Rockwell Relay 2013 Race Report, Part 3

06.17.2013 | 10:25 am

A Note from Fatty: This is part 3 of my 2013 Rockwell Relay Race Report. If you haven’t Part 1 and Part 2 first, you probably should.

I am talking way too much, I thought to myself. And way too fast. 

I had just finished the first leg of the Rockwell Relay, where — after a considerable (and embarrassing) struggle — I had managed to hand the baton off to Kenny, who had  immediately commenced to take off like a bat out of hell, racing like his life depended on it. 

Image 21
Photo by Heather

It’s one of the reasons Team Fatty — Heather, Kenny, The Hammer and I — are a great team together: off the bike, we’re about the most relaxed four people you’d ever meet. On the bike, we all suddenly transform into the most serious, focused racers in the world.

So now it was Kenny’s turn to pour everything he had into his first turn on the bike, and my turn to clean up (in particular, to wash all the gel off me, my gloves, and my bike), change into more comfortable clothes, relax, and eat. One of our team rules is that for the first hour after finishing your turn on the bike, your only responsibility is to take care of yourself. Relax, refuel. Rehydrate. Chill out.

And so, with my stuff was loaded into the van, comfortable shorts and a t-shirt on, and a bottle of Coke in my hand (I knew I wouldn’t want to eat for another half hour or so), I was talking a mile a minute, the endorphin rush plus the feeling that I had just ridden to the absolute best of my ability plus the excitement of the day (and night and another day) ahead with three of my favorite people, just making me giddy and happy and talkative.

The Flight of Mr Jones

We caught up with Kenny, who was blasting along at an astonishing pace. “Need anything?” hollered The Hammer.

“Nope, I’m good,” said Kenny. 

We drove ahead a couple miles, piled out of the van, and got out the cowbell — we only brought one, and wished we (wait for it) had more cowbell

The racer ahead of Kenny zoomed by. We cheered for him — everyone cheers for everyone at this race, in spite of the fact that we’re all actively competing against each other — and we started our timer.

Three minutes, and then Kenny came by:

Image 25
Photo by Heather

We got back in the car, leapfrogged past Kenny — nope, he still didn’t need anything (it was still early in the morning [hence not hot] and Kenny [like me] doesn’t really drink a ton while riding. Then it was back out of the car and cheering for our rider again.

Every time he went by, Kenny would smile huge as we shouted the steadily-dwindling time to the racer ahead of him, and we put the cowbell to good use.

Then Kenny hit the downhill, and it was all over for the racer ahead of him. And the racer after that. And the one after that.

Kenny’s kind of insane on the descents, you see, and there was a lot of descending on this leg of the race — 3400 feet of it (although there’s also 2441 feet of climbing). Like this:


After an hour or so, I moved into the driver’s seat, Heather moved into the passenger’s seat (this is the person who takes care of the racer and is the busiest person in the van), and The Hammer went into the back of the van to get dressed for her turn racing.

Moment of Realization

“Are people going to make fun of me if I wear my Tri singlet?” The Hammer called out from the back of the van. 

“Nobody gets to make fun of you when you’re passing them,” I replied.

The Hammer knew that her upcoming leg of the race was likely to be hot, and windy. A form-fitting outfit would be a good idea, and her tri singlet wicks like crazy.

So the Tri outfit it would be. Although not the pointy helmet. That would be a step too far. (Oh, and also not the Shiv; aero bars are specifically prohibited in this race.)

We shot ahead of Kenny for the last ten miles of his ride, giving us plenty of time to get The Hammer’s bike unloaded, take care of using the restroom, and basically being at the exchange point ready to go. 

Then, since we had the time, we thought we’d go and verify that we were, in fact, the leading co-ed team. The woman who was recording times through the checkpoint was happy to loan us her binder and we started looking through it.

