2012 Rockwell Relay, Moab – St. George Race Report, Part 4

06.14.2012 | 8:23 am

A Note from Fatty About Today’s Post: This is part 4 (and, believe it or not, the final part) of my writeup of the 2012 Rockwell Relay. If you got to this part first for some reason, you might want to read part 1, part 2, and part 3 before continuing on.

Night Riders

I had finished my night leg; now it was The Hammer’s turn. But as I sent her off at the Exchange, I could see she had a problem:


She had dressed way too warmly. Unlike last year, when even the early night laps were very cold, it was still nice and warm as The Hammer took off.

I knew she’d be overheating, especially since this was yet another leg with a lot (3061 feet) of climbing.

And sure enough, the first time The Hammer pulled up alongside the van and I asked how she was doing, she replied, “Terrible. I’m burning up.”

So, like a NASCAR pit crew, we jumped out, got the reflective belt and the blinking red light off her, and stripped off the long sleeve jersey, leaving her in tights and a Smartwool baselayer t-shirt. Both black.

Then we got the reflective belt and the blinking light back on her and sent her off.


With the black helmet, black tights, black shirt, and the mostly-black bike, she looked like a ninja in the night.

Except for all the reflect-y and lit-up bits, I mean.

No Reason to Fear

The night legs of the Rockwell Relay are very surreal. It’s hard to see what’s coming up in the road ahead of you, and the bike lights don’t really illuminate that much to your side. As a result, you kind of feel not so much like you’re riding in place, but definitely not like you’re really going anywhere.

You’re not riding through (or to) anywhere. You’re just riding through time.

And meanwhile, the wind blew.

Each time I asked The Hammer how she was doing, I would ask it in fear. Worried she would say, “This sucks; I want to quit.”

But each time, she would instead answer, “I’m doing great,” or “I’m good,” or some variation on that.

Big smile. Strong legs. Incredible endurance.

Very proud husband.

A Terrifying Sound

The Hammer did not encounter a single rider as she rode this segment. Didn’t pass anyone, didn’t get passed by anyone.

But as she rode, she slowly reeled in a rider from another team (I don’t know which team), to the point that the other team and our van were pulling over in the same places.

I walked back toward the other team’s RV. The driver of the RV walked over toward me. And we just started talking.

And then the oddness of it — a couple of complete strangers, at around 2:00AM, chatting like old friends in the dead of night — struck me. “What a strange, interesting, amazing place to be right now,” I thought

And then, at that moment, from the other team’s RV, a horrible sound erupted. The loudest, wettest fart I have ever heard.

Audible, easily, from fifty feet away.

“Our next racer is suffering from a bit of a GI issue right now,” the other guy said, evenly.

Kenny Suffers, Suffers from Disbelief

The Hammer finished her night leg. Then Heather started her night leg, and got to enjoy the awesomeness of riding through the dawn of a desert sunrise. As we passed her, asking how things were going, she replied, “This is so beautiful.”

And she was right.

Then, finally, we were to our final legs of the race. Kenny’s — of course – was first, and it was pretty scary. 35.7 miles, with an astonishing 4160 feet of climbing.

Except those are the actual numbers, printed on the “Leg 9 – Alternate” page of the Race Bible (warning: large PDF). Kenny — bleary from lack of sleep — had instead previewed the original Leg 9 numbers, which were for a route we would not be riding.

And the numbers Kenny looked at made him think he’d be riding 29.4 miles, with 3530 feet of climbing.

To a guy who’s tired and is metering out his effort very carefully, that’s a big difference.

So when Kenny said, “Just a few miles left to climb!” and we corrected him, he looked at us in absolute and complete disbelief, waiting for us to say, “Just kidding!”

But we weren’t just kidding.

Kenny swore. Loud and long.

And then he resumed climbing. (But he didn’t stop swearing the whole rest of his ride.)


I didn’t mention it before, because I wanted to sound as awesome as possible, but one of the major reasons I raced so hard in my previous leg was because I knew that my final leg of the race was going to be kinda . . . puny.

Which is to say, It started with a big thirteen-mile descent, followed by twelve miles of unispired flat riding.

The descent was fun.

The flat was . . . not.

Riding a frontage road parallel to the freeway, I was hardly moving at all. The headwind rose to an incredible level.

I was giving it everything I’ve got, but still could just barely go twelve miles per hour.

It was like riding through sand, while submerged in molasses. Upstream and uphill.

It took me a full hour to ride that scant 12 miles.

More Wind

The Hammer’s final leg was more of the same. Flat riding, some climbing. Lots of headwind. Lots of crosswind. The difference was, her leg went on for 47.4 miles.

Riding low only does you so much good when the wind is that bad.

And Heather’s was more of the same.

It was enough to make you want to quit. Except neither of the women ever even mentioned the possibility (by contrast, at least four other teams did quit during these two incredibly brutal legs).

They just pushed on, keeping us — as near as we could tell — in the lead for the Co-Ed division, and not ceding many (if any) places to any all-men division, either.

Meanwhile, Kenny noted that I was sleeping on the job (which was to hand bottles off to Heather whenever we pulled alongside her), and posted proof on his Facebook page:


What can I say? I was tired.

Surprise Finish

As Heather finished her final leg (and the last leg of the race), the rest of us got ready to celebrate by stopping at the famous Veyo Pie Shop, which was conveniently located along the race route, just a dozen or so miles from the finish line. We got a cheesecake with carmel topping, in case you were curious. And I know that you were.

Then we went and got changed back into riding jerseys, got on our bikes, and headed over to the road where we were to meet Heather, parading to the finish line as the two-time victors in the Co-ed division.

We were surprised, however, to find that Heather was not riding alone.

Far from it.

Instead, there were the riders from Team Control4.com. And riders from Team Haiti Sak Plen. They were clearly going to duke it out in a sprint for the finish line (and would in fact finish with identical times of 32:23:12).

But those were not the teams we were surprised by. Nosirree.

The team we were surprised by — indeed, the team that had our eyes popping out of our freaking skulls — was that there was yet another team headed for the finish line.

And there was a woman riding in that team.

We couldn’t believe it: A co-ed team was about to beat us, by a matter of seconds, right at the finish line.

Kenny and I stepped up the pace a bit, but didn’t exactly sprint for the finish. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway; Heather’s time across the line was the one that mattered.

Then we crossed the line. First, somehow. Wondering why, exactly, this other team had held back. Wondering how we had never seen this team during the race.

Later, we’d find out. This team — like a lot of teams — had gotten to the point where they just didn’t have it in them to finish all the legs of the race anymore, so had moved over from “race” mode to “really incredibly exhausting bike tour mode,” and were now cherry-picking which legs of the race they were going to do. Just riding for fun, they still wanted to have the experience of riding into town and crossing the finish line.

So — in spite of our moment of panic — we had done it. Team Fatty is the two-time Rockwell Relay, Moab – St. George, with a time of 32:24:00. Here we are, very nearly looking like we’re not going to fall asleep on the spot, at our finish line photo pop:


One of the things I really like about the Rockwell Relay is the prizes for the finishers. Instead of a medal you will never wear, you get a cool Finisher’s Ring:


The inside of the ring is inscribed with the race name and year. It’s awesome.

And, as winners of the Co-ed division, we got awesome Rockwell Iron Rider Watches, which do pretty much everything (Altimeter, Compass, Barometer, Thermometer, Alarm, Data Tracking, Light, movable compass dial and Stop Watch):

Everyone else on the team is holding up their watches they just received. I was too tired and could no longer keep my arm raised to that level.

Best of all, we got to go back to Kenny and Heather’s house and eat cheesecake. Which we did, straight from the pie tin. Because getting out plates for everyone would have required that someone stand up and walk to a cupboard.

And that seemed like an unreasonably difficult task at the moment.

Wrapping Up

As a testament to exactly how amazing the women of Team Fatty are, we were one of only two co-ed teams — out of the ten that signed up — that actually finished the race as a race (i.e., didn’t skip legs or otherwise shortcut the race rules).

And to boot, we finished in the top third of all the teams, placing 20th overall. Sure, that’s about 4.5 hours slower than Brute Force, the three-time overall champion team of the race.

But we’ll take it.

And we’ll be back next year, defending our title dynasty.

PS: I’ve uploaded my first, second, and third legs of the race to Strava, if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

PPS: If you’re into stats, here are the race results (PDF format), along with Exchange point check-in times and whatnot.


  1. Comment by Jake | 06.14.2012 | 8:39 am

    Great job to your whole team, especially your women! Impressive back to back.

  2. Comment by Mark J. in Dallas | 06.14.2012 | 8:50 am

    You guys are awesome. Congratulations to all of you.


  3. Comment by Alane | 06.14.2012 | 9:03 am

    So freakin’ awesome! Way to go ladies (and gents)!!!! Thanks for letting me virtually come along for the ride :)

  4. Comment by Jenni | 06.14.2012 | 9:10 am

    Incredible!! GREAT JOB!!! Those are some ridiculously awesome ladies.

  5. Comment by NYCCarlos | 06.14.2012 | 9:34 am

    I am going to get CRUSHED in Davis… looks like I’m going to be Peloton Diarrhea again.

  6. Comment by Mike C | 06.14.2012 | 9:55 am

    All of you guys and gals are AWESOME! Great Job!

