sit tight and strap in, this one's a doozy.
The 2007 Basslink Christmas Carnivals are one day from their end. It's all been quite the experience so far. Seems like I've been wide-eyed or too tired to focus for most of it. Des, Eugene and Viktor (Eugene's dad) left this morning, so Kelyn and I have transferred from the posh Tasmanian Country Club to a downtown Launceston hostel. Huge, hundred year old building complete with hundred year old furniture and hundred year old maids. We managed to score a room with two beds and just enough room to fit all the bikes and bike cases and bike accessories and bike minutia for a wickedly cheap rate. We could stay here for 2 weeks and still come out ahead of what most people are paying at the Country Club for a single night. Magic. Tonight's New Years Eve and the question of what's happening is all anyone wants to talk about. All over the building, all over the cafes in town it's all "what you up to" and "where you headed tonight?" Word has it a big barbecue's happening at the hostel (which is allowing beer on the premises for this day only) then a big group's heading into town for some traditional Australian revelry (read: drinking beer until you fall over). We may not race till 2pm tomorrow, but a race is a race and this one's boasting some good cash up for grabs, so we're imposing a strict 50 beers per person limit tonight. No attempting the century with racing the next day... Actually I'll take it easy on the liver (gotta get it rested for a weekend at the lake in NZ with a certain Scott Allen), but I'm sure as sh!t not sitting in the room on New Year's Eve.
The Launceston carnival was quite nuts. I guess they're all a bit crazy, but that one seemed a bit further off the rails then the rest so far. The Silverdome is an indoor board track, which is nothing new if you've ridden LA. The new part was the freestyle motocross on the infield, the woodchopping, the Aboriginal war drumming and the 4000 boozed up Tasmanians in the stands all the way around the track. Wheelraces are already a chaotic affair in my book, and cutting the distance and width of the track in half doesn't make things any smoother. I wasn't too worried until the last lap of the feature wheelrace heat. Myself and 3 others were catching the leading group with the bell ringing and the scratchmen breathing down our necks. Just as we're about to swing up and around the group riders start diving off thier bikes at the rail, guys from my group are smacking into downed riders and faceplanting all around me and I dive onto the apron to keep from losing my front wheel. I make it through clean just in time to realize that I'm on the painted concrete apron heading into a sharp corner, which is about the point that my front tire gives up and I come crashing down, hipcheck the cement, knee into the top tube and grind to a stop. Des helps me up, tells me the bikes okay and sends me to the first aid stand to get scrubbed out.
Devonport was better in that I did not end up laying on the track or in an hospital bed. The best way to sum up the day actually comes from the front page of the local paper, which just printed a picture of riders splayed out on the shallow bank and a line of ambulances headed toward the track with the headline "CARNIVAL CARNAGE. Four in the hospital and one in Intensive Care as the Christmas Carnivals take a bloody turn." Fortunately none of the US riders were involved in any of that business, but it made me feel pretty lucky about sitting the day out with a swollen, sore hip (which kind of looked like I was trying to steak a grapefruit by hiding it in my pocket.) Two separate crashes prompted hospital trips, and one ended with a rider flying over the railing at the top of the track and colliding with a light post. The last update we heard from the organizers was tough to hear. Broken ribs, punctured lung, broken wrist, broken collarbone and a head injury which landed him in a medically induced coma. Most of the racing was cancelled for the night, and a visible funk settled over all of the riders and spectators alike.
Devonport's a two day affair, and the second day proceeded as scheduled. Collections were passed around for the rider in the hospital. By the end of the day they had collected just over $15,000 from personal donations (including $1000 from Stewart O'Grady, who was apparently in the stands) and a large amount of riders donating their winnings. On the racing front, I was not allowed to start the wheelraces or the kierins, as my joint pain had gone away and been replaced with paralyzing cramps through my left side hip flexors. I assured my coach that I'd be fine for a first lap in the Olympic sprint, and so we lined up against the Australian Institute of Sport B team. The last time we had done a team sprint in Latrobe we finished 6th of 6th. This time I blasted off from the line, got the team up to speed, pulled off and nearly fell off the bike as my leg started to seize. Eugene kept the speed up, Kelyn finished strong and we beat the AIS team by almost 4 tenths, to grab 4th place. We were 2 tenths from third and Des was a happy man.
Feeling much better today after some good food and good rest, so hopefully by tommorow I'll be at 100%. Enough typing for now. I need a coffee..
2 years ago