Stages races are long. We made it over the hump of stage 4, but just barely. Though not our worst performance on the books, it was a stage I don't wish to recall, at least in detail. Perhaps my most pressing memory of the day is the 3 km mark for the second aid station, and then remarking later what a miserable hour that was (Keith assures me it was not nearly so long).
If my bike were as worn as I was yesterday, I wouldn't ride it to the Dairy Queen. I had entered that dark place where suffering surrounds every moment and every movement. With legs completely tapped and a haunting pain in my left knee, the day was a lesson in survival, or sisu as the Finns call it. I spoke few words that day, preferring to keep the darkness to myself. For the space of approximately 5 hours I hated my place in the world.
As if coming back from the dead, I pulled myself together and today we had a stellar ride, placing 18th in stage 5. We pushed hard at the beginning at latched onto the back of the pro group as we hit the singletrack. The climbs were to our liking, being not too steep, shady, and technical enough to put distance between us and those behind. The investment of altitude was returned in full by a bomber descent that for a period seemed endless in its twists and turns, dives and rolls through fern laden gullies. The finale of stage 5 was truly a work of art, inspired by generations of mountain bikers carefully crafting the most excellent and graceful of courses, which through its flow drew out our inner grace and unity with the world.
Finishing stage 5 in just a shade over 3 hours and 30 minutes, we were fortunate enough to make the early departure to Vancouver and enjoyed the afternoon sun on the deck of the ferry.
We celebrated the fruits of our labors with a nap under the shade of a tree near base camp, studying the course profile and the terrain for stage 6.
Team Pedal and Wrench will sleep well tonight, dreaming of big things tomorrow.