This morning in the parking lot, I overheard a conversation between a mechanic and a rider.
Rider: "So, did you get all the issues with my bike sorted out?"
Mechanic: "Well, yes. Most of them."
Mechanic: "Your crank was about to fall off. Oh, and your bottom bracket was loose. Otherwise everything was good, I think."
Today's stage was a challenging stage which included a jaunt over French Pass which tops out at over 12,000 feet. I did manage to bring my total number of flats for the 2010 edition to four today, somehow finding a three-inch rusty nail on the trail about eigh miles into the race.
It was about the best case scenario for a flat tire however, because I flatted in the first feed station. The race mechanics were there, so they put a tube in while I rehydrated. I was back on the bike super fast, they even had a compressor set up! I asked them to save my rusty nail as a souvenir. At least the cause of my flat was easily ascertainable.
This left me heading into the race going right into French Pass, which takes about an hour to get up and over, including two hike-a-bike sections (unless you are Matt Shriver, then it only has one hike-a-bike because he was one of the few who rode the second section).
Over the top of the pass, I was just behind "All Mountain Ross Schnell", who is a legend in the world of mountain biking, in case you don't know. He put some distance between me on the rugged descent down the far side of the pass, but I was really happy when we began the next climb up Georgia Pass and he was not light years ahead of me.
It was raining and cold on the far side of the course, and many riders were forced to stop and find clothes in the second aid station, but I brought along my internal Old Man heating system, and it did its job well. 45 degrees and raining, and somehow I was fine in a summer base layer, arms and long-fingered cross country gloves.
The sun came out for the impossibly long and steep American Gulch climb back towards Breck. My only salvation was knowing it from the year before, which basically meant little voices in my cerebellum reminding me that it was not over yet, even though the voices in my cerebrum insisted that each steep pitch must be the top.
I toggled my Garmin to register percent gradient on the climb, and was quite interested to see it registering between 40 and 50 percent repeatedly. The climb was really, really steep, but somehow I don't think 44 percent was right. Makes for a good story though.
Shifting was a bit challenging at times today, due to the huge blister on my left finger from yesterdays CO2 explosion. Those things are dangerous, don't underestimate them. Check out my photographic evidence if you are not a believer.
After the stage, we utilized the highly scientific "dunk your legs in a freezing sludge pond to severely constrict the blood vessels" technique. I could not walk for about 15 minutes afterwards, but other than that, it was great.
Tomorrow's stage is the new one - Keystone. I am sure there will be more stories to tell.