2015 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 8: The Beginning of the End

06.26.2015 | 11:40 am

Previously in this Monster of a Race Report: 

  1. Race Prediction: We Will Lose
  2. Part 0: Generosity and Bratwurst
  3. Part 1: Cold Fury
  4. Part 2: A Day in the Life
  5. Part 3: Winning When You’re Losing
  6. Part 4: The Chase
  7. Part 5: Zombies
  8. Part 6: Stop Shouting at Me
  9. Part 7: Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

We’re down to the last two legs of the Rockwell Relay. My prediction — and I’m pretty good at predictions — is that today’s post will get us to the final exchange. Then there will be one more post to get us to the finish line, and then maybe a wrap-up and an explanation of why I have this picture:

Thumb IMG 3029 1024

To be honest, though, there might be more story here than I can fit in a couple of blog posts. You see, I generally just kind of wing it with my storytelling structure. Write the next sentence that occurs to me. Break the paragraph every so often. 

With the final leg of this race, that will not be possible. Not remotely possible. 

In order to understand the final leg of this race, in fact, I had to reconstruct a timeline of events, going second-by-second, minute-by-minute, on a spreadsheet.

You think I’m kidding? I am so not kidding.


Why am I saying this? Just so you’ll be prepared for kind of a monster-sized conclusion to this story coming down the pike. You may want to set aside some time to read it. Have some snacks prepared. Maybe the cold beverage or ice cream of your choice. Make it into an entertainment event

But we’re not there yet. Not quite. Today’s story doesn’t require a spreadsheet.

Today’s story is easy to follow. Relatively.

Catching Up With Cory

When The Hammer came in, having finished her last leg, I didn’t give her time to change clothes, telling her we needed to get to Cory, ASAP, to have new bottles stuffed with ice ready for him.

The day was heating up. 

The Hammer, to my surprise, was perfectly fine with that. “I’m going to wait to change for a little bit,” she said.

We zoomed through town, looking at each cyclist to see if it was Cory. 

Finally, we caught him, riding in a paceline with Big D and Troy. 

Awesome. Perfect even. Just hold that wheel, Cory, we all thought. And also we yelled it at him, out loud.

But Big D was up front, absolutely crushing the course. Eventually, Cory just couldn’t hold on and popped off the back.

New Plan

“He’ll never be able to catch up on this leg,” I said. “Those two guys are going to distance him in a huge way.”

“Drive forward and drop me off,” The Hammer said. “I’ll work with Cory on this leg.”

This, as it turns out, was allowed within the rules of the race. Indeed, the rules of the race explicitly state that it’s allowed: 

Screenshot 2015 06 25 18 54 50

In the five years I’ve done this race, though, we’ve never done this out-of-turn drafting trick. Because there’s never been a time when the difference between winning and losing might come down to working with another rider.

This time, it was definitely coming down to this. The Infinite teams had been working together for a full 24 hours now, while we had been riding — more or less — solo.

It was time to even the odds. It was time to double up.

The thing is, The Hammer had already kind of planned on this possibility. As she was descending into Cedar City, in fact, she had thought about how the leg she had ridden wasn’t very taxing: a medium-effort climb, followed by a big descent.

She had figured if she finished behind Marci and Billy, she’d just pick up Cory and keep on going, working with him to limit the damage as well as she could.

That hadn’t been necessary, at first.

But now it was time to start burning every match we had.


We drove forward about a mile and started getting The Hammer’s bike out.

But before we had her ready to go, Cory had already come by.

So we shot forward a couple miles, and this time when Cory came by, he found he suddenly had a riding partner.

Screenshot 2015 06 25 18 45 41

Look how great they look in their new Fatcyclist.com jerseys.

Screenshot 2015 06 25 18 46 28

So PRO. I tell you.


With The Hammer and Cory working together, their average speed jumped; we had stopped the bleeding.

