If the climbs on Stage 1 warranted me with leading out my blog with “insane”...then I don’t know how to start todays. Sierra Road is a wall. Walking up the thing is challenging enough, let alone riding a bike up it. You climb just under 2000 vertical feet in less than five miles. With a full gear ratio it’s enough to cause cardiac arrest. Yet every single one of the MASH guys grinded it out and made it to the top. Something that other cycling industry friends have since gotten wind of and called me to verify. Truly, truly, unbelievable.
After I watched the guys climb, I drove the course to the top of Patterson Pass where I was going to wait out the pro peloton and pull open the cooler so that the MASH guys could have some food at the mid-way. It was an incredible backdrop. The Clif Bar Sprinter against a hill covered in wind turbines and the road stretching off into the distance.
It only takes a minute or so for the hurricane that is the pro peloton to go by. Then all of the fans parked on the road make their way down the mountain and the MASH guys get to, once again, take to the road without the blaring lights of a police escort.
Today was a long one. Weather came and went. Having to get off the road for the Peloton, wait out its arrival and then get back on the bike to continue can tax you a bit mentally. Add a few flats to the mix without a host of supplies ready to go on a sag wagon and you can get a bit beat down. I might have tossed in the towel all together. But the MASH guys pushed on.
By the time we reached Modesto, it was nightfall. Our two vans were shielding the riders on the side of the roads and using our headlights to reflect light off of the wet streets in order for the riders to see. You can’t doubt the passion that these guys have to complete this challenge that they’ve put upon themselves. When we arrived at the finish, it was little more than production crews tearing down in the rain. Three different passers-by in cars yelled, “Hey, gimme those bikes” while another gentleman was shooting-up ten feet away from our parked van on a park bench. We loaded up as quickly as we could and made way for an Italian restaurant.
Tomorrow we head to the Gold Country. The weather report on my iPhone actually shows a promise of sunshine for Stage 4. We can only hope.
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- Guest Starring