A “Last Chance to Donate” and Win Note from Fatty: This Friday I’ll be ending donations and doing the drawing for my NICA contest / fundraiser. (If you’re new to this fundraiser, click here for a description.) As a reminder, you can win any of these awesome prizes if you’re randomly drawn:
- A Full-Blown Cycling Wardrobe from DNA Cycling. All the cycling clothes you need for your kind of riding in your area. The CEO of DNA, Joe Sepulveda, will personally see to it that you are the best-dressed cyclist in town.
- A Year’s Worth of GU Energy Gel / Roctane Energy Gel: Twelve boxes of GU gels, in whatever flavor combination you like. That’s a double gross, and it’s enough for a year for just about anyone.
- A $200 Certificate to The Feed. I love The Feed. So many options for so many kinds of energy foods and snacks. $200 will get you a lot of whatever you like…or you can try one of a lot of different things.
- A Box of GU Stroopwafels: We’ll be giving away four of these boxes, one box each to four winners. Pretty dang cool if you ask me. And so delicious.
It’s a pretty amazing suite of prizes if I do say so myself. And the cause, well…creating a generation of inclusive, polite, trail-safe mountain bikers who love to race is pretty near and dear to my heart.
So: there are two contests going on for people to vote in. Let’s check in and see how they’re doing one last time.
In “The Monster Vs The Hammer” contest, where you vote whether you think The Hammer will be more than an hour faster than The Monster, or if the Monster will be less than an hour slower than The Hammer…well, that vote is tightening in the final stretch, with the two of them just a few percentage points away from each other.
It’s anyone’s guess who will finish when in the Leadville race itself, but one generous donation could make this either sway the other direction…or be a blowout.
Now’s the time. Make your vote and donation count:
Meanwhile, there’s not a lot of motion on “What Should Fatty Ride” front. Which is not to say there haven’t been donations, because there have. It’s just that the donations have been remarkably consistent.
Let’s just say that in the absence of some truly big-dollar donations in the other direction, I’ll be riding a single speed as The Hammer’s domestique on August 13.
Which is not me saying I don’t want you to vote in this contest. Because I do. At this point I’m fully in the mindspace of riding with and for The Hammer, but I will do whatever the final vote dictates. Both my single speed and my geared bike are Leadville-ready.
So you decide:
New FattyCast: An Evening With Ted King
Once in a while, you get lucky with your timing. That’s what happened a couple weeks ago when I sent semi-retired pro cyclist Ted King a DM over Twitter: “Hey, I’d love to get you on the FattyCast. Think you can find an hour for me sometime soon?”
But that’s not where the good timing came into play. The good timing came into play when Ted said that, sure, he’d be happy to be on The FattyCast, but he was unavailable because he was going to be in Ogden for a Cannonade event during the week, and then in Park City for the weekend.
“Well, as it so happens, I live about one hour from Park City,” I replied. “How about we get together there, I’ll bring my gear, and we can record it in person instead of over the Internet.”
Ted was cool with that.
Of course, my one true superpower is to ask for things, and to keep on asking even after people say yes.
So I said, “Hey, your girlfriend’s coming along, right?
Ted was put on guard by this question, but allowed that it was true.
“Well how about we get together for sushi with some friends before the podcast?”
Ted was cool with that. In fact, it turns out that Ted is just plain cool. He’s not only a very relaxed and nice guy, he’s smart. And funny. And totally has his act together in such a way that I started feeling a little bit bad about my own non-togetherness.
This was not Ted’s fault.
So, after a lot of Sushi, for which I did not pay, I brought in a crate of recording gear and computers and set up so we were all ready to talk. Or possibly play Strategy, judging by appearances:
Ted spoke with clarity, and gesticulated as if he were on TV. (Also, you can see here that when I point out that he’s on his fourth beer and is eating a plate of cheese while recording this podcast, I am not even a little bit joking.)
Ted is, as you can see, is tall, thin, young and good-looking. I, as you can see, am none of those things:
Oh, also I am somewhere between balding and bald.
