Picture of our Road Book: Stage 2 from San Damiano to Jausiers, France
4 o'clock came very early. Breakfast was served in the camp 10 minutes after the wake-up call. We had the usual Penne pasta with olive oil as well as white bread with either jam or nutella. Yum yum! I forced a couple of pieces of bread down with some coffee, but threw the pasta in the garbage. Fabrizio, the race announcer was standing at the 2 buses, calling out the names of each racer and we had to wait for our turn to board the bus. It seemed like a very slow process. The bus trip was about 30 minutes on a windy narrow road. When we reached the start line it was another long wait for each rider to get their bike. Finally, at 7:45 I was the very last person to take off. We took off in groups of 10, with the person with the most penalty points starting first. We started off with a special stage on a steep pavement climb that turned in to dirt. We had a lot of technical riding and lots of pushing. On the final technical downhill Eric passed me. He waited for me at the checkpoint that marked the end of the special stage. The first stage was a long one; I finished in 4 hrs and 3 minutes.
After the first Special Stage Eric and I ended up riding together for most of the "transfer". We had a pavement climb that lasted for about an hour before we descended to a ski resort where my parents and sisters were standing cheering us on. My family had taken the first day "off" from the race to drive to the coast since my dad wanted to see and swim in the Mediterranean sea, but now they were back to follow the race. My parents had yet to receive their armbands from the race organizers, showing that they were part of the race and would be allowed to offer support at the checkpoints. I think it was driving my dad crazy that he couldn't hand us water or food during the race.
After grabbing a couple of bananas and some chocolate at the checkpoint, as well as a army jacket-liner provided by the race, Eric and I got on the Gondola where we had a chance to eat, drink, and catch our breaths. After getting off the gondola, we rode down the mountain to a ski lift. The lift ride was slow, long and windy and we had to hold the bikes in front of us. I was glad to have the jacket even though it didn't button in the front.
The second special stage was "my kind of climb". After a long descent of running and riding down a scree field with the helicopter circling above us, we had a middle chain ring climb of about 10 km with 1000 meters of vertical climbing . I felt really good and was able to power up this climb and pass a bunch of guys. At the top of the climb there is a long pitch black tunnel, and there was a volunteer at the entrance checking to make sure we had the mandatory light with us. The light didn't really do much, so you have to just trust that the water filled potholes are not going to be too deep. The stage was finished off by a dirt descent; I was happy with my ride!
We had a short transfer in to Jausiers, France which ends with a steep climb up to some monument. My time for the day was 9:14. Eric finished shortly after me and we rode down to the camp together. While I showered and got a massage, Eric and my dad set up the tent and cleaned the bikes.... I was living the easy life!! We had another pasta dinner at night and waited for the results to be posted. Finally, around 10 pm, they were up on the wall. I had a good day, and even though I was slower than Katia on the first stage, I had made up enough time in the second stage to get ahead by 250 points in the general classification. I was 15th overall for the second stage :-)
This 2nd stage ended up being 104 km (65 miles) with 4976 meters (16, 420 feet) of elevation gain.