2013 Rockwell Relay: Moab to St. George Race Report, Part 1: Bratwurst and Bad Tactics

06.10.2013 | 11:23 am

A Note from Fatty: For the next several days, I’ll be alternating posts from the 100 Miles of Nowhere with installments from the Rockwell Relay race I did over the weekend. Just to draw things out and mess with you a little bit. 

I love bikes. I love bike races. I love the kind of people who do bike races. I love the people who spend their time and energy putting on bike races. 

And above all, I love standing behind a grill, serving really good bratwurst (Colosimo’s) to racers and talking with them about all of the above, the night before a bike race. 

Here I am, last Thursday afternoon, right before the crowds showed up. 

IMG 6736

Those two big ice chests behind me are holding 400 brats, which The Hammer had boiled in PBR and onions the day before, since I was kind of out of my head with work deadlines.

Which made the hours of 6pm ’til around 8:30pm — when The Hammer and I grilled and served around 300 of those 400 brats (the rest would be grilled and served at the finish line Saturday) to racers and their families (and to the occasional random park-goer who was drawn in by the incredible smell) of the Rockwell Relay: Moab to Saint George.

We told favorite stories. We shared race tactics (i.e., bring an ice chest completely full of ice to keep drinks cold), and we talked about what a strange and fun experience this race was every year, and the fact that every single team would come away with an amazing story to tell.

I also signed a couple books, which served my vanity very well.

IMG 6738

Most importantly, we listened very carefully whenever someone else mentioned that they were part of a coed team, asking — very casually, mind you — whether they were there to race, or just to ride.

Hey, as two-time winners of the coed division of the Rockwell Relay, we had a dynasty to defend; we needed all the beta we could gather.

Then, around 8:00pm, The Hammer and I made our first critical strategic race move: we called Paradox Pizza in Moab, and ordered five 14″ pizzas (a Supremo, a Greek, a Caprese, a Hawaiian Italian, and a Margherita). 

Once those arrived, we let them cool down, folded them so the crust side was facing out, and then put them in ziploc bags.

Our team’s primary race food source was taken care of. 

The Race Begins

The Rockwell Relay starts at 8:00am, so Team Fatty got breakfast at Denny’s together to make final plans. We agreed that – for the first time — I would take the Racer 1 position. Kenny had raced it our previous two times, and we were both interested in trading to see what other legs were like. This meant Kenny would take leg 2, while The Hammer would take leg 3, and Heather would take leg 4 (as they both had the previous two times we’ve done this race).

During this breakfast, Heather — who has been plagued with flat tires this year — observed, “Finally, I’ve had three consecutive rides without a flat!”

I turned on her, with fury in my eyes. 

“You’re using The Secret wrong,” I said. “You’re jinxing us for sure, and guaranteeing a flat.” 

Heather apologized, but I knew we were now doomed to have at least one flat during the race, since the process for reversing misuse of The Secret is lengthy and complicated, and we had no time. 

But this was no time to dwell on what could not be fixed. So we finished our respective Grand Slams, then grabbed a quick team photo:

IMG 6739
Left to right: Fatty, The Hammer, Kenny, and Heather

And then I shouldered my way into the very front of the line. 

IMG 6742

Did I belong there? Probably not. But I have been riding hard. And I am — I’m pretty sure — the fastest I have ever been. Maybe by a lot. So I wanted at least a chance to hang with the fast guys.

The race began, at which point very strange things started happening.

First, three of us shot out front: me, a guy in blue, and a guy in red (that’s honestly all the detail I remember of them; they probably remember me as “guy in pink.”) We rode together for the first couple blocks, and then the guy in blue stood up and took off.

I looked over to my left at the guy in red. Was he going to chase? No. He was not. “Let’s just work together,” I said, and kicked it up half a notch so he could settle in behind me while I did the first pull.

Then the guy in blue — who was, by now, fifty feet ahead of us — suddenly pulled over to the side of the road, and stopped. 