And Now for the Actual Podcast Part
After recording this episode, I found myself wishing all my podcasts could be in-person. They’re just awesome that way. Like a real life conversation, except you have a couple of big ol’ microphones between you. Which isn’t weird at all.
In addition to wishing all my podcasts could be in-person, I also found myself wishing all my podcasts could be with Ted King. Because he’s interesting and nice and all of those other things I said about him.
Although it might get kind of weird if I never did anything on my podcast but interview Ted King over and over.
But for this once, at least, it was super duper. But don’t take my word for it, listen for yourself, either by picking it up on iTunes, downloading it directly, Stitcher-ing it, getting my RSS feed, or just pressing the play button below:
Of course, after listening to this podcast, you’ll want to stay up-to-date with every single thing Ted King does. Here’s how you can:
PS: On Friday, I will have a special “Heading to Leadville” edition of Free Verse Friday. Because I KNOW you’ve missed Free Verse Friday.
PPS: I’m going to have new podcast news in the near future. I am very excited.
We had done it. We had won the Rockwell Relay, again. And by “we,” I mean of course “my team, in spite of me.” This year, I had been — by far — the weakest link: much slower than I had been the previous year, as well as the one responsible for pretty much all of our tactical errors.
I didn’t care, though. We had won. Beaten the trio of Z5R teams by more than forty minutes, and the Beauties and the Beast team by two hours.
And as we stood there on the podium, ready to accept our awards, I was just so amazed at my good fortune. This is such a good event. The competition is so strong — and, when we needed it, helpful. My team is so amazing.
The race director started handing out awards and announcing third place (one of the Z5R teams) and second place (another one of the Z5R teams).
Then he handed us our trophies…at which point there was the sound of a crash and breaking glass off to our left, in the swag tent.
Everything stopped. Someone caught a photo of our team looking off to our left toward the sound:
Someone was having a seizure.
The race director ran toward the commotion and started helping. Everyone else gathered around, either wanting to help or watch. Probably ten people called 911, and the ambulance arrived quickly.
“You’re a nurse, do you want to go help?” I asked The Hammer.
“That poor woman is getting WAY more help than she wants,” The Hammer replied.
So we waited, and eventually things returned to normal. But some members of the Z5R teams — having received their plaques — had lost interest in the ceremony and had left.
So we never got the coveted hands-in-the-air podium picture with everyone from all of the teams. But we did get this one, which is a good substitute:
The Phone Call
I get the same sensation every time: it’s so weird for that race to be over. It completely consumes me as I’m in it, to the extent that everything else in the world becomes very faded and indistinct. It’s just me, a few friends (or family members this time) and the intensity of the moment.
And then it’s done and you’re back in the world, exhausted, with a lot of very bad-smelling laundry.
And in my case, there was a chore I had to take care of. A phone call I needed to make to Cory, who had loaned me his van.
We got to the house we were staying at in St George, then I found a quiet room, sat on a bed and called Cory.
Of course, he immediately wanted details on the race itself, and I gave him a brief accounting of how we had done.
Then, deep breath.
“Cory, I need to tell you about an accident I had with the van.”
I told him the whole thing, doing my best to not trivialize it, but also trying not to draw the whole thing out so he could yell at me.
“But it continued to work all day?” He asked, after I finished.
“Yeah,” I said. “Except for the scratches in the wrap on the bottom right front, it doesn’t seem to have taken any damage at all.”
“Don’t worry about it, then.”
I am lucky to have such good friends, such a great family, and…an event I love enough to write a sixteen-part story about.
On the drive home, we started planning out our race for next year. We’ll make a few changes, but I’ll leave it to our competition to guess what those changes are.
But I will tell you this: We’ll be back.
— The End —
A Note from Fatty: A NEW PRIZE In the “Choose What Fatty Rides at Leadville” Contest: You already know about some of the awesome prizes offered in my NICA fundraiser:
- An Incredible Fully Loaded DNA Cycling Wardrobe
- A Year’s-Worth of GU Energy
- New GU Stroopwafels
Today, though, I’m excited to announce that I’m adding another prize: a $200 Gift Certificate to TheFeed.com. This is basically the cyclist’s equivalent of a kid being given the keys to a candy store. $200 will buy you a lot of whatever kind of gel (such as GU Roctane) or energy food (such as GU Stroopwafels) you like.
