We are two stages in to Epic Israel and, sat here in our beautiful hotel room in the upper Galilee, I feel rather chirpy.
So far we have ridden 208 dusty, rocky kilometres, climbing 3012 vertical metres. I have spent a good deal of time meticulously studying Nick’s back wheel and periodically replying “yeah, I’m here” and “yeah, good speed”, and a lot of time at the top of the block desperately trying to save my sorry state of a back. However, I have also spent a decent amount of time grinning like a fool, being in awe of our surroundings and thinking that we are part of a really special race experience. We have cooled our feet crossing the Jordan River, ridden full gas on the flat flood plains in the burning midday sun, climbed steep mountains and traversed through vast farms of pomegranate and mango trees.
Every part of my body is tender – my legs, my arms, my arse! But my head is good, and morale surely counts for a lot in stage racing. This is the first stage race I have ever done, indeed the first time I’ve ridden 100 kilometres off road in a single day. I was pitifully prepared in terms of training, but I was prepared to suffer and to embrace it. I’m feeling a great sense of accomplishment at the moment, and that’s not only about my superb tan lines.
Tomorrow is the final stage and I’m really excited to get out there and press on for the final 70 kilometres. I’m less keen on another 0500 alarm, but the earlier you start, the earlier you can have a beer!