Report from Stage ll of Amgen Tour of California

Descending to Palm Springs from the high mountains was pretty cool, and then it was hellishly hot.

How hot?

While gasping for air, I noticed an unusual sensation in my mouth.  My teeth were warm, not hot, but definitely much warmer than 98.6.

The records show it was 115 and climbing, and we still had the climb to the Tram ahead of us.

“You may say to yourself, how did I get here?” or maybe, why are you doing that?

Before you judge too quickly, understand that anytime you get a chance to ride a pro course ahead of the pro’s it’s a totally awesome experience.

The locals cheer you on, because they think you are pro.

You’ll see your times compared to the pros when you upload to Strava.

There is no other way to adequately appreciate what a pro does day in and day out.

This day would be awesome even with the heat.

The course was beautiful, well marked, and easy to navigate and support.  We had assembled a great group of riders of relatively equal capabilities.  Matt Wenger was an awesome driver and supporter in our rental van.

We met at 4:15am, and were riding by 6ish.  Mostly we rode together, and had a sweet pace line working efficiently.  The unifying force of riding soon bound us into one.  We were rocking it – pro speed on some of the early sections.

The long climb out of Murrieta caused some separation, but it was gorgeous.  Along the route we picked up other riders and continued ripping through the rolling terrain.

Back to that finish.

Our group sort of shattered in the broiling condition.  Fatigue and dehydration had set in and our thinking was less than clear.  I needed to cool off my core and ducked into 7-11 for a Slurpee and Popsicles.  At the van, we reloaded our water, which quickly turned warm then hot then awful.

The tram road greeted us with a radiant heat of 150 degrees: egg-frying.  The road is straight and lonely.  Nobody rides together; it’s a personal struggle.  Promises are quickly broken, and bonds shattered.  I zigged and zagged the final miles.  The boys from East West Bikes had a kiddie pool with water and ice and I plunged – shameless, but it saved my life.

Finally finished, we scrambled for shade and a view of the big screen.  The pros were on the final climb.  Famous dudes from around the world were attacking what nearly killed us… then they too started to wilt and fade and even walk.  It was a crushing finish.  One by one they collapsed at the finish, or even before.  The ambulances raced to the top, much more help was needed than any had anticipated.

Our finish was a celebration.

Gourmet burgers, shakes, fries, rings, drinks all lifted our spirits back off the ground and we re-hashed our own trials and those of the pro’s.

Back in the van, most drifted off and slept.

Pics of the day: