Sunday, July 6, 2014

Rockwell Relay, Part V

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

Leg 4

Alright, it was finally my turn on the bike. Mike was done, and I was off. Luckily for Mike he finished when he did. He missed one last final climb I would have loved to have not started my ride with. It was only about a mile and a half long, and Strava averages it at a 6% gradient (surely it had to go a ways beyond that at points). That said, getting on the bike with 104 degree heat and meeting this proverbial wall out the gates was not my idea of warming up to Rockwell Relay. 

What also made it more enjoyable was that at the steepest part the van drove by and the guys turned off to do some sightseeing. They didn't even bother to get a pic of me grueling my way up this section of road. Instead, they got to see this... 

(At least they were enjoying themselves...)

(...I will admit, they did earn a good break. I was just starting to earn one of mine.)
Surely, this was in fact the better option. I remember thinking on the climb: 1) I can't quit and walk this early into my first ride, my confidence will be utterly SHOT, and 2) oh good, if I do need to walk at least I won't be the only one. Why there's just a guy up there in front of me walking his bike on what looks to be the steepest section. So I've got to get at least as far as that guy. (And when I passed him) Well, you've gone this far, don't stop now!

Somehow I made it up and had a two mile descent (though I don't remember it) and then was back on to a 20 mile ride up a small incline that would follow with a 19 mile descent. Like the other riders before me, I knew the wind would be the focus of my riding. Sure it was hot, but while I noticed the heat and would occasionally pour some water on my head to be sure I wasn't overheating, it really wasn't much of my concern. (Maybe that growing up in the desert of Arizona was finally paying some dividends!) 

Andrew and Bob had done much of their riding south into the wind, and as my ride was north and a little to the west I had hope to have it at my back. Unfortunately, like Mike what I felt was more like I had the wind swirling around me. This of course would make sense while I was riding through the canyons, but it still seemed to follow suit even in the open areas of the ride. I would be going 18-19 miles per hour and the wind would change direction and in an instant be fighting for 12 mph.

(Grabbing some water on the gradual climb up to Hanksville.)
(Bob offering support. Both of us in our element...He, running...Me, um, well not running. Extra points for his wardrobe selection.)
The descent into Hanksville was great, especially at the beginning where the decline is the greatest. I was up over 46 mph and grinning ear-to-ear the whole time. It is funny how going fast makes you smile. Once you get to a point where you can't spin any faster and all you can do is tuck and enjoy the ride on a straight section of road, what a blast! This is what I came for! Before long I was into Hanksville and Andrew was headed west to Torrey.

(Towards the end of Leg 4...what a striking shot, breathtaking almost, of such an attractive rider. Maybe I'll send the pic in to Lazer, Oakley, and LG and let them decide on who wants to pay the most to have this be on their ads (and probably sign me to some ludicrous modeling contract). Let the bidding begin!)
Leg 5

It was just after 7:00 pm and the sun was still up but the temperature was at least starting to drop. Andrew's 2nd leg would be 45 miles with a pretty consistent climb the that really kicked into gear the last 10 miles. Based on the metrics this leg should be easier than the first (shorter and less climbing), however, this did not consider the fact that the rider already had to ride Leg 1 and on this day they would be going into a ferocious headwind.

By the time Andrew was back on the bike he was feeling much better than when he previously gotten off. The time to relax and eat anything he could find in the van had renewed his spirits. He was working his way up the mountain as the sun was working its way behind it.

(Even in the shade at after 7:00 pm it was still hot outside.)
With the sun going down Andrew pulled over and put on his vest as we switched out his bottles. It would be getting dark on his ride, and the temps would drop fairly quick.

(Really enjoying the wind at this point.)
Sometime along the ride Andrew met up with another rider, and they were able to take turns pulling to help stay out of the wind. However, at some point the race started to catch up to our best rider.

(Fighting the wind.)
With about 11 miles to go Andrew pulled over what I thought would be our second to last (maybe last) stop before heading on to the transition point and getting Bob ready. It was dark and we weren't getting to far ahead of our rider as the night came on. After a few minutes and rode up.

"How's it going? What do you need?" I asked.

"Nothing. I'm done."


"Yeah man, I'm done. I need to stop now if I hope to have anything left in the tank for the third ride."

We talked for a couple minutes. I assured him that we were fine waiting if he needed to take a break, relax, eat something, whatever. But Andrew knew himself, and knew where his limit was. And he was there. I thought it was great that not only was he able to come to that conclusion on his own, but that he was sure enough about it that at that point he even point out that this wasn't something that he would later second guess himself on. He knew he needed to stop.

As a team we could care less. We knew we were out here to have fun, and we were. Standing there as a team back behind the van looked at each other, and considered out next move. Then, BAM, Bob had an idea...TO BE CONTINUED...
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