This week was many things. Stressful? Yes. Successful? Yes. I returned from Europe with some great memories, average pictures, a notebook full of over-caffienated writing and a paid invitation to return.
So instead of going through a tedious day-by-day account of what happened, we'll start with a couple of excerpts of what I wrote at the time and a few pictures.
Day 2: Baggage difficulties, language barriers and twisted, sleepless nights fade instantly as you find yourself riding at the rail, winding up for your 200 as "Born In The USA" blasts out of the stadium speakers. Now you're playing to the crowd like you've never done before. Hands off the bars in mid-corner, fist-pumping, willing the crowd of rabid Dutch out of their seats. Keep your machine under control amid the road, the music, the derny fumes, the strobes, lasers and nerves. Just keep your head up, be the rockstar the crowd paid 50 bucks a pop to see. This is your job, so enjoy it.
The riders' cabins are beyond cramped. 36 pro men including the sprinters. 2 riders per 3X5 cabin, each pair with 2 soigneurs and mechanics drifting in and out. Add to that a constant stream of "VIP Liasons," taking paying fans through the rider's area to see their favorite starts. As a World Champ, Bauge is in high demand, so most high-roller patrons end up at the end of the row, standing in front of the sprinter's cabins asking for autographs and pictures.
Day 3: The derny smoke hangs thick tonight. 3 rounds of 50-lap noise-fests down, one to go and I cannot wait for those laps to be over. Every night at the hotel I'm spitting black crap and listening to my ears ring, waiting for the noise/fumes/adrenaline/exertion headache to fade away. This a scene tailor made for Vegas. Singles dressed to the nines, stalking each other and liver disease, swilling free booze on the VIP infield, chaotic frenzy from the cheap seats, strobes and lazers everywhere.
My corner of the world for six nights is very literally that. A tiny corner, with a light, a dirty mattress and a shelf. It is cramped and it is hot, but it's also mine. In someone else's country, at someone else's event and on someone else's turf, this is all the real estate I need to keep grounded. That and a free coffee every now and then...