I assumed that riding the last twenty miles of today’s stage wouldn’t be as hard a giving birth so I sucked it up and finished. Thanks Amanda.

Today’s Stage 2 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge CTS Race Experience started like every other day of a CTS Race Experience: early wake up call, breakfast, transfer to the next start, put sunscreen on, listen to Chris Carmichael’s instructions and course description and roll out. My CTS coach Jason Tullous had “instructed” me to “test myself” so not being someone who likes to argue (STOP LAUGHING ML!) I went for it on the first King of the Mountain climb and did pretty well. I also managed to bury myself in the process, but hey, no guts no glory. Whatever. I guess he is right that you don’t recover the same way at 7,700 feet than at 100 feet.

Now lets fast forward to mile 65 when CTS CEO Chris Carmichael decided he was going to help me, David Burke and Jeff Knisely get to the finish line before getting caught by the pros. Chris took a 35 mile pull. Not 3.5, 35. Jeff, Dave and I tried to go to the front a couple times but Chris would have no part of it: he wasn’t going to let us go too hard, do too much work or try to pretend we felt better than we did. Chris got us to the finish line in great spirits and he showed us what true leadership on the bike is.

My wife has asked me several time what goes through my mind when I ride my bike for five hours. Well today there was one thought in my mind for the last twenty miles that carried me through to the finish line. You see, while dad is over here doing what he likes to do (really?), mom, Alex (13) and Gaby (11) are in Calgary visiting Amanda (28) who is about to give birth to her second baby girl any day now. And for twenty miles whenever a negative thought would come to mind I would tell myself: “Amanda is about to give birth and I don’t hear her complaining, so suck it up dad and finish strong.” And so I did.

I want to mention the great performance of – as I wrote last week – “the man to beat” Scott Forman. Scott didn’t disappoint. Well done my friend. He rode with coach Adam and Daniel, athlete Matt, Skip, Doug and a handful of other very strong riders whose name escape me and I hope they forgive me for that.

I obviously need to point out the great performance of all the CTS athletes who had to fight a wicked head wind, high altitude and a very warm sun. What a group of though “warriors” as my nephew Guillaume describes us. And a special mention to Tour of California 2011 alumnus Rick who is turning 65 this week. What an inspiration for all of us.

For map and profile of Stage 2 please click here.

To watch a video about Stage 2 please click here.

Stage description:

One of the shortest stages of the week, a mix of old and new awaits the racers on this second stage of 99 miles. The first 65 miles has a bit of a sting with the short but challenging climbs over Cerro Summit and Blue Mesa Summit making for early launch pads for the breakaway specialists. Then the cyclists visit familiar territory with a Sprint Line in Gunnison, a second Sprint Line in Crested Butte, and a nasty 2 mile climb to the dramatic finish on Mt. Crested Butte, which proved an exciting moment in 2011. After heading gradually uphill most of the day, cyclists and their fans will witness all the excitement of a huge alpine climb packed into 4 minutes, with the promising roar of the Crested Butte crowd at the finish. Total climbing: 8,049 feet.