Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Andalucia MTB Stage Race - Stage 6

STAGE 6:  Southern Jaen
Why didn’t we catch the weather report?  Oh yeah that’s right, because every racer and their mother was clogging up the internet all week long and we gave up ages ago.  MISTAKE.  To add to the insanity of the weather to come, we were in the lead for 2nd overall BY ONLY 6 seconds (after 24 hours plus of racing) to the Spanish Esteve Team!!

Let’s get this out on the table now:  Spain does not necessarily mean sunshine and warm temps.  We can attest!!   Jenny and I lead the race today for 4 hours and 20 minutes up and over several mountain tops (where it was snowing!) and we were overall having a GREAT day on the bike.  As the rain and snow moved in the descents became brutally cold and almost excruciating.  Unfortunately Jenny and I only had our jerseys and shorts with a few other pieces like arm warmers and knee warmers.  I have never wanted to climb so badly in my life (just to stay warm)!  It was so cold as we made our way around the gorgeous dam below but yet I still found time to enjoy the view.  We endured about 30k of extreme cold and wet.  The shaking, shivering, teeth chattering was abundant as we descended through the mist.  Jenny and I didn’t speak a peep for about 2 hours as we kept moving forward toward the finish line still in first place. 

The weather and chill got so bad that I was taking mental note of where I saw a person with a car so that if we had to go back we’d know how far.  It was becoming a survival…..of the stupidest really. In my lightweight summer gloves I could not feel my hands.  They felt like stumps and I was worried.  Several things went around in my head like wondering if finishing was worth getting frostbite over?  Apparently it was because I kept going….but really, what are you supposed to do?  I was seeing the finish line as a place I would be safe and I just wanted to get there.  I forced myself to drink my sports drink to stay hydrated and to just move my hands. 

It was highly uncomfortable at this point on the bike which is what inspired me to pick up the nastiest oldest, dirtiest garbage bag and put it under my jersey for wind protection.  Moments after I did that it made a big difference.  But it was too late.  With 10k to go, getting splashed and sprayed with water from the roads we were passed by the race leaders who were clothed from head to toe.  Our fault for not being prepared.  We crossed the line in 2nd place only 2.5 minutes back and extremely close to being hypothermic. 

The good news was that we had secured 2nd Overall in the Stage Race!!

I was so hungry after 6 days of racing that I could have eaten anything!

 Notes:  Stage 6 was by far the best stage yet for us and it’s the one I was most worried about!!  We both climbed the 8000 feet like a charm and put up with some extreme conditions.  Although disappointing to take 2nd for the day, it’s good to know what are limits are.  

Award ceremony at the Discoteca

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