The Rockwell Relay is one of the premier cycling relays in the U.S. While not technically a USA Cycling sanctioned race, my team decided to treat it like one, so yes, this is a race report. I know it has been a while since I posted, but I thought the relay was a good one to post about.
The race starts in Moab Utah and meanders throughout the southern third of the state and finishes up in St. George Utah. There are some really stellar things to see along the way because a big portion of the ride goes through what we locals call the Canyonlands. The total distance of the race is 516 miles divided up between four teammates. There are set legs that each person is required to do to remain in what they call the “Competitive Division”. But if one of your people is unable to complete any required portion, someone on your team can substitute and your team can finish, but you are relegated to the “Fun Ride Division”.
Doing the race was the idea of my buddy Dan Hendriksen. I have run RAGNAR twice, and I wasn’t really interested in being a part of a relay that is similar to RAGNAR. My issue with RAGNAR is inevitably, at least two people in my van always show up untrained. Not undertrained, but untrained. When I work so hard to prepare and peak for the race, a slacker will always end up walking a large portion of their legs and suffer through them. I don’t have an issue with people running slow as long as they perform up to their abilities. But, Dan solved that issue.
Dan recruited Brandon Storrs and Brent Williams, two friends of ours who both climb like goats. Leg 1 and 2 both have a ton of climbing, so the decision was made to have Brandon and Brent take those two legs. Leg 3 fit my strengths and Leg 4 fit Dan’s strengths. Looking at the times from 2012, we decided we wanted to set the goal of Top 10 and a sub 30 hour finish. Both seemed possible with the strengths and the fitness levels of all four of us. We had that part solved. What we didn’t count on is the number of racers grew this year — it went from 60 registered teams in 2012 up to 100 registered teams in 2013. The competition was a little stiffer this year, but our team — Betsy was Right — is not accustomed to making excuses.
Our team name was a reference to Betsy Andreu, the wife of former Lance Armstrong teammate Frankie Andreu, who for years maintained that Lance Armstrong admitted to doping while in the hospital for cancer treatment. We thought the name was clever, but we spent most of the weekend explaining what it meant to other teams. All I can say is “clever” is lost when a ton of explaining is required. If we do this race again in 2014, I will pick a simpler name, like “Team Bike”. I think most people should understand that.
If you have ever done a relay, you know one of the most important components that you need to focus on is recovery. With three legs each and tons of climbing to complete, recovery would be one of the keys to maintaining a high level of performance. Everyone in our group has completed short and long distance races, but only one had completed Rockwell before and knew the physical and mental toll the race would take on us. The race started at 8:00 a.m. in Moab on Friday and our projected finish was 2:00 p.m. on Saturday in St. George. To help us sleep and recover, we decided to rent an RV. The thought was it would provide plenty of space to sleep and spread out over the 30 hours of the race. Dan found the best deal ever on a 40′ Class A rig. In our conversations after the race, the question of doing it again has come up several times and the response has always included: Not without an RV. It really made this race enjoyable. Of course we had a driver who did a great job making sure we could focus on the race and not driving from point A to point B.
We really planned this race out. We coordinated food, exchange zone strategies, food and water handups, equipment, and support strategies. In a couple of words, we were ready. Thursday we drove down to Moab in our RV and checked into the Canyonlands RV Park. I would suggest this location to anyone who has an RV and goes through the area. We went through registration, said hello to the Fat Cyclist who graciously hosted a BBQ, and said hello to Ben Towery, who runs the Tour of Park City and is one of the best race directors in the state. I am a huge fan. We meandered to a local pizza joint and went back to the RV park and worked on bikes, not because they needed it but more out of nervous energy.
The great thing about the RV is I put earplugs in a slept like a log. I got up early in the a.m. and showered and then we headed back to the start. It was great to see friends there — with 100 teams there were plenty of people there I knew. I joined a race team this year that is associated with a local bike shop. Infinite Cycles Racing is a great group of people I am glad to be associated with. There was a total of six teams that had a large number of Infinite Racing members included. I have to admit, we had a super secret goal of being one of the top Infinite Racing teams to finish the relay. There are some really fast guys and gals that ride for the team, so this was one of those goals we did not share nor did we count on achieving.
As time ticked and tocked by, the start of the race rapidly approached. Brent was riding Leg 1 for us, so he started to get into the zone. This race is typically won by a team that is made up of Cat 1 and 2 riders, so to say the first leg is fast is an understatement. The Fat Cyclist has a good write-up of Leg 1. Since he was on the front of the lead group, he knows how tough this leg was.
In the next installment, I will discuss the first four segments. I have to say, we were well pleased with our efforts and results. We were on our way to achieving our goals…all of them.