Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mish Mash Update
(written on the long flight home so there may be a bit of verbal diarrhea as I am trying to waste time)

Belgian bribes....of the chocolate variety
Norm eventually had to go back home (one of us has to support Marty) so we made a trip to our favourite chocolate store, Neuhaus before he left. I was pretty giddy when we saw the big N as I swore off sweets for a few weeks there. Johnny Salami was with us and showed incredible willpower. He has been working on his “abs of steel” so he didn’t want to cave. I cracked at the first free sample. 15lbs later (not on me! in the bag…) we had a little something for everyone – including us. Our stash is at home. Alone. With Norm. Hopefully he hasn’t eaten it all. Afterwards, we went on the hunt for stroopenwaffles (mini waffles sandwiching tasty caramel) for Corey but alas, they only had some healthy fruit version so we left them on the shelf. 

Madrid Madness
With Norm gone, Sue Butler was promoted to full time travel buddy. She isn’t as cute as Norm (or mechanically inclined) but we were on the same wavelength. We had decided to stay in Belgium late because I had basically found Madrid to be a pain in the ass. I am sure it’s a great city to be a tourist, but as a bike racer it sucks. Expensive hotels, crazy traffic, business siesta closures when I am hungry, no grocery stores and a race venue that also serves as the hot spot for hookers isn’t really where I wanted ride my bike for a week. We flew from Brussels Thurs and everything was going smooth. Suspiciously smooth. Flight arrived early, 22C and sunny, no overweight charges on luggage, bikes delivered safely, free shuttle to our hotel, but…then the hotel informed us that we were booked in at the OTHER hotel (of the same name).  Sofitel Airport. Sofitel Centrum. Dammit! Rookie maneuver. I am getting slack in my travels. The old Geo motto “double check triple check, that’s what I always say” was fading away. In North America it would have been fine, just call us a taxi and we will head to the correct hotel. But the hotel staff were freaking out because Sue’s hard bike case was not going to fit into any cab according to them. Finally, after some high speed Spanish, a lot of head shaking and storming around we sorted it out, but by that time we were hungry and cranky. The emergency nuts had worn off long ago. I took the regular bags in one taxi and Sue waited for what sounded like the one van taxi in all of Spain. Not as smooth as originally thought. We dropped the bags and went for food at 10pm, right in the middle of the Madrid dinner rush. I knew I shouldn’t eat too much because it was late but I couldn’t help myself (my big guts were eating my little guts). I cursed my lack of willpower while I lay awake in bed digesting.

Food woes
The next morning we were looking for a good place to have breakfast as we thought there must be something other than the 26euro breakfast at our hotel. Wrong. It’s a 4 day weekend so most places were closed. Except the 4 Starbucks within walking distance. Starbucks? I am not a coffee drinker but lucky for me they have one of those giant OJ juicers so I got some liquid gold to hold me over. We finally found a breakfast place and who in all of Madrid do we bump into as we sit down? Dave McE. He has been here all week so after “breakfast” (the fried toast and a mashed egg I got looked nothing like the glossy menu photos) he offered to show us the downtown grocery store as I was already hungry again. My stomach rules my life. It was closed and there were 2 bums sleeping out front. We hit what I think is the Spanish version of 7-11 and got some crusty white bread (I wonder how many bums have touched it) and some cheese. I hear Kevin in my head “make sure you eat well and stay on the food program this week.” So I scarf down some Sport beans instead and hope there is something better at the venue. The free granola bar in our race package saved my butt. I calculate 2hrs max before a major melt down will occur. I would never make it on Survior.

Racing in the city
We hit the venue and my bike gets a tune up from the euro Shimano team as my trusty Norm is not here to help and we all know I am a crappy mechanic. We do a couple laps of the course. A fast 8km loop with a couple short steep climbs, one steep chute and not much else to report. I had a strong race here 2 years ago so I liked it. Its like a long cyclocross course. Sue missed all the hookers showing off their “wares” (think T & A, pretty hard to miss) and I missed the giant roller coaster. Not a very observant duo. 

Maxxed out on Madrid
Dave wanted to take us out for dinner and show us everything he had sussed out in the past week so we weaved through Robson Street-like crowds behind him to his favourite pasta place. The people watching was great! I would love to come back here and shop. But my focus was food. Unfortunately the kitchen was not open, only pizza was being served. Sometimes you just have to give up and go with the flow. Like when you have been starving all day and you cant think and you just want to eat your arm. Sorry Kevin. After dinner, Sue hit H&M for 5euro Tshirts (you can tell Dave has 2 daughters), got ripped off by the bank machine that said “thank you for your transaction” but did not dish out the 300euros and that was it for Wendy. I was pretty much maxxed out on Madrid. The next day we found a restaurant that had good salads and pastas, did not close mid day so we ate every meal there for the rest of the trip. 

The race
By now you have seen the results. 40th. No mechanical. More like a biomechanical. I basically went out fast and detonated. It was my last chance this trip to go for a top 12 result so I went for it. Top 10 start. I was on Marie Helene Premont’s wheel and thought “its now or never” and I tried to follow but it went backwards from there. Ouch. Losing 30spots is hard on the ego. I was pretty bummed since I had felt so good at the start of the season and I hadn’t managed to pull it all together this trip. I was sitting 26th ranked in the world but I was pretty far from my goal of a top 12. I went through all the emotions. I suck. I want my mommy. Bike racing is stupid. I am too old for this crap. But the good (or stupid?) thing about me is that I go through the whole gamet of emotions pretty quickly and then move on (with help from Norm). Its less than 2 days after the race and we already have a new and revised plan for the season and I am gung ho to get back on the bike. Maybe this time I will keep my goals to myself so I don’t feel like a total dud if I fail.

Moose gathering
Sunday night after the race, Sandra Walters from Pedalmag.com took the Canadian athletes out for dinner. Thanks Pedal! After I managed to spill red wine all over Alison Sydor, we settled into a yummy feast. It was a great chance to socialize with everyone that was over here in Europe going for it via totally different routes. Over the ox loins and ice cream we talked about racing (obviously) but had time to move on to other topics in life, which was a nice change. I am sure the story will have lots of great quotes!

My last snack of the flight is here. Meat pie. ? Back on the food program tomorrow in the comfort of my own country and home.


alison said...

Ox tails and ice cream? Together? Siiiiiiick! And not sick in the so-called "cool" way the kids these days use it.
Give me a call when you're back - I want to hear your plans for the summer, I'm going to California for July & August... want to come for a few days?

John said...

I love reading your blog. Its great to read about someone living the dream. But, I digress.

I had an epiphany a few months ago that changed my riding life. Simply put, EAT DRIED MANGO before you ride. for me its like adding a turbocharger.

Anonymous said...

Vintage Wendy ... a classic post!

JOY said...

Hey Wendy
You should read this: http://joyonbike.blogspot.com/2008/04/q-and-with-wendy-simms.html