Honestly – I am really trying to condense these Spanish posts, but man, the place is SO rammed with goodness I am struggling, so apologies, its another long one, but if you think my words are full of BS then just do what my dad does with newspapers and look at the pictures.
With the highs of yesterdays full PRO day, how do you go about matching that for ‘stoked factor’? Turns out there is a relatively straight forward thing you can do when you’re smack BANG in the middle of the Vuelta:
Ride the last 90km’s of Stage 18!
Best to split today into two parts I suspect, to give everyone what they want:
The Dirty Nomad (yes, I have started accidently referring to myself in the 3rd person, massively uncool) loves Spain and Spain loves the DN. As such, we had another ripper weather day today, with absolute perfect temps for riding. I will set the scene early, todays ride was AMAZING! One of the best I can recall… Yes, I know I say that to all the rides, and I said it about Monday… And Tuesday… But today was exceptional. A taste of what it looked like elevation wise:
We left Burgos and headed out driving on the stage 18 course. Along the way I realized that I absolutely love the rather barren Spanish rolling countryside. I am not sure why, but there is something about it that has ‘Epic Beauty’ tattooed on its face:
I was keen to ride the whole 186.2km’s of stage 18, but the GU only wanted to ride the last 90km’s… Fair enough (meow). Just a word on the GU, his actual name is Agustin Pena Gago. Google him for some fetching photos of his Zebra kit when riding for Aqua Sapone! Some of my favourite GUisims when we are out riding, he loves these sayings and I have duly translated:
- “Possible” – Yes, we can do that
- “No possible” – Fuck off
- “Normal” – Yes, that’s how things should be
- “No Normal” – Chris Horner
We kicked off from the 90km to go mark and I was massively excited, as you can tell from my goofy grin. I was also debuting the Rivet Racing kit kindly provided by the NZ crew, a fitting way to break it in for the 5 Passes race in October:
I broke my own rule of not doing a long ride in shorts that are strangers – Ango, I can report these shammy’s are BALLZ.
Climb 1, Cat 3 – Puerto de las Estacas de Trueba: 9.1km’s @ 3%
We were straight into a Cat 3 climb that was simply beautiful… Silence now, let the scenery pic fest take hold and melt your frontal cortex:
The summit arrived easily with MEGA views… Today is a scenery OVERLOAD gang:
The descent after this was the least favourite part of the ride (lets call it ‘lumpy’ shall we say?), but it did nail us with some epic views:
Climb 2, Cat 3 – La Braguía por Vega de Pas: 6.6kms @ 5.3%
Bang! Straight into another Cat 3 climb at the bottom of the long downhill… there was NO rest on this stage today. Again, it was another stunner and a very manageable gradient. Guti and I cruised this one given the final two climbs to come:
See – NO cars… Super sweet roads and gradients that don’t make you want to sob like a disgraced politician.
Climb 3, Cat 2 – Alto del Caracol: 10.8km’s @ 5.3%
At this stage, it was time to start turning the screws… A longer and slightly harder climb, but one you could really sink your teeth into for a Strava top 10. Only one photo from this climb as I was on the front for the last 4km’s dishing out some Nomadness to GT:
Climb 4, Cat 1 – Pena Cabarga: 5.5km’s @ 9.2%
This was the BIG show down of the day and a VERY nasty way to finish a Grand Tour stage. The bottom 3km’s weren’t ‘too bad’, but the last 2km’s? WTF… Insanely steep! Pitches of 20% in some sections. I was feeling awesome again today (suspect I am Peking Duck at the moment), so was on the front all the way, setting tempo and dodging people. Yes, whilst the road was closed, it was rammed with people and other riders:
I was doing my best to weave in and out of people and Official cars, but after BREAKING Guti like a dry twig at 1.5km’s to go, we had to stop for traffic. Shit house, but the view was epic.
Unfortunately… The internet has shit itself so many times tonight that its now 1am and I am going to have to reload this post tomorrow at some stage with the BEST photos of the day. I have lost track of how many times I have C Bombed this wifi tonight…
In the end it was a 100km ride with 2200m of climbing, right on the button. An insanely good day on the bike and easily into the top 5 of all time! FEVER.
I am yet to find anyone in Spain that wants Chris Horner to win the Vuelta… I shall avoid going into details, but its ALL going to come down to Saturday on the dreaded and mystic Angliru (honestly, the Ex-Pros won’t stop talking about how epic it is) and Nibbles simply has to dig deep and break Horner, do it for the good of cycling man!!!
Massive respect for Kiryienka, great stage win and he looked NORMAL when get battled past us with 150m to go.
Again, I have EPIC pics, but can’t get them on line tonight, so will have to clean this post (which was 90% done grrrrr) up later on once I have a connection that doesn’t make me want to smash my MacBook.