This was my worst day ever on a bike. 280 k of painful struggle against an un-willing body and the worst conditions imaginable.
I knew I was caught up shit creek when I had trouble walking after yesterdays stage. Not so much from being tired but from my glute/hamstring attachment condition that so far has been hard to diagnose. My latest examination revealed a calcification in this area and it all stems from a small injury that I had in May last year.
Sometimes when I ride really hard this area flares up and becomes red hot painful with (I guess) inflammation. This fall, the more I trained the better it´s been. The only time it was really fucked up was after a very tough 250 k ride four weeks ago. I could hardly walk pain free the day after, let alone run.
Yesterday, it was very bad. I did all I could to heal including ice, massage, recov pump boots, compression socks, painkillers and hot/cold creme.
It started good enough today though. We rolled out at an easy pace much different than last year. The winds had kicked up and had kicked down a tree down the road so we rode neutralized for a while. The rain started pouring 10 minutes in and after having in vain tried to pee civilized, with my dick out, I realized it wasn´t going to matter at all. Peeing was all in-house after that.
80 k or so in we were three guys at front but I wasn´t feeling the love from my body. Heartrate was low and good but my legs, especially my left leg, were stuck in mud. My left glute was crying uncle and I soon had to see Alexandre Ribeiro ride away.
Another 20 k or so later I had to get off my bike and lay on the grass and pop some painkillers. I don´t like taking Tylenol and such but this was an emergency and I was at a make or break border. But I wasn´t going to give in that easy. I still had a lot of good fighting to do.
On went the misery tour and Hilo came and went. The steel crate bridge felt more than slippery and I didn´t want to go down there and get cheese grated. Soon after I got a flat and my day got better and better.
The winds were worse than I remember them being and it was a slow ride from Hilo. I occassionally clipped my left leg out and pedalled only with my right leg, all along gritting and spitting in the face of dismay. I kept reminding myself I should be so lucky to actually have two legs, even if one was a no good sumbitch leg, when we have people in this race with only one leg and a prosthetic.
When we had maybe 90 k I started riding slightly better. I had resigned myself to having a dark day on the bike and knew that only getting to the stage finish would be a victory in it self. The winds backed up and I could use some momentum and once I had Waimea in my mental reach I brightened up a tad bit. I even considered talking with my crew but I feared that if I smiled or joked they would finally pull me off the course citing insanity on my part. They had been so worried about me that they had stopped talking to me too, afraid that an off beat comment would set me off either crying or screaming.
When I reached Waimea I never expected that the worst part of the day lay ahead. I always regarded this part to be cake walk. A nice wind-in-the-back climb and than a celebratory decsent to the finish. And yes, there was wind allright!
I have never ever ridden in such weird and howling winds. Sure, I was a beaten dog by now but I´m still at 180 lbs and for me to pushed all over the road there will have to be strong gusts!
I had serious trouble staying on the right side of the road and some asshole drivers came very close to hitting me when they, probably all fat and delirious from eating donuts or Burger King, didn´t give me an extra inch to work with and insisted on passing at a touch and go range.
It actually got to the point of scaryness that I screamed to my crew to ride right behind me in order to prevent passing cars to come that close. This was a great tactic of preventive care until race marshalls warned us. Appearantly this is against the rules. Sure, but if the rules are there to safe guard the athletes, this was not a good rule at the moment. We didn´t give a fuck about the rules anyway as we clearly were more motivated to keep me alive and standing. This approach did not sit well with the rule-follwers of the world so I was given a six minute penalty. I wouldn´t exactly call that sound judgement on their part as I clearly didn´t gain any advantage in speed but merely in safety. A bullshit call, if there was ever one!
Coming down the hill on the other side was even more scary. The wind roared so loud through the trees that it sounded like being in a flight engine. I held on for dear life and twisted and tossed my way down the 10 miles to the finish.
I had to sit down for a long while after crossing the finish line with head in hands. I wanted to quit a million times today and I wouldn´t let myself. I couldn´t let myself.
We filed a complaint about the penalty and I don´t know what happened. We left shortly after and are spending the night at Hilton Waikoloa. I´m still in the lead, I just don´t know by how much.