Stage 2 started about 2 -2.5 hours after I finished Stage 1. Stage 2 was the queen stage. The big one. The one I was waiting for…and the monster hike-a-bike called the “Sole Collector” I had been hearing about for 6 months. This post will be the most photo heavy. I think it ended up being about 14 miles and 4000′ of up in about 2 hours.
Stage 2 start. Blue Haitian clothing provided by Primal
We started up a steep paved road that turned to dirt. It was a replay of Stage 1. Willy and Dave went ahead just a little bit and I settled into my pace. After the first climb, we were handsomely rewarded with a fun, very technical dirt descent. I overtook the two guys and was on my way! The lead moto jetted in front of me. This stage was one of the coolest days I’ve ever had on a bike. I have been fortunate to ride through some spectacular and simple villages in both Nepal and Brazil, but this was an eye opener. The mountains were bigger than I thought. The people were excited. And I had the privilege to be the first rider through these villages and get their first expression at a bike coming through. I wondered how much bigger a reaction the guys mid pack were getting when the locals realized more were coming.
Some kids cheering me on. Sorry for the shaky videos, it’s tough ride with one hand on bumpy roads and shoot video!
Steve Z also rode in front of me on the moto – my own personal photographer. I was overwhelmed with the beauty, the way people lived their lives, and the stark contrast to what it’s like to be in a big American city vs a small mountain town in Haiti. There are no words… I was misty eyed and I was so stunned that I cried just a little bit.
Willy snuck up on me at the top of the Sole Collector. Did I mention he was nipping at my heels in hightops? We took off together and I escaped as soon as we hit the singletrack. I could not believe my eyes. Suddenly, we were in pine trees in a deforested country. I was riding trails that seemed to be designed for riding, but were merely worn-in footpaths from people walking from village to village. There were huge aloe plants. It was magical.
We ended at 6000′ in the mountains. There weren’t a lot of people when I got to the finish line, but it didn’t take long for the crowds to start rolling in. It was so fun to see everyone’s expressions as they crossed the line. They all shared the same one – amazement.
Finish line interview
The kids were very interested in what was going on. I just wished that they could have the opportunity to do some riding.
And then there was camping and much rejoicing! Barbancourt rum was a sponsor. There was definitely a fun party atmosphere that night.
More on the evening in the next post…and the final stage of the race! The pictures say more than my words ever could.