Today was a tough one.
The race started at 10:30 am in Hope, AK. It was a 37 mile road race that was 17 miles down and then back to the start. On the drive from Seward to the start in Hope it was pouring and we were crossing our fingers that it would end before the race started. No such luck.
We got on the bikes around 10:20 for a 10:30 start. At this time it was raining lightly and quite chilly. But due to a delay in course set up the race didn't start until 11 and we were sitting out in the chilly rain.
At 11am we finally set off and the 1st half of the race was a lot of downhill. Right before we started the rain got real heavy and by mile 2 we were all soaked a literally sitting in a puddle of water. Not to mention it was difficult to see the road. As usual, the kneelers took off pretty quick and Katz and I decided to attempt our first drafting experience. The benefit to drafting is that the person in front blocks the wind and pulls you along a bit while you stay close behind on their wheel and get a little bit of a break. We were switching off every few miles and it was awesome. Around mile 10 the rain even started to let up a bit and we were going good and making some good time. There were a few hills and Katz is a better climber than I am so it seemed like she was pulling me up the hills which I felt a little bad about. We decided that at the turn around we would go at it on our own as I didn't want to ride on her wheel and make her do all the work.
At the 17 mile mark we turned and started heading back. Around mile 19, on a hill, Katz got ahead. I was attempting to keep her in my sight in hopes I could catch her but that didn't work out so well. Things were OK until mile 22 or so and then IT started...the howling winds the rain downpour, the hills... and for much of it I was alone, seeing no riders ahead or behind me. I am the first to say that I'm not a fan of being alone, especially in Alaska on a back road. Not to mention that I love crowds as the cheers motivate me. Luckily the support vehicles came by every so often to make sure all was well. But from mile 23 to 36 I was not a happy camper. It was like I had a split personality, ranging from "This is great, I can do this" to "Melissa, what the f--- are you doing here, this sucks, I should quit" and then back to "Wow, Alaska...this is amazing"...and it went on and on all the while the tornado like winds and the rain kept coming. I think I even hoped for a bear attack at some point.. that must have been my low point.
I finally reached the end in 3:08, 13 minutes after Katz and I was spent. The rain was still coming and it was freezing and windy enough to blow Katz's wheelchair down a hill and into a ravine. Luckily she wasn't in it.
Katz rocked the race coming in in under 3 hours. I'll need to work hard if there's any chance of catching her. But my goal was not to come in last, and I think I can make that happen so I'm happy. After today, just finishing this thing will be a miracle.
We got into the car and changed as quick as we could and moved onto our hotel. The hotel is this awesome resort on the mountain side and the hot tub made it that much better. We went to dinner at the CHallenge Alaska ski lodge and the food was awesome. They did a raffle and the guy missing both legs won socks. It was awesome.
Today was one of the most challenging I've had in a long time. Physically and mentally as I'm feeling pretty sore. Already. And it's is only stage 3. I am really starting to wonder what I've gotten myself into..
I'm not too happy about being so pessimistic today as it typically takes a lot to get me that way. But it is what it is, and it's over. Thankfully. And tomorrow is a new day.
Speaking of tomorrow, although there is no chance of the rain ending, its bound to be better than today. It's only an 11 mile time trial, so it should be fine. After the race we get on a ferry and go to Cordova for the next 2 nights. The ferry is supposed to be awesome and the scenery even better. Hopefully there will be a little break in the rain so we can see some of it.
I have n pictures from today, I wasn't really in the mood, but I'll post some from yesterday.
I'm off to bed now. Tomorrow is a new day.