It's 10:25pm and I have to have my bags out in front of this hotel by 6am and then go ride bikes for about 9 hours so I'm going to keep this short.
From every direction. Really. Every other minute I look at the next flag down the road and it's blowing a different way. Block headwind. Crosswinds. Wind, wind, wind.
Welcome to the hell of flat stages.
It was a day for hiding and ducking low, so we rolled out with a large peloton of Dutch and Belgian riders from the main Reve Grand Tour group. 20 people, maybe 30: shifted throughout the day.
For 150k we followed wheels and took pulls on the front. The Dutch road captains looked after us and sheltered us when we got caught out in a bad spot. They helped us improve our echelon skills and sent big, tall men back block for us from time to time. Angels. Those road captains were little rolling angels. Especially Sjef.
I looked at my computer at 150k and thought: we're golden, we've got this. No sweat. Easy stage just like we thought.
Such is the way to invoke the wrath of the wrong side of luck.
The pace of the large group was a little punchy for a couple of our riders and we should have sat up to form our own group at a slower clip sooner than we did. Instead, we stayed in too long, lost two off the back, figured out they were gone, and went back to ride as a team.
We were tired. They were tired. We had two others with us. Eight.
And then those demon winds. Long straight roads flanked by nothing but green fields. A horizon you'd love to love from the passenger seat of a fast car but can't stand to look at for another minute when you've been riding all day and you still have 50k to tick off.
At just the point when our heads were most down, a peloton from another tour group came through and we latched onto the back. We were settling in as the gust came.
Big gust of wind. Big tired man-rider moved sideways. Wheels touch, swerving, riders down.
Our riders. Maria and Jennifer are ok: pretty scraped up but all in one piece. The got back in the saddle and we finished the ride together. All the way home into that headwind that we know as hell.
Such is the cycling life, I suppose. 150k of friends and fun and flying followed by the longest 50k you have ever ridden in your life.
While we were battling, our photo car suffered a major mechanical problem and spent the day hunting down a shop with a mechanic who would work on Sunday. It was an expensive proposition and they just barely made it to the finish before we did.
We were glad to see them. And everyone was glad to have the day behind us.
Now there are problems to solve (we broke a bike) and bodies to heal. And a big stage tomorrow to enjoy. There will be wind, but maybe it will be in our favor?
Not likely say the Dutch.
This is my parting wish. A tailwind, for mercy's sake. Just a tailwind.