I found it amazing how difficult it was to keep going so hard each successive day. It was a lot like alpine climbing, only without much threat or hazard. In that, I found I could pour out much more than I would in the mountains since I was not in any real danger. Still, I did have to dig similarly deep into my reserves of will power to scrape up enough energy to continue the level of output that it demanded of me to stay in the lead. The ascents would be total lung scorchers, having me breathing as hard as I possibly could. the descents would offer an initial respite in that the aerobic demands would be given a break, but the mental difficulty increased dramatically here by forcing me to push my bike to the limit going down rough, rocky and often loose trail and roads at dangerously fast speeds. My body would ache during the descents as I’d be tensed up trying to deliver my total focus to the trail and bike handling in order to keep things moving as fast as possible. I’d be begging for more climbing to give my fingers, shoulders, back and mind a break. Then, it’d be th lungs’ turn again.
Stage 1: 3:37:49, 39.5 miles, 6,000′
Stage 2: 3:50:03, 39 miles, 5,300′
Stage 3: 4:05:08, 39.5 miles, 5,950′
Stage 4: 4:07:15, 42 miles, 6,000′
Stage 5: 3:02:30, 27.3 miles, 4,300′
Stage 6: 2:34:13, 31.5 miles, 3,300′
Totals: 21:16:48, 219 miles, 30,850′
That’s a big chunk of terrain to cover. A LOT of it was rocky so the mileage took it’s toll on me. I felt good for the first three stages, then it was a progressive slide downwards. I had built up a pretty good lead after stage four (my toughest) and then played a game of hanging on and trying not to wreck or have any mechanical problems. By the final stage, I was hammered and flat. I rode as hard as I could, but couldn’t manage to stay with Mr. Melley as he dug into my hard work and 12:30 gap, taking 9 of those minutes off by the time I dragged my self across the finish line, holding onto second place for that stage and the overall lead. As much as I would have liked to have felt stronger on the final day, my strategy worked to give me the win.
It will take me a while to recover from this one. Now, its time to get back to the business of climbing mountains!