After Stage 2, we had a fun party at Caye Winnie. Caye Winnie consisted of a beautiful, hand-built structure and a large outdoor area where we slept in tents. There was a guy grilling delicious local foods, fresh tea, rum, Prestige beer, and these brown sugar coconut and peanut cookies.
The Wellfit team had a place set up in the house giving massages and reflexology. It was really great, thanks to the Wellfit team for keeping us all feeling great!
The most interesting thing I heard that night was that there’s a company that provides solar lights for Haitians. They have different types of lights and different sizes. Some of them even charge cell phones. A lot of Haitians live without power, so this was like freedom for the less fortunate. It was also stated that it gave safety to women who would be in their homes alone at night. It would deter criminals and rapists. I am sad that I can’t remember the name of the company or find it online…any help anyone? We got to have little lamps in our tents. I got to share a tent with Marla Streb- so cool!
Outside Caye Winnie, there was a well where villagers were walking back and forth to collect water. It was striking and heart wrenching to see 5 year old children carrying large buckets of water on their heads. There were many tooth-like rocks and farm animals running around. The light was extraordinary.
After a restless sleep, we got up early for the final stage of the race. There were dogs barking all night! The trail was so much fun. We had two 6 mile singletrack loops before heading on a 18 mile descent that finished on a pebble beach.
Willy, Dave, and I took off in a charge. The rest of the field took a wrong turn and we found ourselves having to ride our way up through the back of the field! I thought I was the one who got lost, but it turns out it was everyone else for a change! I felt really strong and was flying through the crisp, green, mystical Haitian cloud forest. I still couldn’t believe they had all this great singletrack. I want to go back on a scouting trip!
There was some more confusion with the course. I popped out of the trail onto the road and Willie was coming up the road from somewhere else, so we started the dirt road descent together. It was one of the rockiest, most heinous dirt roads I’ve ever ridden.
There were no smooth sections or breaks. It was rocky, rough, bumpy, jarring and any other adjective you can think of. I tried to practice damage control so I didn’t flat or crash. Waldo (the lead moto) was with me. I had dropped Willy on the road. There was a section with gypsum dirt and the sunlight made it so I had no depth perception. Somehow my wheel hit a lip and I crashed. HARD. I slid on the dirt long enough to think, “Crap, I’m still sliding.” Waldo stopped to make sure I was ok. It took me a minute to figure out what happened. “Get back on your bike, Sonya.” I jumped back on and with each bump, I felt blood spurt out of my knee. “clot, damn you!” I thought as I tried to ride. My elbow was banged up, and worst of all – the wrist I broke at BC Bike Race was hurting. (Thankfully, it’s getting better) I was overly cautious after that and was frustrated. I rode really slowly and Willy caught up.
We rode together for the remainder of the descent. I kept looking at the hills around me to assess how much further down I had to go and it would not end. I was yelling things out of frustration. We finally got to the bottom and crossed a river. I looked down and gasped. My front axle has worked its way out of my wheel and was sticking out a couple of inches. I almost lost my front wheel!!! I stopped, took off my pack to get out my tool, and screwed it back in. Waldo stopped to make sure I was ok. Willie took off.
After I got my wheel securely back in my bike, I cruised to the finish only 40 seconds back! I was glad that Willy took the win that day because there were tons of people from the villages watching the finish and to have a Haitian cross first on the last stage of the race meant SO much.
The finish line was crazy! I got to the pebble beach and ran down to the ocean.
I came back up and Willy was there with an entourage of people. We held the Haitian flag and people came from everywhere with cameras. It was very touching to see the excitement and pride from the Haitians. One by one, racers started crossing the finish line. There was a Haitian marching band.
Each person that crossed the line, regardless of where they were from shared the same experience and the same achievement.
We had finished the first mountain bike race across Haiti.
Special thanks to Steve Z for the photos!
I have one more Haiti post to get out. I’m currently at the airport in LA, minutes from getting on a flight and starting my journey to Nepal for the Yak Attack!!