By each team name and number was a code. Like nc-m, c-w, or c-c, for example. It took us a moment, but we figured it out: the part before the dash indicated the type of team: competitive or non-competitive. And the second part was the division: men, women, or coed.

Luckily for us all the competitive coed teams (labeled “c-c”) were bunched together.

And one of them — Team 91, “Lifetime’s Beauty and the Beasts,” had already gone through. 

We were not the lead coed team. We were in second. And Team 91 (as we called them, because that’s much easier to remember) was getting further ahead of us every second.

The Hammer…Hammers

Well, there wasn’t much we could do about it now. Just do the best we could. We were either faster than they were, or they were faster than we were. 

Looking down the road, I could see Kenny approaching, and doused The Hammer with water before her leg started. 

Image 26

The day was heating up.

Then Kenny and The Hammer did a rolling bracelet handoff:

Image 20

Obviously, the two of them are a lot more coordinated than I am. 

Kenny was all smiles as he coasted to a stop. He had ridden his leg — 44 miles — in 2:12, moving us up to eighth place overall. Eight minutes behind Team 91. A not-impossible-to-recover time deficit, though we knew that Team 91 was sending out their third man, while we were sending out our first of two women.

We had to admit that we were looking like a second-place bet. Oh well, whatcha gonna do?

Kenny set up the shower rod behind his sprinter van and took a shower. Yes, really. How deluxe is that?

We then caught up with The Hammer, who was flying along, smiling the whole way:


Which seemed deserving of some serious cowbell.

Image 9

Joining Forces

The day was heating up, and my job — now in the van’s passenger seat — was to holler encouragement at The Hammer every time we went by, and to exchange her rapidly-heating bottles for bottles full of ice water. 

Staying cool is absolutely essential when it’s 85 degrees outside and looking like it’s going to get to 100. Or warmer.

About ten or fifteen miles — some of the numbers jumble up in your head after a while — another rider caught up with The Hammer, and they agreed to work together for a bit.

IMG 6764

This of course meant that we’d be leapfrogging and stopping with this other rider’s team, which is always great, because it gives you a chance to meet some of the other teams and learn a little of their stories and what they’re up to.

In this case, the story was pretty impressive. This rider was part of a three-person team: a couple of college triathletes from Florida who were on their way to St. George for a training camp. As long as they were there, they thought they’d go ahead and do this race as a two-person team, then picked up a third rider at the last moment. 

So the guy working with The Hammer was actually already riding his second leg of the day. Pretty impressive. At some point, however, his youth and eagerness to go hard were too much — The Hammer wished him well and he took off on his own.

At which point, a group of four guys came by and invited The Hammer to join their train. She was happy to oblige.


Unfortunately for one of these racers, by adding The Hammer to the line, the pace of the train picked up considerably and one of these guys dropped off.

How to Smell Good

I was glad The Hammer had been able to join up with a group of riders, because the wind — a hot headwind — was really starting to pick up. I looked back to Heather and asked, “Are you ready to ride in this?”

Heather looked only mildly concerned. Which was brave of her. (Oh, and by the way: that was foreshadowing for the next installment of this story.)

Meanwhile, the paceline was working well together and battling the wind as best as they could. When we pulled alongside the group and The Hammer was taking a turn pulling, I shouted — in (I swear) mock anger — at the group, “Shame on you for letting the woman take a pull!”

The Hammer rolled her eyes. One of the guys laughed. One guy said, “She wanted to!”

But the guy directly behind her — the racer from Team Green Gecko 1 (remember that name, because you’ll hear about them again in later race reports), yelled, “But I like riding behind her! She smells good!”

Which caused me to turn toward Kenny and say, “I’m pretty sure the guy behind Lisa just told me he likes the way my wife smells.”

“Yup,” said Kenny.

“Should that bother me?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” Kenny replied.

For the rest of the trip, however, it became a running joke to stop mid-sentence and say, “Gee, Lisa, you sure smell good.”

