Photos of China with Captions to Tell a Bit of the Story (Part I)

posted in: Adventures, Cycling, Racing, Travel | 0

(Best way to view is to click the first image and then use the arrows to see the captions.)

Photos of China between the stages of the Tour of Poyang Lake which was a two week stage race around Jiangxi Province. The region was way more pictureque and more mountainous than you ever would have imagined. Some of the places we visited you could tell that seeing a “white man” didn’t happen everyday. There are a lot of ways to see the world and doing it via a bike race truly is one of the greatest.

Part 2 resides here since I took too many photos…http://adamfarabaugh.com/photosofchinapart2/

Changing Careers… Or At Least Trying To

posted in: Cycling, Racing, Travel, Uncategorized | 4

 

This is a post that I never wanted to write. A post that reflects upon the past and looks at the future while realizing how the present is not what I want it to be.

My last round of antibiotics was last night and I can finally drink beer again which was/is needed to write this post. To fill those of you in… I crashed on the last day of a two week stage race in China the day after I signed a contract to race with a pro team for the following two months. Instead of living in Shanghai and racing around China, I flew back home the next day with plenty of stitches and a possible broken elbow. That however was not the reason why I’m headed down a road that doesn’t include bike racing at the same level where I was at previously, but it didn’t help matters.

Since getting hooked on cycling at the age of 15 all I wanted to do was ride my bike, race it, and ride pro in bigger and bigger races. Every kid has dreams of playing in the MLB or NFL but they never really come to fruit except for the few. Somehow I kept progressing and riding at the next level until I was racing as a “pro”. I wasn’t in the Tour de France but the riders I was racing against (and finishing ahead of on occasion) were though in a few of the races I was lucky enough to do where they were racing.

Seemingly like everything I do, I took a different path than a lot of riders took to the pro ranks. I didn’t ride for any “devo” teams or National teams but took my own route through a Belgian team and a bunch of Canadian teams. This made me a strong, well rounded rider who could finish with the best. Maybe not beat them but I was there. Pretty much you have to beat them to be one of them. Even though I did this time and time again at the domestic level, not making the right connections and not making the most of the opportunities that I had, I consistently slipped through the cracks. I couldn’t land a contract on a team that could take me to the races to prepare me for the next level not to mention get paid something I could actually live on.

Bike racing, no matter the level really, is based on passion, rather than the money. The tipping point though is at least having enough money to be able to live and do what you want. But when you don’t have enough money to pursue your passion the way you want to it becomes a struggle. At first you’re living the nomad, gypsy life for the experience but to also get to the next level. You know that if you work hard enough, race well enough, and if you’re in fact good enough, you’ll get paid to do what you love. When you do all of these but they end up not equaling what you expected, a contract on a bigger team, you’re left with; do you keep going in the hope that it’ll come next year, or just throw in the towel?

After 2014, I wanted to throw in the towel but I couldn’t. I forged ahead in this sort of middle ground trying to work to make some money while still racing and training here and there. I suffered an untimely injury on the one block of racing I had to have a real shot at actually getting some results and maybe a contract that I could half live on. That left me in a huge hole. I didn’t know what I was doing and if all the sacrifices I was making were actually worth it. Seemingly everything in my life continued to fall apart and I was left with the only thing I really knew; bike racing. I put most of my stuff in a storage unit, moved out of my then girlfriends place, and took the rest of my stuff in my bike bag and backpack on the road to race what was left of the season, like the broke gypsy I once was.

The first race back I raced off the front for half of the final ten laps. I then rode 270 some miles in two days across the state of Pennsylvania followed by a bunch of training to get back some sort of fitness. With nearly 30 hours of training in my legs for the week I then finished 5th out of a breakaway in the Rochester Twilight after riding way too hard to bring back attack after attack of some of the biggest hitters in the North American Crit scene. The following week I did the same albeit with a bit less of a result but once again being off the front solo in the last ten laps.

With more training I headed to St. Louis for four days of crit racing. The first night I rode from 15 until 2 to go on the shoulder of UHC’s sprint train keeping my sprinter safe. They had 5 guys for their sprinter. I was one. I don’t have the speed for a sprint but I can set up anyone, anywhere. The remaining nights consisted of a lot of the same but when directors only look at results, I’m not where their eyes fall.

