Today’s stage left and ended in Santa Rosa. See map below.

Overall the total elevation gain does not reflect the difficulty of today’s ride. The elevation chart below shows some steep climbs and descents, where there were several 18% grades. The first climb was steady and warmed up the peleton well. I led the first long descent, and we rolled right past the first van stop at mile 20. Matty Matt took our picture as we flew by, and I’m certain it is going to be a sweet print since I was driving the train. It’s Matt’s birthday, so he deserves that treat.

As we approached the base of King’s Ridge (I was still driving) people started asking where the van stop was and whining that they had to pee. I was good to go. I had driven the train for 10+ miles AND I was the KOM leader, having won both hill climbs yesterday. I know, I don’t look like much of a hill climber, but I was off the front and had stolen the climbs from the climbers. I figured my only chance to get in the top 3 for either of the two climbs that had points for KOM was to push on and make the people that ran out of water or had to pee suffer. I figured even if I pushed on it would be a challenge to get any points, but it would be my only chance. Well, I gave in. The pee break turned into an eating break, and people needing water. World and National Champ Jerry Logan and National Champ Mike Freeman turned and dashed back to town to get water. I thought this is getting ridiculous, so I said “let’s go” and started heading up. It wasn’t long before I realized I was settling in at 8th on the hill. About half way up Mike Freeman came flying by me as if there wasn’t even a hill. I couldn’t believe it, especially since Jerry told me how he was planning on just sitting back and riding with Mike today. Jerry was nowhere in sight. Now in 9th I saw Andrew Lee falling back and pushed to catch him. Every time he looked back I got a little more motivated. At the crest, as he was coasting in for the van stop, I pushed by him for my very small victory of the day. Mike Freeman, Tommy Brown, Mike Brown and Kenny Rodriguez had already left the van and pushed on for the next climb.

To me it was a much tougher day than yesterday. The climbs were brutal, the descent fast and sometimes sketchy, and the flats on the way in turned into super fast pace lines and chasing. I finished the day 5th overall. The Brown brothers and Kenny rolled in first. Andrew and I had been riding together, but I got gapped on a short climb and I never could catch back up. I was time trialling it and could tell that the gap was slowly becoming longer and longer. I was praying that he would miss a turn, or stop to look at his route sheet, but he was on it the whole way in.

After the finish I did a short stop at the pool and spa, then it was Chilli’s for dinner. About an hour after that I went out for pizza and had a pizza. Still hungry when I returned to the hotel I had a King Size peanut M&Ms. I’m spent, and now it’s time to hit the sack to get ready for day 3 of 5.