2015 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 1: Cold Fury

06.16.2015 | 10:19 am

A Note from Fatty: If you’re catching up with this story, you should probably first read:

  1. my race prediction
  2. part 0

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


I made a conscious decision when I was 20 years old. One that has probably affected who I am more than any other decision before or since.

See, up to then, I had prided myself on my ability to debate any point, to find weakness in others’ arguments, to “win” every conversation. In my mind, I was smart and logical and practicing to be a lawyer (I had always wanted to be a lawyer). But in reality I was just a contentious, pretentious, know-it-all jerk.

But I had a friend — his name is Shawn Udy — who was smarter than I am, better at persuading people than I was. And more importantly, he was nicer than I was. He was just kind and thoughtful.

I envied that.

“How is it that you’re so nice?” I asked him.

“You just decide to be,” he answered.

So I did. Right then, I decided that I was going to be nice. 

And, more or less, I stuck to it. Eventually it became easy, then natural, then at some point it became who I am. I am, by choice, a nice guy.

Except — and this is key — when I’m racing.

Because I think I still need a release valve for that part of me that wants to crush people.

The Cultivation of Indignation

I was at the starting line, nursing my righteous indignation. Trying to see if I could build it up into a full-blown cold fury.

Because when you’re racing, there’s nothing better than a nice slow-burning cold fury to keep you fast and focused.

I was doing pretty good so far. Here’s what I had as fuel for my fire:

We were outgunned, 2-to-1. When I wrote my “We Will Lose” prediction, I was unaware of the most important reason we would lose: Team Infinite Stamina actually had an entire second team whose entire purpose was to act as domestiques to Team Infinite Stamina.

So while Team SBR-WBR would be trying to find other racers to work with as best as we could, Team Infinite Stamina would always have another racer to work with them. This was an enormous advantage (and entirely within the rules).

This team of domestiques had a name, but we never bothered learning it (and I still haven’t). We just called them “Team Domestique.” And that’s what I’ll be calling them throughout this story. 

The domestique team was all male. While Team Infinite Stamina was made up of two women (Mary and Marci) and two men (Troy and Danny), Team Domestique was registered as a competitive men’s team, and in fact was made up of four competitive men. 

This was entirely within the rules.

Team Infinite Stamina + Domestiques actually brought a racing crew. When anyone on Team SBR-WBR wasn’t racing, we were driving, crewing, or prepping for our next ride. 

When anyone on Team Infinite Stamina wasn’t racing, they were relaxing.

This, I should point out, was entirely within the rules.

Everything, in fact, that Team Infinite Stamina did…was entirely within the rules. And that’s what really made my blood boil: that basically they had out-strategized and out-resourced us. They had built a completely legal non-level playing ground. They weren’t just trying to beat us. They were out there to humiliate us. 

Cold fury threshold achieved. Let’s race.


I attacked from the gun, grabbing one other guy’s wheel who also seemed to want to do a breakaway. “Are you going for real?” I asked.

“If I can find someone to work with me, yes,” he replied. 

“Let’s do this,” I said. 

And then I came to my senses. A two-person breakaway wasn’t going to survive. The cold fury approach would be to instead let the lead group catch us and then work to make that lead group go as fast as I could. Work with a big group. Go fast and push them. Negate any advantage Team Infinite Stamina + Domestiques has.

At first, Mary and her domestique hung with the lead group.

And so whenever there was a climb, I jumped ahead of the lead group — significantly — to give them a sense of urgency. Better go hard, or I’ll get away from you.

Screenshot 2015 06 16 09 16 28
Yes, that’s me. And behind me, that’s the lead group, chasing me down.

This worked. Really well. I split up the lead group, whittling it down into a much smaller group. One which consisted pretty much entirely of racers from Hyperthreads Teams 1, 2, 3, and 4, and a couple of other strong climbers.

And me.

And not anyone from Infinite Stamina + Domestiques.

Thumb 20150612 100336 1024


I started talking with Spencer, who is — in addition to being the owner of Hyperthreads — a fast, strong racer who knows a lot of the local talent.

