Been a hectic week. We are slowly clawing our way back onto the overall podium.
Stage 4 is the Aqueduct stage. This is the longest and hardest stage. With climbs like “heinous hill” and “vomit hill” (both aptly named), the climbs just keep coming at you. The long Keystone climb after Aid 2 at 24 miles lasts an hour, but you aren’t done because the groin shot after Aid 3 at 36 miles is even worse.
But I finally found my legs. I cleaned Heinous hill and mostly cleaned Vomit hill. We finished 7 minutes behind second place, which we likely would have taken except for my little foray onto Middle Flume when I should have been on Upper Flume. Coming down the new Slalom track, which has high banked turns and swoopy flow, I followed a couple guys off course. About 9 of us ended up losing 10 minutes or more with that detour. But on the bright side, David B was with that pack, and we ended up riding with him for a good bit of the race.
The Aqueduct is named for the large corrugated pipe that splits the trail going into Aid 2. David and Stuart were ahead of me leading up to the pipe. I tried to call out that the left line was the line to take, but we were separated by a rider, and they had a small gap on us. David, took the right line and tried to hop over the Aqueduct, but his front wheel didn’t clear the pipe, and he went down hard into a large bush, narrowly missing a dangerously jagged rock. We stayed with him for several minutes as he gathered himself. Except for a bruised hip, he was okay.
Third on the day. 36 minutes out of the overall 3rd place Team. We got work to do.