2014 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 1: Bratwurst Galore

06.16.2014 | 11:30 am

As a beloved and authoritative source on all things cycling-related, I feel it’s critical for me to let my audience know whenever I have learned something new and critical. Information they (you) can use in your day-to-day life, or possibly to win a bet with.

With that in mind, I am happy to be able to tell you that I now know how many cans of beer, how many onions, and how much time it takes to boil 600 bratwurst in preparation for grilling them for people the day before a 527-mile nonstop stage race.

The race in question was, of course, the 2014 Rockwell Relay: Moab to St. George. And the bratwurst in question was donated by the wonderful folks at Colosimo’s. And we were preparing this bratwurst to give away to racers and crew during packet pickup the day before the race. Free, of course, though we were more than happy to accept donations toward The Hammer’s ongoing fundraising efforts as an athlete ambassador for World Bicycle Relief.

The answer to the math problem at the beginning of this post, by the way, is 120 cans of beer, ten onions, and about ten hours.

More importantly, the result of all this work manifests itself in a fridge that smells — and will probably always smell – of beer-boiled bratwurst.

And two very full, very large ice chests with an identical smell. And a house that — four days later — also has that smell. I’m not saying that’s a bad smell, but it may not be something we want permanently.

Also, to be clear, I did none of the work to get this bratwurst boiled. That was all The Hammer. 100%. 

Hey, it was her fundraiser.

Adjusted Expectations

For the past couple of years, The Hammer and I have hitched a ride with the Rockwell Relay folks out to Moab. That way, we don’t have to try to figure out how to get our vehicle from Moab to St. George, since our team — Team Fatty-WBR — likes to ride together in the same vehicle: Kenny and Heather’s absolutely completely totally fully decked-out bikemobile Sprinter van.

This has always worked out great, though the Rockwell guys always do a triple take when they see how much stuff The Hammer and I pack. 

Hey, we’re not just bringing our bikes and all the equipment necessary to race, eat, and support nonstop for thirty hours, we’re bringing 600 brats and all the equipment necessary to grill it

That’s takes up some space. 

We pile it all into trailers and truck beds — miraculously, it all fits — and start the four-hour drive to Moab. Which, naturally, I use as a prime opportunity to grill Cort — one of the Rockwell honchos — about other Coed teams. I had heard that other people had put some killer Coed teams together this year. Did Team Fatty even have a chance at winning?

“Mm. Maybe you still have a chance of getting on the podium, anyway,” Cort says.

“But you don’t even have a podium,” I reply. “The winning team stands up on the lawn in the park.”

“No, this year we have an actual podium,” Cort replies.

Wow. This race has gotten fancy, I think to myself.

Our Little Baby Is All Grown Up

Then we arrive at the park — several hours before packet pickup is to begin — and set up our grill, our banner, and our brats. We are, I can say with confidence, ready to begin the grilling and fundraising. The Hammer modeled our adorable setup:

IMG 0038

Luckily for us, Team “What Were We Thinking, Part Deux” — a team consisting of four Friends of Fatty — joined us, pulled up chairs, and commenced to hang out, obsess over race strategy and details, and otherwise pass the time. 

And I passed around my iPad with the card reader, asking them to all make a donation to WBR — just to make sure I know how to use it, mind you. They all do. Big donations, in fact.

I swear, there are no more generous people in the world than my readers. Thank you.

Kenny and Heather arrived, close to five, and Kenny volunteered to help with the grilling of bratwurst. 

IMG 9094

I accept, but think to myself that I don’t really need the help. I’ve done this before and have had no trouble at all keeping up with people. In fact, it’s a rare moment that I haven’t had time to swap stories with and hobnob with folks as I throw a brat on the grill especially for them.

But this year, things are different. Right at 5:00 — before I have any brats on the grill, if truth be known — people start arriving for packet pickup. 

Before long, there are hundreds of people in the park. And they can’t help but notice the bratwurst, and that glorious word, “free.”

IMG 9092

They line up, some asking what WBR is, but The Hammer and I have to give them a drastically reduced version of our pitch. Most people throw a few bucks in, and before long, our bowl is literally overflowing with money.

IMG 8973

So I’m working at top speed: grilling, serving, answering questions about WBR, answering questions about race strategy, divulging our team’s secret new race strategy whenever anyone asked (we had changed up the race order), and — honestly — having the time of my life.

Every once in a while, I’d take a moment to look around at all the people and think: This doesn’t look or feel like an underground event anymore. There are a lot of people around, and they’re milling around and having fun and relaxing and talking about this race and eating free bratwurst. And I’m a part of this. I got behind this race early because I loved doing it, and have talked about it and raced it and served bratwurst at it for four years now. And look at it. It’s — well, not big yet, but it no longer looks like it’s just some kind of family reunion. 

