Today was the day where I wanted to get everything in place, get a nice ride in and otherwise relax as much as possible before what I knew would be a very difficult yet hopefully satisfying day tomorrow.
It started with breakfast. Danish waffles with jam and icing sugar, fruit, bread with cheese and ham and a nice cuppa tea. Then off to meet my buds Rich and Ben. There were heaps of Aussies here, nearly 150, but not many were all that chatty and while I did talk to a few, there wasn’t much camaraderie. Anyway, off the three of us went around and out of Aalborg. They were both a bit younger and stronger than me so there were a few times they had me on the ropes. We were riding around parts that would be in tomorrow’s course and if this was anything to go by, there weren’t many flat spots, it was very up and down.
We got lost on what we thought was our way back and there was much turning of bikes and gnashing of teeth as we rode around aimlessly for a while in what looked like some sort of vast retirement village. Then I got a rear flat. A quick look at the weather approaching promised a very large drenching as lightning flashed up ahead, so we pulled into a bus shelter where I found a nice little quartz chip had cut a sizeable gash in my brand new tyre.
By the time we got going again, the downpour had started and within minutes we were soaked and freezing cold. Still not sure if we were heading in the right direction, moments of desperation swept through my consciousness. We could die from exposure here in suburban Aalborg!
Soon thereafter we hit Vesterbro and rode up towards my hotel. It was a guilty pleasure to turn around to the guys, see them shaking as much as I was and mumble a broken goodbye before disappearing into the warm, welcoming lobby of the Chagall, knowing that Rich and Ben had another few minutes of teeth-rattling cold to endure.
There was a rider briefing at 2pm near the event hub which was held in a theatre overlooking a UN style semicircle of desks behind which various UCI officials and local authority figures were seated. There was a large screen above them and I kept expecting the PowerPoint presentation to break up with static and then for Dr Evil to appear with some outrageous demand which if unmet, would result in the race being bombed. That didn’t happen but there was rather odd questions about where you could piss during the race. The race director said you can’t just piss on the side of the road, you had to use toilets at the feed stations. One chap then asked if you could piss into one of your empty water bottles…. It took a moment for the race director to come to terms with that query but to his credit he replied with a definitive “No”.
So, to summarise my day of race preparation, I got hammered on the bike by my new friends, my new rear tyre was now slashed and probably unusable for tomorrow, my bike was filthy and there was every chance I’d come down with a nasty cold by the morning. If tomorrow’s race was even briefly visited by weather like this then it was going to be absolute hell and carnage.
When I got to my room, I put the bike in the bath and washed it down with the shower head. Worked a treat! Then washed my clothes and myself for a good long while. I can’t imagine Denmark has many water restrictions, it seems to rain with great regularity.
I met up with Rich for dinner and we ate some pasta at a little Italian joint then headed home for what was hopefully a good nights sleep.
Lots of pasta being consumed by the sounds of it…. any pickled herring as yet?
No pickled herring yet. I think the hotels and touristy places tend to cater for a plainer palette. I hope to find some more authentic fare here in Stavanger.