Today is the last day of the mountain stages, and it's big. But as always, let's start with the evenings sleeping arrangements. I expected to sleep well tonight, and Mari Lu would also sleep well given the amount of playing and cycling that we had for the day. That turned out to be extremely true, neither one of us budged an inch until I awoke at 0330. My tummy wasn't feeling so well and as I walked over to the bathroom at a fast clip I had a strange feeling that I may not be the only one. As I was exiting the restroom I found that a line had formed outside. This is not good, in fact this is very bad. Mari Lu woke up at four and then again a little bit later to use the restroom. Epidemic!
We have 120 to 140 people in our group and only two restrooms with a total of six stalls, 8 if you count the two in the showers. Although there are about five or six motorhomes in the group those only go so far. Do the math and you could see the problem. Wait.... a bathroom in the men's room is clogged and overflows.
Needless to say it was a slow start this morning and not much of the breakfast was consumed which is normally not the case before a big ride. I think it took a while for the race leader to feel things out and build a tactic to get us all to Julian. I thought, as others did, the worst had gone, and I was ready to ride. Mary Lu was also ready to ride... sort of. As I packed up our tent, I worked on various puns and anecdotes to make fun of the situation and had fun with it.
Most of the riders were able to hit the road with a couple of them sidelined as well as a few parents. One of the problems today will be logistics as well as making sure the riders stay hydrated because we have three big climbs coming up. They also have to figure out how to pick up riders who would drop out later that day because of health issues.
We got started kind of late and the start was very slow. A lot of the riders were trying to figure out if they were going to be okay for the day.
The very first climb was a big one and it was tough. Mari Lu beat both Jeanette and I to the top which was great accomplishment given where she was health wise. She was really riding strong. We figured that given that performance, she would be fine for the rest of the day. That turned out to be incorrect unfortunately for Mari Lu.
Mari Lu's stomach became worse over time and she eventually had to stop when we got to the first snack stop. That was about 13 miles into the ride. She was going to try to get on the bike when we got to the final climb of the day, Banner Grade.
Jeanette and I continued to ride through undulating climbs until we got to Gorilla Hill. The second climb of the day was a grueling 30° climb straight up for about a mile dubbed Gorilla Hill. When you got to the top of the hill, there were two gorillas dancing, music, etc. The fifth graders did a fantastic job up this climb. I'm sure it was due to the confidence gained on day 3.
Lunch was the normal fair but unfortunately I found out that I was not over the food poisoning. I found out later that my symptoms were identical to another rider, we were fine as long as we were riding but as soon as we stopped, our stomach started turning. I will stop here and spare you the details.
After lunch, Mari Lu mounted her bike and we started an immediate uphill climb for 6 miles. Mari Lu hung in there for the first 2 miles but then could not handle the climb because of her tummy.
It's obvious that I am not in the same shape that I was 20 years ago but it was still amazing to see fifth-graders passing me going up a very steep 6 mile climb. WOW!
The climb ended in Julian California, where we would stay for pie and ice cream. We then went down to have dinner with the rest of the crew. Unfortunately Mari Lu and I did not feel like eating. Mari Lu finally did get her appetite back after a couple of visits to the restroom, but I did not.
Jeanette had rented a couple of rooms at a very nice hotel if Julian, so we had showers and most importantly for me, my own potty. Mari Lu and I are still suffering, but I think we will be good for the ride tomorrow. We will see...
I hear that tomorrow is the most beautiful and epic of ride. Obviously there will be a lot of descents and I hear that there are some very pretty canyons that we will ride through.