After nine days and 1,513.5 kilometres in the saddle, almost all of it nursing a broken rib, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal defied logic by getting back on his bike Monday during a Tour de France rest day.
The 32-year-old from Victoria went for a "beautiful" 90-minute spin with a local who showed off the roads ahead.
This after a gruelling 168.5-kilometre Stage 9 Sunday that included five climbs, four of which were Category 1.
"Definitely one of the more explosive days of racing in a long time," Hesjedal said from Nantes.
Coming off a team stage win helped ease the pain. As did an off-day massage and relaxed lunch.
Hesjedal's Garmin-Sharp teammate Dan Martin crossed the finish line first Sunday and stands eighth overall. Overall race leader Chris Froome of Britain finished 14th, crossing the line in a group 20 second behind the Irishman.
After taking part in an attack at the front, Hesjedal finished 59th on the stage and stands 41st overall, 26:08 behind the leader. Garmin Sharp teammate Andrew Talansky of the U.S. is 22nd overall.
Hesjedal's preparations for his sixth Tour de France were not ideal. A virus prematurely ended his bid to defend his Giro d'Italia title and he crashed out of his comeback Tour de Suisse race in the early stages.
He was proud just to make it to the Tour de France, although he admits the lack of race days in advance has meant his legs are not in top condition.
"Not to be unexpected with the buildup I had to the race," he said.
"I worked as hard as I could," he added. "I was optimistic I could ride into the race and be at the level that I'm used to being at. But it just wasn't there in time for Stage 8."
That's when Froome, leaving challengers in his wake, attacked the first tough mountain stage en route to the yellow jersey and a dominant stage win.
Hesjedal fell to 35th from 14th overall, losing 8:07 on the leader.
It didn't help that on Day 1 of the Tour, he got caught up in another crash.
Hesjedal was doing his best to avoid a group of riders who had crashed after clipping the barrier ahead of him. It seemed to be working until someone hit him from behind and sent him flying into the crash.
"I landed on bikes and people," he said.
The impact broke his sixth rib in the front, in the chest area -- right where the lung expands. The injury also affects the muscles around the rib.
"It is what it is," he said stoically of the injury. "It's been sometimes good, sometimes bad. We're so used to blocking things out mentally when you're riding."
He has the injury taped up for stability. The good news is he's able to sleep a little better these days.
But it hasn't made racing any easier.
"I mean I'm trying to stay with the best guys at the Tour de France," he said. "I try not to think about it and just focus on what I need to do. I think I showed (Sunday) that I still had plenty of ability to do something in the race."
"Even if I'm not 100 per cent, my 90 or 80 per cent's not too bad," he added. "So I can always contribute to the team and be part of the equation for getting result somehow."
Stage 10 Tuesday is a flat 197-kilometre run from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo in Brittany. A 33-kilometre individual time trial follows Wednesday.
With Hesjedal out of the general classification hunt, he expects to conserve energy during the time trial to save energy for later stages.
Despite the toll on his body, Hesjedal says he's having fun.
"I am," he said. "I love riding my bike, I love racing.
"To be at the Tour de France -- I mean we won the stage (Sunday) by working together and everyone putting it out on the line. It doesn't get any better than that so I'm definitely having a good time."
Canadian David Veilleux of Cap-Rouge, Que., riding for Team Europcar, is 132nd overall while Svein Tuft of Langley, B.C., part of the Orica GreenEdge team, is 173rd.
Hesjedal offers no predictions on who will stand atop the podium when the peloton arrives in Paris on July 21, saying too much could happen between now and then.