Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 11 (Stage 8): HANG ON FOR DEAR LIFE

Look at this crap:
For Pete's Sake
If you are not a great climber and you open the race bible and look at this page its the same feeling you get when you open mail first because you think its a check and find out is a pretty sizable bill you forgot about. Its sad, and it kind of hurts. You kind of wish you would have never opened the book/envelope.

But, today I was feeling like a rich guy who gets bills, AINT NO BILL I CANT PAY.

Here is yet another time the race profile can be confusing. See the first dotted line about half way up that mountain? That is the "Start of the KOM" or the start of the climb. Now, it doesn't take a genius to point out that no, the climb started a long time ago. I just found a perfect video to describe what racing this climb was like for me:


Just think of me as the guy in the red, and the entire time before the dotted line is the part he is totally crushing the guy in yellow, but right when we crossed that dotted line....

I watched a front group of 20 and break of 8 ride away from me as I lost about 3 minutes to the leaders by the top. That's how that goes I guess. I knew I had good legs, however, so I rolled the dice and began the descent with the intent of making it back to the front of the race.

A group of about 40 guys formed behind what was about 40 leaders, 4 minutes down, and began to attack each other because nobody wanted to help anyone else, but everyone wanted to be in the front. I navigated the attacks (my specialty) and found myself in a group of 8, 4 minutes down on the leaders with 140k to go. We worked hard together, 8 guys from 8 separate teams, and somewhere before the Category 3 climb later on the stage, we caught the lead group!! Take that climbers!! It was great, Taylor, Chad, and Mike were all hanging out in the field, I rolled up and all 3 of them yelled at the same time: "JIIIIMMMM!!!!!"

"HEY GUYS! IM BACK!!"

Gavin had made his way into the breakaway, and we had 4 guys in the front group, we were a Continental team having a party on a 215K stage that briefly orbited the moon!!!

Then we hit the Category 3. I am starting to believe that in China the number 3 means "worst number ever" because all the cat 3 climbs were WAY TO DAMN HARD. I think they count 3, 1, 2, 4, Green, 6, 7, 3 million, 9.

By having 3 million after 7, it makes it much easier to count the number of people in every city in China. Smart move.

The climb was awful, but I was not getting dropped again, so, as I watched the Iranian KOM jersey push the fattest man in the bike race up the climb as I was hanging on for dear life, I wished for the first and last time that I was also on TPT Petrochemical Iran so I too could get a push. After an eternity, and numerous caffeine gels, I made it over the top, our group took like 3 minutes or something out of the breakaway, and it was back to 5-Hour Energy Party Time!!!

The 4 of us discussed the sprint, which basically went like this:

Chad: "Hey Mike, want to sprint?"
Mike: "Hey Taylor, want to sprint?"
Taylor: "Hey Jim, want to sprint?"
Jim: "I sure hope Gavin sticks it!"

To our relief, Gavin's group held on to a minuscule advantage at the finish line and he collected 5th on the day.

Having finished the 8th stage and knowing there was a rest day the next day, I was more willing to let the standard 200 spectators that gathered around the team to take pictures of us changing go relatively un-accosted. Although a middle-aged man grabbed my arm while I had only a towel on to pose for a picture that his 8 year old daughter was taking and I told him to bugger off. You're too old to be doing that and not old enough to excuse yourself for thats! I felt kind of bad, but I was sure he would steal my towel and run away (I don't know why, I had no prior experience leading me to believe this to be plausible).

On to the transfer bus for the longest transfer of the race. WHO CARES ITS A REST DAY TOMORROW WHOOOHOOOO GIVE ME SOME POTATO CHIPS THAT ARE "POTATO" FLAVOR THAT'S PROBABLY FINE!! Taylor continued his daily consumption of 7 to 11 chocolate bars. We tried what we thought was apple milk, which cant actually be a thing, it was gross.

Also, check out these transfers, 400k of people watching us go by because the government shut down all the roads for the entire transfer because HECK WITH YOU PEOPLE OF OUR COUNTRY, WE DO WHAT WE WANT!

Ahhhh man. Great to be on to the rest day. SO MANY PICTURES AND VIDEOS TO COME TOMORROW!