Todays stage had a bit of everything:
- Climbing over two 12,000 ft mountain passes
- Biking up a river
- Descending a snow field
- Lightning and thunder (fortunately I was in the valley between the two big climbs)
- Ear to ear grin downhills
- Walking my bike for about a quarter mile because it was too steep (even Todd Wells walked)
- Technical descending in a downpour (all the skills sessions I’ve been leading this year really came in handy here, I passed so many people who were walking and I was giggling with glee)
- Views! The climbing was so slow I had lots of time to look around.
- Skittle hand-ups on the summit
Today’s course was the Queens stage, a climber’s day. I fancy myself a climber so I was excited about riding my bike over the big passes that would have me pedaling at an altitude I’ve not been on a bike at. Three days into this race and the field is friendly; passing is made simple, if you are off your bike everyone will slow to offer assistance, veterans will give you beta on what is up ahead, and several men gave me a little push uphill as I passed them while they were walking. I tried a new hydration/ fueling strategy that worked better for me than previous days and the aid stations were stocked with bananas and Gu’s waffles that were a welcome treat to gels (ingesting gel #15 today still required anti-gagging tactics). And I have found my inner bike Buddha and no longer care what other riders ahead or behind me are doing; I ride my race, trust my training and listen to my body.
My legs definitely did not have the oomph in them I was hoping for, so today I listened to them and backed off when the burn started to be ignited. My bike is sporting a new rear shock and rear tire today so I attacked the descents, which were first class fun-fests. I came across the finish line third in my division, but was elated. (I’m still second overall.) My Mom was volunteering at the finish line and her friendly cheer made me feel like a celebrity. I had the most excellent day on the bike. Though tired, as one would be after riding 44 miles and climbing 6400 ft, I felt great! This monster of a day is one I’m proud of putting in my personal record book, and feel tomorrow I will be even stronger. Look out top of the podium!