A Note from Fatty About Today’s Post: This is part 12 of my 2014 Rockwell Relay Race Report. The previous installment, part 11, is here. Or if you need to, you can go to back to the beginning.
The most reliable indicator of a successful blog post, as far as I’m concerned, is that upon reading it, you will admire me. You will find me insightful. Athletic. Witty. Strategic. Smart. Handsome, even.
This will not, as measured by any of the above metrics, be a successful blog post.
We got to the Cedar City exchange point with enough time for me to get changed, get my bike ready, and then stare over my shoulder, waiting for The Hammer.
It also gave me plenty of time to worry: This is a big descent, with a lot of wildlife. We left her out on her own for a long time. She could easily have hit a deer. Or a pothole. Or a patch of gravel.
And it was cold up there. She wasn’t wearing gear for what was bound to be a chilly descent. She had already been through one descent where she was violently shivering by the time she got to the bottom. Why hadn’t I had her wear more?
I waited. Probably for as long as five whole eternal minutes I waited.
It’s possible I fret too much, and too often. Over a woman who has never shown herself to be anything but incredibly strong and capable.
I’m her husband. It’s my job.
And then, there she was.
With a smile on her face.
My relief was intense. I put out my hand to take the baton as The Hammer slowed:
We had learned our lesson about rolling handoffs for this year; maybe we’ll try them again…some other time.
And then I was off.
My final chance for glory — my big opportunity to show exactly how strong of a cyclist I am — was upon me.
Stand and Deliver
Hey, see if you can find the common theme in the following pictures from my final turn in the Rockwell Relay. Here’s one shot:
Oh, and here’s another.
And here’s me, again.
(I especially like this one because the angle of the shot makes it look like it’s a tiny, tiny bicycle I’m riding.)
OK, one more.
You could say that the common theme in all those shots is that I seem to be drawn to riding in places with scraggly bushes nearby. Or that I seem to be as drawn to looking at my stem as Chris Froome.
But of course, the real common thread is that in each of these photos, I’m standing. And it’s not like these are cherry-picked photos, either. These are all the photos that were taken of me during this leg of the race.
If there’s any kind of incline at all, I stand.
Parents, let this be a warning to you: don’t let your kids ride single speed mountain bikes, or they will become hopeless mashers, thinking that the way to go fast is to stand up, pick a big gear, and pedal big fat squares.
Idiot Race Tactics
But I wasn’t just standing and climbing. Nope. I was standing and chasing. On this long straight road, often at a mild incline, I could see riders ahead of me, even when they were far ahead of me.
And by “riders,” I of course mean “carrots.”
I chased one racer down, got behind his wheel for just a moment to catch my breath, and then passed him, signaling that he should hop on his wheel, that we should ride together.
But I didn’t mean it. I so didn’t mean it. As soon as he got on my wheel, I ramped up my speed to a level that I knew was unsustainable, testing the guy, seeing if he could hang.
He could not. Within a minute I was riding alone again.
That’s OK, though, I could see another guy up ahead. I chased him down, did the same thing: catch him, catch my breath, go ahead for a pull, and try to ride him off my wheel from the front.
But this guy was staying with me.
“OK,” I thought. “Here comes a steeper hill; let’s see if you can stay with me going up that.”
He couldn’t. I popped him off the back, and was alone again. Which, apparently, was the way I liked it.
I continued on, riding solo. Racing out of my head. Attacking, attacking, attacking.
Except there was nobody else to attack. For the rest of the leg, I was on my own, racing into what was at times a headwind, and at other times a crosswind.
I finished, feeling spent. Feeling proud. I had given it my all.
And then, less than one minute later, the two guys I had dropped came cruising in. Working together.
Which is where I had my monster epiphany: I am a cycling strategy idiot. In my first leg, I had gone out completely at top speed, on my own and in the wind, even though I knew there was a guy just a couple of minutes back who wanted to work with me. A guy who I knew was strong, and would have made us both faster.