We Reluctantly Begin To Try To Resign Ourselves To Our Fate

As we got to within ten miles of the next exchange, we made sure The Hammer had two full bottles of ice-packed drink, then drove on ahead to get Heather ready to go. 

We had everything down to a system by now. Kenny took care of getting Heather’s bike ready, I got drinks into her bottle cages, and Heather got herself ready to go. Kenny set up the shower so Lisa could clean up before we headed out to support Heather. Meanwhile, I put lights on one of my helmets (the plan was for me to be able to swap out helmets mid-ride, rather than have to carry heavy lights before I needed them), and set lights up on Kenny’s bike. It was weird to think of it now, in the middle of the day, but we’d be needing those the next time we rode.

Then, with plenty of extra time, we checked: Team 91 had put still more time on us. In fact, by the time The Hammer got to the exchange, Team 91 would be twenty-five minutes ahead of us, making our chances look pretty bad. In fact, we reasoned, the only way we were going to win was if Heather was a lot faster than the woman on Team 91’s team.

Even so, 25 minutes was a lot to try to pull back in a single leg of the race.

Well, we knew the Rockwell Relay Coed dynasty couldn’t last forever.

Surprise Ending

Heather rolled around on her bike, making sure everything was good. It was.

Looking down the road, I could see The Hammer coming, now with just one of the racers from the train she had been on. They had dropped the others during the climb.

We stood and watched. Heather got ready to start pedaling.

Lisa rolled up and held out her arm to hand the baton to Heather.

And that’s when Heather’s rear tire exploded.

Which is where we’ll pick up in the next installment of this story.


  1. Comment by Christina | 06.17.2013 | 11:03 am

    ARGH! The suspense is too much!

  2. Comment by Andy@WDW | 06.17.2013 | 11:03 am

    Again with the cliffhanger! You must get an absurd amount of joy from killing us with suspense. I’ll bet it’s almost as much fun as it is for us to read. What an epic race this is turning into!

    I can’t wait to see what drama the next installment brings!

    I can’t wait to read the next 100MON story!

    I can’t wait to see if you pick my story!

    But wait I must, because SOMEBODY has a flair for drama. :-)

  3. Comment by zeeeter | 06.17.2013 | 11:04 am

    Goshdarned cliffhangers Fatty! You all set for the weekend by the way? Any team emails going out this year?

  4. Comment by Nancy_in_MN | 06.17.2013 | 11:56 am

    Lisa sure smells good! Must be the Action Wipes.

  5. Comment by Davidh-Marin,ca(not that one) | 06.17.2013 | 12:15 pm

    Best multi part installment story ever! I still think you could raise a ton of donation money for the cause de jour. no new installment until x dollars raised. Think about it.

    @nancy in mn. Action Wipes for after the ride. clearly Lisa is trying out some new chamois cream…or was using an awful lot due to the hot weather…or was putting on the Chanel #9 so to collect a bigger pace line. Never underestimate the power of The Hammer

  6. Comment by Rob L | 06.17.2013 | 12:48 pm

    sooooooooooooooooo mean.

    Maybe you should arrange a hammer scent scratch and sniff for some contest goody bag?? Or maybe a sponsorship for you guys for whomever makes the scent??


    The tire thing – High pressure tire that is cool is placed on hot pavement. I’ve heard of this a few times from friends out in PHX.

  7. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 06.17.2013 | 12:50 pm

    This story will only get better (checked the results?). I’m lovin’ it!

  8. Comment by Mike | 06.17.2013 | 12:51 pm

    Hey that’s me on the front of the paceline! The guy sitting on my wheel from Team WKPR was by far the strongest in that group. It was indeed hot and there was a crazy swirling wind that you really couldn’t count on for anything that day. The Hammer did a great job out there.

  9. Comment by Mike C | 06.17.2013 | 2:33 pm

    That should be on next year’s Fat Cyclist jersey.

    “We need more cowbell!”

