So leading into the last stage of Gila, I had a few jobs. Get bottles. Be with the main group in the valley for support and just for the team to have more of a presence. And to collect arm warmers and vests from Flavia and Clara. I know, super important stuff here.
We knew that most likely I would get detached at the sprint then it was up to me to get back to the group. We began with a 2 mile neutral roll through town which was awesome! Clara, Flavia and I sat right behind the moto with Colavita and Tibco breathing down our necks for the race to actually start. Like clockwork, as the attacks went and the sprint line came, off the back I was. But this time with a bigger group!! Win. But somehow it ended up just two of us rotating together to get back to the peloton. I was running a 12-27 and on all the descents I was maxing out at 130 RPMs trying to find some gears!
This time it only took 35-40 minutes to get back to the caravan and the group. I rode to Michael and the team car, laughing, grabbed 4 bottles and he said "Hey, good to see you, I knew you would be back." Back in the peloton there was a break up the road and Clara wanted the group to be moving faster. "Joy, can you go to the front and set tempo?" Sure thing! Then Tibco got ansy and started attacking. "Joy joy GO" I heard Flavia yell from behind. D'oh! Now it was time to cover attacks!
As we neared the feed zone, there was a crash and saw out of the corner of my eye a little ball of green tumble. Flavia was down! She was tied at the moment for the Climbers Jersey with Mara Abbott, so I stopped with her, helped her get back on her bike then paced her back to the caravan and the peloton. At precisely 2:07 race time, when we made contact, I grendaded so bad, i'm sure you could have heard it! Funny because the night before I knew I had 2 hours of solid hard work left in me. And no doubt, after these efforts I was done! I spent the next hours riding solo through some of the most beautiful landscape I have seen in years. I kept telling myself to ride just a bit harder, to keep building my fitness. To practice taking arm warmers on and off in a fatigued state, to eat and drink a lot. I crossed the line 30 minutes behind the winner (Local friend Katie Donovan!) with a grin from ear to ear! Clara had won the over general classification in her first even back since 2003! And I was 2nd to last GC. On paper it doesn't look that good, but my number one goal for Gila was to finish. And I did.
The thing that really cracked me was driving 10 hours straight home, getting 4 hours of sleep and heading to work. Ouch. But it was all worth it!
Now to build my bike and get ready for a prologue!