May 22, 2006 § Leave a comment

What a brutal, brutal series of events. No stellar performances from me, except that I finished all of them when I was 100% convinced I could not for the second and third both…and I’m okay with that. In fact, I had the most fun I’ve had racing in a long time and much more fun than I thought I was capable of having on the side of a broiling mountain.

Talk about pushing the limits. After the past three days I feel like I know myself as a person and a racer so much better than I did before. I’m proud of myself and my team both for coming together and taking 1-2-3 and two stage wins and for sweeping the bottom of the GC and slogging through when sick and hurting. All while having one hell of a great time.

A story to represent the weekend: In stage three I varminted in the first 500m of my 75-mile race, a first for me. I think it was the heat. In any case, it scared me. After stopping to talk to the official about my options I kept going, resigning myself to a long, solo training ride on a hot, hot day. After a lap by myself I caught sight of three teammates up the road and tapped the gas to catch them. We had a wonderful second lap sharing the misery of the exposed hills and the joy of the long descent.

For the final lap we were down to three, and about a quarter of the way through the VP van comes up from behind with some encouraging words and the offer of water, then moves on. A bit later on a hill we see Robert behind the van doing something. What does he have? A clarinet? Binoculars? A…camera? Suddenly we all want to be at the front of our little group for the photo op and so begins a mad uphill sprint for the invisible finish. Completely spent with another 20 miles to go, we sit down to laugh about our silliness for a while, when we come around another corner to see the van parked by some rocks and Robert on top of them for an aerial shot. In a flash we’re off again, pushing it toward the line. Twenty miles of this leapfrog as Robert swept the course, released CHP and kept our spirits up and our bottles full.

We finished with a drag race, too. Gotta put on a show for the folks who waited there in the heat and never gave up on us.

And despite all those personal failures and moments of utter, utter despair out on the road alone, I left with a smile on my face and a laundry list of lessons in hand. Next year I’ll be back for another beating, and I can’t wait to see the lingering effects of a spanking like this.

Wow. Thanks, Robert. Thanks to all the guys out there with cold water, big smiles, glitter pens and words of encouragement. I (we) really couldn’t have done it without you.

On the drive home we hit the old In-N-Out and finally, after all those miles of heat and suffering and prayer and pleading, I got #1.


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