Sal can rest.
How do you ride your first stage race? Guts out, glory in small doses.
Five Portland Velo riders did not complete all four stages of the three-day race, including Sal. After waking up this morning with lymph nodes the size of golf balls, he gutted out three grueling laps (totalling about 48 miles) of a ruthless and hilly circuit race before he had to abandon, unable to swallow food or liquid. He was just about 17 miles from finishing the whole ridiculous sufferfest.
That sounds tough and maybe it is, but he’s in good spirits and rightly so. This is what the Everyday Athlete is all about for me. It’s about waking up in the morning and going guts out until you’ve reached a place you’ve never been before. It’s about asking yourself for more than you think you can do, because you just happen to have that much faith.
I admire a Cat 4 rider who DNFs just as much as I admire Rasmussen, who put up an amazing ride in today’s Tour de Frace Stage 8.
One is among the best in the world. The other is a local kid who loves bikes and suffering enough to put himself through the worst possible kind of pain just to see how strong he is – even though no one is watching – even though there are no podium girls. One is getting paid to eat, breathe, live and dream the sport. One is shaving funds off the top of every other part of his life just to feed a passion and a hunger that will never bring in a single dollar.
Both have hearts the size of lions.
Sal rode his heart out this weekend in a way that made me me sappy-proud. The enormity of the challenge that he was willing to take on was not only impressive, it was inspiring. The amount of pain that he and the other boys suffered is phenomenal. Their will-power is incredible, their determination amazing.
On Saturday Bob found himself popped off the back of the group for the last 18k of the monstrous mountain stage. The support cars had long since gone and he was out of water. He was staring straight up the final climb of the stage, dehydrated and delirious.
For all intents and purposes, he was toast. Finished. Done for.
But he climbed the hill and completed the stage.
How? One pedal stroke at a time.
Sure, he ended up in the medical tent hooked up to an IV afterward but what’s a little IV every now and then? After 30 minutes he was fixed up right good and ready to go. And he had done what he needed to do – he’d answered his own call and responded to his own challenge. There was no contention for the GC, there was no possibility of a good finish in the stage – he was riding from the gut. He was riding for himself.
You can take the pros – I’ll count the PV boys among my heroes any day.
(More photos, official GC results for the PV finishers, and possibly more glory-stories tomorrow.)