I figured he must have flatted or had a chain drop, or something like that. Regardless, the fact that we had gone less than half a mile meant that the rest of his team (everyone on all the teams rides the first mile or so of the race, with three out of four of the racers just rolling along in parade mode) would see him in a minute and could help him out.

So I kept on going, thinking, “How weird that I am currently the lead racer.”

After a couple minutes, I waggled my left elbow, signaling the racer in red to come up and take a turn pulling.


I waggled my right elbow.


I looked over my shoulder.

Nothing. And nobody.

Unintentionally, I had managed to launch a solo breakaway from the entire field, about half a mile from the beginning of the race, with 54 miles and 4100 feet of climbing to go.

“So,” I thought to myself, “Now what?”

All Alone

I considered my options. “I can either keep going and try to stay out front, seeing if I’m the rare breakaway that succeeds,” I thought, “Or I can drift back to the group.”

“Or,” I thought, “I can keep going hard, but knowing full well that I’ll eventually be caught, at which point I can try to just hang with the lead group, instead of getting dropped by them.”

That sounded like a pretty good idea, and I figured that I’d be swept up within a few miles. “I’ll go hard, but not so hard that when they catch me I can’t join them,” I told myself, over and over.

But then a few miles went by, and I was still in front, all alone.

And then it was five miles.

The photographer and videographer caught up with me, taking pictures and video of me, riding. Alone.

Seven miles. Still alone. 

I began to fantasize. “What if they don’t catch me?” I thought to myself. “What if I somehow, during the night, magically became the fastest person here? Faster than the Cat 1 racers who are here? Faster than Brute Force, which has won this race every year?”

“Well, why not?” I thought, and went harder. 

I looked down at my Garmin Edge 510. Ten miles into this race, and I was still leading. 

And that’s when two people rocketed by me as if I were standing still.

“OK, I knew that would happen,” I said.

And then, seconds later, a group of twenty racers surged by me.

My solo moment of glory was over, and the race — the real race — was on.

Which is where I’ll pick up next time.


  1. Comment by Jim Tolar | 06.10.2013 | 11:41 am

    A long, long time ago I participated in a local charity ride with a couple of friends. It was a loop ride of maybe 40 miles. My friends and I happened to start up towards the front and found ourselves in the lead group during the first half of the ride. I had never been in the lead group of *anything* before, so it was kind of exciting.

    I was also working *awfully* hard to stay in the lead group, on the first half of a 40-mile ride. As the paceline rotated, I found myself closer and closer to the front. When the guy in front of me rotated back, I was finally *leading the whole dang ride*!!! I was so excited that I guess I picked up the pace unconciously, because after pulling for a while I eased over to the side to rotate back and nobody came forward… I looked back and saw that I had put 15 yards on the lead group.

    It was at that point that my chain fell off and I exploded, having greatly exceeded my aerobic threshold to stay in the group in the first place. As the paceline rocketed by me while I coasted to a stop so I could reset my chain, I realized it was going to be a long, long ride home, now that I was out at about the half-way point and thoroughly toasted. It sure was a fun 20 seconds in the lead though.


  2. Comment by Jeff Bike | 06.10.2013 | 11:58 am

    I thought I lead a race once only to realize that all those guys that passed me were in my class.

  3. Comment by Rob L | 06.10.2013 | 12:00 pm

    Well we know who should be boiling the brats next year for violating “the secret”. Can’t wait to hear the rest!

    That would be double punishment for Heather, the vegetarian in our group. Also, as you may have guessed, the talk about flatting is foreshadowing…. – FC

  4. Comment by lowco2 | 06.10.2013 | 12:03 pm

    I was so expecting you to say you had gone off-course, since you had never done this segment before. That would both explain being in front and make a great story.

    Going off course would have been totally in character for me. In this case, though, for me to have gone off course would have taken something special, since all I needed to do to stay on course was follow the police escort car. – FC

  5. Comment by Anonymous | 06.10.2013 | 12:52 pm

    I’m impressed that Elden was able to keep a Grand Slam down while putting in that level of effort; that size of breakfast on race day would have unfortunate consequences for me!

