A Note from Fatty About Today’s Post: This is part 11 of my 2014 Rockwell Relay Race Report. As a refresher (or if you haven’t read it yet), part 10 is here. Or if you need to, you can go to back to the beginning.
You can feel a lot of emotions, all at once. And when you’re tired and sleep-deprived, those emotions can swing pretty fast.
I have examples.
Kenny started his final turn in the Rockwell Relay just as the sun was starting to really show. The day was — barely — warming up and we were moving out of the desert and into the mountains.
Instead of terrain like this:
We now had terrain that looked like this:
The difference was striking, and welcome. And Kenny had a big ol’ smile on his face, even as he climbed as if he were being chased by Visigoths.
Meanwhile, I was jealous. Last year, this was my favorite stage: almost a pure climbing stage, one that really tests you.
It was my moment of glory. Except this year, it was Kenny’s moment of glory. It was my moment to knock a completely full glass of iced coffee onto the floor of the van.
Here’s me, after The Hammer cleaned up my mess and refilled my glass.
The thumbs-up sign is me indicating, “This time, unlike last time, I have full control of my glass.”
And, yes, on my lap is two slices of pizza, facing together, so they don’t make a mess.
Oh, and don’t worry, the van was parked when this photo was taken. Which is to say that I wasn’t looking away from the road while no-handed driving on a curvy mountain road with a bunch of bike racers around me.
I am a doofus, but not quite that doofy of a doofus.
Kenny put on a climbing clinic, doing that 37.6 miles with 4116 feet of climbing in 2:12, averaging 16.7mph.
Which is to say, he kicked butt. Which is all the more impressive, in my humble opinion, when you consider that — as far as we knew — there was absolutely nothing on the line. No reason at all for him to put himself out there like that. We had no chance of catching the first and second place coed teams, and the fourth place coed team had no real chance of catching us.
Sure, anything can happen and there was a lot of racing left to do, but barring a crazy event, our third-place coed finish was a near certainty, whether Kenny raced his guts out or just phoned it in.
And he raced his guts out. Which is the way to do it, in my humble opinion. If you’re in a race, act like it. Whether you’re going for first, second, or second-to-last.
I’m pretty sure, to be honest, that for Kenny there was never any other possible option.
Let me tell you a little secret about Team Fatty’s race tactics for the Rockwell Relay. The “why” of our race order.
A big chunk of it has to do with Kenny and me being ridiculous.
See, I know The Hammer is a strong, independent, capable woman. She doesn’t need me to look after her. Likewise, Heather is a strong, independent, capable woman; she doesn’t need Kenny to look after her.
But once The Hammer and Heather had settled that they would be racing the second and fourth legs in the race, respectively, I called Kenny. “You need to race leg one, and I’ll race leg three,” I said. “That way we’ll both be able to prep and send off our own women.”
Kenny agreed without argument.
I say the above as supporting context for the fact that I was hugely stressed out about The Hammer’s next — and final — leg of the race.
I was worried that the descent was too dangerous — after ten or so miles of climbing, there’s twenty or so miles of fast mountain descending back into the desert.
Also, I was worried that she’d be too cold. It was early in the morning, and she’d be going fast down the mountain. I didn’t want her freezing.
Meanwhile, here’s how The Hammer looked as she waited for Kenny at the exchange area:
Yeah, she didn’t seem particularly bothered.
But as we got near the top of the climb and told The Hammer she was on her own for the descent so that we’d be able to get to the next exchange in time for me to get prepped for the handoff, I fretted. I stressed.
And in short, I needed to poop. NOW.
And so, as I sat alone in the woods — Kenny and Heather parked and patient on the side of the road — The Hammer passed the van and shouted, “Why aren’t you going on ahead of me?”
To which Heather shouted back, “Elden’s pooping!”
To which The Hammer yelled back, “Of course he is!”
Team Fatty kept no secrets. And furthermore, we don’t keep our secrets in a very loud voice.
By the time I finished and cleaned up (nice that Kenny keeps a shovel in the Sprinter), Kenny and Heather were antsy. “We need to hurry or Lisa’s going to get to the exchange before we do.”
Which seems like a gross — but not half-bad — place for us to pick up for the final installment of this story.