Friday, July 29, 2011

Rockwell Relay Ladies' Ride: The Final Chapter

Leg Notes
From Oakley head straight south passing Kamas and taking a right at Francis. Right out of Francis you will drop a steep hill into another river basin, the Provo River. The Provo River flows into Jordanelle Reservoir as you climb up above it; Jordanelle is the fifth reservoir of the route. After a bit of climbing you will claim the summit and a long decent awaits as you enter into the north end of Heber. Cross Hwy 40 and the Provo River again to follow River Road into Midway. The majestic mountains just in front of you are the back side of Timpanogos. Enter the roundabout in Midway and head due south to Main St. in Midaway. Turn right at Main, and the last exchange is just ahead in the heart of the beautiful Swiss architecture of Midway.

Elevation Map – Leg 7

Before moving on to leg 7 (Red Rider's final leg) a word about bottle exchanges/hydration. So many of our plans and preparations for the Rockwell Relay Ladies' Ride were based on things we learned on Rockwell Relay, Moab to St George. Efficient, effective re-hydration of your rider was just one example. What follows here could be a training video for all future Relay rides

Successful water bottle exchanges are similar to Real Estate, that is, location is key. As you can see above, Rodzilla has scouted a quiet section of straight road on an uphill grade. He's even commandeered a traffic sign to improve his visibility. His rider is moving slowly with very little vehicle traffic. He shouts the alert, offers the bottle in a grip that's loose but sure, runs along side to ease the impact of grabbing a stationary target from a moving bike and ... perfection. Go ahead, watch it again.
Now. What not to do:

We pull over on a busy road (La Canadienne's entire final leg was congested with weekend traffic, some things you can't control) around a corner on a downhill. Three strikes already and we can't even see the pitch yet.

Not all bad though, we have good technique re: grip and stance. Bottle is out away from the body, full arm extension.
That pastel and black blur in the background? That's La Canadienne and she's coming in hot while I'm planted in the pavement like a stop sign.

Hand off at 25 mph. Let me fill in the thought bubble: "Oooooooowwwww!" That's ice water in that particular bottle, if she holds it long enough it should minimize the swelling. This particular exchange did leave her with a good sized bruise in the web space of her right hand. Good thing she's a southpaw.

Of course by the end of a long hot day in the saddle, exchanges of both water and words can become ... rough, despite the best efforts of rider and crew.

Back to Red Rider. She charges out of Oakley and toward Kamas.

Last we saw her she was lying in the shade and contemplating staying there indefinitely,so any cycling activity is encouraging but she's pedaling with resolve. Time to finish this thing.

Rodzilla, at once proud and relieved. About 18 more miles and this baby will be delivered, for he and Red Rider anyway.

Just outside of Kamas there's a freefall descent (10% negative grade according to the sign with the truck) into a valley that's been carved by the Provo River. We join Red Rider as the crest and take the rollercoaster drop with her: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeh! (if you put your arms up it'll tickle your belly) Red Rider keeps her arms and legs inside the ride at all times and manages to hit 45 mph on the downhill.

That's it for the fun stuff, she's back to climbing (again). This is the "What the Hill?!", hill that had Swedish Liz tongue tied.

Rodzilla does what he can to help out. Here we see him watering the flowers. He'll pitch in whenever and where ever he can.

Unlike the Goldilocks ride, he is received warmly and gratefully by everyone he meets. The Rodzilla charm shines through even the cheesy chin stubble he's been growing all week.
The Rodzilla Fanclub Rockwell Relay chapter.

More heat and more hills for Red Rider. She's 75 miles and 3500 feet into the day's work and it's starting to show. One more hill ... no really, probably, only one more ...
Rodzilla: "I got a lot going on right now." La Canadienne: " " (no comment)

The pressure is growing, leaving the support crew speechless. Just gotta get past these last 10 miles and we're gold.
La Canadienne is not excited to get back in the saddle but she needs this to end and soon. The shadows are getting longer but that means we're getting into that late afternoon, early evening, the hottest part of the day and she will be riding west, right into the heart of it.

Hallelujah, this is, honest to goodness, the top of the last hill separating Red Rider from her victory beverage. I've lost track of how many she's climbed today but I feel like cheering as I see her make her final descent and approach to Midway.

Done and done. Red Rider actually screams "I'm done!" as she turns the last corner and polishes off the final 2 blocks. I miss the war whoop but manage to tape the exchange and the aftermath.

Thought bubbles:
Red Rider: "I'm done! Victory is mine! Raise a glass everybody!"
Rodzilla: "Uh, whose chairs are we sitting in? Cause they're not ours."
Red Rider: "Who cares? I'm Done!"

Leg Notes
Head south on Center St. in Midway and quickly come to Deer Creek Reservoir on the right. This is the sixth and final reservoir along the route. At this point you might really want to jump in the lake, but keep peddling past until you get to Hwy 189 (Provo Canyon Road). Go right and continue to pass Deer Creek. Descend off the dam and enjoy a nice gentle decline all the way down the canyon. The road is new and smooth and has plenty of shoulder. Don’t miss Bridal Veil Falls on the left before the canyon exit. As you come out of the canyon, very carefully veer left as the road forks. This can be a dangerous intersection, so use caution; this section will be well marked. Follow University Ave. south and in just over a mile you will come to The Shops at Riverwoods. Hang right after the shopping area and another right into the parking lot, then straight towards the Finish Line at the center gazebo. Congratulations, girls! You have just completed the Rockwell Relay!