  7. Comment by ClydeinKS | 06.14.2012 | 9:59 am

    So awesome and inspiring! Reading this makes me remember the film “Bicycle Dreams” and only makes me wonder when Team Fatty will enter RAAM?? Does Brute Force’s run end next year, by a coed team? Amazing ride and report, thanks for sharing! If I win the UT trip may have to gift it to save any embarrassment, but still keeping fingers crossed…

  8. Comment by Fat Cathy | 06.14.2012 | 10:27 am

    Awesome! Congrats on your victory!

  9. Comment by roan | 06.14.2012 | 10:27 am

    Why do I feel so tired ? AND NOT A PIE IN SIGHT :(
    Great race you guys & gals, I can’t wait till next year to read about victory 3 of the Dynasty.

  10. Comment by Jeff Bike | 06.14.2012 | 10:29 am

    Thanks for sharing your Strava with us. This shows how really hard that race is!

  11. Comment by davidh,marin | 06.14.2012 | 10:38 am

    @NYCarlos No Peloton D this year for you. They’ve changed the route and 100 miles has 985ft TOTAL climing!!!! It’s the ‘Tour of the Walnut Groves’

    Great ride team! I am still teased by the idea of a backup Team Fatty group. AngieG? Dr. Laura? MattC? (to name but a few.

  12. Comment by Susie | 06.14.2012 | 10:58 am

    Congrats! It’s great to read race reports, but I have to admit — I’m waiting on pins and needles for more on your Africa trip. My time there changed my life forever and I can’t wait to hear more from you. Any ETA?

  13. Comment by Meredith S | 06.14.2012 | 11:20 am

    Congrats Team Fatty! Very impresive! Fatty, I honestly don’t know how you have the time or energy to do your day job with all of your athletic/international excursions, family time, blogging, book writing and fundraising. I have trouble fitting in a 30 minute run after work and get wiped out from going out of town one weekend every few months or so.

  14. Comment by Brian in VA | 06.14.2012 | 11:27 am

    WTG Team Fatty! All of you are an inspiration to us amateur hack riders!

  15. Comment by NYCCarlos | 06.14.2012 | 11:35 am

    @DavidH — BEST NEWS EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Comment by Justin | 06.14.2012 | 11:37 am

    Great writeup Fatty! You do a great job of including all of subtle details that make this race so much fun. I definitely agree with you about the night legs. They are by far my favorite part of the race. There’s something about being completely along with nothing but the 20 yards of road in front of you and the moon and stars in the sky. It truly is a bizarre feeling.

  17. Comment by JohnBoy | 06.14.2012 | 12:21 pm

    Awesome job finishing first in your division! I can relate to a lot of what you went through, having done the Salt 2 Saint race last year (Salt Lake to St George). At the end of my first leg I hit a head wind so strong I thought I was going to start going backwards. My second leg was in the middle of the night and in the rain (I lost all kinds of sensory perception). My final leg was just after sunrise heading from Arizona toward Hurricane. The race was epic and something I will never forget.

  18. Comment by Barb | 06.14.2012 | 12:49 pm

    Congrats to all of your team! Can’t imagine riding against that headwind! I’ll reread this for inspiration before next week’s 130 mile RATPOD ride in Dillon, MT

  19. Comment by Susie H | 06.14.2012 | 12:53 pm

    Great 4 part race report! I like those the best! :)

  20. Comment by Heather | 06.14.2012 | 1:58 pm

    Sounds like an awesome time. Congratulations team!

  21. Comment by yannb | 06.14.2012 | 2:01 pm

    @NYCarlos, never heard that Peloton D term. I love it. Better than being swallowed up and spit out the back. That should be Paul and Phil’s new term when commentating on races.

    @davidH, I was thinking same thing about second Team Fatty. The only problem is the timing, right when school ends for my daughter and week after 100 MoN. Although that would be good prep for it.

    I could be talked into this pretty easily.

  22. Comment by Christina | 06.14.2012 | 2:05 pm

    I was on a week long bike ride last week where there was a suspected food borne illness outbreak. We heard more than a few horrible sounds erupt. Each time I’d say a little prayer, thanking God I didn’t eat whatever it was they had just consumed.

    Awesome job! I love these race reports.

  23. Comment by Rodzilla | 06.14.2012 | 2:23 pm

    Great Read, and Results Go Team FATTY!

    A couple of comments: I wish those teams that were leapfrogging had to wear something that indicated they were out. Second, Starve is a huge blow to my ego, can we get some slower people to post on there so I don’t feel so bad coming in 111th out of 113th? Finally did I mention what a great job your team did?

  24. Comment by TroyH | 06.14.2012 | 2:27 pm

    Another way to look at your 20th place finish. You beat more teams this year (43) than even entered the race last year (39).

