Tuesday, November 18, 2008

He Did it One Handed

Woke up to have a cup of the best coffee I've ever tasted. Staying near a plantation has it's perks. The morning started a lot warmer and drier than last year. That was a mixed blessing, as I knew that meant we would deal with some wicked heat during the day. Staying on top of hydration would be critical. It did get toasty, but not unbearable. There were a lot of kids cheering us on at the side of the road with hoses or buckets of water. They cheer and cheer until you are nice and close and then BAM!, here comes the water. They seem to make a game out of how hard they can get you in the face with the water. I'm ok with that, because it just feels so good to cool off and it actually makes me laugh every time. If this is winter in Costa Rica, I can't imagine what summer is like. 

I rode for a long while today with a man named Alejandro Oporta (I know his name only because it's on his jersey). From time to time, I come across people who purposely take the hard road. I haven't seen to many people that are on that hard road because they were dealt a bad hand. Alejandro is from Limon and has only one arm. This race is so freakin hard; it is incomprehensible to me that it is possible to do it with one hand. And to top it off, his bike isn't even set up with access to all of the gears on the same side. He actually has to lift his hand and reach over to the other side to change gears. He's pretty good at this too - he'll be screaming down a gravel descent and lift his hand to wave at people cheering. This dude is a talented rider and a major hero. It was inspiring and humbling to ride with him. 

On the last stretch of tracks, I caught up to the Puerto Ricans. They made the kilometres blast by really fast as they kept a steady pace and picked great lines. Last year, stage four was lonely and hard. This year, I was almost always surrounded by friends. It was great to ride with those Puerto Ricans - too bad I never actually caught any of their names. I wish I could thank them for their wonderful company. 

I arrived at Playa Bonita about two hours earlier than last year (90 minutes quicker to finish the stage, 30 minutes earlier to start). It was awesome to not be rushed and to watch the sun go down in the company of my friends. Mostly, it was awesome to be done. I bet Alejandro was glad to be done too.


Blogger jon said...

i'm glad you had an awesome la ruta!
i'm definitely jealous... alejandro is amazing. if you blink you'll miss him lift his hand and shift the other shifter. plus, can you imagine doing those climbs without both arms to anchor your pedalling! awesome!

thanks again for the updates and good work.

November 19, 2008 at 9:01:00 PM MST  
Blogger BikingBakke said...

I love reading your stories to relive the memories of the race. I rode a lot around the Costa Rican with one leg and the carbon prosthetic - very impressive. I wish I could figure out his name, but his sponsor on the results must be different than the one I recall standing out most from his jersey. We find the race tough, but it can be tougher.

November 20, 2008 at 5:23:00 PM MST  
Blogger tori said...

It's not just those climbs that would be tough with one hand - those descents would be insane! I was hanging on for dear life coming down the volcano.

November 25, 2008 at 8:24:00 AM MST  

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