I know I’m not a big part of this race succeeding. But right then, The Hammer and I were serving brats to hundreds of people and contributing to the excitement, to the picnic-y, festival-ish feel of the day before the Rockwell Relay: Moab to St. George: an epic, intense, incredibly difficult road race that is growing by leaps and bounds.

IMG 8974

And it was pretty darned awesome to be a part of that.

Winding Down, and Winding Up

8:00pm came and went, and we were still serving brats. But by 8:45, things were winding down. Kenny looked about how I felt:

IMG 8969

Heather called Paradox Pizza and ordered four to be delivered…to the Colosimo’s tent set up in the city park. That would be our main source of food for the race.

As we took down the tent, grill, and remaining food, our team discussed whether we should make the strategic change many other teams had made and told us about: go with the 6:00am start, instead of the 9:00am start we had originally chosen, in order to avoid at least a little bit of the dangerously high winds that were suddenly showing up on the forecast:

IMG 0040

“Nah,” we decided. We’d chosen our time (or maybe we’d had it chosen for us. Whatever.) We’d tow the line. Keep a steady course. We would, in short, start at 9:00am, as originally planned.

The next morning, we would seriously regret that decision.

Which seems like a good place to start up with the next part of this story.


  1. Comment by Brian in VA | 06.16.2014 | 11:37 am

    First, Does The Hammer ever not have a smile on her face? Honestly, she just seems to be the happiest person I’ve never met.

    Secondly, Does Fatty always have a smirk on his face? I mean, if I was an award winning blogger and cycling expert as well as expert brat griller I might do that as well, but jeez….

    Can’t wait to read about this race. Maybe someday…

  2. Comment by wharton_crew | 06.16.2014 | 11:43 am

    You all look great, the brats look great, and I’m sad that there was no pie. However, the most important questions at this point are:

    Is Kenny growing a pirate beard? What is the technical term for his beard pony tail?

  3. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 06.16.2014 | 11:44 am

    A multi-parter? Shocking!

    I’m going to need a brat to keep me going till the next part :D

  4. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 06.16.2014 | 11:44 am

    I forgot that this was *that* weekend and was wondering why the blog had stagnated. Silly me! Now I’m on the edge of my chair… I hope someday to get a brat or two and get in this race. You two are awesome, I’m sure you raised a bundle and spread the word!

  5. Comment by Eric L | 06.16.2014 | 12:12 pm

    Fatty, I’ve been reading this blog for some years now and have never seen that Last Stop Pie Shop T-shirt.

    When did I miss my chance to get one?

  6. Comment by Tom in Albany | 06.16.2014 | 1:09 pm

    I’m setting the over/under for this race report at 9 installments (this one included)…

    Does the video count as its own installment? – FC

  7. Comment by Guy Creese | 06.16.2014 | 1:20 pm

    “Secondly, Does Fatty always have a smirk on his face? I mean, if I was an award winning blogger and cycling expert as well as expert brat griller I might do that as well, but jeez….” Having worked with Fatty, I can say the smirk is a frequent expression. It isn’t like he has a smirk all the time, but his face cycles between serious and smirk, serious and smirk. Oh, and he has a pretty good laugh, too.

    I think I look like I’m smirking a lot more often than I’m thinking smirkful thoughts. Part of it might be the left-right expression imbalance on my face — a little parting gift from when I had Bell’s Palsy. – FC

  8. Comment by NZ Ev | 06.16.2014 | 1:40 pm

    Yea!!! A new multi-part race report. So much to look forward to . . .

  9. Comment by yannb | 06.16.2014 | 1:48 pm

    I can vouch for the excellent taste of those brats. Was good to hang out with you guys at the check in thursday night.

    Also, Kenny’s sprinter van gave us some serious van envy. We started planning how we would arrange our rental van for next year on the drive back yesterday.

    Won’t spoil Fatty’s report with ours.

    But I hope you’ll write yours and let me guest-post it here! From what little I know of your race, it sounds like you guys had a serious adventure! – FC

  10. Comment by ScottR | 06.16.2014 | 1:58 pm

    Eric L – yup, sadly: http://www.fatcyclist.com/2013/04/05/sleeping-in-is-for-other-people-especially-if-you-like-pie/

  11. Comment by Christina | 06.16.2014 | 3:26 pm

    How much for a WBR bottle opener?

  12. Comment by AKChick | 06.16.2014 | 10:14 pm

    Yay! I can’t wait to read about the adventure!

