Last year Dave asked me if I was coming to Panama to race the Vuelta Masters a Chiriqui. "If you want to go, we'll go" I said, and the ball got rolling from there. Kerry asked Dave and later Glenn showed interest and next thing I knew, the four of us were planning a trip to the race. Since we knew almost 8 months out that we were coming, we began getting all the logistics taken care (flights, hotels, transportation) and of course, getting my dad onboard only took about a nano second. Time flew by and before we knew it, three of us landed in Panama City from Atlanta while one made the trip direct from Dallas.
The first day in country was spent making the required trip to the Panama Canal and then, making the long drive from Panama City to Boquete, a good 8 hour car (van) trip. Upon arrival at my parents, the bikes were put together and we were ready to tackle part of the mountain stage to see what the roads and hills looked like.
This year, in its 9th edition, the Vuelta Masters a Chiriqui will do 6 stages, with a prologue, two flat stages, a mountain stage, a ITT and a circuit race. Categories are age based. 30-39 years old will race in the A category, 40-49 in the Bs, 50-59 Cs and the youngesters, 60 & up will form the Ds. There's also an "Excutive" class, which is where three of us will race. Dave will show the team colors in the C category.
Early Monday morning, we were up and greeted to a dark sky. The rain and wind had picked up overnight and the mood was a bit somber. We drove down and unloaded the bikes to cover the last 1/3 of Friday's mountain stage. In 15 miles, we climbed 1,800 feet, under a pesky rain, some strong cross wind and unusual to this part of the world, dropping temperatures. The guys all thought the climb (s) were hard enough and the downhills, even with the rain, managable.
After the ride, of course, the sky became blue and the temperature rose nicely. The rest of the day we spent exploring the town of Boquete and eating, which, so far, we have done plenty of thanks to my mom's care.
A short ride is planned for tomorrow (weather permitting), and then we'll go down to David City to the event's presentation, where we'll get our numbers, race bible and more importantly, to scope out the competition.