Today was scheduled to be one of our biggest days on the bike, so we had a pretty early start. We headed down to the lake and were in the water right at 6am. The daily minimums were shortened today because of the long bike ride: 2k swim + 7k run. The swim took place at the little lake by the chalets. It was super laid back, and all I did was follow Shannon's pink cap. It wasn't a race, so I had no trouble keeping up with her. Shannon and I were the first two done with the swim, so we headed out on the run together as well. We cruised the run at an easy 8min/mi pace, and we were done in no time.
Breakfast was something special today. Michelle (one of the support crew members) cooked AMAZING pancakes. And as usual, I doused that thing in delicious, Canadian maple syrup. God was it good! Thanks Michelle!
After that, we were out on the road by 8:30 for our 200k ride to Jasper. The big thing for today was another KOM competition. The plan was to stop and gather at the first aid station at 55k, and then it was a free-for-all until the top of the KOM at 132k where we would have lunch on the road. Things were super mellow headed out at first. Everyone knew what was coming, so everyone was ok with doing minimal work. Somewhere around 30k, I hit something and got my first flat. I have been super lucky up to this point, but it finally happened on day 7. Thankfully the entire group stopped, and Mark (support crew mechanic) pulled up seconds after I flatted and helped me out.
After the first aid station, things got noticeably more aggressive. We were still pulling as a big group, but the pace was just a touch higher. It wasn't until about 100k that things got crazy. There was a short climb before the bigger mountain, and people were getting jumpy. Either Phil or Newsom made the first attack, but as soon as it happened, a few people started to respond. Zach held back either because he knew the people attacking were non-threats, or because he knew we still had a long way to go. My plan was to stick on Zach's wheel at all costs, and I was right where I wanted to be. Zach eventually bit, and I went with him. We were the first to the top of the shorter climb, but it was sadly neutralized when a train of five or six came flying by on the descent on their triathlon bikes.
At 110k, we passed up the second aid station. Since the KOM started after the first, no one wanted to lose time by stopping. I was bummed about that since I had to pee starting around 80k. But the train just kept on rolling. There was about 15k of flats between that passed aid station and the bottom of the bigger climb, and as soon as the road pitched up, I went for it. We only had 7k to go which is easily in my "toolbox." From what I could see, Zach, Petro, and Shannon hopped on. Zach put in a little bit of an effort and got about 50m on me. For the first few kilometers, I was pushing about 380 watts. About halfway up, Petro fell off a bit, but Shannon and I caught up with Zach. Zach and I were trading off the lead while Shannon was chilling out in back. My power dropped a bit trading of pulls with Zach, but with just over 1k to go, I was in front and going as hard as I could. After a bend in the road, we saw the vans. We both got out of our saddles for the sprint, but Zach had just a little bit more. He took the KOM, and I'd have to settle for second, again. I'm two points back now, so it'll be almost impossible to come back from that. Shannon had the most impressive performance of the day coming in third only a few seconds behind me. I was pretty messed up after that, so lunch was quite refreshing.
About 6k after we started rolling again, things took a turn for the worst. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but somehow my rear derailleur ended up getting stuck in my wheel. And not only that, but it ripped off a piece of the frame as well. The frame is beyond repair. Luckily Michelle was close, so I didn't have to wait long. I would like to thank Moline, Petro, and Rob for waiting with me though. I was in some weird state of shock, so it was nice to have company.
I rode with Michelle all the way to Jasper. Initially I thought my day was over, but Andrew Charles let me borrow his bike to get the remainder of my ride in. I needed 62k to hit that magical 200k mark, and I'm happy to say that I was able to get that in. Thanks Andrew. It was a little challenging to ride 62k by myself after already doing 138k earlier, but I got it done. The road into Jasper is so ridiculously beautiful that time passed pretty quickly.
As far as options for a bike, I have some thinking to do. Luckily we're staying in Jasper for two nights, so tomorrow I can figure that out. My current thinking is that I might buy a cheap road bike with the intention of selling it when I get back home. Renting a bike and shipping it back would be a logistical nightmare, so I don't know if I want to do that. I guess you'll have to find out what I do tomorrow!
I took some awesome pictures, but it's too late to go through them now. We lost an hour crossing time zones into Alberta, and our swim tomorrow starts at 6am. Good night!
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