Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 6: Don’t Count Team Fatty Out

06.25.2013 | 8:07 am

A Note from Fatty: This is part six of my 2013 Rockwell Relay shaggy dog story race report. In case you haven’t already read them, you might want to read parts onetwothreefour, and five before reading this one.

“Let’s hurry up,” Heather said, as I loaded my bike into the van. “I reminded Kenny to look out for that left turn that comes just a couple miles into his ride, but I want to be absolutely sure he made it.”

I was glad Heather had reminded Kenny of that turn, since — in our first racing of the Rockwell Relay, back in 2011 — I had blown right by it, and had kept going ’til another team’s vehicle caught up with me and told me to turn around.

We made the turn, drove another couple miles, and — to our relief — there was Kenny, the blinky light clipped to his reflective vest rapidly bobbing up and down.

Kenny was turning an incredibly fast cadence, and flying up the steep incline of Boulder mountain. 

Did he need anything? Nope. Want anything? Nope. He just had a focused look and the big smile of a guy who loves racing and is very, very good at it (plus, an open-mouthed smile is good for breathing).

I suspect that if we had kept tally, probably each of of us needed something out of the van maybe five percent of the time. That didn’t mean, though, that we didn’t appreciate having the van pull up and check those other nineteen-out-of-twenty times.

We rode on up ahead — and in just a few minutes, we passed a racer. We pulled over and started the timer.

“Just three minutes!” we yelled as Kenny went by. 

“Just three?” he yelled back, and he stepped it up and went even faster. Which I would not have previously thought possible. 

A carrot is a powerful force, and within the next fifteen minutes, Kenny caught the racer. There was never any question of whether the other guy would be able to hang; Kenny simply went by him.

And then Kenny hit the summit, after which it was all downhill in this shortish leg of the race:


He bombed down in the dead of night, his lights on full bright. Meanwhile, Heather drove ahead of him — at a speed I wouldn’t call “reckless,” but it was perhaps on the threshold of reckless. She was just trying to stay ahead, so if anything hit a deer, it would be the van, not Kenny.

And a good thing, too. At one point we did in fact startle a deer out of the road. Kenny maybe would have missed it, but it’s hard to say.

One Final Message

Once we got past the twisty-curvy stuff, our plan had been to shoot ahead of Kenny, leaving him to finish. But after driving for just a couple minutes, we saw a rider from another team, not far ahead.

His race plate said Team 91. The coed team we thought was definitely going to beat us, that we thought was out of range, suddenly…wasn’t.

So we pulled over. 

As Kenny went by, we shouted, “Team 91 is three minutes up!”

Kenny found another gear. We shot forward, parked, and got the Hammer ready in record time. We stood and watched as Team 91 pulled in; their rider took off.

Then, just two minutes later, Kenny rolled up. It was exactly midnight, and The Hammer rode off like a bat out of hell.

“You’re two minutes behind the lead coed team!” shouted the exchange point official, as she pulled away. 

The Hammer looked over her shoulder and said, “Not for long.”

What Happened

As Kenny stood at the transition line, catching his breath, I said, “You just put twenty-five minutes into Team 91. That, my friend, is some serious gap reduction.”

At which point the racer from Team 91 said, “I missed a turn.” 

Ah. The notorious left turn (you didn’t really think I referred to it at the beginning of this post without a good reason, right?). How much of the 25 minutes did that account for? In the absence of someone from Team 91 making a Strava segment of the off-course section he rode, we’ll never know (but I’m going to guess 10-15 minutes).

It’s amazing how anything can — and most likely will happen in a 500+ mile race. And you just don’t know who’s going to win — ’til someone crosses the finish line.

In any case, we were now halfway through the race (in terms of number of stages in the Rockwell Relay, not necessarily in mileage) and were separated by our closest competition by no more than two minutes

This was going to be a race.


  1. Comment by wharton_crew | 06.25.2013 | 8:19 am

    This is amazing. Where do you guys find your speed? When I ride, I have two settings “slow” and “sustainable for more than 60 seconds”. Anything faster than that will end in my implosion within minutes. I’m so jealous!

