I have found a few Americans over here. Mike “Mikey Havoc” Sayers is working for the American team along with Jim Miller, both good guys but super busy and staying somewhere else for lodging. Then there are the riders, but they too are so pegged and freaked out, that even during the team introductions, I appear to them like some character in Alice In Wonderland.
Adam Howes could not believe his eyes when he came on stage to see me.
"I'm in over my head on this one," I whispered when I saw him.
"Me too," he replied. Great kid.
But finding Ted Essenfeld and his family has been great. He’s a NewEngland bike guy serving in the Navy as a lieutenant. He married Ski, an Aussie gal from Darwin and Perth (far away from Melbourne), who talked her into going home for a month. They have two great little kids and got to hold a one-year-old infant last night, which is an amazing human connection in this environment. Many of you remember Ted for his son, Ryder, who wiped out Tim Johnson en route to the podium last year in Providence.
We got to have dinner together last night at some place called Hog’s Breath. Imagine Bugaboo Creek and you’re close.
I loved it. But I did have to concern myself with sleep and my voice. Despite being convinced I had I stayed out WAY past my bed time of 8, I arrived to the room at 7:30 (19:30). I had one more bad beer downstairs and then collapsed at 8:30. One would think with the whole British Empire thing, one could find a decent IPA in this town. That’s not to be.
Only through viral means did I realize Geelong has a bit of an inferiority complex. People look down on this place compared to Melbourne. I have yet to even go to Melbourne. But it’s clean, kind, and quaint with fantastic Victorian architecture.
The leading cause of death with tourists such as me is getting whacked by a car, as they drive on the left side of the road and we tend to look the wrong way before stepping off the curb.
So here’s the drill: wake up, check e-mail, write blog, shop around alone, get start list, cliean up, go to the venue, announce, eat, sleep, and repeat. I found some sleep meds last night at a “Chemist” store and added a pack of “Throaties” lozenges. Thankfully Ski, a native Aussie, guided me through the process.
My hotel has Graham Watson, Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen, the Spanish team including Luis Leon Sanchez, the Polish team, and some others.
I know you must all think this is like some cycling Valhalla. In many ways it is. This event has just so many layers of stuff. There must be five miles of hard fencing on this 15 k course. There are TVs everywhere. I cannot fathom the tenting bill alone, which would dwarf the entire budget of most US races. It’s a massive arena for cycling. They’ve built bridges just for this race. They’ve removed rotaries (a.k.a roundabouts). They’ve re-paved and re-painted the entire course.
But then there are some things you cannot fathom they do without….. I cannot find water! There is no food while you’re working. And I don’t have a schedule of what I’m supposed to do. I go to the office every day and receive my instructions in a hybrid of French and English.
Yesterday at 11:15 I learned I would do a team presentation at 12. This would be cool.
Everything is super formal and structured. And like I always say, the first casualty of battle is the plan. When the officials don’t show up at 12 you cannot start the team presentation.
I did them all with just one glitch. All you do is look to the left to see you have and then go. I have no help and no order. I accidentally looked over and called Japan to the stage when in fact they were the team from Hong Kong (who rode brilliantly I might add).
But I nailed the names of just about everybody - Lithuanians, Norwegians, and even the one kid from Eritrea – without a hitch. But starting late I had to speed up the process, with teams going up and down the stairs at the same time, jostling for pens to sign the board, and freaking out about riding the biggest race of their life.
The race itself played out fantastically, albeit negatively. Everybody is so geeked out because of the magnitude of the result. There were some fantastic attacks and breakaways, not the least of which was Ben King of America going at the gun with a chase by Ben King of Australia. Both would be caught but they were brilliant.
The ride of three young men really impressed me:
Daniel Teklahaymanot of Eritrea. Riding alone, this kid from the poorest of poor countries, not only finished with the bunch, he threw down a handful of impressive attacks late in the race.
Tony Gallopin of France. He went three times in the last two laps and nearly made them stick. A real engine, Gallopin could be the next great French classics star.
Moreno Moser of Italy. The nephew of Francesco Moser, he showed amazing strength and speed in his solo move that nearly succeeded.
But the race was a controlled affair designed to bring the race to a bunch sprint with Michael Matthews of Australia where he needed to be. He won by several bike lengths. The crowd went bananas.
A tie for third with Taylor Phinney of the US and Jeremy Boivin of Canada could not be broken even with the best of Tissot timing going to the very pixel on the camera. They shared bronze.
The chant “AUSSIE, AUSSIE, AUSSIE” was heard during the medal ceremony, with the return “OY, OY, OY!!!”.
Ok, so it’s off to the women’s race now. The crowds will be super small today because the Grand Final of the AFL (Australian Rules Football) will be today. A marketing mistake you ask? No. The game was last weekend but they played to a tie. In their rules, they simply wait a week to play again. It’s the Magpies versus the Saints.
Thanks for reading.
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