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Bingen Fernández's Vuelta Journals: Rest Day and Stage 12
By Staff
Date: 9/19/2004
Bingen Fernández's Vuelta Journals: Rest Day and Stage 12

First Rest Day

"Viva España!!" Now I know why people say not to ride the Vuelta; they say it is too fast, there is too much suffering and not enough thanks in return. Those that offer this advice are the very ones that want to go, and hope to deplete any enthusiasm that other riders might have. That is what Stuey said today.

It is true that we race very fast in the Vuelta but when the rest day arrives we know how to take full advantage of it here in Spain. We are staying in a 4 star hotel on the beach, the weather is good, what more could you want? Aside from not wanting to race, that is. Since today is a rest day though, so we would rest. At 11:00 in the morning we left for our 2-hour 3-hour ride. How is that? How do you do a 2-hour ride in 3 hours? Well one hour out, one hour at the beach and one hour back to the hotel - of course! Not bad, huh?

Well, that is what we did. Rode out and then had a Coke on the beach (some had a Coca Cola Light because you know, the calorie thing) and enjoyed ourselves. Later, on the way back to the hotel, we decided to have a bit of a fun training session amongst ourselves. We started attacking, sprinting, pulling hard. Don't think that just because we were playing that we were going slow - my odometer clocked a max at 68km/hr. The bit of intensity will do us good though, for tomorrow.

After our training ride we would have to look forward to a boring afternoon at the hotel which is usually very painful. You don't know what to do or not to do and just wait for dinnertime. Today was different though. While we were taking a short nap someone knocked on the door: PUM PUM PUM.

Who is it? Probably our massage therapist, I thought, but when I opened the door I didn't recognize the guy standing there with some papers. What did this guy want? He asked for Luis Perez and Bingen Fernández. Hmmm, well that would be us. He pulled out photos of us from his envelope and asked if we would sign them. Oh, no! This guy shows up in the middle of our nap, basically inviting himself in to our room and asking if we would autograph his photos? What arrogance!!

We signed the photos, but not happily. This is not the best time to ask for an autograph. Luis and I are always happy to sign things but now, and like this? We were not pleased.

After my massage there was still an hour to go before dinner. I will have to take advantage of the spare time - normally we are not so lucky.

Stage 12: Observatorio de Calar Alto
Difficult but Easy

It is amazing how easy today's stage was. It was a very difficult stage but seemed too easy. How is that? How is it difficult and easy at the same time? Let me see if I can explain.

It was difficult because we are in the 3rd day of mountains and we climbed over 4270 meters (over 14,000 feet of climbed elevation gain) which is a lot for a stage of just 145kms. It was easy because there are not a lot of team or individual tactics in a day like today. If you have good legs you will stay in front, if you don't you will finish in the grupetto, or if you really don't have climbing legs you head home. Simple as that. We went full-out from kilometre zero and didn´t slow down. The pace was unbelievable and we never seemed to slow down.

Luckily I seemed to have good legs today and I was in the first group over the mountains. Today my food on the bike consisted of gel, gel, gel and more gel. I did not have time to eat anything else. At the pace we were going it was impossible to eat anything else. Gel is the only thing you can get into your mouth at this speed and be able to breathe. On the final mountain I pulled Luis into the front of our group, took his helmet, gave him water and wished him luck. Ciao! My work was over.

My legs were good enough to stay in the front group but each of us need to figure out what is best and what it is that we need to do. Tomorrow we would be working for Stuey in the sprint and he needed me. To lose one minute in a kilometre is not much, which is what would happen if I set a good pace and saved my energy for tomorrow.

After the race we went to the team bus and changed clothes and then got in the team cars for the 80km ride to the hotel. It was 80kms and 20kms of it were descending with lots of curves. This was the perfect conditions for throwing-up just eaten sandwiches, especially after a long race. I have had experience with this before and was not in the mood to experiment today, and neither was Luis.

Luis and I figured that if we didn't eat anything we wouldn't have anything to throw up. We asked the masseuse to slow down a bit, too. Ah! How quickly the other teams were passing by us - why so fast if they were only going to get back to the hotel 5 minutes earlier? CSC and Postal breezed by us on a straight portion. Doesn´t matter. We were going at our rhythm and would still make it to the hotel.

Then up ahead we saw the CSC car on the side of the road and a rider was outside the car. Throwing up maybe? Postal seemed to have slowed down considerably as well. Getting sick are they? Probably so, but we could not be sure. Cedric Vasseur called up Joaquim Benoit on his mobile. "Joaquim, it's Cedric. How are you?" He answered, "Car sick". "Well, then grab a plastic bag and throw up in it. Hahahaha."

We all started to laugh. Of course, they were taking the curves so fast that everyone in the car was sick.

We arrived to our hotel at 8:00 in the evening. A bit late, no? Yes, but that would be easy but difficult.

Bingen Fernández
Yellow Jersey Tours

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Bingen Fernández's Vuelta Journal: Day One
Bingen Fernández: Vuelta Journals Stage 6 and 8
Bingen Fernández: Vuelta Journal Stage 10

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