Okay, a sumo on a bike.. I must admit it was a little unusual to pass a guy riding his bicycle in the heat of the day clan only in his briefs. Hair up in a kind of bun and some extra weight made me think he looked like a sumo wrestler who had been through “America’s Biggest Loser.”
Some unsportsmanlike behavior yesterday caused the director to cancel our timing yesterday. Several racers left early. I was a little disappointed by their actions and the wasted effort. Plus I am still needing to recover from days of timed stages.
Unfortunately there are participants who don’t ride when the going gets tough and then stay up keeping others awake. I don’t care whether they choose to ride but I do care if they prevent me from resting.
Looks like that has improved now that I have expressed my opinion about this to Rob who is in charge. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that there are some very inconsiderate individuals (adults) on this epic journey. Amazing behavior. It reminds me of the maturity of middle school children I taught for 30 years. They have an excuse of age.
When I think back on that ride I am reminded of another stage back in Peru. That was the stage to Cerro de Pasco which was also brutal. Cerro de Pasco was incredibly cold. As I recall one cyclist suffered from hypothermia. In the case of stage 66 it was the 35 km dirt/sand road which lead up what seemed to be a never ending ascent to a remote police station called Tocota. My speed was probably only around 7 km/h. The sandy conditions required considerable effort and attention to the track I chose. Apparently the police keep a check on illegal hunting of the guanaco which are similar to the vicuna.
Upon reaching Tocota I was badly dehydrated and totally exhausted. I was done. My mistake was pouring water from my bottle over my neck to cool down. What a prize.
Stage 56.. 9:00 am start. 150 km I tried to make some space but looked back to find Joost on my rear wheel. At about 80 km I sweared on the road by mistake and ended up on his wheel. We raced on and when I saw the lunch truck I decided not to stop. We both continued pushing all the way to the end at a campground with the same finish time of 13:58. Quite the drain on me. Tomorrow is a half stage race.
I had just remarked to the cyclist next to me that I was curious as what would happen since it was a timed stage to the lunch truck between 50 and 60 km away.
At about 20 Km Patrick shot by, someone else broke away and I followed the chase. I ended up in front and split off but the line and they sped up causing me to miss the draft. The same thing happened to Alfred. I later learned that the group from the Netherlands had planned it that way so that Patrick was uld have a better chance of winning. That’s racing. And it worked.
From blogs of Michelle and Terry:
Michelle’s and Terry’s blog which ties into your post. Love the racing tactics – just like the tour…
I know the internet is slow there, so I don’t know if you see their postings or not
Patrick is leaving us in a few days time in Salta and there is whispers in the peloton that they are going to try and let Patrick win the stage today but this will be getting the better of James. Much to my surprise, James is riding in the pack today, he is tired. I have never seen in him in the pack (but that doesn’t mean much as normally not with this group anyway). I find the tactics amusing and interesting as I have never been exposed to such things before. Patrick drops right back to the very back of the twenty odd person group. Rein, James, Alfred, the strong riders are at the front. Deidrick who only cares about winning is in the middle. Joost moves to the outside and blocks Deidrick in so he can’t chase when Patrick makes a break for it (I only figure this out in hindsight). 20km in and 40km to lunch Patrick launches and makes a break for it. Joost stays where he is for a few minutes before chasing to help Patrick. James sees Patrick powering off and he chases. Alfred and Rein who don’t know what the plan is, also make a break for it to chase down James. These guys love this stuff. Terry also goes after them to help Patrick win. I ask Diedrick why he isn’t chasing and he responds with they won’t let me win so why would I help. I shouldn’t be shocked that he says such a thing but I think Diedrick is still holding a grudge from the day they crashed. It’s a farewell present to Patrick to which I get silence.
I spot the lunch truck five kilometres earlier than I thought it would be and learn that Patrick did indeed win the stage. I apologise to James that he was out strategised and James as always, takes it with such admirable dignity and with a good hearted response. I do hope he realises that these guys love to chase him down because he is such a dedicated, strong, passionate cyclist. The guy is an ultra marathon runner and is 63 years old. Truly inspirational James is. It also makes me smile that a 34 year old needs a whole support team to catch him on the bike.