As you know (or should know), TheFeed.com sponsors this blog and the FattyCast, and has been very generous with other fundraising efforts (such as the 100 Miles of Nowhere) I’ve done. So I’m super-stoked to have them on board with this one, as well.
And consider: your odds of winning just went up if you’ve already donated. And if you haven’t donated, now is a great time to do so. Just go to the “Choose What Fatty Rides at Leadville” Contest page and vote with your dollars. You’re going to be doing NICA — one of my favorite practical organizations — a lot of good.
Annnnnnd, speaking of the contest. here’s where things stand as of right now.
Not a lot of movement in this one. To be perfectly frank, it would take a donation of more than $1000 to move the needle here. I’ve had Racer change my single speed’s gearing and put on the racing tires; I’m very confident (and excited!) I’ll be racing with The Hammer as her domestique this year.
There’s a real narrowing here. While The Monster is staying in the lead so far, one or two really robust donations could either reverse that lead or ensure it, just depending on which way the voting goes. If you want to throw your weight around, here’s where you could do it.
To the Finish Line (But Not the End)
Things change so fast in the Rockwell Relay.
Just before I finished my final leg of the race and sent Lindsey off on hers, she and Ben had taken this picture at the Cedar Breaks exchange:
By the time Lindsey got down to the next exchange, a mere eighty-seven minutes later, the cold early-morning temperatures would be gone. Which is to say, it would be hot outside.
Why the change? Well, after fourteen miles of climbing, Lindsey would be bombing downhill for seventeen miles, descending nearly 4,000 feet in about seventeen miles.
It would still be fairly early in the morning, but in the Southern Utah desert, it doesn’t take long to heat up.
And also: it would be windy.
The Worst Two Hours
Ben wasn’t all that excited for this, his final leg of the race. And you couldn’t really blame him. It’s by far the least scenic of every leg of the race. The flats are straight and with frequent traffic. The climbs are not particularly inspiring.
And there’s about a 70% chance you’ll have a headwind.
Last year, we had sent The Hammer out to help Cory with the headwind in this leg of the race. And it might have made some sense for Lindsey to go out and help Ben…except Lindsey is a fun-size person, which means she’d be of very little help at all in giving Ben a break from the brutal headwind.
And we no longer had the Mike Nosco Memorial team to work with; Jack had broken away from Lindsey and his teammate was working with the front men’s competitive team up the field.
Which meant, alas, Ben was on his own. And he was suffering. It was like he was riding into the devil’s own blowdryer. Later, after the race, Ben would say, entirely earnestly, “That was the worst two hours of my life.”
More because we couldn’t stand the sight of all the suffering than because we needed to, we left Ben and went to the next — the final! — race exchange.
The Hammer suited up and — taking pity on Ben — she rode back to him, so she could help him get to the exchange as quickly as possible. Getting to Ben, she later noted, was the easiest thing in the world. Even though the road was flat, she didn’t have to pedal at all. The wind just blew her right to him.
Of course, you can see how that powerful of a hot wind is not going to be as fun or easy on the return trip.
Change of Plans
As The Hammer was suiting up, I had asked her if she’d like me to work with her on her final leg, like I had with Lynette the year before. With the harsh wind, it might be useful to have someone to ride with.
“No, I’ll be fine,” she said.
But then, as she left, riding toward Ben to pull him the final miles toward the exchange, a couple of cars pulled into the exchange parking lot.
Z5R racers. All suited up and ready to roll.
Naturally, I freaked out.
Could it be, I thought, that with their three teams working together, they have closed the gap between them and us? The wind was truly horrific; I could imagine that a group of three would make huge inroads on a single racer.
