Friday, November 14, 2008

Tinkerbell and the Volcano

The seemingly endless ascent up Volcano Irazu is matched only is challenged only by the ferocious bone rattling descent back down. The weather cooperated this year, giving us clear views of the city below as we propelled our bikes up the gigantic volcano, one slow pedal stroke at a time. 
I rode for a while with a Puerto Rican guy that I met at dinner after the first stage. He came here with five friends; which is, as he described it, 'a gay club with a biking problem' (I think he was joking, but I'm not entirely certain. Either way, it's hilarious). It's hard for me to remember names when I meet so many new people each day, but somehow it's easy to remember places, so he was known as Puerto Rico. He seemed to take a liking to my bike bell, which led to his nicknaming me Tinkerbell. Every time I found myself in a slump, he seemed to be there yelling 'hello Tinkerbell'. It was a tiny little thing, but it made a huge difference. 
The third check point marks 'the top'; however, it's really a false top, as the 'rolling' profile to the next check point is packed with some mean climbs. By check point four, you're begging for an uninterrupted stretch of downhill, which is exactly what you get. In fact, it's so continuous that you're soon dreaming of an uphill section. The descent is steep and rocky and dangerous in sections, but it is the sheer length of it that makes it intensely challenging. My office-worker forearms screamed for mercy, but it was hard to hear that over my shrieking wrists and shoulders. My brain swished around in my skull so much that it was hard to see straight. I can train my legs all I want, but I'm not sure how I can prepare my body to handle this sort of riding. I will say that having my front shock engaged this year helped A LOT. Gerry was a full hour faster than me - on a 32 km descent!
Last year, everyone told me about how beautiful the finish area and accommodations were, but I had arrived too late to enjoy it. This year was different - arriving almost two hours earlier and staying at a hotel half an hour closer to the finish line, I had time to take a look around. Still, I'm feeling the fatigue setting in. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to eat (which is never normally a problem for me) and keep my body warm. When I lay down, it feels like all of my blood is rushing to my chest. I'm looking forward to laying it out tomorrow and getting to Playa Bonita on the Caribbean coast while it is still light out. 


Blogger Emma said...

32km descent?! Why, that's 20 miles! Well done. Especially for engaging the shocks. (Too bad you're not _really_ tinkerbell though, because then you could have just flown.)

November 19, 2008 at 6:43:00 AM MST  

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