Tonight we were unexpectedly hit by one of the toughest rides any of us had ever experienced. On paper it looked easy: 80 miles, mostly downhill, expected tailwind. It sounded good. But throw in a 20 mph crosswind and 42 degree temperature and nothing to see along the way. Oh yes, and we were behind schedule and asked to make up some time.
We froze. Each one of us dug deeper into our reserves than any of us thought we could. We spent hour after hour in a tight echelon-riding at an angle into the wind, rotating quickly through to keep our focus. The wind was too much and we started losing more time. Coach Jason made the call; it was time to play "basketball." We were going to pull two riders off the road for short rests and the other three put their heads down and hammered (short sprints.)
It hurt a lot. It worked for a while and our speed jumped. Just at the point when I felt like I could go no further, I got pulled off for a short rest. Five minutes later, Rob and I were back on the road and Kristen and Elizabeth were pulled off. But, once I got back on the bike, my legs barely moved. Hard to believe it, but this was more difficult than sprinting. That game ended and we all just pulled through and gave it our all. We finished as a team and started to recover for the next stage. I was so proud of my teammates for the amount of pain they endured. Rob, Darren, Kristen and Elizabeth kept me going.