2014 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 12: Idiot

07.21.2014 | 8:35 am

A Note from Fatty About Today’s Post: This is part 12 of my 2014 Rockwell Relay Race Report. The previous installment, part 11, is here. Or if you need to, you can go to back to the beginning

The most reliable indicator of a successful blog post, as far as I’m concerned, is that upon reading it, you will admire me. You will find me insightful. Athletic. Witty.  Strategic. Smart. Handsome, even. 

This will not, as measured by any of the above metrics, be a successful blog post.


We got to the Cedar City exchange point with enough time for me to get changed, get my bike ready, and then stare over my shoulder, waiting for The Hammer. 


It also gave me plenty of time to worry: This is a big descent, with a lot of wildlife. We left her out on her own for a long time. She could easily have hit a deer. Or a pothole. Or a patch of gravel. 

And it was cold up there. She wasn’t wearing gear for what was bound to be a chilly descent. She had already been through one descent where she was violently shivering by the time she got to the bottom. Why hadn’t I had her wear more?

I waited. Probably for as long as five whole eternal minutes I waited.

It’s possible I fret too much, and too often. Over a woman who has never shown herself to be anything but incredibly strong and capable.

I’m her husband. It’s my job.

And then, there she was.

With a smile on her face.

My relief was intense. I put out my hand to take the baton as The Hammer slowed:


We had learned our lesson about rolling handoffs for this year; maybe we’ll try them again…some other time.

And then I was off.


My final chance for glory — my big opportunity to show exactly how strong of a cyclist I am — was upon me.

Stand and Deliver

Hey, see if you can find the common theme in the following pictures from my final turn in the Rockwell Relay. Here’s one shot:

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Oh, and here’s another.

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And here’s me, again.

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(I especially like this one because the angle of the shot makes it look like it’s a tiny, tiny bicycle I’m riding.)

OK, one more.

IMG 1610

You could say that the common theme in all those shots is that I seem to be drawn to riding in places with scraggly bushes nearby. Or that I seem to be as drawn to looking at my stem as Chris Froome. 

But of course, the real common thread is that in each of these photos, I’m standing. And it’s not like these are cherry-picked photos, either. These are all the photos that were taken of me during this leg of the race. 

If there’s any kind of incline at all, I stand. 

Parents, let this be a warning to you: don’t let your kids ride single speed mountain bikes, or they will become hopeless mashers, thinking that the way to go fast is to stand up, pick a big gear, and pedal big fat squares.

Idiot Race Tactics

But I wasn’t just standing and climbing. Nope. I was standing and chasing. On this long straight road, often at a mild incline, I could see riders ahead of me, even when they were far ahead of me.

And by “riders,” I of course mean “carrots.”

I chased one racer down, got behind his wheel for just a moment to catch my breath, and then passed him, signaling that he should hop on his wheel, that we should ride together.

But I didn’t mean it. I so didn’t mean it. As soon as he got on my wheel, I ramped up my speed to a level that I knew was unsustainable, testing the guy, seeing if he could hang.

He could not. Within a minute I was riding alone again.

That’s OK, though, I could see another guy up ahead. I chased him down, did the same thing: catch him, catch my breath, go ahead for a pull, and try to ride him off my wheel from the front.

But this guy was staying with me.

“OK,” I thought. “Here comes a steeper hill; let’s see if you can stay with me going up that.”

He couldn’t. I popped him off the back, and was alone again. Which, apparently, was the way I liked it.

I continued on, riding solo. Racing out of my head. Attacking, attacking, attacking.

Except there was nobody else to attack. For the rest of the leg, I was on my own, racing into what was at times a headwind, and at other times a crosswind. 

I finished, feeling spent. Feeling proud. I had given it my all. 


And then, less than one minute later, the two guys I had dropped came cruising in. Working together.

Which is where I had my monster epiphany: I am a cycling strategy idiot. In my first leg, I had gone out completely at top speed, on my own and in the wind, even though I knew there was a guy just a couple of minutes back who wanted to work with me. A guy who I knew was strong, and would have made us both faster.

And now I had done it again. If I’d gone smarter — not harder — I could’ve worked with these two guys, and all three of us would’ve finished faster. 

But no. I had to beat them, even though I was competing in a different division than them. Somehow, at the moment, that had been more important to me than putting in a faster overall time.

I’m all legs and lungs, no brain at all. 

G’night Everybody

With my final leg of the race over, I now had a delicious luxury ahead of me: no more preparing for the next leg. No more taking care of other racers (Kenny and The Hammer would be taking care of Heather during her final leg of the race). And no stress over our place in the coed category: barring a crazy circumstance, we knew our place as third coed team was pretty much sealed.

So I had a celebratory cold soda, generously provided by the exchange volunteers:

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And then I had another:

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It’s possible I had a third, as well. My mind’s a little hazy on the whole time period. 

Then I had a Klondike ice cream bar, sitting and relaxing in the exquisitely air-conditioned van: 

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And then I laid down on the bench seat, intending to get out my iPad and see how other teams were doing.

I believe I lasted less than a second before falling asleep.

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Yes, I’m cuddling my phone in one hand and an iPad in the other. My devices and I are very close.

