Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stage 4

Coach Beck warned me about a stage like today. Totally strung out, pace lined, working at maximal effort not to get dropped. Today was that stage. It was mainly a 112 km gravel grinder through rolling farmland, some singletrack but pretty minimal today, and a hard section of climbing right at the end. But hey, it’s hump day today (4 out of 7 stages done) so why not start to race each stage like it’s almost the last? Much of today’s stage was spent in a paceline trying (desperately at times) not to get dropped and not to let my partner down. There was a stiff headwind in the beginning of the race so it paid off to stay with a group. I did a good job with that today and was thankful there are lots of fast roadies to train with back home because it definitely felt like a road race today. There was some beautiful scenery too, and the mountain passes we climbed through at the end of the stage were pretty amazing. We rode by several bright blue lakes in the last 1/3 of the stage, and I kept thinking how nice it would be to jump in. Today was a point-to-point race so we started in Greyton this morning and finished in Elgin, where we will be for the next 3 nights.

A short video of the race today:

The stage finishing chute. So much relief when we make it here each day
The finishing line and view of the race village in Elgin

We have fallen into a pretty good routine here in South Africa. Our alarm goes off at 5:00 am, breakfast at 5:15, and buses leave for the race around 5:30-6 depending on how far away our hotel is. At the race start, we get our bikes from our mechanic, Grant, slather on sunscreen, and check into the starting corral usually about 20-30 minutes before our start so we can get a good starting position. At 7:15, the whistle blows, and we are off for a day of racing. It is such a relief when we arrive back at the race village and cross the finishing line. We get handed cold wet washcloths and paper bags with sandwiches, apples and full cream chocolate milk, which I usually try to drink down right away. We then change out of our soaking wet racing kits and board the buses back to the hotel. The rest of the day is all about recovery. Shower, massages, Normatech legs, snacks, dinner, lots of water, some blogging and then it’s time to pack for the next stage and get into bed before 9. Every other day, we have to pack up our race suitcases with everything we are traveling with for the race and they get transported to the next hotel for us while we are out racing.

Our hotel in Elgin - The Houw Hoek Hotel. One of the oldest hotels in South Africa

My room for the next 3 nights

Post-race meal with John and Reid. I'm pretty sure the salad balances out the french fries

The massage therapists getting our legs ready for tomorrow

The stomach issues have definitely started for a lot of us in the CTS group. Lots of Cipro, Imodium and Zofran being passed around. Apparently, because the water reservoir levels are really low right now, the bacterial content in the water here is higher, so we are on strict bottled water precautions for the rest of the race. Brad and I are keeping our food down though. Tomorrow’s stage is supposed to be a lot of fun singletrack, and we are looking forward to that. It's raining outside my hotel room right now, so I’m hoping the trails dry out before the start gun tomorrow morning. 

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