I survive the night, my acrid stench putting off any would be carnivores. Its dark and I faff about trying to get everything packed before setting off towards the Vrsic Pass. The Vrsic Pass is a vicious way to start a day of cycling and by the time I reach the summit I’m already hanging out. However, I’m glad to have it out of the way during dawn hours, it would be exceptionally unpleasant in the heat. Again the views are spectacular. I descend to Kranjska Gora via the cobbled switchbacks of the Vrsic Pass. Why you would cobble switchbacks is beyond me. Everything rattles, nerves included and at the bottom I stop for a morning coffee to take the edge off. I also a buy some sort of chocolate stuffed pastry which is a delight so I go back for seconds.
Next up is the Wurzen Pass which is a shitty steep road into Austria. The descent is even shittier and steeper; I’m relieved by my direction of travel. The rest of the morning goes by quite nicely as I traverse the southern shore of Lake Ossiach, making good time in the process.
I join Ben (#114) and Karl (#67) at McDonald’s for a delicious, salty, calorie laden lunch. They have my chocolate milkshake in Austria, and for that I’m grateful.
The afternoon proved to be less pleasant than the morning. Myself and Karl took similar routes along bike paths running adjacent to a banned dual carriageway. The path must have been on a slight incline, because I was reduced to a near glacial pace. The road eventually became legal but it was still busy and unpleasant as I climbed slowly on the 5 inches of tarmac outside the white line. I was tiring so stopped in a small town to grab refreshments and book a hotel.
At this point my inexperience took over. I booked a lovely looking hotel about 70 miles further on, something to aim for. The confirmation email then arrived indicating that check-in closed in around 6 hours time. Normally, that’d be a breeze but I was 5 days into the TCR and there was a lot of climbing between me and my bed. Cue massive stress. We will later learn how such stress could have been avoided by engaging my brain momentarily.
Brain out of gear I checked my route and decided to stick with my original route on a slightly quieter road. As I time trialled along the quiet side of the valley the heavens well and truly opened. Ben later told me he was on the other side of the valley, and having seen my location on Trackleaders and carefully plotted it against the location of the clouds, he’d allowed himself a small chuckle. I’m glad to say that cloud caught up with the bastard not long after.
There turned out to be 3 climbs on my route to the hotel, it just wouldn’t have been challenging enough otherwise. I could have avoided one of them but would have been a lengthy detour and I was pushed for time, so I cracked on up and over. Some bloke flagged me down trying to help with his clapped out car. I rode past breathlessly stating I couldn’t help. I felt bad, but realistically not bad enough to stop when my lovely bed was on the line. At some point in this mad melee I find a Lidl which provides the energy to get me to the hotel. In a final murderous twist the hotel turned out to be about 4 miles off my route and halfway back up the mountains. I’ve got nothing else to say on the matter.
I arrive and this place is NICE. Its an old Chalet and everyone’s sat in the courtyard drinking around open fires. I make it just in time for the buffet and clear a few platefuls, washing it all down with a well deserved beer. I ask about breakfast but it’s served too late for my schedule. Helpfully, the receptionist organises for a packed lunch to be made up for me, very kind indeed.
I check Trackleaders and see Ben coming towards my hotel. Here is where past race experience pays. He books hotels every night, and if they have a check in time he just rings up and says he’ll be late. Dinners over? No problem they set some aside for him. It’s so obvious. Just call the hotel Adam, you know like you would in real life dickhead. The whole of the TCR is a learning curve, and this was a tough stressful lesson. However, it was one I absorbed and used later in the race. I had a chat with Ben, stole his wisdom then turned in for the night.
My face was spotty and my arse was one vast open sore. These things I had little control over. What I could control were the small things that cause disproportionate amounts of stress. I vow to apply common sense in the coming days; which in turn will allow more time for important tasks such squeezing my spots and creaming my arse.
Day 5 – 168.4 miles. 13,044 feet. 12.8 mph average speed.
124 bpm average HR 5950 calories
Total time: 15:50:59
Active Time: 13:11:27
“Cafe” Time: 2:39:32