I rode with Fabritzio, Katia, Danny, and Eric again. It took us approximately 3 hrs to do the 15 kms to the top of Chaberton. This included much hiking. No one seemed to be racing too hard, since the stage didn't count towards the final standings. When we finally reached the top Katia and I crossed the "finish line" together. The first special stage ended here and there was a tent set up with champagne, fancy olives and crackers. This was in addition to the pasta and fruit tarts served off course. We spent about an hour climbing around the top and looking at the 360 degree views. The race helicopter as well as a helicopter carrying tourists kept taking off and landing from the top of the fort.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. We rode about half way back down Chaberton and then had 2 more hike-a-bike sections followed by boring gravel downhills. We had a short fun single track section leading in to the finish line in a ski town called Sauze d'olux where it started raining again. Thinking that we were close to the finish-line we I didn't bother to stop to put my jacket on. It was raining so hard the streets were flooding and it felt like you were in a shower with lots of water pressure. After a steep 5-10 minute climb we finally reached the finish where people were crammed in under a small tarp. There were lots of kisses being exchanged before heading off to find the showers. Instantly I was freezing, and Eric and I rode an extra loop in the town because we couldn't find the sports center or camp. We came by the finish line a second time and people were clapping again....
I got straight in to a handicap shower with all my clothes on, I was so cold when we found the sports center. I had exactly 2 pieces of dry clothing left in my bag that was sitting out in the rain. I had to wear my plastic rain jacket to stay warm while packing up our bikes. I looked really cute when we met up with "the Brits" for a fun dinner with lots of pizza, wine, and race talk in the evening. We found a nice bed and breakfast to stay that night before taking the train to Torino the next day.
Ironbike was an amazing experience once again. We met some really great people and were so happy to see the same awesome race organizers as 2 years ago. You definitely have to be able to "go with the flow", be flexible, cope with language barriers, race for up to 10 hrs a day, be able to survive on pasta, bread, and jam and little sleep, but they sure do put on a fantastic event and everyone is so friendly, funny, and helpful.
A big Thank You to my sponsors at Progress, Magura, Kenda, Ergon, and my race team Sho-Air for all the support and help this year!!