Thursday, August 2, 2007

More tales from the caravan

Not a good day in the saddle for the race yesterday unfortunately. Suffered like a dog. Hard course, flippin hot weather, and some bad legs. No good feelings. The main part of the course consisted of the middle section with several climbs about 10km apart. Narrow, Belgian climbs. Tried to do all I could to make the day easier for myself. Pulled a Belgian slide by showing up later to the start (only 10 minuted before the gun went off) and parked myself confidently (as though I knew I belonged) right into the front row by means of backing my bike in. Good start. Maybe the legs will come around. We went from the gun. Held my spot fairly decently while dozens launched themselves off the front in the usual suicide attacks. As we came to the first climb of the day, things started to get a little crazy as people all began to swarm to try to be at the front for the narrow climb. Needless to say, that even with my best attempts I found myself sliding back into the peleton. Not where I needed to be. Tried to move up, but the speed was so high and the fighting so tough, that I only managed to make it into the top 50 or so. Not terrible, but I had to be higher considering the condition of my legs. I ate a lot too, needed the energy. Sharp right hand turn, the road turns from highway to friggin goat path like that. Managed to weasel myself up a bit more, and I felt ok on the climb. I was able to keep pasing riders without pushing myself too far into the red. Non the less, of course gaps opened. Crash about 300m from the top. Now the gap is bigger as the remnants of the pack sprint over the top and keep sprinting right down. Got together with 2 other dudes and hauled arse over the top and down. Flew through the switchback descent and then the narrow farm roads finally catching back on on the next riser. Wow. There went a bullet of energy, and I don't have many. Luckily the pack is still hammering as a lead group has now been established ahead of us. Joy. Cling on for dear life at 55km/h, I hear in my ear "don't forget to move up guys. Next climb in 10km". I threw up. Seriously, puked a little on the side of the road and pulled over, luckily no one yelled at me cause most of the others behind me had also been dropped. Got passed by them. Tried to jump, but the legs said no. Took a drink as the caravan came up to me. Shook my head, swore a little and decided that I was not done. Jumped in behind a car and settled in a bit, regrouped and calmed myself down. I was down but not out. Moved up much better than last time, allowing myself to drift back a few cars if needed and then move up when easiest. No wasting more energy than needed! Finally we hit a section with several tight corners, blew through the remaining corners and made the final jump up to the pack. Another bullet spent, "eat and drink guys, help Alex move up". The look on Bernard's face was priceless when I passed out car to get back in. Pure surprise, he had written me off after seeing my face getting dropped. By this point I am spent. Physically and mentally. Threw down a gel and moved up as I could but as is strung out again coming into the next climb, the elastic snapped. Back through the caravan, but not enough to move back up on the climb. Got all shivery with goosebumps in the heat and a little confused as to what was going on when Noelle spotted me coming into the feed zone and flagged me over. Day done. Change, drink, and be upset with myself. Not really a good day for any of us. 3 of 6 finished, but just in the main back, with many riders up the road. Oh well, we'll try again soon. Today on the other hand, is rest. Feeling shoddy today again, feel like I could be on the verge of getting a little sick. So I'm taking it easy, drinking tea, eating super healthy (had a humus, cucumber, and turkey wrap for lunch). In fact, I'll probably settle down for a nap next followed by some easy time with a movie perhaps. Gotta treat the body well right now. Hate to not ride, but I am here for a month still. Oh ya, I have elongated my stay until August 27th now. An extra almost 2 weeks here in Belgium. Wicked. Thats my day, better days to come hopefully. But at least I feel myself getting stronger...

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