Where to start. An action packed day. Almost wished the whole day didn’t happen but hey, you can’t stop inevitability. It was windy and cold when we left. The forecast was for cold wind and rain. Well I would go as far to say the weather was almost as bad as I’ve seen.
I had a different game plan today which was not even try to keep up with the fast boys and just let them ride off into the sunset. After feeling terrible yesterday I had to have a better day. They split after the first small hill at about 5km and left me but they were riding a lot slower than previous days. I rode off down the road and low and behold the whole bunch had gone the wrong way. And were riding back along a different path to get back onto the course.
Basically rode from 25Km till 60km on my own. We had a head wind for most of this with mist and rain. You could see maybe 10 metres in front of you and couldn’t tell if the ground was up or down. Mostly up. The first 10km climb was really three climbs with short downhill sections. The last step was a pig. There was no way you could ride it and it was up to 22% steep, muddy with deep puddles and foresty work as well as deep sand. It was horrible. I must have walked a fair bit of this and I suspect most others did too.
The body still felt ok and we had a long 10-15km descent before the big climb of the day. I hooked up with Andrew a South African and we stuck together for quite a bit. We hit the big climb at 75Km and struggled up it. Andrew eventually rode away from me towards the top. I’d miss timed the finish again and thought it was 103Km when in fact it was 108km. When I hit 93km and the checkpoint and saw we still had another km of road climbing it was pretty low. Worse was to come.
I hit the last downhill tarmac. Raining so you couldn’t see. Loose boulders in the middle of the road and it got cold. I mean really cold. To fast to pedal so the body cooled down. Couldn’t feel my hands so couldn’t hold the handlebars. Then the shivering started. I mean shaking so hard that the legs and arms were shaking. 15km downhill at speed and freezing. I made the hotel and was shaking uncontrollably. Someone helped me get my gloves and shoes off, and first stop was shower with all clothes on.
I finished 23rd in the stage today and am fairly happy with this. Lost a chunk of time to others (an hour to those near me). I dropped to 18th on GC after this but I believe more than a 3rd of all riders pulled out today or didn’t make the last checkpoint on time. Not a bad result really. Lets hope for better weather tomorrow. It’s supposed to hit 30 by the end of the week !!!
I also must say the hotel here is amazing. It’s a mountain resort with huge pool complex. The views are probably amazing and we’ve been told they are but aside from mist I’ve not see it yet.