Sunday, May 13
Well the day i have been waiting for has arrived and things couldn't be better. I arrived at the hotel after about 8 hours of total travel time and was met by the mechanics at the front of the hotel. The pulled the bike out of the bag and got to work putting it together - ahhh so nice. As I made my way back to the lobby, I passed the staging area for Spidertech, Bissell and Bontrager/Livestrong teams who are all staying in our hotel. The rest of the pros are at the Hilton just beside us.
The team meeting was at 5:30pm, with Chris Carmichael talking about the beginnings of these epic bucket list adventures and describing what he hoped all of us would get out of the days ahead. We then had introductions from the team of staff 5 coaches, 5 soigneurs (more than just massage therapists - they are our everything!!), 4 mechanics - all here to take care of 22 "athletes". We then introduced each athlete, we have people from Canada (3), Europe, Australia and of course USA. This was followed by Dinner with the rest of the pro teams. I have never seen so many tall skinny 20 something males all in one place! Of course pasta, rice, vegatables and beef were the main course (as many times as you would like). I called it an early night at 8:30, hoping to get a good night sleep before the 4:45am wakeup call for breakfast.
While early, the good news is that almost all of my training has been done starting at these wee hours, so the early wake up was welcomed. I got dressed in the gear and headed down to breakfast. Given we are starting today 3 hours ahead of the pros, there were no pros at breakfast but we got the full meal deal!! PASTA, eggs, sausage, french toast, bagels, PB, oatmeal - you name it, it was here (i would love to see who eats pasta for breakfast). Not much chatter at breakfast as I think each of us is pondering what is ahead.
We are expected to finish today in 6-7 hours that is with expected refuelling breaks of about 45 minutes, spaced throughout the ride. We also have to obey traffic signals as we don't have rolling closures. I will come back to the blog tonight with some more commentary on our 10,000 feet of climbing and hopefully some pictures.
Here is to keeping the rubber side down.
Well, the day is done and I had an outstanding time. Hard to beat spending 6 hours riding in California with 25 strong riders who are all here to have a great week of riding. Hard to beat ocean views and canopied climbs and descents amongst the redwoods. Unfortunately I have not been able to upload my data to strava, or the photos given the internet connection here is brutal.
163.5 kms completed (less than the pros as we would have run into them), time completed 5:56- elevation gain 2,367 meters average HR - 135 average watts- 230 (max average speed - 28.4, max speed 70.6km/h.
This group is full of seasoned riders, many of which who have done multi-day events. While the group was a bit skittish through the first hour, it started to really come together as we got deeper into the ride. We had the luxury of not hitting the first climb until mile 70, so there was tons of warm-up time and i needed it given the severity of these climbs. I managed to hold my own and constantly kept the front group within eyesight, enabling me to use my considerable weight on the downhills to catch the group. Every 90 minutes or so, we stopped for a refresh of water, electrolytes and food - WHAT AN UNBELIEVABLE LUXURY - DY, we need this service for the club. We had access to whatever was needed, which enabled me to maintain energy levels - i ate 1 banana, 2 PBJ mini sandwiches, 7 gels, 3 gu gummies, 4 electrolyte drinks and 3 waters. Never did i have to go wanting.
The climbing out here is tough, but the descents are also very technical which doesnt allow you to simply let loose. This was made more challenging given the heavy mist that was with us for most of the day. Made for wet roads in places. It was an interesting day for temperature, i never shed my vest or arm armers as the climbs heated things up, but the descents were downright cold.
It was great to finish right down the same chute that the pro's would come down a couple of hours later. The announcers talked us in and the fans that had gathered were clapping. A great finish to the ride.
We went back to the VIP tents in an hour to watch the pro's come home - very interesting to watch it all unfold on the same roads that I was on just an hour earlier. After the win by Peter Sagan of Liquigas/Cannondale (after flatting just 8km from the finish!!), I went back to the hotel to have my massage, dinner (yes of course, more pasta,) and now it is time to get things ready for our 5:45 departure as we drive down the coast an hour to start Monday's stage.
Hopefully tomorrow's hotel will have better internent and will allow me to upload the data and pictures.
Finally the pictures:
I have attached the profile and the map - neither likely do the route justice.