A day in Vegas

October 3, 2007

5 AM: Wake up. Shower and stretch to wake myself up, dress in my 'Zoot' running outfit and strap on my polar heart rate watch. Drink a bottle of water before my run in the desert.

5:30 AM: Start my run down the famous strip in the city that never sleeps. Well actually, Vegas does sleep from about 5-8 AM in the mornings - it's like a ghost town lit up by fancy flashing lights amongst the most amazing buildings and amusements I've ever seen!

I ran for 45 minutes with an average heart rate of 172bpm, I really struggled this morning but it wasn't due to over drinking or partying all night. Last night I planned to have a nap from 5-7 PM and then head out for dinner and a walk down to Harrah's outdoor bar to have a Red Bull, listen to the band and watch the bar tenders juggle their bottles while serving drinks. These bar tenders are so impressive - they could certainly take a position in Cirque Du Soleil! Anyway, my nap turned into a marathon sleep, I didn't wake until 5am this morning - I totally missed Sunday night in Vegas!

So, I'm not sure why I struggle on my run this morning, my breathing was out of control and my quads were killing! It was hot outside and the air was difficult to breathe. Maybe my sore quads are from walking in high heal shoes these last few days (that's something I'm lucky to do three times a year). I've been switching from high heals, to cycling shoes to joggers all week - more poor little feet need a good massage!

6:30 AM: Starbucks. There's a Starbucks located in the hotel lobby where I'm staying - Treasure Island Hotel. During the Interbike Cycling Conference I was fortunate enough to have been accommodated in one of Vegas's most beautiful hotels, the Wynn, but after the bike show finished on Friday and it was time to start paying my own bills, I moved into a less expensive hotel - Treasure Island.

I walked past Starbucks yesterday on my way to the pool and I couldn't believe the length of the line which was about 50 people long; I wondered how good the coffee must be! I don't drink coffee but after my run it was 6.30 AM and I expected that the line would be a little shorter, which it was. I stood in the line for about 10 minutes and then ordered a hot chocolate and a sponge cake. The hot chocolate was awful, it was not very hot and it didn't taste so nice. It's freezing inside this hotel; they have their air-conditioning set way too cold. I'd been out running in the heat and then entered the cold hotel so I was really looking forward to a hot, hot chocolate…what a let down.

7-9 AM: Relax. I came back to my room and had a shower and then I had a long bath to warm my muscles before having a stretch. I watched the news on CNN and then I channel flicked for a while. I can't believe the sports channels including the ESPN channels were showing college football matches, baseball and poker while the world cycling championships were being held. There was absolutely no television coverage of the world cycling champs across all of the United States, not even a news report…isn't cycling the second biggest sport in the world? I thought I'd enjoy watching the television over here after a season in Italy without English TV…I've given up trying to find something interesting!

9:30-11 AM: Cruising the casino and playing Black Jack. Well there's not too much to see down stairs at Treasure Island, the hotel is much more impressive from the outside. There is a big Pirate Ship out the front that completely blows up during a regular show every evening, it's quite spectacular and very noisy but the most interesting part is watching the ship and all its pieces automatically come back together in just minutes following the show!

I'd won some $5 chips two nights ago using someone else's chips to get started, so I found a quiet table and started playing. I was up and down constantly without really getting a handy lead, I was soon joined by some noisy Americans who were very entertaining. I ended up losing all the chips but enjoyed the company and entertainment. I've decided that gambling is not my thing, I don't really get that excited or into it, maybe my tune would be different had I have won but at the $5 tables it just seems such hard work or at least very time consuming for the smallest gains - if any!

12-5 PM: Time to hit the pool! The Vegas hotel pools are not only swimming pools, they are tanning venues, fashion shows, social events, restaurants, bars, concerts and sometimes discos. I didn't get any sleep in the sun today, I was joined by my black jack friends - Barry, Chris and Joan - like most Americans they are loud and entertaining. As usual I spent a lot of time explaining my profession and talking about cycling and of course doping. Luckily this lot had a great sense of humour and many funny stories of their own to share, it was great to have a laugh. We ate lunch together at the poolside restaurant called Kuhuna's, yep I ordered the chicken!

It was a nice afternoon in and out of the pool, the water is heated - crazy hey! There was a breeze blowing so it was sometimes warmer in the water!

5-7 PM: Chill out time in my room. I've spent a little bit of time on my laptop, but I'm conscious about getting stuck on it and wasting my holiday time!

8 PM: Dinner at The Buffet. This restaurant, The Buffet, claims to be the best and most famous in Vegas. Maybe they are right, I think it would be difficult to find the same variety, quality and value elsewhere… although the environment was nothing special. The restaurant is located on the ground floor or the Treasure Island Casino and it was very loud and crowded. I enjoyed my meal, meals. I ate Asian food, a roast dinner with baked vegetables and also Pizza…then desert! Yep, I'm a pig.

9:30 PM: Cirque Du Soleil. The show playing at this casino is called 'Mystere' and it was absolutely fantastic. I'm not sure if all of the Cirque Du Soleil shows involve as much Gymnastics as this show did, but for me gymnastic apposed to dance, acrobatics, magic and theater is what I enjoy watching above all! This may be because I was once a competitive gymnast myself and I truly appreciate the difficulties of some of their holds. The general audience may enjoy the spectacular swings, flips and dismounts, but for me it's those incredible holds that display unbelievable strength and balance that leave me gob-smacked and inexpressibly impressed!

I also enjoyed seeing the amazing physiques of these athletes and I truly appreciate the lifestyle of these performers. They obviously train as much as any professional athlete and require equal, if not more, dedication and commitment than we do as professional cyclists. I guess they have a more strict diet and need to be conscious not only of their fitness and strength but also their physical complexion as performers. It's like they have to prepare to compete at world class level every night of the week!

For example, in the show tonight two men did a floor routine which involved moves and holds that I can't describe in words, these men were the sole focus for the audience for about 20 minutes. They were performing moves that one would think are impossible, they can not afford to make mistakes; they can't afford a split second of lapse of concentration…an off day would ruin the show for thousands. These guys are under immense pressure and for that, I really appreciated the show, their talents and most of all their ability to perform at that level every night of the week!

Cirque Du Soleil- Mystere has been the highlight of my time in Vegas.

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