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)

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