After the 24Hr Solo World Championships in California this past October life took a good slow down following a lengthy later eye surgery recovery. Getting bored resting on the couch, I attempted to work. My friend Matt Hadley linked up a great job cutting a portion of the Trans Canada trail from Canmore to Fernie. After 3 days of this I broke a finger pretty good, ending up in an arm cast, and thus life slowed down even more. Workers and employers in Canada pay loads of money to The Workers Compensation Board (WCB) to help us through injuries, but when they offered to pay $17 a day as compensation I started looking for a plane ticket to a warm, cheap place to recover.
Earlier in the fall I had signed up as rider for Jean Michel Lachances 7 person team to take on the 12 day UCI Tour of Costa Rica Road race. We were already down two riders and not wanting to bail on my teammates on this Ride for the Planet composite team I took up riding an indoor trainer for the first time in years. The Ride for the Planet team is a project put on by Jean Michel to raise awareness for looking after our planet and treating it with environmental respect. It’s a great cause, as we all depend on this Planet we live on yet many people still treat it like a dump and abuse it as if we have another one to move to one we mess this one up. Nope, this is all we have. Lets look after it!
Averaging around 3-4 hours a week on the indoor trainer was enough for my head and mixed in with some snowshoeing seemed to keep the mind sane and the body a little bit fit. My arm cast came off a week before the race allowing for a bit of outdoor training before hopping a plane out of the wintery Canadian weather and landing in the Tropics of Costa Rica!
Vuelta de Costa Rica Stage 3 Report:
The first few stages of the Vuelta have been an experiment as I figure out how my body is going to respond to 2 months of on the couch training. Surprisiningly it has responded alright, although the 40 degree heat and super fit Latin racers have kept things hard.
On the Neutral ride to the start of Stage 1 a few riders took a wrong turn and delayed the start. Once they were found, the 11 stage, 1500 km race kicked off. Just 20 seconds into it a Taxi swerved into the front of the peloton which was going 40 km/hr. It was a disaster as bodies and bikes flew everywhere. Miraculously no one was seriously injured. The local Tico racers were pissed at this dazed Taxi driver and pounded the crap out of the car before the cops came and restored civil order. It’s scary to see how careless some drivers are. Once the injured riders were attended to the race continued on for another 200 km. The peloton was nervous and there were 6 more crashes on the day before we finally hit the finish line in Liberia to end the gongshow. Our team gathered in a street side gutter following the race to debrief and deal with the heat stroke we all obtained.
Stage 2 was a beautiful ride through the Nicoya Penninsula with glances of the ocean amongst the rainforest. The stage was calm and our teammate Anton Varabei made a huge effort and brokeaway for the last 100 km with another rider and took the Win for us Canadians. This was a big accomplishment especially given we are a team of 5 riders racing 15 other teams with 7 riders each. For the Costa Ricans this is there biggest race of the year, while for us Gringos its a warm way to shake off some winter fat as we start to prepare for our 2016 seasons.
Stage 3 was a fast race for the first 80 km as riders attacked and chased each other down relentlessly. At the 80 km mark I road up to the front of the pack to give my teammate David Drouin some bottles and told him to hop on my wheel so I could launch an attack for him as he was our man to win the stage with a 3 km climb at the end of the race. He didn’t hop on my wheel and next thing I knew I was off the front by myself. Seeing a couple riders in the distance I decided to ride up to them and soon we had a nice 3 man breakaway group as I joined a powerful German and a flyweight Tico. Later we would catch the lead rider, another skinny Tico and we were 4, with a 2 minute gap on the field.
Things looked promising but my German counterpart and I figured we would be out climbed by the anorexic Ticos at the finish so we attacked them on a downhill and built a 20 second lead heading into the final 3 km climb. This is where my couch training tactics kicked me in the ass as I started to meltdown, losing 10 seconds to my German friend and eventually being caught by 25 riders as I hit the top of the climb, 1 km from the finish. My German escape partner Lucas, kept a 10 second gap and finished 4th. I continued my epic meltdown and drifted back to finish 29th, so close yet so far away from my first podium at a Pro road race.
Today was the first mountain Stage of the tour as we raced 100 km up into the mountains surrounding San Jose. All us gringos from the Swiss, German and Canadian teams road normal while the Latinos went crazy and set a blistering pace up the mountainside. Our teammate David was the top Gringo in 38th place while I cruised in with the lead Swiss and top German rider in a mid pack group. It’s a head shaker to see how fast the winners took care of the hills on this day averaging over 38 km/hr. Tomorrow will be another humbling experience as we tackle a 20 km time trial up a Volcano. Other then getting dizzy by racing our hearts out the Tour has been a great way to get some early season fitness and some great tan/burn lines to show off when we return back North!
Off for another load of rice and beans
Stage by stage results can be found at http://www.procyclingstats.com