28 May, 2006
19 May, 2006
14 May, 2006
El Sal # 5
Saturday, May 06, 2006
It’s Saturday morning and my legs are swollen from the day before, really sore as well. I suppose that’s to be expected as we all rode up a huge mountain, in the dark, that has 15% gradient and more in some spots. El Boqueron is the name of the mountain, a volcano really, that sits just North of Santa Tecla and looms outside my hotel window. Almost everyday the top has been shrouded in low cloud, hidden from us, but yesterday she showed us her true height as we rode towards her.
We rolled down this goat path, down out of some town set high up on a hill and charged down a highway at 60kph. I tried to find a move to stick myself in but really didn’t have the legs for that kind of speed. Having a 12 in the back as my high gear wasn’t working either, though I knew the 25 would come in handy at about kilometer 150. I attempted to bridge, start and sneak my way into a break, but all for nothing except some more swelling in my legs. Eventually a break formed and 6 guys rolled off the front, at least this time I was at the back licking my wounds. We raced up to a small town, went around the center square, past the church, past the screaming school children and back down the hill, all at 50kph. On the way down the climb we’d just done, my rear wheel went flat. I quickly pulled over and got a super quick wheel change from Josh and I was back at it. It took me forever to get back into the caravan, dodging trucks, follow cars, and other riders with flats. It was actually kind of scary, but a 55kph scary, you know? I eventually got back to the pack and I tried to shake out my legs, but they were now swollen and really sore, and I still hadn’t climbed yet. Yikes!
The pack was behind a small break of 5 guys at about 2 minutes, but no one was really concerned about them. The Tecos team was setting a good tempo and we all knew that the break would be caught at, or near the base of the climb. Over some huge highway rollers and we finally started to drop down into the valley that would lead us to the volcano. The sun was starting to sit a little low in the sky and I thought that we would surely be climbing up to the top in the dark. We banged a left hander and started the climb. I was sitting about 35 deep when we got there, but then the legs started to fill and I knew that it was going to be a long haul to the top. Guys were detonating all around me but some guys were digging deep, like the Tecos guys that I was with for a bit, one of the team that set tempo for the last 3 days. Yeah, he just rode away from me. Must be nice, I thought to myself, to be able to ride at the front all day every day and out climb most of the guys that’d been sitting in all that time.
It was lonely going up, there wasn’t really anyone left around me after Dr. Lance caught and passed me, so I just started to stare at my Polar and tried to keep a good rhythm. My heart rate was low for what I was doing- only 155, but I knew that the legs were done and I was very tired. 3 5 hour days in a row, no massage, no real food; it all finally caught up to me. What can you do, I just rode. Up and up I went, sometimes going no faster than walking pace, it was that steep. At one point I saw this beautiful butterfly that was flying right next to me- then it passed me, that was about how fast I was going. Jared was on the side of the road and handed me a Coke, which just about saved my life, I think, or at least got me up the climb. I’d been out of water when we started it, so it felt really nice to get something down that had some sugar in it. A little while later Tony C. handed me a bottle of water that I poured onto my legs, hoping to cool them down, but that didn’t do shite, I was still slow. I caught a couple of guys, which was hard to believe, and kept on creeping up the hill with Jared in the bus telling me that I was doing well and to keep going. The bus had to switch its lights on, and for that I was thankful, I was starting to imagine things moving in the twilight. It was getting really hard to see. I finally made it to the top and it was pitch black, the lights of the finishing banner and stage lighted the finish line which I coasted over. I was done, legs totally spent and knee completely swollen from standing up at 45 rpm for 15km. I swear I saw 13 shades of Jesus up there and a purple elephant.
13 May, 2006
El Sal # 4
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Let’s review today, because it was a doozy. First off I should start by saying where we rode to on Wednesday. From a military airbase in
We got a room at the Tropical Hotel (ironic name, if you ask me) about 2 blocks from the finish of the stage, ate dinner in a huge banquet hall with a hundred of my new best friends and crashed out soon thereafter. Lance and I shared a room and we were asleep in minutes. Good thing too, since we had to do 220 km in the heat of the day tomorrow.
This morning, we woke up and went down to breakfast where they we serving eggs with chopped up ham, pasta, and black bean mash, probably refried. There was warm milk in an urn, but no coffee. For that you had to go down a dark hallway into a corner nook, where there was another urn with coffee, some Styrofoam cups and sugar, but no sticks to stir with. It would make no sense to put that out near breakfast. I ate the eggs I was so hungry, thinking of Marco and Rashaan the whole time. Superweek Salmonella, here I come!! We got ready to race, lubed up with some SPF 30 and headed downstairs for the start. We rode, it got hotter and then the fun started. I’ll just make a list.
