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:
- 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.
- We got phone service again, which allowed me to post this photo:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.)
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.
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.
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.