Friday 19 August 2011

Cyclebetes Day 3 ~ Kamloops to Golden

Another early start on day 3, and our group was to ride first again. This is the day I had most looked forward to leading up the relay because of it's unique conditions. The longest day of the western portion of the ride, today we would cover 380km as a team, including Rogers Pass, the 1350m mountain pass through the Rockies.

A much more peaceful and serene leg would kickoff the day, however, with a long flat stretch between Kamloops and Salmon Arm. Our group, narrowed to 4 for today, started promptly at 6:00am, following the highway out of Kamloops, heading east. With a fast pace right from the get-go, we covered a whopping 52km in our 1 hour and 45 minute shift. By the end of this shift, we had our drafting down to an art form, each taking 10 minute intervals at the lead before dropping back to the rear to draft. The system was working for us and we looked darn good too.

Shift 2 was not so great. We started right at the base of Mount Revelstoke Park, just ahead of a large black thunder cloud. The thunder was audible, but the rain was light enough that I contemplated not wearing a rain jacket. Man am I glad I did! Within 2 minutes of riding, the rain was torrential, with thunder and lightning, and heavy, heavy rains. Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, it started hailing. And not just regular little hail stones, but big marble size hail. Within 5 minutes of riding I was soaked through to my skin and freezing. After 30 minutes I was so cold, I couldn't feel my hands and feet and started to worry that I wouldn't be able to pull my brake levers because my fingers were so cold. I was literally chilled to the bone and could not shake it. So, as much as I hated my decision, I had to cut my shift short and warm up in the RV. My group went on to have a stunning ride through the park while I watched. Bummer, but what can you do, right?

Next area we rode through was the lead up to Rogers pass. Now anyone who knows me or has ridden with me knows I hate riding up hills. In fact, that's not even entirely accurate; I am terrified of riding up hills. When I see a large hill coming up in the distance, I can feel my body physiology start to change - my heart rate accelerates, my palms sweat, and my stomach starts to spin. It's gotten quite ridiculous actually, but I know it's all in my head. I decided then and there that the only way I could ever overcome my fear is to face it head on. So at the next shift change (not my regular shift) I jumped out to ride. I thought I was getting out about 1/4 of the way up Rogers pass, where the grade isn't too steep, but it turned out we were actually about 1/3 up the mountain already and the worst section was about to come.

I cranked up the volume on my iPod and just started pedaling. I forced myself to look at the pavement immediately in front of me, instead of at the massive hill ahead and I simply just kept going...and going, and going, and going. For some bizarre reason, I felt terrific; I had a ton of energy, and my legs felt fresh and strong, even with the 68km they had already pedaled that morning. My original plan was to go as long as I could, whether that be 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour, but I was going to cap it at an hour at the most and save some energy for one more shift later. At about the 45 minute mark I realized I was easily going to finish the hour. I rode the last 15 minutes and hopped into the RV, so proud of my accomplishment. Total distance in that hour: 18km, all uphill.

My final shift of the day started 32km outside of Golden, at the base of the Rogers Pass descent. It wasn't my turn to ride, but I still had tons of energy and I wanted to get back out there. I wound up riding most of the way alone, but that's ok. It had been a long, emotional day and I was just happy to ride. Total distance for day 3 was 116km - a good hard day and one to remember for a long time.

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