2016 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 11: Everything Comes Together

07.18.2016 | 9:38 am

A Note from Fatty: The new very-limited edition FatCyclist gear goes on sale tomorrow. I’m just nailing down the catalog language and making sure ordering works. 

It was the beginning of my second leg of the Rockwell Relay (our fifth of twelve legs, in case you’ve lost track). And there three things I needed to know that I simply didn’t know.

How far ahead of the Beauties and the Beasts (BatB) team were we? Would it be enough for me to remain ahead of them, or would Nate catch me?

How far ahead of the Z5R teams were we? So far, they had been a no-show on the course — after the first three minutes of the race, we had literally never seen one of their riders on a bike —but it would be foolish to count them out. After all, while The Hammer had put in an extraordinary effort in her leg of the race, she had done so alone, while there were three Z5R riders — all men — working on this mostly-flat leg together. It was entirely possible that they had closed a lot of the gap we had built in this race so far. 

How angry was The Hammer? I knew she was mad about being left on her own for a big chunk of her leg, and I suspected she was made about the botched exchange we had just been through.

How was I going to tell Cory about the incredible near-miss with his van? Every time I thought about this, I felt a little ill.

In reality, all of these problems existed purely in my own head.

Unbeknownst to me, The Hammer had turned our three-minute lead on BatB team into a twenty-two minute lead. And the three men working together on the Z5R teams for forty-five miles had managed to bring back a mere five minutes against The Hammer, who had TT’d the whole thing. Our lead on them as I left Hanksville was a solid eighteen minutes.

Thanks to my incredible teammates, we were winning, and by a very respectable — although by no means unassailable — lead.

As to how angry The Hammer was, well, that question was resolved within twenty minutes of my having started this leg of the race, as the van rolled by. The Hammer, smiling big, leaned out the  ringing her cowbell for me and yelling, “Go Elden! I love you!” 

And with that, I felt about 80% better. The other 20% — telling Cory about the van mishap — would have to wait ’til I had reception again, most likely after the race.

And meanwhile, other things were going my way, too.

Meeting Tom, Resolving Problems

At the end of the most recent installment of this story, I had started the leg just a moment in front of a rider from the Mike Nosco Memorial team: the 50+ group we had been tied to since, essentially, the third leg of the race.

For once, I thought, I think I’ll try to race using my head instead of just my legs and lungs

So I sat up for the fifteen seconds it took for him to catch me, then introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Elden; how about we work together on this leg?”

He said his name was Tom and was happy to work with me. 

“One minute pulls?” I asked.

He nodded. Tom was an easy guy to work with, super lean and fit, with a very smooth, efficient, practiced riding style.

I let two rotations go, riding hard and in silence on the slight incline. Mulling.

I pulled up alongside him.

“So, your teammate confronted me and my teammate after leg three,” I said. “He seemed really mad, like we had betrayed an alliance or something.”

“Don’t worry about it. He’s just intense when he’s racing,” Tom said.

“I get that, I’m kind of the same way,” I replied. “But I want you to know that we had to do that attack in order to ensure the other team in that group didn’t have our wheel for the next leg. We figured our team could put time on their team, but not if they could sit in and draft.”

“Well, your rider certainly did that,” Tom said. “I watched our racer try to catch her for forty-five miles and he just couldn’t do it. She is strong.”

“Yeah, my wife is pretty amazing,” I said.

“She’s your wife?” Tom asked. I’m not sure if there was incredulity in his voice or not. I kind of think there was. I get that pretty often. 

“Yeah, we’re a family team: my wife, my niece, her husband, me. Anyway, let him know we didn’t mean anything against your team by that attack, we just didn’t know how strong the other coed team is and couldn’t take chances. Even so, their number-one racer is rocket-fast and is likely to catch and pass us before the end of this leg.”

“We should probably talk less and ride more, then,” Tom said.

Tom had a point. We dug in.

Meeting Jim

I’ve been obsessed enough with the interaction of my team and other coed teams in this story that it might seem like we were the only teams on the road. But in fact, during the past couple hours we had begun passing other teams regularly: the noncompetitive division teams — the teams that were doing this race strictly for fun and were hence not bound by race rules or concerns about timing. These teams had started a couple hours earlier than competitive teams, and now, as the sun sunk low, we were just beginning to roll past them, giving them encouragement as we went by.

Usually, Tom and I would just nod and zoom past. 

But one guy latched on. 

“That’s fine,” I thought. “He’ll hang on for a rotation and then drop out.”

But he didn’t drop out. He took his turn pulling — and pulling strong — for rotation after rotation, cutting the amount of time Tom and I had to spend in the wind down by a third.

“What’s your name?” I called out. 

“Jim,” he shouted back.

“Welcome to our train!” I said, and meant it.

Hey, this “alliances of opportunity” strategy thing was working out just fine.

The Train Grows

Tom and I were riding pretty hot, and Jim was beginning to struggle to hold on. “Just take shorter pulls,” I said. “Ten seconds, then drop back. Stay with us; we’re faster with you than without you.”

Jim stepped it up, digging deep to help our group stay fast. I was impressed.

