2015 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 2: A Day in the Life

06.17.2015 | 12:47 pm

Previously in This Series: This story makes more sense in context than out of context. So if you haven’t read these yet, you should. In order and stuff.

  1. Race Prediction: We Will Lose
  2. Part 0: Generosity and Bratwurst
  3. Part 1: Cold Fury

I am not the guy you’d want to be your team strategist. Really, I’m absolutely terrible at team tactics and strategy. 

Allow me to present an example.

In the first leg of the race, once I had been dropped, I could have sat up and pedaled easily for a minute or two while the chase group caught up with me, thus saving energy and ensuring that The Hammer, when she started her leg, would have a group of people to ride and work with.

Instead, I redoubled my efforts, giving my absolute all to get to the exchange point as quickly as possible.

This had the effect of getting me there in record time — yay, me — as well as leaving The Hammer in a true no-rider zone for the beginning of her leg.

She took off anyway, solo, knowing that our primary competition (Team Infinite Stamina + Domestiques) would be sending Marci out next.

And we were afraid of what Marci was going to do to our team.


If you ever see Marci ride, you’ll understand our fear. Marci is a tiny little person who has, over the course of the past year or so, completely demolished The Hammer’s Strava QOM list.  

Marci was going to be faster than The Hammer. There was no question about it, especially considering the race The Hammer had run the previous Saturday.

The only question was, how much time Marci would put on The Hammer, and whether our team would still be in the lead by the end of this leg.

As I changed and Cory loaded my bike into the van, we all watched the exchange, wondering how many minutes I had earned the team.

Twelve. The answer was twelve minutes.

“Marci will beat me on this leg by ten minutes,” The Hammer had said before she started.

Now we’d find out how accurate her prediction would be.

Settling In

By the time we caught up to The Hammer, the weather looked ominous. 

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Was this going to be the year we got rained on? I asked myself 

As if in response, I felt the first rain drop.

But I never felt a second. 

Instead, these clouds provided fantastic shade and cool temperatures, not to mention a favorable wind.

Perfect racing weather. Perfect.

While it would no doubt have been faster to race in a group, The Hammer at least didn’t have to battle a headwind by herself. 

We pulled over whenever we could find a place, ringing cowbells and cheering for her and everyone else.

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But we were small potatoes, nutty-racer-support-wise. Heath Thurston and his team were pulling their shirts up and sprinting down the road, cheering for everyone.  

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That guy is the coolest kind of weird.

Next Up

The Hammer more or less time-trialed the course, solo pretty much all of the time. She was relaxed, had fun, and gave a big thumbs-up as she got near the exchange:

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Amazingly, she finished this 44.7mi course (with 3058 feet of climbing) in 2:19 — twenty-nine minutes faster than she had in 2014.

So that big run six days ago didn’t seem to be hurting her riding too much after all. (And a favorable wind helps, too.)

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Hanging Out With The Frenemy

Cory was off next, and I looked down at my watch to see how much of a lead against Team Infinite Stamina + Domestiques we still had.

Three minutes later, Marci came in; The Hammer’s prediction had been close to spot on. 

We hustled into the van and caught up with Cory, who had managed to keep in front of Troy and Dave (known to our team as “Big D,” because “D” conveniently stands for both “Dave” and “Domestique”) on the first big climb.

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The power of a big strong rider like Big D can’t be denied on a mostly-downhill leg of the race, though (net elevation loss of 2400 feet). Before long, Troy and Big D had swept up Cory.

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And then something weird happened. Really weird. As in, “I still have no explanation that makes sense” weird.

Troy stopped, in the middle of the leg, and had his race number affixed to his bike.

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That’s Mary, Racer 1 for Team Infinite Stamina, on the left. I’m not sure who the guy in the shorts is; I’m guessing he’s one of the Domestiques. Maybe Mary’s?

Why hadn’t Troy put this number on earlier? Why stop and do it now?

