London II: “Very Tall Cyclist”

Thursday:
It was a grey morning. Wet streets. Rubbish collection. Construction and renovation are boom industries in London, so one doesn’t need an alarm clock. In Hyde Park, junior racers were hard at it, and I didn’t envy them. Though, the weather certainly improved as the day went on.

I built the bike, not without a bit of struggle. Thanks to the Team Oz bike mechanic for giving the bike a once over. Said hi to the nice gals at the team desk. Thanks again to Hayley for hauling my suit half-way round the world.

I got myself to the athletes area to pick up my starter kits and received my first slap in the face for the day. There are some seriously fit individuals here, of all ages, and they are proud to represent their countries. I witnessed our show of pride last night at Gibson Hall, but today, I saw it from nations far and wide. And it’s great. (Love the Mexico training suit.)

If I was patriotic yesterday, what I’m feeling today is a wonderful feeling of solidarity; all these people united by triathlon. It’s a commonality that has nothing to do with borders, political systems or religions. And this is important for us triathletes because our endeavours are often solitary. We may train in groups and be members of clubs, but it’s a very personal kind of motivation that gets each of us up at dawn for chilly morning workouts. It makes me feel good to see all these others who have a similar kind of self-motivation and a passion for swimming, biking and running.

Second slap in the face came when checking the bike in for tomorrow’s sprint. Some triathletes really invest in their bikes, which left me calculating the possible net value of all those bikes racked in the transition area (more than $1 million??).

My ye olde Trek is ready for any weather.

SAMSUNG

Notice how it’s racked handlebars first. This is because the seat is too high to get it under the bar. It’s not allowed to do it this way, I discovered, but a very nice official came over and marked my bike with tape and pen: “Very Tall Cyclist”. This allows me to keep the bike as it is, tomorrow as well, which is good, because it’s much sturdier this way. The bike next to mine is hanging by the seat and swinging left and right.

So, I may not get Age Group Winner next to my name, but I have received the title of “Very Tall Cyclist”.

One sleep left until the sprint. Surprisingly, I’m not nervous. I’m actually fully keen for the experience. My goals are simple: enjoy, survive, finish. Time and placing be damned.

Good luck to all.

Some stray London thoughts:- Riding a bike in London is about on par, risk-wise, with bungee-jumping, yet many people do it.
– The traffic is relentless.
– If you walk around for an hour or two, the inside of your nose becomes slightly black. Gawd, what do your lungs look like then?
– A lot of the food in the supermarkets is pre-packaged. Do Londoners have an aversion to cooking?
– The water is not quite drinkable (this said by a boy from country WA who grew up drinking all types of weird, tainted water. “I know it’s brown, son, but it’s rain water”).
– The Oyster Card is great.
– A standard hotel room is about the size of a second bathroom back home.

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