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?)

THE WONDER

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.)
LEG 2

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!?

???...to be continued...


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rockwell Relay 2016, Part II

THE PLAN

As noted in an earlier installment, the hope was that we could match up the two teams we had with guys that were close enough in ability that they could ride together. Last time we did the race our team did most of the ride as solo time trialists. In a long, often windy race, this can be very taxing and greatly slow your efforts. We figured if each rider had someone to work with this would not only help them to fight the elements, but hopefully also provide additional encouragement as they could push (or actually pull) each other along.

THE REALITY

While that was the plan, we recognized that none of our teamed up riders would match up perfectly well, so we set up the teams in hopes that we would at least remain close to one another in the event the riders could work together and thus shave some time off their efforts. Also, we figured this would help us to avoid having a team lose track of where their rider was like last time.

TIME TO GET GOING - LEG 1

Friday morning we were up and at 'em. Rich was there with family in tote (so supportive of them to watch him leave from Moab...wait, I think they missed him leaving...I forget...anyways, good for them for coming to Moab.)

Matt and Rich had suited up in some of Alpine's latest threads, and were amped and ready to go.

(Showing off the kit, putting out the vibe.)

(Matt double checking things.)

(Rich and Matt starting at the back to size up the competition. Rich looks like he's just trying to stay on two wheels, but I'll give him benefit of the doubt and recall that he was just landing a wheelie across the start line.)
With the 20+ teams heading out together at the 7:00 am start Rich and Matt knew they had the best opportunity to not only work together, but also work with other teams to get them through the rolling hills, wind, and climbs that are found between Moan and Monticello.

With that said, things started out well. Matt and Rich were in sync, and riding together and with other teams. However, not too far into the leg, and group of guys came around the two of them and Rich yelled out to Matt that they should push it and grab on to this group. Rich made the push and caught the tail, but Matt couldn't make the gap.

(Nothing like sitting down to a relaxing breakfast while guys are out there pushing their limits.)
Already, the teams were separated, though not far. Both had found people to work with (at some point Rich's group whittled down to him and another one or two guys) and both were pushing hard to get to the transition point.

(Rich rocking it.)
(Matt on the chase!)
With the final climb in front of them, Rich had about a 12-14 minute lead on Matt. Rich was pushing hard and only about the third guy off the lead. We loaded him up with fresh bottles for the last 10-12 miles and rushed into Monticello to get Paul ready at the transition.

We pulled up, got out, and Paul got changed. We knew the climb would take a bit of time but it wasn't long before the first guy came in. He was followed shortly thereafter by a group of three or four guys. Surely, Rich would be with them. But he was nowhere to be found. He had been right towards the front last we saw him. Minutes past, nothing. Then ANOTHER guy came in! Suddenly, flashbacks to Andrew's ride came creeping back in. Had something happened to Rich? Did he hit his wall? Did he hit a wall!? Did he have a mechanical issue? Should we go back and get him!?

RICH!!!...[to be continued]