Tuesday, September 9, 2014

THE Vuelta Rest Day 2: Entering the home stretch

You know a race is long if it has the ability to reconfigure your body clock. I’m now going to bed around 11:30 each night and waking up between 8 and 8:30. I’d say that maybe I’m not such an old man after all, but I’m writing this fresh off a much-needed nap, so that argument doesn’t hold much water.

Speaking of water, our hotel for today and tomorrow has a beach-view, which is nice. And a beach smell, which can be nice if the wind is blowing in the right direction.

This rest day was desperately needed. It’s nice to break the routine and just have a day of laying around, but our minds are so deep into the stage race vortex that it’ll take more than one day to heal the thousand-yard stare we’ve developed. It seems like every stage was, at the same time, yesterday and a year ago. Our legs can make great use of a day “off” (only 40km ridden today!), though. The last 4 stages comprised the hardest 4-day block I’ve ever undertaken, nevermind how far into the race they were! The rest day is also greeted happily by our sit-bones and digestive systems.

Just 5 stages remain, and every day is a new adventure. I’m so far into the unknown right now that all I can do is take it one day at a time, just as I have been. I just have to remember that everybody is tired and suffering.

Yesterday also saw a pair of unusual events. The fistfight was silly, but it’s hard to have a fight and look respectable when you’re riding a bike and trying not to fall off it. There are a few hotheads in the bunch, and nerves can fray after a couple weeks of racing against the same guys who do the same stuff time and time again. It is usually only puffery, though, and serves only as material to keep us laughing when we reenact the drama at dinner.

On a saddening note, one of the Guardia Civil motorcycle officers that keeps us safe died in a crash yesterday. I don’t know the circumstances of the crash, but it’s sobering to think that someone died while we were playing bike racers. I’ve been impressed with the fleet of officers that close the roads down and give us the confidence to fly around blind turns at ridiculous speeds. They’re a crucial part of the sport, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family.