The smooth oceanside roadway fades to a cracked, sun-burned carriage-way. The group's friendly chatter forfeits to a jockeying of passive-aggressive body language. Our two by two wind-slicing machine reshapes into an organic entity of speed, ebbing and flowing as short steep inclines followed by small flat rests disrupt our momentum, an endless pattern of switch backs pushing our beating hearts forever higher. The mechanical pistons firing underneath our calm minds become labored with fatigue and anxiety, we push and pull with every muscle available; the group's skinny climbers move to the front.
My rear wheel suddenly bounces across the steep tarmac. I raise my right hand (left for front, rear for right) for service from the car. Deviono, the team mechanic, awkwardly reaches around his shotgun position to snatch a spare wheel. tuned with matching tyre, air pressure and cogset as my now useless rolling device. By the time the wheels stop, he is already running. Rear derailer slammed into the 11 tooth position, I try to calm my breathing as I pass him the flat tyre; allowing him to take over. Within seconds the brand new wheel is in and I am back on my bike, gearing down as he sprints behind me, my cadence increases as he launches me skyward. Out of the saddle, the adrenaline overpowers any fatigue and I slam my toes and heels into each end of my shoes. The car is on my wheel now but the group is already out of sight. Taking out an empty bottle, I pass it to Deviano as Scott drives the car up to my shoulder. A new bottle, with a little coke cola awaits my empty palm and away we go. Pedaling beside the car, Scott provides some assistance as we attempt to rejoin the team. Up the road, the group's unzipped wind vests flap in unison as they attack a small pitch out of the saddle. Nearing the back of the group, I take the coke bottle from Deviano and place it into my machine, rejoining my teammates.
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Today's ride was long, with a lot of climbing. We traveled through foggy ascents, sunny descents, rode beside the ocean and ripped through the mountains. Veloimages has been following us for a few days now and the images are now available for viewing. You can beat the rush by following the link provided here (later this week there will be articles everywhere!). The last few days have blown up the blog's pageview/visitor records so thanks for reading. It's a pleasure to write and share this experience knowing that you are all out there supporting the next chapter in Ben's big american adventure.
Enjoy your days.