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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rockwell Relay Race Report 2013

This was our first official Bike Relay Race. . .  and we had a blast!

The Rockwell Relay begins in Moab, UT and winds through the country back roads to St. George, UT totaling 527 miles divided between 4 friends who LOVE to ride their bikes. . .

or at least are willing to pretend to love riding their bike. . .

through the desert of Southern Utah

The impetuous for signing up for this race was that it was a requirement for the  

. . . because I was having an overly optimistic and euphoric moment from last year, 
and while in my confident optimism, I decided 

“no problem" . . . I can pull this off attitude

After getting Superman excited about it, we called Doug & Linda and asked them if they would be interested in joining us for this awesome and epic ride. . . 

They said yes. . . AND they were excited about it too.

Then Life didn’t happen the way it was intended. . . 
and I wasn't as prepared as I should have been. . . but that is it's own story and you can read all about that here.

One careful consideration for a relay is how to get all four of us around with all of our gear and supplies. . . There is a ton of gear when planning to ride ones bike across 500 miles of desert on three different legs. . . we always take the basic mechanic tools in the unfortunate event that there may be a needed repair, then there's our bikes, gear, food/nutrition for both off the bike and while riding our bikes, multiple changes of clothes. . . think about 4-6 changes of clothing for each person. . . it all adds up pretty fast!

To accomplish this, we choose to pull a trailer to transport all our gear in. . .

and it worked like a charm!

So now, allow me introduce you to our couples relay team: 

   Superman & Myself

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 and our good friends Doug & Linda

I have done the RAGNAR – Wasatch Back a couple of years ago so I had an idea of what to expect in a relay.  Linda and Doug have also done the RAGNAR. . . Superman was the only rookie. . .

he has NEVER done any event, and I am happy to tell you he did awesome!

This is the map of the Rockwell Relay showing each leg we rode.
Each colored trail of the map represents a different rider

  • As rider #1 all the yellow sections are Doug’s
  • I was rider #2 so all the green sections are mine
  • Superman was rider #3 so he had all the red sections
  • The blue sections were Linda’s as rider #4

To determine which legs we were in we looked at what strengths we had to offer. . . 


In addition to being the strongest rider of our team, Doug is also an EXCELLENT Climber Which is how he became rider #1 

We went through a similar exercise for each of us as we considered total elevation we would be climbing with the amount of downhill, flats and total distance all factored in for each rider taking into consideration what strengths we had to offer, which is how we determined the legs each of us would have. 

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The challenge is, that once you decide which rider you are. . . that is the way it is. . . no changing during the course of the ride.  

I tend to be a better climber than Linda, In fact I would prefer climbing a hill to chasing down a hill at full throttle, which is how I ended up as rider #2 which isn't the best place, ideally rider 2 should be a fearless descender

. . . that's not me
but Linda IS NOT a climber, so I ended up here.

Superman, being the newest and largest rider took position #3 even though it had the longest legs, he is super strong on the flats and doesn't mind fighting the relentless and changing winds.  Despite his size he is strong and does okay at climbing.  In short, he has power, lots of it and can go strong for long periods of time.


Linda is AMAZING flying down hills and solid on the flats, and loves that part. . .   So she was very happy as rider #4 position, total ascent wasn’t too much different between us, I had more long climbs and she had more downhill on her sections . . . and I was quite content to let her have that spot. 

. . . Overall a pretty happy group of cyclists 

We found it interesting that by the time we were done, we would pick the same legs again. . . we were well suited for the legs that we had and no one has any desire to change things around.

  our arrival to Moab, UT on Thursday evening. . . 

was my first ever view of this little desert town 


to the registration tents and packet pick-up

Here participants and supporters/spectators may purchase merchandise specific to the event. . .

typically you will find things like

previous years merchandise

and exclusive to Rockwell Relay series they have watches too.  Kind of pricey watches but they are cool nonetheless.

. . . oh, and they have the famous cow bells!

