Friday is the last day of this contest. Yes, the one where, by donating multiples of $5 at my LiveStrong Challenge page, you get to select any of several popular models of Ibis bikes. Then pick up the bike and get it professionally fitted at SLC Bicycle Company. And then head out for some amazingly good riding right here in Utah, with me as your guide (scary).
Recently, I made the case for choosing the Ibis Mojo SL. And it was a good case indeed. If you’re into mountain biking, you couldn’t do much better (though if you’re into hardtails, you should probably give the Ibis Tranny some serious consideration).
But you know, not everyone prefers dirt. Some cyclists love riding the road. And you know what? I’m one of those people. At least three days a week, on average, if you were to ask me whether I like road or mountain bike riding better, I’d choose road.
And in fact, at least 50% of the reason I picked the house I picked is its proximity to a very special road ride.
So today, let’s talk about some ideas for road riding if you win, as well as the bike itself.
Meet the Ibis Silk SL
Your Ibis Silk SL starts with an amazing frame — a 2.2lb carbon beauty, available in either a clear matte finish or Siberian white — and then adds the amazing Shimano Dura-Ace component set, making this a full-on dream bike.
You will love this bike, and it will love you back. In short, the two of you will be in love, and will never want to be apart.
Let’s Ride Local
Here’s a little secret: my day job doesn’t require that I live in Utah, and it for sure doesn’t require that I live in Alpine, Utah.
I live here because I love it here. And one of the main reasons I love it here because of a nearby road called The Alpine Loop. I like that place so much that I did my 100 Miles of Nowhere on it this year.
It’s a big, beautiful road, with incredible views of mountains, evergreens, and aspens as you go.
If I may, allow me to suggest you ride it during the early part of Autumn:
You’ll climb around 3000 feet to get to the top, and it won’t be easy. But once you get there, you get to choose whether to go back down the way you came, or head down to Cascade Springs, which is worth seeing on its own merits — its a series of beautiful, tiny waterfalls fed by an aquifer.
Of course, that big seven mile descent into Cascade Springs means you have to climb back out of it. Which is either awesome or awful, depending on your own point of view.
On the way, there’s a fair chance you’ll see moose lounging about:
Or, you know, we could go down the other side of the Alpine Loop — the Sundance side — which is just as beautiful and even more curvy and twisty. Really, just an awesome descent on a beautiful mountain road.
And if the Alpine loop doesn’t satisfy your road-riding-in-the-mountains itch, we can go do Nebo.
Or, if all this sounds like a little too much, we’ll just gather up the twins and go riding on the Provo River Trail:
Regardless, I’ll probably want to make you finish the ride (time of year permitting) by trying out the sliding rock, about a mile from my house:
Don’t worry, I won’t make you go down head first (but I will use peer pressure techniques to try to get you to).
If the Alpine Loop and the Nebo Loop don’t sound exotic enough for you, we can head out toward Moab, and ride in the Canyonlands. I’ve never actually done that before, but have always wanted to, and this would be a pretty awesome excuse.
Or — and I know this is breaking the rules because we wouldn’t be in Utah anymore, but we’d be pretty close — we could go to Grand Junction, CO and ride across the Colorado National Monument:
I’ve talked about riding this road before. Believe me when I say the stunning scenery is almost matched by the perfection of the pavement.
If I hadn’t already ridden this road, I would be wondering why I hadn’t.
I Believe I Have Made My Point
So I think I’ve made a pretty good case for riding your road bike in my neck of the woods. And if you win this contest, that’s an option you can consider. And consider well.
Road or MTB? It won’t be an easy decision.
But you won’t win if you don’t donate by Friday. And your donation will help LiveStrong continue it’s amazing work toward the fight against cancer.
So if you haven’t done so — and hey, maybe even if you already have — go and donate some multiple of $5.00.
You might win an awesome bike with incredible componentry, a custom fitting, and a great biking trip customized for what you like to do.
And you’ll for sure be doing a good thing.
This is Lisa Nelson, my wife:
Also, to her right, that’s my shoulder, but that’s not important right now.
What is important is that she’s beautiful. And really nice. And smart and fun and easygoing and patient and stuff.
She also likes riding bikes. Here she is, riding a bike:
See how happy she looks riding that bike?
But Lisa doesn’t just ride bikes, she also participates in races. Quite a few races, actually. And she does pretty darned well in them, too.