After a hard four days of racing, and training in the morning to get ready for the next trip, I was off to China for a two week stage race. I did the Tour of Poyang Lake last year and finished third overall while riding for my teammate that race, Ivan Stevic. This year the race was far different with much hillier stages and a deeper field and no dope controls. Even though I was far from the slimmest rider on my composite team I was our GC rider. Somehow I found the legs on the climbing stages and in the time trial to finish 14th overall with a bunch of descent individual and team results through out. The climbing stages weren’t just a bit of hills though. The HC day consisted of a 12km climb that probably averaged close to 10%. Not easy when you’re not a climber and clean. A bunch of Iranians went 3,4,5,6, or something like that. Statistically not normal.

Working a contact I had from the previous year and along with my riding at Poyang Lake, I signed a contract to race the remainder of the year with a Conti team from Shanghai. They were doing all the UCI races in China in the coming two months which were basically jammed packed. I’d have far more race days than off days. This was my last hope at getting some sort of contract for the coming year to be able to still be a bike racer and not make all the sacrifices that I had been making the previous four years, namely not actually living somewhere. Being crashed out on the last day in a separate race from the Tour, but that we had to do to get paid the prize money, was I guess the nail in the coffin.

Throughout the race I was wondering what I was doing and I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing as much as I should have been. This might have been for various reasons but the fact was that I was no longer willing to make the sacrifices to race my bike at the level I was at. I lived a majority of the past year in one place, had an amazing relationship, had some money, and it was amazing but it wasn’t enough. I still wanted to race at the level I was at previously. I couldn’t give it up. I was seeking a balance between the two that I couldn’t get without a contract that actually paid me something.  I tried to get it again but basically it uprooted my life and took me to the bottom. I didn’t, or don’t, have a contract, a place to call home, a relationship. All the things I valued and want in my life went away. The things that all those sacrifices were for are now non-existent. I guess this would be called the bottom. Fortunately, I got a degree so am using that to hopefully find a job in the energy industry, where my passion also lies, which will help to get me where I want to be in life where bike racing isn’t the only be-all, end-all.

Riding and racing will always be a part of my life though. I’ll never give it up. I’ll still race as much as I can but racing is not going to be my life as it is now. I already do a lot of other stuff, or should say have done in the past, such as backpacking, climbing, skiing, hunting, fishing, mountain biking. I want to do these things more than just here and there in the off-season. I want all the things I love to be a well-rounded part of my life. As with anything in life balance is key. I need to work on that but even with a “real” job I’ll still be out there riding in the rain and racing to win, or for someone else to win since I’m a pretty descent lead-out rider too. Life goes on and at least from here everything is up. Racing has given me more than I could have ever asked for. It still will but with this door sort of now closing it feels like I’m parting ways a bit. The future will be great because of it.

I was only on the podium for most Aggressive Rider on the day (ahead of another legit rider, Fumy Beppu). The rider to my right is the current World Champion. The rider to my left is the current Hour Record holder.
I was only on the podium for most Aggressive Rider on the day (ahead of another legit rider, Fumy Beppu). The rider to my right is the current World Champion. The rider to my left is the current Hour Record holder.

 

Winning the Elite Criterium National Championships. Eric Marcotte, to my left has since won both the US Pro Road and Crit Championships.Winning the Elite Criterium National Championships.

Eric Marcotte, to my left, has since won both the US Pro Road and Crit National Championships.

The Journey to The Tour of Poyang Lake in China

posted in: Adventures, Cycling, Travel | 0

My trip to China started Tuesday afternoon after racing the Gateway Cup in St. Louis, Missouri. Going from race to race is awesome but a pain at the same time. Normally when you’re headed to a race you are rested and excited to get there. This trip, not so much.

The Sights

The one cool thing about flying and stopping everywhere is that you get to see a lot. I first flew into Toronto where the city lights illuminated a massive city that seemingly went on forever. I then made my way to Vancouver and had some amazing views of the surrounding area on a sunny flight out the next morning. I’ve never been to Vancouver but just from seeing a bit of the city and the surrounding mountains, it’s definitely a place I want to go back soon and check out.