1. A little tan dude got run off the road and flattened by a cow.
2. What was flat in the race bible was UP in reality.
3. It was hotter than Copodarco. Honestly Nealy, unfeckingreal hot.
4. A break went, we missed it.
5. Some more of our guys packed it in.
6. I got crashed by one of my teammates while getting water.
7. My STI lever didn’t work.
8. I had to hop on Dolan’s Flyte (bike).
9. I was bleeding.
10. I got sunburned.
11. I got a wrapper stuck in my rear wheel and that was there for 100km.
12. In the last 2km my back finally gave out.
13. I thought about going to a psychic to figure out which one of my ex-girlfriends was sticking needles into my voodoo doll and to somehow get me some better luck.
14. Two cows decided to run along with me and the Commissaries car before making a sudden right turn to get across the road- in front of me. Can you say ‘brake check?’
15. It took one Nick Warren album for the bus transfer (1hr 20min).
16. I tried to take a picture of the green man but my camera is broken.
And now here I am, in our hotel room at the lovely Indes, waiting for Noah and the boys to get the truck here with our bikes so I can decide needs to be done to get my bike working so I can climb up an 18% mountain tomorrow, which is right at the end of 185km and I still haven’t eaten yet.
12 May, 2006
El Sal # 3
Yesterday was hard, hot and hard. It seems to be the standard around these here parts, the heat, the humidity and the lack of sleep due to illness. I was still dealing with the butt pee and we had to ride from the
We started out straight down the hill, one of many, out of
The pack rolled along in its nervousness and we started going up and up on these little rollers that became big rollers and then a climb. The Tecos team from Mexico started putting in attacks, then the Columbians would counter then Andy Randell from Symetrics would trail as many as he could, then it went, right in front of me: the break that would stick. We had just come to the top of this roller and I hesitated, then chased, then sat up. I hesitated and lost out; stuck in the bunch, again. Soon the break had 2 minutes, then 3, then 4. The Columbians chased their balls off with 6 guys at 50kph along the flats, but for nothing. The pack finished 3:30 down on the breakaway group and that was that. Tom B. and I were stuck out in the bunch for the last 40km or so with no water since the team truck was taking care of the other guys. It was a bit of a mess and Tom and I panicked a bit on the radio, but it all worked out in the end. Tom B. had a flat with nothing left to go and came in through no man’s land, finishing with Dave S., who had gotten popped off the climb and rolled in a little bit down on the group. We all survived.
Today was a bitch and a stubborn one at that, one that came at us twice. In the morning: a 28km team time trial and in the afternoon: a 67km road stage. An annoying day, to say the least, complete with long bus transfers, heat and hard riding. We rolled the TTT super mega tempo and just got in under 36 minutes, easy peasy. It would’ve been nice to roll it all titted out, but we had no gear and we didn’t hold 3 guys in the main bunch the day before, so there really wasn’t any point to go harder than we had to. We’d already dropped a couple of spots on team G.C. On the way back from the race, while the rest of us were piled into one of the Tour’s buses, our team truck shit the bed and Noah (our team DS for this race), Tony C., Dave S., and Andrew (the official team photographer) were stuck with a bunch of bikes, wheels and assorted crap as well as one dead diesel engine. Later on Dave would tell me that when Noah pulled the air filter out to tap out some dust an entire ant hill’s worth of dirt came pouring out of it. Nice.
The bus brought us back to the
“Aqua, por favor?” I asked the drink guy.
“Pepsi?” he replied
We ate it though, and it was what it was: fuel for later.
We bus-jumped back to the hotel, got our kits ready for the road stage, de-prepped our bikes out of aero trim, rode down the extremely bumpy avenue A to the Multi Plaza for stage 2 of the day.
It was hotter than Abu Dahbi, but much greener. It was the same downhill as the previous road stage, only much more frightening, but this time I whistled the whole way down and that seemed to do the trick to get guys out of my way. I wouldn’t say I have no fear of descents, not like the Fowlkes bros., but I hold my own.
Down on the flats it got interesting, guys were all over the place and it was total chaos. The group was swinging left and right at any movement from the front and then a moto decided to stop and the crash started on the right side of the pack, moved left, into the center, then two guys started to rub right in front of me, and BUFF, one guy was sprawled out it the middle of the road and his bike is sliding straight for me. Now, there usually is this slowing of time when you can see you’re going to stack it; my moment lasted for a while. I thought the bike was going to slide past, but then I saw the handlebar stick in the asphalt and swing right at my front wheel. I went left, but then I found the guardrail with my knee. I was pissed as I couldn’t clip out since the bike was stuck in my rings and under my bottom bracket. I finally got it unstuck and tossed it, a la Bjarne Riis, into the road and got myself unstuck from under the guardrail, checked the bike and got back to it. It took a little while, but I was back in the pack eventually and tried to keep it upright for the rest of the stage. There was a hill with 8km to go and that hurt.
