Wednesday started well, but ended with a bang!
I had already ridden a fair chunk of the course for the day’s stage on Tuesday, and with it being quite flat I was able to make good progress. A fair proportion was also done riding with other people. This adds to the pleasure, as well as the speed when you share the work in the wind.
This meant that essentially I was flying along, until I got stopped by a policeman. I was confused. It was much too early for the road to be closed. But the traffic was backed up for ages. After a while though I noticed the church, with the hearse parked out the front, and figured it out.
At this point I met Peter, a local. He told me to follow him, he knee a back way. It was a pretty far back back way, but Peter made up for it by riding in front like a locomotive for the next 10km, which was great. The panniers really do make a big difference to your wind resistance, so any time you can hide behind someone else it helps a huge amount.
Unfortunately by the time I got close to the finish they really were closing roads, and it made it virtually impossible to get around Vincensa. I ended up taking a lot of alternate routes, which also meant I missed the last hill. Happily it was only a cat.4 so I wasn’t too worried.
Anyway, when I finally got to the finish it was still hours ahead of the race. My options were to wait for the race to arrive, to keep riding to the next stage, or to catch a train to the next stage. I chose option 3.
So far so good. The next stage was an individual time trial (ITT) and was around 20km up a mountain. I decided I might as well just ride it straight away. So I started.
As I rode, I was thinking about the fact that I would be coming back down the same mountain very soon, and there was really no need to carry my bags all the way up.
At just that moment, I got passed by another rider. Now I have no problem with being passed by other riders (luckily, given how slowly I am travelling) but it struck me that this guy had all of the best gear, and the freshness and vitality of youth (he looked like a kid of about 20) but not all that much speed. He also had a look of contempt and a little contemptuous laugh that he treated me to as he went past. I thought that was a bit much.
There was a tree beside the road, with tall grass at its base. I pulled over. As fast as I could, I pulled the panniers and tent off my bike, and chained them to the tree. Then I leapt back on the bike. The kid had gone around the corner by now, and I wondered how far he had got. The road curved back, and I realised he hadn’t got far, only about 300m. Then he was around another corner.
My legs were finally feeling alright, and I put a bit of effort into that section. I came around the corner, and the gap was down to about 200m. Then we were on a long straight section. He was standing up and working, but he and the bike were all over the place, and he looked tired. My racing alter-ego was well and truly out. I was catching this guy now, and would be at the top minutes before him. No other option.
He was all over the place, but I was focussed. He was pedalling in squared, his bike and his power were going in every direction, but my pedalling was smooth, my bike was still and all of my power was pushing me up the hill. I was crouched down for less wind drag. My tyres were singing their way up the painted white line on the shoulder, for less rolling resistance. And it was working. Le was getting closer. A lot closer.
And that is when it hit me. The car, that is. I had heard a couple of vehicles coming from behind me, but the road was wide and I was well over, and I didn’t expect there to be any problem so I just kept riding.
I felt a blow, on my arm and my back. I heard a loud bang. I noticed I was on the ground. I realised I had been hit, and looked at the van that had just hit me, which was still driving. I remembered that I had heard vehicles, not a vehicle. I looked the other way and saw a scooter swerving to miss me, with a car coming from behind. I’m not really sure how, but I got off the road, quickly.
I looked at the van again. The brake lights were on as it slowed right down. The guy on the scooter was shouting at it. Then the brake lights went out, and it accelerated away.
I was disappointed. I took stock of the damage, and thought about what I would say when he came back. Happily, the damage was minimal. Both levers were scratched, the pannier rack was scratched and had a lot of his paint on it, my bar tape was torn, my saddle was slightly torn, my glove was torn. Personally, my Arm hurt, my knee and hip were grazed, my hand hurt and I had a few minor scrapes and scratches. So really nothing much. When he came back I would tell him that it was fine, but ask him to pay more attention and take more care next time, because any time a ton of steel hits a person it has a fair chance of badly injuring or even killing them.
Of course, he didn’t come back. I got my levers back in place, got everything straightened out, and then accepted that it had been a hit and run. Maybe he saw me jump up and assumed that I was fine. I could easily have had a broken arm or worse and still got out of the way of oncoming traffic just on adrenalin though. When I finish this ride, I am going to get a second video and make sure that every ride is recorded, front and back.
Since I was essentially ok, I decided I better keep going to the top. I wasn’t so much in the mood, and was pedalling pretty slowly, but I got there. Then I turned around and went back to the bottom, got my bags and continued to find a hotel where I could wash the blood off and get a solid night of sleep. As for the arrogant kid? Never saw him again. Hope he had a good ride and didn’t get hit by any cars.
Today I am pretty much ok. My arm hurts, my hand is bruised and tender, and my knee is a little swollen, but nothing that should be a problem. The plan for the day is to keep going to tomorrow’s stage. The forecast for Friday and Saturday looks terrible, and they are talking about big changes to the course, but we will see what happens.
If livetracking works I will post the link here, but I don’t hold out much hope sorry. Edit: I can’t get the link now. I think it relates to using a smartphone, rather than a computer. If you want to be automatically emailed each link, just send me a message via the contact page and I will add you to the list!
In the mean time, stay safe, pay attention to the road when you drive, be polite and give people room and respect, and most of all, if you do hit someone stop and make sure they are ok!
P.S. the winner of the competition was a fabulous friend of mine who I will be seeing next week, who donated about AUS$90. If I calculated wrong and you donated more, let me know quickly, because otherwise she gets the prize. There is still time to donate of course, and there will be more prizes. Next time you may not need to donate nearly so much to win, so don’t hesitate!
Don’t forget, if you enjoyed reading this you can subscribe to hear about new posts. Just enter your email address in the box on the right of your monitor (or bottom of your smartphone screen)