And now I had done it again. If I’d gone smarter — not harder — I could’ve worked with these two guys, and all three of us would’ve finished faster.
But no. I had to beat them, even though I was competing in a different division than them. Somehow, at the moment, that had been more important to me than putting in a faster overall time.
I’m all legs and lungs, no brain at all.
With my final leg of the race over, I now had a delicious luxury ahead of me: no more preparing for the next leg. No more taking care of other racers (Kenny and The Hammer would be taking care of Heather during her final leg of the race). And no stress over our place in the coed category: barring a crazy circumstance, we knew our place as third coed team was pretty much sealed.
So I had a celebratory cold soda, generously provided by the exchange volunteers:
And then I had another:
It’s possible I had a third, as well. My mind’s a little hazy on the whole time period.
Then I had a Klondike ice cream bar, sitting and relaxing in the exquisitely air-conditioned van:
And then I laid down on the bench seat, intending to get out my iPad and see how other teams were doing.
I believe I lasted less than a second before falling asleep.
Yes, I’m cuddling my phone in one hand and an iPad in the other. My devices and I are very close.
How It Ends
As you probably expect, I have no recollection of Heather’s final leg of the race at all. I just remember waking up as the van pulled up to the park where the finish line was, with The Hammer telling me that the team had decided that nobody wanted to wake me up and so this year we wouldn’t ride across the line together; Heather would have that honor solo.
Which she did magnificently:
And I have to say, it was extra-awesome to cross the finish line this year, because Dave Towle — the biggest and best voice in cycling today, was announcing finishers.
We got the post-race team photo:
And then we went to Kenny and Heather’s house — just a couple miles away from the finish line — and went to sleep for a couple hours before the awards ceremony. As expected, we were third with our time of 29:32: almost an hour and a half slower than the first and second place coed teams.
Obviously, it wasn’t even close.
And I don’t care. We could’ve been last place and I would’ve enjoyed it just as much.
The Rockwell Relay continues to be the funnest, most intense, most beautiful, outright best race I’ve ever done.
And I can hardly wait ’til next year.
So, I’m in Austin all this week. Working. Which is fine. But what I’m about to tell you is not fine. It is dumb.
Or more to the point, I am dumb.
I got to the office early, so I could write the final entry for my Rockwell Relay race report before heading out to an offsite meeting. I unlocked the office, set up my computer, and then went to use the bathroom — which is down the hall from my office.
So far so good.
But when I finished and headed back to the office — which nobody else is at, cuz they’re all going to the offsite — it’s locked.
And my key is in the office. As is my computer.
So instead of a story about racing, today you get this story about doofishness, which is about as much as I am willing to write using my phone.
Also, you get this selfie, to give you a sense of how smart I feel right now:
For those who are wondering: I’m renting a Kia Rio. And yes, I luckily had the keys to my car in my pocket, instead of leaving them in my computer bag like I usually do. So I still have a way to get to the offsite.
I just won’t have a computer.
Or any snacks.
A Note from Fatty About Today’s Post: This is part 11 of my 2014 Rockwell Relay Race Report. As a refresher (or if you haven’t read it yet), part 10 is here. Or if you need to, you can go to back to the beginning.
You can feel a lot of emotions, all at once. And when you’re tired and sleep-deprived, those emotions can swing pretty fast.
I have examples.
Kenny started his final turn in the Rockwell Relay just as the sun was starting to really show. The day was — barely — warming up and we were moving out of the desert and into the mountains.
Instead of terrain like this:
We now had terrain that looked like this:
The difference was striking, and welcome. And Kenny had a big ol’ smile on his face, even as he climbed as if he were being chased by Visigoths.
Meanwhile, I was jealous. Last year, this was my favorite stage: almost a pure climbing stage, one that really tests you.
It was my moment of glory. Except this year, it was Kenny’s moment of glory. It was my moment to knock a completely full glass of iced coffee onto the floor of the van.
Here’s me, after The Hammer cleaned up my mess and refilled my glass.
The thumbs-up sign is me indicating, “This time, unlike last time, I have full control of my glass.”