  2. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 06.25.2013 | 8:29 am

    Fantastic! I’m sure this segment captures the feeling completely, but we need more. A post we can re-read several times in 5 minutes has to satisfy us for a whole day. Next time pictures! We can pretend we actually see something in all the blackness.

    So how did Kenny’s leg compare to your previous times on this same leg? (or are you going to make me research past posts and Strava myself?)

    Keep ‘m coming!

    I had hoped to write about both Kenny’s and The Hammer’s stages (stages 6 and 7) in this installment, but have a ton of work with my day job — so, one leg’s worth of story today.

    Kenny’s total time for this leg was 2:18, which was six minutes faster than my previous best time of 2:24 back in 2011, and nine minutes faster than my time of 2:27 in 2012.

    But I’m afraid next installment won’t have any photos either. – FC

  3. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 06.25.2013 | 9:30 am

    I’m already thinking of guys or gals I can find to do this race! Fortunately, your posts are fueling that small flicker that maybe that will happen.

    I just re-read your link to last year’s left turn miss – how did Callahan Williams come through with his injured neck?

    That’s a great question; I haven’t stayed in touch with him and don’t know. I know the Rockwell guys are good friends with him though; if they read this post maybe they can weigh in. – FC

  4. Comment by Kukui | 06.25.2013 | 9:49 am

    Whoa! Great leg, Kenny! I am loving these race reports. The now very-close-race with Team 91 has me on the edge of my seat!

    Must… not… check… results…

    The funny thing is I tweeted the results right after the race ended. So at least a big chunk of my readership already knows how this ends (not to mention the freely-available results on the Rockwell site). So, for all of those of you who know how this concludes, thanks for not spoiling it for others. – FC

  5. Comment by Jeff Bike | 06.25.2013 | 10:03 am

    If my math is right Kenny did almost 17 mph on this leg with that big old clime in it. He is some kind of machine! Fatty your previous run on that leg at over 16 mph is great.

  6. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 06.25.2013 | 10:42 am

    @Mark in Bremerton

    You look tall enough to work one of my Tandems for the Rockwell Relay….or was that a one and done experience?

    Yann Bertraund and Dave Thompson competed this year and Yann is already planning next year. I am definitely trying to convince myself I can do this…at least finish my legs. It would be GREAT to have a Big Fatty presence. I’ll bring the PIE!

  7. Comment by SteveB | 06.25.2013 | 10:48 am

    Even though I do know how it ends (and I’m not telling), I’m still on the edge of my seat with each installment. When this is all through I’m going to have to go back and read it all again.

  8. Comment by Christina | 06.25.2013 | 10:50 am

    “The Hammer looked over her shoulder and said, ‘Not for long.’”

    YES! (fist pump in the air) YES!

    Ooh, I like a good twist. Er, left turn.

    This story remains fantastic.

    Kenny’s studliness, while already great, increased while I read this.

  9. Comment by SteveB | 06.25.2013 | 10:50 am

    @Davidh… tandem team for Rockwell, so 8 riders?

  10. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 06.25.2013 | 10:50 am

    @Davidh, sounds cool, I’d be interested. Contact me off-blog. Chocolate cream for me.

  11. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 06.25.2013 | 11:03 am

    @SteveB @Mark in Bremerton

    Pleased to see some interest. Steve-I could see a tandem‘Monster Team’ for Rockwell but of course we would have to do a re-con trip to the area and check these hills Of course if we go all that way to ‘re-con’ we might as well bring some MTB’s and check out Moab also, it could take awhile…the spouses would be O.K. with that…wouldn’t they?(Wife#1?).

    Seriously-My Blind stoker would always be up for such a challenge and if it happened maybe we ‘tandem’ the sections better suited for ius. If we could find 8 people, I’m sure we’d WIN our division! Alternatively Salt to Saint Sept. 20th is better suited for a tandem team(?).