I passed a grip of guys, but still finished way down on the leaders. Oh well. Then there was some serious chaos at the bus that was our team car for that today, which had to become a people bus. The natives got real pissed off, we got pissed off, and then we all got on after we unloaded our bikes, got yelled at, got a couple of trucks to carry our gear and then, with tension I could feel up to my ears, we drove back to the hotel. Not so good for international relations, but what can you do? We needed a more aggressive translator.
10 May, 2006
Sunday, March 30, 2006
Today was hard. It was especially hard for me as I’ve been pissing out my backside for over 24 hours now. I think I may have amoebic dysentery from something I ate, though I’m having a hard time to thinking of what it was.
Yesterday the prologue went ok, even though I had to crap my diaper about 100 meters from the start ramp. It was only 5km but it seemed like 100km. Apparently I ended up 21st, though I know that the results are skewered due to bad timing and really bad officiating. I thought that I was going to throw up after the prologue and I started to black out, sat down in the truck and then felt a little better. I was really worried that I was getting a fever and as soon as I got back to the Indes I was sure my head was going to explode from heat while I was crapping my brains out on the toilet. The one thing that the Indes has going for it is that the wall is about 10 inches from the front edge of the toilet so I could rest my head against the cool tiles.
Today was overcast and crappy when we left the hotel. The sky was hung with deep grey clouds that looked like they could drop rain. We rolled down the hill form the Indes, avoiding the tumulos (speed bumps) that were placed every 300 meters or so to slow traffic on a road that felt like it was paved in the 50’s. Down into traffic and over to the MultiPlaza mall where the start and sign in was, where we waited for the team truck to show. We had some last minute things to get together, like radios, water, food, etc, all the usual things. I felt like ass as I had an antibiotic shot from Dr. Julio that morning, but hopefully could get through and not lose too much time. It was a 100km on the prologue course, so round and round we would go. I was only worried about the one downhill turn that was off camber and dusty and sure enough, some guy stacked it on the first lap, along with some other guys at other random times. The crashes made no sense as they would just happen to guys on their own, except for one guy who took a digger into one of the roundabout’s curbs, chest first. That was a bad one.
I came off with about 6 to go. I had no power in my legs anymore and was generally fecked, so I pulled the rip cord, put out the chute and waited to get lapped. What are you going to do? Some days are good and some not so good. I finished up and immediately started to drink as I felt very under the weather. Back at the Indes I sat on the throne for a while, drank some recovery mix, ate a sandwich and promptly passed out. There’s always another stage, right?
09 May, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
We met up with the other team members Dave Somerville had put together for the trip and we headed out for a ride soon thereafter. The sun was out but there were some good looking thunderheads forming up. We all had our pictures snapped by the local paper and then headed out into the countryside for some spin time. We ended up riding close to 5 hours. Now, usually, I’m all for it, but straight off the plane into the heat of
Woke up on Wednesday a little confused as to why my arms and legs were suddenly tan and why I was famished. I could’ve eaten the ass end of a camel I was that hungry. I stole some of D.S.’s oatmeal, made some coffee and got the bike ready to ride. We headed down the hill (which is in all directions as we are staying on the side of a volcano) and I plowed into a hole in the road as large as
A quick change and we were once again rolling in the heat of the day. I had a coating of diesel fumes, sweat, dust and grime. My chamois was soaked through and I had a line of dirt ringing the tops of my socks from the sweat dripping down the fronts of my legs and collecting whatever was coating them. We stopped for some water and snacks then headed up to El Boqueron, the volcano that we’d be racing up on later in the race. Supposedly it was 13% for 13 kilometers, so I thought, in my infinite wisdom, that a 23 would cut it- how bad could it be? Well, at one point I was doing 6 kph. I swear a saw a cockroach walking up the hill faster than I was riding up. There was a tailwind, so there was really no respite from the heat that was radiating off the asphalt, my head and my legs. I took off my Styrofoam cup that was protecting my melon, but that really didn’t do anything. Now the sweat was running straight into my eyes instead of getting diverted by the pads. We eventually made it to the top, after stopping once for Cokes, got another ton of snacks that cost a whopping 2 dollars (I’m talking 3 pounds of snacks) and headed back down at 60 miles an hour, straight down the hill, made a left and went right to the hotel where I took a shower that was icy and then passed out in my towel.
The boys had gone to the store, internet café and mall for dinner, but they sent back Hugh and our team director Noah to come and get me so I could eat. We were also taking Andy Randell and Miriam from the Canadian team Symetrics so that they could grab some food and supplies as they were stuck at the hotel with no way to get around. We found the food court, which made it a proper mall, a la ‘Mall Rats’, and got some good El Salvadorian Chinese food. We ate, we chatted and then we went back to the Indes for some shut eye. On our way back we stopped at a gas station for some water and the newspaper which carried a huge article on the Champion Systems team with a full color photo of all of us. A good start so far…