But Lisa says she’s not competitive. No.
Lisa says she just rides “for fun.” Or “to see how well I can do against the clock.” In no way whatsoever, she says, is she interested in racing to beat people.
With all due respect to my lovely, kind, patient and smart wife, I have always known that this is a complete load of horse crap.
And now I have proof. Oh mercy, do I have proof.
A few months ago, my friends started using Strava a lot for their rides. (Strava is an online social network of people who upload their bike ride information from their GPSs, giving them the ability to compare how they’re doing against themselves and each other, as well as to comment on their friends’ rides. For more info, click here.)
Why? To compete against their own previous best times, sure, but also to compete against each other.
Ever a sheep, I also signed up. And got hooked pretty fast. So I told The IT Guy he ought to sign up, too. Which he did.
And then we both told Lisa that she ought to sign up. Honestly, though, neither of us expected her to sign up. Lisa doesn’t have a Facebook account. She doesn’t have a Twitter account. Lisa prefers, it seems, to live in the real world.
But she did sign up.
Why Lisa Is Called “The Hammer”
After Lisa signed up for Strava, I took her Garmin Edge 500 and uploaded pretty much the entire contents of her GPS to Strava.
The results were a little bit shocking.
She currently is the Queen of the Mountain (QOM) or Course Record (CR) holder for nine pages of riding segments (sections of road or trail people have marked as being worthy of having an ongoing competition to see who can do that section the fastest) in Strava.
By contrast, I have a grand total of 5 KOM / CR listings, and I think most of those segments were created by accident; I don’t even know where most of them are. (The sole exception being that I am very proud to be the current course record holder for the Utah Tour de Donut course.)
So Lisa started browsing her list. And within minutes, I was hearing her yell (because she was upstairs and I was downstairs) like:
- “Did you know I’m the QOM on the Mont du Chat in France?”
- “Hey, I’m also the QOM of the Col du Glandon! By more than twenty minutes!”
- Oh, I’m the fastest woman on the Mud Springs climb! And I guess I’m the only woman who does that climb, too!”
It went on like that. For quite a while.
Outrage and Vengeance
And then, of course, the inevitable happened. The Hammer (because calling her “Lisa” seems so out-of-place in this context) got an email from Strava, telling her that someone had just posted a faster time than her’s on one of the iconic climbs in a neighboring town.
The Hammer was no longer the QOM of Squaw Peak.
Then, to add insult to injury, The Hammer got another email: she was no longer the QOM of the climb from Provo Canyon to the Sundance Ski Resort.
So we made a plan. The next day (which is now yesterday), we would head out to Provo Canyon, where she would make an attempt to reclaim her QOM status on Squaw Peak. Then we would ride back down, ride up the Canyon to the Alpine Loop turnoff, and then ride, full-tilt up to Sundance.
My job would be to ride alongside her (we agreed that I would never give her a pull, since that would put an asterisk on her presumed victory), telling her how she was doing, giving her encouragement, and providing chitchat to distract her from the fact that she was riding out of her skull.
In order to ensure I remembered the times we had to beat, I wrote them on my leg:
We needed to be faster than 34 minutes climbing up Squaw Peak. And faster than 16:30 going up to Sundance.
Squaw Peak has an elevation profile that looks like this:
4.3 miles, 6.9% average grade. It’s as consistent as it is difficult. Which, by the way, is “very.”
We rode alongside each other. She sweated and focused. I sweated and focused and talked, saying anything that came into my head.
“Hey, you’re riding strong,” I said.
She did not reply.
“Good day for an attempt at a PR. Nice and cool, and no wind,” I said.
She did not reply.
“Look at that house. It’s really big,” I said.
She did not reply.
“You’re halfway through the climb now and on track to beat the record,” I said.
And also I said many more things. Finally, she replied.
“Please stop talking.”
I stopped talking. Which I was happy to do, because it’s not like I was lollygagging and riding one handed while she rode at her limit.
As we got to the top, though, I did venture to say one more thing: “Don’t stop right when you get to the top. Keep going, because you can’t be sure where the Strava segment ends.”
So she blasted to the top of Squaw Peak, finishing in 32:46 and obliterating the previous QOM time of 34:27. (Sorry, Natalie!)
All hail The Hammer! The Queen of Squaw Peak!
We rode back down, where The Hammer — without really trying — set a women’s course record on the Squaw Peak Descent. (Sorry again, Natalie!)
