Team Cyclingnews.com - Down Under - 2004
Tour de Berne, GP S.A.T.S., CSC Classic (GP Aarhus), April 25-May 2, 2004
Stargate Cyclingnews, reporting from Gamma Quadrant Sector 4.
By Nathan "Chookman" Russell
Fellow wahoos and cycling munchkins, I have some stories and tales from a galaxy far, far away...
Let's get things started with some moments that are fresh in the upstairs department, Switzerland and Denmark. A handful of willing riders packed a race bag and had the Ridleys polished for a 1.5 road race in the city of Bonn. The drive took a total of 10 hrs and it was interesting to watch how the different characters amused themselves in the confined space of a team car. The fact that I suffer from ADD didn't help my suffering, although some Qantas eye-shades, pharmaceuticals and Mr Mini Disc got me there without too many mental disorders. The twitching has stopped now and the drool under control.
Are we there yet, are we there yet, are we there yet... I gotta pee!
Tour de Berne - 1.5, Switzerland, April 25, 2004
A quick reconnaissance of the course on arrival, and to our pleasant surprise, it looked fast with a leg snapper before the exposed crosswind section. Phil Thuaux, Cameron Jennings, Eric Lievens, Sven De Weerdt, Bobby Dazzler (Robbie Williams) and myself enjoyed the fresh Swiss air before we hit hotel Florida where we found some Pink Flamingos. Some were in the pond and some in the restaurant as a waiter. The waiter was straight out of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, complete with make-up, a strut and a limp wrist. The Italian girls giggled, the Belgian boys were shocked and the Aussies simply kept eating.
Morning of the race greeted us with some nasty wind and it wasn't from the vegetarian meal. It seemed like an early break could go, so it was high priority that we put some of our chaps in it. I got in that move and was stoked it was dragged back after 50k as I was suffering from the leftovers of a typical bike rider's virus. The next 50 had me biting the bar just to hold position and it was all over red rover at 100k. The rest of the troops did us proud with four in the top 20; Funky Phil was fourth and looked like a machine the whole day and in the final.
Back in the time machines and we hit the team house at 3am.
GP S.A.T.S. - 1.3, Denmark, May 1, 2004
The next week had this little Chicken on the ergo for the start of a new training program to increase my ability to play in the red for longer. I'm glad I bought over some hard-house tunes to get me through the efforts. It's all about the zone! Thanks Veronica for spoon feeding me after my ergo sessions, love ya.
The next accepted mission was a great opportunity, the SATS Classic and the CSC Classic in Denmark. A 1.3 and a 1.2 ranking gives them some shine and any result at these would look 'fantastique'. Another drive of over 950k and I only woke for food, drink, a battery change and a wee. I reckon I've got this travelling thing sussed. We drove past the swanky hotel for the Div 1 teams onto our lovely abode that played A-grade porn 24-7. This delayed our arvo pedal by about half an hour.
120 starters huddled on the line for what was going to be one nasty day and one that I will remember. 200k with 32k of gravel - Denmark's Paris-Roubaix that saw over 100 punctures last year. How the hell did I make it through this without one puncture? The first section we hit at 50kph and instantly riders fish-tailed and struggled to get it together as tyres sunk into the sand. I heard some Italians simply laughing hysterically at the chaos. I seemed to yo-yo in and out of the convoy for a while until I got the gist of gravel.
Every skill/trick I ever learned came into play that day. With 40 to go it seemed I might actually be in for a go and the fear of a flat floated around my head. Phil rode solo across to a group and Cameron and I watched in awe along with some quality Lotto riders as he made contact. I entered the final laps with a group of eight that would have been sprinting for 11th. By this stage, I was getting low on Go-Go Gadget Power; when Geert Omloop and co. attacked on the last gravel section with two to go, it was obvious that I was already at full noise. A flat now and I would have pulled a Bjarne Riis and lobbed the bike into a ditch. Some desperate efforts with a Van Vliet rider got us with in 100m of Geert's group and I was given 19th. My best so far in a 1.3.
I was greeted with the news that I had dope control and that I was the first reserve. This meant I would have to wait for the winner Frank Høj to arrive and then I was free to go. He was the local home-town favourite and delivered the goods today, simply awesome. 45 mins later, he popped out of a car, Paris Hilton girly in toe, poochy dog and all. I gave him the nod and a 'sweet ride mate'. He gave me the wink and that was that - me and Franky, we go way back...
Dinner at hotel with some living legends and some of the best food for me in the last three months. Room-mate Matt Rice and myself head out for a geek at down town Aarhus and manage to stay out of trouble. Window shopping sucks, now I know how Veronica feels.
CSC Classic (GP Aarhus) - 1.2, Denmark, May 2, 2004
After a great night in a swish hotel, slap bang in the middle of Aarhus, a rainy day greeted us for a big day with some big hitters. Once again Bartoli, Bäckstedt, Høj and a wad of other classy riders came out to play for some UCI points.
5k in to it and I was crapping myself at the front at 70kph in a torrential downpour; better up the front than bouncing around the back. Our plan was that after such a hard day yesterday, a group of 20 could get up the road and a serious case of CBF [can't be f^&ked-Ed] could set in. Not Likely! It was obvious that I was a lost cause after yesterday and the flat in the crosswind section sealed off my day. Not until I hit the back of the team car at 60kph in the wet. Shower and hotel please!
Déjà vu - I woke for a freeway pee, a dodgy feed in Germany and the arrival gates in downtown Booischot at 3am. It took three days to get the legs back and it was time for more of the same from Dr Ergo and the thud, thud, thud, from typical Belgium roads.
Peace, love and mung beans, chief burger flippers.
Till next brain dump, Chookman
Images by Nathan Russell/Team Cyclingnews