Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Trans Portugal – Day 5 – Monfortinho to Castelo de Vide

Where to start.  First the good news.  I moved to 15th in GC overnight !!!  18 minutes behind the 14th place rider so some work to do.

First morning that has been scheduled to be hot and dry.  And boy did it get hot. We started again at 9am and had 144km to do.  Two nasty climbs in the last 30km but a fairly fast stage.  I stayed with the fast guns today for 15km until the first very steep little bit.  I’m guessing my 12kg bike and small wheels compared with them on 10kg bikes and 29 inch wheel is a big advantage.  They are also racing snakes and I’d need to loose another 10kg to look like them.

So I was off the back and Antonio who was in 14th place on the GC was also off the back even further back.  I decided to chase like hell and try and get back on.  5km of pain and I’d bridged back to the guys !!!  All was going fine until 30km. 

Crash !!!  For a change it wasn’t me.  Big puddles and the first guy had come through and a branch had flicked back and hit Marco.  Marco was 2nd or 3rd on the GC until yesterday when he got a 90 min penalty because of his GPS not recording.  He was still 8th or 9th and he went down hard at maybe 35km/h.  Christophe who is fairly high up in the GC rode over his bike and crashed and then Stu hit Marco and crashed.  The whole group stopped to help except two riders who the rest of the group is now not impressed with.

I had dinner with Marco last night and his aim was to win the thing.  We actually rode through his back yard yesterday morning.  We were going to phone for help but Marco wanted to continue.  We eventually left Marco after a good 10 mins making sure he was OK and I’ve not seen or heard from him since.  Hopefully he is OK and finished although I do have do say I think he will be hurt and not start tomorrow.

I stayed with the fast boys who were now down to about 8 riders and Andrew.  Andrew’s from the group in front but I’ve ended up riding with him quite a bit the last few days.  We both finally went off the back at 80km on the next big climb (it wasn’t that big) of the day.  It was about here that it got hot.  My GPS recorded 37 and still showed 33 in the shade at the finish.  We had both run out of water.

The first stop was a BP at 103km for a can of 7up and two litres of water.  Whilst we were there several other riders we had passed stopped as well.  We helped one of the guys fix his chain and refuelled.  It’s always important to use your time wisely at stops.  A pee, grab food, lube chains.  One of the things that we have to do is open and close lots of gates.  Much quicker with two riders than one.  One takes both bikes and the other sorts the gate.  And whilst you are stopped have a pee or lube the bike.  So many river crossings can mean the lube only lasts 10km.

Myself and Andrew took turns all the way to the finish.  There were two memorable bits.  A 25-30% climb that was unclimbable and a roman road climb up to a castle on top of a hill to finish.  Andrew rode away from me here and finished a few seconds in front.  Those big wheels are easier on the rough stuff.  After I crossed the finish line I tried to have more water only to realise in 40Km I’d drunk two litres !!!

Not sure where I finished just yet but probably in the twenties.  It might be enough to sneak another place on the GC but we shall see.  Not sure what’s in store tomorrow and I don’t really want to look either.  The days seem to be all to short with having to do washing have a massage and eat.  Sleep is the thing that just seems to short and I’m still not used to not sleeping in my own bed.

Lastly two tips for the day.  Even when it’s really hot make sure you zip your top up.  Wasps make a habit of flying in and getting stuck.  You wonder what that pain is when they start stinging.  Two were removed from my inside my jersey at the BP by Andrew.  Also remember sunscreen.  My legs and arms are very brown yet my hands are white from the gloves.  Starting to look like a freak.

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