In any event, we packed the fire engine and headed out of town at 9.15 am. There was huge bunch of riders at the start which is a pretty cool sight to see rolling along the flat roads of Argentina. As I was riding along Joost came up to me and said he wanted Patrick to win the stage. As an old professional cyclist I knew how to do the job and try and help out. I spoke to Rien and Patrick and decided that us 4 would work together and get Patrick the victory before he leaves the tour in 2 days time.
At the end of the ride I spoke to James and Elizabeth who were riding together and both wandering why the group was rolling along without any aggression for the first 20 kms. Both of them thought something was going on. How correct they were. Patrick attacked from the back of the bunch and Joost quickly followed. I sat back as it was my role to keep both James and Alfred in check and follow their moves.
James then jumped out of the bunch and I quickly got on his wheel. He chased really hard and there was no way I was going to come around him and give him a hand in the chase. Alfred the other danger man chased us down and Rien followed him. For the next 5 kms James and Alfred chased as hard as they could to pull Patrick and Joost back into the peleton. Eventually we all regrouped and then there was Patrick, Joost, Rien, myself (the people all working for Patrick) Alfred, Hartmud who was working for Alfred, and James.
With Patrick being protected from the wind and not having to work in the bunch, I decided to do what all cyclists hate and that was when James did a turn and to the back of the bunch I rode really slow as Joost, Rien and Patrick accelerated. This caused myself, James and Alfred to go backwards and be dropped. With James tiring, Alfred took off with me right on his wheel in the chase for the boys ahead. I told Alfred I couldn’t help him and that if he wanted to catch them he would have to do it on his own. James was now disappearing behind us.
After about 20 kms of chasing James came back to Alfred and myself and they both worked hard to peg them back all to no avail. With the fire engine in the distance I knew that we had done our job and Patrick won the stage. It was fantastic to see him with that huge smile on his face. He was grateful for all the work we did for him today but still he had to stick with Joost and Rien who are the 2 strongest guys of the tour.
Michelle from another day….
Our group is the second last to get in; I think it is about 4:30pm. I am very happy to get off the bike. I nearly burst into tears when I am greeted by Joost who says he had an easy day. Him and James raced all day and didn’t even stop for lunch
Crazy day of timing two days ago with an uncertain timing point. One cyclist dislocated his shoulder in a fall. A support truck lost a spare wheel and tire never to be recovered on the rough roads. There is always something to be resolved eithe with the trucks or cyclists.
Now in Tupiza we have a much needed rest day. I cleaned the bike and drivetrain, lubed the chain, adjusted the shifting, and switched to a narrower tire for the upcoming pavement.
It is very interesting when you have a mix of cyclists with varying degrees of experience. There are a few who certainly had no idea what a challenge the Andes would present. They have been nicknamed the ¨truck team,¨ because they tend to only ride the easier portions of each stage and ride the truck the rest of the way each day.
Tupiza is typical of most towns in Bolivia where everything happens in its own time. No rush. I´m just sitting on a bench in the shady plaza as it is now siesta time. Very relaxing. I´ll add this post when I am able to find an internet cafe with internet.
It is about 80 km to the border where we finally cross into Argentina. I look forward to seeing how it differs from Bolivia.
We climbed 800m out of La Paz and continued our cycling on the antiplano which is usually just under 4000m. Along the way we encounter numerous villages and pass along side markets. Eventually we camp on the edge of the enormous Bolivian salt flat.
The next day we venture out on the flat with amazement and spent a cool night in a hotel built out of salt blocks. Today we begin the day with a lung burning time trial for a short distance of 7km. My time was 14 min plus. I´m not sure of my placement but I am sure that it was very stressful on my body at that elevation. A longer distance may have surely been a disaster.
Two days here in Uyuni to relax and clean the salt off my bike. I hope the Shimano spoke tool arrives while I am here. Receiving it in Argentina may be impossible.