There is hope for Alaska yet. We woke up to sun, blue skies, and a perfect riding day. We wondered if we were really still in Alaska.
Today was a tough ride with 56 miles of what I consider a lot of climbing. 3000 plus feet. From mile 1-45 I was feeling pretty good and then the sore muscles and tired arms started to set in. These long rides are not my favorite and I'm much happier when the rides end before mile 30. Today Katz and I stayed together for the entire race. With the sun out and the perfect riding weather we were having a good time often commenting on how luck we were to be alive and be in Alaska with the ability to ride our bike. It was one of those kind of days.
Other than cursing a few of the hills as they kept coming and coming, we were rocking the race. Around mile 48, the hills stopped being as frequent and there was more rolling hills through to the end. At some point during the race my odometer sensor flew off my bike but Katz said we were going around 40mph, my fastest ever. Since Katz and I had worked together so well, we made a deal that we were going to have a tie for the day. At mile 48 I started to feel a bit off and was struggling to keep up. Katz is able to get more momentum on the downhill so I often fall behind on the descents. I kept us as best I coud and Katz really helped me by pushing me to keep going as hard as I could. We came across the finish line at the same time but Katz held back a little bit so I could catch up to her. A real teammate. So the day's results are Katz and myself: tie for 3rd.
We've got some good laughs as many of the male riders don't like being beat by us girls. TYpically, the men start ahead of us and Katz and I do our best to catch up to them. Today we caught up and passed at least 5 of them. You always get this "ohh, heyy' as you pass on by. Sometimes its a leap frog as they get a little motivation as we cruise by and they pass us a few miles down the road. That's when Katz and I try our hardest to pass them for a 2nd time and stay ahead. It's great fun and us girls rule, obviously.
If you look on the www.sadlersakchallenge.org website the results are incorrect. For some reason, the times of Katz and I are switched around on a number of stages. Going into our toughest and last day, tomorrow, I have a few minutes up on Katz. But with 30 miles and a 4500 foot climb up and over Hatcher pass anything can happen and it's really anybody's race at this point.
We are in Palmer, AK for the evening at the Peak Inn Motel. We checked into our room at the China Buffet next door. Turns out it's better than expected with a big room, fast internet and good cell phone reception but we were a little weary at first. We head to dinner at the Palmer Salvation Army soon. Every town we've been through has been so warm and receptive to us. We all come and invade their town for the night and we've got nothing but a great response. It's been fantastic.
Katz and I keep reminding ourselves that the goal is just to finish. This week has been tough, both physically and mentally, and finishing the race tomorrow will be huge for both of us. It's one of those things that we'll look back on and be amazed that we did it. I can't say either of us are eager to sign up for next year, once just may be enough.
As I said before, both of us will be ready to get home. After tomorrow's race, we have an awards dinner and then our flight leaves at 1:30am Alaska time. Back through Pheonix and finally home in CHicago Monday afternoon. Now that will be a good day.