We pushed along, a fast rotating paceline now…and passed five guys, stopped. Four of them standing around while one of them changed a flat.

The Hyperthread teams. We were right with the Hyperthread teams

“You guys OK? Need anything?” 

“We’re good,” Spencer — the head honcho of Hyperthreads — called back.

Tom, Jim, and I rolled on.

And then, maybe three minutes later, the Hyperthread racers — all five of them — caught us, just swept us up into their fast-rolling train.

Suddenly, we weren’t just a choo-choo train. We were an express.

The Train Derails

The light faded and I turned on my helmet light…only to discover that this helmet — not the helmet I usually use with a light mounted — doesn’t work really well with the light mount strap setup I have. It slid forward, pointing straight down, brilliantly lighting up the tip of my nose.

I adjusted the light. It slid back down.

I adjusted it again. It slid again.

Finally, I lost patience and tilted my helmet back very far on my head. This worked, but at the expense of making my helmet a completely ineffective safety device.

Oh well, I thought. A helmet tilted like this may not do me any good in a crash, but having no light is much more dangerous.

Meanwhile, the Hyperthreads guys were slowing down. Spencer was suffering with a bad Achilles tendon, I think. “Guys, I gotta keep moving,” I said. “Are you OK with me going on ahead without you?” I was aware, even as I asked this, how strange it felt to be asking a question like this of a team that had no claim on me. But I was trying to be Mister Public Relations, so thought it couldn’t hurt.

“Sure,” one of the racers said. “We’ll see you later.”

The ride had turned uphill; I pushed on alone (Jim had dropped off a little while after the Hyperthreads guys joined our group; I’m not sure why Tom didn’t keep going with me).

One Last Pull

I was down to the last few miles of the ride, and so far Nate from BatB hadn’t caught me (I’d find out later he had flatted during this leg of the race), and the Z5R trio of teams hadn’t either. It was beginning to look like the situation I expected and dreaded — that during my leg we’d move into second or even fourth place — wasn’t going to happen.

And then somehow, out of nowhere, another rider appeared on the road, just ahead of me. 

I jumped, managed to catch him and grab his wheel. Held on. Barely. I had a new riding partner, though I didn’t grasp where he could have come from.

“Where did your team come from?” I asked. 

“Oh, I’m in a non-competitive team,” he said. “We’re just sort of doing some of the legs, jumping forward, riding what’s interesting. I haven’t ridden that much today, to be honest.”

“Well if it’s okay with you,” I replied, “I’d like to just hang on to your wheel to the end of this leg of the race. I’m smoked and am in a team trying to stay ahead of a few teams that should be beating us, but aren’t.”

“Just hang on,” he said.

And I did. I hung on while this kid told me about how he’s going to college and how running is really his main thing, and what it’s like to race the Boston Marathon. I was happy to let him talk, because it meant he was using some of his air to talk, which meant he wasn’t dropping me, which otherwise he most certainly would have.

I pulled in, and Lindsey pulled out. No botched exchanges this time.

I gave The Hammer a hug and said, “That was a fun leg.”

“How come you went so slow?” she replied.

My head spun around. “Slow?” I asked.

“Yeah, you looked like you were just having a good old time with all the people you were riding with.”

Then I understood. For the first time ever in the Rockwell Relay, The Hammer had seen me actually working with other riders. In fact, I had done the entire leg with one rider or another.

“Oh,” I said, “You’re just not used to seeing me ride smart.”

And riding smart had worked. Although I wouldn’t know it until later, I not only limited the damage I expected the Z5R and BatB teams to do to us; I had increased our lead. Not by a lot — we were now ahead of the Z5R teams by twenty-eight minutes (a ten-minute increase) and the BatB team by twenty-five (a three minute increase). But still: where I had expected to put our team in danger, I had instead built on our lead.

And Lindsey was on a mission to grow that lead as much as she could.

Which is where we’ll pick up in the next installment.


  1. Comment by Jeremy | 07.18.2016 | 9:48 am

    Will you have a race jersey option? I absolutely love the length of the sleeves and torso of the race cut. The century cut is a little too tight in the sleeves and too long in the torso.

  2. Comment by Tom | 07.18.2016 | 10:05 am

    Hey Fatty,
    It was truly a pleasure meeting, riding with, and getting to know you.
    You are correct, Sir! It was incredulity. The Hammer is STRONG!
    I misunderstood you. I didn’t stick with you because I thought that you were just going up ahead a bit to get your light and then come back to us. It seemed to me like you had made at least 10 unsuccessful attempts at it. ;-)

  3. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 07.18.2016 | 10:15 am

    I keep re-reading, but I can’t seem to find the excessive drama, the brain lock mistake, or the outright catastrophe. What am I missing?

  4. Comment by LidsB2 | 07.18.2016 | 10:31 am

    What? You covered an entire leg in one post? Inconceivable!

  5. Comment by Corrine | 07.18.2016 | 10:40 am

    Wow! A whole post with no drama? I agree with @Jeff Dieffenbach, did I miss something? Glad to hear one leg went well. Hopefully the rest do too.

