Thursday, December 31, 2009
Rica Part 2,
This puppy is being generated via the Ambassador hotel lobby. We’ve got DJ Vellieux doing a sing along to the classic “Uptown Girl” and some Dutch peeps throat talking to each other as per usual. The sun has set and the boys all got there recovery nylon’s on. Its almost time for bed here but first, I bring you a short update.
Stage 4 was the longest of the Tour at 190km and is considered a flat stage with only one major climb and a few short steep pitches. As always we start off fast with a flurry of early attacks but things mostly stay together until the only KOM at the 100km mark where all hell breaks loose and packs of 5 guys scatter the route. Myself, J-Mike and C-Wally start crushing souls and together we bridge group to group back up to the leaders. Up next was mass chaos. Imagine cruising downhill at 70-80km/h dodging 1 meter diameter, 30cm deep potholes. They were everywhere and they were deadly with guys crashing, flatting and splitting bikes all over the place. This section alone took out 3 Guatemalans! Most guys who flatted or got dropped motor paced the team cars back to the peloton in the next 40km of flat crosswinds to the finish.
Stage 5 at 140km with no major obstacles looked to be the easiest of the Vuelta but in reality it was defiantly one of the hardest. The stage started with some crazy sketchy loops around the city of Liberia which included 1/2 lane roads in corners with oncoming traffic. J-Mike ended his tour in the intermediate points jersey on one of the corners going down and never having a chance to catch the flying peloton again. The circuit rolled full boar onto the Pan American highway and into massive crosswinds. In short the peloton was guttered and shattered for the next 2 hours. Then pummeled by about 20 vertical wall climbs averaging 50km/h and ending with a 3km 20% climb to the finish.
The 140km Stage 6 was our first official day in the mountains and my first day wheel sucking the Dutch. The main obstacle was a 12km steep climb near the beginning of the stage. I don’t remember much other than it hurt and I followed the big lanky Dutch groupetto all day. At this point the provided rice and beans three times a day diet was turning to the dark side and supplemental nutrition was a must. The tiny Columbian team jumped, pinned and shaved the head of our 300lb bus driver Spencer as a joke. Tap water was deemed mostly drinkable and our nice white Tour de Quebec kits now resembled the brown polka dot jersey. The french of our team gave up trying to remember Marvin Guzamins name and instead call him Garmin Slipstream Transitions presented by Chipotle for some french reason.
Stage 7 aka the hardest day of the race was a true mountain nightmare. 80% of the stage was uphill as we started at sea level and finished at 1500m. Again being 10lbs too fat I wheel sucked Team Amsterdam for much of the stage and suffered like no other to finish somewhere in the first groupetto. Mini banana’s and Oreo’s courtesy of the Pizza Hut truck fueled the days events as well as watching a Guatemalan eat it while trying to take a leak on the go over speed bumps. By now the legs are starting to seize up nicely as it takes at least 2 minutes of hard riding before any power is able to be generated. I am also developing a spot of tendentious on the back of my left knee which makes racing up hill all day feel a little like listening to the song Fergilicious on repeat for 5 hours straight.
Stage 8 brought a 13km uphill time trial from the town of Catigo up the side of a volcano literally finishing in the clouds. Gradients in the switchbacks topped 25% as team cars were having to be pushed by spectators up the steepest sections. My legs simply did not work on this day and I lost 8 minutes to the winner with a time of 41 minutes. Seeing as both myself and C-Wally are mountain bikers we had a inside bet with ourselves going that if we didn’t win the stage hair cuts were on the agenda come rest day.
Rest day. The Hippy picked a sharp classic style from the local Mens Style hair magazine. I ended up translating in broken spanish and hand signals that I wanted a mohawk and a mullet. With our spiffy new dews taking a surprising 3 hours to complete darkness had taken over and we were going to have to navigate a 30 minute ride through San Jose in the dark. In short it nearly ended in Christmas Eve death but it was a good time. Mucho Sleepio was the main activity of the day.
CC Mc Sunburn