Written by Merk-Wynne Sunday, 12 February 2006 00:00
The five of us left for Nassau on Wednesday and despite some snow delaying our connecting flight in Chicago we arrived unscathed in the sauna that is The Bahamas with a full compliment of bags and bikes. Goal number one accomplished. We were met by a couple of USA Cycling employees (one is our coach) and transported to the hotel where we were staying with the junior national team who were also in The Bahamas for the race.
Traveling and being jet-lagged is stressful enough so even though we didn’t ride on Wednesday I was looking forward to sleeping in and not doing anything too serious on the bike on Thursday but the national team and the coaches had other ideas. They decided it would be a good idea for us to meet the 5:45am group ride the following morning and do a little 95 mile jaunt around (and around and around) the island with a few LT’s just to wake up the legs. After getting back to the hotel and seeing that it was not even 10:30 and I had already done almost a century my legs along with the rest of me were anything but awake. Any hope I had of being decent for the upcoming races had just evaporated.
The next day we were able to sleep in a little more and went for an easier 2 hrs in the mid morning. After lunch a couple teammates suggested we cruise down into the heart of Nassau city and play tourist for a while. Why I agreed to this I still can’t figure out. See, one of the people accompanying me, Conrad, I have known for a few years and I am convinced he is clinically insane. Or just suicidal. The ride started off tame enough with us stopping to take pictures and enjoy the view of the ocean but once we hit bumper to bumper stop and go traffic Conrad took off, weaving through traffic like crazy, frequently taking his hands off the bars to take pictures with a very expensive looking digital camera. The pictures here are from this excursion. Now this is what riding in February should be like. Except the near death experience every five minutes part. Thankfully we made it back in one piece and spent the rest of the day watching the Olympics and drinking gallons of Gatorade with our feet up.
Saturday was a 5k TT in the morning and an 80k circuit race in the afternoon. I had no power in the TT which I am usually good at, actually getting passed by my 30 second man after 4k. Ouch. I was not looking forward to the next race but my legs actually came around a little, plus the course had no hills whatsoever. I finished pack fill but it could have been worse. More Olympics and resting on the beach from then until the road race Sunday morning.
The road race was 170k in pouring rain. I mean torrential, monsoon hurricane, water up to the hubs, getting blown off your bike, can’t see a damn thing and rain so hard it hurts type weather as we were warming up. Luckily it settled down a little as the race started. The second factor our team had to contend with that day was the fact that the race started at 9:15 and we had a 3pm flight to make. If the big teams decided to just cruise around we might have an interesting afternoon as well. Well we did cruise at about 40k/hr for the first 140k at least. That’s when aerospace (with Ryan Trebon, one of the nicest guys on the NORBA circuit) went to the front to shut down the break and my legs shut down soon after. It was a slow, lonely, cold and wet 15k back to the start/finish on my own. I arrived back at the team tent not exactly happy with my race but not too down on myself considering the circumstances and zero expectations. At least it was over. We took 3 trips to the airport in the team van. The first two groups made it ok, but the third group got their tickets and arrived in the back of the security line at about 2:30. Not bad, right? We can still make it. Oh yeah, the line was over 200 people long. Luckily, they were allowed to cut about 150 people in line to where I was standing with the others who had come in the second wave. We made it by the skin of our teeth and arrived, somewhat miraculously, with all luggage and bikes intact once again in the Springs Sunday night.
Phew. A whirlwind mix of fatiguing painful riding and fun in the sun containing 361 miles of riding in 4 days. Even though all I could do was endure a royal butt-kicking it was the trip of the lifetime that I will reminisce fondly about for a long time to come.
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