“My coed team needs help,” I told him. “Our main competition has   Mary and Marci.”

“Those two are fast,” Spencer agreed.

“And they have a men’s team acting as domestiques. I need to build a serious gap in this leg or we won’t have a prayer.”

“Yeah,” agreed Spencer.

“So can you push your guys? Work with me to earn as much time as possible this leg? It’s the only leg I’ll be able to work with anyone this whole race. I need to make this count.”

And Spencer worked with me. He and his other Hyperthreads racers rode a smart, fast pace, keeping me with them on the flats and staying with me on the climbs.

Screenshot 2015 06 16 09 54 23

At times, I was impatient, and I would find myself in front and alone at the top of climbs. When you’re racing under the influence of cold fury, you tend to go faster than you otherwise might. 

This, I should note, cannot last forever.

Pain and Loss

According to Strava, the first leg of the Rockwell Relay is 54.4 miles long, with 4976 feet of climbing. As the elevation profile shows, you’re almost always climbing during this leg of the race:

Screenshot 2015 06 16 10 00 56

Most of that climbing is gradual, spread out, punctuated with occasional steep-but-short grunts. But at around mile 44, there’s a two-point-something-mile long pitch that is just plain mean

It was during this climb that — and I honestly don’t know which is the case — either the Hyperthreads guys started ramping up their pace, or I fell apart. 

My calves cramped. Hard. Both of them, at the same time.

I’d stretch out one calf at the bottom of the stroke, get a thousandth of a second of relief, only to have it fully seized up by the time it got back to the top of the stroke.

I wanted to stop. I did not stop.

But I did watch the lead group gap me. 

By the time this climb leveled off, the lead group was well beyond my reach. The next group was not even close to reaching me. I’d be finishing the final seven miles of this leg by myself. 

I went as hard as I could, doing my best to ignore my calves, which were still cramping (the day after the race, the soreness in my calves would be enough to make it difficult to walk).

I got into the town of Monticello, went as hard as I could, seeking the familiar site of the city park, where I knew the transfer happens. 

There it is. Left turn at speed and I see Cory, waving his arms. The Hammer is right in front of him, ready to go: 

Thumb IMG 3332 1024

I roll across the timing mat, Cory takes the timing chip anklet off my left leg, wraps it around The Hammer’s ankle, and sends her off.

I look down at my bike computer. I’ve just beaten my personal best on this course by a full minute.

Cold fury, baby. Cold fury.

And now the wait would begin to see how much time I had managed to put into Team Infinite Stamina + Domestiques. I knew it would need to be a lot; their next racer would be Marci: a tiny wisp of a woman…who also happens to be a monster on the bike.


  1. Comment by BostonCarlos (formerly NYC) | 06.16.2015 | 10:51 am

    where were your electrolyte pills? I thought you always had those on you these days?

    This time…I did not. Foolishly. So, so foolishly. My mistake was thinking that if I needed them, I could ask The Hammer for some and she’d get them out of the van. But I didn’t need them ’til after they had shot ahead to the first exchange point to get The Hammer ready for when I came in. – FC

  2. Comment by Tom in Albany | 06.16.2015 | 11:27 am

    Thanks to BostonCarlos for getting an answer to my first question.

    I have to say, your description of your competitions deviously intelligent strategy almost came off as a superb humble-brag! They did all this, which is allowed. We did it in a more difficult fashion. I say almost because, as you said, they were smart!

  3. Comment by leroy | 06.16.2015 | 12:24 pm

    My dog is enjoying your race report and opined “it’s like that old expression: cold nose, cold fury.”

    I don’t think I’ve heard that expression before.

    (On the other hand, I’ve taken to heart advice gleaned here and always have at least a couple of extra electrolyte tablets in tinfoil on longish rides on hot days. You only need to seriously cramp once to remember several expressions that ought not be repeated in polite company.)

  4. Comment by Andy | 06.16.2015 | 2:58 pm

    Elden, those are impressive power figures in your Strava graph, still hitting 300W at the end (while cramping)! How much do you weigh these days, 70 kilos? Maybe 75?

