With today's longer and tougher stage I was hoping for good things. The route was just under 45 miles....but had us racers climbing up to almost 12,000 ft three times. Knowing the tougher stage...especially late in the race, I set into a "strike late" pace. When the gun went off, we rolled east out of town heading for the first section of singletrack. My position was good....just like yesterday...in the top 10. The pace was just right for me...not too hard. I was riding right behind Yuki...about 30 yards off his wheel. Here is where my drama for the day unfolded. He went around a corner..and now out of sight. I then came upon a "Y" in the trail with a orange course marking arrow pointing in each direction! Both trails looked like they saw a lot of bike traffic....so I chose right. But going right was wrong. I went about 50 yards before the trail dead ended.....and about 8 other guys followed me. So, from that point on, I was in full-on chase mode......trying to get any spots back I could.
Since it was early in the day I chose the chill pace and picked off riders one by one on the longer steeper climbs. Climbing up and over French Pass was insane today! Looking up the trail and seeing the leaders looking like black specks.....looking behind and down low and seeing the same thing from the racers chasing me. From my vantage point, most riders were pushing their bikes and the grade of the trail was steep and the rocks large and loose. At the top we crossed over a snowfield of about 80 yards long...it was super slippery and the bike was going all over the place. Once off the snow it was a descent to a road where we would then climb up to Georgia Pass. By the top of the climb I had time on any riders chasing me. I stopped and grabbed fresh bottles and gel flasks...and off I went. For the remainder of the race, I would ride solo.....catching no riders...or be caught.
I finished the 40ish mile stage in just over 4 hours. I was the 12th guy in today....so not sure of my placing in the Solo Men's Open Field. My equipment today worked perfectly....and I got stronger as the race went on. As I sit here and type this blog report...there is some tenderness in the legs. With another hard stage tomorrow....I am hoping for all the best as the recovery process runs its course this afternoon and evening.
Elevation shows the big climbs today....and the HR was pretty even from start to finish. Tomorrow is the Wheeler Stage!
One thing to note. I have noticed at the end of every stage so far all the finishers are standing around talking, laughing, and giving high-fives. Today was not the case. Most were laying on the ground and not saying a damn thing. I like to see that! Good hard stages to make most of the racers think "WTF just happened!" Just think, we have 2 more days yet. WOOT! WOOT!