Stage 8 Santa Clarita/Thousand Oaks

All the heavy lifting was now behind us and there was a sense of relief and camaraderie as we rode this largely ceremonial stage.  However, there was one particularly wicked climb in Balcom Canyon that was relatively short but painfully steep. Most of the locals find a different way to get their bikes and cars to Thousand Oaks. Apparently, no one wants to climb Balcolm. Nevertheless, on this last day it sent our group into a wild scamper at maximum power. We were a group of highly accomplished professionals who also are fit and passionate cyclists having the time of their lives. We all rolled into Thousand Oaks and crossed the final finish line together as the united team we had become. 

In conclusion, a number of the pro riders and staff said they had been watching us all week. Before Stage 1, they were impressed that we were so enthusiastic and optimistic while they were concerned about 8 tough stages and the weather forecast of snow. Later, they would look for us at the team dinner each night. They knew that we got up at 4 or 4:30 each morning and we were a peleton of 20 while they rode in a pack of 120. They thought we had the tougher assignment and they would not want to be on our program. They were impressed by our accomplishment and we enjoyed our close association with them.

When Chris first approached me about doing this, I had my doubts about whether I could do it and there's no question I would not have succeeded without the help of our outstanding team staff as well as the support, cameraderie and encouragement of the rest of the team.  With the cancelled Stage 1 and truncated Stage 2, I have done similar distances and total climb in a week; however,  I've never done it with the pace, intensity, minimal stop time, support, committed teamwork by such a strong group of cyclists and total imersion of the Race Experience.

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