Moab to St. George: Rockwell Relay, Part V

06.16.2011 | 7:35 am

A Note from Fatty: This is Part V 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.

Hard Climb, Big Descent

Originally, my final leg was going to be nothing but a giant downhill rollercoaster. Honestly, I was a little bit disappointed; that’s not exactly a heroic way to do a third of a big epic race.

Now, however, my final leg of the race was a little bit of a mystery to me, because it was on an alternate route — the originally planned course for this leg of the race was still snowed in.

So, instead of just a pure-descending leg, I’d have some climbing. I just didn’t know how much.

I asked the guy at the Exchange. “I don’t know, maybe a quarter of it’s climbing now.”

OK, I can work with that.

I took off, the morning air cold. It was still winter (or early spring) on Cedar Breaks Mountain, with well over a two feet of snow on the ground.


With a 30 mile leg, a “quarter” of the distance being uphill should be 7.5 miles, I reasoned. I’d plan on 9 miles, just to be safe.

And it was hard climbing.

Still, it was beautiful, and the combination of daylight and the exertion of riding my bike cleared the fog in my head.

For the first time ever, I wasn’t looking forward to a race being over. I was enjoying the Rockwell Relay that much.

I knew a racer had left about 12 minutes before I did, so I rode as hard as I could, thinking that with a superhuman effort, maybe I could catch him during the climb.

The eighth mile of climbing came and went. No end to the climbing.

Then, around mile nine, my team passed me, right as what looked like the summit came into view. “It’s all downhill from there!” yelled Heather.

I was so glad to hear that.

Unfortunately, Heather was wrong — seduced into believing the first of the false summits was really the summit.

Mile 10 came and went. Then mile 11. Then 12. And 13. And more false summits than I bothered counting.

Then, as I hit mile 14, the road turned down. And I do mean down. In the next 13 miles or so, I descended more than 5000 feet. Cruising at 40 – 50mph.

Watching the scenery change from cold, high mountain to sandstone desert before my eyes, all in about fifteen minutes.


“I have got to come and try to climb this road someday,” I thought to myself.

And then I was in Cedar City. The Hammer was on her bike, suited up, waiting for me at a corner to make sure I didn’t miss yet another turn.

I handed her the slap-bracelet; I was done with my racing part of the race. I had gotten back about 6 of the twelve minutes we needed to catch the next team, but it wasn’t enough.

For the final hundred miles or so, Kenny and I would be crew to the women.

Who, once again, would get to do the uncomfortable legs of the race.

Because the desert had heated up.

And the wind had started blowing.

The Final Two Legs

The last two legs of the race — raced by The Hammer and Heather — can be described using bullet points:

  • Hot
  • Windy
  • No passing
  • No being passed

In fact, by the time Team Fatty got to the final four legs of the race, we were never passed, nor ever passed anyone, again. Our place in the race was sealed.

However, there were a few (very few) exciting events that happened during this hot and windy final hundred miles or so.

  1. We got phone service again, which allowed me to post this photo:
  2. I bought a milkshake, which I tried to hand off to The Hammer during her leg. She was not interested in having a milkshake at the moment, however.
  3. Once The Hammer had finished her leg of the race, she became intensely interested in a Mountain Dew and some nachos. Can you see why I love this woman?
  4. Heather missed a turn, and Kenny borrowed the IT Guy’s truck to go run her down (not literally) and set her on the correct path again. So I was not the only one to miss a turn, which made me feel better. (Although, since I was responsible for missing the other 3 turns or exchange points during the race, it didn’t make me feel a lot better.)

The Finish

As Heather finished up her final leg, Kenny, The Hammer, and I drove to the finish line, suited up, and rode out to meet Heather, so we could all cross the finish line together.

Then Heather went and pipped us at the finish line.


Which of course left the rest of us to finish as best we could:


And then came our awesome group photo at the finish line:


Yeah, I’m looking a little bleary. I wonder why?


We found out that we had taken tenth place overall, and first place out of seven coed teams (all age groups). It had taken us 29:53 to ride this 520-ish mile race, as opposed to the 27:32 the overall winning team (Bruteforce) had taken.

Instead of finishers’ medals, The Rockwell Relay gave everyone something different. Finishers’ rings:


We also found out that Team Lobotomy — which The IT Guy was on — would be crossing the finish line in about an hour and a half, so we went and checked into our hotel, showered, then came back to congratulate The IT Guy and his team:


And get what may be the most awesome mother / son photo ever:


Then we went back and took a nap until the awards ceremony. I have never, by the way, had such a hard time waking up after an hour’s-worth of sleep.


You don’t come to races like this expecting prizes. Even if you win, you don’t really expect the prize to be anything of significance.

You’re racing because you want to race.

And so when, as winners of the Coed division, we each got to pick out a cool watch from the Rockwell collection they had on hand, we were seriously stoked. Here’s Kenny and me, picking out our watches from the Fabulous Case of Prizes:


Check out what I got:


Obviously, these guys put on an amazingly cool event and take care of their racers.

