Friday, October 23, 2015

2015 Crocodile Trophy Stage 5 and 6

Sorry for the lack of updates for the last few days - there is literally no mobile coverage/wifi/anything out here in the sticks - but we did get good ice-cream :)

Stage 5

Okay, day five of the nine day stage race - surely today we will take it a little more gentle at the start. At 95 kilometres and close to 3,000m of climb we will ease ourselves into it… Ehh, no. From the start Nicolas attacks like it is a 90 minute XCO race. After making the mistake of not doing more to hang onto the front of the race today I tried - I failed - I guess 400W+ for 15 minutes isn’t enough (too many pies - I’m not exactly fat but 1-2 kg lighter would make the difference). Fortunately though I was in a good group of four with last years GC winner Greg Saw. As we got further into the race the nice cool temperatures that we had gotten used to changed to the more typical tropical hot conditions - I was pretty baked. 

The four of us made a good chain gang and we started to slowly real in the chase group of three riders. These guys did hold onto the the lead four for a little longer than we did but were now paying for their early efforts.

The last 25 kilometres was like a road race for us, not for the speeds, more for the attacks and counter attacks - we were taking chunks off each other but nothing stuck until the final sketchy three kilometre gravel road descent down to the finish - to be frank, I didn’t have the balls to follow the lead few (I had heard about the guys who ended their race on this descent in previous years) and instead of sprinting for 5th on the stage I came in 9th. It was a solid day and in the remaining daylight hours all I could do was drink and eat (and barely had to pee).

Stage 6

I woke to find my body felt great - how did it turn out to be a bit of a disaster of a day…

The race FINALLY started at a slightly more sedate pace for the first five kilometres - we were riding up the roads we descended down the day before but as we hit the steep three kilometres of climbing the pace rose and groups split. Fortunately this time, after a bit of a crazy descent and some hard riding we formed a front group of around eleven riders. Happy days, the heat wasn’t bothering me and my legs felt good. Sometimes I wonder if some guys have the self preservation genes turned on - break neck speeds down gravel roads we have not seen with a nice marblely  coating on the corners…

Today we would have three feed zones (you have to fill your own bottles although today they did a bottle drop too) and as we neared the first I slowed and stopped to fill up (an average of 35C for the day with humidity!) - crap, no one else did and now I’m watching them ride off into the distance… Well, at least I’m not thirsty. On these trails we were averaging around 30 and being in a group was critical - not so for me today - I would spend almost all of the day solo. 

I got back going, legs were still good and I had the hope of picking off folks as they blow up from the heat. 20 kilometres later I see Greg Saw and the Spanish rider Milton. Greg rides about 30 seconds in front of Milton and I for the next 40 kilometres and we ride pretty well together - he is a climber type and the long flats suit me more so I pulled a little more - he seemed to be having his first bad day (at this point he was 5th on GC).

Around 40k to go the roads got to Milton and I went on chasing Greg myself catching him shortly after the last feedzone. Hitting the final set of climbs disaster struck - my rear derailleur cable snapped as well as my motivation. Greg rode by and I did what i could - I screwed in the limit screw so the rear derailleur sat in the 14t cog and just got on with it - I had to walk a few climbs (I was feeling great coming into these climbs and now felt in a pretty crappy mood) and coasted the fast descents.

I finished feeling a bit sorry for myself - I ended up 8th on the stage and only a few minutes off 5th which was annoying me.

I started to feel less sorry for myself when I saw the luck of some of the other top 10 riders - Nicolas, who had been 2nd on GC triple punctured and finished after me dropping him down the GC and french rider Vincent Arnaud who I had been battling for a few days crashed into a car on the final descent and finishing the stage in a car. Fortunately he is fine but that can’t be said for his front wheel or saddle.

Today I felt good and with me effectively riding easy for the finally 45 minutes I’m hoping I have similar legs for tomorrow. I’m motivated!

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