Friday, July 22, 2011

Rockwell Relay Ladies' Ride Chapter Three

Leg 4

Ladies Pamperfest Challenge – Leg 4

Leg Notes
Travel through Henefer and over I-84, then south on Old Hwy 30 towards the abandoned town of Echo. After crossing under the freeway, you will climb up over another dam and get your first view of the third reservoir, Echo. Continue passing the reservoir on the right and through Coleville, the county seat of Summit County, then over several gentle rollers till you arrive at Hoytsville and Exchange 4.

Elevation Map – Leg 4

Leg 4 is a lonely 14.5 mile climb from Henefer (rhymes with La Canadienne) to Hoytsville by way of Echo Reservoir. Support cars are re-routed to I-80 so this is a solo run for La Canadienne. It's short and without any significant climbs; it's got Time Trial written all over it which is how she treats it. She tucks her head and pushes as hard as she can, knowing it will likely be less than one hour of saddle time.
Meanwhile, back with the support crew there's the matter of Red Rider's ride (and those pesky gears that aren't cooperating). They would be fine if there weren't any hills to climb but that's not going to be the case, we know that by now. What we need is a bike mechanic. Not necessarily USA Cycling federation certified but better than the neighborhood garage bike mechanic.


Things to look for in a (legit) bike mechanic: 1) Hair. Dred locks aren't a must but they help. Definitely hair with shock value though. 2) Tattoos, or if not tattoos at least road scars from repeated road rash incidents. 3) Facial Hair, the more attention grabbing and original the better (see also #1 hair).

Now I have nothing but good things to say about Rodzilla's cycle repair skillz. He's directed me correctly and saved me visits to my local bike shop on several occasions, but we've already observed and heard the evaluation of his cycle repair prowess from the recipient of his skills/knowledge. Look at the staff bike mechanic above (think of our three things to look for in a bike mechanic) and now look at Rodzilla:

Which one are you inviting to a backyard BBQ and which one are you trusting to fix your bike? The answer is obvious and when the stakes are high and competition is afoot, Red Rider makes the obvious choice:

Let's compare: Hair? check (we've already seen what's hiding [or not hiding] under Rodzilla's lid and while it's shocking in its way it's not the shock-do we are looking for. Facial hair? Check. That marginal chin stubble that Rodzilla is growing as a salute to Le tour? The almost goatee that makes him look more like a French mafia thug than a cycling enthusiast? Yeah. That doesn't count. Tattoos/scars? None visible actually but then some of the best tattoos aren't*, just ask La Canadienne.

*Little known fact. Freshmen year at BYU, in a moment of weakness brought on by homesickness and a need to rebel against BYU honour code oppression, La Canadienne and a roommate from Alberta drove to a tattoo parlor in Wendover, Nevada and got matching dime-sized Canadian maple leaf tattoos** on their left shoulder blades. Now you know.

Set of 10 Canada Red Maple Leaf Temporary Tattoos

**There is no tattoo, this is just a lie I used to tell our friends back when La Canadienne was the Relief Society President, just to see how man people would believe it. I wa surprised how many did. So now you know (again). Raise your hand if you were planning on asking to see the Maple Leaf the next time you saw her.

Hooray for mid-race bike mechanics who work free of charge (you know, other than the registration fee). Come to think of it there was no in-house mechanic on the Moab to St George Rockwell, and our registration was far pricier ... what's up with that?

Rodzilla takes the set-back in stride and focuses on his strengths. Actually there were massage therapists on hand (pampering and whatnot) that could have done this better too but I figured Rodzilla could use a win, so I kept mum about the physical/massage therapy.

In just 52 short (too short) minutes La Canadienne finishes her second leg averaging 17 mph.

The morning has turned to afternoon and the temperature is climbing.

Red Rider ditches her black jersey in favor of one that will absorb less heat and tries to prepare herself for what's coming (more hills, as if we didn't know).

Ladies Pamperfest Challenge – Leg 5

Leg Notes
Leaving Hoytsville the gentle rollers continue. Pass along many more farms and spreadout homes fed by the Weber River. After passing Wanship climb up over yet another dam and crest the forth reservoir, Rockport Lake. Pass the lake and enjoy the beautiful valley and rustic farms along this great stretch. Travel through Peoa and then up a short climb into Oakley for the finish of Leg 5.

Elevation Map – Leg 5

Apparently this leg featured a beautiful valley and rustic farms, but all I remember were the hills.

One after another

after another

after another. And one after another Red Rider knocks them down like so many bowling pins. No open frames in this game.

Then there was the heat, which frankly could have been worse on a mid-July weekend but was still plenty difficult to contend with for riders

and for support crews

After battling through her own afternoon climbing hills in a clay oven (see Rodzilla's first Rockwell Relay leg, Lake Powell to Hanksville) Red Rider arrives in Oakley, baton in hand and ready to be off the bike (and perhaps never to get back on)? She's 3/4ths of the way done but probably feels 9/10ths of the way beaten. I know that's how I feel and I've only been watching.