Even so, we weren’t catching Troy and Big D. We were even still losing a little more time to them. Big D is a locomotive, and if you’re not connected to that train…well, you’re gonna get left behind.

We were still going to lose.

Unless…unless we kept working together on the next leg, too.

I don’t know whether it was Lynette or me who first realized it, but it was obvious when we thought about it: With a short climb and then 32 miles of near-constant descending, a very light, slight woman riding alone doesn’t stand a chance against two men working together.

But…what if she wasn’t riding alone? What if the two of us were working together on Lynette’s leg — the last leg of the race?

“Hand me a couple slices of pizza,” I said to Lynette. “I think I need to start eating again.”

Get Ready, Get Set…

Lynette and I suddenly had a lot to do. On one hand, we didn’t want to stop supporting our team, so I kept driving for a while, leapfrogging Cory and The Hammer. Stuffing my face while we waited for them to come by, handing them water as they went by.

While I did this, Lynette got changed into her riding clothes. 

Once she was all set up, we swapped roles. And then once I was all dressed, I would spend our waiting time checking our bikes. Everything good? Yep. Everything good. 

Now, I’m tempted to act like I was all grim-faced and surly about “having” to go out and ride on this last leg. 

But the truth is, I was happy as could be. Excited. Elated. The Infinite teams had given us what amounted to a huge experiential gift: an exciting, dramatic race. One that could truly go either way. 

And I was stoked to — instead of watching this last act — be a part of it.

I had way more than 100 miles in my legs, and right around 10,000 feet of climbing. 

But I was as excited for this bonus leg as I had been for the first one.

No Secrets

Lynette and I made sure The Hammer and Cory had all the food they needed, along with two full bottles. It was time for us to tell Cory where he’d find the keys to the car, shoot ahead, park the car, get out our bikes, and…wait.

“See you soon!” I shouted to Cory and The Hammer. “Ride safe, and tear their legs off.

Oops. We forgot to tell Cory where the keys were. Oh well. Not the end of the world. With any luck.

We drove on toward the next exchange point. Before too long (or was it?), we came across Big D and Troy. I held a piece of pizza out the window.

“I think that would slow us down for me to eat that right now,” Dave shouted.

“That’s the whole idea!” I replied.

Troy looked at me. “You’re kitted up to ride,” he observed. 

I was amazed. I would never have noticed something like that when racing. Troy was apparently able to race and make important strategic observations at the same time.

I just nodded. Yeah, I’m riding again. No more two-against-one in this game.

Your Move. No, Wait. I Guess It’s Our Move.

The day was was hot, and still heating up, by the time Lynette and I arrived at the exchange point. We parked, but stayed in the van. There was no shade, and we didn’t want to heat up by venturing out.

Which means that we didn’t find out that this exchange point featured free Otter Pops

Man, I am still mad that I didn’t get myself an Otter Pop. Because, for one thing, Otter Pops at an exchange point had been my suggestion to the Rockwell Relay guys. And for another thing, I just really love Otter Pops.

Instead, Lynette and I just stayed in the van, keeping as cool as we could…and watching the Infinite vehicles. 

There was Danny, all kitted up to ride.

And there was Mary…all kitted up to ride.

And there was Marci…all kitted up to ride.

So if we bring two people to a leg, you’re going to bring four (Danny, Mark, Marci, Mary), huh?

I wasn’t mad. Far from it. It was a brilliant move. You’re at the end of a race, you’ve still got matches to burn…it would be stupid to not burn them.

And besides, I had a huge amount of confidence in Lynette. This weekend had been a revelation, as far as my understanding of Lynette’s racing abilities are concerned. She could take them. “They’re giving it everything they’ve got. We’re giving it everything we’ve got,” she said. “However this turns out, it’s been an amazing race.” I agreed with her. Winning mattered, trying to win mattered more. And both teams were trying very, very hard to win. 

