I woke up this morning feeling a bit jet lagged and tired as the time change and going to bed late wasn’t the ideal preparation for my first ride with the boys. Up early, I went down to have breakfast and to speak with Ian (BMC Head Mechanic) about a bike. He had me all set up on a team bike (Thanks Ian) and after a few minor adjustments to my position I felt like I was on my own rig which happens to be the same model so it made things easier. The ride started at 9:30, riders begin to show up at around 9:10 to make sure they have what they need – food, water bottles, enough clothing etc. There are chairs set up in the parking lot so the riders can sit and put on their shoes and accessories before heading out. There were a few photographers hanging out, as well as some fans mingling around trying not to interrupt the riders in their daily ritual but snapping photos and asking for the occasional autograph. All of the riders are super friendly and accommodating to the various requests since this is the tail end of a 2 week camp, nothing seems out of the ordinary.
9:25 AM – Michael Sayers, assistant director has a talk with the riders about today’s ride – lots of climbing, 5 hours, hard day…hmmm not great news for me. Even worse, the first climb starts in 5 miles (Hmmm maybe I should have warmed up). We head out and I ride at the back with George talking about camp and how happy he is with the team and the good feedback he’s heard about our clothing. We are both super excited about being a bigger part of the team. A few turns later and we hit the bottom of the first 5k climb. Ok not too bad at first, the few non-team members that jumped onto the back of the group on the flat roads are now gone, a little further up and the group chat has stopped and for some reason we aren’t slowing down. Here’s how the rest of the ride went:
Hmm how long is this climb anyway?
Ok we have to be getting closer to the top.
Not feeling too comfortable.
Cadel decides to drop back – good that is my insurance, they can’t leave Cadel.
Where the hell is the top? We have to be getting closer!
I’m starting to suffer but it’s a long day, I can’t go too hard. About 1k from the top I shift down and ride a more comfortable pace.
I sure hope Cadel didn’t turn around.
Thankfully he catches me on the downhill and we make it back to the group. One climb down and a whole lot of riding to come.
We ride some rollers then descend down a long climb to the ocean, hit the Pacific Coast highway and some much-welcomed flat roads. Unfortunately that didn’t last too long.
Left turn and George drops back – “Rick, this climb is terrible.” Not exactly the words I wanted to hear. We hit the first few switchbacks and it doesn’t seem that bad. How wrong I was – after about 1k left hand bend and…
What the hell is that? I don’t have a low enough gear for a grade so steep.
I guess George wasn’t exaggerating, I shift down to my lowest gear and ride a comfortable pace. Thankfully my friend Matt Skelton lives close by and we rode together up the climb and back to the hotel. We saw the boys heading the opposite direction when we were on the way back – they were going to head back to do one more similar climb. George yelled for me to join them (umm no thanks!).
On the way back we run into our good friend Doctor Ramin and ride back into town talking. Ramin just spent a week in Haiti helping earthquake victims. The world needs more good people like Ramin and less climbs.
Let’s hope tomorrow goes better.
Thanks for reading