Cliff Lipson/CBS
Meredith Hoffa
October 29, 2012 AT 05:56 AM EDT

The Amazing Race

TV Show
Reality TV
run date
Phil Keoghan
Jerry Bruckheimer
Current Status
In Season

I laughed. I cried. I sympathy-sweated and experienced dehydration by proxy. There was a lot to like about this leg of the race, and here are three of my favorite things about tonight’s particularly invigorating, heartwarming episode: 1) We got some rare quality time with The Rockers, 2) We got a real race in that the teams were actually staggered out according to their finish times from the previous leg instead of ending up all bunched up together because of a flight or a train or a location that was closed for the night, and 3) We had all sorts of vulnerability, tenderness and acts of true love going on to remind us just how very likable this group is. Tonight made me want to to cradle all of these sweet people in my arms and squish their perspiring faces (maybe not Rob’s  — although he was better than usual, and tonight we saw what is known in the monster truck business as The Softer Side of Rob).

And… we’re off and sweating!

Team Rockers had fire in the belly (in an relaxed way, of course) at the beginning of the leg despite some bad news they’d just gotten about James’ dad’s health. The rather dire prognosis from home actually made James vow to push even harder in the Race, and he and Abba breezed through the first two clue pickups and were on to the roadblock before the other teams had even gotten out of bed. Who knows if that bed part is true, don’t take me literally, you guys! But James and Abba made the most of their early start and seemed to be propelled by jetpacks throughout the entire leg.

The clue at the roadblock read “It ain’t heavy, it’s a roadblock,” and the challenge involved weighing out a specific amount of wood ‘Bangladeshi style,” i.e. using four heavy rocks as a counterbalance. But that was the least of this son of a bitch task. First, racers had to make the scale out of bamboo poles, rope and various other bits ‘n’ bobs that all looked completely troublesome to me.

This challenge made my head hurt; it seemed so labor intensive. This was one of those gigs that required everything: physical strength, keen observation and attention to detail, patience, knot-tying skills and the ability to acquire iguana skin to survive the heat.

James, citing his boy scout background (but he was no boy scout during the ’80’s if you know what I mean by that!), took on the task with a can-do ‘tude while Abba, who resembled a kindhearted lion more than ever, sent supportive yet extremely mellow vibes from the sidelines. They were finished and off to the next challenge before any of the other teams had even arrived, and, more importantly, before the sweltering heat and humidity set in. Lone Wolves in the house!

NEXT: Trash talk at the roadblock

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