Elevation Map – Leg 8

La Canadienne's final leg looks like it's all downhill, Midway to Provo by way of the canyon, but it's actually a series of rolling hills. What on Le Tour they call 'French flat'. You get just enough momentum going down hill to get you halfway up the next one and then you're pumping hard to the crest and you start again. It makes finding a rhythm just about impossible and forces you to expend extra energy to maintain your average MPH. La Canadienne has increased that average with each leg 16.1, 17.2 and 18.1. Her hope was to average 19 on this last leg and finish in about an hour and 15 minutes.

We've been doing this for more than ten hours and we still haven't learned not to try to talk to La Canadienne while she's working.

La Canadienne tracks the competition and like a steely eyed assassin, once they're in her cross hairs she remorselessly takes them down, one after another.

Reminiscent of Swedish Matt's Cedar Breaks to Cedar City by way of Cedar Canyon leg, Provo canyon features weekend traffic and plenty of it. Nothing like sharing the road with 18 wheelers and trucks towing ski boats.

Two down, two to go. Team Over the Hill picks up 4 places (and nearly 5, if not for a missed traffic light in the final mile) on the final leg of the race.

175 miles in the books. All that's left is ten miles of Provo Canyon and it's done.

Rodzilla breaks down the highlights of leg 8

I test the definition of 'accidental death and dismemberment' as outlined in my life insurance policy and La Canadienne is forced to decide between risking flats riding in the rocks and debris on the outer shoulder, on the rumble strips (Paris-Roubaix cobblestone style) or shoulder to shoulder with traffic traveling at highway speeds. She chooses the latter option and our children come as close to orphanry (nope, not a word ... yet) as they ever have since our eldest was born.. The video, as luck would have it, was mediocre ...

But Rodzilla's still camerawork was impeccable and worthy of praise.

I sprint across highway 189, looking very much like an undocumented worker crossing I-5 near San Ysidro California.

Rodzilla/Red Rider floating on the post race high. Nothing like being done (and done first). As team Sons of Perdition's anchor leg rider, Rodzilla never got to experience it personally but seems to be enjoying the moment vicariously

10 hrs and 30 minutes after they started (and sooner than I could roll video) Team Over the Hill crosses the finish line.

La Canadienne finishes the final leg in an hour and 13 minutes at an average speed of 19.1 miles an hour. Each leg she's ridden has been stronger than the previous one, partly due to marginally more favorable terrain but also the allure of the finish line. After 80 miles and more than 4 hours in the saddle, you just want to be done, the sooner the better.

Red Rider and La Canadienne share a moment. I think my allergies must be acting up again. I'm feeling a little misty ...

Team Over the Hill basks in the glory of an Herculean effort. 10 1/2 hours beats their predicted finish time by a full hour. They swear to each other that now that it's done they will never do it again.

The Hill teams celebrate together

Photo included at La Canadienne's behest. I think she likes the fact that her biceps are bigger than mine (and it's not close),

We sit in the shade and watch team after team (some 2 lady but mostly teams of 4) of younger and apparently more fit/athletic lady cyclists finish after team Over the Hill.

At some point, sitting in the shade, and taking in the level of their accomplishment, Team Over the Hill begins making plans to ride the Relay again ... and finish even faster. They don't speak it out loud to each other until they've had chance to eat a meal, shower and sleep on it but the seed is planted here.

It's all over but the shouting. The only question that hasn't been answered is whether or not Team What the Hill made it to the podium or not:

Here's the answer to that question:

Third place: Team What the Hill! 1st and second place winners get a Rockwell watch, third place gets a hydration system. To me that sounds like they just won Rodzilla's support crew services for life (actually that's a pretty great prize, how can I win that) but actually they've won a backpack that you can fill with water. Swedish Liz is unimpressed, Swedish Matt? Already planning on using the prize on his next mtn bike ride. Regardless, a podium finish in her first ever bike race is nothing Swedish Liz should dismiss lightly. For Melissa (she of the podium) this is just how races end. It's like punctuation at the end of a sentence for her. Inevitable in a way. Sure it's always exciting, the way Christmas morning is always exciting but it's hardly unexpected. Melissa (she of the podium) was going to be here, even before she donned the aero-time trial helmet and started her charge from Midway to Provo by way of Provo Canyon.

Both teams did phenominally well. Over the Hill finished 20th overall (of 69 teams) and 9th out of two Lady teams:
I don't want to even begin to tell you how much better they did than Team Sons of Perdition. That would be like comparing apples to bowling balls.

We adjourn to the local burger joint for a well earned, calorie-laden deep fat fried meal.

C'est fin!
(until the Desperado century ride in August ... and Rockwell Relay 2.0 in 2012)

1 comment:

  1. That was fun to read. You guys are awesome!
    Swedish Liz