Well, nothing remarkable to report from stages 4 and 5. Cavendish is once again proving to the world that he
wants to be my Isle of Man really is the strongest sprinter in the world. Sorry, dear Tom. I do prefer you, even with your cocaine habit and unfortunate choice of a car, but that strapping 23-year-old has more cylinders firing in his engine.
The scenery has been lovely. Stage 4 went remarkably close to my hometown. I can’t say I felt too nostalgic seeing cows and bull pines on the side of the road as they wound their way out of Merced and into the mountains. However, I did feel some pangs in yesterday’s stage as they rode down Hwy 41 to Paso Robles—I’ve probably driven that road 100 times going back and forth between my hometown and SLO. There’s not much out there—wide open ranges speckled by the occasional oak tree, but the scenery definitely improved as they made their way into the Paso wine country.
Our college team often did our long rides up in that area, and most of my memories from that region involve me bonking. I also recall an incident where a guy we were riding with crossed wheels with a girl in front of him, freeing up her spokes to flap in the wind. Because she really wanted to continue the ride, she talked a non-team member (and slightly annoying character) who was just along for the ride, into swapping wheels. We left him there, on the side of the road, 30 miles from anything, with the promise that someone from SLO would be along to pick him up. He pointed out that we didn't have cell phone coverage to call for his rescue. We told him to sing the "Have Patience" song, because we were headed to an area with more people than cows. And we'd definitely make the call.
I don’t know that he ever rode with our group after that. In fact, I’m not entirely sure that the flock of buzzards we saw later that day weren’t somehow involved in his life story.
Anyhow, today is the time trial, a very decisive day, indeed. If Lance can continue to keep his ego in check, Leipheimer will most assuredly bag the day and be on his way to the overall victory.