Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rockwell Relay, Part VII

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


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.


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.'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...
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