And, yes, on my lap is two slices of pizza, facing together, so they don’t make a mess.
Oh, and don’t worry, the van was parked when this photo was taken. Which is to say that I wasn’t looking away from the road while no-handed driving on a curvy mountain road with a bunch of bike racers around me.
I am a doofus, but not quite that doofy of a doofus.
Kenny put on a climbing clinic, doing that 37.6 miles with 4116 feet of climbing in 2:12, averaging 16.7mph.
Which is to say, he kicked butt. Which is all the more impressive, in my humble opinion, when you consider that — as far as we knew — there was absolutely nothing on the line. No reason at all for him to put himself out there like that. We had no chance of catching the first and second place coed teams, and the fourth place coed team had no real chance of catching us.
Sure, anything can happen and there was a lot of racing left to do, but barring a crazy event, our third-place coed finish was a near certainty, whether Kenny raced his guts out or just phoned it in.
And he raced his guts out. Which is the way to do it, in my humble opinion. If you’re in a race, act like it. Whether you’re going for first, second, or second-to-last.
I’m pretty sure, to be honest, that for Kenny there was never any other possible option.
Let me tell you a little secret about Team Fatty’s race tactics for the Rockwell Relay. The “why” of our race order.
A big chunk of it has to do with Kenny and me being ridiculous.
See, I know The Hammer is a strong, independent, capable woman. She doesn’t need me to look after her. Likewise, Heather is a strong, independent, capable woman; she doesn’t need Kenny to look after her.
But once The Hammer and Heather had settled that they would be racing the second and fourth legs in the race, respectively, I called Kenny. “You need to race leg one, and I’ll race leg three,” I said. “That way we’ll both be able to prep and send off our own women.”
Kenny agreed without argument.
I say the above as supporting context for the fact that I was hugely stressed out about The Hammer’s next — and final — leg of the race.
I was worried that the descent was too dangerous — after ten or so miles of climbing, there’s twenty or so miles of fast mountain descending back into the desert.
Also, I was worried that she’d be too cold. It was early in the morning, and she’d be going fast down the mountain. I didn’t want her freezing.
Meanwhile, here’s how The Hammer looked as she waited for Kenny at the exchange area:
Yeah, she didn’t seem particularly bothered.
But as we got near the top of the climb and told The Hammer she was on her own for the descent so that we’d be able to get to the next exchange in time for me to get prepped for the handoff, I fretted. I stressed.
And in short, I needed to poop. NOW.
And so, as I sat alone in the woods — Kenny and Heather parked and patient on the side of the road — The Hammer passed the van and shouted, “Why aren’t you going on ahead of me?”
To which Heather shouted back, “Elden’s pooping!”
To which The Hammer yelled back, “Of course he is!”
Team Fatty kept no secrets. And furthermore, we don’t keep our secrets in a very loud voice.
By the time I finished and cleaned up (nice that Kenny keeps a shovel in the Sprinter), Kenny and Heather were antsy. “We need to hurry or Lisa’s going to get to the exchange before we do.”
Which seems like a gross — but not half-bad — place for us to pick up for the final installment of this story.
A Note from Fatty: Enormous thanks to everyone who signed up for the 2014 100 Miles of Nowhere Thursday and Friday. The event is now sold out. Huzzah! And again: Huzzah!
A Note from Fatty About Today’s Post: This is part 10 of my 2014 Rockwell Relay Race Report. As a refresher (or if you haven’t read it yet), part 9 is here. Or if you need to, you can go to back to the beginning.
There are certain realities of endurance racing that you simply cannot avoid. One of them is that, at some point, it’s going to stop being fun. No, that doesn’t mean the fun won’t come back. But if it weren’t hard and painful and both mentally and physically brutalizing, it wouldn’t be cycling. It would be baseball.
Ha ha! Just kidding, baseball fans! Baseball is definitely an endurance sport, at least it sure feels like one whenever I try to watch it!
But back to the Rockwell Relay.