How It Ends

As you probably expect, I have no recollection of Heather’s final leg of the race at all. I just remember waking up as the van pulled up to the park where the finish line was, with The Hammer telling me that the team had decided that nobody wanted to wake me up and so this year we wouldn’t ride across the line together; Heather would have that honor solo. 

Which she did magnificently:


And I have to say, it was extra-awesome to cross the finish line this year, because Dave Towle — the biggest and best voice in cycling today, was announcing finishers.

We got the post-race team photo:

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And then we went to Kenny and Heather’s house — just a couple miles away from the finish line — and went to sleep for a couple hours before the awards ceremony. As expected, we were third with our time of 29:32: almost an hour and a half slower than the first and second place coed teams.

Obviously, it wasn’t even close.

And I don’t care. We could’ve been last place and I would’ve enjoyed it just as much.

The Rockwell Relay continues to be the funnest, most intense, most beautiful, outright best race I’ve ever done.

And I can hardly wait ’til next year.


  1. Comment by Bo | 07.21.2014 | 8:42 am

    Great conclusion for what has been a month long tale. Congrats to team fatty.

  2. Comment by UtahTom | 07.21.2014 | 8:50 am

    Great write up! Am I the only one who was a little disappointed that Kenny wasn’t sporting his daisy dukes at the finish line?

  3. Comment by ScottyCycles62 | 07.21.2014 | 9:26 am

    It’s not always the result that makes the race/event it’s the participation with good friends and family that make it successful and fun.

  4. Comment by Jim Tolar | 07.21.2014 | 9:39 am

    So the lesson to us all (yourself included) is that when you pass someone and they elect to grab your wheel, if you have to put any effort at all into dropping them, you will be better off working with them. When the time comes that they can’t (or won’t) take a pull, you move on to the next carrot. Right?

    Well done on the race and very well done on the report.


  5. Comment by Evan in CA | 07.21.2014 | 9:42 am

    Seriously enjoyable write-up, as always. (I must admit, the first few pics of you and the Hammer gave me leg envy. SUCH POWER!) Can’t wait to see how many teams sign up next year.

  6. Comment by owen | 07.21.2014 | 9:59 am

    leave the race tactics to the pro’s sounds like you had a blast attacking and that’s all that matters

  7. Comment by New Zealand Ev | 07.21.2014 | 10:29 am

    Always the most important part is to have fun and enjoy time with friends!! Always love cycling!!

  8. Comment by Jeff Helm | 07.21.2014 | 11:15 am

    I agree with Owen. The biggest carrot is wanting to pound as hard as you can and leaving nothing on the road. So, kudos to you Fatty for riding your ride and having a good time doing it.

  9. Comment by Marshmallow | 07.21.2014 | 11:21 am

    Awesome job to everyone for bringing the FUN and the power to the race. The goofs and hard work both make great reading. I hope someday I have as great of riding friends to race with!

  10. Comment by iRide | 07.21.2014 | 12:39 pm

    I think the coed teams should be required to have 2 men and 2 women. The split times are interesting. One leg a guy finishes an hour behind the leader then the next leg he finishes first almost an hour before the next guy. How does that happen? He conserved his energy?

  11. Comment by Jeremy | 07.21.2014 | 3:16 pm

    I used that working together tactic in my last race. Sure, I pretty much had to turn myself inside out to catch him on the climb and I may have tried to drop him, but that was only once. We settled in and worked well together and were very thankful for the breaks when we hit the headwind about 20 miles from the finish. If I had to work alone, I would guess I would have lost 15 minutes or more.

  12. Comment by CycleMedic26 | 07.21.2014 | 10:36 pm

    Excellent race report FC. Kudos to you, The Hammer, The Heather, and The Kenny!

  13. Comment by Tom in Albany | 07.22.2014 | 5:49 am

    I think there needs to be a 13th installment. You know, to tidy things up and close all the open questions?

    Or maybe you can just publish a list of how much of the three weeks of food your team ate!

  14. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 07.22.2014 | 9:17 am

    After all the past posts about your coed team “dynasty”, etc., you were pretty low key about “only” placing third. Still, great race and reports! The event is obviously becoming better known (thanks to you, in large part). A good thing.

    We had done our research and were pretty sure we were outmatched going into this edition of the race. This actually allowed us to stress less and have more fun this year. Although whenever any of us were on the bike, we were going FULL GAS. – FC

  15. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 07.22.2014 | 11:35 am

    So if we start early enough we could field an interesting group for next year. I know my tandem partner would be game. Can these legs be done on a tandem?

    Alternatively if we could field three FoF teams we could match them up on legs and have our own little pace lines going. Yann would be ‘captain;of course, and we could probably get The Wild Chapek-a’s to try again. Mark in Bremerton once expressed interest. Jeremy? Nic? Zeeter? AngieG? LauraS? JeffDeVries? and of course NancyJBS! Heck three teams would just be the start.

  16. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 07.22.2014 | 11:38 am

    I forgot DaveT and ChrisD, Mykill L, and UptheGradeinSR, WhartonCrew, Kukui, Sasha, and Corrine, and how cool would it be to race/ride with TheNoodle.

  17. Comment by Kukui | 07.22.2014 | 5:42 pm

    FoF pacelines ftw! I’d be game – probably dead game – but game nonetheless. ;)

  18. Comment by L'Hippo | 07.22.2014 | 9:09 pm

    I love these write ups!


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