As for myself…well, I was being a jackass. I said, “Just get in as close as you can stand and hang on. I don’t like to boast, but I’m guaranteeing you that I can outpull all four of them put together.”  

Somebody punch me in the face. Please.

Grand Finale Starts…Soon.

We watched from the van, looking for the Big D / Troy train to come racing in. And we weren’t disappointed: Big D was preceded by the compression wave he had created, setting off all car alarms in the general vicinity.

Troy was no longer riding a bike, having abandoned the pretext of needing one. He was now wearing a swimsuit and riding a wakeboard, happily skimming along on a cushion of air, a tow rope attached to Big D’s seatpost.

I looked down at my watch, noted the time. “We can wait a few minutes, I think, ’til we head out to the exchange point,” I said.

Three minutes elapsed. Then four.

An unknown rider from another team walked by, carrying his bike. “Don’t roll your bikes in this parking lot,” he said. “It’s full of goatheads.”

“That’s good beta,” I said. “Thanks.”

“Let’s walk out to the timing mat,” Lynette said. 

“Sounds good,” I said, and we began carrying our bikes to the exchange point.

Five minutes had elapsed since the Infinite teams had come in. 

We hoped our team would be arriving soon.

And that seems like a pretty good place for us to pick up in the next episode.


  1. Comment by Welnic | 06.26.2015 | 4:05 pm


  2. Comment by JAT in Seattle | 06.26.2015 | 4:14 pm

    So glad I checked back this afternoon!

  3. Comment by Jim Tolar | 06.26.2015 | 4:19 pm

    There is a reason she’s known as *The Hammer*.

    “Drive forward and drop me off, I’ll work with Cory on this leg.”

    The. Best. Ever.


  4. Comment by AKChick | 06.26.2015 | 4:49 pm


    This is getting so good that I feel like I’m in the car/on the bike with you!!! I don’t know if I’d want to come down and help you crew or come down on a slow team to ride the race!

  5. Comment by PNP | 06.26.2015 | 4:52 pm

    ACK! Two cliffhangers in one day. My blood pressure readings may never be the same.

  6. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 06.26.2015 | 5:19 pm

    Totally impressed with your dedication and drive, and so deep into this story that it is hard to wait through the weekend for the next installment. What a great story you are weaving, and what a great race this was for all of you. Nothing like pulling out all the stops and leaving everything on the course.

    I have avoided checking the race site for the results; the suspense of not knowing how this turns out makes your installments all the more enjoyable to read, so please, please, please wrap this up soon.

    Two teams, pretty equally matched, with only a few minutes separating them going into the twelfth stage of the race, and now each throwing everything they have into this final stage, giving it their all. This is competition at its finest, and I am excited to read the last bits.

  7. Comment by Troy | 06.26.2015 | 5:21 pm

    On the way out all 3 of us were taking turns pulling. As we could see the hill coming Cory turned to me and said, ‘We all know what happens when we hit the hill’. I honestly didn’t think he would drop but once he did we didn’t slow. When I saw you guys getting Lisa’s bike out I yelled to Mary that SBR-WBR is putting Lisa on the road, I need time splits. She gave us a time once of about 2 mins then we never got time splits. I took the front up the hills while Dave kept a power he could maintain for 2 hrs. and me in check at that pace. Once we got to the downs and flats Dave would take the front and I’d ride the wave. A couple of times I looked back for any riders but it is hard to look back at 30mph while a foot off Dave’s wheel and not be taking a risk. I never saw any other riders. I felt like we needed to push harder but Dave assured me he was pushing plenty hard down the hills. It is easy to get comfortable in that wake. Once we made the turn we went back to both taking turns trying to keep a solid pace without blowing up. Dave was trying to take more time on the front because I had already decided I was getting back on the road at the top of Veyo (decided well before this leg) and needed to conserve a little. I wouldn’t be done until the race was done. Mary was in kit to get back on the road but couldn’t get Marci on the phone to take over SAG so Mary could jump on the road right away at the exchange. I am not sure how Mary and Marci worked that out. We came in hot, tired and ready for rest but I saw everyone off, talked over last instructions, got my bike on the RV, then myself in the RV to get to Veyo. I should have made Billy ride with Dave and I from the turn in as this was a good place for his abilities and he would have had over an hour of rest. I had asked him to ride with us from Cedar but decided maybe not.

