Friday, February 15, 2008

Here We Are Again...

And here we go again. At last. I’m sitting at gate B10 in the Boise airport, waiting for my flight to board. It’s 5:48 in the goddam morning. I’m about to board a plan that will take me to Phoenix for the 2008 Valley of the Sun Stage Race. Compared to years past, this could be an abrupt entry into the racing season. Normally, I ease into racing by going to smaller, regional events before showing up at the larger national level races; last year for instance, my first race was in Boise against thirty local cat 1-2’s. Valley of the Sun has a full field of 100 cat 1’s. Ladies and gentlemen in the boarding area, we are in an overbooked situation on flight 1090 to Phoenix. If your travel plans are flexible today….Uh, no thanks. I’m still just as excited to race, but the chances of winning boatloads of prize money waned a bit when I saw that no less than ten Rock and Republic racers will be in attendance, in addition to roughly 15-20 other domestic pros. While this won’t be as hard as the NRC races I’ll do later this year, the Valley of the Sun will be several cuts above anything I’ll do for over two months afterwards. Ladies and gentlemen, those of you in the boarding area waiting for flight 1090 to Phoenix, the flight has been delayed due to a mechanical problem….Awh shit, you kidding me? Well at least the forecast in Phoenix looks great. I doubt I’ll race in weather below 65 degrees. It was a challenge to keep that in mind while I was packing my clothing, my impulse being to take every shred of long sleeve, fleece lined, wind-stopping spandex I own. It’s been so long since I packed for a race – there are components of my packing ritual that have atrophied, and ones that have remained automatic. I could have disassembled my road bike in my sleep; my hands flew from bolt to bolt, disassembling what I needed to, protecting the vulnerable parts from the savage hands of the luggage tossers. By contrast, rounding up my road-rash kit took much more thought. How many non-stick wound dressings is enough? Should I bring the whole bottle of iodine? Will the bottle of iodine leak on the plane like my shampoo bottle does? Ladies and gentlemen on flight 1090 to Phoenix, our mechanics are on the plane evaluating the problem as we speak. Please remain in the boarding area….Being stuck in the airport is a good time to reflect on the less glamorous sides of bicycle racing. Racing is fun, but I easily spend more time in airports than I do in the peloton. While I can think of worse places to regularly spend hours on end (a Russian gulag comes to mind), airports suck. They’re like malls, but with fewer fountains. I hate the air in the airport. It’s so sterile and manufactured – I feel like I’m breathing through a mask of steel wool. The only plants in the airport are goddam fichus trees – plastic fichus trees. This begs the question: is it worth it? Ladies and gentlemen on flight 1090, I’m sorry to announce that your flight has been canceled. Please head to the customer service desk in between gates 82 and 83 for rebooking.

My answer oddly enough is a solid, no-hesitation shot from the hip. Absolutely.

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