The Gecko and Fatty Symbiosis Begins: 2013 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 9

07.1.2013 | 2:25 pm


A “Mark Your Calendar” Note from Fatty: Tomorrow (Tuesday, 1pm MT) I’m going to be doing a live interview with Kathryn Bertine, who’s currently working on a documentary called Half The Road, a documentary film that explores the world of women’s professional cycling, focusing on both the love of sport and the pressing issues of inequality that modern-day female riders face in a male-dominated sport. 

As some of you may have noticed, three of my top five current cycling heroes are women (The Hammer, Rebecca Rusch, Jill Homer). And while only one of these three is a pro cyclist, I still love the idea of women’s cycling getting the attention it deserves. So join us. Here are the details:

Where: On SpreeCast, or right here on
Date: Tuesday, July 2
Time: 3:00pm ET / 2:00pm CT / 1:00pm MT / 12:00pm PT

A Note from Fatty About Today’s Story: If you’re just jumping into this race report, you should probably be aware that it’s now very nearly as long as a book. But you know, it’s summer, and this makes for some pretty good summer reading. If I do say so myself (which I do). So you may want to catch up by reading parts onetwothreefourfivesixseven, and eight before reading this one.

I don’t think I’ve ever had greater motivation to ride beyond my ability as I did on my final leg of the Rockwell Relay: Leg 9. I was in the position to either set my team up for a win by finishing ahead of Tommy of Team 91. Or I could set my team up for a loss by letting him pass me.

Which meant I was going to ride absolutely out of my head for the 36.8 very climby miles of this road from Panguitch to Cedar Breaks Mountain. 


As you can see, it’s almost nothing but climbing. 4116 feet of it. Which — fortunately — I really like.

I am happy to report that I absolutely rode out of my head. I averaged 17.4 miles per hour — not a bad speed when you’re plugging away uphill.

I caught and passed the racer from Team Flowmax, which was especially gratifying to me, because he was one of the group of four riders I had chased — without success — for most of the second half of my first leg.

It felt like I had redeemed myself, somehow.

As I rode, I experienced this extremely strange mixture of joy and fear: joy that I was riding so well (I could feel that I was riding well), and fear that — at any moment — Tommy might come surging past me.

I watched as desert turned into pines, then aspen. With beautiful mountain streams. I watched the day go from dark to light. None of it registered. All I cared about was getting to the exchange point before Tommy did.

And I did. 

I got to the exchange point, handed off the slap bracelet to Kenny, and then coasted to a stop. 

My part of the race was over. But Team Fatty still had three more legs to ride. There was no time for resting. 

Later, when I saw the results, I would find that I had reason to be proud of my final effort. I had done this leg of the race in 2:08, which is 29 minutes faster than Team Fatty’s previous best on this leg of the course (bear in mind, though, that Kenny did this leg of the course on a singlespeed in 2011, and in 2012 we had an alternative route for this leg of the race).

In fact, only three people were faster than I was on this leg of the race: with a 2:06, Team Red Rock Bicycle Company (which would tie for second place overall for the whole race); with a 2:07, Team Fast Friday (which would take fourth overall for the whole race)…and Tommy of Beauty and The Beasts, who was far and away the fastest person on this leg of the race with a 2:00

Yes, that’s right. While I was having the race of my life, Tommy still put eight minutes on me. (And a minimum of six minutes on every other team in the race).

A Decent Proposal

Of course, when I handed the bracelet off to Kenny, he didn’t know how close Team 91 was to us (as it turns out, Team Fatty still retained a slim five-minute lead); all he knew was he needed to do his best to prevent Team 91 from further eroding that lead. 

Or better yet, extending that lead.

The thing is, though, Kenny’s leg was short: just 31 miles. And only the first half of it is climbing, after which it is a crazy, fast descent. 


And so, when Kenny caught the racer from Team Green Gecko 1 during the climb (which Kenny KOM’d, by the way), Kenny figured maybe he had found a partner — someone who could help him get to the top of the mountain before the descent.

But the guy just grabbed his wheel.