It’s Always Nearly the Darkest Just Before It’s Actually the Darkest
Every year, there comes a point where I stop thinking about how exciting it is and how much fun I’m having and how awesome my friends and wife are, and start thinking instead about how tired I am and how much I want this race to be over.
Without exception, that moment comes sometime during leg 8 — the fourth racer’s second turn. It starts during the coldest part of the night—three or four in the morning—so the racer heading out is starting right at the precise time she (it’s always been a “she” for our team) would never otherwise start a bike ride.
And in short, it just feels wrong to get on the bike then. And yet, Heather always takes the fourth racer place. Every single time (i.e., all four times we’ve done this race).
And somehow, she doesn’t just dial it in, either. The segment starts with a long climb, and Heather passes racer after racer. Like she’s fresh. Like she isn’t freezing. Like it isn’t four in the morning.
This Looks Like a Fine Pillow
As Heather started riding, I climbed into the back and changed into warm, comfortable clothes. Smartwool tights. Sweatpants. A nice stocking cap and a down coat. I have the wonderful just-raced endorphin buzz going on, supplemented by Red Bull and yet another slice of pizza.
As I eat, I look at the amount of pizza we have left. It’s a lot. Like, maybe three times as much as we need. “We need to bring a lot less food next year,” I think to myself.
I think that thought every year.
Then The Hammer makes a request: even though it’s still my “recovery hour,” she needs me to help. She isn’t feeling well at all. And her eyes aren’t great for night driving anyway (something you might not know about The Hammer: minus her contacts, she’s darned close to blind).
That’s fine, I say, and it really is. My heart is still pumping fast after my leg of the race, so I’m plenty awake. I feel good. Further, I know The Hammer wouldn’t ask if she was OK.
So I take over driving, leapfrogging Heather every mile or so. Ringing the cowbell, yelling in the gloaming. It feels strange. Like we’re waking someone up.
Heather catches another female racer and they start working together. Strangely, the other woman is wearing shorts, and a lightweight long-sleeve jersey.
Heather, on the other hand, is wearing roughly twenty times that much clothing, and is still cold. “Why are you dressed so light?” Heather asks the other racer.
“It’s all I brought,” the woman replies. Which wins the “most outrageously crazy thing I heard the whole entire race” award. It gets cold in these mountains. Everyone knows that. The first year, it snowed in these mountains. How could she not have brought something warmer to wear?
I guess I’ll never know.
In between leapfrogs past Heather, I start to warm up. And my heart rate drops. I get sllleeeepy.
I lean my forehead against the steering wheel. Just for a moment, mind you.
Then my next moment of consciousness is when Kenny is tapping me on the crown of my head. “Let’s go,” he says.
And that sets a pattern. I drive for a couple minutes, we cheer Heather on as we go by, I pull over, rest my head against the steering wheel, and instantly drop off until Kenny—who gets out of the van to cheer Heather on—climbs back in and wakes me.
These five-minute naps, done maybe three or four times, get me through the early hours. Give me enough rest to keep plugging away.
Welcome Back, Sun
And then, as Heather still rode, the sun comes. And when that happens, it’s magic. Somehow, even though you haven’t slept (we all know that nodding off with your head resting against a steering wheel doesn’t count), something happens to you. You wake back up. You get a renewed sense of hope. You feel a surge of energy.
You know that you’re going to cross the finish line before that sun goes down again. And that soon, it’s going to get warmer.
A lot warmer.
Maybe too much warmer.
But right at this moment, “warmer” sounds—and feels–really good.
Heather’s gotten us through the roughest leg of the race. Nobody has passed her. Kenny takes off in the early morning sunlight:
The final set of four turns for our team has begun, and Heather has definitely earned what seems like, at the moment, the ultimate luxury:
Two shirts, two jackets, a coat, and a blanket. With the van’s heater going full blast.
Hey, she’s earned it.
And that’s where we’ll pick up in the next—quite likely penultimate—installment of this story.
