HomeBoy Hamburg: Bringing It Home
It’s now the eve of my departure for the Verge New England cyclocross series races in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and I’m trying to simultaneously do my laundry, eat some food and ram two frames and ten wheels into my 1990 Honda Accord for the seven hour drive south.
Oh yeah, and I’m obviously trying to write something interesting too.
– By Greg Reain
I last left you just before the Stevens Cross Cup in Hamburg. Man, that was a long time ago and a lot has happened since. We had pretty much the whole team in Hamburg the week prior to the race, so it was cool to chill a bit with the boys and do some group training for a change. Race day was a little bit ridiculous as we took first and third on the podium, and then packed another four guys into the top ten, with me finishing in eleventh just ahead of Jeremy Powers (good to talk with another NorAm guy for a change) and my roommate Johannes in thirteenth. Another day of good weather though, and I’m starting to wonder when we’ll actually get to race in some mud.
Back in the DDR
I’ve been in Hamburg for a while at this point and I’m starting to get a little itchy to do something other than just train and cruise around my neighbourhood, so when my DS invited me up to his hometown for a couple of days I jumped on it. Enrico grew up in what used to be East Germany and rode as a pro for four years, his last two being with Wiesenhof. He has a few good stories about the old East German sport school system, but nothing that scared me too badly. We rolled into Schwerin around 9pm and went straight to the local kneipe to meet up with Enrico’s brother and some friends. Turns out one of the guys owns the bar, so the beer wasn’t exactly slow in getting to our table. It’s OK if you’re drinking with your DS right? That made for a late start the next day so we just kept it low key and hung out in town for most of the day till I started feeling guilty and went for an easy spin in the afternoon.
I let myself get talked into going motorpacing the next day and it was probably a good thing, but riding behind an aging diesel sedan is definitely not the best way to achieve this kind of training. I succeeded in only getting a draft from the waist down (and a 50kph headwind in my face) and turning my left shoe cover black from exhaust fumes.
How do you say “my legs hurt” in German?
My little vacation was fun, but then I got sick and proceeded to continue training and racing when I probably should have been sleeping. The first race wasn’t bad, and I actually managed a podium in that one, but that turned out to be the tipping point and I descended into a week of really bad coughing fits. I’m sure that this made my roommates really happy, but they were pretty understanding and plied me with lots of cold medication. The next weekend was another story altogether. I had a decent start and was riding in the lead group but was having some major difficulties recovering from attack efforts and eventually I popped, finishing in sixth place. I felt a like I was letting down our support staff, because they were really excited to be there for us.
Hats Off To The Support Crew
Support for a small div3 team is an interesting affair, because teams can’t really afford to pay full-time support staff so they tend to rely on enthusiastic friends and family. Typically the number of support staff decreases in direct relation to the event distance from home base, but we are never short of people to drive the team bus, wrench on the bikes and take care of all our warm clothes. The team staff undoubtedly have a harder time than the riders on race day, since they are charged with all the stuff that we don’t want to do. Since races are typically cold and wet, they have to stand around being, well, cold and wet while keeping all the bikes (and riders) clean and in good running order.
Here’s what you would have to do as a team mechanic:
• Get up early and load the van with 2 or 3 bikes per rider, plus mechanic stuff
• Pick up all the riders and drive to the race without getting lost too badly
• Unload equipment and grouchy riders from van and set up the tents, etc.
• Remember to bring anything the riders have forgotten to this point
• Collect race numbers and pin them on
• Make the bikes all nice, then do it again after the riders destroy them in practice
• Bolster rider confidence after it is destroyed in practice
• Herd all the cats to the start line
• Collect all the warm-up clothing
• Get said clothing back to the van and get the bikes to the pit in about 30 seconds (I still don’t know how they do this)
• Keep track of who is where on the course and execute bike changes and repairs
• Meet the riders at the line with all their crap, plus all the stuff they didn’t know they wanted
• Clean everything and put it back in the van
• Collect licenses, prize money and start money and get them to the right people
• Congratulate riders on a good race, or commiserate as required
• Pilot the bus home, drop everyone off, empty the van and distribute all the forgotten stuff to the appropriate athletes
• Sound like fun? Most of these guys and girls work all week, then do this for kicks on the weekend. They really seem to enjoy helping us out, which is great because we would be in a lot of trouble without them.
Anyone remember the Henry Rollins monologue about being a professional traveler and all the crap you go through every time you’re at the airport? I’ve become a bit of an airport ninja over the years, which is usually really great because it means I’m able to glide through all the requisite tasks with minimal difficulty. The downside is that I get a lot more frustrated when there’s a holdup, and even more frustrated if there’s someone that I can pin said holdup on. I can’t stress this enough people – empty your damn pockets! Belt buckles, steel toed shoes and watches have all gotta go! Not like I have anything really important to do with my time on the other side of security, but I don’t like standing up any more than I have to.
Home In A Day
I woke up at 4am in Hamburg to the sound of driving rain. Actually, it had been raining the night before when I dropped my bikes off at the airport so I guess that it had never really stopped. Somehow I managed to request a taxi and communicate the address in something other than unintelligible German, so that was cool. I’m at the airport waaay too early; still raining; one hour flight to Frankfurt; still raining; through baggage claim and back through check-in and security; still raining; eight hour flight and two feature films later and I’m in Montreal; still raining; baggage claim (again), customs (first time!), check-in and security (again); still raining; one hour flight and through baggage claim for a third time and I’m finally home. Still raining. Good weather for cyclocross, I guess.
Anyway, it’s good to be home and I’m looking forward to doing some of the North American races over the next few weeks before I return to Germany for the rest of the season. Hopefully the euro-skills will help me in my endeavours over here.
Be sure to check out the blog (www.crazyfast.blogspot.com Crazyfast.Blogspot.com) for some day to day ramblings.
Thanks for reading,
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