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...
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