Cow bells are awesome because these little guys as they are ringing when your support crew drives by . . . cheering you on as they drive past is both encouraging and motivating as you know someone is rooting for you and loves you . . . it is kind of fun for everyone. . .  and we use these for any event now! 

you can ring them for peeps you don’t know too and it has the same effect. . . just not the familiar loving faces waving at you out the window as the car goes by.. . . on occasion as I have seen a fellow cyclist going up a hill, I have taken our little bell out and rang it for them. . . I have yet to see someone not smile and/or find renewed determination . . . hunkering down a little harder, knowing they are being observed who doesn't appreciate being cheered for? . . .

Cow bells are kind of fun! 

 Once we have checked in and picked up our packet and any merchandise we want

We then paid a visit to the other vendor tents and found dinner sponsored by “Fatty” 

. . . bratwursts and chips. . . quite tasty and who ever complained about free?

. . . Free is always a bonus at least it is in my book

dinner doesn’t get better than that! 

And I finally got to meet “Fatty” in real life!

I didn’t quite know how to act in the presence of a celebrity. . . so I did what I typically do. . . 

just sort of looked stupid and said to Superman. . . 

“That’s the fat cyclist! . . .  super cool eh”?  

OH, I am such a dud! 

. . . okay, moving on
I’ve had enough reminiscing my social awkwardness

. . . which is actually pretty standard for me. . . 
 I know, I'm sort of pathetic

  we went and found a rock and ate dinner and kind of mentally prepared for the next day.


 then we took a few minutes to simply enjoy ourselves

  and have a couple of “memorabilia pictures” taken

now comes the fun part. . .

First things first. . .

See what goodies are in our packets along with what our our race numbers are that are to be attached to each rider and each bike received it’s own number too. . . I’m not sure how the “Bumblebee” (Superman’s bike) missed the photo shoot, but it did Sad smile

 . . . but he had a number too Smile 



Next, we went to the hotel and went through our packets to see what kind of fun goodies were there for us. . .

then for fun we put our Rockwell Flag in the window, but we were afraid it would blow away like mine did for Pamperfest last year so it only lasted for a short while.


We attached all the appropriate Identification stuff to to the jeep and trailer
to say we were official participants of the event  

our team name
I think we are going to come up with a new name for next year. . .
While this summed up reality and how we felt after the first day,
we need something shorter and easier to say 


  the trailer had it’s own sticker too!

Chillin out just prior to the beginning of the ride on Friday Morning. 

The ride begins with all riders beginning together . . . As in everyone will begin together for the first couple of miles, then the first rider (as in Leg #1) would continue on and the race has begun, while the other team members go to their cars and get loaded and ready to support and cheer on their teammates.


  The start Line! 


  The energy this first day was awesome and made it a ton of fun.  By the end of Leg #3 you can tell the energy was waning just a tad, and for the same reasons,  the majority of the pictures were also taken that first day as well. 

One interesting thing about our little team is that Doug and I agree on what cold is!  We were both bundled up at the beginning of this. . . 

But, Superman and Linda were wearing normal 80°f attire. . . note the actual temperature was ONLY 72°. . . Doug and I both agreed that the temperatures were on the cool side and agreed that leggins and arm-warmers were okay! 

Doug was in the minority which made it easy to identify when he was approaching us. . .
 they sort of stand out in a crowd when they are the only one bundled up

As a Relay, we rode. . . 


all day, and all through the night. . .
                                 . . . with no sleep

                                                . . . we tried 

. . . but some people don’t fit horizontally in a jeep very well
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                          There was always great

                                 . . . anticipation 

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                                                                                              . . . with no sleep

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                                                                                                                . . . Driving
and because someone was . . .

either riding their bike or cheering and encouraging someone who was . . .

ultimately in the end there was no such thing as “sleep”

      and we met a couple of cute critters along the way too.
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we rode our bikes across the desert, 

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up and over the mountains, 

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to the top of several summits 


up and over the devils backbone . . . this is true desert 


We mastered the art of switching water bottles and other items without getting off the bike! 


this is one approach of transporting energy/nutrition on the bike

by adding a little bit of moisture (ie: licking) the bottom of these gummy-type instant energy squares they stick to the bike frame and they are pretty good about staying put

. . . just remember to wash your bike afterwards.


the wind, 

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                                    headwinds. . . 

