Trinidad Tour 2012
The blog entries below are summarized from emails sent to friends during our Trinidad Tour 2012
Tuesday Sep 18th
I am on the mend, but Vernon likely has a couple of months ahead of him to get patched up and to mend. We are relaxing at “Base Camp” (his Mum’s home) … Vern has had a steady stream of visitors and callers, which serve to pass the time and to keep a smile on his face. They are a testimony to the value he places on friendships. Yes, I am looking forward to the Hummingbird colours being even more visible on the road, in the peleton for the remainder of the season and the coming year. The best part of my reentry into cycling and racing is the instant brotherhood that forms around all who have a common love of the sport and the joy of just ridng their bikes.
We get the bikes back today. Joey has had them in safekeeping for us. I expect a I will use part of my time today to thoroughly inspect and clean my bike. I was looking forward to some easy rides this week but that is highly unlikely as my lower back is extremely sore from the tumble. Today was originally my big chance to ride with a past national champion (guess who). I was looking forward to that chance to check his progress and to have a laugh on the bike with him. I will have to wait for another time. I am not letting him off the hook .. I was looking forward to checking out the difference between class and form … Just joking!
Monday Sep 17th
Oh what a kaleidoscope of emotions.
The long and the short of the story is that both Vern and I crashed out on the ride on Sunday .. with only 4 or 5 kms to go. Vern has a broken collar bone and a damaged hip. I am a bit more lucky with only a couple of bruised shoulder, back and leg muscles.
My emotions range from
Thankfulness – for the Lord giving me the vitality to compete at this level; for my life partner Annie, who supports me in this time consuming, additive sport called cycling; for Vern my host in Trinidad, my insightful coach and cycling buddy; for my wingman Steve who helped and encouraged me to prepare for this event; for the support and care of the Hummingbird supporters .. Peter H, Caesar, Clive, Wendy, Keith, Michael, Christine, Darren .. Please forgive me if I have forgotten any of you … you were tremendous as you drove the support vehicles, helped with last minute preparations, shouted encouragement as we climbed the hills, were there to pick us up after the crash and to lighten the mood when we were shaken and disappointed at the side of the road.
Elation – for the experience to that point in the ride for being able to respond to whatever the elites threw at us to get away and we were able to respond. Speeds were sometimes well over 55 kms as we went up and down the undulating Solomon Hochoy Highway; for being able to climb the hills better than some of the elites; for being able to descend faster than most …
Disappointment – at my anxiousness and not slowing sufficiently at the bottom of the descent where both Vern and I crashed, a very little time apart. We had the podium ‘in sight’ only to let it slip away. For not being able to finish our Trinidad tour on the road with some nice easy rides with the boys.
Empathy – looking at Vern in a sling and bandages, hovelling around the house.
Joy – at being able to compete at this level.
Happiness – at being accepted by and making new cycling friends in Trinidad … from talkative Keisean, Smiling Martin, Thoughtful Joey, Quiet Caesar, and almost-a-Hummingbird Wayne.
Craving – for more cycling!
Saturday Sep 15th
We took an early ride this morning with a small group .. Caesar, Joey, Keisean, Vernon, Kenneth and me. We rolled really easy, laughing and enjoying the fresh morning air.
We talked about a number of things that we want to do on Sunday … if the situation arises. For me, I am simply thankful for my health and the chance to ride in Trinidad. Vernon has been a great coach, helping me to optimize my training, including the importance and the activities to aid recovery.
We are as ready as we can be! Our preparation is now complete.
We plan to relax for the rest of the day.
Next report will come after race day!
Let’s go Hummingbirds!
Friday Sep 14th
This morning we took a leisurely 50 KM ride over what is now familiar terrain. As we swung into the road on which Vern’s house is, I developed a slowly leaking flat. I got home fine and once again lost my pro status by having to do my own repairs. Interesting, I found the reason for so many front flats this season – no rim tape. I also torqued all bolts to ensure that everything is ready for Sunday. We will take a short flat terrain ride on Saturday to make sure everything is ready for race day.
