Stage 7 – Hartberg, Austria
Today was like a bad dream that upon awakening had a silver lining.
Pouring rain woke me up a little before 7am. After six races in six days, I’m so tired I can’t even sleep. I couldn’t fall back asleep so I just laid there. Today was stage 7 or the last stage of the race. It’s a 17k time trial. I laid in bed until about 9:15 and forced myself to get up to have some breakfast. Honestly, I was too tired to eat. I just had water and coffee. Went back to the room and got my bike together; air in the tires, check the brakes and pinned my numbers on. My starting time was 11:52. At around 10:15 I got on the rollers and watched BBC. Within 15 minutes I just wanted to sleep. I laid in bed again, but couldn’t sleep—but, couldn’t keep my eyes open. At 11:20, I dragged myself out of bed, got suited up and headed out. It was raining. I got 200 meters from the hotel and thought to myself ” I brought my rain jacket for exactly this” so I turned around, climbed the stairs and got my rain jacket. It’s now about. 11:25. I’ve got 27 minutes to get to the start. I head out and the rain gets worse. I go about 10 minutes and realize I’m going the wrong way. Shoot! I head back the other way and it’s really raining. I’m watching the clock and now its 11:40. I’ve got 12 minutes. I’m now going a lot harder than I want to and then realize there isn’t one cyclist in sight. Crap! I’m going the wrong way again.
I turn around and now I’m flying. It’s like a bad dream. No one to ask and even if there was, what would I ask them? “Hey, do you know where the time trial starts?” And in English…….
As I get to a round-a-bout I realize my brakes aren’t working. They won’t stop me……just slow me down. Great….. I’m going as hard as I can go and sure enough, 11:52 goes by, then 11:58…. I start seeing other cyclists. At least that’s reassuring. It was further than I thought. I got to the start at 12:12–20 minutes late. I can’t believe it. I’ve just missed the last stage which means I don’t qualify for the overall…. all this training, all this racing for nothing. I go right up to the announcer and ask who the head official is. He directs me to a black van. Smart guy, he’s sitting in the dry, out of the rain. However, he’s on the phone. I wait…. I wait….. Finally, he gets off the phone. I explain to him that I’m an idiot and ask if it’s possible to just ride. He talks to a guy on a lap top and they yes. I must go in about two minutes because at 12:30 the distance gets longer for the younger guys. The only caveat is– it won’t count. I missed my time, so it will be unofficial.
Well, at least I’ll know how I would’ve done. I needed to gain 26 seconds on the guy in 7th to take 7th place overall.
It’s pouring …. but the cold feels good on the legs. I go as hard as I can and at the turn around I start questioning what the heck I was doing when I had a perfectly good excuse to not be out here! Jeesh… A little over 25 minutes and it’s over. I go back to the van to thank them and they both smile and inform me that my time would be official. Wow, what nice guys.
I’m on my way back, going downhill and forgot my I had no brakes. I’m approaching a round-a-bout that leads to the highway and there’s a car in front of me in my lane waiting to enter the round-a-bout. However, the other cars have the right-of-way so the car in front of me is stopped. I can’t stop! I have both brakes locked but I’m not going to make it. I start pumping them to see if that works but nothing. I have no choice but to try and slip on the inside of the stopped car and make the right to avoid the oncoming Sprinter (big van) who has the right of way. If the car in front of me moves to make the same right as me, it’s going to be ugly. I make it by the car, the Sprinter must have seen me and ever so slightly slowed enough so I could make it and as if nothing had happened, I was on my way back to the hotel. Whew! What a difference a few seconds can make. I have to adjust these darn brakes when I get back to the US.
I ended up 8th overall….missed 7th place by 41 seconds.