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up over mountains and hills 


and down hills  


in pace-lines


we hoped and wished for clouds. . . and even a sprinkle of rain would have been welcome
it was at this point, while Superman was riding. . .

Linda was sort of dreading her turn. . . 

this is when we came to the unanimous conclusion and determination that if Superman wanted to attempt earning his “Triple Crank Award” next year. . .

he was on his own.

This was not being fun. . . AT ALL!


the wind and heat was BRUTAL and for a minute we thought Superman was going to die!  He was sort of feeling like he had been caught in a pit of Kryptonite.

The heat was oppressive!  it was 104 with a stiff HOT/DRY headwind blowing . . . 

To get an idea of what it was like,
try this little exercise this if you will . . .
Place yourself on your exercise bike in a kitchen where
the ambient temperature is approximately 95°

No cooling fans allowed. . . 

. . . but we are not done yet

now, turn on your convection oven to let’s say 405° with your exercise bike in front of said oven with the door open and . . .  

                                                                               pedal, for at least an hour

Then you too will know what it was like riding in
 this part of the country on a nice day in June 

NO this is not an exaggeration

This was the hottest, driest, most miserable part of the ride.  Superman was going over Dirty Devil Bridge (The North East backwaters of Lake Powell)  out in the middle of NOWHERE . 

he was only 2 miles from the exchange. . .  when we went ahead and dropped Linda off at the exchange and then we went back to rescue Superman, we gave him water and a fizz tab (the miracle drink solution) and somehow he mustered enough energy to get to the top of this insanely hot section of country. 


When he arrived he sort of just sat down and took a few minutes to recover from his leg #1


we rode past sunset


then all through the night, 

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into the next morning, 


waiting with great anticipation at each exchange point


for our turn to ride 

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all day long . . . 

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living out of a Jeep and trailer for two days  we were either

riding a bike,



or driving for literally 38 hours. . .


We started out as a Highly organized group. . . then by the middle of our adventure the back of the jeep looked like this! 

If you have ever traveled for some distance, you will understand it's the law of travel that each trip begins perfectly packed and organized. . . when I pack for a trip I sit back and sort of admire how beautiful every thing looks and sort of just want to pet it for a minute. . .  then with each 20 miles the carefully, neatly and strategically packed vehicle becomes more and more strewn and disarrayed. . . 

and as the hours wore on everything got stirred up a little more with each passing leg. . .

 and by our third leg we didn’t care what bottle or food we shared. . . 


Just like any traveling trip. . . it seems somewhere along the way, someone will take a few minutes to re-organize and arrange things a bit. . . so it can get all mixed up again

Which is what happened here. . . 

for next year I am working on a plan to better contain/hold all our water bottles. . .


  We rode past the location of where we spent our Honeymoon just a couple of
months prior to the Rockwell Relay. . . 

. . . this brought back fond memories


. . . it may be interesting to you as you read this by the time we began the third leg of our ride, we retracted earlier declarations of 

“We are NEVER doing this again” . . . 


We continued on . . . until we crossed the finish line in St. George the following evening. . . which because it was dark. . . we didn’t get a picture of that. . .

oh yeah, we were the last ones in and gleefully, and proudly came in dead last!
We were 13th out of 13 of the couples teams 


We are already planning on next year. . .

what we can do differently,
how we can improve our times to be more competitive, 
and how we were all going to train to be more prepared!

we had an amazingly fun time on the Rockwell Relay and are still discussing and working on our game plan and strategies as we are anticipating and looking forward to 2014 


Sorting out all of our gear back at home


  including plethora the water bottles! 


Jumping for joy at the thought of having a grand time again in 2014!

. . . actually, Superman was trying to fly

as you can see. . .
he sort of succeeded

As always. . . Thanks for sharing in our adventure with us and stopping in to say hello . . .

                          I hope you have a great week!

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