We went out for a short while and bought roti for lunch. These rotis are HUGE … I did not even try to eat a whole one. Guess what I ate for dinner.
Steve called tonight to find out how things were going and to offer best wishes. Thanks for your wishes and thoughts! I wish that you were here to cause some havoc in the bunch. Next time we will have an even larger Humming Bird presence. You guys up for that?
For some reason the legs are a bit sore today, so I did a massage and put them up against the wall. I have to be ready for Sunday!
Thursday Sep 13th
We got up with the chickens today. We were on the road early, enjoying the cool morning breeze. I am finally able to lead on the road, knowing the turns we need to take. We are tapering and take a slow, easy 50 KM ride. The relaxed nature of the ride allowed us to stop off at the Erin Beach. This is a fishing village – lots of fresh fish!
Funniest sight today … we were sitting in the gallery enjoying some brunch when we hear a loud commotion. Believe it or not … a pack of dogs chasing the dog catcher’s van … These dogs are really bold!
We had a chance to head out to the Los Iros beach right after lunch. It was my first dip in the ocean for many years. It was absolutely refreshing. Very interesting was that Venezuela is clearly visible from the shore.
We went out with some of the Humming Bird crew this evening for what was supposed to be an easy 40 KM ride. It was a great course, lots of nice little climbs -another Little Folks Trinidad text book moment for me … we rode for a while on Penal Rock Road. As you are not surprised to know the easy ride ended up having some very spirited hill climbs. OK … guess who started this little fun-filled activity? The same guy called for the easy ride … Vern! I think he is going to make some serious trouble on Sunday. I hope he has the best day possible .. the competition is likely hoping not!
Tonight we are turning in early. We plan an early ride in the AM.
Wednesday Sep 12th
We woke to a beautiful morning and had a relaxed breakfast.
We set out a little later today; a little after 8:00 am. The good news … less traffic, the not so good news … hot sun – the proof – 50KM and I finished off two over-sized bottles. The insulated bottles are a real blessing in Trinidad. I had the bottles in the freezer for an hour so they were very cold when I left. The water stayed cool for well over an hour and a bit.
Today is probably the last spirited ride … we rolled over some hills and kept the momentum onto the other side. I am feeling good, but we have to taper, to start building stores for the race.
Ok… today was the first day of the trip when I was not a pro … we had to clean our bikes after the wet and muddy roads of yesterday. They were a major mess, but the bikes are shiny and clean again… and yes Steve, my bike is in my room with me.
This afternoon was nap time … ah the life of the pro is restored.
Plans for heading to the beach were quashed today. We were going to “soak in the brine” awesome salve for the muscles. Maybe tomorrow will be a good day for this.
Maybe tomorrow we will improve things by providing some pics … Stay tuned.
Tuesday Sep 11th
I finished having dinner after 9:00, then did a massage … late evening today.
A big part of the ease of the riding is being at Vern’s home. We are enjoying his Mum’s doting on us and the relaxed nature of the days. Vern’s Mum is preparing awesome meals .. we are eating lots of local cuisine and blue food, which is rumoured to give Usain Bolt and his countrymen an unfair advantage over their competitors.
We started the day with an early morning 50km roll. We went through the oil fields service road … nice ride in the cool of the morning, in many cases, shaded by the tall trees of the surrounding forest. The good news, less potholes in that area, but a new thing to look out for … bad dogs after you! No reason to sprint today. Most of the serious challenges from the hounds came close to the downhills. I hope they don’t get smart and go hang out by the uphills. In that case, I will have to find some unknown strength to out sprint the coach. Close to the end of the ride we got hit by some rain, luckily the mayor of Siparia knew someone we could shelter by. Rain fell hard for 15 mins and the road was dry in 20 mins. We made one stop at the Palo Seco velodrome to check things out … then we rolled home nice and easy. Many of the places we are riding through in the south were no more than names on the Trinidad map for me, before this week. Nice to see all these new places.
