I tossed most of the night prior since my body is protesting the increased aerobic outlook. The morning started out cold and clear. The alarm went off at 5:40 am and the coffee pot ritual was initiated. Good thing my roommate Jim likes his coffee in a similar fashion.... Motor oil!
After a hot shower with coffee ("Cower") to try and put some moisture back in to my sinuses, the two of us drove down to the registration tent to drop off our aid station bags and eat breakfast. The drop bags mostly contain dry clothes in case we get caught in an alpine rain shower or hail storm. Even with raincoats carried in our hydration packs, it is important to get warm clothes on as soon as possible to avoid hypothermia. Throughout the day there are usually 2 aid stations placed out on the course. It is a nice safety blanket knowing your distance from an aid station and the fact that you have something warm to put on.
Once breakfast was complete, I had a few bike issues to attend to. My rear shell was out of true, my brakes were rubbing against the rotor, and the rear derailleur cable had stretched and was affecting my shifting. In the parking lot is a SRAM tent. SRAM is a industry leading bicycle component manufacturer. Their service techs were offering neutral support to any racer in need. I fit that category today. They fixed all of my issues (bike related, that is) in 10 minutes flat. The leaders at SRAM have an organization that they strongly support. The World Bicycle Relief Program (WBR) uses donated money to purchase parts to build bicycles for communities in developing nations in Africa. Educating women in developing countries dramatically increases the overall education for the general populous. WBR bikes are given to women with a stipulation that they obtain a high school degree. The program has seen great success in many countries in Africa, including providing disaster relief to victims of the 2005 tsunami in Sri Lanka. The SRAM tent was not charging us racers for their services, but we were invited to donate to the WBR cause. Of course I dished in some cash.
The bike in the foreground on the right side of the photo is one of the bikes distributed. Solid construction and compatible to haul water, firewood, and other people. Because SRAM is so well connected in the bicycle industry each bike costs only $147 to produce.
The race each day kicks off at 8:30am. Everyone races for different reasons. I race against myself and attend these events to enjoy the camaraderie. When I start a big race I allow the testosterone junkies to fill in the front of the start chute.
Here is my view on the start line with 300 racers.
The stage today had two seriously steep climbs with a total of 5,500 feet of ascending. A lot of people crashed today on the technical terrain with two entrants going to the hospital. I understand the need to go fast, but the technical downhills with baby head rocks all over the course makes me a bit more cautious. The total distance of the course was 38 miles and I completed it in 4:54.
At the finish in one piece with a smile for good measure.
Today was a great stage with many spectacular views of the surrounding mountains!
Every evening we attend a racer meeting outlining the course for the next day.
Tomorrow is going to be a very tough stage, reaching altitudes of 12,000 feet above sea level. Check back tomorrow for another update.