Yet sadly, my 2014 Vuelta viewing days end tonight, as my brother Greg and I take off on our annual backpacking trip early tomorrow (Tues) morning. We are headed back up into the Sierra’s for the next segment of the John Muir Trail. Last year we hiked the southernmost segment…from Onion Valley to Whitney Portal. This year we will go in up out of Bishop/South Lake trailhead, and come OUT at the Onion Valley trailhead. This figures to be a 63 mile 5-day hike (the 6th day is positioning cars, which is tomorrow). Once again I have my SPOT unit (Satellite Position Tracker) with me and it will be sending out our location in 10 minute updates real-time as we hike. Here is the link to my Google-maps SPOT Tracker for the duration of the trip:
Monday, September 8, 2014
Bye-bye Vuelta, HELLO John Muir Trail!
Well, two topics today.
As for the Vuelta, well....it just can’t get any better than these summit-finishes! Yesterday’s stage (Sunday) had Contador, Valverde and JRod literally side by side at one point on the upper reaches of the climb slugging it out like 3 heavyweight fighters standing toe to toe (to toe)…un-freaking BELIEVABLE! I love it that these guys all seem to be unafraid to throw it all out there on the road and risk it all!
Contador was the MOST aggressive of the 3…he attacked MULTIPLE times…each with a grimace on his face as he tried to gap the rest of the GC field on the steep upper pitches. But Valverde was right there EACH AND EVERY time…AS WAS Purito! Froomey was off the back AGAIN, yet still maintaining contact somehow (well, if you can call being alone off the back of the group but somewhat in sight of them as contact)…yet he held his steady pace as he has done most of this race, and fought his way back up to the ultra-diminished GC group yet AGAIN. But in the final reaches of the climb as the attacks were fast and furious he was unable to close the gap, and lost some more time to the leaders. It was Valverde and Purito who were the big winners (and by big I mean a few seconds closer to Alberto)…they BOTH finally gapped Alberto (again) for 5 seconds at the line, AND they both got a time bonus for finishing 2nd and 3rd on the stage!
OH MY GOSH, it was just amazing! And it’s not like Contador is sitting on his overall gap playing it safe…HE is the primary animator AND he's the guy voted most likely to win at this point! Valverde actually didn’t attack at all yesterday (which was his plan), which probably was a VERY good plan, knowing Alberto WOULD be. And Purito…wow....all bets are off on that guy…he attacked a few times also, and he still had teammates when Alberto and Valverde were alone! I loved watching Purito send a guy OR TWO to attack the lead group, then even with EVERYBODY KNOWING it was coming, to attack and try to get up to his guys anyway! Each time his guys attacked it was OBVIOUS, but that didn't stop them from trying OVER AND OVER! WHAT A STAGE (AGAIN!). And today is ANOTHER SUMMIT FINISH!!! Pinch me, I'm DREAMING!!!
I don't even know who to root for in this years Vuelta anymore...I'm jazzed by all THREE primary contenders! (and I wasn't a Valverde fan at ALL before this race...but I'm seeing him in a new light right now).
As I mentioned, we will spend most of Tuesday commuting as we need to drop a car off at the Onion Valley Trailhead, then drive down and around and up to the South Lake trailhead to begin the hike. I don’t expect to get many trail-miles tomorrow…IF we get up there and can even get 3 relatively easy miles on the trail before sunset that will be a huge success. After that it’s BIG days all the way to Saturday, where we HOPE to get to Rae Lakes early enough to fish and rest for a day. The final day (Sunday) we need to hike out over both Glen and Kearsarge Passes (and then going back down, then north again to pick up the drop-car at the South Lake trailhead, and THEN driving home). For me that's about a 7 hour journey from South Lake, and about an hour and a half closer for Greg. Sunday will be a LONG day for sure. And then I come back to work on Monday (ugh!)
Have a great week, we'll talk more when I'm back, plus I'll work on my annual photo-trip-report.
Cheers, and VIVA la VUELTA!!!