Woke up feeling my legs a bit and thinking about the mountain. By the time the sun came up, it was raining. I wasn't looking forward to riding in the rain, but I'm riding no matter what. Got my rain gear out of the bag only to discover that I left my shoes on the bench in the truck and they were already soaked in rain water. Oh well, gotta ride.
What a view to start a day with.
Couldn't decide if I had enough steam to hammer the mountain like the two youngest guys, but I figure that we all have been riding the same ride. But, I figured that I wouldn't want to slog that mountain alone so I decided to be supportive to whomever was in the back. I usually have just enough fuel in the tank to help someone out when they're having a slow day. There were a few gradual climbs getting to the mountain with a lot of false flats and downhills. One looked so deceptively like a downhill that I checked for a flat tire and actually got off the bike to make sure my brakes weren't dragging. I then looked at my bike computer and it showed that the downhill was actually a one percent uphill grade.
Seventy miles in, the mountain was about to begin. One last rest stop and then we begin the climb. No one was able to tell me what kind of grades we'd be climbing and I certainly never got a clear answer on how long it was. It's hard to tell what kind of effort to put out in order to make sure you have enough energy for the remaining miles if you don't know what to expect and the talk was that it was grueling. I asked who'd be with whom and I heard it was every man for himself. Alrighty then. Here we go. We took off and Bobby had a flat probably two miles in. I bet we spent ten minutes changing that stinking tube; it was unusually stubborn. Got it changed and within minutes I hear his tire hissing again. Bobby told me to go on ahead. I replied that I didn't mind waiting, but he said he had no more tubes and that he couldn't ride any more anyway. Game on. It's all me and I'm free to ride my pace. It's one of the few times in my life that I was happy to be in the super skinny state I'm in right now...I've always been skinny, but not quite as much as now. I had my heart rate monitor on and decided to ride in my green zone, only spend short times in the yellow, and never in the red. I was surprised at how mild my HR was while climbing. There were a few times it was kind of tough (mainly the 7-8% grades). My back was getting a little stiff, but legs and lungs were good and I saw this rainbow which was a nice mid climb encourager.
If I hadn't mentioned, I was thankful for the rain and clouds while climbing. There's nothing like high effort and low airflow when you have a searing hot sun cooking you on top of that. I caught Joel and shortly after Bobby rejoined us. Joel said he'd need a break soon, but wanted to go a little further. It wasn't long after that I noticed the road change as Taylor had described it at the top of the mountain. I was afraid to say anything about it for fear of being wrong, but then I saw the support team in their yellow shirts. Surely we aren't already done. The team saw us and started cheering. The hard part was done and it wasn't as hard as I expected. I'm thinking there's probably a life lesson in there somewhere: being prepared, not giving up, getting through it better than expected...I dunno, maybe just me. Anyway, to me it represented the end of the hardest part of what I expected of the ride; the one part where I wasn't sure how I'd perform. The training was harder than the actual mountain! We celebrated at the top and got polka dot jerseys (they represent the best climber in bicycle racing) Then we spend the rest of the day descending the mountain. Riding 40-45 mph with minimal effort is a sweet reward after climbing. We wrapped up the day with one hundred miles on the clock. We dropped our stuff at the Somporn resort and headed off to dinner. We met at a small church that had prepared a feast for us. Oh. My. Goodness. The food was fantastic and they made sure that we didn't go without. They kept bringing more and more and more. It was delicious, so we kept on eating and eating. I was so honored and touched that this small church would bring forth their very best for us....with such abundance too!
Yep, this is how we all felt after dessert.