Then we cruised, nice and mellow, ’til we hit the climb to the Sundance ski resort, which has an elevation profile like this:
“2.2 miles, 6.8% average grade” is accurate, but it’s the “average” part that makes this tricky, because the first mile is pretty easy. The second mile gets harder, with the second half of the second mile being absolutley ugly-brutal.
Once again, I talked (and talked), which goes to show that I am a slow learner.
And, with 0.4 miles to go — where we were well into the absolute hardest part of the climb, The Hammer said, “Shut up.”
I shutted up.
Except, as we got to the sign that says we were at Sundance, I said, “Keep rolling, you don’t know where the segment finishes.”
She passed the sign in fifteen minutes, beating the previous best by almost two minutes.
The Hammer kept pedaling, still rolling surprisingly fast. Demonstrating that after you’ve been going at your absolute limit, merely going hard feels easy.
So we kept climbing, going on up to the top of the Alpine Loop. She was no longer killing herself, but I could tell she was going fast, and had obviously given herself a good start by flying up that brutal first 2.2 miles.
And that’s how The Hammer became the QOM of the Alpine Loop (Sundance Side), beating the previous QOM time by twelve minutes. (Sorry, other Lisa!)
Oh, and on the way down, she set a CR for the descent, too (Sorry for the third time, Natalie!)
Disbelief and Confusion
So we got home and — even before taking showers or eating or anything — quickly uploaded her GPS data.
Here’s what Strava had to make of it:
Six QOM/CRs, along with some other awards. Not a bad day’s work.
But that’s not what The Hammer was focusing on.
“I didn’t get the QOM for Sundance!” she said. In fact, the Sundance climb — one of her two main objectives for the ride — didn’t even show up on yesterday’s ride at all. Even though she had slaughtered the previous women’s record.
Why not? Well, that’s the weird thing about Strava. The segment must have been defined so that in order for The Hammer to have completed that segment, she would have had to make a left turn into the resort parking lot, and maybe ridden ten or fifteen feet down it or something.
So Erin’s record lives to fight another day, although The Hammer has vowed to return next week.
So what’s next for The Hammer’s relentless quest to be the QOM of all the land? Well, believe it or not, she has made a list of target segments and times:
No, that’s not her handwriting. It’s mine. I’m The Queen’s official scribe now.
I am told that, today after work, one or more of these is going down.
Truly, The Hammer has become a Strava monster. And I have nobody but myself to blame.
PS: Full Disclosure: I have no relationship at all with Strava. In fact, about a month ago I contacted them by email and told them that I’m a bigshot blogger and that they should upgrade me to a Premium membership for free. They didn’t even reply.
PPS: An Evening Update: As of the QOM hunt we went on this afternoon, The Hammer is now QOM of Jacob’s Ladder, crushing the previous QOM’s time by about 2.5 minutes. Wow.
However, when The Hammer made an attempt on Clark’s — possibly the most popular MTB TT around — she didn’t quite nab the QOM, missing it by 19 seconds. So pro MTB racer Erica T keeps her QOM on this segment . . . for now.
PPPS: A Morning Update: Live by Strava, die by Strava. Late last night, The Hammer got email saying that someone had taken her QOMs for both Squaw Peak and the Alpine Loop climb. My guess is the timing of the upload of these rides (both rides are from a while ago) is not coincidence. The Hammer will be back to reclaim her throne sometime soonish.
PPPPS: A commenter noted that Erica Tingey — the pro MTB-er who holds the QOM for Clark’s — has recently got out of the hospital following a really bad accident. Get better soon, Erica! (But The Hammer’s still going to have another try at that QOM!)
An “It’s My Birthday; Buy Me a Present” Note from Fatty: I’m 46 years old as of today, which means that I’m closer to 90 than to being born. Make me feel better about this fact by buying me a present. Specifically, how about going and donating $5 or $10 at my LiveStrong Challenge page? As a side benefit, doing so gives you a chance at winning the trip and bike I’ve been talking about (and in fact will be talking about in the rest of this post).
We’re down to the last few days of the big contest I’ve been running — the one where you can win your choice of four Ibis bike models, outfitted with top-end Shimano components. And also the one where you get flown to SLC where you’ll get that bike professionally fitted for you at SLC Bicycle Company.
And then you and I shall have a grand time as I show you some of the local rides here (or in another part of Utah if it makes more sense).