    We began eating at 6, the race wasn’t ’til 8. That said, the ability to fuel up without stomach issues, repeatedly, is one of my superpowers and comes in really handy on this kind of race, when I did three very hard rides (136 miles total, with around 12,000 in climbing, always going at race pace) in less than 24 hours. – FC

  6. Comment by Davidh-Marin,ca(not that one) | 06.10.2013 | 12:54 pm

    shouldered your way to the front???

    More like sneaking in under everybody.

    Great job team. Hope we get a Yann and Dave report as well.

    And one from Greg C, too. His report will be expensive, though, cuz it will have to include the exciting account of how his bike successfully escaped his car rack at freeway speeds. – FC

  7. Comment by fat dadoo | 06.10.2013 | 1:03 pm

    when will they post the results so we can, if desired, sneak preview?

    Around the middle of the week, according to their FB page. – FC

  8. Comment by Trevor | 06.10.2013 | 1:35 pm

    HAH! That crazy guy going for the solo breakaway was you! For the first part of that leg I was sitting in with the main group wondering who in their right mind was trying a solo breakaway at the very first of a very tough and very lengthy race. Congrats for maintaining it for that long though.

    Crazy is right. It was a total rookie move. – FC

  9. Comment by tommy | 06.10.2013 | 2:16 pm

    HA…I was wondering who was up there. I also saw Darren move up and then come back. When we rolled out at 25mph I knew this was going to get interesting really fast.

    Everyone, take careful note of Tommy, who just commented here, because his team factors more prominently into my story than any other team. (Well, actually, almost any other team.) – FC

  10. Comment by Rob G | 06.10.2013 | 4:10 pm

    Thanks for signing them for me! It was great to meet you and enjoy a brat with you. I had an amazing time riding areas I have never seen before. A little different then the terrain I ride here in Washington!

    Thanks again.

  11. Comment by SteveB | 06.10.2013 | 4:37 pm

    And in other news, I see that Team Fatty just surged into the lead for the Livestrong Challenge – is there a story there?

    I’d say that story is just getting started. – FC

  12. Comment by Doug (way upstate NY) | 06.10.2013 | 7:27 pm

    Mmmmm brats. That sings to my Wisconsin roots…….

  13. Comment by Team O'Henry's | 06.10.2013 | 11:50 pm

    The first three words of your post are “I love bikes.” Yet you tell us nothing about what bike you rode? …and we know you have options…

  14. Comment by MattC | 06.11.2013 | 6:00 am

    Great story Fatty…can’t wait to hear more! Wish I could have been there (w/ my bro GregC’s team)…but work has priority in my life right now (it has even shut down my weekday after-work rides as we’re working so many hours). But I’ll be in Davis, as that was scheduled before the crazy hours started.

    Also anxiously awaiting more 100MoN stories…it’s always a fav time of year hearing about all the Fatties doing fun and crazy stuff.

    OK…it’s back to work for me…before I get flogged!

  15. Comment by GregC | 06.11.2013 | 8:56 am

    As you were on the solo breakaway, you got past the 20 minute construction delay that held up most of the field and forced a regroup. Your lightning fast 1st segment also explains why we never saw Kennys vehicle the entire race. I will pull together a Team Check for a Pulse race report to share the experiance on the other end of the speed spectrum.

    I would LOVE to publish that as a guest post, Greg! – FC

  16. Comment by Nancy_in_MN | 06.12.2013 | 7:50 am

    Holy fund-raising, Fatman!

    I just popped over to the Livestrong Davis site to see how our team is doing. Crazy stuff there, FC! Really looking forward to your story about how you robbed a bank to scare up that kind of green stuff.

    There can be no other explanation.

  17. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » 2013 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 2 | 06.12.2013 | 9:00 am

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  18. Comment by Jas | 06.16.2013 | 7:59 pm

    Robbed a bank…or mebbe just hijacked a Segway with a rich pensioner on board :)

  19. Comment by Tom | 06.16.2013 | 8:12 pm

    Great story about your ride, man! You are my cyber-space cycling hero and all-round fount of pedalling wisdom…or should that be peddler of wisdom?

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