2016 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 2: No Such Luck

06.23.2016 | 8:54 am

I’d like to tell you a little story about a young man I once met. His name was Yann. Well, his name is still  Yann, but really, that’s not the point. The point is, he and I met at a LiveStrong event, where I admired this somewhat-overweight young man’s pluck for finishing a century ride, even though it depleted him so badly he had to be carted off to the hospital.

I am not exaggerating, nor am I making this up. Here he is, on his way to the hospital:


Since then, Yann has transformed himself. In a huge way. More to the point, he’s transformed himself into a not-huge person. Even more to the point, now he’s downright thin. Here he is, right before the start of the Rockwell Relay this year:

Thumb IMG 0004 1024

And here’s another picture of us, after I told him we should get a photo of us with our game faces on:

Thumb IMG 0003 1024

I can’t believe he bought into that old trick.

So why am I telling the story of Yann’s transformation here? Because at the end of my first installment of this race report I mentioned that I had a trick up my sleeve.

Yann — and in fact, his entire team, “What Were We Thinking, Part Quattre” — was that trick.

Yann has become a cycling monster. He, more than I ever have, has become the poster boy for how a committed person can become whatever kind of cyclist you want to become.

Yann is now, in short, freakishly strong, and freakishly fast. And he and I have been trading email during the weeks before the race. Which is a fact I’m pretty confident the folks in Teams V05R had missed as they conducted their oppo research.

If it turned out that three people from Teams ZIZRS attacked a solo rider from Team Fatty, they might find out that solo rider wasn’t so solo after all. 

I had given Yann — and each member of his team — one of the super-new, super-secret, super-rare (only twenty exist in the world) FatCyclist jerseys…but I had asked him not to wear it on the first leg. No point in tipping our hand.

Sneakily, we didn’t even stand quite together in the starting area.

Thumb IMG 0007 1024

There was no contract, no bond that we’d stay together no matter what. Just a friendly agreement. Just in case, you know.

As it turns out, however, all this skullduggery wouldn’t matter in the slightest.

Or would it?

Let’s Go

I had good reason to want the possibility of some help in that first leg, because I knew that Team ZIZRS would be deploying three very strong riders against me: Marci, Mary, and Billy (OK, actually I didn’t know about Billy being in leg 1; I can’t hold that much information in my head at once), each of which had proven to be an incredibly strong adversary in 2015.

I had my doubts about whether I could hold my own against that power trio, especially Marci, who is a remarkable climber. Still, from what I understood, these three teams were bound together by their vehicle strategy, if no other way, which meant that they weren’t going any faster than the slowest of the three.

Was I faster than their slowest rider this year? I wasn’t sure, to be honest. But I was going to find out soon.

The gun went off, and — for once — I stayed with the group, restraining myself in spite of the huge surge of adrenaline I was experiencing. I would stay in the back of the lead group.

Yann and I got to within a couple bikes of each other, still not necessarily or obviously riding together, but within reach in case the RVRS teams did something heroic, like a three-person breakaway.

OK, I admit it: I really wanted them to try that, so Yann and I could play our hand.

But…that didn’t happen.


I started the race marking Marci and Mary, but before too long, they drifted back toward the back of the lead pack. Billy, however, stayed near the front, even when the group started winnowing down.

“Hm,” I thought to myself, “It looks like the men’s team isn’t attached to the coed teams after all.”

Then I found out why Mary and Marci had disappeared. Billy said, “It’s you’re lucky day; Mary and Marci have been having all kinds of mechanicals.”

“That’s not good luck for me,” I said. “We can beat them on the bike. We don’t wish mechanicals on anyone.”

Billy didn’t say, “Sheesh, I was only joking,” but he probably should have. The thing is, though, I wanted a straight-up competition, with no mechanicals or excuses. Because while I was 

Shortly after that, Billy disappeared. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was to wait for Mary and Marci and then work with them. 

Thanks to an unlucky pair of flats, the Z5R teams (yeah, I was bound eventually to use the correct combination of letters and numbers) had lost fifteen minutes to us within the first hour of the race.

That said, that fifteen minute gap was still the closest they’d ever be to us this year. Apart from at exchanges, we’d never see them during the race this year. 

