Hellfire. What a day. Redefining the meaning of Epic once again. 180ks, crazy pace, 2 big KOMS and several bucketloads of rain at over 6000ft. What’s not to like about Day 10? Firstly the good news. The swimming’s out of the way. Too cold here in Lake Louise so Honeymoon Lake was our last swim. Nearly as cold as yesterday meant it was certainly no honeymoon and even if it was, my wedding tackle quickly disappeared before I’d taken a stroke. After the last two swims if I see the old chap again before I get back to Blighty I’ll be happy. Swim wasn’t that bad – partly as I knew it was the last and partly as I was expecting the cold after yesterday. There was an option that seemed a little Epic Lite of ‘swim 3k if you can but if you’re getting hypothermic get out’. I suffer like a mofo in the cold and I managed either 3.1k (Louis) or 2.9k (Hilso) so Gary and I decided a less than average swim should be decided by an average Garmin reading. We got out. The Scottish contingent got out of their wetsuits and waited for the Southern England contingent to try the same whilst convulsing, chattering teeth and generally being unable to function stood next to a van in the middle of nowhere in the pissing rain. I think spirits were a little low on the ‘run’ back to the lodge (although we did finally hit sub7 pace on the downhill section – and for once I’m not talking in ks) as Gary and I exchanged precisely 2 words in the 20mins or so it took us. Him ‘Crossover?’ Me ‘Yes’ – generally we’re not known for being short of a word or two.
The prospect of 180k and two KOMs isn’t particularly appealing at this point. Preparing for it in the pissing rain probably less so… but this is Epic and it’s point to point so you just gotta suck it up, buttercup. Sir Molina obviously misread the memo as he thought we were having a day at the races judging by the headgear he was rocking. Unfortunately he pulled a fetlock at the 4furlong point and had a long day on the gallops unseen by the front group.
It was great for the first few k. Nice and easy. The KOM had officially started at the rollout even though the summit was over 50k away but Newsome was having none of that limpwristed soft-pedalling BS. Boom off the front – closely followed by Johnny Head-ead-ead-ead-r-r-r-oom. I thought it might be a case of teacher and pupil having a plan (as John coaches Johnny B) so I was feeling okay and chased it down and sat on. It was pretty toasty and I wasn’t sure I’d done a wise thing. This was the first time I had to be mentally strong today. I was pretty close to throwing in the towel within 20k. Then the Freight Train rolled into the station with all the usual suspects. I’m never that interested in who’s on board and prefer to ride as I feel. We were trucking along at a decent clip (well above IM effort for long periods as Glenn and Johnny B went full retard at the front) and I was suffering, but today wasn’t a day for running the white flag up the pole. I knew if I stayed to the base of the climb that this week shown I climb better than most. It was hoofing it down and I was wetter than a fish’s wet bits and it stayed that way for long periods today. Thankfully we got to the climb intact as an 8 piece (yours truly, Phil, Dave R, Headroom, Zach, Shannon – of course, A Freight Train and an Olsson Express) and I gradually built a lead with Zach (breathing through his freaking nose as usual) and despite there being a long flattish section between the two major uphills none of the expresses coupled up. Very happy to have survived, not backed down when the dick’s (apologies to Shannon) were being measured and consolidated 2nd place in the KOM standings. Quite a contrast from the 1st KOM where I had a bottle of ice and ice stuffed down my shorts – that day water was a wonderful thing, today less so!
Happy to see Mark at the top (even more so than usual) and nearly creamed my bibshorts when he asked me if I wanted some hot soup. Boy was that needed and made a miserable morning (and more importantly the prospect of a long way to go) a lot more tolerable. Just need to find someone to shoot 60k ahead of me when I’m riding solo back home in the inclement UK winter to provide hot soup. Was another awesome touch (which I think was arranged by the Dwan-meister – apologies if not). Then we had to regroup at 100k and Petro showed what a giving guy he is and took pity on the half-witted, unprepared UK numpty and sacrificed his spare tights and hat which he probably had earmarked for himself later in the ride. The Petromance was taken to the next level – I’ve now been in his tights! So glad he did as there isn’t really any altitude in Dorset-shire back home so I never really thought that 6000feet up might not be toasty. I was cold but would have been a whole lot colder without that gesture. Epic. So we got to the 100k mark (more soup) and there were a lot of broken spirits. Pretty low point but I was feeling better than I was at the top of the KOM. This was a regroup for the second KOM and a few left early rather than hang around getting colder – I don’t think it was possible to get wetter! Then we were off and shortly after that the climb began. A little raising of the effort and Zac and I were off the front again. Great – carbon copy. Sweet as, bro. I’m not one of life’s great thinkers when it comes to courses and routes (I never read the link Johnbo provided last night for the profiles) so I ask Zac how far to the top. 25k was not the answer I was expecting or wanting. FFS! Fortunately there was a long flatter section BUT this allowed this morning’s bad boys to put in an attack that I couldn’t cover. I kept working hard but when the Olsson Express leaves the station coupled up to the Freight Train you need to be on it to get a ticket. I didn’t trouble the ticket collector. They gapped me and I kept my effort honest without panicking. If I ended up 5th that would be okay. Then it pitched up and Johnny Headroom and Big Glen started to feel their weight. I was gradually reeling them in. I passed Shannon and Dave R who had left early and opted out of the KOM and they informed me it was still about 5k to go. I was pretty confident the big units would come back to me and they did. I caught the Freight Train but we weren’t in the mood for duking it out so he took second and I was very happy to have salvaged third. Great fun and a good show of mental toughness. I was pretty happy with my morning’s work – probably the section of the last 10days that I’m most proud of.
A quick bite at the top where lunch was but again it was raining, we were at over 6500feet and getting cold wasn’t a great prospect, so we rolled out pretty soon after. Nothing spectacular back into town but it was nice when Petro and I caught the #GAYHUSBANDS train for the last 10miles, as were both pretty smoked – 180k at 31.2kph in that weather with 6500ft of vertical does that to you. Finally the weather was decent so Phil and I decided after such an easy day in the saddle we ought to tack on 30k to make it worthwhile. Managed to banish thoughts of 60k and glad I did as 20minutes after we got back the heavens opened again.
One of the neat things about Epic is being thrown into rooms with guys you didn’t know 10days ago. Tonight (and tomorrow night, no packing up Yippeee!) I’m in with a software engineer from the US, a cardiac surgeon from NZ and an UK/Aussie who works for Australia’s postal service. They must be tired as they didn’t look too bummed when they saw my name on their room list. The image at the top is a view from the car park here at the Lake Louise Inn – if you haven’t seen it here you really won’t be able to comprehend the scale and beauty EVERYWHERE you look. The buffet was hit hard and then the ice cream parlour where I went all traditional and opted for Tiger (orange and liquorice) and Cotton Candy (translated as Candy Floss) and very happy with my conservative choices I was too…it didn’t touch the sides. 10 down 2 to go but I aint counting chickens yet and I doubt I’ll need to count sheep when I hit the hay in a few seconds. Until tomorrow folks. Kia Kaha.