  5. Comment by Troy | 06.16.2015 | 4:26 pm

    Cold fury. . . huh. We definitely didn’t have any of that on my teams at this point. It was the best weather I have seen in the 5 years of Rockwell and a tailwind on Leg 1 has never happened before. We were full of excitement and fun as usual with the race but the weather really helped that out more. Happy to be racing in ideal conditions for once at Rockwell. Such a great day, still happy thinking about it.

    We put two teams together and paired riders for fun and based on choice. We did not set up a dominate rider on the men’s to pull the coed. In fact, Marci and Mary are too strong for us to even be domestiques.

    To know how we fared on leg 1, Mary couldn’t hold the front pack (sick last couple of days, not an excuse). Maybe she could have fully well, maybe not, never know. We gave her some time to see if she could regroup (smart racer) and work back up. When that didn’t happen we pulled Ryan out of that front pack to wait. Their group never got over 5 riders as they caught drops from the front pack and often was 3 as they dropped riders. They rode a very good Leg 1 time.

    Thanks for telling your point of view, Troy! And thanks for avoiding spoilers. I hope you’ll continue commenting throughout the installments of this story; your perspective is adding great balance.

    As far as the “we did not set up a domestique rider on the men’s” (I’m guessing your computer auto-corrected “domestique” to “dominate”)…well, some of your riders said things during the race that would have me believe otherwise. And then there’s Dave’s comment to my prediction post….

    - FC

  6. Comment by Troy | 06.16.2015 | 4:47 pm

    I should also say this was a very fun and exciting race this year. Your readers will surely enjoy the story. You are very good at telling stories with a good mix of humor and cliff hanging drama.

  7. Comment by Sunny | 06.16.2015 | 5:18 pm

    love your story telling. can’t wait for more of the story.

  8. Comment by leroy | 06.16.2015 | 5:37 pm

    But now I’m wondering. Is “Cold Fury” the new “Blue Steel”?

  9. Comment by AKChick | 06.16.2015 | 8:46 pm

    LOL Leroy! “Is ‘Cold Fury’ the new ‘Blue Steel.’” Brilliant!!person.

    Great report!!! I too was wondering where those electrolyte tablets were. I never leave home without mine on long rides.

    Also, received my 2015 FC jersey today! :) I really like the red color! It’s more pinkish than red. :) Very nice! Can’t wait to wear it!

    Finally, I love The Hammer. She has the most beautiful smile. It hides the heart of a fierce competitor. :)

  10. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.16.2015 | 10:49 pm

    Opened my New FC Kit today. Thinking I should have ordered more!

    Probably a good time to throw up the link for additional ordering of that ‘over stock’ you talked about.

    And @AKChick I think the color is ‘coral’.

  11. Comment by Jacob JG | 06.17.2015 | 2:30 am

    I also expected the electrolyte tablets to come out.
    And now I have have a question regarding those. I remember reading about them (was it maybe in the Leadville story?). So you have a specific brand you use? I have been doing longer and harder rides lately and are experiencing cramping in my calves.

  12. Comment by Jacob JG | 06.17.2015 | 2:33 am

    Found it: “To prevent cramps, Rebecca puts Gu Electrolyte Capsules (with Ginger) into a flip-top Gu Brew canister, which she carries in her middle jersey pocket. When she starts feeling an inkling of a cramp, she pops the lid and swallows a mouthful of tablets! I had never used electrolyte tablets, but it sounded like a great idea. She said the added ginger can help an upset stomach too”

    Nailed it. Here’s the product link. – FC

  13. Comment by Troy | 06.17.2015 | 4:47 pm

    Never put it in print ;). Dave was joking about being hired after we checked your blog at Check-in. In 2013 I wasn’t going to do Rockwell at all. Billy (men’s #2) asked me to join his team with Dave (men’s #3) and Mark (men’s #4). I met Dave that year for the first time at Check-in for Rockwell. We all had great fun (as usual for Rockwell) and we have been friends since. I met Mark a couple of times before but just in passing. I worried a little about only holding Dave’s wheel this year but it worked out we were more closely matched and shared the workload.


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