Monday, July 25, 2016

Rockwell Relay 2016, Part IV


The thing I remembered about Leg 3 from last time we did Rockwell was that it seemed like a fairly flat, and even slightly downhill for 56 miles, ending with a little kicker just after crossing the Colorado River to get the rider into the transition point. Mike killed it last time, and I knew he would be just as ready to do the same this time around. The problem was I trying to stay in front of the guy that did so well last time on this leg, and I was starting out on my own.

That said, I was out of the gates trying to hold off Mike for as long as I could.

(When you have no idea where you stand, or anyone else in the race for that matter, you just have to put your head down and push on. You become the only motivation for yourself. Just keep pushing!!!)
It would be some time before I would see my support team, or anyone in fact. Finally when the team showed up, I had one main request.

"Hey, I want time splits. Pull ahead and see how much time passes between me crossing the car, and then for Mike to do it. Then catch up to me and let me know."
(Mike in pursuit!)
Luckily, I don't recall seeing Team 2's support car for about the first half of the leg. This gave me hope that I would at least make Mike work for it. What's more, I saw another team's support vehicle time and again. I figured they were doing time splits on me, and figured they were between Mike and myself. I thought maybe I would have some help so long as they didn't blow by me when they caught up.

But the weirdest thing happened, I never saw their riders. In fact, when I got the time reports from my team, Mike was staying about 10 minutes or so back. They did tell me he had a bike problem. His bike was having issues shifting gears, so Team 2 rushed ahead and got Bob's 2nd bike ready. (Yes Bob is so high maintenance he brought a back up, j/k Bob.) Here, it was perfect, especially as he and Mike used the same clip ins. While I knew this would give me a couple minutes for them to transition, I wasn't sure it was enough.

(Mike switching bikes.)
But it was! The good and bad of it was I did the entire leg as a solo time trial. I didn't get the chance to work with anyone, but I did hold off Team 2 to give Darin a little head start.

(Crossing the Colorado River!)
I finished Leg 2 in 2:42, and we ended twelve minutes ahead of Team 2. Mike had actually passed four riders during his ride, and had put Team 2 into the 8th spot 3 legs in! (And we were now just in front in 7th!) I had added five more minutes on our lead, which I know half of was due to the bike change. Still, I will take joy in my small victory as Mike usually kills me on rides, so I was happy him and I finished realistically within a minute or two of each other.

Shortly after Darin left for our team (and I was still trying to be able to walk upright as my sides were killing me) Mike came in and Kevin was starting the fun climb that starts Leg 4.
(Mike coming in, and Bob probably yelling something along the lines of, "How's my bike!?")

By now, it's just about 4:00 pm, and into the 90's temperature wise. Darin and Kevin are welcomed into Rockwell's race with a short but steep climb. Having been warned, they both seem to not push it too hard out the gates and appear to tackle the early wall with much more ease than I remember it from when I did it last.
(Darin showing the climb who's boss!)

(Welcome to your first cycling event Kevin!)
Darin and Kevin were over the first climb and quick descent, and were on to the 20 mile slight but steady climb that ended about 26 miles or so into their 45 mile leg. Both were doing great, and in good spirits as the temperature got up to triple digits.

Bob, in the meantime, was making use of some of the cooling off supplies to provide entertainment as we sagged for our guys.

(Oh this...this is just the tip of the iceberg that is Bob Crockett. "Ugh hey, take my picture.")
Just before the top of the climb Kevin caught up to Darin. And, as it goes, the fun began. Not only did they have a slight to moderate downhill ride into Hanksville. This year they were treated with a tailwind!

(Just another chance to enjoy the scenery.)
(That close to the rock, but no shade to hide behind.)
Maybe the most amazing part of the race as we reached Hanksville was that while our teams had done very little actual riding together, Darin and Kevin were only separated by just over two minutes as they each came in. Both had smiles probably bigger than when they started.

Now, for us the question was how Rich and Matt would do on Leg 5. This leg would put it to our best rider in our previous race. Would these guys have any better luck? Would the winds pick up and fight as much as the mountains as they pushed to Torrey? be continued...

