Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cracking Down on Outside Support

The start of Day 3 was very interesting. After the presentation of the leaders' jerseys, Pipa announced that one of the top riders would be disqualified from the race because of receiving outside support. According to the rules, riders are not allowed support except for at some of the checkpoints. No more handing out drinks or food through car windows or even having a support vehicle following racers... I think this is a fair rule. Part of mountain bike racing is taking care of yourself as well as of your bike. It makes a huge difference if someone is there to hand you food and drink or clothing the whole day, you don't have to think at all... This has been a big problem in the past, and it seems part of the culture of La Ruta, but in order to make it fair to international racers, the organizers are finally cracking down on racers breaking the rules!!

The announcement started a big uproar, and some of the riders in the front, including Angela Parra (whose husband was getting DQed) turned their bikes sideways, blocking all racers from crossing the start line. SO LAME!!! After a couple of minutes, Ben Sontag, in his leader jersey, dropped his bike and grabbed the microphone. He was clearly angry and stated that he had come La Ruta to race a fair race and that people should follow the rules and not cheat. AWESOME!!! So, the race was on again!!!

I had forgotten that Day 3 also has some pretty steep hills. I felt pretty good going up the volcano and reached the top (almost 10,000 feet) in just over 3 hrs. It was misty and windy at the top, but pretty mild compared to previous years! I found out I was about 4 minutes behind Angela at the top. I stopped briefly at the checkpoint to fill up some water and grab a banana, I knew there was still more climbing to come.

The down-hill of the volcano was in surprisingly good shape. The weather had been dry the past few days, which made the rocky sections easier to ride. This day finishes with a really long paved descent which is super fun. You still have to be somewhat careful, because there are cars, dogs, and people all over the roads. I was very close to running over a chicken coming around a turn at one point.

Interviewed by Wendi Johnson at the finish of Day 3

I finished less than 1.5 minutes behind Angela Parra today, so I was really happy with my effort. Rebecca was in 3nd again.

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