“I’m trying to build a gap on another team,” Kenny said. “So take a turn pulling.”

“It’s all I can do to hold on,” the man replied. “But I’ll tell you what. If you can pull me to the top of the climb, I promise you I’ll more than make it up to you on the descent.”

It was an intriguing proposal. And the confidence with which the racer from Green Gecko 1 made it persuaded Kenny. 

So Kenny pulled the other racer to the top, giving him a ride the whole way, wondering whether this guy would be able to make good on his bold promise.

Bombs Away

Kenny needn’t have worried. As it turns out, the rider from Green Gecko 1 wasn’t a good descender. He was some kind of mad genius descender. He got crazy low on his bike and shot forward as though the laws of physics had just declared a holiday. 

Kenny’s whole job, for the 20 miles of descending, was to stay on Green Gecko’s wheel as they flew down the mountain at speeds hitting — and staying near — 60mph. 


And whenever Kenny started to drop off the back, unable to hang, the Green Gecko racer would sit up and let Kenny get back into his slipstream.

It was like being escorted by an ICBM.

Next Up: The Hammer

Meanwhile, at the next exchange point, The Hammer and the next racer from Green Gecko were talking. As it turns out, he was the one who had told The Hammer she smelled good back in her first leg of this race. So I was keeping a close eye on him. 

Kenny and the Green Gecko racer zoomed in, handed off their batons to The Hammer and the next Green Gecko racer. Together, they had increased our lead over Team 91 to nine minutes, giving Team Fatty a little — very little, when you consider the miles and time that had gone into this race — wiggle room for the final two legs of the race.

The Hammer and the Green Gecko rider took off together. It looked like we’d continue to be working together with this team.

But we had no idea how strange this race was about to get for us.


  1. Comment by SteveB | 07.1.2013 | 2:36 pm


    More cliffhanging… ok, we’re learning to deal with that.

    60 mph descents: amazed. My britches would need a good cleaning after that. Super nice to hear that the Green Gecko Guy kept his part of the bargain.

  2. Comment by Brian in VA | 07.1.2013 | 2:42 pm

    60???? Good grief. I thought I liked to fly…..

  3. Comment by GeistOnABike | 07.1.2013 | 2:43 pm

    OK, I was going to be grumpy that I had to page refresh until 3:30 Central to get that installment…

    …but it was worth it. Can’t wait for the next one!!!

  4. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 07.1.2013 | 3:35 pm

    I can’t even imagine doing 60mph on a bike.

    “It was like being escorted by an ICBM.” LOL!

  5. Comment by Davidh-Marin,ca | 07.1.2013 | 3:52 pm

    I’ve decided to go back to the beginning because I have forgotten how this race started. Keep up the good work Fatty! I hope Queen Hammer, Kenny, and Heather will be able to sustain their written segments with the same aplomb as you. Those are coming, right?

  6. Comment by Nancy_in_MN | 07.1.2013 | 4:09 pm

    Hanging us off the cliff with the promise of strangeness. That’s new. I like it.

  7. Comment by Kenny | 07.1.2013 | 5:20 pm

    For the record, That profile is wrong. It was an easier leg but it did start out with a 9 mile climb of 1700 ft. ( which I KOMed) Hoohaaa!

    Thanks, Kenny – I just updated the article with the elevation profile from your strava, along with a link to you hellaciously fast leg. – FC

  8. Comment by bdg | 07.1.2013 | 5:30 pm

    I’m a big fan of Kathryn Bertines old ESPN pieces and the book “as good as gold” that those columns became. Highly recommended.

  9. Comment by Davidh-Marin,ca | 07.1.2013 | 6:12 pm

    @Mr Jones. For those interested Kenny was 8th fastest ever on the descent, and third fastest on June 8th.(on the 8th I assume the ICBM was the person who took 2nd) The fastest nutcase (personal opinion only) was 2 and a half minutes faster….on a downhill! Now that’s SCARY!

  10. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.1.2013 | 8:05 pm

    Chapeau, Kenny. I regularly hit 50 coming off the hill where I live, and I am kind of comfortable with that. If I push just a little, I can and have hit 55, not so much with the comfort. It is steep enough that I am sure I could push it to 60, but my inner Chicken Little opposes the idea with sufficient vigor that I never have.

