Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Voice Lessons in Limburg

Like losing my iPad, something about foreign travel makes us stupid and awkward and alone. Whenever I travel abroad for these UCI gigs I feel like a kid who has just moved into a new town and starting school for the first day. On the outside it all looks good…Like I got it going on… But inside one simply feels out of place.  

The UCI folks are getting to know, and like, me. But it remains a cautious thing.

I love travel to Europe and other cultures. And I love traveling alone. But I hate being lonely. This would be fun if I had a friend or my family along.  Because I have to work eight straight days, I must hole up in rooms alone. First I must preserve my voice, which is to profession what  a hand is to a pitcher’s profession: everything. And because of the language barriers – although everybody speaks English the nuances of the language are lost – I end up alone a lot. This makes me come off as introverted, which most will tell you I am not.

At the end of each day I get unsolicited advice on how to fix my voice. 

Tea with lemon.

Hot water with olive oil…

Hot water with salt.

Tea with honey.

Halls….Vicks….you name it, they’ve suggested it. It is not my first rodeo. What works is this:

Throat Coat tea from Traditional Medicinals, which contains slippery elm.  Also I stop drinking beer but take in a glass or two of Grand Marnier. I hydrate with water constantly. And sleep is really important. Most important is that I simply avoid loud bars and restaurants and instead do thinks like long, long walks or bike rides.

But I had struggled going in to this event.  A combination of August allergies, a sinus infection, and a dental problem fostered some problems with my voice. I simply could not recover as usual. A visit to the dentist revealed a broken tooth, which got me some antibiotics. The voice improved but would it be enough to handle eight straight days of announcing at the world championships?

Let’s find out, eh?

I nailed day one, the team time trial. Then the reparation began. Riding the hotel bike 10k back to the hotel is a start. No talking. Then I started the constant rehydration.  Whilst trying to type this, I got drowsy. I rode for 90 minutes on the hotel bike, simply touring Maastricht, before fishing up with pad thai. Everything is done alone. No talking. I return to the room alone. I stay alone. I checked e-mail and then fell to sleep at 9:30. I would sleep for 10 hours, which truly may have been the most important ingredient.


And I got to the venue for day two solid. No problems and actually better than day two.  This is how I will mow down the entire eight-day gig.

But day three proved interesting. I awoke without the alarm…having slept miraculously again….and got ready for my favorite part of European lodging, the breakfast.  I was so ready for those funny looking meats, the eggs, the cheese, the cappuccino and of course the pompelmousse juice. 

As I sifted through my clothes with the blinds drawn I remembered having heard my phone, which is also my alarm, shutting off in the night. I had gotten up to charge it but neglected to turn it on. While brushing my teeth I sauntered over and turned on the phone…..


“Holy shit the junior women were to start at 10 a.m.!!!!!! “ I thought. “Or was it 9?” 

I flew down the stairs sliding on shoes and buttoning shirts and charged to the bike rack. I grabbed bike 2365 and pounded towards Vanderburg.  Whirred through roundabouts with my foot down as an outrigger, and then charged towards the hill. I climbed at a pace as stern as any race I had entered.  I topped off the hill and shifted up for the final 2 k to the event. 

I flipped out the phone….9:49 a.m. as I entered the Tissot booth.  I had ridden 7 km on a hotel bike with a Shimano Nexus 7 speed uphill in 19 minutes. I was blown…..But relieved to learn the race started at 10:30. 

Voice held up fine.

Thanks for reading.

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