TABOR, Czech Republic (Jan. 29, 2010) - So in the interest of the readers I'm going to keep this dispatch short. Frankly I'm embarrassed with the length of my blogs as of late. Rather dreary travel logs will lose you by the time we hit race days.
Friday would be a fascinating day for me but not much to read about. I awoke early, enjoyed the breakfast, and then hitched a ride to the venue to arrive at 8 a.m.
Once there I found a course buried in snow. While I never saw an effort to match the construction of the Great Pyramids, I never failed to see a local with a shovel moving snow.
Arriving for a 9 a.m. meeting, I tramped around on what I deemed a completely unrideable course. The whole place had been covered with 6 inches of snow. Turns had been pressed into blocks of ice. But everywhere the locals were shoveling, brushing, scraping, chipping, and working on the venue. This meant for both spectators and riders.
And touring the beer tents and VIP tents, I felt the approach of an army.
At 9 a.m. I headed into the meeting and came face to face with my announcing colleague, Jindrich Pulman. He spoke not a word of English. But he had been announcing 'cross races in Czech since 1972. Friendly, with a powerful voice, Jindrich would counter my English with his Czech.
We both would rely on a woman named Susanna, who spoke German (?), as our production assistant. Our sound guy was Frank, a pony-tailed fellow drawn straight from a Simpson's episode. Frank spoke a bit of English and I could feel his urge to just play Guns and Roses real loud.
We held a formal rehearsal, complete with podium girls and music and sound, to review the awards ceremony precisely as scripted by the UCI. This suddenly revealed to me just how far over my head I had wandered. We would bounce from Czech to English back and forth with presenters and flowers and anthems and dignitaries.
But after four runs, we had it nailed.
From there I had some time to burn music for Frank before I had a starting meeting with the chief commissaire, Martin Swinkjels of the Netherlands. This guy had found the perfect balance between being placid and authoritative. one simply did not question anything he ordered. We reviewed the starting call-up protocol. This really frightened me as I would do the entire call up solo in English. That means I alone would butcher names in Flemish, Spanish, Italian, Mongolian (no shit), Japanes and assorted Slavic dialects.
Afterwards I burned music, chatted with riders, and did research, research and research on riders I did not know.
At nightfall, I returned to the hotel with the officials and then joined Simon Burney and Dan Ellmore. I had gained a friendship with these guys during the U.S.G.P. These Brits have become two of the biggest advocates of US 'cross.Their Schlamm clothing line has been a hit with our crew and I can personally thank Simon for this gig. Hence we dined in Tabor Center, the three of us whacking our melons on the low arches in the old place. And owing so much to Simon, I picked up the tab. Now that is newsworthy.
Not much of a day. But I braced myself for the racing to come.
Thanks for reading.
4 weeks ago