|Chrono Gatineau: McQuaid v the Irish|
|Written by Bridie O'Donnell|
|Saturday, 19 May 2012 20:44|
It's 90s before my start time at Chrono Gatineau and I have no bike.
UCI officials in beige pleat-fronted trousers & chambray shirts are smiling like it's funny and the race announcer has put an emergency APB over the loudspeaker for my mechanic to bring it to race check “avec grande vitesse, s’il vout plait!”
The thing is, I have no mechanic. The team is arriving later today, and I've been fortunate to have the assistance of the wonderful staff from Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies: Director Rachel Heal and her mechanic, Adrian Hedderman.
He generously checked over my bike with ample time before the start, and it was all good. Kind of surprising, seeing as how I built it up in a red-eyed, sleep deprived haze yesterday morning.
The overnight flight from LAX to Ottawa was like 6h in a bath of Drakaar Noir aftershave with the sweaty man next to me in 18A. Pillows and blankets can be purchased on Air Canada but not a flame thrower.
Strangely though, Adrian's impeccable skill set does not include a UCI spirit level and when I take the bike to get measured, the saddle is angled 3º down. That’s past barely legal and into HIGHLY ILLEGAL, war criminal-type territory.
I show them my legal sock height, hoping to offset the seriousness of my crime. Heads are shaken.
I vow not to win nor beat any Canadians, but still, they will not be moved.
When I promise to declare allegiance to the Quebecois language over the phony Francais they speak in that phony country, France, I nearly get one vote from the tall, mulleted UCI guy. But then he gets sacked and I'm back to zero.
So I rush back to the unflappable Adrian & he rides off to find two spanners and some swear words from the Irish (he's from Limerick after all, they're always resourceful) and I wait.
Then I walk up to where I think he is, and wait.
I walk to the start ramp, seeing 5mins to go before my start time.
Still no bike.
I’m the first rider off in the 4th wave of riders and NO START TIMES ARE GOING TO BE ALTERED (if you aint Canadian) so I do all I can do and remain calm.
2 mins til start time and the other 10 riders in my wave are all standing about at the ramp, looking nervous as though they have concerns. One team mechanic says to me “maybe you have to run, no?” and I resist the urge to punch him in the kisser.
Finally, Rachel comes speeding up on my bike, after Adrian and Team Ireland have been (temporarily) subjugated by McQuaid’s evil UCI forces, and I am good to go.
Adrenaline is at an all time high, and now the idea of racing an 18km TT over a course I’ve seen three times seems nothing compared to the idea of traveling all the way here and not getting to start.
I have a solid ride, 19th place and 2.20 down on local heroine Clara Hughes of Team Specialized lululemon who wins for the 2nd time in a row. She’s a force to be reckoned with, an extraordinary ambassador to the sport & looking lethal in her preparation for the London Olympics.
Rounding out the podium are her American lululemon team mates, la Fléche Wallonne winner, Evelyn Stevens and 2008 TT Champion Amber Neben.
A huge thankyou to Adrian & Rachel from Optum for getting me to the start line with 75s to spare!
To my Vanderkitten-Focus DS Jono Coulter for his logistics from afar, Jeff from Focus Bikes, Chad at Above Category, Ralf the Super-wrench of Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team for adding on the SRAM and Zipp bling, thankyou. I couldn’t have done the Amgen Tour of California TT and the Chrono Gatineau without you all!!
My Kitten team mates get to Canada tonight, then we'll get some karaoke time in before the Grand Prix de Gatineau on Monday.... meow