Today, I would like to offer a suggestion or two as to what that trip might look like, should you choose the Ibis Mojo SL.
We Should Just Stay Local
Once your bike is fitted for you, we should waste no time at all on traveling. Instead, we should head straight for Corner Canyon, where I will show you mile upon mile of extraordinary singletrack.
And I’m not kidding about the “mile upon mile” thing, either. Yesterday, The Hammer and I went on a ride at Corner Canyon where we purposefully avoided repeating any trail.
After 30.7 miles of singletrack heaven we ran out of water and came home. And there was still plenty of trail we had not touched.
Then, maybe the next day, we would head out to American Fork Canyon, to ride the trail that inspired my post about how a trail is like a lover: Tibble Fork:
Of course, if you’re not looking to do something quite that brutal (though beautiful), there are other options in American Fork Canyon. Lots and lots of options.
We Should Go On a Road Trip
Or you know, maybe you already have a ton of perfect forested singletrack near your home, and you’re interested in something a little more desert-like.
I can help you there.
We could head out to Moab and ride what is probably the most famous trail in the world: The Slickrock Trail.
Or ride around the White Rim.
Or, if you’re completely nuts, we could ride the Kokopelli Trail (but first I’m going to need an proof from you that you’re up for it).
There are no bad options at Moab.
But maybe you’re thinking Moab is too cliche. Everyone goes to Moab; you want to do something different.
In which case, I’d be happy to take you to ride the grand trifecta of Southern Utah Mountain Biking in Saint George, Utah:
The problem with doing all those rides is that you would fall so in love with your bike, the trails and me for connecting you to the bike and trails that you would give me a suffocating, unbearably long embrace and I would pass out due to your gratitude.
But I’m OK with that, just this once.
Or . . .
And you know what? You kinda don’t even have to choose whether you want to ride local or go on a road trip. We could probably put something together where we go riding locally in the afternoon after you get your bike set up, and then head on over to St. George or Moab after that.
My objective, in the end, will be to make sure you get as much awesomeness out of your trip here as you can stand.
And then knock you flat on your back with just a little bit more awesomeness. Just to prove a point.
But Here’s the Thing
In order to win the bike and the bike fitting and the trip, you’re going to need to be on my magic spreadsheet of winningness. And the way you get on that magical spreadsheet is by donating, in $5.00 increments, at my LiveStrong Challenge page.
Do it to win.
Do it to help in the fight against cancer.
Or hey, do it because you want to get me something for my birthday.
A Note from Fatty: I apologize that I must suspend Free Verse Friday today. What I want to say just isn’t that poetic. I promise Free Verse Friday will be back next week. Unless it’s not.
Hey, guess what? Today marks the beginning of my last week of my LiveStrong fundraiser. The one where you could win a dream Ibis bike — a Silk SL, a Mojo SL, a Tranny, or a Hakkalugi (your choice) — outfitted with top-of-the-line Shimano components.
Oh, and you’ll pick that bike up here in Utah, where the good folks at SLC Bicycle Company will do a professional, custom fitting for you.
And then we’ll go and do some riding on your favorite kind of ride, on your brand new kick-butt bike. Road or mountain, I’ll show you the good stuff.
As a person who has put together a few contests to raise money for good causes, I think this is one has the potential to be the most fun of any I have ever done.
So if you’d like to be a part of it, you should probably go read the details about the bike and the trip, then go donate .
A Little Serious Talk
Really, I had hoped to spend this post talking about interesting bike / ride combinations the winner of this contest might want to consider. But that’s going to have to wait ’til next Monday, because right now I want to talk about where I stand regarding the USADA allegations against Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel.
First, I’ll say this: I think of both of them as friends. More importantly, I think of both of them as good people who make a difference for good in the world.
For Lance in particular, I’ll go further and say that the thing he cares most about in the world is making a difference. For furthering the fight against cancer. It’s quite literally what he’s dedicated his life to.
Of course, Johan has a day job, so he has to squeeze his good cause work — World Bicycle Relief — into his schedule. And he does. He finds a way to raise money to improve the lives of people in Zambia with World Bicycle Relief.
Remember, The Grand Slam for Zambia — where we raised enough money to change the lives of 1152 kids — was not my idea. That was Johan. I just jumped on the bandwagon and helped, like many of you.
