photo by Cheryl King
WORDS: Dan Craven
ToB Stage 5
Waking heart rate: horrendous. I’m a cyclist, I can’t count that fast anymore.
Alarm wakes me from a deep slumber at seven. Roll over. Groan.
Waking in the morning holds it’s own little special importance in stage race mode. The first sensations give you a bit of an indication as to how you have recovered and maybe, if you know your body well enough, how you are going to perform that day. Are the muscles that cramped yesterday shouting out for sympathy? Is the neck stiff – tired of your entire body tensing up while hanging onto the handlebars (in the gutter as the HTC train does a sedate 60km/h in the crosswinds)? Has your stomach churned all night and is starting to rebel against all of the hi-carb nourishment that you have been shoveling into it to keep the legs alive?
Or are you just feeling completely drained and fed up of riding in the rain?
…now that sounds vaguely familiar.
After my shocking waking heart rate, dragging myself to the breakfast buffet and forcing down food, I retired to my bed for a few moments and lived in hope that 8h30, departure time, would never come. Needless to say – no such luck. Felt like a punch to the crown jewels.
Strangely though, there seems to be an odd repetition starting to prove more than just coincidence. Waking up feeling almost sick, but not, is proving to be a sign that my body is recovering and that the day will be better than the last. As soon as the race started, it was evident that there was a bit of a spring back in my step and although the legs were far from feeling sprightly, their old self does seem to be returning. One pedal stroke at a time.
So it is ever fitting that the day became a lot easier than expected. Besides some of the aforementioned guttering by Team HTC and some more frantic chasing down of threatening breaks, the entire day was controlled and relatively easy in the bunch. After the mad start, an eight man break of non-threatening riders (to the yellow jersey that is) was formed and the peloton was able to cruise along behind. Besides a dangerous attack by Richie Porte and Patrick Sinkewitz, resulting in pandemonium and pain for 20 kilometers, the rest of the day was pretty sedate, giving everyone in the bunch a much needed respite from the last few days of hard riding made all the better thanks to an appearance from a special guest, as the sun came out for a while, giving all the Italians in the bunch some hope again.
Thanks to that, the 175km stage became something of a rest day. As mad as it sounds, my legs just loved today.
Before I log off, a big ‘‘big thank you’’ to the organizers for throwing in a four hour transfer from the South West (Glastonbury) to East Anglia (Peterborough). Nice.
And if any of you are wondering. It turns out that camper van drivers need nature breaks too. Sorry Martyn – but the five of us really wanted to get that four hour transfer over and done with, thanks for holding. ;)
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