My stomach started feeling bad a few hours after finishing Stage 1. I thought maybe it was the heat from the race that day. It got progressively worse to the point where I was bolting to the bathroom every 5 minutes. It went on through the night. I tried to hydrate, but could not hold anything in and felt really weak. I also had a fever in the middle of the night.
My alarm went off at 4 AM. I hadn’t slept much. I debated all night whether I should even try to race Stage 2. I decided that I wouldn’t know until I tried. I crawled out of bed, mustered up the energy I had left and got dressed and ready for the day. My intent was to simply just try to ride to finish. I knew I’d have nothing after no calories, sleep, and dehydration.
It was much worse than I imagined. I was very disappointed because Stage 2 had a 9000′ climb (on mostly pavement uphill) to the top of a volcano. I felt very weak and could barely ride in my easiest gear. I was riding near the back. I didn’t care what place I was in, I just wanted to be able to finish. The first 10K took me 3 hours and I was walking my bike uphill on the road. I knew at that rate, I would not be finishing the stage, and if I tried, it would have been catastrophic resulting in a likely hospital visit.
It was not an easy choice, but it was the clear choice. I had to pull out of La Ruta. I was too sick. It was frustrating because I know I would have finished 2nd. Getting sick is a risk, particularly when traveling to foreign countries. I had a pretty good record the past couple years, but it was my turn. I saw most of the stage from a car and was able to enjoy the scenery. I felt pretty bad the rest of the day and struggled to eat. I still wanted to ride Stage 3 for the experience.
The great thing about Stage 2 was seeing the determination of riders on all levels.
I have a suspicion that the sickness was from some bacteria on my water bottle from the day before. I had food poisoning type symptoms and it lasted about 24 hours.
I rested up that afternoon, although most of the day was spent in the car. Thanks to Arturo and the wife of a guy in our group (sorry, I cannot remember names right now) for helping me out that day and letting me crawl into your car. I didn’t want to miss the infamously sketchy railroad bridges the next day!