And then things got weirder. Troy had Mary spray some kind of aerosol adhesive in a can onto the back of his race number affixed to his jersey.

Which prompts the question: How does a group of people forget to bring enough lights for everyone on the team, but remember to bring a can of aerosol adhesive?

“Smile for the camera, cuz this is so going in the blog,” I said.  

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Can’t say I didn’t warn you, Troy.

This is How The Race Goes

As you might have noticed, the whole “Cold Fury” thing had kind of worn off (though I reserved the right to reignite it at need). The fact is, Team Infinite Stamina + Domestiques and Team SBR-WBR were pretty evenly-matched, and we were all having fun hanging out together and cheering for each other, as well as racing against and teasing each other. 

“Look, Troy’s actually pulling!” The Hammer yelled out the window.

“Quick, get a picture as proof!” Troy yelled back.

Which I did.

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Cory hung with the group, which was joined up with three riders from the Fishbowl team:

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Between the favorable wind, a big group, and a generally downhill section of the race, these guys flew along, leaving me with little to do but eat the delicious banana-nutella burrito The Hammer had made for me.

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The trick to racing hard leg after leg, kids, is to never stop fueling. 

At least, that’s what I like to tell myself.

Also, I got a picture of Mary and me. 

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Hey, we’d be trying to clobber each other again on the bike soon enough, but for right now: BFFs. 

Exchange Rate

Troy and Big D eventually managed to get a gap on Cory, and Cory rolled in about five minutes behind them.

As close-fought as this race was, we weren’t concerned at being a few minutes back.

No, that’s a lie. We were concerned. Possibly a little freaked out, even.

But we had a lot of confidence in our Racer 4: Lynette. She has a ton of experience with endurance racing and would no doubt do us proud.

So as Cory rolled in, I sighted the timing chip wrapped around his ankle, reaching for it before he even had come to a complete stop. 

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I pull off the chip as Cory wishes his wife good luck…

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…then pivot around and wrap the anklet on Lynette:

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Then I send her off with a good hard push: 

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This whole process (including the push), I’m pleased to say, took less than eight seconds (I know because the above are actually stills from a video The Hammer took).

Racing. Cheering. Helping. Relaxing. Laughing. Eating.

This is what The Rockwell Relay is.


  1. Comment by Eric | 06.17.2015 | 1:52 pm

    Excellent segment in the already awesome race report!
    I love the Rockwell reports!

  2. Comment by iRide | 06.17.2015 | 2:06 pm

    I like that your main competition this year is made up of 2 men and 2 women.

  3. Comment by Ed | 06.17.2015 | 3:07 pm

    I want to know about the t-shirt with the pig riding the bicycle, looks pretty cool.

    That’s my t-shirt from the Cinghiale tour in France with Andy Freaking Hampsten! Check out the Cinghiale site; The Hammer and I are still on the home page photo rotation. – FC

  4. Comment by Billy | 06.17.2015 | 3:33 pm

    Poor Danny, he’ll never forget his headlamp again!

    FYI, I was a member of team Infinite Endurance — the rider paired with Marci. Perhaps you know me as “Domestique #2″. I prefer to simply go by “Billy”, though some call me “Billygoat”.

    For the record, we did in fact bring, and have extra headlamps to share across our teams. My understanding is that Danny’s dad (owner of the RV we brought along for the race) was trying to help Danny, and, in his efforts, spotted the SBR sprinter van and unknowingly asked “the enemy”, a.k.a., SBR-WBR, if any headlamps were available for sale. Fortunately, you were willing to lend him a light for the race, which was much appreciated, but not necessarily required! Had he known he was setting himself up for a bit of shame in your blog, he may have chosen differently. After all, Danny is generally a good scout, always prepared (Danny, you can take that Eagle Scout award back out of the trash). ;-)

    To reiterate what Troy (Rider #3 of Infinite Stamina) said in his earlier comment, I chuckle at your domestique references. I only wish I could be Marci’s domestique. The truth of the matter is that there were plenty of times that I was either barely hanging on, or was dropped by Marci along this ride. I managed to catch back on and/or pass her on the descents this year, because, thank goodness, I was riding in position #2 this year, and not #1, and there are actual descents (last year I had the opportunity to ride alongside Marci *and* Mary in position #1, and it was incredibly tough)!