Perhaps the most interesting sights on the trip were

the Kamchatka Peninsula jutting down from Russia. There were a number of massive volcanoes with their peaks still entrenched in snow. Normally when you’re flying at 40,000 feet, everything below looks flat. When a mountain reaches up and you can literally see how much closer the peak is to you, you know it’s big. On this peninsula along with the volcanoes were a lot of empty mountains scattered with a few small towns and one road connecting each. This place is truly out there as not only is it super far north, it has a vast ocean on three sides.

Once we were over China there was a lot of rice fields interspersed with super condensed towns. Literally all of the buildings will be in one area and then nothing but rice fields. As we got Closer to Beijing, the towns grew in size and include ridiculous amounts of high rise, assumingly apartment buildings.

The Chaos

Any international trip always seems to include some sort of chaos. My flight touched down in Beijing late which was then preceded by a huge line at customs; both of which are to be expected. Beijing was only a stopping point as from there I needed to catch yet another flight to the start city; a 2 ½ hour flight south to Ganzhou. I finally made it through everything and some super helpful guy had me running after him to the correct ticket counter to get a ticket and check my bags but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time. Luckily I knew this was a possibility so I didn’t buy my ticket ahead of time as it’s normally the same price in advance as it is at the counter. One of the other American teams, CCB, and friends of mine were in the same boat so it actually worked out well since we then all got a hotel together to then catch a flight the next morning. Traveling in a foreign country is always better and more enjoyable with other people.

The Final Push

Having a third day of travel puts you in a place where all you want is to get where you’re going. You’re tired, you’re sore, you’re aggravated. Fortunately being in good company helps along with the final hour or two long bus ride being through incredible countryside and mountains. On the flight in you could see how up and down the terrain was. The mountains where immense and lush. We took a twisty, curvy mountain pass road to a lake that had a resort hotel. It made up for the crazy days of travel and lack of sleep. Finally I arrived at the Tour of Poyang Lake only for the journey to begin.

 

 

The Highs and Lows of Bike Racing; Are They Worth It?

posted in: Cycling, Racing, Travel | 0
Winston Salem1
Winston-Salem Classic, UCI 1.2. Before the knee expired for the day. (Photo Credit: Daniela Carrion)

There’s nothing like crossing the finish line with your arms in the air achieving what you had your heart and mind set upon in the weeks and months prior. Even if it wasn’t a victory, the satisfaction of performing at your best gives you an elated feeling knowing that all your hard work and sacrifice paid off. With sports in particular, and just about anything in life, hard work and sacrifice don’t always yield the results you want and when that happens you’re left wondering what went wrong and was it all worth it.

A little over a week ago I left Bend, Oregon where my girlfriend, job, and life nowadays is, for almost a month of racing on the road.  This past spring I worked at a bike shop (Of which is amazing and gives me time off to race. Thanks Sunnyside Sports!) to make ends meat and to be able to still race across the country. My objective was to make enough money to be able to live as well as to still be able to get to the races since I wasn’t on a Continental team anymore.  The working drew back from the training but it was the only way I was going to be able to still race and actually have a life outside of going race to race all year.  Working and training are both big time commitments in their own right let alone when you try and combine them.  Thanks to an amazing girlfriend, not enough sleep, and a lot of determination, I made it work.  Definitely a sacrifice on all fronts but all for a reason; to race my bike and to race it well to make money along with hopefully getting a contract with a team to do bigger and better races.

Today, (Sunday) I was to be racing the Philly Classic, a big UCI race that has been the biggest one day race in the country and going on since 1985.  It was a big target of mine and a race I’ve done the past two years as well as one of my favorite.  Last Sunday I raced at the Winston-Salem Classic.  It was a UCI 1.2 race with with 10,000 feet of climbing on a circuit totaling 110 miles.  A hard race indeed with the best teams and riders in the country.  I knew it was going to be a hard day, especially with out having any racing even close to that recently, but knew I could still have a descent ride.  My left knee started to hurt about half-way through but I’ve had knee pain before and thought it’d be fine.  I flatted with about 4 laps to go which required a hard chase to regain contact with the field (slow wheel change…) but during that chase I definitely knew something wasn’t right.  I rode about half a lap in the main group but knew at that point I wasn’t going to get a great result and that I should just pull out and not further injure my knee.  That was the first time I’ve ever actually pulled out of a race without being dropped.  Can’t say I would have done that in the past but I knew there was more than just this race to be had.