    We were well aware of the drafting rule and knew we’d all get on the road if needed before the race started. Billy has excellent endurance and Ryan ‘The Boy’ is young so he can ride forever on no sleep. But the rule says the same team so we also knew that if Danny dropped Mark then the other set of riders would only be able to watch and run SAG duty. Danny would have to drop Mark or we risk losing too much time and the coed team would have to all work to get Danny in.

    Dave and I had hoped that 3 legs of going hard would hurt you, Fatty, enough you wouldn’t be able to ride as strong. Lynette has plenty of endurance and #4 is shorter so I figured she wouldn’t be any slower than her previous rides. Danny also has lots of endurance and shouldn’t slow much. Once we saw Lisa out we knew you would be getting back on. We wondered if Lisa would also jump on and ride 3. I had hoped you wouldn’t try this strategy as we planned to use it this year.

    I sure wish I knew there was Otter pops. I love those things.

  8. Comment by Eric | 06.26.2015 | 5:31 pm

    Just wanted to add to the chorus of kudos for this series – I have incredibly enjoyed this series of posts, including the comments and observations from the other team. Super fun to read about a group of cyclists giving it their all. I have a big smile on my face after reading today’s update, and I can’t wait for the final installment (I don’t know the race results, so I am totally in suspense).

  9. Comment by leroy | 06.26.2015 | 5:55 pm

    Good lord commuting home tonight is going to seem really, really dull.

    Looking forward to Monday’s installment.

  10. Comment by yannb | 06.26.2015 | 6:11 pm

    I know what we are doing next year at Rockwell. :-) Thought about it the first year we did it, but now will do it for sure.

  11. Comment by Troy | 06.26.2015 | 6:19 pm

    As side note on Mary and Marci, we had talked before the race about stacking riders on the road at the end if needed (and a few other spots and ideas). But I don’t ever recall telling them during the race to get back on the road. They are just strong competitors and smart racers. They knew the race was too close and needed to do all they could for the final leg. I love racing with them and the rest of my teammates. This was one of the best Rockwells ever because of the teammates, the conditions and the close competition with SBR-WBR.

  12. Comment by Corrine | 06.26.2015 | 6:55 pm

    I love this story. I can not wait all weekend to hear the exciting end. And thanks, Troy, for your perspective. This is about the most exciting race report I have read, ever!

  13. Comment by Dave (a.k.a. "Big D") | 06.26.2015 | 7:59 pm

    Otter Pops? I don’t know how I missed them!

  14. Comment by Billy | 06.26.2015 | 8:35 pm

    Oh, I had an Otter Pop. Two, in fact. Blue ones. And they were refreshingly delicious I might add. All because I didn’t choose to ride Leg 11 with Troy and Big D. I think it was worth it.

    This was of course while we sat and watched SBR-WBR carefully prepare for the final battle. I’d like to believe it was our skillful intimidation tactics that were responsible for Fatty missing the free Otter pops. Surely we must have had Fatty and team anxious, as we paced back and forth between the cars, rolling bikes back and forth, deciding what our next moves would be.

    We watched and calculated, making sure we were ready to go, because we knew this last leg was our final showdown. All of our chips were on Danny. Shoulder rubs and pep talks were happening. This was make or break time!