    I do not think “domestique” means what you think it means. – FC

    Most of us are in complete awe of these two women (Mary and Marci) and their incredible abilities, and are fortunate enough to know them well enough that they want to, and even seem to enjoy, riding and hanging out with us. Our team wasn’t craftily plotted; we simply formed two teams, and paired up riders based on closest matches in ability, mostly because riding alone is less fun than riding with others, and there were at least eight of us interested and wanting to ride the Rockwell Relay with each other — these two women included. Our goal this year was first and foremost to maximize our fun, and secondly to crush (mostly because Troy — “Team Dad” — said so.) Admittedly, when we saw that your team was working so hard to stay in the race, it made it just a little bit easier to do what “Dad” told us!

    I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the saga with your added spice and perspective. Carry on!

    You’ll note a quote in an upcoming post, Billy (if that’s your real name), where Domestique #2 says to The Hammer, “Well, my job is done; I’ve caught Marci up to you.” Then the Domestique #2 sits in on The Hammer while Marci blows by.

    There’s nothing wrong with that. Really. It was good tactics. But you’ve got to own it: you were being her domestique, expending your energy to save hers, putting her in a position to attack. – FC

  5. Comment by Troy | 06.17.2015 | 4:53 pm

    Being new to #3 position (now have done them all) this 1st ride is a total blast. The cloud cover was great while it lasted. With Cory, the Fishbowl guys and one other we picked up later (Daniel) we had a great line going at 7 riders. It was a great pace and when those Fishbowl guys surged Dave and I barely hung on. But this ride sure gets hot and hard at the end with the climbs.

    Didn’t Cory tell you he about got cowed? Big cows! Running across the road at the last minute fast cows! Thankfully he avoided them since he is such a Slim Jim after all that weight loss it could have been ugly :).

    You’re right! I forgot about the cows. There’s so much story here, there’s no way I’m going to remember it all. – FC

  6. Comment by Troy | 06.17.2015 | 5:16 pm

    Forgot to tell why I stopped. Billy and Marci were so fast in #2 that after grabbing some food and ice we had to bust a hump to get there in time (one of the downsides to multiple SAG vehicles). In our rush to get ready we forgot the numbers. As we were climbing I told Ryan (Domo #1) and Mary, our SAG crew, to get my number out to get it on. I did this so there wouldn’t be a single rule we broke (I know no one wears numbers after Friday except newbs but I needed the bike number for the whole race). I know some people are sticklers about rule violations, not that anyone on SBR-WBR would be. And all wannabe racers use spray adhesive for numbers ;), can’t have pins in a sweet kit. Oh, we had TWO cans of spray adhesive.

    OK, that makes some sense. But I’ve got to ask: didn’t you get your race numbers the day before the race? I don’t think I have ever gone to bed the night before a race without all my numbers affixed (and often re-affixed) to my bike, jersey, helmet, and anywhere else they go.

    Also, for what it’s worth, there was no way anyone on our team would have forgotten their lights, because BEFORE I WOULD ALLOW THE VAN TO LEAVE TOWN I had a “final reading of the checklist” where each member had to confirm they had each item on my list.

    Clearly, you need to step your race-day obsessiveness up a couple of notches.

    Finally, big kudos to your team for playing along with my over-the-top competitiveness, before, during and after the race.

    - FC

  7. Comment by TK | 06.17.2015 | 7:57 pm

    Billy and Troy might need to start their own blog….

  8. Comment by AKChick | 06.17.2015 | 11:08 pm

    LOVE race reports! You should write a book…oh wait. :)

    Love the back and forth with Troy and Billy. I think it’s kinda fun to read their perspective. Methinks that they are more competitive than they let on. :) There is nothing wrong or illegal or rule breaking about that.

