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When the sky cleared up for the first time a couple days, a small cheer erupted from the peloton, and then they resumed beating the crap out of each other. I’m not going to complain about yesterday’s weather, because it sure beats the alternative, but it was hot and dusty out there. We had a constant rotation of dudes going back to the car for bottles, and they nearly ran out by the end. An ice bath in the hotel helped a bit, but I still need to chug a lot of water.
The field was tense today, with lots of crosswinds, gutter-riding, and tired legs, which led to quite a few crashes. One of them brought down two of our riders: Jake Rytlewski, and Luca Damiani, who both made it back, at least. Shortly after, I had to unclip and powerslide both wheels to avoid another pileup (I did earn myself a high-five from the guys directly behind me, who all thought we were goners). After grinding the rubber against the ground like that, I was sure I’d at least end up with a flat tire, but it held up somehow, at least until I hit a nail with 30k to go with the field going warp speed.
I got a good wheel change from the team mechanic, and a hard effort brought me back into the field, just in time to miss a split on one of the last climbs, and cruise in with a small group a few minutes down. Awesome.
Even off the bike, you can tell that all the teams are starting to hurt. More and more riders are getting lost trying to find their RVs, their rooms, and the buffet. I can’t remember which day I was room 6210 or 8840, and the difference is about 15 minutes of frustrated walking. We’ve had several riders from other teams wander into our rooms, look around, mutter something under their breath, and leave. The new policy is to just yell “Is this my room?” as we enter.
I’d have to say that the biggest source of frustration at this point is food. Okay, now I’m just whining outright. If you can’t deal with it, you should have stopped reading already. It’s been a long week. Anyway, food has evolved from a tasty source of satisfaction, to a necessary evil, and now an absolute chore. We no longer consider it eating. We just put food in our mouths, chew, swallow, and die a little inside.
My low GC spot put me off early today, so I was done racing around 1:15. My job was just to ride easy for better legs tomorrow, but it was still a long day, with a 2-hour transfer in the morning, and 3 hours in traffic into LA. We’re in a swanky highrise now, right by the Staples center.
Time to head to dinner. If the rapture does come, I’ll be spending it with a bunch of Euro dudes forcing pasta into my stomach.
Phil Gaimon is a 25-year-old VeloNews columnist and third-year pro racer for Kenda-5 Hr Energy Presented by Gear Grinder. He has an English degree from the University of Florida, and owns online stores at podiumcycling.com and sharethedamnroad.com.