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.
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:
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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:
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:
“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.