Ladies Pamperfest Challenge – Leg 6

Leg Notes
Leg 6 is an out and back that continues to follow the Weber River and puts you into the west mountains of the Unitas. This leg could easily be argued as the most scenic as it winds up the canyon and into the pines. At the end of the paved road grab your token from the volunteer (solid proof you made it to the top!) and head back down the same way. Hook back up with your girlfriends at Exchange 6, which is the very same location as Exchange 5.

Elevation Map – Leg 6

Another textbook exchange. Most were (most) and La Canadienne is off on another unsupported leg, this one 12 miles up the hill then another twelve miles back.

At the exchange point we catch up with Team What the Hill? The Swedish Liz portion of it at least. She's now put in 60+ miles of saddle time, at least 20 more than she ever has before in one day. That distance and the heat that's beating down on everyone has pushed her to the edge and maybe over. She's still talking, but just barely:

Swedish Liz: "I want to cry ... a little."

La Canadienne "This is nothing lik..."

Swedish Liz "n-n-n-no, no no ... did you? This is up uh-uh-uh-uh uppppppp. Up! This is down then uh-uh-uh-uppp, up!"

Rodzilla: "But this hill is only ..."

Swedish Liz: "No! total ascen ... Total, total, tootal, toooooooooootal, total ... ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ahhhhh, What the Hill?!"

I wanted to laugh but I knew only too well how/what she was feeling at the time. You can laugh but only when you've had some separation from that time and those emotions. But it you want funny you can laugh at now (or anytime) I give you Rodzilla, if he had pursued a career as a clown acrobat instead of chasing his dream to be an over sized HR rep.

We (team Over the Hill and support crew) entered this race with very specific goals in mind. La Canadienne wanted to finish her 85 miles in under 5 hours, Red Rider wanted to conquer her fear of hills and Rodzilla & I (aka the crew) had our own less physically taxing but no less important goals. That is, we wanted to find a place to get a hand scooped grasshopper shake and some small town English chips. With the lady cyclists in various states of repose and distress we took advantage of our small window of opportunity:

Rodzilla exchanges war stories with the local gentry. Weekend of July 9th it turns out, is hopping in the hamlet of Oakley. There's a car show on Main Street (one of the reasons we were re-routed off La Canadienne's second leg) a half-iron man triathlon at Echo Reservoir and a dirty dash-type race at Soldier Hollow. Survivors of that last event are telling tales of competition to Rodzilla. Add all that to 270 female cyclists & crew passing through and you have one busy weekend at the local burger joint.

Success! In the form of the Oakley polar King

We run across the Rockwell Relay guys (no the Rockwell Relay guys, the owners of the company and organizers of the race). They're regular people, they eat burgers and grasshopper shakes just like us! Moab to St George was the best race experience I've had by far. So far the Ladies' version has not disappointed either. I'm hoping they will sponsor many more such events in the future. We (La Canadienne, Red Rider, Rodzilla and I) are already making plans for Rockwell 2012.

Back at the City park in Oakley Swedish Liz tries to regain the power of speech (with marginal success).

and Red Rider loses her battle with gravity as well as her will to survive. Rodzilla attempts to force feed her nutrition. He would have better luck trying to have a coherent conversation with the babbling Swede with the Swiss Miss hair-do.

The only pair of fresh cycling legs left belong to the iron woman Melissa (she of the podium). The other Swede (Matt) has finally caught up with his crew and he's come with gifts of all stripes that he purchased at the Back Country garage sale. Exhibit A is the $250 Tri-helmet that he purchased for pennies on the dollar and gifted to Melissa (she of the podium) As if she needed to be any faster.

Team What the Hill is currently sitting in third place but only by the narrowest of margins. I do the math in my head: Melissa (she of the podium) + Aeor tri-helmet+ 24 mile leg minus any protracted hill climb = the top two teams better watch their backs.

Far sooner than anybody might have expected*, La Canadienne comes charging back into the city Park exchange station. She has covered the up and back 24 mile leg in an hour and twenty minutes at an average speed of 18.1 mph. She's gotten stronger and faster as the day has gone on. The only question remaining is how much has she left in the tank for Leg #8.

*This was the only poorly executed baton exchange of the day to the tune of about a four minute loss (which is good considering we had something like seven exchange fails on the guys' Rockwell costing us a total of about 25 minutes) partially her own fault but can you really blame her for riding too fast?

lick to name

Red Rider can't stand under her own power, Swedish Liz can't speak in sentences of more than two words and La Canadienne can't smile. There's no more talk of 'Pamperfests'. This race is no joke and it's taking its toll on the riders.

Everyone of course except Melissa (there's a podium presentation in the near future, she can smell it and she wants it) whose Triathlon muscle memory keeps telling her that it's time for a run. It's takes everything she has to get in the car and drive to her last exchange instead of run there.

Next up: The final legs. Oakley to the finish line in Provo by way of Midway (and the post race revelry)!


  1. Can't wait to hear the end!

  2. Oh the memories. That was fun to read. Thanks again.
    -Swedish Liz