  25. Comment by davidh,marin | 06.14.2012 | 2:28 pm


    I agree with the scheduling conflicts. Not all of us can multi task like the Master Elden. Still the idea of a “Real Team Fatty” (because seriously can anyone call Lisa, Heather, or Kenny a fatty?) sounds like fun.

    Looking forward to seeing everyone in Davis. Bring your phones, cameras, and tablets, because as flat as this ride will be “live blogging” is a real possibility.

  26. Comment by AKChick55 | 06.14.2012 | 3:44 pm

    Once again, I’m in awe! I think the Hammer should be my role model as I whine alot in conditions like that. Headwinds and elevation gain? I whine. Pretty much all the time since nothing up here is flat. None of you look at all tired and you definitely do not look fat. Fit yes, fat no.

    NYCCarlos – I would have to say I might just be the slowest member of Team Fatty. I am not fast esp. not in hot weather given I’m from the northern latitudes. Have no fear. :)

    Maybe we should have a Fatty Red Lantern Division – in our annual Iditarod Sled Dog Race, we have a Red Lantern – the last person across the line. Personally, everyone that finishes is an amazing athlete in that endurance race.

    Davidh,marin-I’m planning on bringing my iPhone and maybe my sister-in-law’s awesome Canon G12 if she can find the battery charger. I am a picture taking fanatic. And a social media junkie. :)

  27. Comment by mykill | 06.14.2012 | 4:29 pm

    That was a great write-up all the way through the finish.

    My new Davis strategy: Stay ahead of the PD wave and finish before it gets too hot. Lucky for me this thing is all downhill (when you did as much climbing on your way *to* the 100MoN starting point as you will do all day in Davis, i think you can call it downhill)

    Aside to YannB: new tires and fork make the fat bike average almost 4mph faster!

  28. Comment by Michael | 06.14.2012 | 6:51 pm

    Hey, I know the Haiti Sak Plen gang! They’re from my neck of the woods.

    Great job, Fatty. That Xterra t-shirt is awesome, BTW. I need to do me one of those races so I can get that shirt!

  29. Comment by Carl | 06.14.2012 | 8:51 pm

    You guys kicked ass! Way to go!

  30. Comment by Lori P. | 06.14.2012 | 10:04 pm

    Way to go guys!
    Can’t wait to meet everyone at Davis, though I am pretty sure I will be the slowest one for sure, so the rest of you don’t even worry.

  31. Comment by James | 06.14.2012 | 10:20 pm

    Really cool story! Sounds like a great ride without the wind.

  32. Comment by Kukui | 06.15.2012 | 12:41 am

    That is too cool. Way to go, Team Fatty, you guys are amazing!

  33. Comment by will | 06.15.2012 | 4:18 am

    Nice job!!! The ladies you had were ringers though! I did notice that on some of the Strava segments someone was powering some of the climbs at an amazing 55+ miles per hour. WOW!!! ;)

  34. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 06.15.2012 | 7:20 am

    @Carlos, I made a special call to LiveStrong on your behalf to get the course changed. Your welcome very much in advance!

    I had a great time riding there last year and I am going to miss you all that weekend.

    This is why I am not going Davis this year. Its the Leadville qualification race near Lake Placid New York. (NOTE the profile is in METERS and not feet) Its not a tour de Walnut Dave, but it will do in a pinch. If anyone if going to be there and wants to meet up drop me a line (dbohl@clarkson.edu).


  35. Comment by Michael | 06.15.2012 | 8:33 am

    Fantastic job, congrats to you and the team. How did this years time compare with last year?

  36. Comment by Jeremy | 06.16.2012 | 12:52 pm

    Impressive. I tend to have a similar reaction to NYCCarlos, but the course is pretty darn flat this year and I can generally hold my own on the flats.

    Oh, and NYCCarlos, don’t forget your ride food. I’m not giving you a Clif Bar this year. Of course, that might have been your problem. :-)

  37. Comment by Gina | 06.26.2012 | 2:34 pm

    Hey Fatty!

    Nice work! I’ve gotten to this race report late but am so glad I finally did. Congratulations on an awesome finish!

    I’m also inspired and have a question. A friend and I are actually doing something similar. Furnace Creek 508 as a 2 woman relay team. I need to bookmark your race report so I have easy access to it whenever I start freaking out about the insanity that we’ve taken on by signing up for this race. My question, where did you guys get your reflective gear, especially the cross/vest kinda thing. We need to get set up for night riding and those are the best I’ve seen to date. Any help or suggestions you can make (like “Don’t do it!”) would be greatly appreciated :)

    Thanks so much and keep up the great work!

    The vests are here: http://amzn.com/B004DKSJAG. And I won’t say “don’t do it” because I think it’s awesome that you are doing it. Good luck! – FC


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.