Arriving to some pretty hot and humid conditions, and up to 27-30’c on the day of the World cup, some torrential rain more akin to a tropical monsoon in the first two stages, to a freezing 7’c to start the TT with. I thought Auckland’s weather changed a lot, but this was not getting any funnier. A freezing headwind greeted us on the TT course, well you could hardly call it a course, a bike path more like it, total length 3.5km (but at least there was no pot holes), hardly inspiring for the amount of work it took to get here on time, with clean and functioning machines. A very late night before, washing and checking the bikes, a few hours sleep and then back into it. It may as well be a 40km TT, I keep telling myself, it’s the same amount of work, it’s the only way to stay sane on these double stages. The girls were starting, scattered throughout the morning, starting in reverse order of the GC. Well I kind of forgot how organised we are at home, with the truck and all the equipment we carry in it. Looking around at a few of the Canadian and US teams, was like a turn of the tables for a change. On a day like this, a bit of rain, cold and windy, a few tents for the bikes and girls, and a truck full with all the equipment I could ever need, makes the day run a little bit better. I did some scrounging around for a trainer for Amber to warm up on, (I still got a few favours owing to me from some of the bigger teams here). We got sorted, looking like some of the very small club teams we get here every week in Holland, it was nice for a change to not look so important.
Amber a bit cold before the start of the TT.
The girls started to head off to the start line, team tactics, ‘ride as fast as you can, it will be over before you know it’. It worked well, before I had time to say goodbye and good luck, they were back, almost running me down in the process. Before I knew it our last rider, Amber was on the start line, looking a bit confused without her TT bike to ride on. The rules stated you ride the same as you have been on all week, no TT equipment at all, perfect for evening up the tourists with the locals, but for most of them, they needed the extra help of the TT equipment. Nothing much changed with the GC, we kept our places, the front of the race didn’t change much at all, Iris stayed in bed, it sounded like the best place to be. Back to the school for a few hours rest, a bit of lunch, then off to the centre of the city for the night crit. We planned to set out a bit earlier, as we heard that the traffic was a bit shit in that area at night. The race started with a staff race 15 mins before the main event. This, I wish, I had have known was on, with $500 up for grabs, it could have been some good spending money for the week. But it sounded like there was a few of the local staff that trained all year for this race. I have not been on the bike for six weeks, so could have hurt a little, and as I had not planned to come to Canada, checking my accident insurance I was not covered for the week. Sometimes I have moments of responsibility, this was to be one of them, I had visions of crashing and breaking something important, it was not worth the small chance of $500 for the win, the loss may have been a lot greater. I declined, much to the disappointment of my minions and peers. Hey next year, if I come back, maybe with some training I might have a go, until then, forget it.
Loes at Little Italy, looking pretty cool out the front of the pack. Fantastic shot too, I might add.
The crit was being held in a place called Little Italy, a famous part of the old city, kind of the place you expect everyone in town to know where it is, right. Well it was not to be, and with a small bit of a communication problem within the team, it turned into a bit of a nightmare. The girls intended to ride to the race, but they forgot to check with each other to see if any of them knew the way. By the time they decided to leave (this I left up to them today), all the teams had left, both by bike and car, the carpark was deserted. Right, off we go, but they looked at each other to see who knew the way, but as you can guess, not a single person knew. I had not even prepared the fickle GPS we had hired for the week, so at least we might know the way. We piled everyone in the car, bikes on the roof, and we were off, trying to get the address in the GPS, before we hit the city traffic. We were about half way there and we made the third big mistake of the day, when a volunteer pulled up to the car at a busy set of traffic lights and offered to take us to the start. Nah, it’s alright, we can find it ok, we have the GPS, yeah good one, as she speed off, leaving us waiting in the wrong set of lights for ever. We drove on, found the street where the race was starting on and preceded to follow it to the start. But there was another problem at the next set of lights, from the look of things, the very street that was to have taken us to the start, was getting blocked off by the fire dept. There was a fire in the street, so they had to block about two city blocks off just in case. Well then it started going all wrong, the GPS started playing up when we changed streets to ones we might be able to get to, with out it we were guessing. We were close, you could feel it, but the GPS was fluctuating our destination point about 6-15 km, shit, we are lost. I stopped at a book store, to see if they had a local map we could buy and find our way out. The clock was ticking closer towards the start time, the girls were looking nervous, but I was looking the most nervous. Most of the girls just kept quite, as it was kind of most of their own fault that we were in this situation, but things were still in control. After not finding a map of the city in the map shop, I asked at the counter in my best French Canadian, where is Little Italy please. They looked at me, then looked at each other, I thought being kind of older, they might have been around a while and know exactly where it was we were going, but no, they had not been out of the shop for thirty years. They kind of came up with the best answer I have heard for a while, ‘go up the road about a block, and then ask them there, where it might be’. I was killing my self with laughter at the divine information that had been bestowed upon me. Halfway up the block, we spied the race course, busted our way into it, much to the dismay of the policeman standing in our way. But the race was about to start, we had a mission on hand. I parked, got four bikes off the roof and was ready to roll in about a minute. The girls got a one lap warm up in, and then were waiting at the start, ready to rock.