Which is not to say that we wouldn’t have competition. It was just going to come from a different team this year. 

As I was about to find out.  

Which seems like a good place for us to pick up in the next installment of this story (Monday).

PS: OK, I’d be writing more in this post, but my flight’s about to take off, and I won’t have internet during this seven-hour flight. I figure it’s better to post this much now than nothing at all.


  1. Comment by BostonCarlos | 06.23.2016 | 9:11 am

    BECAUSE WHILE YOU WERE WHAT!?!?!?! (7 paragraphs from the end… )

  2. Comment by Rob Franklin | 06.23.2016 | 9:31 am

    A typo that Fatty can’t fix for another 6 hours? I wonder how many people can post a comment pointing it out in that amount of time.

  3. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 06.23.2016 | 9:52 am

    It’s a fill in the blank contest. The winner gets to read all the next posts for free.

    Here’s my entry: Because while I was… busy in the porta potty, the group still wasn’t dropping me.

  4. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 06.23.2016 | 10:33 am

    Yann speaks loudly to the power of biking without saying a word – he shouts it from the rooftops, . . . er … seat tops. Good for you Yann.

    Love the secret strategy, and can’t wait to read how it plays out.

    @Mark in Bremerton, Fatty would be a lot more graphic; your entry into the “while I was . . . ” competition seems much too PC.

  5. Comment by yannb | 06.23.2016 | 10:44 am


    I’d totally forgotten about that little stint at the hospital following Livestrong Davis. Thanks for the reminder, or maybe I just decided to put it out of my head.

    Also thanks for the compliments Elden and cyclingJimbo, I think I was around 215 back then, down to 186 at rockwell last week. Like everyone else who reads this blog, I LOVE riding my bike.

  6. Comment by Libby | 06.23.2016 | 11:51 am

    Yann-way to go!

    “while I was…oh is that a 1981 Specialized Stumpjumper the airport security cop is using?”

    yeah lame.

  7. Comment by yannb | 06.23.2016 | 12:21 pm

    “while I was …” squirrel, squirrel, squirrel!!!! must chase squirrel!

  8. Comment by Tom in Albany | 06.23.2016 | 1:09 pm

    ‘81 Stumpy? Big $$ maybe?

    Due to Elden’s flight plans, I’m changing the over/under to 9.5.


  9. Comment by Christina | 06.23.2016 | 2:11 pm

    “…hoping to be faster than Marci and Mary, I was really hoping to pitch my idea of a cycling show choir to them.”

  10. Comment by miles archer | 06.23.2016 | 2:29 pm

    Funny, I just finished a ride wearing the same jersey that Yann’s wearing in the hospital. (ok pendants, not that examplar, but one just like it) That was the Davis ride, right?

    Because while I was…
    eating donuts while wearing pink spandex?

  11. Comment by Andy@WDW | 06.23.2016 | 7:47 pm

    Because while I was in the middle of my third visit to the porta-potty The Hammer secretly swapped my energy drink powder with Folgers Crystals.

  12. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.24.2016 | 10:10 am

    “….young man.”? Yann, is practically as ‘old’ as you!

    Though he is a bicycle machine!

  13. Comment by Jon | 06.24.2016 | 11:55 am

    “Because while I was designing new Jerseys, I didn’t have the time to vet out the market demand for said Jerseys”


  14. Comment by Thad | 06.24.2016 | 1:53 pm

    Maybe Clydesdale image should be replaced with a Shetland Pony, its more realistic.

  15. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.25.2016 | 12:40 am

    The Clydesdale is for us ‘true’ followers. Granted, it’s a bit of an overstatement on Elden.

  16. Comment by Heidi | 06.25.2016 | 5:47 pm

    This has nothing whatsoever to do with the race, but galloping! Yay! You may have to copy and paste the link: https://www.facebook.com/topic/Trotify/111974415485969?source=whrt&position=6&trqid=6300279805036722214

  17. Comment by Heidi | 06.25.2016 | 5:48 pm

    Galloping on a bike! (copy and paste if it doesn’t link) https://www.facebook.com/topic/Trotify/111974415485969?source=whrt&position=6&trqid=6300279805036722214


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.