    Mark: Chocolate Cream Pie-Done! How ’bout German Chocolate Cream Pie too?

    This completes my comment allotment for the day. Thank you.

    You’ve got to learn to pace yourself. – FC

  12. Comment by tommy91 | 06.25.2013 | 1:13 pm

    Sean’s missed turn was 11 minutes of the gap. Kenny brought back another 12.


    KENNY IS A BEAST AND RIPPED THIS SEGMENT!! This is a prelude of Team Fatty’s rides to come. They are just getting warmed up.

    Salt to Saint…..Who needs a rider? I’m offering wind breaking services to the team with most cookies, beer or largest RV.

  13. Comment by yannb | 06.25.2013 | 1:43 pm

    Great write up as usual Elden. I’m on the edge of my seat even though I know the outcome.

    As @DavidH said, Dave Thompson and I are already thinking about doing this again next year. I’m hoping to have 2 maybe even 3 teams from the San Francisco Bay area. Although being from the bay area is not a prerequisite to join our team. If you are interested, email me at yannbertaud at gmail dot com and I will put you on the list when we start forming teams next year.

    If we can match up the riders from each team, the riders could be working together and improve our times.

    I am working on my own write up of our experience of rockwell relay. Will send to fatty when done.

  14. Comment by Clancy | 06.25.2013 | 2:36 pm

    You know – I’m guessing I could just go to the rockwell relay website and check the results, but it’s soo much more fun this way!!

  15. Comment by DavisJason | 06.25.2013 | 3:03 pm

    A+, 10, 5 Stars!

  16. Comment by Wife#1 | 06.25.2013 | 3:29 pm

    “You’ve got to learn to pace yourself. – FC”

    Too many jokes! Head exploding now!

  17. Comment by Marsupial Matt (formerly known as MattC) | 06.25.2013 | 3:48 pm

    Oh, this is TOO exciting!!! Typically (IMO) Lisa seems to be a kind, caring, and gentle person…however, it appears THE HAMMER is another person entirely! (I was looking back at my start-line pics, and there was a shot as she was looking down, had the 100 yard stare going on…like she was focused to kick some serious hind-end…(that was my thoughts when I looked at the pic).

    WONDERFUL STORY Fatty!!! Keep em coming! I’m only going to be sad in the end knowing that this wasn’t a 50 stage race (and thus at least a few dozen more installments). (I do NOT know the ending, so you have me on the edge of my seat!) How it could get any more exciting I just can’t fathom!

  18. Comment by Bek | 06.25.2013 | 10:37 pm

    I am dying of laughter on these posts! Your writing puts me right in the race with you. Serious respect from a fellow cyclist, Fatty (well, actually you weigh less than me now I think, and I’m a healthy weight range…but then I’m a girl and 5′4″ … Oh crap).

  19. Comment by Phil James | 06.26.2013 | 5:22 am

    This really was an unfortunate turn at this point in the race. What it really boils down to is Sean wanting to put in some extra miles. It’s understandable – Strava does that.

    Strava will be the death of us all.

    Did you ever find out how many miles he rode before turning around, and how much time it cost? – FC

  20. Comment by Tim Joe Comstock | 06.26.2013 | 8:09 am

    I love it when the Hammer talks like a gunslinger. I don’t even have to know how it ends to know how it ends…plus I know how it ends.

    That turn is the water hazard of this race.


  21. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 06.26.2013 | 9:44 am

    Eventually we all succumb to Strava:


    Great Shirts!

  22. Comment by SteveB | 06.26.2013 | 9:56 am

    @fatty’s comment to @Phil James comment – look up
    at @tommy91’s comment – 4 miles, 11 minues IIRC.

  23. Comment by Davidh-marin,ca | 06.26.2013 | 8:35 pm


  24. Comment by Thad | 06.27.2013 | 3:02 am

    Kenny had the 10th fastest split on the first leg, 5th on this leg, and 6th on his final leg. Wicked fast.


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