We made it through the first eight stages (over 1,000 miles, 55,000 feet of vertical and 64 saddles hours) and we're getting ready to ride tomorrow's TT course at a nice, civil pace. 44k! A joy ride. I'm going to go to bed and get some much needed sleep, but I'll have lots of time tomorrow for a more proper update, promise. (We climbed some straight up gnarly grades today.)
In lieu of storytelling, an attempt to answer some of the many questions I've received via email, twitter, and Facebook.
How am I feeling?
Right at this moment? I feel great! We just logged a crap ton of miles and laid down 8 consecutive days of huge riding. Morale is high. Ask me again at a different time and you'll get a different answer. Before big stages (like today) we all get a little nervous, a little quiet. I can never predict which stages are going to crack me but when they do I lay on my back in the hotel room and laugh uncontrollably at everything my roommate, Jennifer, says. It's that crack-laughter where you really want to cry instead.
How is the body?
Our bodies are weird. You think you'd get all wiry and leaned out and awesome but it's just not what happens. We're eating so much food and ingesting so much liquid to try to stay hydrated that we're mostly kind of puffy and gross. This will probably shift a little in the coming weeks, but so far I'm just still one of the bigger girls on a bike ride. No problem - this is about finishing three, long weeks not winning the polka dot jersey. I'm healthy and I'm hugely grateful for that every day. Yesterday I began to have some extra pain in my the abductor muscle of my left leg but ice and compression and magic potions have helped me recover from it quickly. I started this morning's mountain journey with tears (of worry) but finished strong and am feeling great.
How are we managing recovery?
This is the most important question, because they say that the Tour is won in bed. Our days are pretty hectic and we're usually up by 6am, in the van by 7:30 and then riding by 8 or 8:15am. By the time we get done riding and drive to the next town, there is barely time to check in, drag our luggage up the stairs, and grab a shower before we have to show up somewhere for dinner.
Our goal everyday is to get an Osmo Active Recovery shake in within 15 minutes of getting off the bike (having these made when we arrive helps a ton!). Then if we have a long drive ahead of us we'll grab something to eat: every once in a while Kate speeds away on her bike and returns with pizzas or tarts or whatever she can find nearby. At dinner we eat whatever is being served: pasta, rice, chicken, steak, etc. We'd like to be eating more green vegetables, but it's challenging to get. Before bed we drink the Osmo Goodnight Recovery which gives us both slow-burning protein to fuel and repair us during the night and also has a little valerian to help us sleep.
Finally, compression! I'm sleeping in the 100% Clutch tight, which they sent to us just before we left for France. I find they make a big difference in the freshness of my legs in the morning. I also usually drink a water bottle or two of water throughout the night if or when I wake up naturally.
Which leads me to sleep: as much as we can get! Which is sometimes only 5 or 6 hours for me, depending on how and when I write. A great night is 8 hours and so far I have not been able to get more than that. I have some SWEET Westone custom earplugs that fit my ear canal exactly and block all noise. That and a cozy eye-cover and I'm usually out like a light.
What are you eating on the bike?
Basically anything that's in the van and mostly real, whole foods. Baguettes sandwiches, bread with nutella, bread with jam, bread with… everything. Lately I've been eating little packets of applesauce that come in handy, squeezable pouches (they make these for children) and salty meat sticks. Yes, I said salty meat sticks. Our lunch stop usually falls around 100k and I try to eat a big portion of whatever carbs are there: cous cous salad, pasta with olive oil, etc. I initially found it challenging to eat a big meal and then keep riding, particularly if a climb followed, but I've adjusted to the rhythm. We have requested more fruit options and lately we're getting apricots, melons and apples. Fiber and vitamins! Who knew we loved fiber so much?
Tomorrow: report from the mountains and more Q/A.