Monday, August 11, 2014

Day 14 and 15 (Stages 11 and 12): Things Just Got Real

WHERE TO START?! Oh I know. UHC's Director got stabbed with a screwdriver! Apparently he cut a Chinese director off in the transfer caravan (don't know what that is? It doesn't matter!) and when we stopped for gas and snacks.....

Interruption: What do you do with 198 (ok, by this point in the race it was more like 120) cyclists, all their staff, and all the race vehicles on a 400k transfer? You let them pee for heaven's sake! Those gas stations will never be the same.

"You cut me off to be with your other team car? Ok, I stab you with... what do we have? No, a pencil is lame, what else? Who has a pencil? Honestly? Use a pen. OH PERFECT WE HAVE A SCREWDRIVER!"
I would say that was a bit of an embellishment to an equal and fair response, but we are in China, some stuff is different here. Luckily, the screwdriver was dull, but it left a nasty bruise and, in addition to a staff member getting hit with a suitcase in the elevator and a rider being held to a wall and nearly punched, its safe to say tensions were running a bit high.

So, here is what was going on at the race at this time. We had 3 stages to go, all circuit races, all a far cry from the +200k climby stages we had become accustomed to. Over all those mountains, and through all those cities, and after sleeping on all those hard beds, only 12 seconds seperated 2nd place (La Pomme) and 3rd place (Kolss super team... i added the super team part). On these circuit races there were time bonus sprints, and Kolss super team was better at sprinting than La Pomme soon to be sad team. In the prize breakdown, 2nd place overall got TWELVE THOUSAND more dollars than 3rd. So begins the entire peloton watching Kolss super team steal a $12,000.00 piece of candy from La Pomme getting robbed team.

In stage 11, Kolss did a leadout for the first time bonus that was honestly harder than the finish leadout. I countered that insanity, ended up solo for a bit, then a large group of guys not willing to work together caught me, some team missed it, and our minute gap was zilch in pretty fast order. Taylor countered that and bought himself a ticket to the pain cave all day, the field let him and one other guy go, just so Kolss could continue to ruin La Pomme's day one second at a time. Ultimately, Taylor was caught, and a man with eyebrows plucked into the surprised expression won the stage. It is important to note that, as the heaviest guy in the race, he spent a SIGNIFICANT amount of time hanging on to cars to make time cuts. This was stupid.

After the Kolss shinanigans, Stage 12 started off with a crosswind climb, but everyone knew what was going to happen, Kolss was going to ride a team time trial and then laugh at La Pomme as they emptied their pockets. So, for the first time at the Tour of Qinghai lake on a climb, nobody attacked. In fact, the only person TO attack on this day was Chad Beyer. Why? Because this race is stupid now. That's why. Chad did not make it.

Now, I was in a bad mood because I was missing a very important wedding on this day, a wedding I had waited 14 years to see. With barely enough internet to even find out where I was on the planet, I felt terrible that I was unable to be witness to such an important and exciting day. As i grumbled my way into my kit, I saw an old man wield his camera, aim at my buttox, and snap the shutter with a grin on his face. I chased after this man with the intent to throw him in the river, but with my pants half way around my legs, I was no match for his limber, perverted, stupid self. I hope he tripped and fell in the river.

Tomorrow marks the last stage of Qinghai lake. Tune in for Mike Woods and I pontificating on a traffic circle, a closing ceremony featuring a plethora of people not playing the music that they were playing us, and other things hopefully wrapping up what was an unbelievable trip!

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