  6. Comment by mel | 07.18.2016 | 10:55 am

    It looks like you are already out of women’s small race shorts! Please tell me it’s not true :-(

    Uhhh…I didn’t think the ordering system is working yet. It’s possible, though, that some sizes started out gone just because my wife and niece each took a pair of smalls.

    However, I have ordered more of all the sizes for women’s gear, it will be here in August. We’re getting the “backordering” system in place right now. – FC

  7. Comment by Beth | 07.18.2016 | 11:14 am

    so glad to get a good news/non cliffhanger post! haha

    any women with suggestions on the women’s century jersey and race shorts fit? AKChick suggested the DNA stuff runs smaller, and that the shorts are tight, but comfortable.

    I really like the fit of the Twin Six kit, L in both jersey and short. the DNA century according to jersey length measurements seems much shorter. I’m 5′9″, 160 (well, pre-baby) and have a long torso. Worried that the DNA jersey will be too short for me. But i LOVE the coordinating kit – so many womens shorts are all or almost all black!

  8. Comment by mel | 07.18.2016 | 11:36 am

    Thanks for the quick response, I appreciate it! That kit is just too cute to pass up :-)

  9. Comment by Tom in Albany | 07.18.2016 | 12:10 pm

    Fatty, Should I keep the Benny Hill music cued up, just in case?

  10. Comment by Jonathan | 07.18.2016 | 12:46 pm

    I sense that FC used up all the cliff hangers in the past few posts. Nice to see a train developed! I loved those when I was in my roadie days.

  11. Comment by NZ Ev | 07.18.2016 | 1:39 pm

    Fatty I am just wondering what has happened with the last pre-order as the current status shows it is complete. If you could let me know as I am not sure if it got refunded or not since it shows the order is now complete. Thanks

    Could you forward that to me? I’ll look into it. My understanding was that all orders have now been refunded. – FC

  12. Comment by NZ Ev | 07.18.2016 | 2:58 pm

    I just forwarded the email to you. Thanks

    Got it and forwarded it along to the right guy at DNA to take care of the issue. Thanks. – FC

  13. Comment by Jacob | 07.18.2016 | 3:40 pm

    Can we please have the womens lay-out in a mens version?

  14. Comment by ScottR | 07.18.2016 | 4:15 pm

    Was going to ask a question about sizing for this round of DNA orders, but noticed the updated info (and comparisons with Twin Six) on the site – Thanks!

    I’ve had somewhat lousy luck with my DNA orders so far, so hoping the third time is the charm.

  15. Comment by walter | 07.18.2016 | 5:35 pm

    Really enjoyed the post, particularly the strategizing and working together with others to put in a great leg. The light issue was pretty comical too – can only imagine how the light kept falling forward!

    For those who keep saying “inconceivable”, I don’t think it means what you think it means :)

  16. Comment by Jim | 07.18.2016 | 7:34 pm

    Hi Fatty — It was so cool to ride with you and Tom for a stretch. You guys were were great to ride with. Thanks to you both for your encouragement. It kept me digging and riding over my head for as long as I could :-)

    Awesome riding with you too, Jim! – FC

  17. Comment by LoPhat | 07.18.2016 | 9:24 pm

    For the van, you should have said that you did it so that the picture would be more unique and therefore generate much more attention for marketing purposes…

  18. Comment by Tom in Albany | 07.19.2016 | 5:43 am

    @walter: You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.

  19. Comment by ScottR | 07.19.2016 | 8:11 am

    Fatty – I actually did have a question – based on your notes on the DNA site, the DNA sizing this time around is significantly different that the DNA sizing before?

    Last time, I sized up to a 4X for 100MoN, and it was still smaller than a twin six 2x.

    I figured I’d try sizing up again this time, but these new descriptions are confusing me.


    When I get the ordering up and working, I’m going to get a DNA rep to monitor the site and be ready to answer sizing questions. – FC

  20. Comment by walter | 07.19.2016 | 10:12 am

    @Tom in Albany: You seem a decent fellow… I hate to die.

  21. Comment by bacmapei | 07.19.2016 | 10:27 am

    I’ll echo ScottR and add my 2 cents as a Canadian familiar with metric. 60 cm chest measurement, as listed on the DNA sizing chart for Century jersey, for 3XL would equal 47.2″ or basically a 47″ chest.
    I think this is accurate based on my 3XL FC jersey from last year which I find a bit more body hugging than my 2XL “neopolitan” (V8/circa 2012) jersey on my chubby 48″ (ish) frame.
    Maybe those in the 20%+ body fat category (ie me) find the DNA fabric to be a bit more constrictive feeling even though it is very stretchy and forgiving for others.

  22. Comment by Heidi | 07.19.2016 | 10:37 am


    not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally; unbelievable.
    “it seemed inconceivable that the president had been unaware of what was going on”
    synonyms: unbelievable, beyond belief, incredible, unthinkable, unimaginable, extremely unlikely

  23. Comment by Ryan Szabo | 07.19.2016 | 1:04 pm

    Beth & ScottR,

    Please feel free to contact me at ryan@dnacycling.cc for any questions on the sizing of our kits. The same goes for anyone else that needs any additional information. Please include your phone number in the email so that I can better assist you.


    Ryan Szabo


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