A “Join Me Later Today” Note from Fatty: Today at 1:00pm MT I’m going to be doing a live interview with Kathryn Bertine, who’s working on a documentary called Half The Road, exploring 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.
Where: On SpreeCast, or right here on FatCyclist.com
Date: Today (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 may want to catch up by reading parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine before reading this one.
Have you ever had one of those rides where every single thing goes wrong? Where the wind is constantly in your face, no matter which way you turn? Where you get a flat and change the tube, only to get another flat? Where you just don’t have any power whatsoever and you just…cannot…wait…to…get…off…the…bike?
Of course you have. I have to. Everyone has
But consider this: because of the great cosmic balancing effect of the universe, for every intensely terrible ride you have, there is someone out there who is having just as intense of a ride, but it’s intensely awesome.
And that is the kind of ride The Hammer had on her final — Team Fatty’s penultimate — leg of the Rockwell Relay.
Allow me to show you a photograph of The Hammer as she rode:
My, she seems to be having a good time, doesn’t she? Even though she’s doing her third ride in 24 hours and hasn’t slept in all that time and just recently had a very upset stomach and it’s 92 degrees outside.
Let’s take a look at another photo:
Yep, still having a good time.
I think a closeup of her face kind of tells the whole story, really:
The Hammer wasn’t just smiling for the camera. She was simply having a remarkable ride. She tells me that she felt like she had all the power in the world in her legs. That she felt like she was getting a push, the whole way.
Which sounds about right, considering she rode 42.1 miles in 1:54, with 1474 feet of climbing, at an average of 22mph. And got a boatload of QOMs, in case you’re wondering.
All of this on her own.
“Wait, what?” I hear you ask. And then you continue, “Didn’t you say at the end of yesterday’s installment that The Hammer and the rider from Team Green Gecko 1 had started together?”
“Yes. Yes, I did say that,” I reply. “But The Hammer rode him off her wheel. In spite of how good The Hammer smelled, he just couldn’t hang with her.”
“Oh well,” you say. “I guess that’s the last we’ll hear of Team Green Gecko in this story, right?”
“No,” I reply, mysteriously. “Not even close.”
In fact, we’re about to talk about them some more right now.
While The Hammer had in fact dropped the rider from Team Green Gecko 1, they weren’t far behind her. Just a few minutes. Which meant that we would see their rider and his support vehicle every time we did our racer-support-leapfrog dance.
Which means that when Team Green Gecko 1’s (note to all future Rockwell Relay teams: please stop giving yourselves such long, awkward team names) RV had a massive blowout, we were the first car to pass them.
The driver waved us down and we pulled over — a little anxious that The Hammer was getting pretty far ahead of us pretty quickly, and it was time for us to jump ahead and get Heather ready for her last stage. Since we didn’t know how far behind us Team 91 was — they could be catching us any moment! — we didn’t want to have any delay between when The Hammer finished her leg and when Heather started hers.
I ran back to Team Green Gecko 1’s RV.
“How can we help?” I asked. “Your RV’s tire looks really bad.”
“Forget about the RV,” the driver said. “We just need to get our last racer to the last exchange point,” their driver said. “So we can finish the race. Can you give him a ride?”
“Yeah, we can do that,” I said, hoping that Kenny’s van had enough room for another bike and rider. “But let’s hurry; our rider — and yours — is due at the exchange point really soon.”
Race Against The Clock
We loaded Team Green Gecko 1’s last racer into the van — there was plenty of room — and Kenny stepped on the gas; we needed to get to the final exchange point in time for Heather to use the restroom while Kenny and I got her bike out.
We caught up with the racer from Green Gecko, who was unaware of the blowout in his support vehicle and was wondering what had happened to his support. We told him what was up, loaded him up with fresh cold water, and shot ahead.
By the time we caught up with The Hammer, she had about five miles ’til she’d be getting to the exchange point. We swapped out a bottle as quick as we could, The Hammer yelled “Go go go!” and we took off.
As we drove to the exchange point, we told the guy from Team Green Gecko that we’d do our best to support him along with Heather, but if the gap got too big between them, obviously we’d have to stick with Heather.
“I tell you what,” he said. “It looks like we’re only a couple minutes behind you right now. I’ll do my best to catch Heather, and then I’ll try to pull her the rest of the way in.”
Looking at the wind Heather was facing for her ride into St. George, we couldn’t help but be amazed at the awesomeness of Team Green Gecko 1. Sure, we had saved their bacon a couple times now, but they sure had a great way of paying us back.
We got to the exchange point, Heather took care of her stuff while we took care of Heather’s bike, and then rolled over to the canopy tent where the exchange official would be noting the time of the exchange…right as The Hammer rode up.
We could not have cut the exchange any closer.
The Beginning of the End
Heather was off like a shot, knowing that we were ahead of Team 91, but not by how much.
After Heather left, the rest of us took our time loading, wanting to see exactly what the gap we had on Team 91 was — how much time they had put on us during the last leg.
While we waited, the Hammer gave the racer from Team Green Gecko who had just finished his leg (you know, the guy who likes the way she smells) $20 to get himself some food while he waited for his team to show up (the exchange point happened to be located in the parking lot of a convenience store).
Only later did we realize we probably should have offered him a ride to the finish line with us; our brains weren’t exactly working at full power.
Ten minutes later, Team 91 rolled in and made the exchange. My mind reeled as I did the math: racing against the guy who had put seventeen minutes into her during their first leg, The Hammer had just added a minute to our advantage.
So yeah. You could say she had a good final stage.
And now it was up to Heather.