Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rockwell Relay, Part IX - THE FINALE!

Important note, you can start reading the story from Part 1 here, if you'd like.

LEG 11

Mike's leg would start in Cedar City and run west to Enterprise. It was Mike's shortest leg at just over 41 miles, and he would be doing it alone. I don't recall much happening during this part of the leg, but I did get a couple texts from Mark on our other team just as Mike was taking off.

"Status check...what's your progress?" Mark asked. 

I figured they were done at this point and wanted to know how far back we were. "Mike is in route," I replied.

"That climb never ends. So heinous."

I was sure to not share this with Mike during his ride.

(Long, fairly straight straight road the whole way.)
The road didn't actually have any one, super steep climb in its path. Instead it was rather long, and when you thought it might end, it might. But just for a minute. Then it was back up again for a bit.

Side note: It was also during Mike's leg that I came to the realization that Andrew had on his leg. See like Andrew, I also thought my last leg was 30 miles. Like Andrew, I was informed that it was actually over 37 miles. And like Andrew I was not happy about it. At all. But unlike Andrew, I had nothing to blame this on but myself. There had been no route changes on this leg of the race. I had simply remembered what I apparently wanted to remember. And I was wrong. On a good note, this sudden swing of events did brighten Andrew's spirits.

(The sun was back out, along with some wind. Mike was head down, pushing through it.)
About halfway through the ride the road flattened out and Mike kept his strong pace all the way into Enterprise.
(Mike, coming into Enterprise, happy to be done.)
Leg 12

Finally, the last leg was here. I congratulated Mike and took off. I knew I started with a climb and that it would be rolling hills after that into St. George. I also knew it was just after 4:15 pm and the awards ceremony was at 7:00, so I figured that getting there shouldn't be too big of a problem. Just get through the climb and get moving. However, I didn't know one thing...

(Just leaving Enterprise...can you spot the problem?)
I started the climb and knew that they would take a few minutes to let Mike relax before they climbed into the van and came to offer support. Like on the other legs, I am sure I thought to myself, "I wonder how far I can get before they catch up to me?" So, I grinded out the climb just outside of Enterprise and was almost proud they weren't there yet. The wind was still blowing from what felt like every direction but behind me, but at least I was going downhill in sections. And then, finally, I heard Andrew.


I look over and see Andrew in a van, just not my van.

"Do you have the keys? We can't find them, we've looked everywhere."

"Ugh...let me check." And there in the back right pocket of my jersey were the van keys. Awesome. (In my defense, I did not plan on having the keys. See someone else (they shall remain nameless because it really doesn't matter Andrew) was driving when we got to Enterprise and didn't turn the van off but got out and went inside the store. After returning from the check-in tent and seeing my van, that had been driving for so long with little rest, sitting there in the parking lot of a convenience store empty but running, I decided to turn it off and give the keys to someone when I saw them. But not having any front pockets to put them in, they went into a jersey pocket to be forgotten about. It could happen to anyone, right?)

Anyways, with a quick hand-off of the keys Andrew headed back to get our team van. I, on the other hand, continued to make my way to St. George.

(Laughing as I was being teased about stealing the keys during a bottle exchange.)
A few things were again brought to my attention on these last few miles of road. First, I was reminded that in a wind all the fun of a down hill can be taken away. Second, smog checks need to be done on more trucks in southern Utah. At least for a few that hit the gas as they went around me on this stretch of road. Third, there are more rolling hills (meaning you still have some small climbs to do) between Enterprise and St. George. It's not all downhill, even if you want it to be that way. And fourth, just because it's your last leg, and the final leg of the race, and you are very excited about getting a real meal after the race is over, you HAVE to keep fueling yourself. While I wasn't to the point of bonking, I wished I had a little more in the tank to kill it on the final descent into St. George. I went fast, but I knew there was room for more.

(Crossing the line.)
We finished just after 6:30 pm. We had been going for just of 36 and a half hours. We were exhausted. But we LOVED it!

(Team pic with the medals.)

Wait...I can't forget a pic of James (Andrew's dad). That came to help drive and took these amazing pics. THANKS JAMES!

(Andrew and James at the leg 2-3 transition point)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rockwell Relay, Part VIII

Important note, you can start reading the story from Part 1 here, if you'd like.

Leg 9

I was in, and Andrew was out the gates ready for his last ride. There are so many alluring places that we ride through on this route, from dessert to tree filled mountains, but this may have been the most beautiful leg in all the race. 

