7 October 2005

Madrid here we come..

Well of course the, 1650km grew another 200km before we even left, it was going to be a long drive. By the time we crawled north up the Italian coast the wind was starting to pick up to a hardy blow. It was quite fun as we exited some of the tunnels at the top of the mountain, with the large sail area of the truck, and 18 bikes that weigh nothing, we would lunge two or three meters sideways with every gust. The storm followed us through the entire night just making sure that we were awake for the view. Slept the night in a tiny hotel in the base of France, we would hit Madrid in a matter of 1180km.

Crossing the border into Spain was like a scene out of some bible movie, believe me I’ve seen a few. Almost as we left the border of France the sky had a line across it mirroring the border, we were leaving rain clouds that had been with us for the last day, moving into perfect blue sky with not a cloud to be seen for miles in front. It was one of those ‘had to be there’ moments, sorry suckers. The drive through the desert into the centre of Spain was pretty wicked, if you wanted to film an old style Western, this is where you should come. Every now and again there was a huge silhouette of a bull in the distance, these things were massive, stood out up to ten km’s away. Diving close I was hypnotised by the awe of them, I missed every one with the camera. We were going crazy in the desert, long straight roads, small orchards covered in olive trees, we should of stayed there, it was sure less crazy than the traffic of Madrid, man oh man I thought Italy was crazy. Still I have to say it again, traffic here was not as bad some parts of Auckland.

My work with the team had almost finished, this was the last race of the season, for most, it was the end of the season. Unless you had been selected to race for your country, your finished already. Lucky our girls are good, as most of them were here to race. Hell, I was looking forward to the end of the season and I had only been here just over three months. As mentioned earlier, I was contracted to work for the Sweden, a few months in the job and complete nations were biding for my services, I should put up my price. I had a team of five women, three under 23’s, and three elite men, plus organising all our girls bikes and wheels, this will be a busy week.

Getting to the worlds, is a feat only the best will experience, something to remember for years, to mechanics its just another race (so I was trying to tell myself) except that the whole world will be there if you mess up. First up was the Women’s Time Trail, Susanne will be the only one racing, but then two of the elite men the next day. These guys spare bikes would make your eyes pop out. Thomas Lovquist was showing me three discs, they were all shiny and clean, yeah this is my spare, then this one on the spare bike, oh and I think I have another one somewhere. What ever they want the team drops off, he rides for a top pro team so this is normal. In total he has four of the sweetest wheels, four nice carbon bikes, three sets of shimano’s prototype high flange rim, man they look sweet, even for Shimano Wheels!

The course was sweet as it winded it’s way out of a park with the wicked bush section with a selection of local hookers every 50m, showing everything. Well it’s all for the worlds, I thought, what a great way to celebrate. It was a nice climb out of the park, this would certainly hurt for the men doing two laps. The start was sweet, first I had to get the bike checked, measured and weighed, this is serious I thought as the line up is waiting to get their start. As this is not Susanne’s preferred event, she was not too worried about it, she was just waving the flag for Sweden. She raced well, think it was 17th overall, beating her place from last year, she was rapped.

Next up the men, working on the bikes the night before, strange things move through your mind as you tighten and check things for the tenth time. I have always told other mechanics or apprentices, ‘it takes a big man to walk away knowing there is nothing more we can do, it’s up to the rider now’. If only I could listen to myself occasionally. I had to do it, didn’t I, open my big mouth on the morning of the race. Gustav Larsen came out to see us as part of his preparation for the race, with an hour to go before we leave for the course I ask him if he is happy with the brake levers he was running ( Fasso Bortello is sponsored by Campag, with the biggest, ugliest brake levers ever on his bike), I offered to swap some of the levers off the U23 boys who had raced yesterday, might be worth 15 secs per lap, I heard myself say (I need some mountainbiking soon as I am turning into a road geek fast). To cut a very long story short, what would have been a very easy job turned into a nightmare, with three different levers and about five cable rerouting later, I sweated as I put the race bike on the car to leave, with a minute up my sleeve. What could have been a cruisey morning, turned into a very stressful one, oh well, things were running a little bit too sweet up till then.

Both the Elite men bombed, they were both high on the list for a good win but just didn’t fire on the day. Upon talking to them later, their bikes were sweet of course, but they had both come from the tour of Poland and were still not recovered well. In fact, both of them had done rather well in Poland, they just timed their recovery badly.

The kiwi contingent had one good result, with a third the day earlier in the U23 men, I don’t think Meshy Holt did so good in the Elite Women’s event. Oh well there is always next year.

Road race for the Elite Women, Men and U23 Men to come, in the second part of the Worlds.

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