I bent over and cried today when I crossed the finish line. I've done some hard things on my bike in my time, but this... This takes the cake. We woke up to pouring rain again this morning. To be honest, I felt pretty good, all things considered, and the rain didn't bother me too much... We ride in it all the time at home, so potentially, it could be an advantage for us... Once we smashed into it, though, it quickly became apparent that today was going to be another long day. The dust on the roads here mixes with the rainto form this fine, globular mud that rips through your brake pads like noones business.
John was a superstar again... He did a LOT of towing for me today, which was amazing. My legs feel smashed now, so I have him to thank that they don't feel even worse. The weather would get fine, then rain again, then the sun would come out, then it would rain again... Apparently, at one point, it was hailing or sleeting up near waterpoint two. It was nothing short of miserable. I wasn't feeling too bad, but as we started to get to waterpoint two at the 71km mark, I started getting really cold, and really hungry. I knew I was about to hit the wall. When I got to the waterpoint, I had to get my brakes checked by the neutral tech. I had completely chewed through my front brake pads and my rear brake needed bleeding, which I couldn't do anything about at that point, so just had to deal with a very dodgy rear brake for the last 50km. Waiting for the work on my brakes to get done, we started getting really cold, and as the tech handed my bike back, it started pouring with rain. I told John I couldn't go back out in that... He gave me a big hug and kept me warm for about 5mins until the rain eased then we were back on the bikes.
This was the most miserable part of the day. It was so cold I am pretty sure we were both borderline hypothermic. Our hands were numb, and my feet were numb. I have never wished more for climbing than I was right at the moment... It was the only thing that was keeping us anywhere near warm. As we got to the top of our second last hill, the sun came out and we were treated to some amazing vistas, then we came out onto some sealed road for some easier riding and I started feeling a bit better. We then got into some lovely downhill singletrack (albeit very muddy) and I tried to cheer us up the only way I knew how... I started singing "Bicycle Race" by Queen. We were pinning the singletrack and passed a lot of other teams. I guess that's the advantage of riding in this sort of weather back home... Riding rooty, technical track in the mud is something we do very well... But it was hard work. Riding singletrack was obviously going to get us to the finish line much slower than gravel road.
The last ten kilometers seemed to drag on and on... I started to wane, but was so lucky to have John there to help me up the inclines and egg me on to the finish. We passed two mixed teams in that last ten kilometers and crossed the line smashed. That's when I cried... I feel so broken. My legs and back ache and I don't even feel hungry, except for that amazing f@#king burger I ate just after the finish... OH YEAH! I showered with my kit on to rinse all the mud off it... God I hope the weather is good tomorrow. I would nearly say that was the single hardest day I have ever had on my bike.
We are at a new tent village tonight. Everything is damp and gross and I am so sick of walking everywhere. I don't remember the last time I felt this broken. It's all very emotional. I have no idea how I will make it through the next two days... I'll find a way, I'm sure. We came 10th in our stage today, and with a time of 8 hours 10 minutes, It's a testament to just how hard a day it was for everyone. We are still in 13th place overall mixed teams, 4 minutes behind 12th and about 4 ours ahead of 14th.