[Friday, 7:00PM Update: The 100 Miles of Nowhere is SOLD OUT! Thanks to everyone who registered!]
I’m going to be honest here: my objective today is to distract you. I hope — oh, I hope so fervently — that by dazzling you with an exquisite array of cycling delights, I will make you forget that what I am about to ask you to do is just plain silly.
I mean, think about it: I’m going to try to do my level best bamboozle you into riding your bike either in your house or around and around (and around and around) on a very small course somewhere, for a hundred miles.
I’m telling you, I have a lot of nerve.
At least I do have one saving grace: I’m asking you to do it for a good — no, make that a great — cause: I’m asking you to do this race because by registering, you’re helping raise money for Camp Kesem, a wonderful series of camps across the United States for children who’ve been affected by cancer.
In other words, you’re making a real and measurable difference in the lives of kids who could use stand to have some good, silly, carefree fun.
Now, Fatty and Twin Six have been together since the first 100 Miles of Nowhere, but for the first time ever, you’re going to have a jersey you can wear during the event — as well as whenever else you’re out riding. And it’s a beauty. Check out the front:
It’s the first Fat Cyclist jersey using red instead of orange or pink (because red is fast), and it’s the first 100 Miles of Nowhere jersey — instead of a t-shirt. Also, it’s almost too sexy for words. Here’s the back:
The jersey comes in both men’s and women’s sizes, and look incredible.
So let’s get started with what you can expect this year in the 100 Miles of Nowhere.
What Is The 100 Miles of Nowhere?
The 100 Miles of Nowhere is a race without a place. It’s an event in which hundreds of people participate . . . all by ourselves. (Or with a friend. Or with 20 friends.)
It’s a very strange thing where you pay $150 (I’ve raised the price so Twin Six won’t lose money on the jersey, we’re including this year for the first time, as well as labor and shipping costs, also included) for the privilege of riding your rollers, trainer, or a very small course (like around the block or up and down a hill) for 100 miles. The profits from your entry go to Camp Kesem — camps all across the U.S. dedicated to giving kids of parents with cancer a week of carefree fun, at no cost to them.
I did the first 100 Miles of Nowhere by myself, back before I knew it would be annual at all. The second one a bunch of us — from all around the world — did together, and people sent in their stories, many of which I published here.
Since then, the 500 available spots sell out every year.
This year, the “official” date of the race is Saturday, October 18. And, thanks to the flexibility of the event, if October doesn’t work for you, you can do it another day. And that flexibility extends to whether you ride it alone or with a group of friends. It extends to the time of day: Morning? Fine. Afternoon? Awesome. After you’ve got the kids in bed and finally have some time for yourself? Perfect.
Once in a while, I hear from people who love a different sport — swimmers and runners, mostly, though I keep hoping for a rock climber. If you want to do a marathon on the treadmill, that would be awesome. If you’re a swimmer, swim five miles. I’m not picky.
And of course, the very best thing about the 100 Miles of Nowhere is that you are going to win your division. You just need to make sure your division is specific enough that there’s no chance anyone else is in it (Like the Suburban Unicycle Division or the Team Marine Amphibious Carrier Division, for example).
And once you’ve won your division, send me the story of what your 100 Miles of Nowhere was like. I pick my favorite write-ups and publish them here in the blog. In fact, for a week or so after the event, I generally put up several stories per day.
Weirdly, the 100 Miles of Nowhere has become an odd community event, even though we all do it alone.
How To Register, And What You Get
Registering for the 2014 100 Miles of Nowhere is ridiculously easy. You just go to the Twin Six site and buy either the men’s or women’s jersey for the event. When you buy this jersey, you’re also officially registered for The 100 Miles of Nowhere, and will get your jersey and the following amazing stuff from the event sponsors around October 11:
Ride Nutrition and Tips from The Feed.
