A Note from Fatty: Part I of the report is here.
A Note from Fatty About the Salt to Saint Race Format: Quite a few people commented about the racer in the green shirt in the background of a couple of the photos yesterday. Sadly, I don’t know who that is. He does represent, however, one of the things I loved about this race, though: diversity of participants. The Salt to Saint allows soloists (like The Hammer and me and a few others), four-person, and eight-person teams. On an eight-person team, each racer does around 50 miles of racing, with plenty of time between turns.
Salt to Saint even has an open division, which allows you to propose your own number of racers on your team. For example, this year there was a nine-person team named “18-Wheeler,” which I thought was fantastic.
On another team, I saw a dad with a different one of his children on each of his legs of the race. This kind of team-size flexibility allows anyone to be a part of the race, instead of just people (like me) who have gone a little overboard with their biking (and racing) obsession. And with the reasonably short race segments (13-20 miles, if I remember correctly), most people don’t have to worry about whether they can complete their part of the race.
In other words, Salt to Saint is a total relay road race gateway drug.
Let’s Start Off By Going The Wrong Direction
So here’s what has happened so far, just to refresh your memory.
Our crew — and all our stuff — was stranded with a truck that had decided — for SECURITY’s sake — to not allow anyone to turn the key in the ignition. The race had started, and The Hammer and I had taken off after expressing our confidence to our crew that they would — somehow — either get the truck started or get someone else to the starting line, transfer all our gear over, and then find us on the course.
Well, at least that gave The Hammer and me something to talk about as we rode. Which was a good thing, because I have a problem when I race: restraint.
Or, more to the point, my problem is lack of restraint. Which is to say, I tend to take off as if the finish line is in sight, even — apparently — when the finish line is a ridiculous distance away.
Yep, that’s me on the left, standing up at the starting line, doing everything I can to not launch an attack.
Yeesh, what a dork.
[Side Note: You'll notice that neither The Hammer nor I have race numbers on these bikes. This is because our race numbers are on our Shivs, which we expected to spend most of the race on.]
But I did not launch an attack. No. We talked about the fact that we were in quite a predicament. And that it was incredibly weird for us because we are both planners and love to nail down every last detail of how we’re going to approach a race and now, here we were, at the beginning of the longest — by a factor of more than two — ride of our lives, and we couldn’t control anything. All we could do is ride, and trust that the people we had asked to take care of us…would actually find a way to take care of us.
And we were so absorbed in the discussion of what a strange start to the race this had been that two blocks after the start of the race, we missed a turn.
We Meet Russell
In our defense, we were not the only people to miss that turn. We were, in fact, just being sheeple racers: following the line of the racers ahead of us. And about ten of us had just blown through a well-marked turn.
Who knows what would have happened if someone with keener eyesight and less of an inclination to just follow the wheels in front of them hadn’t yelled out.
As is, we only went out of our way by fifty feet or so, and that would be the only wrong turn (OK, actually there will be one more) of our entire trip; the Salt to Saint guys did a fantastic job of marking the course.
As we rode, we’d look at people’s race numbers. The Hammer told me we should be on the lookout for other racers with race plates from 52 to 54 (we were 50 and 51) — the other solo riders in the race.
A moment later, we caught up with Russell Mason, racer 54. We wished him luck as we went by, then I said to The Hammer, “Well, at least we’re no longer in last place.”
“Yeah,” she said, “But I wonder if he knows something we don’t. Maybe we’re going too fast and we’re going to blow up before we’re halfway done with the race.”
“I don’t feel like we’re going too hard. Do you?” I asked.
“No. And no matter how slow we go, we’re going to be sore and tired by the end of this race. So we may as well go at least at a medium effort. Let’s just try to never go into the red zone.”
We Meet Jacob and Jason
The Hammer and I kept on going at our nice medium pace, talking about how odd it was to be riding where we trained, but as a race. “We won’t really start counting it as a race ’til we get a hundred or so miles into it, OK?” The Hammer said.
We climbed up Wasatch Boulevard, a popular road for riding in our area, and that’s when we came across racers 52 and 53, Jason and Jake. “Hey, check us out. 80% of the solo riders are bunched up together!” I exclaimed.
“Are you riding together?” The Hammer asked.
“Sure, let’s work together, either Jake or Jason answered, misunderstanding her.
Still, it was a good idea, and we would have been happy to be part of a rotating paceline of four solo riders.
Except The Hammer’s chain chose that moment to fall off.
“Go on, we’ll catch you in a little while,” I said as they went by, although I had no expectation that we would actually catch them.
It took The Hammer only a few seconds to get her chain back on, although the fact that it had happened at all made me nervous. First the truck, then the wrong turn, then what could well be a problem with her front derailleur.
“This day isn’t starting out at all well,” I said. “A whole day’s worth of bad stuff has happened during the first hour of this race.”
And five minutes later, another whole day’s worth of trouble would begin.