Sunday, May 13, 2012

Trans Portugal – Day 8 – Albernoa to Monchique

Another nice day.  We set off again at 9am for 138km in the blazing heat.  For a change the pace was fairly relaxed.  There was again a big group and over the coming 30km various riders dropped off until it was the standard 10 or so riders.  Some of the guys in GC started to struggle on the first climb and dropped off.  I also dropped at about 50km.

Kept the head down and kept going and we came to the first water stop at 55km or so.  The group in front of us was there and some that had tailed from my group.  A quick water stop and I grabbed the coattails of what is called the Portuguese train.  Always seems to be the same riders together each day and they sort are in the top 6-12 on GC.  A good bunch to hang with.

We had the next big hill that was 4km long at about 70km and I dropped again.  I didn’t give up and myself and Edgar slowly caught them and at the top of the climb I was back on.  Straight down before back into a nasty hot steep gully with only one line.  One of the Portuguese guys was swearing and cursing at his bike which was not changing gears very well.  The weather got warmer and we stopped again at maybe 75km for water and then again at maybe 95km.  That was three stops and we still had 50km to go.

Just after the water stop I had almost no air in my rear tyre.  It had sealed but not enough to continue riding.
I stopped and through a bit more air in it and continued.  I’d lost the train but got 2/3 of the way through the stage with them.  The body was screwed now and the temperature was close on 35.  I followed Greg who’s in his 60’s I think and was so screwed I didn’t notice when we went the wrong way.  We must have done 500m to 1km the wrong way before we looped back.

I left Greg after this very annoyed at myself.  Guess it just shows that when you are screwed you really don’t notice the simple things and just ride your bike.  The first big climb and I mean big was at 108KM.  It was the toughest climb of the week so far.  It was a wide track and got rocky towards the top.  A couple of km’s in the heat and my Garmin measured close on 41 degrees.  I nearly stepped of the bike in the first 200 metres but glad I didn’t.  It was a long grind.

The next hill was at least on tarmac but again out in the exposed heat.  I ran out of water up here.  That is I’d drunk close on three litres in 30km.  It was sapping.  I saw the last check point and thought that was it.  Cafe would be close by and the downhill to the finish would start.  Bad move.  Another 5-10Km which felt uphill, before the cafe at 122km or something.  Stormed in and out under some stress.  Coke and 1.5 litres of water.  Didn’t fill my camelback and should have.  Only had the 500ml bottle on the bike which went far too quickly.  It was empty 10km later.

Was still waiting for the downhill to begin as the route profile showed.  Turns out it didn’t really start till 5km from the finish.  A blessing.  The last bit would have fun but I was too screwed to enjoy.

Rolled over the finish line in 16th place and dropped to 16th place in GC.  Got fairly handy gap till 17th place in GC and only 2.5 mins behind 15th.  John who is in front of me had a good day and kept with the Portuguese train a lot longer and jumped me.

Roll on tomorrow and the last day !!!

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