Today’s post is going to be short and sweet as I am writing it on my phone due to a lack of WiFi and I am too tired to find out if one is a available. I will update it with more detail later, so do check back.
We left Boulder in the sunshine heading to the first timed section of the day, the climb up Sugerloaf. With sections with a gradient in excess of 15% and only the first climb of the day it was going to be an epic day. I felt good on the climb and enjoyed hanging with different riders.
The second timed section was rolling with some hard climbing and gravel. I started the climb feeling good, then boom my chain broke. It took me time to untangle the chain which had wrapped itself tightly around the bottom bracket, then a minute to figure out that the speed link had failed. By then the group behind had caught me and luckily the Mavic Support car was right behind. As you can imagine if you have ever raced I was eager to limit my loses. Whilst the Mavic car was a life saver it seemed to take forever and the mechanic could not engage the new link. I stepped in and connected the link and thought I was off only to find the chain run behind the front mech. The chain had to be broken and re threaded. All in all I lost between 10 - 20 minutes. Back on the bike I pushed a little harder to try to recover lost time.
There was a long ride between time section 2 and 3 during which we were rained and hailed on. Not fun. We arrived at the feed station before section 3 to receive conflicting information. We were initially told the section was cancelled due to the weather. The Haute Route team told us the road was clear. The state patrol officer thought it was a bad idea. In the end after waiting around we headed out for the 20km climb up Berthoud Pass. On retrospect it was a bad idea. The weather closed in and at the top the snow was blowing in sideways. I found the climb hard due to a combination of riding hard earlier in the day, the weather and the altitude. I felt light headed, sick and had periods of difficulty breathing all whilst trying to maintain a steady tempo. I conseeded to riding within myself. At the top I could have bailed out but with another rider just ahead I decided to ride to the finish. The decision was seriously flawed, touching speeds of 50mph in driving / freezing snow everything started to shutdown. My head froze, my eyes felt like they were freezing, visibily was minimal. I could not feel my hands and I experienced waves of altitude sickness decending quickly from 11297ft. I was riding my brakes hard and repeated the mantra, rubber side down, stay up over and over again as I felt my vision tunneling. As I got lower the temprature lifted a little and I was able to make it to the finish.
At the finish a Haute Route official said let’s get you warm which was a great suggestion but then proceed to lead me to the official bag drop and leave me. Freezing and disoriented it took me a few minutes to figure out where I was. I finally saw Phil’s bike in a cafe opposite and walked in. As soon as I sat down my entire body started to shake violently. The guys at the table were amazing, they got me tea and soup, but my mind and body would not respond. I got in to some dry cloths but the shakes just persisted. I want to thank everyone at the table for there help. It took 2 hours before things started to settle down.
Thank goodness for the support of Team Type 1 staff. The got me back to the hotel and once in the room I had a hot bath, short sleep and a much needed massage. Now it is time to sleep and recover for Stage 3.