I think there’s secular merit to the the statement in Matthew 7:16: By their fruits you will know them. Specifically, you can tell what kind of person someone is by what they choose to do with their time and lives. The kind of people who either dedicate their lives or their spare time to making the world a better place — by fighting cancer or giving kids in distant lands a chance at a better life — are the kind of people I am proud to support, and proud to call friends.
What I Don’t Know (And You Don’t Either)
It is impossible for people like you and me to have a productive, enlightening conversation about whether Lance doped.
It really is.
For one thing, if you’ve got an opinion on the matter, by now that concrete has set. Thoroughly. It’s had plenty of time to harden, and no amount of stirring is going to soften it up.
More importantly, for every argument, there’s a counterargument. All of the arguments have been made. All of the counterarguments have been given. Even the very expensive lawyers who will now start arguing this matter will simply be clanging swords. And at the end of the process (if there ever is an end to the process), both sides will claim they are right. And depending on where things end up, you’ll either feel like justice was served, or that it was not.
But — and I think this is the most important point — either way, you (and I) don’t truly know. Just this morning, I talked with someone with an extraordinary amount of inside access to pro cycling when Lance was racing, and he said that if there was doping, he never saw it. He believes Lance is innocent, and — because of what I’ve seen and believe — I agree.
But of course, I don’t know. I can’t.
Similarly, however, those who assert — no matter how loudly, passionately, or often — that Armstrong doped don’t know, either. They can’t. They will of course argue otherwise, but remember: there are counterarguments for every argument out there.
So, when you can’t know something, and no amount of debate will get to the bottom of the matter, what can you do?
What I Do Know
I know a few things about LiveStrong. I know that it’s staffed by people who have a very personal connection to cancer, and thus a strong hatred of it, and an incredibly strong desire to help those who are battling it succeed.
I know that they do very specific things to help in the fight against cancer, and that they’re always looking for ways to do more.
I know that when I’ve made suggestions, they’ve taken these suggestions very seriously. And they don’t do this because I have a little soapbox to stand on (and I don’t fool myself into thinking that my soapbox is anything but small). If you reach out to them, I guarantee you they’ll reply, in person, and listen to what you have to say. I have never heard of an instance where someone has called or emailed LiveStrong in earnest and not received a personal reply.
I know that LiveStrong has helped me personally during Susan’s fight with cancer, and they’ve helped friends of mine.
I know, in short, that LiveStrong is a good organization, staffed by good people, doing really good things. I am proud to support them, and I’m grateful to Lance Armstrong for — instead of just going forward with his life when he had survived cancer — making the fight against cancer the central focus of his life.
(I know a few things about World Bicycle Relief, too, and I’ll be posting pretty much nonstop about it later this summer, when I’m focusing on Grand Slam 2: This Time It’s Personal.)
So if you think you can trust me, maybe you should help me raise money to help LiveStrong keep up its good work.
And you may even win a dream bike and biking trip by doing so.
Skin In The Game
I don’t raise money for LiveStrong because it’s easy or fun or for personal gain. With this contest in particular, I’ve made a point of being the person who is providing one of the major prizes. That’s going to cost me. And I don’t mind that cost at all, because I believe in what I’m doing.
That’s not the only cost I’ll incur, however.
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a thick-skinned person. I’m easy to attack and insult, because I take things personally (I’ve actually asked both Lance Armstrong and Bike Snob NYC how to not let things get to me; both have essentially said the same thing: “toughten up.”).
But I’m pretty sure that a pretty vocal group of people will insult me because of what I’m writing here. I won’t respond, because it’ll just result in more and escalated insults. Plus, I’m not good at the insult comic thing. But the insults still hurt, which is a win for them I guess. (That said, at least in my comments section, insults from and to anyone will be replaced by lyrics from the “musical” “artist” of my choosing.)
I don’t like it (duh), but I’m willing to deal with it because I believe in what I’m doing and in whom I’m supporting.
Do Something Good, Still
Back in January, I wrote a post called “Do Something Good.” That’s the plea I’m going to continue to make now.
If you feel like you can donate to LiveStrong, awesome.
If you don’t feel like you can donate to LiveStrong, give your time and / or money to a cause you can get behind. Like World Bicycle Relief. Or Young Survival Coalition. Or your local library.
As for me, I’m excited to see Team Fatty at the LiveStrong Challenge in Davis next weekend, where I believe we will once again demonstrate that a bunch of friends who don’t know each other can accomplish a lot of good in the world.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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