    I also really appreciate them taking the time to tell their parts of the story — and the fact that they’re so nice about it. Really, I should have them guest-post a telling of the whole race…but from their POV. It would make an interesting we said / they said read. – fc

  9. Comment by bykjunkie | 06.18.2015 | 4:45 am

    Awesome reports….predicting a catch by Fatty.
    Received the new FC gear in the mail! great kit! Sent DNA an email asking if exchange in sizing was possible…..within 30 min Manny returned my email and had the exchange in the mail! they rock! And the Hoodie I bought for the wife, well that was so awesome i had to go back online and order one for me!

  10. Comment by Andrei | 06.18.2015 | 8:50 am

    Ha, I just realized I know Mary… She is a beast for sure. She can break trail in 3 feet of snow wearing snowshoes seemingly for hours on in… The fact that you put 12 minutes on her frankly amazes me…

  11. Comment by Billy | 06.18.2015 | 9:02 am

    Fatty (if that’s your real name), I have a confession to make. I do in fact know what “domestique” means: a domestique is a road bicycle racer who works for the benefit of his team and leader. In French, domestique translates to english as “servant”.

    Admittedly, the ego in me wants to accept the domestique label you choose to give me. I am a very competitive bike racer, fairly confident in my abilities, especially this season — in fact, the week leading into this event, I managed to win the weekly criterium race on Wednesday in a field of 25 or so. I wanted to ride hard and ride strong this weekend. “Team Dad” Troy expected it. But I also knew the reality — I was paired with Marci — so I tempered that confidence and kept it in check with reality. My previous experience riding with Marci has taught me to be nervous — very nervous.

    There were parts of Rockwell where I managed to be a reasonably good servant to my small climbing companion on the road — the flatter parts of Leg 2, where we hammered through the rollers. Yes, Marci did receive some benefit from me on occasion. The reality was that I wasn’t much help to her for much of the rest of the ride, despite my many attempts. I trailed behind Marci for the majority of the climbing, and seemed to get a bit too far ahead of her on the longer descents, with a few very brief exceptions. Yes, I absolutely had my racing hat on, and in some parts, used my tactical prowess to intimidate and prevent counter moves, honestly because it was the easy thing to do, not because it was providing much benefit (sitting in on a wheel, for instance, is much easier than launching an attack). From that standpoint, I was a fantastic ally to my teammate, and perhaps in those short-lived moments, I sufficiently earned the “domestique” title. I will happily take the credit — after all, it is a badge of honor for one to be strong enough to be one for a rider like Marci.

    You cited a quote above (supposedly from me) that will appear in a future post where I say to The Hammer “Well, my job is done; I’ve caught Marci up to you”, and I’m anxiously awaiting to read when this took place — my memory recalls a distinctly different set of events. I assure you that if any words were muttered, they were surely separated by gasps between (gasp) each (gasp) word, and that the words had more to do with my joy, that perhaps the pain that Marci was inflicting on me would let up now that The Hammer had been caught once again. I will elaborate the details of my perspective of events when we get there in the story.


    I’ll look forward to your continued color commentary. For absolutely realsies, thanks for taking the time to write your perspective! – FC

  12. Comment by Will Benton | 06.18.2015 | 9:17 am



  13. Comment by owen | 06.18.2015 | 10:20 am

    Rematch Rematch Rematch. So much drama in the LBC…

    I’m not too proud to say I had to look “So much drama in the LBC” up.

  14. Comment by Troy | 06.18.2015 | 11:12 am

    Domestique also means the rider being protected does little to no work. What we’re trying to tell you is that you can just as well call the coed team domestiques for the men’s team. Being balanced makes for a fun ride for everyone. If one rider is too dominate then one or both have less fun during the race.

