Friday 5 July 2019

Stages 6 & 7 (Thurs & Fri): I'm back!

Stage 6

So much has happened since I last wrote: so many ups, so many downs. And, of course, I'm not talking about the mountains I climbed. Stage 6 may be the worst stage of the tour in terms of difficultly. I felt beaten to a pulp. The heat and unrelenting sun just zaps you of all your precious energy.

I was hanging on well for the first 3/4 of the day. I had completed 3000 meters of climbing as I pulled into the third feed stop, and then it happened. The anticipation of the next two 10 km climbs plus the summit finish was too much for me to handle emotionally.
I broke down.
I grabbed a bag of potato chips from the feed station and headed out for a walk far away from the others. I found shade and started to cry. My brain just couldn't grasp what was to come. I didn't want to quit but I couldn't see how I could go on. I called Drew but he must have been in a meeting. I tried Tara and she picked up… (thanks Tara). She began with some quick medical questions. Looks like I was bonking a bit and I just need to cool down my core temperature and refuel. My legs were toast, my emotions raw, but she helped me get back on my bike and keep on pushing.
Next up "The Wall".
The Wall is an 18% climb that goes on forever. I pushed as hard as I could but it was just too much. The heat, the previous climbs, the accumulation of the last 5 days, and the lack of sleep had all taken their toll. I just couldn't turn the wheel over. I dismounted and walked the rest of the way up that Wall. Turns out, I was in good company. Many walked, going through the same emotional roller coaster I was.
Back on my bike, it took another two hours of climbing before I finished at the summit and the elation you would expect at the finish just wasn’t there. That was hard. That was stupid. What am I doing here?

Stage 7

I woke up in tears. Stage 6 broke me down to a level I have never experienced before. I was sore and exhausted and I was about to face the longest day on the tour at 230 km. It was a flat stage (“only” 2700 meters of climbing) but the heat was still a major factor. 
As I sat at the edge of my bed staring at the cycling gear I had to put on, with tears streaming down my face, I picked up my phone and began to read the comments that had begun to come in... words of encouragement from friends, family, and colleagues who all took the time to reach out. It helped immensely. Thank you!
It took 11 hours and 30 minutes of riding to complete this stage. Slightly over 236 km of unrelenting heat. Speed was not on the agenda for today. Today’s goal was to treat today as a "recovery" day. No overdoing it, steady-Eddy. I drank and ate at even intervals and took salt pills every hour. I felt stronger as each hour passed. A group of us formed a fantastic pace line that had us picking up speed as we went. The back end of the day started flying by.
I ended the best day I have had so far with a smile on my face singing “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights” (a song I have heard a million times while riding indoors at Mindset, lol).
It’s 6:30 am and I am currently on a bus heading towards Stage 8 for another ball-busting climbing day. Seven category climbs, five of them are category 2. My attitude is "what will be, will be" and I will get through it.


  1. Carmen you are an inspiration and strong superwoman. You are doing amazing ... Thank you for sharing your experience... All the best every day.

  2. Thanks Leili. I passed your comment on to Carmen...