Win Something We Won

After that, there was a raffle. Now generally, I do very badly at raffles. I just don’t win stuff. At all. Ever.

However, The Hammer did win something. One of the biggest prizes they gave away, actually: a Team Entry for The Rockwell Relay “Ladies Pamperfest Challenge:” an unusual race, described on the event site as follows:

Enjoy a soothing massage, mini-manicure, chocolate fountain, or even some shopping (neat girl stuff!) at the relay exchange points as you travel through the beautiful back roads from Snowbasin Ski Resort to Provo. And yes, the pampering is FREE! Plus you’ll get a great T-shirt (the kind you’ll actually wear), finishers ring, window decal and other cool stuff.

The Ladies Pamperfest is July 11. Teams can be two or four ladies, traveling a total of 163 miles. It sounds like a fun event / race (depending on how you ride it).

The problem is, The Hammer can’t do this event. We’re going to be in Davis for the LiveStrong Challenge that weekend.

So we’re going to give this prize away. Let’s keep the rules for this giveaway simple, OK? Here’s what you’ve got to do to win this prize (a value of up to $320):

  • Have a team put together. Remember, this is an all-women team, and can be either a two- or four-person team.
  • Be committed to doing this event. I don’t want to give this to someone who isn’t going to use it.
  • Be committed to writing a fun race writeup, along with photos to give to me after the event.
  • Be the first to email me with the subject line “Pamperfest,” saying you want the prize. If I reply to you, you were the first, and you won. If I don’t reply to you, you weren’t the first and you didn’t win.

Easy enough?

The Next Day

I woke up at 7:30am the next day (about two hours later than usual), and then sat in bed, reading, surfing the web and generally not feeling like there was any hurry for me to get up.

The Hammer, meanwhile, slept ’til 9:40am. I have never seen her sleep ’til past 7:30 before. Obviously, we had some catching up on sleep to do.

Summing Up

The next morning (Monday), I weighed myself. I was up eight pounds. Seriously. Which leads me to conclude: Big epic races make you fat.

But we’ll be back next year. Definitely. Hey, we’ve got a title to defend.


  1. Comment by Lyndon | 06.16.2011 | 7:53 am

    Thank you.

    I really enjoyed reading about your experience in this event. Sounds like a pretty perfect day!

  2. Comment by Maggi | 06.16.2011 | 7:56 am

    Great wrap to the series, Fatty! Definitely sounds like you folks all had a blast– it was certainly fun reading. Congrats on winning the co-ed division, and congrats to the IT Guy, too!

  3. Comment by RacingGetz | 06.16.2011 | 7:56 am

    Great Story, could not wait for then next installment!

    Just got my wife into riding this year, hopefully someday I can call her the Hammer!

  4. Comment by Mark Kynaston | 06.16.2011 | 7:58 am

    Fatty and gang,

    Really enjoyed the race report blogs. What a great way to spend 29 hours and 53 minutes and a nice watch at the end of it as a reward for your efforts



  5. Comment by Steve Campbell | 06.16.2011 | 8:45 am

    Good thing you’ll never ride the Tour de France. You’d finish the three weeks weighing 300 pounds.

    Or, in my case, the five weeks. – FC

  6. Comment by NYCCarlos | 06.16.2011 | 8:47 am

    good god man… 8 pounds?! How does that even happen in 20 hours?! when was the last time you pooped?!

    Tell me about it. No, wait. Don’t. – FC

  7. Comment by Paul A. | 06.16.2011 | 9:00 am

    Great job Team Fatty! I am going to have to agree that epic rides make you fat, I some how managed to gain 9 pounds riding 100 Miles of Nowhere. One last thing, breaking up this report was awesome, I am not sure I would have read all of it in one post, but over a few days I could not wait to read the next installment.

  8. Comment by GJ Jackie | 06.16.2011 | 9:38 am

    Loved the write-up! Makes me remember why I used to love road riding too. I kinda forget with all the awesome trails around here. Time to dust off the 12 year old aluminum triple-ring Trek!

  9. Comment by nh_joe | 06.16.2011 | 9:42 am

    I’m not normally into races like this, but this actually looks really freakin cool!

    @NYCCarlos/FC – Let’s just say “race food” (powerbars, gels, waffles) typically doesn’t move through the system happily. I typically gain a few pounds in multi-day stage races but then it goes away as your body…umm…recovers.

  10. Comment by The Flyin' Ute | 06.16.2011 | 9:51 am

    Good Work Bro!

    Maybe we will join you next year.

  11. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.16.2011 | 10:04 am

    Sounds like everyone needs a trip to the salad bar, multiple times.

    Great report, awesome story, so glad you shared it with us. I might suggest you incorporate a ‘team manager’ next year to handle the turns and switch points. I also hope we can garner some other “Fatty’ riders to join you next year. I’ll volunteer for “Team Clydesdale”.

    And lastly for weight gain. Team Fatty rides RAGBRAI and pie, pie, pie. I know you’d get a turnout for that.

