Friday, November 16, 2007

La Ruta Stage Three - In the Clouds

I learned something new when I woke up this morning: it IS possible to be more tired and sore than I was yesterday. The problem is not that I'm not sleeping well - I'm sleeping like a baby. The problem is that I'm sleeping fewer hours at night than I am riding during the day. I don't think it matters who you are, 21 hours of mountain biking in two days takes its toll.

The stage profile was straight forward today. Up, up, up the Irazu volcano, followed by a long gravel downhill to the finish. I don't have what would be described as a 'climbers physique', but I can totally dig gravel downhill. How hard could it be?

I started slow, knowing that pace would be critical today. After hearing that 'Tim-the-Bear-Naked-Cannondale-Singlespeeder' cleaned the paved climb on Stage Two, I was inspired to try to do stay on the bike for the entire ascent today. That dream was soon squashed, but I tried my best where I could. The climb went on forever. At first, it was dark and cloudy and rainy, then we rode into the clouds. For a long time you couldn't see far in front because the cloud was so thick. There were houses and towns and everything in the clouds - people actually live in clouds! Crazy.

For a brief time, we emerged from the cloud. It was neat see the cloud from below, from the inside and, now, from the top. And then we rode into some more cloud. Cold, wet, cloud.

I dug deep - really, really deep - to get to the top. I arrived cold and wet and exhausted at the top, but looked forward to the 'easy' gravel downhill to the finish. Yeah, right. Not at La Ruta!

To describe the descent as gravel is really a stretch. Miles upon miles of steep, wet, slippery large, technical, powderface-like rock. I was so tired I could barely walk, so I rode as much as I could. I passed a lot of people, but it still felt like an endless downhill. My neck muscles were so tired that I couldn't lift my head. My fingers were numb and my wrists felt like they were fractured. I was wet and cold to the core.

I kept waiting for the moment that we would emerge from the clouds again, but it never came. It was cold and rainy until the finish line. The showers were cold, but it felt good to get clean. I mean that relatively speaking, as I was still dirty by civilized standards. The wait for the shuttle to the hotel was over an hour, standing in the rain. The drive took another 40 minutes. I fantacized about the hot shower I was going to have at the hotel.
The hotel was a nature lodge nestled on the side of a hill overlooking...something cool, I'm sure. It was hard to tell because it was after dark. Damn. I rushed to the shower, only to find that there was no hot water at the hotel either. Oh, this race is so cruel!
My friends had waited for me to order dinner (they were waiting a LONG time - now that's friendship!!). When I sat down, they asked my how the day went and I broke down in tears. I was so lucky to have these beautiful people here lift me back up. Thank you so much Jack, Gerry, Trish and Jon. That meant more than you could ever know.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home