So I'm signing in at one of those snazzy new "self-service" kiosks at PDX and a little screen pops up to ask me if I want to upgrade to "economy plus" for an extra 25 bucks. This is where the next 6 hours goes very wrong. I know th eextra 25 bucks will buy me legroom, wider seats and maybe a night's rest, but no. I'm poor. I'll be fine.
Then as the clock struck 11:30pm I squeezed in between two 300 pound sacks of body odor and hair for a less than restfull night.
"It's okay" I think. "I'll just crank up the A/C and get some shut eye."
You know how on most planes you reach up and twist the little ventilation nipple above your head and that cool, dry air rushes out? Not today. When the head stewardess came by to inform us that the AC wasn't working properly, but we should be 5 minutes ahead of schedule, I died a little inside. There I sat in a pool of sweat, 90 degrees, pressed on both sides by hairy, sweaty flesh, knees pressed up into my chest, staring straight ahead watching some awful Lindsay Lohan movie and some bad sitcom reruns with no volume, for four hours.
Enough whining. On to Chicago.
Scotty and I arrive around 4:57am. We have 36 hours to race time. Damn it's early after a sleepless night. Mikkel picks us up at the airport, we chuck the bikes into the van and off we go to nowhere in particular. We have all of Friday. "Should we find a motel and crash? Go to the course? Get some food?"
"Downtown" I say. "Just head straight for those buildings."
Chicago is a big place. It's real big. The Portland skyline wouldn't make it halfway up to the top of the buildings here. Looking up at the Smith Tower and all the enormous skyscrapers downtown is like driving around through a canyon all concrete and glass. And holy crap is it dirty. Trash everywhere. And it's big, by the way. We have a day to kill, so we decide to kill it wandering around town. We bludgeon time shopping for things we'd never buy, we sit in cafes sipping water, and search for the Ultimate Pimp Glasses. These glasses will be huge, gaudy, and the number one secret to surviving the week. Hours go by and finally, there they are.
They're big, they're white, they're extreme, and they are 16 dollars. They make Scotty into some kind of alien rock star, sitting in a lawn chair in the back of a seatless van, packed with bikes and wheels.
Driving down some random city road at one point, imagine my surprise to see a beach covered in bikinis and swimmers. Awesome. That is one big lake.
So after a day of cruising, we retired to a South Chicago Super 8 motel and rocked out to Beverly for the first stage. Damn it sucked. We're talking a one mile circuit through a very old, leafy neighborhood. Packed into the circuit are about eight hundred and ten corners and a crappy false flat/hill. After about 10 of 60 laps I end up watching from the sidelines as Scotty's brother Big Jase racks up a cool grand int field primes. Some Aussie guy wins.
We are the only white people in South Chicago. Just thought I should add that.
The second day's crit is a good 4 hours north of Chicago, so it's back into the van and back out on the road to Menasha, Wisconsin. This one starts out much better as I dive-bomb through the first hairpin leading the field, then spend the rest of the race fighting to avoid getting dropped. 40 laps later I have a heart-attack on the bike and loose my grip on the field, doomed to watch again. Some other Aussie guy wins and Scott rides like a man and ends up around 30th or so, gets some cash and we get on our way.
Another tough day for me, another couple dead presidents for Scotty. We're back at the host house a half-hour west of Milwaukie, and tommorow's a day off. DT
1 year ago