    Congratulations see you in Davis

  12. Comment by rich | 06.16.2011 | 10:13 am

    Congrats! A fun read, always looked forward to the next installment!
    Great Job!!

  13. Comment by chtrich | 06.16.2011 | 10:18 am

    Great race report and all, but who won the mtn bike???

    I’ve sent two emails to the winner and tweeted that he ought to check his email account, but haven’t heard back from the guy! I admit to being flummoxed. – FC

  14. Comment by Charlie | 06.16.2011 | 11:06 am

    You gonna put up the Garmin info on the race legs (at least those of you, the Hammer, and Heather, since Kenny appears to be a Luddite).

  15. Comment by Todd | 06.16.2011 | 12:04 pm

    Awesome write-up Fatty! This was one of the best series of posts in recent memory!

  16. Comment by Jenn | 06.16.2011 | 12:21 pm

    This was such a great series, Fatty! Thanks! And, I hope this is OK coming from a girl and all? In the podium pic? The Hammer is positively smokin’ hot. I can’t believe she looks so great after such an ordeal…I’m a little annoyed!

  17. Comment by Meredith | 06.16.2011 | 12:58 pm

    Awesome story! Congratulations! I didn’t enjoy waiting a day between parts, but it did give me something to look forward to in an otherwise mundane work week. My husband and I were discussing how amazing some of the details in your race/trip reports often are. Do you outline as you go? Did you write that whole post and then split it up into parts or did you write it day by day?

  18. Comment by Angie | 06.16.2011 | 1:09 pm

    Congrats! I really like the Hammer’s outfit in the podium picture. Very flattering. The pink trim on the sides of the shirt make the waist look thin. The two tone colors on the legs make the thighs look thin. Do you have other colors besides pink (for women)? I’d like to buy one that has that same design.

  19. Comment by Mike Roadie | 06.16.2011 | 2:09 pm

    Loved the series!!!

    Congrats again!

  20. Comment by Mark J. | 06.16.2011 | 2:19 pm

    Heck of a job guys and girls. Impressive effort and well written as usual Fatty.

    Questions for Fatty and Kenny:

    Why do you guys prefer to ride a single speeds? Do you find it more efficient? And seriously Kenny, what’s up with the Daisy Dukes? You are obviously VERY secure in your masculinity!

  21. Comment by sharon | 06.16.2011 | 2:31 pm

    Where is the fat in Fat Cyclist???? good job!

  22. Comment by Eric | 06.16.2011 | 2:37 pm

    Great posting and epic win. Congratulations to all of you.

  23. Comment by Dave | 06.16.2011 | 3:41 pm

    Since your final leg was snowed in, which route did you actually take? Great job!

  24. Comment by Cort | 06.16.2011 | 3:48 pm

    Those cut-offs of Kenny’s… He is a ‘never nude’? I know there are dozens of them out there!

  25. Comment by paul | 06.16.2011 | 4:30 pm

    congrats to the team! great read. great ride. we are looking forward to our relay coming up end of july–saints to sinners. we’re making it a yearly event as well after loving it so much last year…

  26. Comment by Wash | 06.16.2011 | 5:17 pm

    Great fun.

    Hey, is the Hammer riding your bike?

  27. Comment by J2the4son | 06.16.2011 | 5:28 pm

    Great read! I kept annoying the Girl Friend at night by laughing in bed. Having just started biking I cannot wait to either:

    a) convert existing friends into bikers.


    b) meet some amazing biking people.

    and then do a relay race like this.

    Maybe you should make up some sort of bike conversion pamphlet… we could call them “Bike Tracts” could make my friend conversion process way easier!

    Keep up the great work!

  28. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.16.2011 | 8:19 pm

    Conversion Pamphlets? Not sure I want someone knocking on my door in Lycra that I do not know offering to share. I may have to nail a 15t cog over the doorway. And isn’t one ‘mission’ enough?

    But J2… welcome to the wonderful crazy world of Team Fatty.

  29. Comment by Laura S | 06.16.2011 | 8:23 pm

    Wow what an epic! Now if I knew 3 other people who would do something like this I might…well… I’m not sure if I would!

  30. Comment by Lord Adamantine Sedgepig | 06.17.2011 | 4:38 am

    My dear fellow, quite enthralling, my faith is restored. I was less than enamoured of your diet plan – only in America could it be considered sensible, or even decent, to assume a svelte silhouette by throwing away enough food a day to feed an estate worker for three, but there you are, “different folks, different ways” as Lady S so often remarks.

  31. Comment by Liz | 06.17.2011 | 9:28 am

    Excellent series! I have to admit, it started to sound less fun around Installment #4 — the wee hours of the morning are best spent in a cozy bed for a slacker like me. But you all look great on the podium so obviously you were no worse for the wear.

    What’s next — Davis or the downhill half marathon? I’ve lost track of all your fantastic exploits.

    Congrats to all.

  32. Comment by Fat Jeff | 06.17.2011 | 11:47 am

    Great stories…but a question. The “ring” looks like a headset spacer to me…is it?


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