And also, they’d continue to have three — or more! — racers on the road on this last very windy leg. They could, in fact, put as many as nine racers on the road…against one woman. Into a headwind.
We could lose the whole thing in these last two legs, I thought. And there was no way I was going to let The Hammer fight off between three and nine racers by herself. No way.
I ran to the van and started suiting up.
The Cavalry Rides Over the Hilltop
In hindsight, I wasn’t being perfectly honest with myself here. Sure, I was genuinely concerned that ZR5 would execute a perfectly-timed reversal of the last-minute victory we managed last year. That would be poetic, I have to admit. But while I can appreciate this kind of poetry abstractly, I was not remotely interested in being the butt of this kind of sweet revenge.
But the real reason I wanted to suit up was a little more personal, and smarmier, to boot:
I wanted to impress a girl.
Specifically, I wanted to impress my wife. Even more specifically, I had this vision in my head of me, riding strong in the blasting heat, heroically pulling my admiring little dove through the fiercest of summer heat.
I pictured me as saving our team, somehow finding victory where there should have been no possibility but defeat.
And in short, I felt like out of everyone in our team, I had been the weakest link and was hoping I could maybe redeem myself a little bit.
The Hammer was a little bit surprised to see me as she and Ben crossed the line and we switched the timing chip over to her ankle. A little surprised, but not really. She knows I’m a bit of a glory hog.
And, my coxcombery notwithstanding, I was actually helpful. I did most of the pulling, stoically refusing her offers to take a turn. (Later, after the race, she would note that we probably would have finished a lot sooner if I’d rotate through. I acknowledge this to be fact.)
The heat was intense; the wind was brutal. But they were nothing compared to the awful traffic, which seemed to take great offense at the fact that we had the gall to be on the road. When we reached Veyo (home of the famous Veyo pies), I was just so grateful to be turning off the main road, and I know The Hammer was too.
So far, we hadn’t seen any of the Z5R team vehicles start leapfrogging us: a big relief, since I really don’t know whether we would have been able to counter an attack from a three-person paceline. We were just smoked. Hot wind in our faces, sand blowing past our glasses and into our eyes.
Every time Ben and Lindsey came by in the van, asking if we wanted something, our answer was the same: “swap for cold water!” Truly, it’s amazing how fast a bottle of ice water can turn into a bottle of hot water.
We rode what is known as the “Gunlock loop” in St. George — a route we had become very familiar with back when we were training for the St. George Ironman so many years ago. The Hammer has gotten so much faster since then, I thought to myself.
We made the final turn, neared the finish line, with nobody passing us.
And then, there was the finish line. We had done it.
28:02. Third team overall, and the fastest coed team by about 45 minutes. First Coed team. Our dynasty intact.
But more importantly, there were a pair of banners at the finish line. As it turned out, The Hammer had a little surprise waiting for me there:
Pictures from my life — from when I was a baby, a kid, a teenager, a young father, and now.
It was awesome. Touching. Just…perfect. The Hammer is so much more than just someone who hammers. I’m incredibly lucky to be married to her.
Ben and Lindsey arrived in a moment or two, and we got a group finish line photo:
Then we found some shade and ate popsicles and pie while we waited for other teams to come in, at which point we’d do the podium ceremony.
Could there have been a more fitting fiftieth birthday for me? I don’t think so.
Well, I guess it could have been more perfect in a couple of ways:
First, it would have been better if I hadn’t needed to make a phone call, to tell Cory about what I had done to his van.
And second, it would have been better if the podium ceremony would have actually happened. Because it didn’t happen. More to the point, right as it was going to happen, there was a crash, the sound of broken glass, and bloodcurdling screams.
Which seems — for the last time in this series — like a good place to pick up in the next episode of this story.
If you ever get the chance to race the Rockwell Relay, you should. And if you get the chance to be the one to choose who rides which legs, you should choose to be racer number 1.
There are a couple of good reasons for this.
First, because you race the first leg, you are also the person to race your final leg first. Which means you get to laze about after you’re done, smugly thinking to yourself, “I am so glad I don’t have to go out again anymore,” as the other racers suit up and wade out into million-degree heat.