My wheel change. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Devich, Cyclingnews.com)
My wheel change. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Devich, Cyclingnews.com)

Unfortunately I should have pulled out at the first bit of pain as even with careful treatment, position adjustments, physical therapists, and lots of rest, my knee still had a problem by the end of the week.  This is the first race I’ve ever had to not start for any reason.  Even being sick I would race.

Right now at least it feels as if all of those sacrifices weren’t worth it.  And not only my own sacrifices but of those around me; particularly that of my girlfriend.  I also missed an important wedding to now sit on the couch and watch a live feed of a race.

Before I always thought all the sacrifices for bike racing I made were worth it (and there were a lot).  It was what I wanted to do and I wanted to achieve my goals and dreams in racing.  Those sacrifices over the years have gotten harder and harder to deal with, one of the reasons why I’m not on a pro team this year, and now this set back makes me question it even more.  Racing is a hard sport and getting to the top requires a lot of dead-set determination and willingness to do whatever it takes.  I still want to get to a higher and higher level of racing and want to put in all the hard work that’s needed but making hard sacrifices you shouldn’t have to make makes me question how bad I really want it.

It’s a measure and the scale is definitely tipping.  I just don’t want it to tip before I want it to tip. Hopefully with continued treatment and rest my knee will heal up and I can salvage this trip.

On the plus side of not heading to Philly I got to spend some time with my parents and visit the elementary school I went to one last time since it's closing in 2 weeks time.  Around since 1859, 156 years!
On the plus side of not heading to Philly I got to spend some time with my parents and visit the elementary school I went to one last time since it’s closing in 2 weeks time. Around since 1859, 156 years!

And if you’re interested in any of my sponsors products listed in My Store here, use discount code: “sacrifices” for 5% off.  It helps benefit myself and our team. Thanks!

Flying in Business Class; A Crazy Travel Day and Is Business Class Worth It? Are you helping yourself, those at your destination, or those in coach behind you?

posted in: Economics, Travel | 4

6 Minute Read

I arrived in the Dominican Republic in the back of a full plane tired and hungry.  I left in the front of a plane in business class with coffee served upon seating and a full stomach on an omelet from a food voucher from Delta Airlines.  The voucher came from our flight the night before after it was delayed again and again with no one really having much of an idea of what was going on.  It finally was set to depart eleven, which turned into twelve, hours later.

The fiasco started after they cancelled our original flight Monday for some unbeanounced reason which allowed us to try and catch a flight the evening before instead of the day after.  Going to the Dominican I flew out of Portland, Oregon, a three hour drive from Bend, and was going to have to take a bus back but with the cancelled flight, Delta gave me the option of flying directly to Bend so I can’t complain even with the couple hours of sleep on the tile airport floor as I’ll be getting home sooner and when you’re in Business Class, how can you complain.

This is my first time ever flying in Business Class and it’s a bit of a catch 22 as yeah it’s pretty awesome with the ginormous seats and free food and drink,  but now I’ll know exactly what I’m missing the next time I fly and what it was like.  You do feel more important up here as when you sit down in your large comfy seat with a pillow and blanket set out for you along with a bottle of water, the stewardess asks what you’d like to drink.  As you’re sipping coffee (and looking up from your writing) you see those looks you once gave as you walked through business class to your tiny seat in the back.  This is where the seemingly rich and successful people sit.

Last night as we were waiting for what was to come, we started talking about what we thought everyone’s story was as there was quite the variety of people taking this flight from Santo Domingo to New York City from the guy who grew up in the Dominican but now lives in NYC, to the guy from Texas who went on a whale watching tour, to the guy from Montreal who went scuba diving to the Chinese guy next to me who I have no idea what his story is.  But that’s the thing, up here you can have anyone but they all must have had some form of success somewhere otherwise they wouldn’t be sitting here (unless you’re like me and get a free upgrade).  It’s the unhidden selection of the 1% or 10% while the rest sit and watch in the shadows from the back.

But what does that mean aside from the fact that they have money?  That they’re too good to sit in the back?  They have so much money to burn its irrelevant?  They don’t understand that it’s a poor investment?  Regardless, they have the luxury of affording what they want and after being in a third world country for the last eleven days, having what you want is a true luxury.

