Well, that didn’t turn out quite the way anyone expected. We were all lulled into a false sense of security by the pleasant conditions at the start. The mud was expected but not the single digit temperature (remember, this is celcius) with pouring rain and wind.
Many athletes did not finish, perhaps as many as 35. Many more came in hypoglycemic and dangerously cold. There were several crashes, likely due to the combination of wet conditions with loss of coordination from hypothermia and low blood sugar.
Even Tom who usually thrives in these conditions was pale, shivering and very bonky at the end. But he responded quickly to some food, warm water and a change of clothes. His provisional placing on today’s stage was 23rd.
I hoped to spend my day walking around the historical villages on the way to Guarda, but the weather was even too cold and miserable for that. In fact, I didn’t even take any photos. The featured photo above is Rocky (black), the TransPortugal staff support dog playing with a stray in the village square. I took that this morning when the mood was light. Before everything went pear shaped.
And now we have been informed that the stage tomorrow is cancelled. The weather is supposed to be very cold. Stage 3 is the big climbing stage that goes up to almost the highest point in Portugal. They are calling for 0° and rain, maybe even snow. Canceling the stage is the right choice in terms of safety for most of the riders, but Tom is disappointed. A cold and hard climbing day plays to his strengths, a recovery day for the ride does not, in fact it works against him. One of Tom’s physiological anomalies is his ability to recover quickly. More recovery time in the middle of the race takes away from that advantage as the other riders can catch up on their rest.
But the day off tomorrow will provide some much needed bike maintenance time. Cables are dragging, brakes need work, lots of moving bits need a good cleaning and lube. Tomorrow’s adventure will be finding a bike shop and functioning in Portuguese!