    Also, can’t wait to hear about DavidH’s awesome adventure too!

    And if YannB let’s Fatty guest post his report, then we should have a full plate of awesomesauce, brats and pie for the next couple months. :)


    PS We need a new Fatty charity event! :)

  13. Comment by UpTheGrade, SR, CA | 06.16.2014 | 11:07 pm

    How do you continue to lose weight while surrounded by those delicious looking brats?
    I love reading about your exploits. You guys are an inspiration for your cycling prowess, but mostly for how much you give back to cycling, WBR, and your fans.
    For instance, I’m doing my first double century on Saturday, (the Terrible Two in Sonoma County, CA)and got some great tips from your archives to help me prepare – e.g. http://www.fatcyclist.com/2009/02/28/what-to-think-about-when-on-an-endurance-ride/
    Gotta work on getting the right song stuck in my head (its usually the last one I heard prior to a ride).

  14. Comment by Tom in Albany | 06.17.2014 | 5:29 am

    Elden, The video only counts as a separate installment if that’s the total of the post. If you link to it in ‘regular’ post, then no.

    I’m so looking forward to a Rockwell Relay report. These are always great!

  15. Comment by Tom in Albany | 06.17.2014 | 6:38 am

    First time I’ve ever reached my three post limit!
    I blew up the picture to get a good look at the bottle openers and noted that someone slipped you a 10RMB Chinese note in your tip bucket. It’s worth like $1.30 if you can find someone to swap it with!

  16. Comment by Daddystyle | 06.17.2014 | 6:50 am

    Being part of something bigger than yourself is rewarding and humbling at the same time.

  17. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.17.2014 | 7:26 am

    @UPthe Grade. BIG Snaps for the Terrible Two, and I hope weather and fortune shine on you. Maybe you’ll consider going to Kansas next year with us for the Kanza.

    @AKChck This is the week to write. I reached out to a world famous, celebrity, writer for assistance but he was not encouraging(more later) but he did have Craig Hummer’s number so there’s still hope.

  18. Comment by rich | 06.17.2014 | 7:34 am

    No idea how you guys stay slim with all those brats….I’d sit and eat till I couldn’t move…
    Can’t wait to read the write up and I’m taking 7 as the number of installments. Where do we place our bets?

  19. Comment by bacmapei | 06.17.2014 | 7:38 am

    After multiple years of reading about grilled bratwurst, I finally stopped at my local specialty meat shop and bought some. After reading the opening to this event report, I might have to do some grilling sooner than planned.

  20. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 06.17.2014 | 9:06 am

    @davidh- stay away from world famous ghost writers!

  21. Comment by Corrine | 06.17.2014 | 9:42 am

    I hope this isn’t going to be another 10 part series although I will love every day of reading it.
    @davidh – Can’t wait to hear about your adventure, too. So much good blogging to come the next couple of weeks!
    @AKChick – are you doing the Fireweed this year? I’ve got a team of 4 women and we are doing the 400. should be a hoot!!!!Look for the WOW (women on wheels) team.

  22. Comment by MattC | 06.17.2014 | 9:44 am

    I’d also be interested in a WBR bottle-opener…and Tom in Albany, you made me go back and look at the pic of the money-hat…indeed, there it is…a Chinese bill! Great observation! I think if I look in my bag of ’stuff’ I can come up with some South Korean Won…maybe I should carry that with me to drop in a hat somewhere (Won is much like Lira in value…a hundred gazillion of them is like $1.40)

    Hamer, is there any place we can watch/see your fundraising progress as a WBR Ambassador? Maybe Fatty can post a link for you here somewhere. I’d like to be able to ‘check in’ on you now and then..see how it’s going (you are obviously a SUBSTANTIALLY better fundraiser than I).

  23. Comment by MattC | 06.17.2014 | 9:50 am

    And just an observation here….but the WBR logo got kind’a shortchanged in size vs the Fatty logo on the “Free Brats” sign.

    Yeah, I’ll probably not be getting lots and lots of offers for jobs based on my graphic design abilities. – FC

  24. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.17.2014 | 10:10 am

    Attention all Fireweed participants: if you encounter a rider from ‘MOM’ please help turn them right side up.

  25. Comment by the Putti | 06.17.2014 | 6:21 pm

    I made Fatty’s brats about a month ago for a party we had. Everyone loved them. So, even without the cache of being an award winning blogger, you too can bring brat goodness to your friends and loved ones.

  26. Comment by Jeremy | 06.18.2014 | 2:37 pm

    The brat recipe is fantastic. It got rave reviews when I served the official “Team Fatty Brats” at a staff social. I am amazed the brats lasted as long as they did.


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