STAGE 5: Eastern Jaén
After the race yesterday we all
got settled in our new abodes in the middle of downtown Jaen. It was
culture shock at its finest coming from a hotel that was more removed to a BIG
beautiful city where there is NO parking anywhere and concrete
everywhere. The dinners and breakfasts on china plates continued as
we ate like kings and queens never getting exactly full for an entire
week. Strange concept as you completely stuff your face.
Today the race started with
another longer 1hr climb this time thru olive trees and Jenny and I were able
to hang with the leaders again. The Spanish Ladies team was also there
and they were now officially starting to put time into our time gap for the
Overall after coming in ahead of us the last couple days. Our goal was to
stay 2nd or better Overall and to try to win a
stage. The terrain was either up or down but the beauty of the
scenery and the ripping singletrack that meandered along the cliff was
On one of the fast loose
descents I witnessed (right where I jumped off) 2 out of 3 men lose control and
eat it hard. One flipped over his bike in front of me and luckily ONLY
broke his saddle. Our team motto this whole time has been "Bike and
BodiesĒ for good reasonÖ.one crash like that and you are out. Not worth
it. But itís hard because you are racing but you need to know when to
hold back too. That is part of it.
The Spanish team was clearly
finding their form and was gone pretty quickly towards the top of the
climb. Jenny and I did the best we could, enjoyed the experience and the singletrack,
even took a wrong turn (only a few minutes lost) and made sure to keep looking
up to check out the views. Then we were stopped at a time checkpointÖ.STAGE
OVER. Say what? The race ended 10k early because of problems with
the police. I can certainly see how that might have been an issue in such
a hugely populated city. Jenny and I were 3rd again
holding on to 2nd overall by the skin of our teeth now.
Note: I cannot believe HOW
LITTLE I am looking at my watch, and am just simply enjoying EVERYTHING about
being on the bike for more hours than I have ever spent on a bike at one
time. I didnít know what to expect from my body because I have never
expected this much from it, even in training but I am pleasantly surprised at
my attitude toward hopping on the bike every morning for another 4hours + of
racing. Itís so fun!
STAGE 6: Southern Jaen
Why didnít we catch the weather
report? Oh yeah thatís right, because every racer and their mother was
clogging up the internet all week long and we gave up ages ago.
MISTAKE. To add to the insanity of the weather to come, we were in the
lead for 2nd overall BY ONLY 6 seconds (after 24
hours plus of racing) to the Spanish Esteve Team!!
Letís get this out on the table
now: Spain does not necessarily mean sunshine and warm temps. We
can attest!! Jenny and I lead the race today for 4 hours and 20
minutes up and over several mountaintops (where it was snowing!) and we were
overall having a GREAT day on the bike. As the rain and snow moved
in the descents became brutally cold and almost excruciating.
Unfortunately, Jenny and I only had our jerseys and shorts with a few other
pieces like arm warmers and knee warmers. I have never wanted to climb so
badly in my life (just to stay warm)! It was so cold as we made our way
around the gorgeous dam below but yet I still found time to enjoy the view.
We endured about 30k of extreme cold and wet. The shaking, shivering, teeth-chattering
were abundant as we descended through the mist. Jenny and I didnít speak a
peep for about 2 hours as we kept moving forward toward the finish line still
in first place.
The weather and chill got so bad
that I was taking mental note of where I saw a person with a car so that if we
had to go back weíd know how far. It was becoming a survivalÖ..of the
stupidest really. In my lightweight summer gloves I could not feel my
hands. They felt like stumps and I was worried. Several things went
around in my head like wondering if finishing was worth getting frostbite
over? Apparently it was because I kept goingÖ.but really, what are you
supposed to do? I was seeing the finish line as a place I would be safe
and I just wanted to get there. I forced myself to drink my sports drink
to stay hydrated and to just move my hands.
It was highly uncomfortable at
this point on the bike, which is what inspired me to pick up the nastiest
oldest, dirtiest garbage bag and put it under my jersey for wind
protection. Moments after I did that it made a big difference. But
it was too late. With 10k to go, getting splashed and sprayed with water
from the roads we were passed by the race leaders who were clothed from head to
toe. Our fault for not being prepared. We crossed the line in 2nd place
only 2.5 minutes back and extremely close to being hypothermic. The good
news was that we had secured 2nd Overall in the Stage Race!
Notes: Stage 6 was by far
the best stage yet for us and itís the one I was most worried about!! We
both climbed the 8000 feet like a charm and put up with some extreme
conditions. Although disappointing to take 2nd for
the day, itís good to know what are limits are.
Thank you to the race
organizers: This was by far the best experience I have ever had on a
bike. I didnít know what to expect as I was a first time Stage racer and
I was extremely pleased with everything from the organization, the stages and
the way everything was run. The organizers were some of the nicest people
you will ever meet and were EXTREMLY invested in the international athletes
making sure that everything and everyone was going to be ok. In addition,
the media coverage was AMAZING. The amount of interviews we had, footage
taken and pictures snapped was unbelievable. I could go as far as saying
not a moment was missed.
As for Jenny: Thanks for
choosing ME!! She was there for me through thick and thin and is one of
the strongest athletes both physically and mentally I have ever met. Did
I mention she climbs like a mountain goat? The laughs we shared each
night after the lights went out recounting a ridiculous situation will not be
And my husband who somehow found
his way to the various feed zones in the middle of Spain when he could.
It was so wonderful to see your smiling face while helping us out as we
hammered towards the finish line. There is nothing like a pick me up such
as that just when you need it the most!! Thanks for your endless support
while you help me pursue my passion.
And to all the people that
became part of my world while I was there, thru the thick and thin, THANK
YOU. The passion we share for the love of mtb racing is such an amazing
And last but not least to
my Sponsors: 6 days, 313 miles, 39,000 + feet of climbing and I had NO
MECHANICALS. A HUGE thanks to Stans NoTubes for supplying me with the
super sturdy 29r Crest Rims, Orbea (Alma 29r) for a smooth ride, Sixty-Five.12
out of Durango, Schwalbe Tires for getting me down the hills in one piece,
Ergon for happy hands, Rotor, Genuine Innovations for PINK air, Sram for
flawless shifting, Crankbrothers, and Verge for all the must needed
Needless to say, you donít even have to ask me - OF COURSE I
would do this again!!