Today was a long day. We had an early wake up of 5:45 to be back on the ferry by 7. A 3 hour ferry ride and a short drive landed us in Valdez and to the start of our road race for the day. Before yesterday, today's race was 55 miles up and over Thompson Pass with an elevation gain of 3000 feet. After yesterday's race and the trials that come along with the rain, cold and wind the race was shortened to only 25 miles. We still had to do the 3000 foot climb but that's where we ended. If we would have kept with the original plan we would have descended that same amount and with the rain and cold, it can cause some safety and health concerns, as 2 people got hypothermia yesterday during the race.
So, a shorter course it was. We started at 11am and were told we had 18 miles of a few hills but mostly flat before we got to the real climb. Katz and I started off together and for the first 18 miles we helped each other and switched off drafting every 2 miles. I appreciate drafting more then ever now. You get a few good minutes to rest a little, get some food, and take in the scenery. Today, even with the rain, the scenery was beautiful. We were in this winding canyon and there were waterfalls all around. It was gorgeous. A true Alaska moment.
The climbing started around mile 18 but the real serious climbing began at mile 20. By real climbing I mean a 9% incline for 5 miles. Yes, that is steep for those not versed in the incline %.
I was feeling pretty good so I got ahead of Katz and did my best to climb hard. Rain and wind still present, I felt pretty good throughout the whole climb as I watched the odometer creep up oh so slowly. I finally reached the finish in around 3 hours and did my best to get warm and into some dry clothes. There were some locals that came out to watch the race and one mom and her cute daughter had made an awesome sign that I got a picture with. I'll make sure to post it. I'm also posting a picture of the 9% incline but the picture really doesn't do it justice.
I finished a few minutes ahead of Katz and come to find out it was enough to bring me into 3rd place overall, about 8 minutes ahead of Katz. That's the beauty of a stage race, we can flip flop times every day and just see who comes out ahead at the end. But today was a tough one, and I give props to all that finished.
We have much much more climbing to do in the next 2 days so it's really anybody's race. Tomorrow is the longest day at 54 miles and it has a substantial amount of climbing. Then stage 8, the last day is around 30 miles with a 4000 foot climb in there over Hatcher pass. Something to look forward too (sense the sarcasm)
On a good note, the sun does actually shine in Alaska. Of course it waited until after the race to end and while we were driving to the hotel but the big burning ball of gas actually came out for once. There were even a few blue sky patches in there. It was a miracle. And even more of a miracle is that the forecast for tomorrow is cloudy, but no rain. Hallelujah. Cross your fingers it stays that way.
Onto stage 7 tomorrow. Already. The week is going by fast and as fun and challenging as it is I'll be more than ready to go back home once we're done. I'm missing my lovely husband at home.
Peace Out Glennellen!
P.S. The woman in the 2nd picture is Yasuka, our support vehicle driver. The 3rd is me finishing the race and the 4th the female racers lined up before we start. And last, is a picture of the only bear Katz and I hope to hug while we're here.