    Monster ride, Elden – Congrats!

  11. Comment by DQ | 07.1.2013 | 8:20 pm

    Damn you and your cliff hangers.

  12. Comment by Yannb | 07.1.2013 | 9:51 pm

    We were trying to keep up in the minivan with Dave as he was riding the same leg as Kenny, I thought it was scary in the car.

  13. Comment by Wife#1 | 07.1.2013 | 9:53 pm

    I’m starting to get addicted to the cliff hangers I think!

    I am such a weenie about fast descents that the thought of doing 60mph on a bike downhill actually makes me feel nauseaous!

    Amazing. Kenny, you are amazing!

  14. Comment by Yannb | 07.1.2013 | 9:55 pm

    To put things in perspective, my time on leg 9 was 2:46:33. Not even close to Fatty’s time. I am truly humbled. You rocked it elden.

  15. Comment by Jeff Bike | 07.1.2013 | 10:15 pm

    OMG! 60mph (Speechless)

  16. Comment by Ellen | 07.2.2013 | 1:31 am

    Awesome update! I love all of your race reports, but this one tops them all. Can’t wait to find out what happens next!

  17. Comment by Nancy_in_MN | 07.2.2013 | 4:19 am

    Do I smell a new FatCyclist book brewing? This has been a terrific series to savor.

    Hard to imagine that you’ve become a better writer than before, FC, so what is it? Great race? Multiple compelling protagonists? Antagonists that are not evil? Mixture of grrrl and guy riders? Comments from a best set of followers a guy could hope for? Or the comments from the not-so antagonistic antagonists? All of it and more!

    The serial nature of the race and the report work beautifully here. I could go on, but I’d rather you did, FC.

  18. Comment by Ginger-Schminger | 07.2.2013 | 7:16 am

    My butt just puckered at the thought of going 60 mph on a bike. I’m proud when I can hit 40 without crying.

  19. Comment by Marsupial Matt (formerly known as MattC) | 07.2.2013 | 10:35 am

    Fatty…I just have one question for you (well, make that two, but they are both in the same line of thought): HOW do you (and Hammer, and Kenny, and Heather) get SO amazingly strong so quickly (after having an actual winter mostly off the bike)? What kind of training/riding are you doing that we aren’t hearing about? After seeing you in action in Davis, and reading about your times in this series, I’m just flabbergasted at how strong you’ve all become.

  20. Comment by Jenni | 07.2.2013 | 11:50 am

    Not only 60 mph on the bike, but 60 mph riding really really close to someone else going 60 mph on a bike. I’m out.

  21. Comment by Tommy 91 | 07.2.2013 | 1:32 pm

    You rode your ass off to keep a gap. When I heard 12 minutes I actually thought there was a possibility I could bring it back. After checking your Strava rides from May I knew that it would be tough. Seriously, Fatty put up some very fast and intimidating results coming into this. It was so fun to chase someone who is riding so well. The road and temps were perfect. Thank you for the inspiration and it sounds like we inspired each other to our best possible ride that morning. You threw one down, I hope it hurt!! ;)

    Kenny, you are CRAZY!! Must have been a wild ride.

  22. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » 2013 Rockwell Relay, Part 10: The Penultimate Stage | 07.2.2013 | 3:40 pm

    [...] « The Gecko and Fatty Symbiosis Begins: 2013 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 9 [...]

  23. Comment by rich | 07.3.2013 | 11:07 am

    what a race…what a story.
    <> quote of the race right there…

  24. Comment by Kevin (Green Gecko) | 07.6.2013 | 11:31 am

    Yes. I was the nut going down with Kenny. What a strong rider! After looking at the results, I could see why I was struggling to keep up with him going up the mountain. KOM, Great job!
    The thing that was even crazier was the deer that almost turned us into roadkill! We missed him by about 1 to 2 seconds crossing the road at one of the fastest sections! I almost needed a new pair of shorts.


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