Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Trans Portugal – Day 4 – Unhais Da Serra to Monfortinho

Another day and another crash.  If your trying to do well then the first rule is stay on your bike.
We started again and it was much about 13 degrees or so and thankfully not raining.  There were several non starters this morning with yesterday taking it’s toll.  Quite a few guys high up in the GC didn’t  finish yesterday and one didn’t start today.  If you don’t start a stage or finish it you are a non finisher and ranked below all the other.  You also don’t get the finishers T-Shirt

The torrential rain overnight however had left massive puddles everywhere.  We started at 9am and within the first 2-3 km where in a narrow farm track (river) with deep puddles.  I was riding the centre and slipped off into the puddles balance wrong and handlebar hit the stone wall and threw me at about 20km/h.  Head hit the wall and brambles and shoulder took some impact.  Other riders having to dodge me and bike and asking if I was OK.  Untwisted handlebars and  checked bike.  Both GPS’s still attached and drink bottle still there.  Everything looked straight so set off again.  I then remembered that I was wearing sunglasses.  Thankfully undamaged and still in the brambles 20 metres back.

Not too much damage but scrape on elbow and a few bloody bits around my faces.  I suspect just from the brambles.  Very sore thigh which I hope the masseur will sort out tonight.  Speaking of which they do a great job making you feel slightly human again each day.  The quicker you get in each day the faster you can have a massage, wash your kit, eat dinner and go to bed.  Seems like not enough sleep each day.

I was angry at coming off and set off after the pack.  They were never to be seen again.  In fact I think I rode 107km by myself.  I had a great day riding.  Scenery was great.  Weather was even better.  Up to 28 degrees and sunny.  The course was perfect for me.  Not to many hills and all that were there were short.  A power mans day.

The mud was an issue and I stopped at the first water point to try and get the gears working again.  Hosed down the bike added some lube and the chain promptly chained sucked to the granny ring on the next climb.  The clay was so thick not much would sort it.  The rivers we had to cross later finally later sorted it.  However no lube meant the bike was very noisy and squealing like a pig for the next 20km

I’ve learnt in Trans-Portugal that if you see an amazing village in the distance you are going to visit it.  The 2nd thing is that all these villages are generally on a hill.  White houses with orange roofs and just spectacular scenery.  We climbed to an amazing one called Monsanto today.  2km up a steep roman track with big boulders.  I had chain suck right at the bottom and had to stop and lube the bike.  The climb was a bitch up, but worth it.  Quick water stop at the top at 80km and back down again over another roman road.
I finished in good shape today and had a good day apart from the crash.  Getting the mechanics (who wash and clean and service the bikes) to check mine over.  New creaking from the front afterwards which always makes me nervous.  I’ll be looking for a crack later again.  Although MTB’s can take a beating always better to be safe.  One of the Portuguese chaps showed me his cracked Carbon Fibre frame today.  New one waiting for him tomorrow to swap out but he has another day riding on the broken one yet.

Think I finished 16th today which is good.  Hopefully we shall climb up the GC 1-2 places.

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