Yeah we all want a lot of things but wanting something a little bit higher up than what is a necessity, and pretty much deemed a necessity in our culture, starts to be more of a luxury depending on where you’re at in the social hierarchy.  Something like clean water or food beyond rice and beans, or even something like a TV starts to become a luxury.  To probably all of the people here in Business Class, these are everyday things you don’t think twice about but when you’re put in that situation where even having hot water, or agua calleiente, is a rarity, whether to make coffee or to have a warm shower, you realize just how good you do have it in your day to day life.

Luxury is when you have something above what you normally have on a day to day basis.  It’s just where your day-to-day basis is.  Do you have hot water every day?  Do you fly in Business Class all the time?  Some people do fly business class all the time and some claim they could never go back to coach.  That’s true that it’s probably hard to go back down the rung but when you live below what you’re normally used to, you appreciate those things that to many are luxuries and when you do have them again you appreciate them much more.  The problem we have is always wanting a higher basis where those luxuries are everyday items and that is regardless of class.  For example in lower classes they’ll have phones that at one point was a luxury but now is an everyday item, even for them.  And higher up, something like a nice car becomes an everyday item, not a luxury.  These are the things that cost our world so much whether it’s in terms of money, as that money could often be better spent elsewhere bettering both ends (the higher class in that they get more return out of what they spend and the lower class in that a little money can go a lot further) or in terms of economic, environmental, and human costs.  In the general sense, if we don’t always fly business class and put our money towards something that “adds value” to ourselves (as flying business class instead of coach still gets you the same result, to your destination) we, as in you the elite flyer and society, get more benefit from the same amount of money spent.  So fly business here and there to enjoy it as a luxury, not as an every time thing.

On the flip side of not flying business as an all the time thing, you could argue that the extra money spent on the same good, getting from point A to B, does add value in that the extra money goes to the airline and the stewardess, crew, etc, further adding to the economy but depending to what you compare it to, it’s not direct injection into the economy.  If you spend that same extra money at your destination, say at a local restaurant, tour company, or just merchandise off the street, that money can go further because it’s more direct and not through a cooperate entity.  And also you’re supporting the local economy and especially if it’s a place like the Dominican, it can help the lives of many to maybe turn that luxury of clean or hot water into an everyday thing.

Also, it would be a good analysis, but if the added cost of Business Class compensates for lower fares in coach, you could say that that money still in the pockets of the “middle class” in the back, can go further because that many more people are likely to spend that extra little bit of money at their destination whereas the one flying in Business Class is probably going to spend that extra money anyway.  So in that case, thank you Business Class flyers as you’re subsidizing the rest of our tickets.  It would probably be hard though to get that data from the airlines as to if standard ticket prices are affected by the added price of Business Class.  Intuition says it’s in between.  Tickets in coach are marginally lower and that because of it those people spend a little bit more money at their destination.  People in Business Class are already going to spend that extra money at their destination A, because they have it to spend freely, and B, they are already foolish spenders if Business Class isn’t a drop in a bucket and they will continue to spend haphazardly at their destination.  And also I suppose C, they are athletes in some regard and the added leg room and relaxation arrives them at their event less depleted from the travel, but those are few and far between and they are probably the ones who can’t afford it and are sitting in the back anyway, like me.

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.

Driving from Santiago to Santo Domingo

posted in: Adventures, Cycling, Travel | 0

While zig-zagging through traffic at 70+mph down a highway that’s filled with scouters, motorcycles with two or three people on them driving down kind of the side of the road, along with trucks and other cars just good enough to run, like ours, you start wondering what makes people in countries so far apart, such as China or the Dominican, to have an utter disregard for safety.  They’re not seeking a trhill nor enjoy being on the edge of life and death but rather it’s just how it is.  In most facets of what they do, the do just what needs to be done to work and get by.  Of the four different vehicles that I’ve thus far been in, they all had the check-engine light on and barely started.  This particular one had steam coming out of the air vents too.  But they all got the job done.  (And if you don’t have motorized transport you just ride your horse down the highway of which we just passed.)

At least here in the Dominican they do respect traffic laws a bit more, such as stopping at red lights, at least during the day as at night you just go because you don’t want to stop as you might get mugged.  I doubt you would get stopped though even if you ran a light right in front of a cop.  On the drive from the airport upon arriving here, one of the guys who spoke English said that you can do whatever you want in the Dominican, like Wild West whatever you want.  No one’s going to tell you no.  Somewhere in the middle is probably good. And if you have money you can get whatever you want.

