Saturday, August 8, 2009

3rd Stage: Back to Italy: Jausiers to Barge

103 km (64 miles) with 2659 meters (8775 feet) of climbing

Day 3 started with breakfast in the RV. Ulrika was nice enough to get up at the crack of dawn to make us scrambled eggs. Normally it would have been a delicious breakfast with espresso, bread and cheese, but my stomach was not cooperating this early and I had to force down the food. We started with a long transfer section and within kilometers, Eric ripped his rear tire on a sharp rock. I was riding together with Katia and some of her friends, but wanting to avoid starting the special stage together with her, I took a bathroom break and slowed way down. For me, it is much easier and less stressful to do the time trial alone and at my own pace without having to worry about someone else. I was also still struggling with my stomach so I wanted to take my time and be ready for the first special stage. At the checkpoint I was able to get something from the race doctor to settle down my stomach. I took my time and waited for Katia to go ahead of me. Eric showed up after a while, he had been able to rip a poster of a wall to patch the large tear of his tubeless tire.

The first special stage was a tough one. The trail is rough and rocky and, you are on and off the bike a lot, both on the ascent and descent.

Granny gear climb

Rough downhill section

Lots of rocks

I never did catch Katia during this stage. Eric was able to catch up with me during the extensive hiking section but he waited for me at the checkpoint and we did the long paved descent to the second special stage together.

A little bike pushing...

The second special stage started in a small town. Katia and several of the top racers from the men's division were sitting down, eating and relaxing. I pulled in, but immediately swiped my chip and took off for the time trial. I knew this was another climb that would suit me. Middle chain ring, 12 kilometers, first on pavement, then a gravel road. I felt really strong and was able to hang with 3 of the fast men for quite some time, so I figured I must have put some time on Katia. After a long descent we finished at a checkpoint were the helicopter was parked on a tiny patch of land. The only refreshments that were available was fizzy water, wine, and some sliced salami on a rock. I decided to take off right away since the finish was only 15 km away and it was mostly downhill. I ended up riding in with 3 of the guys.

While I showered, got a massage, and hung out with my family by the RV, Eric had to work on getting a new tire from the mechanics. It is really hard to get done with a long day of racing and then spend hours cleaning bikes, doing mechanic work, and getting ready for the next day in the heat. Luckily we had Jan (my dad) - the master bike washer and tent erector with us!!

We had dinner with Hamish and Paul, 2 nice guys from England. After dinner there was an awards ceremony. I wasn't sure that I was still in the lead, but I heard my name called, got to shake hands with the town mayor, and received a giant basked of wine and food. We were warned that there would be some fire works going off at 10:30 that night. As we were getting ready to go to bed, there was a sound as loud as a bomb exploding. This was the start of the elaborate fire works which went on for about 30 minutes. My parents couldn't believe their eyes and ears, and the fact that this tiny town was able to put on such a show.

No comments: