At last, we were off. After the three days with nothing to do but hang about, something biking. It was cool to talk with other riders and spend some time with them and get to know them better apart from biking.
It was a different and new experience packing a bag, deciding what you need for the week. So, what to take and what to leave in the hotel? What to take with me and what else should I have during the day?
After breakfast, we were still in our room when I heard Brian calling “Where are Esther and Caroline?” I stuck my head out of the window and made myself known… this was how I could see a peloton of bikers disappearing around a corner. They had forgotten us !! We had to find the way to the start ourselves, hoping it would work out. We did manage to find the way and even had time to look at the first few kilometres of the route, seeing the first climb up to the following descent !!
Our start time was 9:26, the second women team away at 1minute intervals. The first singletrail was really steep with a lot of curves but I had fun. I did have to wait for Catherine a couple of times and three very steep sections had to be conquered. After 10km, we were down in the valley and the trail went on, constantly undulating, mostly on gravel through coffee and banana plantations then on past orange trees.
At the 20km mark, ahead was the longest climb of the day which was 4k long. After the first sweeping bend, I could see Amy and Sonja, the pair that had started 1 minute ahead of us… cool!!!
Next, the official catering and we stopped briefly, then continued on to the 30km marker. The distance was closing and I tried to push Catherine a little, she was already riding pretty hard. Next, two small climbs to the finish line.
First though, downhill on tarmac, two times, three times we had to descend and I almost got stuck in a swamp. The last climb was a little steeper, but we closed in on the leading women. A quick descent again on tarmac and yet another climb to the finish.
On this last climb, we finally managed to catch and overtake them. I was in front, Catherine slipstreaming me and we rode for the line.
After 2:03 hours we had reached the goal. We still had to wait at this point until we had clarification that our time was good enough for the day’s victory….
YES, it was good enough. With a 1:19 minute lead, we can start tomorrow wearing the leader jersey in the first stage.
I’m curious what will happen next !!!!!!