“Most amazing race I’ve ever done. The type of people it attracts are passionate people who love the outdoors and are great people to be around and really inspiring.”
– Sonya Looney, professional mountain bike racer
“Man, everyone here’s done big stuff,” said Tyler (US citizen, Nepali local, race veteran and my roommate) today after dinner about the quality of the field. “It’s the strongest field we’ve had so far.”
We’ve got a great group of adventurers here. I guess it stands to reason but it’s really cool. Everyone you end up talking with has a great story, or two, or hundreds. From pro racers, to Andre, a 60-year-old French ex-pat living on a commune in southern India, to Eric, the Swedish surgeon riding a 20-year-old rigid bike, to Jon, an English doctor training for the Marathon des Sables who goes for a run after each stage, to Pete, from Perth, who’s attempting a world motor pacing record across the Australian outback and Rich, who just flew in from Antarctica having climbed Earth’s 7 summits and hiked to its two poles in the last 7 months, to Ewe and Matthias, two German’s who are ticking off the highest “ride-able roads” on each continent, it just goes on and on. Needless to say you look forward to everyone you get to meet.
resplendent after stage 3, mr. steve edwards pic: nepalsutra
Today’s video is rather long (9 min) but you get to learn about the racers, both local and international. “This race is about meeting people,” said race doctor Keith Greene, which sums it up, really. It’s a lot more about camaraderie than besting your rival. We’re all trying to go as fast as we can but, unlike almost any other race you do, it feels like we’re all on the same team. I don’t think anyone in the race wouldn’t sacrifice their own chances to help someone else finish if they could.
Oddly enough one of my quotes in the video is “I like hard events. It looks hard. When things start getting bad, hopefully I’ll be happy.” Well, buddy, I was saying to myself. Things are hard already. Are you happy? Only three stages in and things were getting shaky…
i was having such a tough time breathing that i even wore a scarf while racing whenever we hit some dust. pic: nepalsutra
Coughed again at night. Only one really bad bout but had to put on a scarf (again) in order to stop and get to sleep and woke up very congested. Other than that there are signs I’m adjusting to the daily racing but lack of good sleep means I’m very tired. Today is supposedly harder than yesterday. I’m right on the edge. I don’t know what comes next.
Also the start’s been moved to 10 so we’ll hit the “very long, hard, and hot climb” in the heat of the day. Oh, well. It’s not Yak petting zoo. It’s Yak Attack!
Took the day off. Well not off. Just from racing. I throttled back a bit in an attempt to enjoy the event a little more and it mainly worked, at least until the final climb where temps were recorded by two different people at 36C and 102F.
I was trying to channel my inner Neil, who seems to be enjoying every second of our adventure. He’s not been fast, but he’s having the time of his life and I think he’s on to something (ironic that as I thought this Neil turned out to be having a sufferfest—sorry man, I jinxed ya).
I kept picturing myself in the grupetto, just cruising, but it was still pretty damn hard. While less rugged than yesterday there was a LONG climb at the end. Finished the stage with what felt like a lot left in the tank but still can’t take a deep breath.
today’s podium featured yuki pic: nepalsutra
The medics (Yvonne, Natalie, and Keith, who’s racing) hit me with some dope tonight. Hopefully it’ll reduce this cough somewhat. My condition hit the point where I’m actually worried about being able to finish the race. Hoping for cleaner air. I think that would help more than anything. A lot of the field now seems to be shifting whatever ambitions they began with to finishing due to illness, bike issues, or a combination of things. Even Keith, who’s near the front of the field, said he took it easy today because he was on the rivet. This race is no picnic. Yuki is an exception. He’s flying despite being sick. Today he came in 2nd! Incredible.