  15. Comment by Danny | 06.26.2015 | 8:54 pm

    I remember standing there in the little shade we had under the awning of our RV, adrenaline pumping through my veins. I suspect that my HR monitor would have reported me up in zone 4 just standing and watching the race unfold. To make things worse, I looked over and saw Fatty prepping to ride; yeah, the same guy who had single-handedly done over thirty minutes of damage to our team. Suddenly I felt like quite the underdog. Me, a lowly cat 4 (solely by virtue of having been schooled in a few crits, and a LOTOJA sadly marred by two flat tires in the first twelve miles) with no palmares or victories to my name, going against the Fatty.

    Our plan was to put Mary and Marci at the top of that first climb, and I knew Mark was completely blown. I knew he would fall off my wheel the minute the grade pitched up to one percent. That meant I would be alone to my own devices on that first climb into the wind. This was going to get interesting.

    Oh, and I may have to have words with Billy for NOT telling me about those otter pops!

  16. Comment by Danny | 06.26.2015 | 9:20 pm

    Good luck this weekend btw.

  17. Comment by Vince | 06.26.2015 | 9:24 pm

    Can confirm, Big D is a strait up diesel.

  18. Comment by Miles Archer | 06.27.2015 | 7:46 am

    what does

    “That’s good beta”

    mean? Is it a spellchecker goof on data?

  19. Comment by Dave (a.k.a. "Big D") | 06.27.2015 | 11:41 am

    Haha! Thanks Vince. Vince is my Bat City Cycling teammate here in Austin who at 6′6 is only 2 inches shorter than me, yet he can leave me behind any time the road starts to tilt upward. I need to figure out what he’s eating.

  20. Comment by KarinNH | 06.27.2015 | 11:50 am

    I love reading race reports. But…and this probably makes me a heretic or something…this race is the first time I have found myself rooting for the other team mostly because they have been so gracious and good-natured in the comments!

  21. Comment by Anonymous | 06.27.2015 | 12:07 pm

    Beta was originally a rock climbing term:

    The term “beta” refers to advice on how to successfully complete a particular climbing route, boulder problem, or crux sequence.

    It has been adapted by cyclists to mean information about a route or in this case about how to handle a specific problem about a route.

  22. Comment by EmSu | 06.27.2015 | 12:07 pm

    Fatty, thanks for sharing a great race story – as always, truly inspired by The Hammer and all of the women. Hmm… 2016 Lisa, Lynette, Mary & Marci take #1 Women

  23. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 06.27.2015 | 3:07 pm

    Getting pretty intense! I like how the other team(s) riders are giving their side. What a great race!

    Those are the really fun kind.

  24. Comment by Dave (a.k.a. "Big D") | 06.27.2015 | 6:00 pm

    I am sad to report that Troy was involved in an auto-related accident today while descending Hobble Creek on a group ride. It’s a risk that we all take in this sport, but I hate to see it hit so close to home. I believe that he will be out for a while. We’re all hoping for a speedy recovery, Troy!

  25. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 06.27.2015 | 6:23 pm

    Oh, man. Sorry to hear that. Besides the (rather insignificant) fact we may not see any more cool comments from him, I hope he is OK and recovers quickly.

    We had a rider in our local group who was out with his dad on Father’s Day and HE missed the car, but his dad didn’t and is in pretty bad shape. It happens all too often.

  26. Comment by Dave (a.k.a. "Big D") | 06.27.2015 | 6:42 pm

    I just talked to Troy. His situation could have been much worse. He went down avoiding the car and broke his sternum along with some other scrapes and bruises. I’m sure he will continue to provide his color commentary as Fatty wraps up the report. I am also sure he will be back to duke it out with Fatty and team again next year!

    That Troy. I swear, he’ll do ANYTHING for attention.

    Sad you’re hurt, hope you’ll heal quickly, Troy!

    - FC

  27. Comment by Kukui | 06.27.2015 | 7:38 pm

    HOLY COW!!!

  28. Comment by BostonCarlos | 06.27.2015 | 9:41 pm

    Whoa. Swift Recovery Troy!

