A Note from Fatty About Today’s Story: This is the final part of an eleven-part race report. If you’re just jumping in now, you may want to start from the beginning. Here are links for parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten.
We were almost done.
We had — since eight in the morning the previous day — raced 470 miles. Now it was 11am, already ninety degrees out, and we had a scant ten minute lead on our nearest competition. Heather now had a five-mile, 700-foot climb, followed by a rolling downhill to the finish line in St. George.
We were feeling confident.
See, Heather is one of those odd people who seems to get stronger and stronger, the longer she races. And she was back on home turf, riding toward roads she knows.
And — perhaps above all — she knew that once she finished, we could all go back to Heather and Kenny’s home and get a shower. And then sleep the afternoon away before the awards ceremony.
Never in the history of the world has their been such a good incentive to ride fast.
The Wind and the Gecko
Heather’s first leg of this race had been brutal. Between the heat and the mechanical issues and the wind — more than anything, the wind — Heather had to dig pretty deep to stay above 15mph…and that’s when she was going downhill.
And now the wind was back. But this time, it was at Heather’s back. And she was in a riding / racing groove. And her bike had ceased playing pranks on her.
And to cap it all off, about the time she summited the five-mile climb, the rider from Team Green Gecko 1 caught up with her, and — true to his word — made himself Heather’s domestique, taking long pulls and making incredibly fast time toward St. George.
Naturally, Heather took turns pulling as well, but — at roughly one-quarter the Green Gecko rider’s size — Heather didn’t give him much of a draft.
With the two of them riding together, it was incredibly easy for us to support both Heather and Team Green Gecko 1. Though to be honest, they didn’t require much, just zooming along.
At the rate they’d be going, this would be a sub-two-hour ride.
We made our last support stop in Veyo, foolishly neglecting to stop at the famous (yes it is actually famous) Veyo Pie Shop to score some pie.
Yes, we were too tired for pie. Try to wrap your mind around that.
After that, it was a quick drive to St. George, where we parked the van at the finish line, got our bikes out, and started retracing the race route to where we figured we’d wait for Heather and the Green Gecko racer.
We didn’t have to wait long.
In fact, we didn’t have to wait at all.
They had gone so fast that Heather and the Green Gecko racer were very nearly to the finish line when we caught up with them. We pulled a U-turn, let the Green Gecko guy go on ahead. It would be more important to his team to get a higher overall; we were just after the coed win.
Heather and the Gecko rider, together, had just put together an outrageously fast final leg: Heather’s time was 1:47 for this 39-mile ride. To put this in perspective, in 2011, she did this same leg in 2:30; in 2012 she did it in 2:24.
And then we were across.
Twenty eight hours, forty one minutes. And no seconds. Our fastest racing of the Rockwell Relay: Moab to St. George, by more than an hour (our previous best was in 2011, with 29:53:30).
Of course, there were team photos galore, but first we wanted to get a shot with the racer from Team Gecko, who had been with us for the last 1.5 stages of the race.
It’s amazing, really, how every year there’s a team or two we wind up racing against, and becoming friends with. This year, definitely, it was Team Lifetime’s Beauty and the Beasts (who had a finishing time of 29:12:45):
And Team Green Gecko, all of whom eventually did make it to the finish line:
This had been the absolutely most intense, exciting, dramatic, and fun race experience of my life — as demonstrated by the fact that I’ve pretty much written a book about it.
We sat in the shade for a few minutes, relishing the feeling of laziness. Of not having to ride, or drive, or support, or anything.
Then we agreed that we had been outside enough for one day (or is that two days?). We went back to Kenny and Heather’s house, showered, and crashed. Then woke up in time to head back to the park for the award ceremony:
We each got the awesome finishers’ rings, along with cool Rockwell watches, and The Hammer got a set of JayBird BlueBuds X — awesome Bluetooth headphones, which I am way overdue to write a review about.
Then, strangely, Kenny won two more Rockwell Watches during the raffle, so now — including his watches from previous Rockwell Relay races — he has a Rockwell watch for every day of the week.
Kenny, Heather, The Hammer and I went to dinner somewhere; I don’t even remember where. We were all just barely coherent. But I do remember we talked about everything that had happened during the past couple days, and how we definitely would be back to race again next year.
“You know that someone, at some point, is going to completely kick our butts at this race, right?” The Hammer asked.
Yeah, we all acknowledged. We knew. Especially with the big ol’ Braggy McLoudmouth stories I write about our race every year. That’s just the way it goes.
Which gave me an idea for a decal we could make to put on the team van.
We’ll be back next year. Kenny will be 50; I’ll be 48. Heather will be 45, and The Hammer will be 46. Team Fatty is starting to sound kinda like a Master’s Coed team, if you ask me.
But we do not intend to give up our dynasty without a fight.