  10. Comment by Corrine | 06.17.2013 | 2:45 pm

    OMG! This story is great. I want more now! So much excitement and drama. What will happen next?

    I also want my 100 MoN story to be chosen. Will there be more stories?

  11. Comment by Wife#1 | 06.17.2013 | 2:46 pm

    More cowbell! Not sure if video embedding works in the comments. Here’s a short version of the SNL skit!

    Also, since there is absolutely zero risk of upstaging our glorious team leader at this point, for any of you who are NOT coming to Davis, or are not yet otherwise supporting a rider, I am just 15 people away from hitting my 100 miles | 100 pounds | 100 supporters goal for Livestrong Davis. Well, 15 supporters needed and 4 pounds more to go. I’m just not going to eat this week. :-)

    Thus if you are so inclined to make a small donation to help me hit 100 all the way around, here’s the link:


  12. Comment by Tommy 91 | 06.17.2013 | 2:48 pm

    And so it begins….

  13. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 06.17.2013 | 3:21 pm

    Major points for ending a post with an explosion!

  14. Comment by roan | 06.17.2013 | 3:24 pm

    WTCrap…the tire exploded ! I’m sitting here with a racing heart and you end this posting with the tire exploded !

  15. Comment by Shugg | 06.17.2013 | 3:28 pm

    Right, that’s it. Off to check the Rockwell results site.

  16. Comment by Shugg | 06.17.2013 | 3:46 pm

    I could tell you the result but then I’d have to kill you. All I will say is that I liked the name of one of the DNF teams – Check For A Pulse. Night night.

  17. Comment by Skye | 06.17.2013 | 5:48 pm

    Wow, and I thought you had already pulled out some really good clif hangers, but this is the most hanger-iest one yet! Way to go!

  18. Comment by EdwinH | 06.17.2013 | 6:10 pm

    Installment 3 of … 5? 9? Maybe I can cold turkey on fatcyclist for two weeks and then read all installments and comments at once? Arghh, don’t think so.

  19. Comment by FujiPixie13 / Beci | 06.17.2013 | 6:57 pm

    Pure awesome. As usual, you ROCK the blog world, Fatty.

    Btw, we had a local bike ride this past Saturday and a couple showed up in Fat Cyclist jerseys!!! He was wearing the black/orange, she in the black/pink. I was so tickled to see others with the jerseys in NC.

  20. Comment by JDBruin | 06.17.2013 | 8:21 pm

    Great installment. How the hell do you ride in such great locations? I’d be up looking around at all the cool stuff half the time. Doesn’t matter if it’s hot, we’ve got hot here in NorCal but the view isn’t so good.

  21. Comment by Marsupial Matt (formerly known as MattC) | 06.18.2013 | 7:59 am

    ahhh…hot weather…sounds awesome! I FROZE on my Saturday ride…stupid marine layer (FOG) was clear to the ground for the first 2 hours…I was soggy AND cold. Davis is gonna kill me I’m afraid…I’ve seen ‘hot’ about once this year, and that was over a month ago.

    Can’t believe Davis is THIS weekend! Can’t wait to see everybody again! Woo-HOO!!!

    Excellent story Fatty…you’re killing us w/ the drama! Extremely well told (as usual)! (I haven’t even heard my bro Greg’s story yet…be kinda’a funny if I have to READ about it here first (well GREG? Did you write it up yet?)

  22. Comment by Troy | 06.18.2013 | 5:58 pm

    Am I suppose to believe you were that casual about being behind another coed team? ‘Oh well’? Sure, not much you can do . . . but ride your guts out and try to catch up which is exactly what I would expect from everyone on your team. You guys don’t give up by leg 3 out of 12.

  23. Comment by Kukui | 06.18.2013 | 6:04 pm

    Must. Not. Check. Results.

    All the foreshadowing and the cliffhanger has me handing on every word. It’s so painful reading a cliffhanger knowing I won’t read the resolution for two days!

    Brutal! =)

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