I wanna be a cyclist when I grow up.
With Iris out, I only had three left for racing, Amber, Loes and Suzanne, but they were out for some fun, and some racing. The crit was a square course, with four corners, but man, from the very first lap it was all go. The rules had been quite clear before the start, a 50 lap race, if you are lapped in the first 25 laps, your out of the tour, pretty harsh. So there would be many out to thin out the field, and there would be riders just hanging on for 25, laps just as bad. Hey, at least the roads were dry, and the temperature was back up to a normal level. The crit is where our girls had a bit of fun, most of the time they came around the corner, one of the gang was on attack, it was good to see. Even Amber was giving a bit of gas out the front, kind of a weird place for a climber that normally dislikes the closer, faster racing. Things were looking good, right up till the end, then, with one lap to go, crash. I didn’t even know it happened, almost half the field was caught up in it, but because it was on the last lap, and right around the back, they kind of lost sight of it and forgot to tell us it was happening. I watched Oneone sprint for the finish, but could not see any of our girls, which was strange, as they were on the front of the bunch for half of the laps. News of the crash came out, and by the time I found out, things were under control. Loes had hit hard, smashed her helmet, put a few dings in the bike, and smashed the wheels up a bit, but no concussion from what we could see, thank god. About half the field was caught up in the crash, but being in the last 3km, the time stays the same for those in the crash as the front pack. But as usual, this was not adhered to, so half the teams were fighting for 18 sec gap to be taken out, as it changed many things in the GC, so was pretty important.
This is were we leave the race, unfortunately, our plans to fly home were not late enough for the days stage, so I decided not to start the last stage with, Loes and Suz. So we left Amber all up to her own devices. The stage started earlier than hey had planned, but to get back from the stage finish, packing up four bikes, all our gear and getting to the airport in under an hour while dropping off the rental car, was very impossible. So we took the day off to do some shopping/sightseeing, but this was a great failure as well, as we drove around for about four hours looking for a couple of places we had visited earlier, but could not find again. Another wasted day, but at least I had some bikes to pack up, lets hope they make them home. We said our goodbyes to Amber, who was just leaving for the last stage, I wanted to be there for her, but we had to go, there was not much for the rest of the team to do, as the finish was at the top of a long climb, and Amber would probably be fighting this one out herself. She finished well, but the 18 secs from the crit crash never got taken off from half the field, so she finished a lot further back than the top ten otherwise.
Flights home were rather uneventful, which was very nice for a change. A few hours sleep in my own bed, then I direct another race in the north of Holland. Jean-Paul has his youngest son racing the national champs for the day, so he has left the race up to me. Part of the Top Competition series, so it’s important for us to be there. The truck and all the bikes have been prepared, all I got to do is get up on time and leave.
Next up Middag Humsterland, then Tour of Bira, tour of Zeeland, and the Dutch Nationals. Almost up to date..