Wednesday, 3 November 2010

5 passes day 3

Sunday - I got up early with very tight hip flexors and thought a short run might help loosen me off. We have a pretty leisurely late start to the ride today since it's only 100km. Only 100km maybe, but it will include the BIG climb of the Tour: Arthurs Pass. I'm excited, since for the last 3 years that we've visited Christchurch this legendary climb has become a somewhat of an itch, just that little bit too far a-feild to scratch. Even for steven! With rather sore legs, I'm a more than a little apprehensive too and perhaps others are feeling the same as it's really quiet a relaxed pace as we set off and roll toward Stillwater for a regroup and start of the clock on Open Stage 6.Through the Tour, for each stage we are started in our category group and individually timed across the stage finish by means of an electronic chip on our bikes passing the sensor mat. The yellow jersey is worn by the rider with the shortest total stage times at the end of the previous day - and in this case, each category has their own yellow. The fact that in certain cases lower grade riders have faster total stage times than those in the higher categories reflects the variable nature of bike racing. For example, it may be tactically advantageous for teams to slow the pace of the peloton if they have a rider in a breakaway. On the other hand, riders continually making unsuccessful attempts to breakaway, will tend to increase the general speed of riding in the peloton. All riders finishing with the bunch are awarded the same time regardless of their actual finish order.
Not planning to ride hard this morning whatever the plans of teams in my group happen to be today, I discretely exit the rear of the bunch. I soon catch up to Kim who has made similar move, and we ride together enjoying perfectly clear views of the mountains around us. We're ticking along a good pace - not exactly dawdling, sometimes side by side but mostly sharing the work, so I'm surprised and impressed when Mary, who i'd assumed to have been left long behind us in a slower bunch, appears from nowhere to join us. She'd found the pace of the group too relaxed and decided to reel us in. So we are three again. We cant help but pick it up through two sprints Kim challenging for the second and then laughing at me for rising to it! Then slow it down for a while behind a herd of cows using the road (bulls, actually, warned the farmer) and start climbing gradually as the road turns to the mountains. Did i mention that the scenery here os fantastic?
A stop at Jacksons famous pie shop for coke and Tasti (very) nut bars and steel ourselves for the ordeal ahead. The climb had beed described to me turn by turn - the worst of it apparently being 'the viaduct', 18% with the surface of the road stirruped in order to provide some grip! With pretty aggressive TT geometry and most of the design smarts at QR were committed to the aerodynamic brilliance of the CD.01, little heed was paid to the weight of the bike. Who'd think to ride a time trail bike up a mountain? Bar end shifting it was really just a case of stick it in the 39/25 and heave the pedals around. There were several moments as the road got steep...and remained steep...that it was a case of get that pedal turned, or fall off. I've ridden steeper climbs, and at 9km i've certainly ridden longer climbs, but nothing that steep for that long. I managed to pick off a few of the guys that'd gotten ahead on the more relaxed gradients at the beginning, partly due to the power/weight ratios playing in my favour on this sort of pitch, partly due to having to keep that gear turning at that rate or i'd be at a standstill! Anyway, I think it earned me a little respect - when the road flattened off for the race to the line, there were no serious challenges made and someone said ' go for it Jo, you deserve it'. We rolled down the other side into teh village of Aurthur's Pass, where a BBQ and beers were waiting once again. I did i a token little leg-loosening run off the bike, before getting stuck in!

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