(Not sure if this is considered 'working hard' or 'playing hard'.)
Andrew was doing good work of the course, and seemed to be enjoying the ride. The first couple miles were flat, but then he'd have 20 miles of gradual climbing. But then, Andrew got a bit bothered. See, originally this leg was only about 30 miles long, ending on Cedar Breaks mountain. However, as James and I were discussing I saw that he was reading from the old print out of the race and not the current Race Bible that came in our packet. Due to weather/road conditions in the past the course had been permanently changed so that Leg 9 would now end in Duck Creek. The good news was Andrew would get to descend for what would feel like the first time in all of his riding, and he would even save a couple hundred feet of climbing. The bad news was...he got 7 more miles of Rockwell than he thought he paid for.

We pulled along side him, and the conversation went something like this (I'm speeding it up in parts):

"Andrew! Great job, how ya doing buddy?"

"Good. I've got about 20 miles down, another 10 to go."

"Glad to hear! You're killing it. But yeah, you know they changed the route this year. You aren't going 30 miles."

"How much farther?"

"17 miles! But you got this! You have less climbing and a couple descents that look really fun!"


"Yeah, so there is another 7 miles, but those should be the new downhill part. It's like they're free miles!"


"Did I mention that Bob will also have to do more climbing now?" (Trying to distract him.) "Ha, yeah, he's in for it. But you got this!"


With that, I did about the best that I could, and we went back to our normal supporting Andrew on his ride.

(On the bright side of things, much of his leg had recently paved, very smooth roads. So there was that.)
(A nice scenic shot. The amount of water in the shot was James looking for fish. He and Andrew both longed to come back and drop a line next time they were through.)
After his extra 7 miles Andrew was ready to be done. (I must be honest, I really don't remember him coming in. I think this was when I was laying on the ground in the parking lot next to the van. Needing to puke, I couldn't. I had NO clue how I was going to get back on the bike. Being happy that I finished my first two legs, I started to think about how I could not do the climb that awaited me at the start of my final leg. I was coming to terms with having the guys drive me up the big climb and how I would roll into St. George for the finish.)

(Andrew, preparing for the hand off to Bob.)
Andrew completed his leg in a little under three hours. It was about three til noon and Bob was riding.

LEG 10

(Bob starting his climb out of Duck Creek)
As usual, Bob was pretty quiet but still ready to go. However, since his last ride I knew that Bob was at least enjoying his time. I knew this because Bob mentioned that we should all go do the Tour of Tucson later this year (and when you are suffering, like really suffering during an event you start to question why you are doing this ride and may even question why you ride these bigger events, as it only leads to the suffering that you are then encountering).  

But by now Bob was still at least tired enough that he was starting to crack. Even though it was the littlest of cracks. As Andrew was getting close to completing his leg Bob asked how far his ride was, and how much climbing he was going to do.

"Bob, I thought you NEVER wanted to know the distance you were riding, or how much climbing you had? Are you sure you want to know this?"

"Yes," he said smiling.

(Great shot as we awaited Bob at the summit before his drop into Cedar City.)
While we waited for Bob and my stomach was killing me, I turned back and saw Andrew taking a drink of chocolate milk. I love chocolate milk. 

"Better give me a small cup of that," I stated.

Mike and Andrew both looked a little shocked knowing the stomach issues I was experiencing.

"You sure?" Andrew asked.

"Yeah this will either help (very unlikely) or tip the scales for me needing to puke." And in less than two minutes I would excuse myself from the van and destroy a small part of the magnificent scenery atop the mountain. The good news was I was instantly feeling better, like a new man. I was ready to tackle my last ride, all of it! The bad news was I never made it off the concrete so there was spatter, and I needed to wipe off my toes and flip flops.

(Mike telling Bob it was all downhill, and we'd see him in Cedar. And probably offering to spray down these guys coming up from behind with his water bottles as to slow them down so Bob could maintain his lead on the descent.)
Luckily Bob had no issues coming down the mountain and we got in front of him enough to allow enough time for Mike to suit up. Just seconds before 2:00 pm Bob rolled into Cedar City, and we only had two legs left of Rockwell Relay...TO BE CONTINUED...

(Looking buff rolling into Cedar City. Is it a party foul of sorts to be wearing gear from a strictly running event as you are participating in a strictly cycling event? No, of course not! Besides, Bob just wanted to show everyone else his versatility!)