Belize Cross Country Classic Win
Today was absolutely crazy. I'll never forget it!
The 250 km race began at the god-awful time of 6 AM. Gavi and I ate such a huge dinner the night before the race, I couldn't even stomach my breakfast...ugh, not a good sign.
For the first hour it was flat and fast, with a small break up the road taking all the "station prizes", basically preems, that add up to many thousands of dollars over the course of the race. After 1 hour, I rolled with some attacks and got off the front with a group of eight. 1 guy attacked solo and got a good gap, which he held for the next 2 hours. A very impressive feat considering there was more than $6,000 in preems he won for the effort.
One of my Belizian teammates on Santinos, Froggy, bridged up to me before the turn around point, so my job was to mark all the dangerous Cuban and Columbian riders in the hills so that he could sit on and be fresh for the end. I did just that, making sure to conserve as much energy as possible.
After the crazy tun around point, surrounded by thousands of screaming Belizian people and crossing a narrow, one way metal bridge, the Columbian team motored to catch the solo break off the front. After we caught him, I had good legs. So I went on the attack. It was very hard to get away since the pace was not too high and riders were recovered enough to match every move.
At 50 miles to go, through the city of Belmopan, the riders attacked in the hills to get the big preems through the city. I counterattacked just after leaving Belmopan and got a big gap right away. I didn't really want to go that hard, so I just kept it steady and stayed aero. Fortunately the break did not chase me immediately, so my time gap grew quickly to 3 minutes. At 30 miles to go I still felt very good, and my time gap continued to grow.
The break was caught with me off the front of the race solo with 25 miles to go, and now the time gap was up to 7 minutes. I knew it would be hard to do, but with that big of a gap, I knew I could win the race now. I downed as much water and food as I could, and the Chief (our director) poured 15-20 bottles of water over my head every couple of minutes to ward off the 90 degree heat.
With 11 miles to go, the legs just gave out and I was in horrible pain the entire rest of the ride. I could not eat or drink anymore since my stomach hurt so much. My power fell way down and I was just suffering. To combat the lower power, I focused on being as aero as possible and just staying at 40 km/hr. Coming into Belize City, I knew I had it won!
The chief told me to keep the gas on to set a new course record...but I didn't have much left. It hurt so bad at the end, but the energy of thousands of Belizian people screaming kept me going. In the end, I crossed the line more than 6 minutes ahead of the chase group, setting a new course record by 7 minutes.
My teammate Gavi snagged 5th place and another podium, along with Akau, our Guatemalan teammate, in 7th. So it was a successful day for the team.
Words cannot express how much the Belize people love cycling. I honestly kissed 10 babies, took 100 photos, signed 30 jerseys, and gave 10 interviews after the race.
I'm exhausted from this 6200 KJ day. More tomorrow,
at 6:34 PM