bike for your next RAWROD Ride. Problem Solved: How I Got the Daisy

  24. Comment by 2Slo4U | 06.15.2011 | 1:48 pm

    Great write up…..did I miss the entry where you tell us who won the Superfly and their reaction?

  25. Comment by jonw9 | 06.15.2011 | 2:03 pm

    I think something is wrong with my email, because I have not yet received the message about winning my new Superfly 100!

  26. Comment by Team Lobotomy-1 | 06.15.2011 | 2:19 pm

    My Garmin has the 3 legs of rider 1 if you happen to want it for anything.

  27. Comment by Joe | 06.15.2011 | 2:31 pm

    jonw9, I think your email is okay, I didn’t get mine yet either.

  28. Comment by Team BRX/ Skullcandy | 06.15.2011 | 4:15 pm

    Did Kenny ride the Cedar Breaks leg without Gloves! It was 32 degrees when we passed that exchange! I knew he put a tough image on but now I am just scared of him.

  29. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.15.2011 | 7:15 pm

    @ Comment by Team Lobotomy-1 | 06.15.2011 | 2:19 pm

    Would Love to see a Garmin profile. Fun to compare it to Rider #1 from Team Fatty. Oh! never mind that comparison, Team Fatty Rider #1 was the Luddite. Maybe we could get a ‘Guest Blog’ from Blake (Team Lobo…).

  30. Comment by cece | 06.15.2011 | 8:39 pm

    Jenn: Another opinion on the fueling. i am with Fatty on the “if I ride 2 hours or less, I do not add in any extra calories,” but If I ride more than two hours I add in 100 calories per hour of fuel and mix protein fat and carbs,,,with a bit more carb. This holds me up to 100 miles. I have found that nutrition is dependent on sex and conditioning and how you metabolize and is very individual, so play around with it and you will find what works for you. Many thin and buff male cyclists can eat way more on the bike than we women can…and it is also easy to eat too much and gain or not lose weight on the bike. Experiment!

  31. Comment by Jenn | 06.16.2011 | 3:20 am

    @cece – thanks! I’m in the process of that ‘playing around with it,’ so the advice is much-appreciated. Perhaps it is my apres-cycling attitude of entitlement that’s holding me back? As in, “I just burned 2500 calories! Of course I can have !” Thanks again!

  32. Comment by Jenn | 06.16.2011 | 3:21 am

    Aaahhh, crap. I have angered the Gods of HTML. That was supposed to say, “Of course I can have ‘insert all manner of sinful foods here’!”

  33. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Moab to St. George: Rockwell Relay, Part II | 06.16.2011 | 7:48 am

    [...] 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. [...]

  34. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Moab to St. George: Rockwell Relay, Part I | 06.16.2011 | 7:53 am

    [...] 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. [...]

  35. Comment by bewert | 06.22.2011 | 11:48 pm

    Re: “beginning at 2:36am– the coldest leg, in the most awful time of the night”

    One of the most spiritual experiences of my life was heading out at 2 AM to do a leg of the 24 Hours of Moab, to the sound of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “The Sky Is Crying”.


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