A Gentle Reminder from Fatty: At the beginning of this month, I told you that if you sign up for the Rockwell Relay: Moab to St. George during this month, you’d get a very cool combination FatCyclist / Rockwell Relay jersey.
Well, that month is just about over.
It’s time for you to start putting your plans together for the season. And I can’t tell you any more strongly than I already have how much I love this race.
So, if you are considering doing the Rockwell Relay, go get yourself signed up right now. You’ll be glad you did.
And if you’re not considering doing the Rockwell Relay, well…maybe you should reconsider.
After I got Stan out of bed and then climbed into my own sleeping bag, I fell asleep pretty much instantly, and I slept soundly — a rare and wonderful thing during a 24-hour race.
Because of this, I can’t exactly vouch for the accuracy of my recollection of what happened during the next five hours or so, nor for the motivations of those involved.
The Fog of Sleep
At some point — before the sun came up — Stan got back from doing his two back to back laps. And — as is Stan’s way — he had done them very fast indeed. Even taking into account the amount of time it took for me to get back to camp, wake Stan up, and for him to get ready and to the course, he did his first lap in 1:34.
That’s incredibly impressive.
Stan then ripped out a 1:14 for the second of his back-to-back laps. Which is even more impressive. Bob wasn’t at the exchange tent to take the baton when Stan finished his laps, though.
Evidently, our team needed to work on its nighttime lap communication skills (this is, in fact, probably the most common team mistake in 24 hour races).
I’m not sure why, but Bob didn’t get rolling ’til about an hour after Stan finished. So between the Fatty-to-Stan miscue and the Stan-to-Bob miscue, we lost around 1:20 — almost exactly the amount of time our team took to do a lap.
There went our chance at the podium.
Do I sound bitter? I’m trying to not sound bitter.
Anyway, as Bob got going, Stan let The Hammer and me know, and I re-set the alarm clock to be an hour later. Even in my sleepy state, I was able to do some quick math and knew that once Bob got back, everyone would be getting in one more lap each.
I went back to sleep.
I Am Very Nearly Heroic
It’s interesting how quickly you can adapt to a new situation — how quickly something that had been scary and new only eighteen hours ago can become pretty much normal.
Where I was jumpy and antsy for the first of The Hammer’s laps, running around and making sure everything was not only ready but just right for her, I just did the basics this time: get the lights off her bike and helmet, make sure there’s some water in her bottle, give her a Honey Stinger gel to put in her jersey pocket, just in case.
I didn’t bother with air in her tires or lubing her chain. I gave them each a quick look and figured they were fine.
That’s not foreshadowing, by the way — her bike actually was fine, and didn’t give The Hammer a second’s worth of trouble on her last lap. Check her out:
Photo courtesy of Zazoosh Media
I know, it looks kind of weird to see someone dressed so warmly in the full sunlight, riding through the cactus.
And it was.
See, The Hammer took off just as it was getting light. Within fifteen minutes, though, the day had fully warmed up and she was soaked in sweat for the rest of her lap.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here, because I want to talk about how I very nearly saved Rebecca Rusch’s day.
See, after I handed The Hammer her bike and sent her off on her way to do her last lap, I went back to the camp to get myself ready for my lap.
There, I saw Rebecca, looking over her bike and getting ready to do her flazillionth lap:
The tolerant smile she gave me as I took the picture notwithstanding, Rebecca wasn’t happy. She had just discovered a major problem with her cranks — they were very loose — and she didn’t have the time or tools to fix them.
“Take my Stumpjumper,” I said. “It’s ready to go.”
“Really?” asked Rebecca.
“Sure,” I said. “I have two more bikes I can choose from for my next lap.”
“That sounds good,” Rebeca said. And I started getting all excited because having Rebecca race on my Stumpjumper would be kind of like having Elvis drive my Cadillac (Note: I do not actually own a Cadillac).
But then an actual mechanic appeared out of nowhere, with an actual replacement bike ready for Rebecca.
And thus ended my bike’s best chance at ever having a claim to fame.
I suited up for my last lap. With plenty of time ’til The Hammer was due back at the exchange tent, I wandered into camp, where Stan and Bob were resting.
“We need to figure out how we end this race,” Stan said. “After Lisa comes back, you go out, and I go out, there’s a good chance we’ll still have a few minutes before noon. So do we do another lap? Or do I just stay out ’til 12:01 on my last lap and we call it good?”
“Stay out ’til 12:01,” said Bob, whose turn it would be to go after Stan.
“No, we keep racing,” I said. “We do another lap.”
“I’m not doing another lap,” Bob said. “I’m cooked. Done.”
It was a fair point; Bob had done four laps. I had only done three (I was about to head out on my fourth).
“No,” I insisted. “It’s a race. We’re racing. We finish the race as a race.” It’s possible I used the word “race” too often there, but I was trying to make a point.
“I’ll do another lap,” I said. “I’ll go after Stan.”
“To be clear,” Bob said, “You’re going before Stan, and then going after him too?”
“Sure,” I said. “I won’t be fast, but once I’m done with this race, I’m going back home to 20″ of snow standing on the ground. I want to get in as much riding time as I can.”
So I went back to the tent, and ate another 6″ Subway sandwich — I was getting so sick of those things — and waited for The Hammer at the exchange tent.
She came in, right on time: 1:17. As consistent as can be. I took off, riding with everything I had, not worrying in the slightest about the fact that I had just taken on another lap, so that — including the course pre-ride — I’d be doing the whole course six times: 96 miles (6 x 16 miles, for those of you who don’t like to do math).
The thing is though, by now I had become acquainted with the course, and had transitioned from being OK with it to really liking it a lot.
I loved the quick dips through ravines. I loved the stark beauty of it. I loved swerving between cacti at top speed:
Photo courtesy of Zazoosh Media
In fact, by the time I finished my lap — which I did in 1:09, my second fastest of the race — I was glad the race wasn’t over; I wanted another trip around this prickly roller coaster. In spite of the fact that I had a prickly pear cactus spine embedded 1/2″ into my braking finger (it took an industrial-strength pair of tweezers to pull it out).
As I handed the baton off to Stan, he asked, “You sure you want me to finish my lap before noon, so you have to go out again?”
“Oh yeah, I replied. “I’ve gotta have one more turn.”
Which is where we’ll pick up tomorrow, for the conclusion (I promise!) to this series.