Second — and more importantly — by being racer 1, you get to be the one to race leg 9 (Panguitch to Cedar Breaks), which is inarguably the best leg of the entire race. You start in the desert, and race into the high mountains, going from one kind of beauty to a completely different kind of beauty.
It’s a lot of climbing, but so worth it: it’s just inspiringly beautiful.
So I was really excited to be showing off this leg to my new friend Tom from the Mike Nosco Memorial team. I knew that he’d love this challenging, gorgeous climb.
But there was a problem: I just couldn’t hang with him.
You know how when you’re at your absolute outer limit of what you’re capable? You’re just riding yourself into this incredibly deep hole, and you have no idea how or whether you’ll ever get out? When you’re riding at top speed toward The Cliff of Bonkitude, and keeping your hands off the brakes?
It was like that for me.
Meanwhile, Tom chatted conversationally, joking about how now that I was 50, I could apply to be on his team next year.
“Tom,” I said.
“I…can’t…keep…this…pace.” Every word on the exhale, because I was breathing as fast as I possibly could.
“Oh, I can back it off a little bit,” Tom said.
“No, you…should go…on,” I said. “I’m…going to…need to…spend some…time alone in…the pain…cave.
“You sure?” he asked.
“You know how it is,” I said.
Yeah, I think we all know how it is. Pain cave time sometimes needs to be alone time.
Tom rode on ahead, and I entered the peculiar state of suffering. “This is how I’m spending my fiftieth birthday,” I though to myself. “Fastest coed team by far, and ahead of every men’s competitive team in the race. Only guy ahead of me is another guy in his fifties.”
“I’m not doing half-bad,” I concluded.
At the moment, I was thinking about the race, but I think it was true about my life in general.
The Hammer, Ben and Lindsey caught up with me, ringing cowbells and shouting — still engaged in and excited about the race into the second morning of this event. Incredible.
“I’m so lucky,” I thought, and I meant it.
I rode. Time passed. I kept going. My team cheered for me. It got light outside.
“Hey,” said a voice behind me. “How far ahead are the leaders?”
A rider, from nowhere, bridging from so far back I didn’t know he even existed. I looked back: it was the guy Nathan (of BatB) had joined forces with in the first leg to blow the rest of us out of the water.
Somehow, I had linked him and Nathan together in my mind, and looked to see if he was there. No. A relief.
But still, this guy had asked about “the leaders,” plural. It didn’t make sense to me. There was just one leader up ahead. Tom.
“They’re not far,” I said, adopting plural just because this other guy had. It wasn’t a lie, but it also wasn’t entirely honest. I had no idea how far ahead of me Tom had gotten in the time since he had dropped me. Further, I had no idea how long it had been since he had dropped me, nor how far I had ridden.
I was riding hard, but I wasn’t lucid, precisely.
“OK, thanks,” the guy said, and shot forward as if to show his contempt for gravity.
I, on the other hand, had a very healthy respect for gravity.
More time passed, I guess. It usually does. I turned off my light; I wouldn’t need it anymore.
There was something way up ahead. A rider? Yes, a rider. The guy who just passed me a few minutes or hours ago? No. Slighter than that.
“Huh,” I thought. “That’s a surprise.”
I discovered at that moment that I had not previously been going as hard as I could, because I started going faster.
And I caught Tom.
“There’s no air here,” Tom said.
“Welcome to 7500 feet,” I said. Where I live, there aren’t many rides that don’t touch that altitude.
And then a weird thing happened: I turned into Tom’s tour guide. He hadn’t asked for a tour guide, but I couldn’t help myself for some reason.
I pointed out the amazingly beautiful volcanic rock formations. I pointed out the gorgeous fields. I told him about how many climbs we had left and which ones were excruciatingly hard.
Tom endured it all.
“It’s really cool up here,” he said at one point.
“I know,” I enthused. “It’s just so great.”
“No, I meant that I’m literally cold,” he clarified.
