Thursday, April 03, 2008

Never say die... Rebecca just doesn't quit!

Why we like her style! You can count on her doing her best, doing her part! That's success!
Rebecca pulling her teammate, doing her job!

Never say die...Rebecca just doesn't quit. After ensuring that Christina is in sound care, she and her coach made the decision to not pass up the opportunity to finish the ride across South Africa...when would one ever get a chance like that again! Below is Rebecca's diary entry for the 5th stage of the race, although she of course is no longer officially competing.

More animal sightings...baboons this time. And even without a racing teammate, you'll read that Reba is holding her own with timings on the course. Total bummer that they''re out of the race, but way cool that she's still able to do the course.Regards, Judy (on behalf of Rebecca)
Cristina drafting off Rebecca in Stage 4...before the fall. Photo by Gary Perkin Stage 5 - The Scarlet Letter April 2, 2008 - by Rebecca Rusch Even though Cristina and I are officially disqualified, I decided to ride today’s stage solo. I emailed with my coach and home and weighed my options and it was clear that the training and being able to ride across South Africa was an opportunity I should not miss. I removed my race number and just joined into the peloton after the start. It took some logistical planning to arrange to have Claire and Ryan stay with me to drive the motor home and crew for me. We are now down from a posse of 10 people to just three. I spent the first hour of today’s 146 km stage, just sort of rolling casually with the group and warming up. I felt quite odd to be riding alone and in a sea of two person teams.

It was as if I had a scarlet letter A (for alone!) branded on my jersey. Probably 50 different riders asked where my teammate was, how she was doing and giving her good wishes. People who I only know from the color of their jerseys seemed genuinely concerned for the both of us. After many hundreds of kilometers of riding and suffering together with strangers, there is a strong bond that has formed among us. I felt a bit guilty riding without Cristina, but I knew she was in good hands with our team manager, Bobby. After a couple of hours of riding, I started to get into the groove again. I really got motivated when I saw the 3rd place women’s team in front of me. I wanted to see if I could catch them and stay with them. The riding was a lot of dirt road today mixed in with a 15 km sand bog and some very rocky, rolling hills. We got our first views of the sea and could hear the surf crashing as we were on the cliffs above in over 100 degree heat. I also got my first view of some baboons hanging out under a shady tree watching the race go by. There were very, very strong headwinds today, so sticking with a good pack for the road sections was crucial. There are definitely some riders here who are not used to riding in groups, so it’s a bit of a crap shoot of what quality of rider you will get when you join a group. With Cristina’s crash fresh in my mind, I was a bit more conservative on the downhills, but raced hard today. I even got to ride the last 5 km with cycling legends Thomas Frischnecht and Tom Richey!

I had to duck under the tape before the finish line, but my time would have placed me fourth in the women’s field, 50th in the men’s field for today and would have moved Cristina and me up to 5th place overall. It feels good to know I can ride among some of the best riders in the world, but is disappointing to be a ghost on the results sheet.

Cycling with legends. Tomorrow is the last stage that is over 100 kilometers. With three more days left, the mileage is winding down. However, the weather is ramping up. At the moment is pouring rain and thundering like crazy outside. If it stays like this it will add hours onto the stage times.


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