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!"

"What!?"

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

"..."(Nothing.)

"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!"

"Whatever."

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!)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rockwell Relay, Part VII

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

NOT SO FAST

So, it was morning and we were heading for Henrieville before Mike to came in so I could get ready to go. My stomach was not doing well, and I needed a bathroom...BAD. We arrived at the transition point and the school (or church, I have no idea...I couldn't focus I just needed the bathroom) one a bathroom around back so I bolted for it only to find a long, slow moving line. After a couple minutes of the line not moving I knew I was in trouble. As this was a #2 issue I thought it best to not run for a bush. And I also realized that trying to ride before things were taken care of was futile. I would not last two minutes on the bike in my present condition. Mike would come in, and I would still be in line...waiting...and waiting...Finally, I was able to get in take care of things, and get back on the bike.

LEG 8

It was chilly in the morning but my stomach took my mind off the temperature. I was happy to be on the bike, and enjoyed the short slightly downhill section of road. Then the wind started to really blow again and I was fighting just to keep going. With only a couple miles in I thought there was no way I was going to be able to tackle the 46 mile segment I was just starting to undertake. I knew that most of the climbing would be done in a singular climb, and though the actual amount of climbing wouldn't normally bother me, I had no idea if I was going to even make it there. This was the hardest part of the race, and probably the worst I felt ever riding. I had seen my wall in front of me before, and even had stomach problems once before, but not when I had 40+ miles still left in what would be only my 2nd of 3 segments that I would need to do for Rockwell Relay. It really did become be telling myself, "Just go another mile. You may not make it all the way to Panguitch but you can make it a little farther."

(Leaning into the wind in effort to stay upright.)
After about 7 miles of a gradual climb the road turned up a bit more. It would be a category 2 climb over almost 5 miles with an average gradient of 5%. It was here I had to stop. I needed a gel in my jersey to a little pick me up, but I was too tired to retrieve said gel, open it, consume it, and put it back in my jersey all while trying to climb. So I stopped and enjoyed my gel. And enjoyed the quick rest. I was back on the bike for about a minute when I stopped again. I decided I would not stop, but I would walk the bike. The road was not overly steep but I was tired. This lasted for a total of 3 to 4 steps when I became more frustrated with the idea of walking my bike in my road shoes up a hill, and I determined I would not let the climb get the better of me. Back in the saddle, the road turned up and I turned up the grit to get over the climb.

(Like my 1st leg, when I was at my worst my team was off enjoying the scenery. I imagine this worked out best for both of us.)
(Pretty country. I was glad that just as they were about to turn back from the lookout point to find me, I was almost to them.)
(Coming out of the climb.)
Right around mile 15 I was done with most of the climbing and onto a fairly flat section of road when I realized two things: 1) I had been thinking Leg 8 was a 46 mile leg, but upon seeing a mileage sign to Panguitch I put two and two together and came to the conclusion it was only a 36 mile leg, and with that good news, 2) I was gonna ride all the way to Panguitch!

Over the next 7 miles I would catch another rider and was happy to chat to get my mind off of my stomach. Julie, from Teton Lunachicks mentioned to me that this was their 2nd time doing Rockwell, and she was a bit shocked with our team's lack of experience that we would come out and try to tackle the Rockwell Relay. ("Brave" was the word she used, though "crazy" or "stupid" might have been what she was thinking.) I was also happy to report that I did the pulling for the few miles we rode together (I am a gentleman after all), but when the road pointed down she encouraged me to go ahead as she took things slow on the descents. (Also a breath of fresh air, her team - who were made up of some serious lady riders - were sure to honk and thank me for giving her the small pull. What a great time.)

The road went down and this became probably my favorite part of riding on the trip. The scenery was great, and you could fly. The grades in the road weren't enough that you could simply sit there and fly. Instead they were the encouraging type that invited you to pedal, and allowed you splendid speeds while giving it your all. The rider, not just gravity, made this part entertaining. And...it's not everyday your actually get to ride through stone arches that they paved a road through. (Wish I had some shots riding through those to share, but since I don't, let me again refer you to the stunning video that I mentioned in my last write-up to see what I'm talking about - starting at the 5:00 minute mark.)

The descent was followed by the final 6 miles of flat section into Panguitch. I was happy to have made it, but my stomach was not ready to give up fighting me.

(Coming into Panguitch...happy to have made it.)
With all my hold-ups (mainly an extended stay in the restroom), the ride had taken me 3 hours complete. It was 9:00 am, and Andrew was ready to take on his final leg....TO BE CONTINUED...