!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!The hard thing about this is it’s not the first time I have faced a survival day at the Tour. So I knew exactly what I had ahead of me.
In most races under these strains, I just pull out and recover for the next one. But it’s almost a tradition that you go out there for the Tour de France until you can't go any more.
I woke up this morning feeling very sore, especially my right hamstring. I just couldn’t use it. I wasn’t sure how I would pull that off on the bike. My body was in a bit of shock. My stomach was giving me problems. I couldn’t eat.
When the race started, I had no idea what my outcome would be. I braced myself for the first attack. All I could do was hold the wheel in front of me. The wind came from the side, and I knew it was going to be a battle.
I kept finding myself at the back of the group just hanging on for dear life. I couldn’t activate my left hamstring so it felt like I was pedaling a BMX bike.
At one point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I really thought that was it. I was going to pull out. But I kept fighting and kept fighting, since I seemed to have just a little more fight in me. Or it could have been that the fight in the others was starting to die.
I somehow survived the crosswinds and kept contact with the field. But I knew the battle had just started. With 65km to go, we had a pretty hard Cat 2 climb and I knew that if we raced up it, I would be left alone.
I was pretty lucky, as the road was very open and the wind was blowing strong straight in our faces. That made the pace in the peloton doable.
Once I survived the climb, I knew I would make it. I was starting to fade, since I couldn’t eat anything with my stomach not feeling well. I decided to hold on a bit longer. The last 50km was fast downhill, with some small climbs just to change things around.
I just followed along and it felt like I was in the back end of a Formula One race, when suddenly, the guy in front of me couldn’t hold the speed. I called that my sign to take it easy and ride in.
I had survived a day that could have easily been my ticket home.
Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.