The MASH crew gets started each day around two or three hours ahead of the peloton. Half of the days they’ve gotten caught and move to the side of the road...the other half they’ve crossed the finish line first and watched the pros come across just after them. While there haven’t been many spectators around in the morning when we get started...on a few of the days there have been small crews of guys on track bikes hoping for an opportunity to meet the guys. It has been good to see these guys get recognition for what they’re doing and some moral support at 8am is most definitely helpful.
One of the guys who showed up this morning was a local eighteen year old from the Santa Clarita area who was both a fan of the MASH crew as well as inspired by what they’d been doing the past week. So much so that he put the challenge on himself to ride the entire stage from Santa Clarita to Pasadena. Welcoming and encouraging of anyone who’s up to the task, the guys in MASH told him to join them if he’d like, but that they had to keep their pace and that there’d be a chance that he’d be riding solo. He took them up on their offer and made it the first 15 or so miles with the crew before needing to slow his pace (that’s him with the guys entering into the tunnel). Pretty cool. He got a chance to ride his bike side by side with his heroes. Kind of like if I would have gotten to ride with Andy Hamsten at the Coors Classic in the mid 80s.
Today was another day of some serious elevation gain. I’d encourage anyone to try for a gain of 3500 feet in 15 miles on a track bike. Then try descending almost the same elevation with no freewheel and no brakes. That’s no joke.
I didn’t get to see the peloton today until just before the circuits in Pasadena and then the finish. Today was Christian Vande Velde’s day. He was incredibly strong coming in to the circuits and caught an unfortunate rear flat. He got quick support and was able to squeeze back through the field to the lead group, but that thrust would ultimately cost him in the end and he came across the line just 7 seconds after the leaders.
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