“Huh,” I replied. “But it’s also really cool in the other way too, right?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Cool in both ways.”
The climb to Cedar Breaks is relentlessly brutal, but only for a while. Then you get some milder climbs, and even some incredibly fun descents.
So I guess it’s not relentlessly brutal after all.
As we got closer, Tom and I emptied ourselves out. We both knew this was our final effort of the race, that there was no reason to be conservative.
But you know, we also hung together. Tom and I had ridden about 2/3 of this race together, I don’t think either of us were now looking for a sprint to victory.
We crossed the line side-by-side, put feet down to have the timing chips moved from our ankles to our teammates’.
I had just ridden my heart out in a beautiful place with a guy who somehow was pretty much exactly my racing match, and we were winning our respective divisions handily. It was over, basically; it was now just a formality to get across the finish line.
Yeah, it was turning out to be a really nice fiftieth birthday.
But I was wrong about the race being over.
Which is where we’ll pick up in Monday’s installment of this race report.
A Bonus Easy Way to Win Something for Free Note from Fatty: As part of my day job as the Social Media Manager at Altify, I get to do some pretty cool contests to build awareness of the company. Right now I’m doing a nice little weeklong push to grow our Twitter audience. So: If you happen to either be in sales — or if you have Twitter followers who might be in sales — you should Follow Altify and Retweet this Tweet today to get a chance at winning a set of super-sweet Bose QC35 Bluetooth Noise-Canceling Headphones:
An Update on “You Choose Fatty’s LT100 Bike and Focus:” I’m really pleased at the responses (and by “responses” I of course mean “donations”) in the contest I started at the beginning of this week. It was a different take on my “donate for a chance at a prize” idea, and it’s been a lot of fun for everyone in our family to see not just the ongoing generosity of the Friends of Fatty (that part is predictable), but what you seem to want me to ride, and how you think The Hammer and Monster will finish, relative to each other.
Here’s a quick update on where things stand.
First off, The Monster’s lead continues to build against The Hammer. Since yesterday’s update, in fact, votes saying she will finish less than an hour after The Hammer have risen from 64% to 69%:
I’d like to point out that both The Monster and The Hammer like the way this chart currently stands. The Monster appreciates the votes of confidence coming her way, and The Hammer finds it extremely motivational for her to prove two-thirds of you wrong.
If you’d like to mix things up in “The Hammer Vs The Monster” contest, you can do so right here:
As the chart below shows, it looks like it’s going to be my job to race for The Hammer (which you would think would alter the stats in the “Hammer Vs Monster” contest).
Thanks to an incredibly large donation, “Be the Hammer’s Domestique” seems to be in an unassailable, insurmountable position.
I should point out, however, that even if this four-figure donation hadn’t come in, the results would still be putting me in the “Domestique for The Hammer” position. Here’s what the chart would look like if I pull out the big donation:
So, barring a four-figure opposing donation by a generous prankster who takes pleasure both in evening the odds and in telling me what to do, it looks like I’ll be riding for The Hammer this year. I’ll have more to say about that soon.
Meanwhile, if you likes making a difference in the world by helping great causes like NICA, and you also like the idea of telling a beloved, award-winning cycling blogger what to do, this is your chance.
OK, now on with today’s story (yes, we have crossed the $2500 threshold and I can therefore release this “hostage” episode).
2016 Rockwell Relay Race Report, Part 13: Alliances from Enemies
The race speeds up when the sun goes down. I don’t mean that literally of course. I just mean that there are fewer interactions with other teams. You don’t see as much of the landscape around you. Unless you’re the one racing, your sense of time gets all distorted and compressed; you feel like the miles go by incredibly quickly.
Or, I don’t know, maybe that’s just me.
In any case, it seemed like Ben’s second leg of the race just flew by. Maybe that’s because he put in a top-10 performance of the whole thing:
Yep, Ben is faster than I have ever been. The numbers show it. And he was considerably faster than his counterparts in our competition: he increased our lead over the Z5R teams by fifteen minutes, and over the BatB team by just over half an hour.
