A lot has happened since I last wrote. There really are 2 stories here to tell; the bike racing and the trials of day to day survival here.
I will start with the daily struggle issue. The "villa" ultimately proved too much to handle. On Wednesday night we returned from the track near midnight. The place was ice cold. My father slept with all his clothes on. When I went to the washroom Thursday morning there were a minimum of 30 flies coating the shower curtain, towels and sink. I stripped down to take a shower, but, alas, no water. Someone was taking a shower downstairs. So, no shower. I had not really rested since arriving in Portugal. Between the 2 1/2 hours of driving daily back and forth between the residence and the track and the fact that the villa was uninhabitable I had gotten virtually no rest. I was worried about my father. He does not complain but I knew he was miserable. The situation was untenable.
Speaking of the velodrome, yesterday racing had to be temporarily suspended as they wiped water from multiple area of the track. It was raining and the roof leaks. Badly. Water was dripping into large puddles in the spectator seats and on to the track itself. I got some good pictures of the crew climbing up the banking of the track on ladders trying to wipe it down and dry it. The track is visually beautiful but the thin veneer hides a crumbling infrastructure.
So you get the idea of how difficult it is to concentrate on racing and concentration is key to doing well.
On Wednesday AM we had qualifying heats for the 2 KM pursuit, my main event. There were 11 riders in my category so one rider would ride alone. Of course, that turned out to be me. I was in the first heat with no one to ride against. This can be good if one does not have to pass the other rider, but, may also be bad for I had no one to race against. Anyway, I had a reasonable ride and posted the 3rd fastest time at 2:35.581. I was out of 1st place by 0.4 seconds.
The final rides happened that night some 12 hours after the AM ride. The men with the 2 fastest times rode against each other for gold and silver and I rode against the 4th fastest time for the bronze medal. I lost my race by 0.9 seconds to David Mulica which put me in 4th and out of the medals. As it turned out, both of our times were faster than the gold and silver times ridden that night. So it goes. A word about David Mulica: He rode on the 1972 US Olympic cycling team and competed in the olympics. Today he is an MD in Denver, Colorado practicing with Kaiser. He is a true gentleman and has become a friend. If I had to lose I am glad it was he I lost to.
Thursday night was the scratch race. This is a 20 lap drag race. First one across the line wins. For the first 18 laps I was never worse than 3rd place. I did a lot of work. Way too much trying to break away. With 2 laps to go the field surged ahead and I could not respond. I sat up with half a lap to go and soft pedaled in coming in last. It was OK, I learned alot.
Tomorrow night is the Points race. I must say I do not have the same level of enthusiasm I had a week ago. I am tired and feel a bit defeated. People tell me that one´s first trip to the Worlds is about experience and not to expect too much. I am trying to keep everything in perspective.
Mark Altamirano is a track cyclist living in San Francisco. He is here competing and has been a valuable friend and aide to me. He has helped me warmup and called out my time splits in the pursuit. He does not know how much I appreciate his TLC.
Portugal is a physically beautiful country producing wonderful wines and people. The culture is rich while the country is very poor. I don´t mind leaving my hard earned greenbacks here. Having said that, what I am shelling out for fuel is mind boggling.
Hopefully the next entry will have some humor and more upbeat news.
Thanks for reading.