    You’re right, Team Dad failed on the lights. I did ask everyone if they had a helmet, shoes, and ID because everything else is optional. All of the team didn’t know about the light until your blog, Danny kept that quiet. I really took it more casual this year. I never looked at teams, never Strava Stalked anyone or anything of the sort. We just planned to do our race and see what happens. It wasn’t until Friday morning I even knew how many coed teams because I asked you. And I’ll say it again, this was probably the most fun this year because of the friendly competition and great weather.

    I should try taking a race casual sometime.

    But I bet I never do.

    - FC

  15. Comment by Zannderson | 06.18.2015 | 11:50 am

    Your race reports are always a fun read, I wait in eager anticipation to hear how the rest of this one played out. I really liked this portion: “Racing. Cheering. Helping. Relaxing. Laughing. Eating.” – it seemed to sum up really well how I remember Red Rock Relay from when I did it a couple of years ago, and I think that’s big part of the draw for so many who do the Ragnar and other relays. Now that I’m getting into cycling maybe I can get to experience Rockwell Relay as well at some point. As always, thanks for sharing!

  16. Comment by Troy | 06.18.2015 | 1:12 pm

    For sure we were not taking it casual during the race, everyone was giving it their all. I’d say almost all of us are very competitive and hate to lose (it killed me last year with the 4 missed transitions and the crash on our way out of Monticello). But our strategy was simple, ride hard, near to death, and then do it 2 more times. Only Ryan (Men #1) and Danny (Coed #4) had not done Rockwell before. Everyone else knew what we were in for. We did all the planning for additional strategy (we put 2 more riders in #1 at the top of the mesa, for example). When we were with riders from SBR-WBR then the road racing tactics would kick in, mild tactical things, nothing crazy. We love friendly competition but that does not mean any of us took it casual during the race. Friends before, enemies/friemies/friends during (depends on situation), friends after.

  17. Comment by Rockstarster | 06.18.2015 | 2:14 pm

    Domestique is sometimes (face it — nearly always) a role that is pressed upon an athlete. At the very least, let’s go with super domestique in Billy’s case?

    I propose a duel. Not with pistols, but a head to head 50 mile time trial. THAT I would travel to see.

    I’m in. But if he is faster than I am, does that mean I proved my point, or that he proved his? – FC

  18. Comment by Rockstarster | 06.19.2015 | 9:12 am

    Yes. It means yes.

  19. Comment by Dave (a.k.a. "Big D") | 06.19.2015 | 10:34 pm

    I have to say, we didn’t come into the race thinking it would be anything more than a group of friends giving the course our all to see how fast we could go, but the added dynamic of the close rivalry made for a fun and exciting event. The constant back and forth heckling and harassment and even occasional cheers made the trip worthwhile.

    When shipping my bike from Texas, TSA decided to repack it for me resulting in a damaged and unrideable frame. The good folks at Bountiful Bike set me up on a new Tarmac frameset from the local Specialized warehouse, but between the added cost and the unfamiliar bike, II came into the race pretty bummed. In the end, I had the best experience of my 3 consecutive Rockwells. Cory was an absolute pleasure to ride with, and in fact we attempted to help him stay connected to the train a few times. I hope to ride with him again some day.

    My only regret this race is that I couldn’t breathe long enough to consume your pizza handup!

    Oh, it would suck to discover your bike was ruined en-route. Sorry man. That said, If I’m remembering the bike you raced on correctly, you’ve got to be pretty excited about your new ride; that was a gorgeous bike + setup.

    As far as the pizza handup, well…you could’ve slowed down enough to eat it. In fact, I’m pretty sure that was the whole idea. – FC

  20. Comment by Dave (a.k.a. "Big D") | 06.21.2015 | 12:24 am

    I can’t complain about the end result of the bike, and I have a feeling my new 2015 Tarmac Pro frameset will turn out to be my favorite yet. What I’m trying to say is thanks for making the event fun and exciting! I’m already looking forward to (and training for) next year.


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