Last Monday David Guttenplan asked me what the airport code was for Santo Domingo, Domincan Republic. The next day I had a flight booked leaving two days later. Nothing like a real last minute trip especially when you’re in full winter training mode. With a quick component swap from my ‘cross bike to road bike and a quick pack, I was off. We found our way onto team “Feberaro de 27th” (the Independence Day of the Dominican Republic) which is a local team from Santiago. With this team though we had to arrive in Santiago, a two hour drive from Santo Domingo, along with the unbenounced requirement that we get a Dominican license as it’s a local team. With getting the license and an utterly large amount of disorganization along with an early morning wake up to catch my flight from Oregon, I slept a total of 12 hours in 3 days with only a few short naps. Not the ideal prep for any race let alone one like this. Being tired or awake and motivated makes all the difference when you’re in not the most comfortable of situations.
View from our hotel room in Santiago. Riding in the rain on crazy city streets with tubulars didn’t sound like a good idea so we rode the trainer. First time all winter.
To top off the lack of sleep, for dinner the one night we were in Santiago I had bread for dinner with protein powder. Not exactly the ideal form of nutrition in any circumstance. The following night’s dinner though made up for it as the hotel restaurant had a buffet dinner with pretty good food that included a good selection of deserts that I fully indulged in. Our next sweets aren’t going to be for a while. The thing with being here is you don’t know when and what your next meal is going to be so when you have pretty good food, eat up. (The one morning literally all they had left to eat was white bread with ham and cheese that looked like it had been setting out for two days. I had oatmeal and protein powder.)
That night was the only night of the fancy food as every meal since then has been pretty much the same. Always white bread, lots of rice, pasta, lots of not tasty plantains, and chicken depending on the day and is always marginally sketchy. And if you’re lucky in the morning you get some concoction of eggs. After one night of that David and I made the genius purchase of Asian pineapple sauce, hot sauce, and bbq sauce to take the meals up three notches.
Standard fair for the week whether it was breakfast or dinner. Lunch was non-existent. We bought some pretty clutch condiments to take the blandness up three notches.
The first two stages were incredibly boring flat and long highway stages that took us almost 200k the first day and about the same the following. I guess the highways are easy to close and provide the best pavement around but that still wasn’t great. The pavement itself wasn’t horrible but you’d get these huge nasty potholes that if you weren’t keeping an eye out for would give you a flat for sure and potentially worse. The worse did happen for a rider from Novo Nordisk/Team Type 1 of which I haven’t heard many of the details but that he was motor pacing back to the field after having stopped for a number two (probably due to bad water/unhygienic eating conditions) and hit a pot hole and is not in good shape to say the least. Let’s hope he pulls through.
It makes you think what the heck we’re doing down here and if the risks are really worth it. Yeah it’s fun and an experience to see the World but my biggest thing is not being in control of your own situation. If you’re base jumping off some massive mountain, you’re pretty much in control of the chute you’re using, how you packed it, your experience level, what weather you jump in. Whereas if you’re riding down the road there’s almost nothing you can do about the idiot driver who’s not paying attention aside from not riding on that road (why a lot of my rides are on dirt roads where I don’t see anyone for hours). And during a race there’s nothing you can do about the guy who crashes in front of you or someone who doesn’t point out a car on the side of the road and just ducks around it while you’re stuck in the gutter behind him blind and hopefully can react in time.
It’s been windy pretty much every day along with at least a few nasty sections of road if not more so hopefully everyone keeps there head up and pays attention throughout the rest of the race. I’m always pretty risk-averse but am definitely more so here. Lets hope everyone else learns to be as well.