Yesterday was supposed to be our recovery day, but with repeated attacks over and over and over, and then the relentless climb up Geyser Ridge it was anything but a rest day. Today’s ride was supposed to have the most climbing, but it is really how those miles are executed that make the difference.

After a poor night sleep, and a hearty breakfast I went back to the hotel room and lied down on the bed instead of getting ready. I was downright tired. I thought I was tired yesterday! The thought of skipping the day and staying in bed crossed my mind. For some reason I thought everyone would understand that and leave me alone, but I know that would never happen. Well, this is why I am here, so I got ready and headed down for the start. The pre-ride brief mentioned short cuts, and those sounded tempting too, but I knew that wasn’t really an option. Then Kevin presented the black jersey winners for yesterday’s feats, and I was awarded one for racing foolishly, not following the rules for my solo break by announcing “I am Thor, God of Thunder – All Mortal Men Weep in My Presence!” which is supposedly how I secured my fate to doing extra climbing and not coming anywhere close to KOM points or a stage win. I thought he was joking, but I just looked back at the rules, and he is right, it’s in the rules. Not that it matters anyway. There is no questioning Kevin because all judgments are arbitrary and final… and arbitrary.

With much hesitation I decided I would just hang back with Jeff who had just finished an Ironman on Saturday, and I would not attack or worry about anything that resembled competition. I’m not sure what I was thinking because even when I tried to take it easy I would end up near the front, or on the front. Our first climb up Mount St. Helena began just 10 miles into the ride. I wasn’t warmed up yet, and was gasping for air as I started the climb. “Why am I up front again?” Well, the group broke up quickly and I realized I was riding with the same guys again: Mike Armbruster, Mark, Mike Brown, Tommy, and Andrew. Uggghhh… I didn’t want to hang out with these guys anymore. Well, I also didn’t feel like drifting back down the hill to the next group. Oh yeah, Bobo was there too. He apparently found his legs today. Next thing I knew Kevin bridged up to us, and I chose to just sit back and relax. There came a point in the climb where there was a small dip and as the group started to ascend they slowed. I had generated enough momentum that I wanted to stick with it and surged past the group. Yes, of course it was interpreted as an attack that I would have to pay for later, but if I had allowed my wheels to slow before climbing again I risked being gapped.

I ended up finishing the climb with Andrew, who noted a 15% grade at one point. Overall I liked this climb much better than the climbs we did the last two days because I maintained some decent momentum through it. I earned 4th on the climb, but since KOM points only go to the top 3, 4th is essentially last.

An awesome descent into St. Helena and we met the van where Matty Matt had a box of awesome pastries. Donuts around cyclist are a dangerous thing. Imagine a piece of hamburger tossed into a pool full of starving piranhas. In fact we waited there so long, enjoying refined sugar and everything non-Paleo that everyone that did the climb rejoined us. It was a nice rollout from that van stop, but the single file pace line gradually became faster as we circled around a small lake. Gradually people started falling off. This was more what I was looking for today. There were no attacks, just a nice steady tempo pace, staying out of the red zone.

The next van stop was a nice casual stop. That’s right. I didn’t attack in the feed zone. Instead I enjoyed the break in Pope Valley, a rundown 4 corners town with a general store a market and a garage. There were a lot of tow trucks, tractor parts, and old tires. Our group at this point consisted of myself, Scott, Jeff, Andrew, Tommy, Mark, Bobo, Mike and Mike. We finally rolled on and our next climb was soon after. It was a long winding narrow road that went on and on, but I enjoy climbs like this. Although we weren’t near the KOM points, Jeff and I killed the awesome descent. We soft pedaled for quite a while before Mike, Mike, Tommy, and Bobo joined us. I wasn’t sure where Andrew and Scott were, but we were moving again. When we arrived in Calistoga we stopped on an earlier agreed upon lunch stop. What a great day! Tempo riding with breaks!

After we were done eating we started to become a little concerned about where Scott and Andrew were, but then they rolled up. Soon after, Kevin and Curt showed up. It was a long break, and then we found the van stop just a mile later. They were wondering where the heck we were. Nobody really thought to notify them, and I’m sure they would have like a sandwich too. Even though we had already eaten, we descended on the van as if we hadn’t eaten or drank anything for hours.

We only had about 30 miles left, but about 20 miles before the official finish since we didn’t want to be racing within Santa Rosa. The pace was swift, and became even swifter when the attacks began. Now we were down to myself, Andrew, Tommy, Mike Brown, Bobo and Jeff. So, yes, I did get to ride with Jeff today, but that was because he was killing it. Who would have thought multiple days of fast centuries would be a good recovery plan after an Ironman? Anyway, I joined in the attacks and tried to put the screws to Tommy. It was all done though when we hit the final climb. Even though it was short, I popped and was done. There was plenty of hard riding with Jeff, but the rest of the group was gone. We saw Mike Brown a little ahead with a flat, so we finished 4th and 5th. It was a great day, and I felt good enough after to get a short run in.

My ride here on Strava.