Between the way people drive, the roads, and a bit of disorder to say the least, it’s going to be an interesting bike race where all three of those need to be of descent quality to have a race that you’re not going to die at.

The Dominican-Part 3: The Chaos Continues with a Stage Stopped Mid-Race.

posted in: Adventures, Cycling, Travel | 0

The penultimate stage of this race includes a long, steep, and hard 45 minute climb (probably more) that’s followed by more climbing to the town of Constanza high up in the mountains of central Dominican Republic.  It’s a super cool area that I had been looking forward to the entire week.  The pictures below don’t do it justice but shows a glimpse of how big and steep these mountains are and how they’re covered with small farms, houses, and villages.  This is the Dominican I love.  It’s out there away from it all with incredible beauty and simplicity.  Shacks with multi-million dollar views elsewhere in the world.

Shacks

Shacks with multi-million dollar views elsewhere in the world.  Driving back to Santiago from toward Constanza.

This is the stage that would pretty much decide the GC and with too many skinny climbers from South American countries that are probably about as clean as the gutter on the side of the road here, (More on that later.  The crap you see… can’t say that someone who’s dirty is the smartest guy in the room.) I decided to get in the breakaway before the climb hit since I knew I’d probably get dropped in about the first five minutes of the climb given my current fitness or lack thereof.  It was super windy and it was going to be a challenge to get a decent gap on the field but the three of us managed to build our gap to over three minutes.  We dropped the Movistar Equidorian guy in our break making for just myself and an IRT rider (new American Conti Team).  It was pretty sweet being at the front of the race on a big mountain day as fans and the media were all about you.  We eventually got caught by the leaders and I was able to stay with them for a little bit but they were flying.  While I was still first on the road I could hear the chaos behind.  There were the race vehicles but then there was a herd of 20 or 30 motorcycles all wanting a close up view of the action.  When I finally got dropped I thought I was going to get run over.  It was steep and I was a bit spent so wasn’t going very fast.  By the time the main group caught me there were only like 10 guys left.  I was with them for a bit and got dropped again and found my way in a small group a bit off the back of them.  It was much more relaxed being away from all the craziness ahead.

That craziness eventually caused the UCI Officials to stop the race because there was dangerous traffic coming down the mountain along with the herd of motorcycles causing mass chaos.  Apparently the guy in the lead was hanging on to a motorcycle since the commissarie couldn’t get through the moto’s to officiate.  On top of that, apparently a rider got hit by one of the spectators trailing the leaders.  They stopped the race half-way up the climb where we sat for probably 20 minutes waiting to see what was going to happen.  At first we thought we were done and that we’d just ride back down the climb to busses to go back to the hotel but then it was decided that we would ride easy (except it isn’t easy riding a steep climb in 90 degree heat, I was a bit cracked) to the top of the climb where we would start again with our time gaps.  Apparently before we got to the top the police were trying to stop traffic and ended up shooting two people who wouldn’t stop.  I guess it was wrapped up before we got there but just part of the craziness here in the Dominican. MtnsFrom a cow pasture above the little town we stopped in to change and catch the buses back to the hotel. As always the photo doesn’t do it justice.  The view was incredible here.  How about a loo with a view?  Check.

It would have been crazy to start the race at the top of the climb as it was a crazy twisty fast descent and fortunately the first riders to the top kept going down the other side whether they were told or not.  I stopped at the top since right behind was all the regular traffic that included a lot of trucks that the officials didn’t stop.  I wasn’t about to go down this descent with the road filled with trucks and other crazy vehicles.  It proved good as when I found a gap in traffic I started down but quickly came to stopped traffic where I’m not sure what happened but some cars were parked sideways in the road with a bunch of drivers and truck drivers out almost dueling it out.  It was good though because the stopped traffic gave me the whole road.

We ended up going down part of the descent and the race commisair and team cars had stopped and were discussing what they were going to do.  They wanted to start the stage there but they didn’t stop the first riders so they kept descending down and some ended up riding all the way to the finish since no one told them to stop.  They ended up cancelling the stage but we had to ride another 10 or 20k down to a small town where there was a road back to our hotel.  We finally got our team cars and were able to change and get some food and water but had to wait probably an hour for the busses to show up to take us back.

