TAR2014: Stage Four

32km / 2000m ascent (6,560 feet) & 2400m descent (7,872 feet)

Our personal chauffeur (Trent) loaded us up and we hit the road by 7:10am to make a 25min drive down the valley to Prettau, Italy.  Prettau is literally at the “end of the line” in this valley.  The road basically ends leaving you are surrounded by nothing but high, beautiful mountain passes.  

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Today’s route started with a steep climb within 200m from the start.  The climb basically continued for the next 11km before hitting an altitude of 2,513m (8,300 feet) as we crossed the “Bretterscharte” ridge in howling winds and super duper unpleasant temperatures.  This section of the course was cold with blowing snow and made for rather tricky footing as we summit red the high point for the stage.  The amazing views, friendship and Carrie's babushka however, made up for our freezing body parts and we climbed up with smiles and focus. 

From thentop, the trail descended for 6km into feed station #2, hitting the 17km mark of the stage.  The sun did come out around 11am and stayed out, on and off until the finish. 

We had another steep 5km climb up and out of feed 2 before starting the largest descent of the race so far totaling 12km and over 5,000 feet, dropping into the town of Sand in Taufers.  

HIGHLIGHTS & LOWLIGHTS 

- There were croissants served at breakfast.
- Grateful for our own form of transportation this morning.
- It was so nice to climb right off the start instead of being on pavement.
- The snowy mountain pass was an absolute highlight for both Carrie and me.   We bundled up, got our climb on and suddenly we were at the top of this incredible out-of-the world ridge.  Too bad our lips were purple and we couldn’t feel our hands.  Otherwise we might have stayed up top to enjoy it a bit longer.  (I wish I had a photo of Carries babushka).
- Stomach issues again today for me.  Found another good use for K-Tape and I spent more time than I would have liked in a washroom in a Mountain hut again.
- People in the middle of the mountains playing instruments.  Tuba, drum and horns.  It was RAD and so motivating and appreciated.
- 50% of the course today was downhill and I just have to say how proud I was of  Carrie.  She was on my heels for both descents totaling 18km + almost 8,000 feet.  She just flew and made it look so easy :)  People coming off the first ridge were literally walking; sliding on their butts and some people looked terrified.  Equally so for the first part of the 2nd descent.  We just made it fun, focused on good form and let gravity carry us into the finish line.  
- Can’t say enough about my husband.  He is so helpful and supportive and again today he showed up in the middle of nowhere on his bike to greet us and lift our spirits.  Today he was out and about and up and down all sorts of roads and passes for over 4hrs.  I am glad the weather cooperated for him to get in a solid tour today.

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