Somehow, we had built not just a lead, but a huge lead — almost an hour over Z5R teams, almost 1.5 hours over BatB — over our competition by the time we got through seven of the twelve racing legs. They were far enough in our rear-view mirror that it no longer seemed important to be watching for them.
There was, on the other hand, a team we just seemed to keep bumping into, over and over: The “Salty Dogs, 50+” Mike Nosco Memorial team.
Yeah, the team Ben and I had been confronted with forever ago, back in leg 3 of the race. And since we’re definitely going to be hearing about this team again, here’s how the team matchup looked:
The Fatty Family
Mike Nosco Memorial
At the time, we had shrugged our shoulders; things happen during races. We figured we’d never see them again.
But then Tod from their team had chased The Hammer for fifty miles in the fourth leg, so close to her — yet unable to catch her — that he must have thought she was a mirage.
And Tom and I had worked together for almost the entirety of the fifth leg.
And then Jack and Lindsey had worked together on the descent of the sixth leg, arriving together.
Which meant Peter and Ben would be starting together again — and once again, wound up riding together for the entire leg.
This time, however, when they finished, Peter walked up to Ben and me and shook both our hands, giving us a smile and a nod. We smiled back.
Everything was all good.
Who’s In Front?
With Peter and Ben arriving together, that meant Tod and The Hammer would go out together for what I consider to be the worst leg of the race. It starts at a time when you would never be riding: around 3:00am. it’s a big climb followed by a plateau and a long descent in the cold and dark.
This time, instead of chasing The Hammer, Tod would be working with her.
And this turned out to be a really good thing. The two of them just flew together, putting this section of the race behind them in record time.
In the case of The Hammer, I mean that quite literally: she QOM’d the whole darn thing (by about fifteen minutes over the previous QOM, by the way).
For those of you who are keeping track: the women on our team had now been out four times. And now own the QOM for all four of those legs.
Yeah, The Fatty Family was doing OK.
As they rode along, they talked a little. The Hammer asked, “So where is the Hyperthread group?”
“Behind us, I think.”
“And how about the other guy that came in with Ben?”
“They bungled their handoff, don’t know where their rider is. Probably asleep somewhere.”
“So who is ahead of us now?” The Hammer asked.
Tod considered for a moment. Then, “You know, I don’t think anyone is.”
“So right now a woman and a fifty-plus guy are beating all the men’s competitive teams in the race?”
“Yeah, it seems like it.”
They pushed on, every other team in the Rockwell Relay somewhere behind them.
We shot ahead of The Hammer and Tod well before we needed to this time, not wanting to make the mistake I had made last time.
No, not the “almost drive the van into the ditch mistake.” The “not ready to go” mistake.
Tom was, of course, getting ready to go the same time I was. But he’s a California guy and hadn’t really had an understanding of how high we’d be going on our final leg of the race and how cold it would get.
He stood there, shivering.
“Hey Tom, I’ve got enough cold weather gear with me for everyone in Panguitch,” I said.
We were in Panguitch at the time, so this totally made sense in context.
“You want a long-sleeve jersey or a windbreaker or something?
“No, I’m going to be OK as soon as we start,” he said. “And it won’t be long ’til it’s light.”
Both were true, but it would get colder as we went up. And we would be going up, 3600 feet or so to an altitude of 8500 feet.
The Hammer and Tod rolled across the line together. (Later, The Hammer would tell me that Tod started to drop her on the descents, but held up, saying it would be better to stay together so they could work on the flats. Tod is awesome.)
Tom and I rolled out into the dark. I was feeling good. I love this leg of the race: the way the scenery turns from sandstone to aspen. The way it turns from night into day. The way it wakes you up with incredible climbs, then makes you feel like you’re flying on the flats and descents.
It’s everything I love about riding and racing, and I’d be starting it in the front of the race with a strong, friendly rider who was a perfect ally to our team: a good match and not competing against us.
“Hey, happy fiftieth birthday,” Tom said.
It certainly looked like it was going to be.
And that’s where we’ll pick up in the next installment of this story.
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