Another amazing stage in the Tour of California today. 195km with temperatures north of 35 deg, finishing with a 5km climb average 10% at 47 degrees celsius called the “tram line”. This climb has a wicked reputation with the local cyclists and sure enough it made for an amazing finish to the pro race. The commentator wasn’t joking when he said it looked like someone had thrown a hand grenade into the bunch. There were riders all over the place, but kudos to Van Garderen and the Columbian who rode to an inch of their lives, with the Columbian getting over in the end, for a truly inspiring win. It’s also been awesome to see Cam Meyer riding so well and finishing strong in the lead bunch.
Back to our Masters team, you can see an awful lot of scenery when you ride almost 200 km and you will get a small taste from the pictures below that barely do this landscape justice.
The first big climb of the day to Idyllwild was 1000m over 20km. A beautiful climb and we kept it pretty tight. After short descent, we rode across the mesa and a series of false flats got the heart rate up. Thankfully Neil looked after us all and kept the pace steady. The terrain gradually changed from green pine forests to arid desert with vistas so huge your eye could barely take them in and we were still hovering at 1600m elevation.
Support for the day was amazing and in the heat we needed lots of water. Pete “Coffee Boy” Pattison took to the van after the first climb and looked after Jon and I all day. Paul also had a ball and was busy keeping us hydrated and covered in water to get atleast some cooling effect from evaporation. Every time I poured a cold bottle of water over my head was like getting a new lease of life, but in 10 short minutes I would be completely dry as I could feel the salt drying on my skin. The tan lines are coming along nicely. JR was also a great help and our drivers Heidi and Janice again did a sterling job. This is no task for the faint hearted.
Also big kudos to Neil Shirley and Rich Meeker. Two of the nicest blokes you could hope to meet in cycling and they did most of the work on the front today. Malcolm rode strong and even though was cramping up the last climb, rode through the pain. Finally KK was a great metronome for our bunch of 6 today, he kept us together and kept the chat going.
The descent into Palm Desert was one for the books. The signpost “Beware downhill speed for the next 10 miles” says it all. And we had already been descending for 15 mins!
Another amazing ride and the hospitality tent was a Godsend. The people there each day who have been impacted by Cancer are so excited about us riding for them and are so encouraging. We now have a two hour drive to our next hotel. We are all pretty smashed, but looking forward to a shower, dinner and bed.
Big shout out to Skatchlabs for the bottle to get me up tram line, thanks guys, but it would be remiss of me not to mention Cytomax who have powered the whole team the last two days, you guys are legend, I must have necked about 20 bottles today, thankyou