ChaosA bit of the craziness in the tiny town we stopped in after riding down from the mountain to catch the buses back to the hotel after they cancelled the stage halfway up the penultimate climb.

The whole thing was beyond ridiculous but it was in a really cool place so I didn’t care.  I got to take in the sights.  The mountains were super steep and endless.  They were covered in tropical green jungle along with farms interspersed in the valleys and on the steep hillsides.  There were also a number of greenhouse type contraptions which were probably more to keep the mid-day sun from over scorching the produce.  The houses we past were definitely small run down shacks but the people around them were always out doing something or conversing with each other and really excited to see you go by.  I really wish this race had more than just the one stage up there.  Maybe someday I’ll get to go and just ride and explore.  It would probably be perfect for a mountain bike as there looked to be tons of small farm type paths going up the mountain sides.    At least in other places I’ve found the people that live in these areas to be really interesting and different from the people you meet down in the bigger cities.  They live simple lives and know nothing else and they are seemingly happy doing it.  We should learn a little bit from them.

Seemingly the race gets more and more chaotic as we go so we’ll see what the last few days bring.

The Dominican-Part II: Broken Chains and the Start of the Ridiculousness

posted in: Adventures, Cycling, Travel | 6

The ride to the race on the second day through the crazy city streets of Santo Domingo had our group seemingly zig-zagging around trying to find the start.  It’s never good when you come across another group of riders, who left the hotel a bit before us, coming toward you from the opposite direction.  The ride home from the race proved even more interesting as David and I left just after the group of riders who were headed to the hotel by bike.  It was pretty entertaining though because everyone on the side of the road would point the way when we came to an intersection where we didn’t know which direction the group went.

In one of these intersections on narrow one lane roads with tiny poorly built shacks closely lining the streets I went the wrong way and had to turn around back up hill.  As I did I snapped my chain.  Probably the worst place ever to snap a chain as the street was filled with bystanders and we were clearly two stranded foreigners in not a good situation.  Luckily it was only a mile or two from where we left but we had to get back before our team car left otherwise we’d truly be in a bad situation.  It was half uphill and David snapped his derailleur cable 10k into the stage so was still stuck in his 11 so he wasn’t going to be able to push me up the hill.  He somehow got some kid to push me which got me to the next block where I then grabbed the back of a pickup truck.  Then a guy on a motorcycle, maybe police or military or something, gave a hand and let me hold on to the back of his bike to the finish.  We made it but then we had to sit on a cramped bus for probably 45 minutes in traffic back to the hotel.  One of the themes of the trip we’d best learn to enjoy instead of complain about.

After two of probably the most boring stages ever, we finally headed inland across the island which brought climbs along with regular two lane roads through small villages and tropical jungle.  It would be a really good place to just ride and explore.  Maybe with a gun in your back pocket though.  We finished in this small town called Samana which was where we stayed when I was here two years ago.  It’s a neat little town on this big bay that leads out into the ocean.  The town seemed pretty much the same except for this stretch of new houses along the main road close to the water.  They looked like they should have been on Cape Cod.

Samana1View from the hotel in Samana on the North side of the island.  Those colorful looking houses definitely weren’t there two years ago.  Must be trying to make it more of a ocean town destination.  The area was pretty incredible.

Samana2ndDidn’t get a good photo but palm trees along a huge bay that led out to the ocean with pretty cool looking island in the middle. 

Looking back on that day and where we stayed and everything, we had it pretty well.  Two days later found us back in Santiago at this hostel type hotel where there were four beds for ten of us.  The team is from Santiago and the riders are from here but they wanted to stay at the hotel meaning they wanted us two to a bed, and small crappy beds at that.  The race I guess assumed they would go home so didn’t give us enough beds.  Somehow they thought that was alright but if you saw the size of the room and bed you’d be like what the heck, that’d be for one night.  We’re to be here for three.  I found a guy I knew from here that helped us out two years ago and he got it sorted out thankfully.  Not the best setup but it works.  This race will make you feel like you’re a king at every other race you go to.

Hotel roomWay too many people in our room.  This was common the three days we were there.  At first they wanted to put 8 of us riders in there and two staff.  There were four beds.  I got it sorted out…It was cramped as it was.

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