132 km today: 1,100 up and 1,500 down.
I was very relieved when I woke up to find out that it was 1,100 metres climbing, not 2,000 meters.
To start it was a convoy for the first 15 km out of town. We rode right along Snipers Alley almost all the way to the airport. It was quite sobering to think that just over 20 years ago there were snipers targeting this area.
In the morning it was quite cool, but by 10 am it was sweltering. I had not done enough training, but two weeks before I left I had comfortably climbed Makara Hill at home, which is over 2 km with a reasonable gradient. So 30 km into the ride I was surprised to find I was struggling to get up a 4% gradient. First off I thought I must be dehydrated so I drank more water. Then I had to get off a couple of times.
Finally I got to the top and started down quite a steep decline. Halfway down I stopped to let my rims cool down (rims can get hot enough to pop your tyre with rim brakes). At this stage I became aware of my heart rate being unusually fast. The next 20 km to lunch was pretty much all downhill so I decided to keep going to lunch.
After sitting for about 10 minutes at lunch I took my pulse, it was 140 with some ectopic (extra) beats (a normal heart rate is 60 – 100). One of the other riders Kerry is a nurse so I asked her to check my pulse, she was concerned, then it turns out her husband Antony is a cardiologist, so she got him to check too. He said my pulse wasn’t usual, but hopefully would correct itself, but no riding until my pulse was normal. So on day one (!!!) it was into the lunch truck for me.
The ride after lunch was pretty scenic, stunning green lake and pancake mountains, but also contained a number of the numerous tunnels in this and the first section of the ride, some short, some long, some well lit, and some in total darkness. The worst one today was 600 meters unlit with the road surface uneven. To add to this, the traffic was heavy and there was very little shoulder.
The Bosnian war also affected Mostar. Mostar is a world heritage site because of the 15 and 16 century architecture. Of most note the Mostar bridge, which was once the biggest man-made arch in the world. This bridge and many other buildings were destroyed in the conflict, but the Mostar bridge has been completely rebuilt. Link: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/946
I am still not used to the novelty of all hotels. No tent to put when you arrive in camp, plus all the dinners are in a restaurant.
My room is tiny, just enough space for a bed and a couple of bags, but it has an ensuite, you can stand up inside it, and it doesn’t have to be packed up in the morning! Antony checked my pulse again when I arrived, it was down to 90 so heading in the right direction.
Dinner was at 7 in the restaurant. It started with a salad, then a chicken and noodle soup, followed by a meat platter with potato. Plus a dessert that I didn’t eat, which was a date pudding smothered in honey, it looked nice but I was full.
Strictly water for dinner tonight for me: no alcohol, coffee, or tea, or any other stimulant. I’m thinking it was possibly the really strong cup of coffee I had this morning that was the culprit for my increased heart rate.
Off to bed and asleep by 9. I slept really well until 6 am, so am getting adjusted to the time change.
Addition to day:
My pulse was back to a normal resting 60 beats a minute when I woke up, and I rode all day without a problem. I plan stay away from really strong coffee in future.