Stage 4 - Chess
Today is the day we are to leave Kigali and head out to see other parts of Rwanda. 155 K with tons of climbing. The first 20 k in fact are almost all uphill and the Ethtopian team sends all 6 of their riders to the front and drills it. These guys just kill themselves for the first 50 K and do a great job of splitting the field but also do a great job of blowing themselves up. Like stages from a rocket they fire and then come off the back. This would work fine except they were down to their last person with 50 K to go. This blistering attack served to separate Kiel from Will and Joey who would normally look out for him in the hills. At one point he was with 5 guys from Rwanda and the last Ethiopian and this was not good, the Rwandans began attacking him and 2 Rwandans got up the road. Well crap, we tried seeing if anyone else would help but it quickly became apparent it was us against Africa. Kiel slowed it down a bit and allowed Joey and Will and their group to catch back on. Once they were back in the speed started to pick up some but then the African teams would attack, we would catch them and everything would slow way down so the Rwandans were up to 3:30 up the road and were in the yellow jersey if the stage ended then. Joey who is 6”2” 175 and looks huge next to most the Africans and they don’t realize how fast he can be, so he decided to try something. The last 40 K was mostly downhill and after one of these frustrating African attacks Joey just drilled it and the next thing he was 30 seconds up the road. Joey started the day in 5th place only 30 seconds behind Keil so this wasn’t a bad move and he can fly going downhill. I the last 20 K he pulled back the two Rwandan teammates and put another 45 seconds into them to win solo. We kept the yellow but it landed on Joeys back. Boy did it feel good. The African teams had been playing pretty smart as a group to beat up on us so to be able to keep yellow was awesome and shows we aren’t just a one trick pony. The only downside today was that Ty dropped out. We were up the road supporting the leaders and Ty was a few minutes back when he got a flat. There was no support vehicle but the Belgian squad gave him a wheel. Unfortunately at this point though he was over 5 minutes down on the back of the race. He tried for 40 K to catch back on but to no avail and abandoned.
Tonight we are staying on a beautiful lake right on the border with Congo, literally we can see the border 100 meters up the road from our place. It’s beautiful although the food is still a little hard to identify. It was also an amazingly beautiful ride through the countryside as well. The sides of the road were packed with people and some great t-shirts. A UNC and Clemson t shirt almost side by side on some kids and my favorite “It’s better as a blonde” made me laugh as the wearer was far from blonde. The area today passed several volcanos where some of the best coffee beans in the world come from. We also passed through the area where Gorrilas in the Mist was filmed. I have taken a bunch of pics and will post tem when I return.
Today’s fun notes - we crashed the car. Caravan driving is a little crazy. Standard rules of the road don’t apply. There are caravan rules but they mainly cover order of the vehicles. Essentially though the idea is to stay as close as possible to the cyclists which is always easy until you start going down hills. At that point a good cyclist can easily out-pace a car. Back home we have great cars that can be driven hard and hold the road. Here each day is a learning curve about the car. Yesterday the brakes went out partway through. Today we were coming down a twisty turny descent in the rain when the wheels locked up on Jack. Nothing was said we just calmly went off the road down an embankment and into a cluster of trees. Well f*#% this is fine. We literally plowed over these small trees which broke our speed but now how to get back in the race. Paul our mechanic and I jumped out or the car and tried to push but no luck. Then out of nowhere at least 40 Rwandans came out of the hillside. The all jumped in to lift and push our car back onto the road. They then all mobbed us with hands out to be paid. I reached in my pocket while we were scrambling to get back in the car and threw up a bunch of Rwandan francs – making it rain so to speak. We sped off (although not quite as fast) to catch the race. Amazing, we can’t find any obvious damage to the car at this point.
People are also starting to wear on each other as well. The team is tight but the rest of the group is having their issues. They ride the stage route a little earlier in the day and then are supposed to go to local diabetes clinics. They are getting packed houses with people who have diabetes and want to learn more. Interestingly one question they keep getting is whether this is like HIV because it is the only other “blood disease” that white people come to teach them about. However this makes for a very long day. Today they rode 100 hilly miles in the rain and were then supposed to go talk. Things got a bit chippy, not mention that when their blood sugars were getting a bit low themselves they get even more like this. We’ll have to keep an eye on them over the next few days. What they are doing is great but we need for them to keep wanting to do it as well.