Completed 86 miles and 600ft of elevation.
This morning I got an extra hour in bed with my alarm going off at 6am. I reached over and turned the light on before I turned over and went back to sleep. I was tired but today was the last stage and I intended to finish strong.
Stage 8 was a pancake flat stage with just a little over 600ft of accumulative elevation. We kitted up this morning at the hotel and road 15 minutes to the start line and then we were off. The ride started out mellow and I am sure like me others were reflecting on there week. I was very pleasantly surprised about how good I felt, sure my legs felt tired but nowhere near as badly as I thought they would feel.
The group stayed together for the first couple of hours and then the pace lifted as eight riders including me pulled away. The day might have been flat but the head and cross winds made it hard work on the front. We did turns pulling and the time flew by. I could not believe it was nearly all over. Before long the over enthusiasm of some of the riders in our group started to show and by the end of the ride we were down to 6 riders with one having to be helped along by the coach.
As a result me and one other ended up doing the majoring of the pulling in the last 2 hours of the ride. It was not exactly the easy day I had envisioned but it was really good to finish strong. We came in as the woman's race was finishing so we did not get a chance to cross the finish line which was a little disappointing but quickly forgotten.
After changing out of my kit and grabbing a bit to eat, I headed to the VIP tent with plans on a last visit to the Expo. The VIP tent was packed and after seeing the woman's race finish and bumping into Freddie I decided to head back to the trailer to watch the race come n to TV instead of just getting a glimpse as they charged the line. I headed towards the Expo and took one look and decided to give it a miss. It was swarming with people and honestly I just wanted to chill out and watch the race come home.
With the riders home it was time to pack up and head back to the hotel. Whilst everyone was returning I took the time to watch the riders return to there team buses. Once back at the hotel it was time for a final massage followed by packing to return home. It was odd not to be preparing for a ride tomorrow but also really nice to be heading home to my girls.
We gathered in the hotel lobby at 6:45pm for a final group dinner at a local restaurant where everyone shared there trip highlights. When it was my turn I shared both the lows of the crash and the highs of the achievement. The highest point for me came today from my darling wife Sarah. She has invested and sacrificed so much for me to take on this challenge. Supporting me through the training, putting up with the hours on the bike, the seemingly endless requirement for equipment and ensuring that I fueled properly both on and off the bike. So when I texted her the message "I finished :)" it was not exactly the message she was expecting which as a stupid man I was completely oblivious to. She said 5 words that meant more to me than anything else "I am proud of you". I can't wait to see her tomorrow.
I hope you have enjoyed the journey with me, it has been a real pleasure to share it with you and I hope in some small way you are inspired to climb your mountain whatever that might be.
Here are a few pictures from the day:
Remember to keep it Rubber Side Down and MaxLifeOut