The Feed’s brings convenience and education to on-the-go athletes everywhere, and helps take the guesswork out of sports nutrition. Having a hand-picked, hand-packed box show up at your door each month makes it easy to eat healthier, train harder, and see results faster. The Feed will be providing each racer a special 100 Miles of Nowhere box with energy food and recovery products, along with useful info on having a successful 100 Miles of Nowhere. 100 Miles of Nowhere participants will also get a special discount coupon for subscribing to The Feed.
Camelbak Podium bottle from The Feed
Each race participant gets a brand-spanking new Garmin-Sharp branded Camelbak Podium Bottle from the feed, like your favorite pro team uses.
A Jersey Pocket Cycling Wallet from Banjo Brothers
I ride with a phone, every day. Sometimes to take calls, sometimes to take pictures. And sometimes just to be safe. And I always keep my phone — along with some cash and (if necessary) a car key — in my Banjo Brothers Jersey Pocket Cycling Wallet. It keeps your phone safe, clean, and usable while you ride, with separate compartments for cash and a card, as well as a key.
Seriously, I use mine every single ride. And every 100 Miles of Nowhere participant gets one.
The Sufferfest: “The Long Scream” Training Video
I love The Sufferfest videos. Love them and hate them, that is. You know what I mean? Well, you will, because The Sufferfest is going to inflict on…er, give 100 Miles of Nowhere participants a free copy of their “The Long Scream” video. The 30 minute session is a time trial workout based on on the UCI Time Trial World Championships. You can see a preview here.
CarboRocket: Two Single-Serve Pouches
CarboRocket is amazing. It tastes great, goes down easy, and fuels you the way you need to be. It’s what I drank at the Rockwell Relay. It’s what I’ll drink at the Leadville 100 in August. It’s what I’ll drink at the XTerra in Ogden in September, as well as the half-Ironman in September. It’s what I’ll drink as I solo-singlespeed the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow this Halloween. It is, in short, what I drink when I’m racing. And it never makes me sick. It is, as I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, amazing. And you’ll get two single-serve packs to fuel and hydrate you during your 100 Miles of Nowhere.
Gu Roctane: Two Packets
The guys at Gu Energy Labs added more of everything that makes GU Energy Gel the category leader and added a few more things for ultra distance and high intensity efforts, resulting in the most efficient, high performance gel you can use in training and racing.
I swear by this as my go-to endurance fuel, and so does The Hammer.
Each 100 Miles of Nowhere participant gets one packet of my favorite flavor (Vanilla Orange), and The Hammer’s favorite flavor (Cherry Lime).
You decide which you like best.
DZ-Nuts and DZ-Nuts Bliss
Each race participant gets sample packets of the best chamois cream in the world. One his, one hers. We won’t judge you for using and loving both, regardless of your gender.
A Race Plate from Bike Monkey
It’s not a race if you don’t have a race number. Bike Monkey, the promotors of Levi’s Gran Fondo, Annadel XC, the Boggs Enduro, and Rebecca’s Private Idaho, are going to give you your own unique race number to ensure everyone knows that you’re not just riding around your block a hundred times…you’re racing around your block a hundred times.
Bonus Random Drawing Prizes
Astonishingly, everyone gets everything listed here. But a few race participants will be drawn for some awesome bonus prizes:
- (6) $100 Gift Certificates to Twin Six: The awesome guys at Twin Six are pitching in SIX $100 gift certificates to their site, setting six random people up for an amazingly nice surprise, in the form of whatever they’d like to spend their $100 on in the store.
- A Sufferlandrian Patriot Pack to a random lucky person, including a Sufferlandrian Flag, Decal Set and Sufferfest t-shirt.
I know, I know. This was a lot to process. So here are the essentials:
- The 100 Miles of Nowhere benefits Camp Kesem
- The official date is Saturday, October 18
- It costs $150
- Men, click here to register
- Women, click here to register
- You get an awesome jersey, and an incredibly valuable box of food and swag.
- Write up your entertaining an inspiring story after you’ve won your division in the 100 Miles of Nowhere, and send it to me. I’ll do my best to post it, so everyone in the world will know how awesome you are.
Good luck, and let me know in the comments when you’ve registered!
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