Canada, April 14, 2006
Soooo...time for another report. Last time I wrote I had just won the Oceania Champs - I was on a bit of a high, feeling pretty good about myself heading into the Commonwealth Games. Well, let's just say it has been a bit of a roller coaster since then in the world of bike racing.
Let's just say my favourite memory of Melbourne was not the racing; as soon as I got in to the athletes' village I started to feel not quite right. I loved the course at Lysterfield Park but the MTB race at the Games was one of the most difficult days on a bike for myself. I knew what I could do but I couldn't have felt worse for the race; it was pure mental torture to just finish. I could've gone out boozing for a month and felt about the same...and speaking of feeling drunk, that is what happened a few days later on the morning of the road race at the Games. As I rolled out of bed my head started spinning like I had 8-10 beers in my head. Vertigo isn't the sweetest thing to have during a road race but I hung in, took a few digs, and managed not to kill anyone before pulling the plug with a few laps to go.
The racing was bitterly disappointing, but being a big sports fan it was fun hanging out and watching all the live Games coverage. My favourite memory of the games was hanging out in the Kenyan's athlete lounge for the woman's 10K. I was just hanging out on a bean bag chair after dinner when the Kenyans started to file in to watch the race; first I shared my bean bag with one, then two, then three other Kenyans with another fifty or so standing around. The two Kenyans started to pull away with five laps to go and I found myself in the middle of a bunch of Kenyans whooping at the top of their lungs, smacking the floor, and then breaking out into a ecstatic tribal dance for the last couple of laps. It was quite the spectacle and kept me smiling for a couple of days. The food was also excellent in the village and I matched my lifetime lamb consumption in my two weeks in Melbourne.
So with my head spinning I set off on a personal record 45hr trek to the Caribbean island of Curacao for World Cup #1. Feeling pretty down and tired it was a really nice surprise when my fiancee Keri, who I hadn't seen in a month, popped up in the Miami airport and came down with me to spend the week in Curacao. After seeing three doctors and a chiropractor, getting a clean check on my bloodwork, my vertigo/drunkedness wasn't getting any better but I decided to give it a go in the race anyway and see what happened. It was another great course for myself but all I could manage was soft pedalling and pulled out to try and get healthy. I was feeling pretty pathetic, but after talking to my coach we seemed to narrow my problem down to "vestibular neuronitis"; a not so sweet viral ear infection that I can't really do much about. Curacao was alright for one year but I don't really think it's great for the sport to have a race there; I would much rather have one return to Napa or somewhere else in North America. Rumour was going around about a five-year contract, so I guess that's what happens if you give everyone at the UCI a free trip to the Caribbean.
So after Curacao it was another big travel day, a close call with customs, and I was back at the Sea Donkey in Monterey, CA for the 11th time. We were welcomed by a day of pissing rain; apparently the second wettest year since 1850...sweet. By the first race on Thursday I was probably down to feeling about 2-3 beer drunk/vertigo and gave it a go in the super cross-country. I had a typical Sea Otter loose bolt mechanical but I was pretty happy because it felt like I could pedal again. The TT the next day was a nice surprise after coming fourth at two seconds with a nice superman dive mixed in; it wasn't so nice seeing my new bike destroyed again after just under four minutes of racing.
The courses were just one big pig sty and they ran us around in it for 25 minutes again on Saturday in the STXC. I did a couple of sweet tuck and rolls, didn't quite have the snap or the right lines through the mud and ended up in 15th or so. It was a really tough weekend for the mechanics this year; an already crazy week was turned even nastier with bikes getting completely destroyed every day. Hovering at about 1-2 beer vertigo I headed into the big XC race on Sunday; an epic affair, with Liam taking it comfortably in a little over 2.5 hours. I tail-gunned the second group all day and learned how to suffer like never before as our group blew to bits on the final climb to the finish; the suffering kind of reminded me of the final 200km stage at the Tour of Georgia when Discovery was trying to show everyone how big their balls were.
The first epic road trip of the year is over and it didn't exactly go as planned, but that's bike racing; the positive side is I am already halfway to my Star Alliance Gold frequent flyer status. I'm glad I have three weeks off now as I definitely need some time to get a lot of bike practice in. The vertigo is almost gone but watch out for me at any drunken cruiser bike races next fall; I've had three weeks straight practice.
Until Fontana and NORBA #1, Chowder,