After a bite to eat, I went in for a short nap. I got up refreshed and yes, ate again to get some nourishment for the afternoon ride. We went to check out the challenging part of the road race course.
We were joined by Joey N, who drove us out to the race site. Peter H drove the “support” vehicle, showing us the course, as there were quite a few opportunities to go the wrong way. Well guys the hill did not disappoint! The hill, really hills, were most severe at the beginning. My gear selection was 39 X 21, the lowest gear available to me. Because the road was wet and had a little mud here and there, back wheels were spinning whenever you were out of the saddle. Something else to think about. Let’s hope for dry weather on Sunday. I do not believe the hills are more than 6 – 8 kms, but the later segments can be done in the big ring. The other reality is that what goes up must come down. There is a very fast, meandering descent that I expect will be pretty wild on race day. Lets also hope that dog owners also lock up their dogs! We finished off with a little tempo as we headed to the finish area. Good road and fast for so. I expect the last 3 – 4 km to be fast. Lots of time to sort out for the finish.
After the ride we went over to Ato Bolden Stadium to check out the start area .. pretty wide open, nice for a mass start. We packed up the bikes and cooled down, all the while enjoying some serious ole talk there and all the way home.
Monday Sep 10th
I woke up all excited to go for a ride … but it was raining so we could not go out … a little disappointing We went into downtown Siparia and met Sean Saney’s dad .. nice lime. Later we went into San Fernando and enjoyed the company of Vern’s sister in law and her husband And … Clive passed over .. nice to hook up with him .. he promises to ride with us a day next week. As usual we were enjoying the “old talk” so much that we had to rush home to catch up with the boys to get an afternoon ride.
We did an easy afternoon ride, lead by Vern and his boys from Siparia. Today was the first day on the bike .. We did a nice easy 45 kms, no stress .. just trying to get the legs loose after being of for 4 days. I was just so excited to get on the bike and to ride in Trinidad … lots of fun and lordy … a pile of potholes .. you have to keep your eyes on the road! Great to join the boys from Siparia … especially nice to ride with two young cyclists who were maybe 14 yrs old and one veteran who is almost 70. It is so nice to see. I am very encouraged that I could have at least that much cycling ahead of me .. This guys was rolling easy!
Sunday Sep 9th
We landed in Piarco before 5 in the morning. I got through immigration quickly but had to wait “forever” for my “specially handled” bike. I had to go through the Red Line (I have something to declare). I had to open up the bike box to let them examine the bike. They did not quite know what to think about the foam massage roller ..
When I got out of customs, Vern was there to meet me .. his brother in law drove and got us to Siparia, cutting through “central” to get to the Solomon Hochoy to head into “South”. I was pretty tired as I had not rested well on the plane. I sat with some very nice people .. plenty “ole talk”. Its amazing how the atmosphere on the aircraft is so different than those dreary, isolated flights to Calgary.
I got a couple hours of rest and then got up to assemble and check my bike. Everything had arrived safe. Vern gave me a hand and in no time we were done.
Later that afternoon, we headed into downtown Siparia to enjoy the Njisane Phillips Youth cycling event. As we walked to the course, I realized that I was walking with the unofficial mayor of Siparia. Everywhere we turned folks were waving at or calling out to Vern. He was even announced on the race PA as one of Siparia’s cycling legends. The streets were closed and we were treated to seeing all the young ones (both boys and girls) race on a very challenging course .. hills and oh yes .. potholes. It was nice to see a couple of young Humming Birds on the line … they made a good showing. To the delight of the crowd Njisane rode the BMX race with all the kids … Fun to see this grown man sprint up the hill on a small BMX bike .. grinning from ear to ear. He is truly an inspiration to the youth.
No need to say, I was exhausted and fell asleep almost the second I placed my head on the pillow.