    This might be the best installment of a story yet, and overall the best story ever written about a cycling race.

  29. Comment by Arizona Guy | 06.28.2015 | 7:59 pm

    This is some of the best FC ever! Sometimes when you drag a 50 mile race out over 2 weeks, I get just the tiniest feeling that you are milking it, but this race report has been epic.

    Also – correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it your first Rockwell Relay where Lisa morphed from ‘The Runner’ into ‘The Hammer’?

  30. Comment by Sunny | 06.28.2015 | 10:50 pm


  31. Comment by Tom in Albany | 06.29.2015 | 6:14 am

    Dear Fatty. I have regret. I regret that, for the first time ever, I had checked the results to find out what happened even before the race report began. I NEVER read the last chapter first – until now. And NOW, I have regret. The suspense must be EXCRUCIATING for those of you that haven’t found out. I miss that feeling and I will never be a self-spoiler again. It is not worth it. Knowing the result, though, hasn’t taken away from my enjoyment of your write-up. You’ve become a heckuva story teller over these last ten years!!!

    I promise you that — regardless of whether you know the eventual outcome — the final leg will have some unexpected drama, and and lots of action. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited to write and post a race installment as the one I’ll be putting up tomorrow (Tuesday). – FC

  32. Comment by wharton_crew | 06.29.2015 | 9:08 am

    Get well soon Troy! Fatty this is a fantastic write-up. I wish I had the cycling endurance that you guys (on both teams) are showing!!

  33. Comment by PaulW | 06.29.2015 | 10:28 am

    To Tom in Albany

    I too sneaked a peek at the results, so I too have regret.

    But amongst Fatty’s many super-powers is the ability to warp the space-time continuum; until this write-up is complete, the results are like Schroedinger’s Cat and are in an indeterministic state. The wave function won’t collapse until Fatty tells it to.

    Which is another way of saying that Fatty’s writing is so good, that even though I thought I knew the results, I’m now not sure!

  34. Comment by Tom in Albany | 06.29.2015 | 12:55 pm

    TUESDAY?!?!?!? GASP!!!!!

    To PaulW – The cat may be out of the bag but it is still in the box. Until it is out of the box. And then it just waves its tail at you – mostly because cats lack the manual dexterity to show you significant digits.

  35. Comment by Danny | 06.29.2015 | 1:21 pm

    Even being the one who raced Fatty in the last leg, and thus being as intimately familiar with the results as one can be, I find myself very curious and excited to see how the final installment is going to be told. The suspense is killing me! :)

  36. Comment by MikeL | 06.29.2015 | 2:42 pm

    I know the results but this is such a good report it still has me on the edge of my seat.

    I wish I would have had a tablet with me in the hospital last week so I could have kept up with the reports as they come out and to provide fresh reading material. However it has been good to have a series of them last night and today to keep me occupied.

  37. Comment by Shuffle McGraw | 06.30.2015 | 4:47 am

    The Greatest Story Ever Told.

  38. Comment by Steve-Santa Cruz | 06.30.2015 | 7:16 am

    I just binge read Race Reports #1-8 and all the comments. Fantastic stuff. Wishing Troy a speedy recovery.

  39. Comment by Rockstarster | 06.30.2015 | 7:58 am

    Um…it’s Tuesday. And I have a meeting in 15 minutes. And I was expecting to have read, or to be reading this during that meeting. I know you have a j-o-b and stuff, but you did say “Tuesday.” I took that to mean at 12:01 a.m. Expectations. That’s what this is about. And me. Expectations and me. That’s what this is about.

  40. Comment by Jimbo/Rumpled | 06.30.2015 | 11:14 am

    This is one of the best Fatty quotes on how to prepare to race
    “Hand me a couple slices of pizza,” I said to Lynette. “I think I need to start eating again.”

  41. Comment by Tes | 07.29.2015 | 10:15 pm

    what is an otter pop?


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