Friday, July 22, 2016

Rockwell Relay 2016, Part III

(Growing up and visiting grandparents close by, I always look forward to seeing the horse head in the mountain, as he is looking straight at you. Can you see it?)


Guys are coming in, and you don't see your man. You figure they passed him, so you start asking, "Have you seen our guy?"

"Yeah, he's coming, just back a bit."

Good. He wasn't dead. And he was still moving. A few minutes more passed, and from over the bump in the road Rich appeared.
(The body tells the tale.)
He came in riding at decent clip, but you could tell the ride had taken its toll. Darin was quick to switch the timing chip onto Paul, and Paul raced off.

"How's it going?" I asked.

"Man, I've NEVER had cramps like that before!" Rich replied.

Turns out Rich started up the climb with a group of guys, and was going strong. Then, as it often does, your legs express their frustration in loud, painful shrieks of agony that they've had it. A guy came up to Rich and congratulated him on such a strong ride. He mentioned how he was almost startled with the volume in which Rich yelled out when the first sudden cramp made its appearance.

"I knew that wasn't good," the guy stated.

With all that said, our team was actually the 7th in of the teams that started at the 7:00 am start time. Rich's legs were sure to point out that he didn't leave anything out there, he had put it all on the line. About 18 minutes later Matt finished the 54 mile Leg 1, and Bob took up the race for Team 2.

(Matt giving Bob the high five exchange while Mike moved the time chip to Bob's ankle.)

Now, this much we knew and had planned for. Rich would push it and likely put a little time into Matt on Leg 1. With that in mind, Bob and Paul switched teams at the last minute as Bob had done the most training leading up to Rockwell and was riding very strong. We knew he would be able to eat into any deficit that his team might have, and because Bob has trained his mind to completely tune out his body when it screams for rest and relief, he could possibly blow the whole race wide open. (That stated, on a race like this, we knew any number of issues related to riders getting sick or tired, getting a flat or having any other mechanical problems, could greatly change the outcome for either team, and would dash all hopes of the teams staying together.) We wanted to stay together, but were not at the point that we were going to wait for one another. The way the teams were stacked, we figured each team needed to ride their own race.

The question became, just how much time would Bob pull back? 10 minutes? All of it? More? After sticking around waiting for Team 2, we loaded up and sought out for Paul. He had been riding for about half an hour and the day was quickly warming up.

(Here was Paul, pluggin' away)
We caught up to Paul, and he was doing great, being about 7 or 8 miles into the 45 mile leg. Off on his own, he was riding strong and steady, starting to feel the heat of the day.

Here, I must point out, I did NOT want Bob to catch Paul. While it would have been nice to have a carrot to chase if Mike was out on Leg 3 a few minutes before me, I knew that he would be hard to catch, and I wanted to give Darin a head start on Leg 4 as he had a steep climb right out of the gate that I had built up in his mind to be like climbing out of the Grand Canyon.

So we encouraged Paul along the ride. He simply kept smiling and kept pedaling. Bob was pushing to catch Paul and was continually eating away at our lead.

(Paul coming through a cut out in the mountain 37 miles into his leg.)

(Bob on the hunt for Paul!)

(The descent before the final climb.)
By the time Bob reached the cut in the mountain (see Paul's pictures above), Paul had done his final descent and started the final six mile climb up to the transition point (a Category 2 climb). The lead had been reduced to about 10 minutes. We checked with Paul about a mile into the climb, again changing out bottles and hurried up so I could get ready to finally be riding. At this point I figured Paul should get to the transition point before Bob, but I still wasn't sure just how far back Bob would be.

(Bob shaving time on the final climb!)
 About 40 minutes after Paul started the climb, he reached the transition and I took off.

(Looking back to see if I Bob was in sight. Also, looking out for cars. I'm such a safe rider.)
Paul was in and I was off. I was glad to finally be riding, but was dying to know just how much of a start I would have on Mike. He is competitive, and I am sure Bob if no one else would be egging him on.

Now, I was HIS carrot to chase. But by how much!?

??? be continued...