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Mt Hood Classic
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John Lieswyn
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The John Lieswyn Diary

Cyclingnews diarist John Lieswyn is a regular at the Tour of Southland, winning the event in 2002. Usually a rider for the US Health Net presented by Maxxis team, John is riding Southland as part of the powerful Southland Times squad, alongside New Zealanders Scott Guyton, Greg Henderson, Glen Mitchell and Tim Gudsell. Their aim, of course, is another victory for the team.

Tour of Southland, New Zealand, November 1-6, 2004

Missed sleep

Stage 5 - November 3: Lumsden - Crown Range, 132.8km

Leading the bunch
Photo ©: Barry Harcourt
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NOTE to Bush fans: Straight facts about Iraq won't change your mind so neither will I, so skip this next paragraph...

I didn't sleep well last night, knowing that the US presidential election was beginning. Any of you who have been following my entries on Cyclingnews know that I'm a social liberal and internationalist. Ever since Rupert Murdoch's Australian News Corp's formation of the unabashedly right wing "fair & balanced" Fox News, which was supposed to be a counterweight to the "So Called Liberal Media (SCLM)", American society seems to have been on an extremely divisive course.

It's such that neighbors and families including my own are involved in arguments and discord. For me it all came down to the Bush administration trying (and mostly succeeding) in convincing Americans if not the rest of the world that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. Using this falsehood he was able to start a war which has done nothing but expend billions of dollars America does not have, making us beholden to the Chinese since they support our currency, and killing innocent civilians with expensive American weaponry that I helped pay for through my taxes. Many Americans see this differently than I do, but overwhelmingly those Americans live in less cosmopolitan areas with less world experience than those people supporting Kerry. If Bush wins, it's yet another indication that America is losing it's traditional separation of church and state and moving down a road of greed, vengeance, and war. So I began the day with trepidation, knowing in my heart as a longtime southerner (Florida and North Carolina, 12 years) that Bush would win. He would win because the southern white churches have politicized and mobilized, and are voting on the basis of moral issues despite the immoral war, not on terror, but for oil, that we wage today.

Passing the Kingston Flyer
Photo ©: Barry Harcourt
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We packed up for an overnight stay in Queenstown, the beautiful tourist mecca that was the base for the filming of the Lord of the Rings movie.

A strong headwind meant hard work for Tim and Greg today. A couple other teams that missed today's early break also put in a worker, and the break was caught not long after passing the tourist steam train "the Kingston Flyer". Every year I do this stage the Kingston Flyer is there, the train engineer must be informed when we are coming and he's got a full head of steam up. His whistle is ear splitting, but it's quite a picturesque scene between the black smoke belching antique train, snow capped peaks of the Southern Alps, and even a cowboy on his white stallion in between the train and the peloton.

Winds buffeted us as we wound along an undulating two lane road beside the long lake to Queenstown. Tim and Greg maintained roughly a minute's gap to the leaders but it was an unexpected power move on Devil's Staircase from Rollie that shut down the break. For the next 40 or 50 km's, I covered numerous attacks, knowing that Glen was our best hope for winning the stage. I didn't want him to have to jump with anything... any moves I got in I either sat on or attacked, waiting for reinforcements to come up. I only drank 1½ bottles today and ended up dehydrated and pedaling squares in the final kilometer, while indeed Glen not only bridged up to the leaders but out-muscled everyone in the final 200m to win by three bikelengths.

Up to Crown Range
Photo ©: Barry Harcourt
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Second best ride of the day award to: (the winner gets the "best") Heath Blackgrove of Zookeepers. He wouldn't ride with me in any splits so there was no way I was going to tow him to the bottom of the Crown Range, not with Glen sitting in the bunch. I must have attacked Heath a half dozen times and gotten good gaps a couple times, and every time he bridged up smoothly.

We stayed in a picturesque hotel just outside Queenstown. The room featured a glassed-in bay on one wall with towering pine trees just outside. From 1 to 4 am the wind whipped up and howled through the branches, as stateside the forces of war and fear won out.


Email John at jlieswyn@cyclingnews.com